borkena, Ethiopia / Opinion
Did you notice that the regime in Ethiopia was trying to distort the story about the Garbage Dump Landslide? Let’s us look at how Fana Broadcasting, basically another version of what is now Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation, covered it. First, it published six paragraphs (one line each) report about the incident; it even tried to avoid the word ‘garbage’, rather used “soil landslide” in Amharic, perhaps in anticipation of questions into waste management practices that certainly put Addis City Administration, or TPLF, on the spot.
When Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation came up with a longer report, Fana Broadcasting took a queue to publish similar size report -this time it employed the word “garbage.” If it was not impossible, the intention was to distort the story and report it in a face saving fashion. The Associated Press broke the news and then Ethiopia once again made headlines the world over for tragic news.
The reactions of Ethiopians, beyond sadness, was that of deep humiliation; that is how I felt about it. Magnitude of the tragedy, the death toll which is over 46 now and the nature of the tragedy itself is certainly unique in its own ways but not new by any means.
But we seem to forget the many tragedies essentially created by the same regime that is relentlessly humiliating Ethiopia and Ethiopians. Just to do a quick audit, thousands of young Ethiopians lost hope to live in dignity, as if it is luxury, in their own country and had to leave behind their country and relatives in pursuit of it elsewhere. Many of these cases turned out to be of tragic end.
Ethiopians in four-digit number died in the Mediterranean Sea, others didn’t even reach Mediterranean as they died in the desert and still others were massacred by Islamist fundamentalist groups like ISIS. Those who trekked south aiming South Africa as their destination didn’t escape adversity either. We have Ethiopians who were murdered by criminals and tricked by human traffickers (and don’t forget that people affiliated with the Ethiopian regime had a stake in human trafficking.) And there are those who ended up in prions of different countries between Ethiopia and South Africa, and some of the countries had to deport hundreds of Ethiopians back to Ethiopia. Many hundreds languish in the prisons many African countries convicted of “illegal presence.” Worse, even some Ethiopians who made it to South Africa had unimaginably tragic end the like of which was witnessed in Saudi Arabia before two or three years.
In all these incidents, regime in Ethiopia never bothered to hold talks with authorities of other African states to ensure the safety of Ethiopians; of course, it is somewhat naïve to expect so in view of the question who created the problem in the first place.
We remember that Egypt kind of mocked the regime in Ethiopia by rescuing Ethiopians from danger in Libya and send them back to Ethiopia after twenty-eight Ethiopians were hacked to death by ISIS. There was even a joke that Egypt offered air base should the regime in Ethiopia wanted to attack ISIS militants in retaliation for the horrifying killings of Ethiopians.
And who would forget, other than those who relentlessly work to put the double-digit narrative in the limelight on a regular basis, how Ethiopians are humiliated, day in day out, in their own country by Tigray People’s Liberation Front led government? It is fresh in our memories that the resistance to this unprecedented slavery like repression in Ethiopia not only led to the deaths of thousands of Ethiopians but also more than fifty thousand Ethiopians were detained in make shift detention centres, “trained on the constitution” and then released dressed in “Never again T-shirt” after they were physically and psychologically tortured. TPLF does not cut off head and exhibit it publicly as a way of intimidating Ethiopians but is has not less horrifying ways of humiliating Ethiopians. But what TPLF and the Western world want us to believe is that Ethiopia is growing. Foreign aid or loan funded express way or growing business mostly owned by TPLF and affiliates could not be a measure of development for Ethiopians.
For that matter, it is now it is public that the much talked about “the double-digit growth” narrative is exposed as well over five million Ethiopians are facing starvation, and possible death, in the South Easter parts of Ethiopia which the new United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres noticed, to his credit, and called up on actors to respond to the situation in Ethiopia.
The garbage landslide disaster, so to speak, is certainly TPLF administration made disaster and is just part of the continuum of humiliating and repressive governance in the hands of TPLF. From what Ethiopia experienced under this administration, and given poor and inadequate level of coordination to end slavery in Ethiopia, it is safe to say that what we witnessed two days ago, in Addis Ababa does not seem to be the last humiliation for Ethiopians.
As implied above, when it comes to locating the origins of this unprecedented level of humiliation, we Ethiopians are inextricably a part of it; we are part of the reason for all that happened to Ethiopia and Ethiopians. And it remains a question to me if we are truly aware of what we have and haven’t done in the service of freedom.
Freedom, and here we’re not talking about the illusive forms of it which is informed rather by unconsciousness – one that focuses on the pursuit of hedonism and narcissism for which growing instinct for money making is taking primacy at the expense of dignity and self-respect – among others, as a desirable state of human existence needs relentless commitment for pursuit of the means to achieve it.
It is only then that we get back our freedom and the freedom of our country together. In this regard, as I have been saying for years, what is missing, from intellectual discourse and in the realm of activism by political parties, is powerful conversation about social and cultural factors that are contributing to the new culture of indifference to humiliation, repression and slavery.
What is at stake is, so to speak, not just the new generation. Think about even the incoming generation and what Ethiopia will be like with the existing level of not being at odds with humiliation and indignity. There is no greater guilt than letting the incoming generation be stranger to freedom and comfortable to slavery in all it forms. We will also be guilty of making the sacrifices paid for the freedom of Ethiopia, which is now snatched by TPLF due to circumstances, meaningless.
By Dimetros Birku Writer could be reached on twitter: @dimetros
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