By Yilma Bekele
In spiritualism ‘channeling’ is when one allows his body to be used by the ghost of the dead to speak to the living. I witnessed Oromo leaders with the honorable Bekele Gerba as the spokesperson being used by the dead tyrant to speak to us. It was a sad spectacle of a press conference that demeaned all what we fought for and won. I don’t know about you but I felt shame engulf my body, anger boil my blood and rage stir my soul. Bekele Gerba and company, I am done with you. You and your friends’ way of thinking is what we just wiped away from the face of Ethiopia. We are trying to recover from a bad influenza and here they come to tell us the virus is not dead yet. Pass me the antibiotic please.
We know we got problems. We also know Woyane thinking is not something that will be erased so fast and easy. We are aware that we beat a mother of a disaster by sidelining Woyane without a long and protracted struggle. By all standards, we are one lucky people. Future Political scientists will pour over the events and hopefully come up with an explanation. Today no matter what people claim the demise of Woyane in a silent manner is a Godsend good luck for our country and people. We believe.
The last four months while we are celebrating freedom and hope there were many from the old regime undermining our effort. That is to be expected. It does not require much intelligence to figure that out. Sure enough we have witnessed ethnic based conflicts in all four corners of our land. The PM has been dealing with the problems as they arose and he seems to know what he is doing under the circumstances. Well meaning Ethiopians wish him luck.
It is at this important point in the life of our country that our three Oromo ‘leaders’ showed up to act victim, complain, threaten and defame the rest of us. Ato Bekele spoke on five issues. The existential threat to “Oromos’ as people, the ‘issue’ about Finfine, unity with Amharas, current affairs and Federalism. I am sorry to say Ato Bekele Gerba and his friends do not seem to have thought much about what they just said in public. It left many of us stunned. We deserve better articulation regarding our current problem and we abhor fuzzy language to cover ignorance.
That is why I claimed the group was ‘channeling ‘ Meles Zenawi. The double talk about loving and working with other ethnic groups was there, the doomsday scenario where our country’s reverts to civil war is shouted out loud and the claim to be the forefront of the struggle was displayed without shame. Just like good old Woyane crap other Ethiopians are portrayed as ‘enemies’ and a simple disagreement on policy is viewed as an existential threat. Sad to say all this wisdom is lifted from Woyane playbook. You know who was laughing their ass off in their Mekele hideout. Some people make Woyane proud.
It is not difficult to go through his concerns and prove them to be self serving, wrong and not worthy of ‘seasoned’ politicians that purport to represent their people. I consider that effort to be a waste of time and energy that we dearly need to figure out which of the many problems being faced by our people today we should focus on. Good governance, food for our starving, medicine for our sick, school for our children, jobs for our young people are issues we need to focus on. China, US, France are in Djibouti, Iran and the Arabs are hovering in the Red Sea and Somalia is still in turmoil is what our politicians should discuss. We have achieved peace with Eritrea but we need to work on the details of the relationship to avoid future misunderstanding. The EPRDF is discussing the sale of assets, which needs the participation of all Ethiopians in general and experts in the field in particular to lay a solid foundation.
Our association with Woyane and their underlings has given us the ability to spot lazy politics. That is what our so-called Oromo leaders are trying to play. They are not sure of their ideas, they have not figured out where they want to go, they do not have a well thought of plan for the future thus they pull out the ‘ethnic’ card to build their feeble foundation for tomorrow. That is a strange card to play is what any rational person would say. Didn’t we see this game played? Didn’t we witness the total blow out? It is deja vu time Ethiopians. Another simpleton has showed up to claim the trophy of the ‘clueless Ethiopian’. We have a few Meles II in the making.
The question, quoting the dear departed leader ‘we have given you a problem for the next hundred years’ coming true? I don’t think so. PM Abiy and Lemma Megersa with Gedlu and Demeke have already put that fiction to rest. They buried it deep and stomped on it too. Their experience with Woyane thought them bigger is better. Ethiopians all over the world agreed with them. The last four months the happiness quotient has reached an all time high thanks to the absence of Woyane garbage fouling the country. Dear Bekele, dear others on the table – how many people do you think will agree with your definition of Ethiopia and how many people will come out to show you love if you took a tour with that program at hand?
The speaker claimed ‘Finfine’ was ‘the ‘center of religious, economic political’ activity of the Gulele/yeka people and it was forcefully acquired. We are speaking of what happened over a hundred years ago you realize. I am glad he kindly allowed the residents to stay at his good will. There is no guarantee the next OLF will not evict. Once ownership is asserted the next thing he wants is a name change. It seems to be very dear and close to his heart. We have seen this theatre before. If you remember dangling ‘Finfine’ was a favorite toy of the late dictator. In the aftermath of the 2005 elections he brought it out to create division. It is sad that Ato Bekele and company are again channeling the evil warlord. It looks like they are not even capable of coming up with an original issue they can stamp their name on? Finfine/Addis is a non-issue, give it a rest.
The press conference was a brutal attack on ESAT. I must admit that threw me back, One can condemn ESAT on many points but never about being a ‘Nation wrecker’. Shame on you Bekele Gerba. If it were not for ESAT no one would know your name. You seem to have forgotten thousands of brave Ethiopians went to jail for opposing tyranny, you just happen to be the lucky one plucked out as a symbol. So you think you are special sir? If so, you have allowed your ego to dominate your being. You were one of many. If you want to rise up to the top may I suggest you find a common ground to unite instead of a small corner to be king of.
The speaker described ESAT as standing for cheap scam to build political and economic power. Where is your proof? No one has gotten rich of ESAT or become a political leader, so the well thought of uttering is false, without warrant and defamatory. The question is why? Surely we all disagree with some of the analysis but isn’t it a stretch to call someone a terrorist because of a difference of opinion? Do those folks sitting beside Ato Bekele believe in this belligerent pose and negative politics? Is the idea to promote OMN by disparaging ESAT? That is another example of lazy politics just like ethnic politics.
Ato Bekele said those that are afraid of competing in an election are calling for a ‘transitional government’ as a shortcut to power. Again we have heard that before. Woyane used to turn every discussion into an attempt for power grab. Instead of presenting his winning idea he choose to demean and label others legitimate question. Actually his group is the one afraid of being overshadowed by the unity side. The cry for Woyane Federalism based on language and arbitrary lines is to hide behind ethnic alliance instead of national consensus. They are trying to deflect that charge hiding behind the discredited Woyane Constitution.
There is one thing we Ethiopians agree on. The language-based ethnic Bantustan built by Woyane has to be fine tuned in our image. The problem we are facing today with conflicts in every corner is testimonial to the failure of that arrangement. The fact that Ato Bekele and company are still trying to follow the same dead end road is very alarming and not a good sign about the guiding principle and mindset of the group on the stage.
The press release is a lost golden opportunity to be recognized as one of the new leaders ready to guide our poor abused nation to a better future. It failed miserably. Instead of hope it sowed fear, uncertainty and sent unnecessary alarm. If the group was trying to disrupt, they did and in a negative manner too. A lot can be said about OLF and its forty years of immaturity. I am sure our Oromo cousins will look closely at this organization and demand accounting for the many years of acting as a side show instead of leading. May be Ato Lemma’s trip to Asmara and the respect accorded to the group went into the head of the leaders. Whatever it is, it must be understood leadership comes with responsibilities. Please act it.
Our country is in a very precarious situation with Woyane still controlling major organs of the state and unlimited supply of money stashed everywhere in the country. For twenty-seven years they have built our country in their own image of vagabondism, lack of integrity and complete absence of the rule of law. We have managed to corral the kingpins into a restricted zone but the many sycophants and confused underlings are still with us. The Keble captains, the police chiefs, the judges and court system is still staffed by Woyane trained officials. We all know it was OPDO, ANDM and other cadres that were doing the dirty job for Woyane. They are still with us. The PM and his team are trying their best to project confidence but we all know better.
The press release by the group plays into Woyanes hands. It does not help the cause of reconciliation and good will that is being preached by Dr. Abiy. It makes him look weak and makes observers question the depth of his acceptance in the Oromo community. Ato Bekele Gerba’s attempt to align himself with’ Kero’ is a little pathetic and his use of the mass movement as a personal weapon to intimidate is not acceptable.
The society we are building on the ashes of Woyane is open to any Ethiopian to organize and advocate for the cause they believe. The government has encouraged all opposition to come and contribute in a positive manner. There are plenty that believe organizing on ethnic lines to be the wave of the past. But I have not heard anyone advocating a ban. The attitude seems to be if you think that is a winning strategy go right ahead and knock yourself out. The only issue we care not to compromise about is the ability to organize in any part of Ethiopia without fear and full freedom. Let the citizen decide whom he wants as representative.
OPDO has purged itself of those not ready for the new challenge including the name of the organization. That is a positive development. AG7 is in the process of discussing with members and allies regarding the formation of a political party. Like anything AG7 puts its mind and effort into it is being done in a very deliberate manner. It is a very important document that will come out to serve as a guiding principle for years to come. We should urge all political minded organizations to be involved and assume ownership of our future.
As part of the Diaspora I am proud of the many supportive role we played to be voice of the voiceless. Don’t worry I am not trying to claim to have liberated you but you know the urge is there. We are proud to have sent some of our best and brightest to help with the transition from slavery to freedom. We are touched by the enthusiastic welcome accorded to our freedom fighters. It is good to be recognized and appreciated. I am afraid we have also to take responsibility for some of our returnees shall I say ‘unhelpful’ comments and ‘unwise’ talk that has offended our people. It is not something to cry the sky is falling about since we are hopeful things will sort themselves out through experience. Of Course we urge and hope folks will learn faster consequences of loose talk and unplanned action. We will keep hope alive.
Let us remember what the late senator John McCain wrote in his last message to his people, it said “We are citizens of a republic made of shared ideals forged in a new world to replace the tribal enmities that tormented the old one,” Tribalism in a different form is still alive and well in the USA. Ours is not unique.
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