“Ethiopia ’s soul has been buried for more than 44 years damaged and darkened.”
By Tibebe Samuel Ferenji
November 24, 2020
When president-elect Joe Biden launched his election bid for the presidency of the United States, he claimed he is fighting for the “soul of America” because President Trump bruised the soul of America by continuously assaulting and undermining democratic and law enforcement institutions that have been exemplary to the rest of the world. Joe Biden watched with great pain when America, the “light on the hill” getting dimmer and the world losing hope in America’s leadership in the world. Thank God, he defeated Donald Trump, reclaiming the soul of America and giving hope to the rest of the World.
We too also have been fighting for the soul of our nation for more than four decades. Ethiopia’s soul has been buried for more than 44 years damaged and darkened. For 17 years the military regime ruled Ethiopia with an iron fist and caused unimaginable death and destruction. This assault on the soul of Ethiopia made the country venerable on all fronts. The social fabric of our nation was seriously damaged because many young Ethiopians were killed, damaged, and exiled. The moral fabric of our nation was also damaged by officials who normalized corruption in our country. The political and economic disaster was visible to the whole world. It was in that period of our history that the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) became one of the warring parties. The TPLF claimed that it was fighting for justice and democracy in Tigray in particular, and Ethiopia in general.
When the TPLF came to power under the guise of the Ethiopian People Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), divided the country along ethnic lines with the desire to rule the nation for years. With evil intent and design, instead of democracy tyranny reigned in our nation. The TPLF became worse than its predecessor but it was more systematic than the military regime. The Amhara ethnic group became a primary target while the whole world was watching in silence. With reckless disregard to human life, once again, our social fabric was assaulted, corruption and human right violation became the norm. Thousands were arrested and killed in a broad daylight. Even former TPLF fighters were not spared from such brutality. If the walls of our prison could speak, they would tell a horrible story. Male prisoners were sodomized with a broomstick, bottle water hanged on the genitalia; female prisoners were raped multiple times and they were videotaped while they were gang-raped. There are untold horrors that will be written in the future about our dark history under the TPLF. Our damaged soul by the military regime was grabbed, soiled by the TPLF, and buried deep in the darkest place.
It was with enormous sacrifice and relentless struggle the TPLF was removed from power in April 2018. I dare to say Abiy Ahmed is “God sent” for Ethiopia. He captured the entire nation when he spoke about healing our nation and uniting Ethiopia. He genuinely wants to heal our nation, he wants the soul of our nation to rise and shine once again above all the hatred and division we have been subjected to by the TPLF. He preached forgiveness and synergy. He ended the “no war, no peace” cold war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The TPLF supported Abiy’s peace effort with Eritrea hoping they will continue to loot Ethiopia even under the leadership of Abiy. This was apparent in a meeting held by the ruling party in 2018 in Hawassa. Abiy won the Nobel Peace Prize for his effort to bring peace to the Horn of Africa. This young, vibrant, and visionary leader is not just a hope for Ethiopia, he is a hope for the rest of the world. His effort to bring peace in South Sudan and Sudan speaks volumes. He repeatedly declared what Ethiopia needs is to build her economy and educate her children not to engage in war.
Abiy began to take serious measures to curb the growing rampant corruption in the country. The TPLF leaders who looted Ethiopia for 27 years were not happy with the action taken by Abiy. They wanted to return to power, they wanted to continue to loot so they can enjoy their Blue Lable Whisky at the expense of poor Ethiopians. When they realized there is no coming back to power, they used the money they looted to recruit merciless bandits who slaughtered innocent men, women, and children. They did their very best to create an inter-ethnic and inter-religious war in Ethiopia. This effort failed. The TPLF did everything possible to undermine Abyi’s administration using government opponents and media outlets promoting false narratives about the reform. Abiy did not react because he knew the TPLF was itching for war. He tried to weave our culture into our political fabric and used our elders to resolve conflicts. His relentless effort and patience were seen as weakness by many. His efforts were to avoid traveling in a path that we have traveled before. He chose reconciliation over force. Even his supporters became unease and frustrated by his inaction when innocent civilians were killed in mass by brutal action orchestrated by the TPLF.
To make matters worse, the Ethiopian Election Board decided to postpone Ethiopia’s May 2020 election because of COVID-19; some intentionally, others without having facts, claimed that Abiy postponed the election because he wants to establish dictatorial governance in Ethiopia. The fact is, elections are extended and modified in many nations and is not unique for Ethiopia. This created an opportunity for the TPLF to engaged in propaganda claiming that the Ethiopian government will be illegitimate after October 10 and held its own election violating Ethiopia’s constitution. Its worth to note here, the Ethiopian constitution gives the Election Board the sole power to conduct an election in Ethiopia. The TPLF however, established its own election board and held an illegal election in Tigray and claimed it won 100% of the electoral.
Abiy showed tremendous restrain when the TPLF leaders used the Tigray Media to threaten the federal government. When Abiy changed the Ethiopian currency, the TPLF corrupt leaders lost billions because the new rule did not allow them to change the old currency into the new Ethiopian currency. It is then, they made a decision to provoke the federal government that led us into the current conflict. These criminal elements massacred Ethiopian soldiers stationed at the border while most of them were in their sleep. TPLF’s senior leader Sekuture Getachew declared that it took 45 minutes to massacre the soldiers. In addition to these soldiers, federal police officers guarding various federal agencies in Tigray were killed by the TPLF. This criminal group believed that the international community will intervene and will force both parties into dialogue. The TPLF believed that it will get back to power through back door using international mediation as a ladder. This was a grave mistake. This miscalculation has brought the TPLF to the brink of inhalation.
Even if the government wants to negotiate with the TPLF, we the people will not stand for it. Our country has been looted, our best and brightest are killed, exiled, mentally, and physically damaged by the brutality of the TPLF. Most of all the TPLF is responsible for the death of many innocent men, women, and children since it was ejected from power. The TPLF took our damaged soul from the military regime, soiled it further and buried it in the deepest and darkest hole. Thus, we are fighting to reclaim our nation; just like the democratic party in the US, we too are fighting for the soul of our nation. We have a proud history; Ethiopia has been the shining light on the hill for Africa before the military took power. Abiy is showing us that ray of the light on the hill. We want to cleanse the soul of our nation and be the hope of Africa. Abiy not only deserved the Nobel Prize, but he also deserves the second one for bringing peace and stability to Africa. Make no mistake about it, through this war, Ethiopia will rise again and Africa will be more stable than ever.
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