August 21, 2012 at 7:24 am
Entry filed under: Latest Posts. Tags: African Leaders, african promising young leaders, Ethiopian Politics, ethiopian prime minister, meles, Meles Zenawi, P.M. Meles Zenawi, zenawi.
Breaking and Entering NW
sistu | August 22, 2012 at 3:48 pm
‘Meles famously had no small talk. Chris Mullin, as a junior Foreign Office Minister, tells how he was ushered into his office after a dramatic flight across the country from the Red Sea coast. “Spectacular country, Prime Minister,” ventured Mullin, to break the ice. Meles smiled and said nothing. “It must be very difficult to govern,” offered Mullin in desperation. “Spectacularly difficult,” replied Meles. They then got down to business.’
Lulu | August 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm
A friend of mine called yesterday. She said she was surprised by her own reaction his death, the loss she felt when she knew he was gone forever. Her exact words were “leka Melesin eyewededkut neber yemitelaw”. I bet so many people would agree with her. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–wdGiQFWCs
Wello dessie | August 23, 2012 at 1:57 pm
Mechem yewelede sew yemut aybalm. But don’t forget the man was a killer. I am sure the country would be better off without him.
Nani | August 23, 2012 at 5:11 pm
More Tsafi. On this subj.
sistu | August 23, 2012 at 8:47 pm
Wello dessie, clearly we need to draft you into leadership. Somebody with your commanding knowledge of the future should not stay limited to internet pontification.
abesheet | August 23, 2012 at 11:10 pm
Nani: I wish i could, sweetheart. Tried to! But that was all i could think of, how much I’d miss him. Yet again, his and my relationship has always been a unique one, you see?. A personal one. One only a girl who grew up being told she never belonged with “us”; in a country where belonging means being; would emotionally form with a fellow “minDuban” who may prove to be less than the ideal – look or deed wise. No words could relate that bond to those who weren’t there and never been told that. Unless you have; in which case you don’t really need me telling you, do you?! ;-)].
Here are a few lines you may find interesting, however, that I copied from a google chat I had with Enufanta, my cousin, the other day. She is one of those abesheets who weren’t a big fan, but not just cried when being informed of his death; but went to the airport to receive the “askeren”: aka.. borbwara Ethiopiawi to whom death is the ultimate sin-eater. The chat wasn’t meant for public reading, so Englizegnawin eyastekakelsh anbibewu. And feel free to share one of yours, kalesh; even if it may not be in his favor.
me: You can find many smart presidents.
enu: let me tell u one story what my friend told me
it is tru
me: But its hard to find a president with a sense of humor
enu: what happened before 20-25 years
11:55 enu: meshaf akeray yenebere sew told this to my friend
and lij neber hule yemimetana meshaf yemkerayew
11:56 meshaf mata wesdo hule tewat new yemimelsew
even if it is 1000page
11:57 then one day and yeflsifina meshaf setew and he return it tewat
keza yihininima ayanebewim wishetun new be and lelit aycherisewim bilo
min teredah kezih meshaf alew
11:58 then the boy told him everystory in detail
that boy is meles zenawi
Sistuye, Lula-wa, Wedaje Wello, Gash wubet and all… Zar yistilign. ‘Zar yakbrilign. Ere…. beGzer :-).
Danegus | August 25, 2012 at 12:11 am
I do not follow Ethiopian politics since all you read when you go online is the opinion from one end of the extremist spectrum or the other. However, i have felt the country would be in deep shit if Meles were to be removed for some reason. When i heard the news, i shared that fear with a friend who is white and obviously biased against african leaders. Yesterday morning, he called to tell me how he was listening to bbc radio while on traffic and he heard african leaders give their opinion on Meles. He was very impressed by how intelligent the man was. Ofcourse that’s no news to me. But it was the first time i took pride in an african leader. And he happened to be ours. Rest in Peace.
Ebdu | August 25, 2012 at 12:16 am
It’s human nature to miss what we can’t have. The same thing would be said about mengistu if he was killed instead of run. But we can’t forget how he left a divided country where all key offices are held by one party members,who are from a specific ethnic group. The least he could have done when he knew he had cancer was groom somebody to take his place. But no.. he like everybody else.. thought he would live forever. I am sorry to cut into the bullship. But the truth the truth however bitter it is.
Scooby | August 25, 2012 at 12:23 am
As a man near in his late 30’s in danger of losing all his hair soon, i understood where meles’s anger comes from ~_~. However, let’s face it. With the resources he had, he could have done a better job of ruling the country. He was so eager to prove himself that he left the country almost crippled at his death. http://www.ethsat.com/2012/08/11/ethiopia-horn-anxious-due-to-meles-disappearance-brewing-power-struggle
sistu | August 25, 2012 at 2:02 pm
Ebdu: For someone who seems to appreciate the truth, you sure don’t seem to use it much. Has the would-be prime minister been notified of his new ethnicity? You didn’t hear it from me but I heard he’s yemeles agot lij posing to fool us. But yes, you do us public service by cutting into the bullshit.
Scooby: I want me some of those great resources Meles was supposed to have. I don’t get why bedehint mimakikew when my country is apparently flooded with resources. And of course if ESAT said it, then it must be true!
Mitmita | August 25, 2012 at 3:02 pm
So anyways I am one of those ethiopians who visit esat often. I don’t believe everything they say. But what are my other options? aigaforum? tigraionline? So upon reading of our p.m’s departure a while back, I called home and asked my mom “Meles mote alu aydel?”. My mother, who isn’t from the northern most part of the country and has no love lost to the late dictator, screamed and dropped the phone. When she comes back on the line agaoin, she was saying eyeye. I am telling you, it scared the bejesus out of me. When I gave her a call the other day lemastezazen all she can talk about is how “hilmu sayisaka endemote”. She also started talking about how it can’t be a coincidence how both him and patriarcku dying within the same week. Conspiracy theory and abay-gidib project aside, I think people are mourning from from a fear of the future instead of a real sense of loss. However, with the dinkuan being set up in every village and the denkoro-lekso coverage that seems to already drain everyone, I doubt even that can last longer.
Wello dessie | August 25, 2012 at 3:19 pm
Take it easy, sustu. This happens to be a democratic forum. We can say whatever we want as long as we are not direspecting anybody.
sistu | August 25, 2012 at 5:12 pm
Sure, Wello Dessie. You notice I, like you, was just saying what I want and exercising my democratic forum rights too, right? By the way, this may not be the right place for this observation, but I couldn’t help noticing we have two people who have such a differing assessment of the current state of affairs in Ethiopia after Meles. One believes Ethiopia is better off today than it was last week, and another believes the country is almost crippled compared to last week. I’m waiting for any takers for ‘crippled but better off because, really, who needs legs when you’ve got cars’.
gizay | August 26, 2012 at 6:53 pm
I’ve always been one of those ethiopians that was always lurking behind, checking out what “meles, the country, the people” has been up too… you know, checking up on youtube, etv, blogs, etc…. I never have been “political” because really, most of the stuff that comes out from the country is sensored, you don’t even know what to believe. someone is either screaming “gedel giba, bushty!” or “yene anbesa, abzi, abzi…” anyhu, My personal observation goes like this:
i loved seeing my country being represented with the “big wigs” of the world… going to meetings, being considered kind of “important” inregards to “world issues/investment/global warming, etc…” and i do appreciate meles’s effort in those regards… trying to paint a picture of “us” in a positive way, in a “hay, i’m trying you know, i’m trying to pull myself up from the bootstraps, throw me a bone or two here… wink”
i hear the economy has grown (so has inflation) but overall… new buildings popping up on bole road, rental of meret for investment, the abay dam project, the diaspora community coming in and making their dreams happen, colleges opening up, etc…. ok, nice
found it interesting how zerenya our country had become… almost every “politician” or a person with a high ranking position in any sector had a name that ended with G/whatever made me raise an eyebrow once or twice… (not even getting into 21 years of power, 2005 election, death, 2010 election of sweeping win, mekelle, etc…Not even going in all that) again, don’t care really to be honest.
i don’t know what to make of all this… i didn’t care then and now, i don’t know why i did when i heard he died. He was great… ya, ya, he was terrible, yep… he was intelligent yep, yep and he was also narrow minded… ok. i suppose what sadden me the most was his humanity… you know, the human side of all this… did he ever have fun? i wonder what his personal goals were? his plans for himself? such things i suppose is what i’m thinking… just a personal observation, is all.
Chuchu | August 27, 2012 at 3:48 pm
With all due respect Sistu, do you think you are being fair by attacking everyone who doesn’t have nice things to say of Meles? Isn’t that a little like what has been going on with Ethiopian politics for decades?! There are people who will always listen to government media and believe every word. There are others who have a tendency to.listen to everything the opposition says. If we can’t get a middle ground, let’s agree to disagree. No need for sarcasm and bitterness.
addisu | August 27, 2012 at 4:06 pm
Personally I think the only one happy meles is dead are oromo muslims. They think just because meles is dead, our country would go in chaos. Girger leleba yamechalcThe best thing is this kind of things always brings ethiodpians together. Long live Ethiopia!
Luli | August 27, 2012 at 4:36 pm
I love it when people have BALANCED opinions, something completely lacking on other forums. Kudos to gizay, mitmita, scooby, and ebdu – to you too abesheet. i’ve been feeling kinda left out because i wasn’t experienced neither elation nor sorrow for the passing of our PM. But tell this to someone who is either grieving or celebrating and you’re automatically berated as a traitor or an insensitive diaspora. oh well. only thing i regret is him passing without writing a book. i would have loved to have known what brewed inside that brilliant/shrewd mind of his.
Ras X | August 27, 2012 at 6:27 pm
Wow, you are so right. A memoire would have been awesome. The guy was interesting, if nothing else. Abesheet, I laughed out loud when I read your `to whom death is the ultimate sint-eater`. Your observations are always humane and dead on. By the way, I have been invited to seattle in December, christmas time. It would be nice to meet up for shay buna ;-).
sistu | August 28, 2012 at 1:51 am
With all due respect, Chuchu, I do happen to think I am being very fair since I’m trying to measure my response by the level of venom I feel is contained in the original posts. Sadly, I do not think I’m the one with the bitterness issues. It seems to me like people are actually bitter about the fact that Ethiopians, including their families, could possibly be grieving for their leader. While I normally do not mind political attacks by anyone on anyone, I’m absolutely stunned by how some people do not seem to see the line between life and death and that some have proceeded with their every day business of planting genocidal seeds, which bothers me very, very much. I do not know if living abroad and experiencing the associated hardships just robs people of their humanity but people really need to not hate so much! In the interest of not turning this into a political thread, I have avoided responding to the very specifically and very self-assuredly stated ridiculousness-es, and just hoped general sarcasm would carry the day. I hope it still does because, frankly, I don’t want to live in a world where sarcasm is wrong and I don’t want to die yet because I don’t have millions of people to cry for me. On that note, I am happy for my bothers and sisters in Ethiopia because I think there really are good days ahead when people can really live in unity. Diaspora people, please just stay where you are and don’t go back to ruin Ethiopia. Friendly advice.
Ebdu | August 28, 2012 at 2:42 am
Maybe the “diaspora” isn’t “grieving” because it is not being bomarded with “lekso wetu” lifefa 24/7. Not to forget the propaganda being drilled into them from every news source in the country. That is what dictators do. They make you think there is no world after they are gonne. Remember Kim il Sung?
sistu | August 28, 2012 at 9:02 am
Remember (93 year old ex-president) Reagan? Remember Michael Jackson? Remember any famous dead person in any country, let alone ethiopia where tears for the dead are a thing? Just saying.
Mazzi | August 28, 2012 at 7:08 pm
I am not one to wish any kind of ailment or death on anyone so for that reason, not happy that Meles had passed away, and as someone said, before he even wrote a book to be added to our history about his motives. But I can’t emphasize enough have happy I am he has left the office that he has been holding on with dear life!! With all the good that is credited to him, ‘rist’ megzat in office for this long, and for however long he was planning on staying and the people were allowing him to stay is dictatorship by any standard! Ethiopia deserves better than a dictator. Would like to share thoughts I shared on other discussion forums on this subject below, so here goes……
MIXED REACTIONS: THE LATE ETHIOPIAN PM… A DEVIL TO SOME AND AN ANGEL TO OTHERS. It has been interesting to read the many different reactions Ethiopians everywhere are having to the news of the PM passing. Regardless of our varying opinions on the reception of this news, however, no one should take pleasure in anyone’s pain, ailment, or untimely death because we are many things to many people… children to our parents, brothers and sisters to our siblings, friends to our beloveds, and parents to our children. So it is not just a PM who had passed but a man who was all of that. For that reason, I can’t take joy in his passing even if I am so ready for change and to see him leave the office he had held on with dear life. And for all my friends who remind me of the changes and so called double digit growth (tell that to the average Ethiopian whose life might not have changed much since Janu times) that have happened in his decades and more rule in office for why they supported his rule, yes I give credit where credit is due in instances he deserves them but it was not just him who single handedly brought any change, nor any progress registered justification for the injustices, divisions, and atrocities committed on human rights. Credit goes to many including the people themselves who worked very hard to make it happen, and even gave their lives! And we also have to account for the times changing themselves along with the rest of the world. What I fear is how Meles stood out out because he was constantly being compared to those who came before him… Haile Selasie and Megistu … in whose times very little progress was registered with even sadder human rights issues. He also might shine in comparison to other even more corrupt African leaders standing besides him. We are so used to having bag governance that we are willing to overlook major faults like political repression, intimidation, out right human rights abuse, and muzzling of any kind of opposition including media, because we think he is doing better in comparison. Why are we afraid to think only he could bring about change, and not others with equally great visions and varying perspectives?? I want the culture of change to develop in our country and the trust that change of government or office does not always have spell doom!!!!!!!!!! We operate out of fear eko… like the devil you know is better than an angel you don’t know kind of thing. So yes I do give credit where he deserves it. But frankly, it was sooooo time for a new perspective. The whole show could not be run by one man, one dominant political party, and his cohorts regardless of what change people attribute to him. We have to trust that we have many visionaries and capable people among us, or help maintain an environment to create them instead of repressing them, rather than holding on to the only leader we have knows coz all that came before him was dooms day for many….
DREAMS FOR MY ETHIOPIA: I long for a day when we get to witness in our country strength in all rival and multiple political parties (not just in one dominant one while others are mere tokens), true and genuine freedom of expression, opposing the powers that be is not considered treason or a capital crime, and a peaceful and timely transitions of government offices by a fair and democratic election process where the previous leader with too much concentration of power in his hands is not forcibly booted out of office by violence, untimely death, or exile. Our beloved Ethiopia deserves such a day!
“ራዕይ/RA’IIY” — A word I will be more than happy if I never ever hear it again in my life! The way ETV is going about showing how the nation is mourning (voluntarily or by government mandate) for the late PM, who knew it took his passing to make us realize he was the second coming of Jesus! The man has been elevated to omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient divinity status eko, and he could do no wrong! How short our memories are! And even he himself would have been surprised to see all this commotion over his passing. One good thing about this crying and wailing orgy we are witnessing back home, it has given a massive opportunity for the people to relieve themselves of decades old grief not just from genuinely or superficially mourning the passing of the PM, but as a form of catharsis for past repressions, wrong doings, and the harsh realities of life on the ground. So, I expect to see the therapeutic effects of such public out pour of emotions in the coming next weeks ….
BEST QUOTE I HAVE READ IN A DISCUSSION THREAD: “I never knew we liked our pm more than the North Koreans did their beloved leader! Alas!”~Kirubel Asaminew (A friend of a friend). My sentiments exactly! Meles was a disputed leader. But let’s not make him come across as some kind of cult leader, unless we believe he was and we are mourning as such. Just saying 😉
Sorry for this long comment. Just wanted give my long winded two-cents on the issue :-).
Mastewal | August 28, 2012 at 9:53 pm
Esat sucks, Etv sucks. Where’s an unbiased Media sourse when you need one…like, in a hurry?!!?
sistu | August 29, 2012 at 3:02 am
Mastewal, TIME has what I thought was a very well balanced article:
Mastewal | August 29, 2012 at 10:34 pm
Ebdu | August 30, 2012 at 10:00 am
Nice post, mazzi. Its unfortunate we can’t vision a better Ethiopia than the one we always had. I think the atrocities of the dergue regime is what crippled our ability to dream. We were discussing the arab springs some months back and someone said “abesha feri new, kodawin yewedal”. I was disappointed to hear that, knowing how it used to not always be like that. Meles’s regime only strengthened that mentality, unfortunately. Remember how you weren’t even allowed to use your finger as a sign for victory after election 2005?!
Sistu, however hard I tried I couldn’t understand the point you tried to make on your last reply. If anything, I think you reinforced my theory. Can you also. comment on mazzy’s reply? I have a feeling you two ladies may have something to say to each other.
wubet | August 30, 2012 at 11:17 pm
Mastewal some people, may be not Meles, set out or intend only to live their own life. Not to be anybody’s leader or dectator. Intending just to do the job ahead by bettering their knowledge and earn a living. Interesting. hope soon we will have enough talk of his life and death so we could move on.
sistu | August 31, 2012 at 3:28 am
Ebdu, I am quite alarmed that my posts are busy reinforcing your theory. So here is my point bedenb tefetfito: Reagan was a 93 year old man who died more than a decade after his presidency ended but for whom the country still saw fit to have a seven day long state funeral. His death was probably expected for as long as Meles was PM. Still there were public viewings, continuous TV coverage etc. Michael Jackson was… well…something. And his death was worth multiple days of TV coverage, speeches, testimonies, tears plus plus. So my point was, out of a million similar cases, why would the Meles case be comparable to that of North Korea’s when people all over the world are similarly hyping their special dead people all the time? Did the dead all just plan it to make people think there is no life after they are gone? Where do I sign up to plan mine?
What do you want me to say to Mazzi (HI Mazzi)? But if you just want me to talk… (Blame Ebdu for what follows, Abesheet)
If the reason people don’t understand the mourning-for-Meles thing is due to the length of time he served, I would just say that doesn’t sound like a solid enough reason to me. I don’t think Ethiopia is the first to end up with a long period of rule by single party (if it can be called that) while going through a period of transformation. I think a constant change of administration requires an environment of inherent stability in a country, which I don’t think we have yet. Jawaharlal Nehru was the Indian prime minister for 17 years after India got its independence, and in major leadership positions before their independence, and anybody who knows how to pronounce his first name deserves to be the next Ethiopian PM for 15 years. (In J. Nehru’s case 17 years of premiership be’12 mourning days yimenezeral so I think the Meles mourning time period is right on the mark. Nehru’s NYT death announcement is worth a read). Was J. Nehru a dictator? I don’t think he turned out too badly for India 40 years later as they march right on to world supremacy. After him, his daughter was in power for 15 years but I don’t defend nepotism. Still, although terms have been getting shorter since, I don’t particularly see the disadvantages of those early long years nor do I think there was a way around them while holding the country together. Maybe people don’t agree, but I firmly believe that if countries are still setting up their institutions and ‘discovering themselves’ and learning those little skills like how to feed themselves, like most developing nations are, it does the country no good to make the political process their major focus.
Of course on the other hand, we have countries like the US that are so stable that a change in government hardly makes a difference, for better or for worse. To me the US situation is a perfect example of why arbitrary ‘term limits’ suck even when you are a stable country. Their political process has become more important than anything else that they do in the country. One (or more) year every four years is spent on accomplishing nothing for the country. In case of change of government, add one more year it takes to set up their new administration and get it going effectively. So they are operating at a 50% efficiency. They would surely not afford the current brand of democracy they are practicing had it not been for their already established institutions and systems that keep them going through their periods of inzilalinet (2012), and its primary cause is the 4 year limit they have for their leaders. Of course that’s not to say don’t even think of ever changing government if you are poor. I think elections should still be there to make sure the government is not completely veering off in the wrong direction, which I didn’t think Ethiopia was, at least not the point where it makes people feel death is a good way out of it. By Ethiopians’ (in Ethiopia!) current reaction, I’m convinced they were not totally opposed to the idea of ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it’. Aside: who knows what Menge could have accomplished, with meserete timhirt and all, if he was just left alone for a bit. We should probably let him have a second go at it. Older, wiser… and probably going to live to be 100+
On a brighter note (only for me though), history will forever remember Nehru but has no idea who those guys complaining at his death were.
Ebdu | September 1, 2012 at 6:00 pm
You forgot infact one very important and memorable person, sistu. Princess Diana! But my point wasn’t the days put aside to mourn him. As long as people aren’t working in those days, i’m sure everybody would be happy. My problem is the fact that people aren’t “mourning” him out of their own free will. Dinkwan in every village and homeless people being paid 200 birr to go to the palace and throw themselves infront of casket for tv? It’s so ridiculous i wouldn’t have believed it myself if i didn’t watch the videos.
On the other hand, I admit you have a point about the duration of time he was in power. Somebody like mandela could stay for 27 years, and i doubt anybody would have problem with that. In our case, He could have helped move things along, especially during and after in 2005 election. It may not bring a pefect transition. But it would have made him the first person to venture in that direction, kind of like Obama with gay rights. Instead, he blew out the little hope for democracy we have and even tightened his grip on power harder. He is dead yes. But the mistakes he made would affect generations to come.
Ebdu | September 1, 2012 at 9:09 pm
thanks for publishing my edited version, abehseet. As far as i am concerned, enough has been said of this subject.
sistu | September 2, 2012 at 4:47 am
Ebdu, I thought of princess Diana when I saw her mutamet discussion, but thought I should girl-power my way out of mentioning her.
I appreciate your post, really I do and it pains me to keep arguing but my chubby fingers could use the work out.
Who are we to say and how are we to judge (with confidence) if somebody is mourning out of free will or not? I understand there is a desire to believe that people are simply not feeling it in their hearts, but I wonder why there is such desperation to believe that. I think everybody who is touched by Meles death, whether they liked him before or not, are mourning him for their individual reasons. I have my reasons, so do, I think, people in Ethiopia. Maybe their reason is the feeling in the atmosphere, but I think people should try to get over this denial about the sincerity of sadness or spare themselves the effort of bending over backwards to define the ‘real’ reason for it. p.s. If people are suddenly discovering the centuries old, fine-crafted theatrical nature of our lekso, well I don’t know what to say.
Are homeless people being paid because there is a lack of people showing up at the palace (because I thought there was a problem of rejim self)? And who, may I ask, is financing this venture? I sense a business opportunity for myself. What about the people showing up who don’t need 200 birr, why are they there? Are they all just brainwashed masses who don’t know any better or afraid of retaliation from a dead man and his cadres? Or Meles left the country in such a bad shape that nobody is too good for 200 birr? For me, it’s claims like that that make it hard to swallow what people say.
I believe Meles always said, and I believe him, that his priority was development and making people’s day to day lives better. I do not think he cared much for symbolic gestures, such as moving things along by handing power to other individuals just because they asked for it (or because they cowardly hid behind innocent Ethiopians while making dubious claims for power, whichever one is the truth. If people want to complain about Ethiopia deserving better, they really should complain about deserving better opposition because, among other things, there is really no excuse for losing 99.6% of seats to a party that has been in power for eons and having ‘rigging’ as your only excuse. just saying). Digressed. So yes, to people who are fed, clothed, educated and watch politics as a sport, watching power transitions (and seeing their unique definition of “democracy” realized) may be the alpha and omega of the meaning of life. But for those other 79 million who are still waiting for those necessities to materialize, 2005 was political theater that they didn’t participate in, and had nothing to do with and I don’t believe Meles was under any obligation to overturn their will and I am glad he didn’t because I think his next 7 years did something to improve the lives of those other people. But again, it’s not that I believe no body else would have done better in the last 7 years, it’s just that I didn’t see any reason to disbelieve it.
I am sorry, I am not understanding why a 27 year old rule by Mandela is more acceptable to you than a similar situation by another ruler? To me, yes I do agree that a 27 year rule by Mandela could have been better for black South Africans than his 5 year stint before he retired and then proceed to celebrate birthdays for a living. For the sake of Ethiopians (ok, 50.5% of Ethiopians in 99.6% of the country), I am glad and grateful that Meles decided to work his bones to death instead.
Okay Ebdu, I am done too and let me go before I start describing a certain leader as an ‘opportunistic weasel whom I love but don’t think is fit to wipe MZ’s shoes.’
Mazzi | September 2, 2012 at 6:52 am
Greetings my people… Abesheet, Sisu (ejj nestenal), and Ebdu (interesting alias that is ;-)) … Been meaning to chime in since being invited by Ebdu, lol, but caught with the rat race. Yes enough has been said about this issue, but I can’t resist in sharing my views too and go back to watching live the state funeral for the late PM on ETV live.
I sure did not want Meles or anyone to die, but I still emphasize how it was time for him to leave office that I felt he was clinging on with dear life. Winning the last election by 99.6% does not even make sense statistically speaking and not an indication of his political strength or weakness of his so called but non-existent opposition when he controlled every damn thing like media outlet for any fair campaign, the fire power to repress, and heavy monopoly of PR. So there is nothing fair about any election that has ever taken in Ethiopian history so, so much for democracy.
Yes Meles was for development the way he saw it, but arrogant to think only his vision for the country was fitting and not anyone else’s to justify his long stay in power and his refusal to share lime light in that regards. That man was ruthless for any rivalry or competition even within his party let alone from without (I guess which politician isn’t, except some more than others) to share any spot light and allow other key players in his one man show. In all that I have been watching on ETV, I heard only one man give credit not just to Meles personally but to other government people or the larger population for any economic development registered. The rest were sounding as if ONLY Meles was responsible as if he dug ditches by hand himself not giving credit to all who worked hard. And Sisu, I don’t agree with your mentioned in one of your above comments ‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ analogy. Really?! Is that to say who ever his regime directly or indirectly repressed along the way, sometimes with extreme violence, imprisonment, or being forced into exile life (the ones who experienced first hand the ‘broken’ nature of some aspect of the system and his policies), were sacrificial lambs and his repression a necessary evil to make his ‘vision’ of development happen at all cost? Would any of us or our families have liked to be part of that group? That man was a smart and shrewd politician and I would rather he rely on his political skills to compete fairly and serve the country as one of the main players and not the only one to a point where the country thinks he was the Messiah coz he was not.
Meles had restored hope of development on grass root level in his people, but concentrating so much power in his hands might make people think without him things won’t be progress. And that is a dangerous assumption because the fate of eighty something million people can not possibly fall on the hands of one man. He did not even leave any obvious succession plan, and we all know that Hailemariam guy is a seat warmer till they put someone in his place. But why is it not obvious about who should replace the PM till election time? No matter how sanctified even on Mandela level (yes I agree one term for Mandela was too short for the work that had to be done in SA too), and no matter how poor and undeveloped our country, we can’t justify to how fiercely Meles was holding on to power, and at all cost. Even for a poor country, we need to have a culture of change and peaceful transitions where opposing who ever is in power and having difference of opinion is not treason. Letting ‘elected’ officials stay in power this long makes a mockery of any supposedly ‘democratic’ election process where those clinging to power start to feel more like royalty. Were we going to pass the office to one of his daughters too if we continued on the trend we were on? How long is enough to justify that a leader has to stay in office long in a developing nation to see development through…. 20 years? 30 years? Hell if his health continued 40 years like that nutso previous president of Gabon who ruled for 42 years since the country’s independence and upon his also mysterious death left the office to his son who is still in power??? We need new blood and various perspectives and the only way that could happen is by allowing a thriving political system where many strong leaders in all sectors can emerge and not just one whose death shakes the country to the core with uncertainty of what is to come.
Btw, I don’t buy into the notion that everyone who is crying is faking it or being paid, though that is of course a clear possibility in some instances. But not for the reasons people think. There are enough people who are crying out of their own accord, but what is fueling their accord is another story. Even many North Koreans who cried when their dictator of a leader died were crying genuinely. But their grief stemming from never having known any other leader, thinking their leader had super human strength, and having been brainwashed that without their leader their country would fall apart is wrong on so many levels because they deserve better. Frankly, I feel the same about many Ethiopians. Besides, Meles should kiss the ground Mengistu fled on coz by God compared to the atrocities that were committed on Menge’s watch, any less ruthless leader would have come across as a saint. So yes Meles will be remembered for the good he brought, but rightfully vilified for his ruthless oppression as well because development for a poor country is not just in economics but in building its political system to function well to avoid unwarranted power grabs through coups and violent overtakes in favor of democratically elected multiple party elections with equally democratic campaign. Ethiopia has yet to experience half way decent democratic system with all its shortcomings because the so called democratic process is not perfect even in developed West.
Meles’ one party system and one man rule was totally unacceptable to me and many who oppose him regardless of how much they sing his praises, both on the home front and on the International stage, for the positive changes he is credited for. We are so in need of a change regardless of what comes after because even in making mistakes we learn about our own political system. But I hold my breath we continue on this high spirit of people thinking economic progress with continue, and I hope they give as much value on also developing our political system that holds everything together as part of the country’s progress. So even if he was not my favorite person in the world (not by a long shot!), yes I am sad a man who is a father to his grieving kids and a husband to his wife met his untimely death, but I sure am glad change is coming to our country. And we just hope it is a good kind of change. Time will tell how intact and functional the government he built will remain (with heavy nepotism of giving most key government positions to his homeboys who don’t necessarily represent the rest of the country) without his domineering and all too powerful personality. And I hope any reshuffling of offices or rebuilding of the government does not bring any lasting negative impact on our beloved country. With that I close my long winded comment and go back to watching ETV live the state funeral Ethiopia is having in more than 80 years I hear since Nigist Zewditu’s death and state funeral. Weg deresew Meles and yagerew hizb to openly mourn and bury its leader so that is to be admired compared to how we dealt with our dead leaders before ;-). Peace my people, and long live Ethiopia.
Mazzi | September 2, 2012 at 6:53 am
Sorry Sistu I misspelled your name as Sisu above :-). My apologies!
sistu | September 2, 2012 at 10:09 am
Mazzi, tey wegebe biseber min titekemialesh. Ij neschalehu, now please help me up again, bones are not what they used to be.
I don’t think 99.6% was the actual percentage of votes received. They could get 99.6% of seats by winning 50.5% of votes in every region.
Every administration in power has access to the ‘bully pulpit’ and that’s hardly unique to Ethiopia. But I find it hard to believe that in the 21st century, opposition is somehow lacking the means for communication. I think the real problem is the lack of plan or ‘ra’iye’ for the country to actually communicate. “zigijit ayasfeligim…atakabidu… hizb self witu enilalen, self yiwetal, weyane yigelal. ehew selamawi tigil sinareg yigelal bilen parlama ingebalen’. Half of me wishes I made those words up. That was, at some time, the grand plan of the opposition that was apparently executed to perfection.
Recently, I think there have been a change of strategy of picking up issues that sound awfully similar to campaign issues that resurface every election cycle in Europe and Americas like individual rights, federal rights vs states rights and free markets (not the Eleni G. type of ‘we need markets’ but the ‘we need less regulation’ type), which would be super comical had it not involved my own country. With ideas like that, who needs repression to be shut out of the parliament? As far as I am concerned, the only version of a free market I will support in Ethiopia is the one where people show up at the market and get things for free.
Sure people should be free to run on whatever platform they like but they also should not be surprised when the masses are not tripping over themselves to put you in power however loud the cries of ‘repression’ become. Dropping opposition ideas whose historical origins have no relation to Ethiopia, dropping opposition for the sake of opposition (e.g. at meetings about the Abay dam – what are they protesting? electricity? the right to study by candle light?), dropping ethnic politics, dropping politics that has been dead for 20 years, possibly refraining from obvious international pandering moves like joining international political parties or hiding behind international organizations would go a long way in rebuilding the opposition that Meles was supposed to have repressed out of existence. And finally a concerted effort in taking an interest in the un-glamorous issues that matter to Ethiopians like Meles and his party did (like constant famine and it’s solution, a solution that extends beyond the gallant efforts from the war fronts of facebook to eradicate Ethiopian famine from world dictionaries) and generally having a big, bold plan for Ethiopia that is, if possible, decoupled from a plan to gain power would, I think, seal the deal for the opposition with the majority of Ethiopians. I don’t envy that task tough what with the administration hogging all the good plans and everything. To be fair, it’s not many countries that have multiple visions and directions prominently floating around. Even in a country as big as the USA, there seem to be only two major visions for the country. So good luck to the opposition but the sooner they get started on a real plan, the better the prospects might be in reclaiming people who wouldn’t have been caught dead supporting Meles. In conclusion, at the end of the day, if we respect the intellect of the Ethiopian people, we would have to accept that the the problems of the opposition have little to do with Meles, even if he contributed to them.
Regarding Meles’ arrogance, while I won’t defend his personal arrogance, I have seen no reason to believe that the famous “vision” was crafted by Meles alone, so I am not sure how he would legitimately have been arrogant about believing in it. The party he was part of was very large, very structured and full of people from all walks of life from within and outside of Ethiopia (and itself is made up of individual parties). I highly doubt such a structure of people at Meles’ level of intelligence or better would have adhered to a policy of “Only Meles ideas are welcome” or a general one man show. I think as head of the party, he presented the proposals but I highly doubt he would have successfully dictated his terms to party members and lived to tell the tale (Oh wait!). Tony Blair was forced out of power by his own party, and he was probably a million times more powerful than Meles. I imagine the reason he is prominently featured in connection with these plans is because he was the party head and because he died. And probably because he did his job well. Still sorry his death is still not considered a loss.
Aside: would it be too unpatriotic to propose Susan Rice for Ethiopian PM? What a beautiful eulogy.
But anyway, I guess Addisu Legesse is the next PM after Hailemariam? Or Kuma Demeksa?
Mazzi | September 2, 2012 at 2:30 pm
Selam Sistu… Nor Nor … Ayzon ayzoh lalTenekerew wegeb kemeQemechawo bidig silu, egNam melisen ‘Begzer Begzer! KuCH yibelu ere!’ bilenal. Good to hear from you as usual especially since I have not been checking Abesheet’s page as often as I used to.
Thank you for responding to my last comment. Was too tired to stay all night to follow live ETV coverage of the state funeral for the late PM, but checked it again now, and caught the tail end of the burial ceremony. As for Meles, and as I have said before, I did not like him personally (far from that again!) for his style of governance, for how he came across on the surface including of course his good sides and political and diplomatic skills, while he was something else in reality to anyone who did not see things his way! I resented him for also using his smarts to rule with an iron feast with zero tolerance for dissents and oppositions of any kind to his style of ruling. And we are supposed to over look that because we believe only he had plans for the country that had to be implemented at any cost.
And by the way, when I say ‘opposition’ I am not even referring to just everyone who has something bad to say about him or the so called political factions perhaps some at home but mostly abroad with very little actual organization or concrete plans of what they would do if they were in power. With all due respect I would like to disagree with what you said about how any so called opposition group can find ways to communicate with the masses in Ethiopia, and not just the ones who easier access to the Internet, if they wish(ed). Again, really?! The only way any ‘opposition’ groups would have any remote chance of having any realistic foot hold in Ethiopia during Meles’ regime was/is if they were/are allowed to freely live, organize, express ideas, have full access to media and press, freedom of movement among the people and campaign from the grassroots and up without direct or indirect intimidation from the powers that be. And the reality is far far far from that! Millions of Ethiopians are accountable to their Kebeles mostly and forget having any viable access to any media or even the Internet, so reaching them would have to include being among them and not just posting stuff on the Internet or Diaspora media. Besides, Diaspora life seems to disconnect people from the reality that is on the ground anyways, so we need potential leaders who are intimately familiar with the needs of the people on the ground.
Meles and his cohorts had full control over grass root government sections to allow anybody to reach the public easily without intimidation and scrutiny. In that sense, the central government having complete control of the public including civil societies is not unique to us Ethiopians only as it is the case in many poor and repressed counties. And that reason alone makes fair campaigns in places like ours only a dream. Also, in an ideal world (if it ever exists) political processes from the grass root level have to be practiced in fair and equitable manners to groom real leaders in all sectors, leaders who have the potential of rising in the ranks even to national politics, and leaders who don’t feel intimidated by the powers that be because they live in a country where freedom of expression is not frowned upon. And whichever way we slice this bread, Ethiopia is THE FURTHERST THING FROM BEING A PLACE WHERE PEOPLE FEEL LIKE THEY CAN EXPRESS THEMSELVES WITHOUT THEIR OPINION HAVING CONSEQUENCES, sometimes dire ones, especially if it does not go in accord with the status quo. Shit I am not even a politician and live abroad but I feared our system and felt like I would watch what I say if I were on the ground just like previous eras before. We have to learn to feel free psychologically too as Ethiopians and let me tell you, other than making people speak in jargons about ‘ra’iiy, limat’ minamin Meles had not cultivated the atmosphere of freedom and individuality using the same excuse as priority at all cost needing to be given to ‘limat’ and not listening to the concerns of dissent as if those two things are mutually exclusive. Even the so called dissents wish growth and development for the country after all. No one wants to see Ethiopia fall behind.
Thanks to Meles’ government broad definition of anti-terrorism laws, he and his cohorts have been able to label just about anyone they did not like as a ‘terrorist’ and sentence them to prison with impunity. Didn’t they close a small news paper recently when they were about to report on his death before the official report? Even if it was speculation, they had a right to wonder what had happened to the PM. Millions of people deserved the truth and not some ever changing story for weeks. So I shall always resent him for the atmosphere of fear he maintained for those who did not follow him blindly and dared to question his methods.
Still with all that, I too think his death was a loss and untimely because if anything, I wanted him to live long enough to at least write his own memoir instead of having other blind worshipers sing his praises like he was the next best thing to penicillin. I could not finish listening to the speech made by the guy form his government who went up there to give his life history but was still doing PR as if Meles was running for office again. I would have liked Meles to use his smarts and diplomatic and political skills to compete even in future governments and perhaps still hold key positions so he can still be a key player in Ethiopian politics. It is sad that he was too powerful of a man to see himself sharing the spot light because he believed no one else but his visions were going to be effective to lift Ethiopia out of the poverty it is in. But let’s face it, he was not about to leave that office voluntarily any time soon, so sad he had to leave it in this manner that he did when he met his untimely death.
As for Susan Rice, she gave a eulogy from her personal experience of him, and we all know how he was charming, direct, and confident in all his dealings with any foreign diplomats he interacted with. She said, ”He had little patience for fools, or as he calls them idiots.” I wonder if that is how he referred to his challengers and oppositions, and sad she found that amusing instead of disturbing…. :(. Her reaction to the relationship she had with Meles just shows you we are all different to different people, and I give credit to that man for being as much an angel and a hero to some as he is the personification of the devil to others. He was never boring for sure, and never a person anyone can pigeon into one neat box. What a mixed legacy, but a legacy nonetheless. Still, I remain as one of the people who feels Meles with all his charms to the rest of the world remained a repressive and ruthless leader to those who opposed him and a leader who would have held on to power for as long as he could in the name of development as if development does not also include having a functional and fair government. Did not wish him death, but I sure am glad he is out of office. AS for the West singing his praises only and conveniently neglecting what he is criticized for, as long as he was serving their national interests, and his policies benefited them somehow, all Western leaders including those in the US were more than happy to look the other way to his internal repression and human rights records that they would not have tolerated in their own countries. Besew Qusil enCHet sidedibet alu…
When all is said and done, we sure have had enough bloodshed in Ethiopia to last us for generations, so I am wishing we never witness that again. I sure hope we come to our senses and move forward in more inclusive and liberated way still with the aim of lifting our country out of grinding poverty. Let’s hope we continue in peaceful ways to better times ahead, and spare us from the next leader, whoever the hell he is since we know it ain’t going to be Hailemariam, having too much power concentrated at his hands like it was with Meles. We will fumble no doubt in finding ourselves politically speaking because we have a long way to go in getting it right. But I will take moving forward while fumbling with more visionaries in place than put all the fate of Ethiopia’s development in one man’s hand I did not trust because I was not down with all his methods. But we thank him for the good that he brought, and hold him responsible for not building the political system just as well while he was holding on to power …
Anyhow, I read recently that no one has ever changed their mind after reading any political related comment that is in contrast to their own and that is the truth. I am as firm in my beliefs as you are with yours so we are just expressing our respective views since we might never see things in each other’s perspectives. Still, I respect that we are able to express our views and live by example that we can agree to disagree with people of different views and believe that even in disagreement what we all want is better times for our Ethiopia and Ethiopians everywhere as Ethiopia belongs to all of us. With that I close and relieved that the live transmission on ETV of the state funeral is also finished though the PR machine would still continue with more coverage of singing the praises of the late PM for God knows how long. But so so so so so so ready to move on and talk about something else for sure…
sistu | September 2, 2012 at 8:13 pm
Depending on where one gets their news from, it wouldn’t be too hard to make the case that America, for the last 12 years, have been ruled by tyrants who systematically squash dissent, where those who freely expresses their criticism of the ruler face losing their jobs (birthers in army), those who protest foreign policy face arrests (code pink), those who advocate for overturning the government face extrajudicial executions (Anwar and 16 year old son), those who leak classified information face systematic imprisonment (Libby) or judicial execution (Manning), those who protest their economic conditions face imprisonment, physical abuse or death (occupy), those who are targeted for their ethnicity face 50 bullets a body (Bell) etc. But I would hope the reality is brighter than that.
I have a hard accepting or recognizing Ethiopia as the land of repression as is sometimes described. Aside from the one person who runs against him, none of the seats for parliament were contested against Meles personally, rather by members of his party who have as much access to the public as their opponents (I would think the person running against Meles also had the same or better access to the local area they were running in as he did). I have no doubt they benefit from being associated with the ruling party but the only reason that would work is if the ruling party isn’t considered as repressive as might be claimed and viewed as negatively. I guess I find it intriguing that people, even 3 of them, would still vote for someone associated with a party that’s so repressive of them. I hate to belabor the point but if Meles’s death is the time to talk about the state of opposition, then it just has to be said opposition needs to be more serious about being viable, pinpointing its identity and what it stands for and not simply what it stands against, and hopefully getting out of the business of exaggeration. I think Meles and his cohorts have, and will continue to have, as much right to represent the people as anybody else. May the best of them make it.
I am definitely not a fan of agreeing to disagree, but in this case, I would have to humbly give up. May he rest in peace and may all of us get to contribute to our country a fraction of what he has been able to attempt in his life time.
Mazzi | September 3, 2012 at 5:52 pm
Oh wow Sistu… We sure don’t see things the same way when it comes to where we think our country is. I DEFINITELY see our country as a repressed place. The fact that we had/have a pretty much one dominant party system that is masquerading as a true democracy, and the whole show pretty much being run by one very domineering leader with too much concentration of power at his hands regardless of all his good intentions, and a leader who was not about to leave power any time soon because he felt only his brand of vision was what was best for everyone by effectively and forcefully eliminating any competition both from within and without his one party rule makes Ethiopia a repressed place in my view. A leader who in spite of his so called diversification of the economy only allowed one national Amharic news paper, one national English news paper, one national TV and radio station, one national telecommunication company, and one Internet provider for a country of more than 80 million people!!! That allowed his government to be the only official source of information to the people, and with no one to question what is being reported via the only voice to reach the people. I know at first he experimented a little with freedom of press in allowing other sources of news to sprout and develop only to clamp down and close or harass them later when he needed his monopoly back. And under those conditions, of course the government was only going to report all the good it is doing to its people with no challenge to speak of!!
As for Internet access, the number of people in a country of millions who have access is so minuscule!!! Poverty has a lot to do with that of course before we even start blaming anyone. And yet, even for the few with Internet access, the government saw it fit to censor information and be a good student of China in learning how to block any sites it felt were not in cohort to its one dimensional views. People who have nothing to hide, hide nothing!!! So if they are so confident that their way of doing business can stand any credible or alubalta scrutiny and presentation of alternate views/ideas, why censor or block anything? Information is power, and free flow of information is what our people were/are denied both by how backward and ignorant our poverty level has kept us/them but also by how controlled information flow is at home thanks to the autocratic rule our country is subjected to in spite of any growth registered. That my dear, is repression by any standard with no real freedom of press, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly etc without getting any prior approval from the government.
And yes no doubt there are repressions of all kind even in America, a country that is roughly about 400 years old, but a country considered fairly young compared to other so called democracies in Europe. All of the things you described have happened and will continue to happen here as well. No system is perfect and those types of repressions bother me when they happen anywhere. Of course, we can’t even compare the level our country is in both for lack of resources in Ethiopia this country takes for granted and for its even younger nature on the path of so called democracy. But you know what they have in the West that we have yet to even experience back home? Government having different and independent factions that can be accountable to one another that give people a fighting chance by decentralizing power. In spite of outward appearances, autocratic rules like the ones seen in our country lump every section of the government as one big entity, and the government becomes everything. As a head of state, Meles was the de-facto all inclusive leader of the army, the police, and the judicial system and that makes him the ‘felaCH, qoraCH’ of everything and everyone!!
As long as people went along with Meles’ plans, he left them alone, and he even rewarded many for assisting in his vision. But God forbid they went against him, his long and dominating arm of the law was on their ass before they can count to three in a manner that they can’t adequately defend themselves in spite of the appearance of justice!!!!! No one has stood against the government in defending themselves against so called terrorism or treason charges and won. Lesimu they go through the court system which to me is all show! So the fear of that kind of justice is what drives many who feel threatened in to a exile losing any sense freely coming and going in and out of their country. Just because in Meles’ watch previously unseen economic growth has been registered, and because he has complete control of the army and police, that should not give him or his government undisputed rights to clamp down as freely as they wished whenever they felt challenged.
The few parliament seats that don’t belong to Meles’ party…. bless them for even trying to hold any of their opposing or alternative views over a hugely unfair political playing field. So I don’t buy the argument that they had any fair and level playing field for people to even feel like they could vote for these tiny minority that in reality might not have any power or influence to make any difference. It is quite possible how not having multiple and fairly comparable political parties have actually strengthened the only functioning political party giving it an unfair advantage to being voted again and again for lack of other options. Ethiopia has yet to experience a truly multi party system that are equally strong and comparably funded and supported, even if it is just two! Whatever we think we have now can’t be considered a truly multi-party system. The ruling party people have had a 21 year period to build the strength of their party, and everything else can’t stand up to that in comparison. So, come voting time, better the devil you know (for those who might think it devil though of course many don’t see it that way), than an angel you don’t know might just be at play for many voters.
I hated Menge’s era I grew up in, but at least in his time WE KNEW we were being brainwashed about socialist and authoritarian rule, knew we had no choice, and we succumbed and obliged to survive. But Meles’ regime keep telling people they are free, live in a democratic nation, and yet they use lots of coercion methods like making it impossible for people to advance in school, job, or career fields unless they are party members whether they like to join or not. It is like a group mentality eko!!! Upon joining universities or upon their graduation, I hear my cousins agonize over whether to remain resistant or be forced to join the ruling party if they wanted doors to be opened to them in school or career fields. That is manipulation at its highest so the government can say, ‘Look how many members we have!’ when it is possible that people do not feel free to NOT join if they don’t want to! In the end, they do anyways because they have to survive, and make a living. That kind of manipulation by the government my dear, is repression! Even seemingly benign acts like ordering whole government institution employees to attend public display of mourning for the late PM and asking them to sign in the name of paying respect is repression! And that is because by not going, people are saying something that will be noticed by their employers and the powers that be. So, even those who may not have attended left to their own accord attend because they need to be in good terms with their employers with certain political affiliations.
As for Ethiopian media, whether it is that damn and shameful ETV or any Diaspora media that is either pro or against the government, it is sooooooo sad how objective and credible journalism are concepts that have yet to be incorporated by both. Yes Diaspora media is in the business of exaggeration and how I despise that!!!!!! But have you checked ETV lately, or any other time?! Oh my freaking God!!!! THEY take the cake, and the cookies, and the left over ice cream for the business of exaggeration and only giving one sided views (that of the government of course). ETV, pure and simple, is a shameful mouth piece of the government for propaganda and PR purposes. Ene degmo ferdobign, and because I care what happens back home, I keep checking ETV once in a while, and especially the last few weeks since the missing of the PM. And by God, I can’t stand watching that shit for more than few minutes at a time without my blood boiling. Not saying everything they report is a lie of course because that is not the case. But their perspective of how everyone is on board, and the government could do no wrong style of reporting upsets me to no ends.
If ETV, radio, or any Ethiopian Diaspora media (both pro or against the government) tell me the sun rises in the East, I would have to go outside first to confirm before I take them as reliable source of news. How is that different from Menge era mass propaganda media?!?! I will never forgive Meles for controlling information, and repressing any press for us to even develop the skills for decent practices of journalism towards building credible new sources. The few so called great journalists can’t even measure up to how great they could be if they were forced to hold themselves against high standards of International level journalism. Even on this side, many news outlets leave very little to be desired. But the fact that there are multiple and independent news outlets gives citizens a chance to hear all sides and come up with their own conclusion of what they think is happening. Ethiopia is another story all on its own, and growth to me has to include in how we freely allow flow of information and from multiple sources, but that was not Meles’ style.
It looks like you are not down with the concept of agreeing to disagree, but I am. I agree with many things you have shared of course, but on some fundamental points, we sure don’t see things the same way, and I respect that. In the end, we both want what is best for our country and our poor people who are in much need of being lifted out of the poverty that is holding all of us down. But in my views, allowing one leader to remain in power because we believe only under his watch could progress be registered is the wrong way to go. Part of growing as a nation is also developing our political system as well. So no matter what or who comes next, I am so so glad change is coming. Even if we fumble, and we might, we will learn from any mistakes made along the way, and there will be many. There was a clear danger in allowing one mere mortal to have as much power for too long and risking not having a system that stays stable in his possible absence even through changes of governments because if things don’t remain stable all that has been achieved or could be achieved would be in jeopardy. So here is to hoping whatever change that is coming will not slow down progress, and to learning to rely on multiple leaders in all sectors of the government towards pushing progress. And that is because no matter how noble or visionary, there is no way the development of a country of millions could rely on only one man. If Meles and his government have set the foundation for growth that could stand even in his absence, great. If not, we would be in serious trouble and may have to start building from scratch, and just hope whoever comes next is not another dictator who feels he needs more than 20 years of rule to make things happen….
Anyways, I get carried away about this things coz it is close to my heart, and I feel like I am taking your precious time with my long comment and suffocating Abesheet’s page in the process so I better stop. But I thank you for all your comments, and your patience in reading mine. And though we see things differently in some aspects, I find comfort in knowing that we both want what is best for our country. I am sure more than enough has been said on this topic and I am sure we are all ready to move on to something else. R.I.P. to the departed, comfort to his family, and long live our Ethiopia :-). (I was drafting this comment while multi-tasking at work so I apologize ahead of time for any redundant thoughts and its length.)
sistu | September 4, 2012 at 2:59 am
I think it’s far easier to attempt to defend Meles on minuscule issues but a lot harder to explain why he was himself a better leader to people than piecewise defenses of him put together could prove. But when left alone, the way criticism of his policies (where there are very legitimate ones) are built up in assessing him do such an injustice, especially at his death, to the whole man that one just has to keep trying. So upfront I want to point out that in my view Meles’s biggest contribution was everything that doesn’t need to or maybe shouldn’t be explained in words.
When we get back to the defensible, if I understand the context of the term correctly, I think some of the cases pointed out in connection to the diversification of the economy would point to debatable but legitimate policy issues of regulation/deregulation, market liberalization or state sponsored capitalism that Meles has lately been going on and on and on about and has long been trying to start a debate on (without much sustained and robust rebuttal locally that shows a level of focus that he and his party have obviously put into it). I think his party’s economic policies are tailored for economic reality of Ethiopia that is not shared with much of the world. A private cement factory that has been given dirt cheap land in a remote area would have the incentive for building a road nearby to get its product out to market, which would be great. But if we, for discussion’s sake, assume there was one more private telecom (internet) company in Addis where there are a lot of users, it would probably work out great for the city and the company but how does it work out for the rest of the country? You can’t really get the company to go build a fiber optic high speed internet thingy magigy in a remote area of the country where it’s not guaranteed paying customers. What incentive would a telecom company have to go looking for business in poorer areas of the country or investing in building telecom infrastructure to those areas? And Ethio telecom corp, having lost city revenue to the new competition is in a weaker position to engage in much needed development. So that would lead to concentrated development where the already well off places benefit at the expense of the ones that already don’t have anything. In fact, if we take things to the world’s end, maybe a case can be made that such policies would translate into repression of those who are now left with even smaller chances of gaining access to the things that they hear are the essentials of a non repressive society. If people in cities are complaining that democracy can not be carried out with only one TV station, one newspaper, one internet service etc, what becomes of democracy for those who don’t even have that?
I haven’t heard alternative plans that would benefit the whole country equally and frankly if such a plan exists, i think it would be truly genius-que (sadly, it can not be stressed enough that there hasn’t existed such an angel we don’t know, there has only been the devil we think is evil). I think there has indeed been liberalization of markets but probably not in sectors where equitable distribution or basic access of resources can be maintained in the face of such an attempt. Also, I think I have been led to believe that the goal of Meles’s party has been development that eventually gives way to the type of situation that would allow multiples of services. But to me I don’t think they should even bother with that part for years and years. The US and UK hadn’t fully opened up their major infrastructures like telecom, electricity, aviation to markets that were meant to allow multiple choices until 90s, i.e. decades upon decades after such infrastructures have been fully accessible by the majority of their people. Even for a fully developed system, that path (of market liberalization) can, and most probably will, become a problem when monopoly and price gouging get into their groove. But whereas in Europe and America, that wrong can be, and has sometimes been, righted with one sweep of the pen and change of law, the same can not be said of Ethiopia if we go down that path. They already have the infrastructure, they will just tell the company to take it’s equipment and go play somewhere else and just put either government equipment or new company in its place. In Ethiopia though, something like that would have much more negative consequences for obvious reasons (chief among them: we would have wasted time and revenue that could and should have been invested in the rest of Ethiopia) and I don’t believe much of the country can afford the experimentation that would be tantamount to a self-prescribed poison in such crucial sectors. I could be wrong but I believe there are multiple private cargo carriers but considering the majority of the country doesn’t have cargo to haul in flights across the country, I don’t think you can do much wrong with that sector, metam kerem ayagolem, it’s whatever, so I think a lot of thought must have gone into these policies and on picking where to do what.
When it comes to media, I do not quite know about how media licenses are gained or lost or what the laws concerning those are, and frankly nor do I care as I am not particularly envious of the countries with multiple TV stations. As a whole, I think Ethiopians are much better informed on local and international issues than their contemporaries in a lot of other countries. However, I also am not opposed to the concept, although as we have already disagreed I simply do not think there is a problem of communication means for those who are already on the status of having TVs and can buy newspapers. I think it would be quite sad if we are still pining after TVs and newspapers as our means of communication, and considering them worth battling over, when the rest of the world is growing out of them like a 14 year old with last year’s shoes. But of course I know people can still say it’s the principle that matters, I want my multiple TV stations damn it, so I won’t dwell on it. Me, I think other technology, like internet is going to be more powerful, especially since the majority of Ethiopia doesn’t have access to TV anyways, multiple channels or not, so we can bypass those on our way to catching up with the rest of the world. And I think the government is doing it’s best in addressing that. But I guess it’s also freedom of content that has people worried as much as the means of delivery. I don’t like censorship and I do not think it should be anywhere, but like everything else it exists everywhere and I know it exists in Ethiopia too and it shouldn’t. But I also think uncensored and free press should have to be held accountable for its content. Even in the 400 year old America, people are still grappling with the idea of whether free speech can be made accountable for its consequences (free speech/hate speech? freedom of expression/gaspnudityontv?!). How such accountability is codified into law should be, I think, very open to debate. The current legislators have chosen their ways (I think these are the kind of cases on which opposition can build itself. Not in the “look at this, this is sooo repressive of us. we are pushed to exile because of it” kind of way but more in a “look at this law by the current and very legitimate legislative body, elect us so that we can undo it” kind of way). I don’t think there are a lot of people in Ethiopia who are not already, or can not be made, aware of such laws so I don’t know if I believe those who are opposed to them are not able to make their case properly. It’s probably up to them to devise a way to present their opposition lawfully and make it count with the people.
I fully believe that there exists pressure to engage in politics, but I also think it comes from both sides and I hardly think it’s something orchestrated by Meles or his cadres or the opposite side or their cadres. Again to me those represent cases that are all too common all over the unrepressed world (labor unions). I, however, have never heard of a case in Ethiopia where somebody has had to be involved in politics to advance in school. At the end, I think most of these cases only apply to a very small minority of the whole, so I don’t think they effectively translate to repression of the country and to me they sometimes have a subtle sound of first world problems in a third world country.
Depending on its scale, freedom of assembly without prior approval exists in few places, none of which I know. In theory, Ethiopia too is made up of independent bodies of government. In practice, both Ethiopia and the US have considerable political cross talk between the factions, although they differ in the level of sophistication involved in creating a guise of independence. The judicial branch can carry water for the legislative branch or the executive branch depending on which one it has a crush on at the time and the army can boss around the executive or congress or vice versa depending on which one is more powerful at the time. And this has been over more than a 200 year old period (Roosevelt court packing as recently as 1930s). A 200 year old constitution is still struggling with the same problems of prevalence as a 20 year old Constitution. For me that puts my appreciation more with the 20 year old one that I am sure will get better, and have more admiration and gratitude than scorn for those who worked on creating it. May god rest their souls in eternal peace!
Mazzi, I have fully surrendered to the concept of agreeing to disagree, especially with you who is so gracious! If I haven’t said it already Meles is well worth my time now or 50 years from now. He didn’t hesitate to give me, an Ethiopian he’s never met, nearly 40 years of his life so it is truly an honor to attempt a discussion of him, so I thank you for engaging too.
Mazzi | September 4, 2012 at 4:40 am
Thank you too Sistu for engaging in this kind of dialogue since often times people just seem to have a stand without having specific reasons as to why they have taken their stands. I respect that you argue from specific points, and you feel like what Meles has accomplished is worthy of debating over.
I do not underestimate some of what has bee accomplished in Ethiopia in his time, and I am not one to say Meles is all bad all the time because frankly, nobody is that. Again, I see all your points, especially the issue of perhaps some of what we are talking about being in your view first world problems being applied to third world conditions. I sure do not underestimate the poverty level of our beloved country, and from where developmental projects had to be started or continued. True there are many first world problems that would be out of place in third world settings, given third world resources and needs, but by the same token, a lot of the problems we are talking about are human or universal problems that would affect anyone any where regardless of the country’s wealth though contexts would vary.
Freedom of press for me is not just multiple channels, but rather multiple and independent perspectives. And yes TV and printed media are on their way out, especially in the first world countries in favor of Internet or electronic media. So yes besides the fact that news papers are still widely read in Ethiopia, it is the principle and the contents of the news that counts whether it is on printed or electronic media. And as for Internet access, I understand what you said about giving priorities to which sector of the country to prop up first like the relevance of the cement factory you gave as an example. If as you said having multiple Internet providers would not make a big difference, then why not allow it anyways and let private companies take the business risk. And if your reasoning of giving priorities to only what counts more in building a country’s infrastructure or reaching the larger part of population was/is what is preventing diversification of so called media outlets, then that model would have been applied in all other equally poor countries too. And of course that is clearly not the case. Besides, one way or another, be it through printed or electronic media, free flow of information to me is a huge part of building any infrastructure besides the fact that all these things we are talking about are not mutually exclusive.
I am sure there are other poor countries who don’t see the big deal in privatizing and diversifying even media outlets. To me, with all the need for prioritizing, I also see some political motives behind in manipulating information access, and that I have a huge problem with. It is kind of like saying to the people… “We know what is best for you, so we will decide what information reaches you or not, while we build the country for you.” As for whether one is a party member or not affects new graduates on the job market, trust me I have seen it happen to many people I personally know. Again, nothing overt like “No government ice job for you if you don’t join the EPRDF party” but rather being looked over or being cast out for not joining. Those problems are real, and not imagined, and I resent the implications of the bully mentality.
For all his intelligence, frankly I wish Meles was not power hungry in believing that he could only see his vision of development come to life with only him as the head of state instead of creating an environment where he could be part and parcel of that even in other positions. It is a loss that he can no longer be one of the many influential Ethiopian politicians on any capacity on account of his death. But I still am relieved that he was forced out of office. Many all too powerful leaders are as arrogant as they come, and he was no exception. I took offense, however, to what Susan Rice said about him in her speech at the state funeral about how he did not tolerate fools that he called idiots when she asks him about his government or office. He meant of course anyone who challenges his visions, and to me that sure is not the spirit of ‘Oh I so want my country to grow, and I am willing to do anything for that.’ Obviously, he had his limits to what he was willing to do to make development happen, and sharing the power or spot light in that effort was not one of them.
Meles was the smartest, the most charming, the most self taught, the most confident African dictator I have ever seen, but a dictator nonetheless in my eyes. When I heard Uganda’s president Museveni (sp?) make a speech at his state funeral, I was embarrassed how inarticulate and so random he was in his speech. And I remember thinking… “Gosh! Compared to these inarticulate buffoons in suits who don’t even come prepared with simple speeches at an event where the world would be watching, I bet Meles came across as collected and articulate among them!” For those things I give him credit. But for his forcefulness, his repressive tendencies, his nepotism practices in awarding key government offices to his homeboys, and thinking only his vision was the best, I did not like him at all because frankly he inspired fear in me! He was too powerful of a figure for me to appreciate him even for the good he had done. Isn’t it interesting how he inspires completely different kinds of feelings in us? The same way he inspires vision and decades long dedication in you, he inspires absolute fear in me because he was the worst kind of a dictator … a smart and intelligent one who by all accounts has managed to generate as much hateful feelings as he inspired love and admiration. There is something to be said about that!
Unfortunately, though I am sad he, the man, the father, and the husband met his untimely death that I don’t wish on anyone, I have a hard time feeling remorse that the PM that I saw as the most sophisticated African dictator was forced out of office in that manner because he was not about to leave it any other way. Meles may have been many things to many people, both good and bad. But by God he was not boring. He enticed the attention of the world with his confidence and he shall forever be remembered for that. Besides protecting their own countries’ self interests through their dealings with Meles and what he was able to do for them in return to their support or aid, many world leaders including the Susan Rice of this world found Meles charming enough for them to not care that much about what he may be doing to some of his own people in the name of putting development and security first.
To me, Meles was the personification of the Amharic saying that goes something like “Kewuchi alga, kebet Qegga” … as in he was a person who was so accommodating for outsiders but a thorn to his own people. Not to all of course, but to many of us who saw him that way, and I sure was one of them in spite of all the good that he is credited for. Again, what ever journey he was on, and how ever he justified his actions, fate had it that his run had to come to an end this soon, and for that may he R.I.P. Now I hold my breath to what is to come next in Ethiopia because there is still a lot of work to be done, but hopefully in more inclusive way in the leadership roles.
Anyways, thank you again for engaging in a dialogue with me, and for reading my long comments. And thank you Abesheet for providing the forum in your otherwise much missed Tej Bet. Much much appreciated, and my love and warm greetings to you both ladies. Hope the long weekend was all of that and a bag of chips for both of you, and you were not working like I was having taken advantage of an extended weekend. Cheers to you both.
sistu | September 5, 2012 at 5:10 am
Lol about Museveni(sp?here too), Mazzi. Meret tekefta bewatechign on his behalf (not meqabir-like though). BUT, shout out to Abesheet’s post from a while back, they should be alright over in Uganda land despite their special (for real lack of a word) leader because they have….drum roll…. free press 🙂 I tease, I tease. But that was interesting. Prayed his hat would fly off and he would be forced to go chasing after it, especially at the bit about colonization. I heard Kagame is always very careful not to look unprepared anywhere and I guess it pays off.
Back to reality, I too am very excited to see what follows next in Ethiopia. What I feel is that people will be disappointed to see that Meles was just a man at the head of a party that might just be a very strong army of men and women. I never fully understood why the government wanted to be so obsessive about media outlets in Addis. But my guess is that it was better to be accused of media suppression than to be engaging in mass arrests every time comrades get enticed into riots by some of our finer journalo-politicians in the city. In my view, it was unnecessary as like you said they really didn’t have to do it if they had nothing to hide, and I don’t think they had anything to hide or fear. The way I saw it, nobody will ever win over Ethiopia by starting their battles in Addis or any other city, unless it’s a Menge-type winning over. Let city folk riot and scream all they like and come election time, let country folk decide who actually runs the country. But I think they got paranoid about continued riots and resulting mess and decided to go after the source instead (wrongly, I think). I have always felt opposition (whoever they may be) always assumed that if they could win the battle in the cities and get real power in federal government (somehow. how, I don’t know), they could then send city masters into the country side and whip the masses into shape, just like the good old days, I think. Because “ethnic federalism is bad and Ethiopia wasn’t divided like that before, we will bring it all together under one big region (called the Capitol), and everybody will report back to the Capitol and come to think of it maybe we will have 2 people from each of the 14 former regions come in to an annual game of sorts to remind them about that time they thought they could rule themselves, or secede if they want to and what not. And we shall call it the Games.. or something games, something to do with our country”. (sorry, I couldn’t resist, that movie looked like my worst nightmare for Ethiopia).
But really, none of the opposition parties will ever step out of the cities for some serious winning-over-the-people work because god forbid those shoes get dirty and until they do that, people in the country side will keep giving the bigger share of their votes to the party they do see locally. I mean media is not going to do the winning over work for opposition in those regions because, well, it doesn’t exist there. If I was on the opposition side, I would feel very disheartened about this and wonder about if things will ever change, but then cheer up immediately because even if things don’t change, we’ve still got diaspora on our side and they, unlike broke SOBs in Sodo, will bankroll the heck out of us. Most amusing story I head involved someone in America who was setting aside money for “dissidents” in Addis/kenya what not only to go for a visit and find out that poor guy was financing a life of relative comfort, and not much of the hassle and hustle and bustle one would assume of repressed folk. Actually diaspora [money] has been a real point of sadness for me, not just on the general disagreements but I had really hoped that diaspora will eventually jump on board and concentrate on the real enemy at hand — poverty. I was one of the fools who really thought they would come through for the Abay Dam thing and that we would finally pull together to get something big done for the country. Oh well. But I’m sure people at home will manage to get that thing done.
So in conclusion, I honestly don’t see an end to a stream of Meles-es coming from that party any time soon. Because I think they have the 51% votes and they have the party of people after people from all corners of the country one after another to choose as leaders because those people have been building the heck out of their party for years now, starting from the guerrilla days. Best facebook status I read from one opposition type of person: “I’m feeling neither better nor worse today coz he was just one but the biggest fish”. Now that person and I are on the same page.
And if there comes a time when all regions of the country have enough access to information that they decide they need to be more adventurous in their ballot choices, well I think Meles and pals will consider their mission accomplished. How I can not wait for that day.
Frankly I don’t have intimate knowledge of Meles’ family but I was under the impression that he never brought any of them into any form of political power. In fact, all accounts I have heard is that his family lives a pretty modest life (teachers, small time merchants etc). It seems customary for the ruling party to get to give appointments to members of the party but I have not yet heard of Meles bringing his family into it, except for his wife, but I think they are kind of on equal terms, those two, and she could have easily been the one who brought him into power instead of vice versa. Girl Power! and why not, White Power!
Speaking of white, I don’t know if there is a reason to believe that Susan Rice’s ‘fools’ comment was about the opposition. Considering that they would have met to discuss UN matters (maybe sanctions?), they could have been discussing different things. I can picture Meles calling Isaias Afewerki(sp?) a foolish idiot for bringing sanctions on his country out of stubbornness (But I thought I heard Isaias was smarter, or less idiotic, than Meles). On the other hand, he could also have been talking about the “Ethiopians” who were calling for sanctions on Ethiopia. I know I was really offended by those calls and wouldn’t hesitate to call those people fools/idiots/and many more names that Meles, God rest his soul, would have been too much a gentleman to use.
Weekend was great, Mazzi. I did lots of funeral watching which wasn’t bad because it was a once in a life time experience and despite the occasion it was wonderful seeing MZ being honored like that. Hope yours was great too.
Ebdu | September 5, 2012 at 3:53 pm
Sistu, did you hear Michelle Obama’s speech last night? I don’t know how you can say doing the infamous thing and losing votes in the process makes you a weasel and an opportunist?
abesheet | September 5, 2012 at 9:49 pm
*wakes up with a jolt*
Abesheet? Did somebody call my name?
sistu | September 6, 2012 at 12:36 am
Ebdu, I’m sorry I didn’t hear Michelle Obama’s speech, but I heard it was great. What did she say? I didn’t mean any harm by my dig on her husband. I do like him a lot but as well documented on this thread, I get weak-kneed for the morally corrupt so he is right up my alley. I don’t know but I think it’s interesting that he ended up supporting something that was starting to gain support anyway. What do you think?
Abesheetiye, Kesekeskush, I’m sorry. I meant a shout out in the way guy at 3:30 would do a shout out: http://www.awkwardblackgirl.com/season-1/episode-8
Don’t worry, if Mazzi can indulge me, we will put you right back to sleep when Mazzi and I get started on EG’s “Structural transformations: lessons from Asia to Africa” aka how to use slave labor without actually calling it that.
wubet | September 6, 2012 at 9:26 pm
Sistu, I do like your episode. The depth, description and detail of the work.Things teachers tried to teach me back in college for literature which I did not get at the time but makes things beautiful. I do like the part where the guy plays the guitar a lot. 🙂 ow u are sooo good. how can I be in love with two people at the same time? Now I have to see a shrink. 🙂
abesheet | September 6, 2012 at 10:00 pm
*wipes a tear, “mamarers” her “temama edil”, and hands “wubet” her shrink’s business card* Don’t forget! You have to tell her who recommended you. I can’t lose both an admirer and a free session! I can’t! I can’t!
Ebdu | September 7, 2012 at 4:34 pm
Forget Michelle and listen to Clinton, sistu. He was phenomenal. I hope those white guys listen to somebody who look like them. It has all become about who looks like me and not who has my best interest these days.
Abesheetye atalkeshe yene enat. Me love you forever. 🙂
Lulit | September 19, 2012 at 4:59 am
I still can’t believe he is gonne. It feels very unreal.
Ebdu | September 20, 2012 at 4:19 pm
Engdih ebdna sekaram yelibun yenagerale aydel? Enkwan aderesesh abesheetye. http://photos-e.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/576979_413269782073935_1798937021_n.jpg 🙂
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