Mengistu H. Mariam as we all vividly remember was one of the most brutal dictators in Africa during one of the most turbulent periods in Ethiopian History. This non-descript small man committed atrocities on his people under which the ‘French Reign of Terror’ will pale by comparison.
So I was surprised to see him interviewed on a major Amhara ‘nephtegna’ website recently. To me that to even think of giving this insect the semblance of legitimacy was an idea that only those who have lost their sanity or are so blinded by nostalgia for the old order could entertain.
Mengistus’ reign of terror started with the summery execution of sixty highly prominent Ethiopian leaders including the then Prime Minister Mr. Aklilu H. Wold and was followed by the elimination of his own partners in the ‘Dergue’ whom he accused of being member of the EPRP the ELF and the EDU. Later the purging continued with the elimination of the likes of Atnafu Abate a co-chairman of the Dergue and Teferi Benti. A nominal Head of State
Years later Mengistu eliminated his most prominent Generals, chief among whom were General Fanta Belay, General Merid Gizaw General…oh I could go on and on, who after seeing what was happening to their country had decided to ferment a coup-de –Etta against this seemingly ferocious but internally cowardly pest.
But this is trivial compared to the over two million innocent Ethiopians who perished under the MESON initiated (who also later became its victims) red terror.
The point of this article here is not to document the evils that Mengistu and his cohorts perpetrated but to try to fathom what kind of people will try to rehabilitate this maniac in spite of his glaring past and who are they and what their motives are.
I will give you a simple very instructive example of the motives behind these people. I once met an Ethiopian who was wearing a Mengistu T- shirt and knowing his background asked him how he can wear the picture of the man who killed his very uncle. He replied ‘ because he is a true ‘nationalist’. I did not understand his reasoning but I knew he was intimidated by many of his peers and did not have the backbone to stand up to them. And why do this people do what they do? The reason is simple. These are people who have a lot to benefit if they can portray the man who put his tail between his legs and unlike his predecessors who sacrificed themselves at Metema and Mekdela run to Zimbabwe as a hero so they can construct a hero they can rally behind. The struggle in search of justice has now morphed into a struggle in search of a hero.
Not only that. The amount of money flowing between DC and Zimbabwe is no laughing matter. Even Dawit W. Giorgis the ex –foreign Ministry Official who run away so he can live to fight another day, and later composed a love letter to Mengistu has used some connections with the likes of Kassa Kebede to amass some wealth and has used the Woyane variable to sell some fictions he wrote to gloss over his role as a prominent member of the ruling class. By the way this is the very guy who had the temerity to even once suggest that we Eritrean join him in his struggle to crown himself the new Ethiopian Head of State.
Now the idea of these ‘nephtegnas’ is to try to form an opposition coalition of the disaffected with the Meles regime and try to retake the power these people feel they lost not because of Mengistu but because of the complete transformation of the Ethiopian political landscape by Meles..
I am one of those who believe that people have an inherent right to oppose any Government that they see as usurpers or contrary to what they believe. And I am a firm believer that people have a right to fight for the ideals and principles they believe in. But I don’t believe that people have a right to turn themselves into children of a lesser God or objects of abject pity to achieve their objective.
The Oromos have been one of the most oppressed and suppressed people in Ethiopia since the conquest of the South by Menelek. So much so that they had to change their official ethinic identity from Galla to Oromo not because the word Oromo was the true designator of these ethnic people but because the word Galla has been so intimately associated by the ruling ethinic group with everything that is repulsive in an ethnic identity to the extent where they even had to change their names to assimilate in the new Ethiopia.
Today one of the Oromo political factions that calls itself “ ONEG” has unilaterally assumed it is the only organization that represents the Oromo people. To be fair , I have no idea and no information to negate the claim of when the Oromo people mandated this party to represent them.
But from what I have been able to learn this organization has been promising the Diaspora Ormos that it will one day as Martin Luther once said “ set them free” from the oppressive rule of first the Amharas and now the Tigrianss and to this end had made a pact with the very people that had forced the Gallas to call themselves Oromos.
ONEG of course is in no position to free anything from anyone. It doesn’t have a military wing and it hasn’t liberated a single village let alone a single town in its forty some history.
But the leaders of ONEG are living good. How can you live good when you haven’t held even a single paying job in the last thirty years. The liberation business can sometimes be very profitable. But I am not in a position to make a judgment . I leave that to the reader to decipher.
We Eritreans are a people like any one else in the Horn of Africa. We don’t have any unique characteristics or ethnic make ups or unique abilities different from our brethren in our region. When we conducted our struggle against the repressive regime in Addis Ababa it was because we felt as a co-federated State not only that the Ethiopian regime failed to respect the articles of our Confederation but also perpetrated violence against our people. We felt that we were not being treated as equal partners in the building of the modern Nation State. Our struggle was just and our struggle was for justice.
Today those we entrusted with our destiny have betrayed us and our revolution. These very leaders who have denied their people the fruits of what they have struggled for thirty years are promising the Oromos and the Amharas , they will help them in their struggle with the regime in Addis Ababa. And the naïve leaders of the so called opposition have flocked to Asmara with plenty of hard earned cash they have been able to coerce from their people in the Diaspora. Isaise has his own agenda and when the going gets tough Isaise, like his contemporary Mengistu, will shove his tail between his legs and run to Qatar living them high and dry.
I am not in a position to advise any one on how to conduct his opposition but if I have to, well my advise to these people what ever it is worth will be as Marx once said “ it is the duty of the proletariat to free itself…” from its oppression. Change comes only when you have a dedicated people willing to struggle and sacrifice themselves for the good of what they believe in. It is time for the Amharas and Oromos in the Diaspora to rethink the strategies the old ‘Nephtegnas’ and ‘professional liberators’ have devised for them and to challenge the status qua.
You see sanity is good. More sanity more good!!
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