By S. W. Omamo (Author)
Richardson-Omamo Books $9.49
April 7, 2023
“The poisonous global rhetoric about inclusion and prejudice did not find a breeding ground in WFP Ethiopia. But we could not escape some of it. And as a black African man in the “international community” I could not dodge the worst of it. Racism.” – Steven W. Omamo
What he said about is“[‘At the Center of the World in Ethiopia’] what he saw, what he felt, what he did as the Representative and Country Director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Ethiopia from 2018 to 2021… He left WFP at the end of 2021, grateful for his 12-year contribution to an amazing organization that works to avert starvation in emergencies and tackle the root cause of hunger around the world.”
He added “…The racist, anti-black, anti-African impulse in the “international community” is strong. Ask any African at any level in any position. Any. It is an inevitable topic when Africans in the ‘international community’ congregate and speak freely. How racism is accepted, embraced, promoted at the highest levels. How Africans labor under its weight for years and years – their stories of commitment and achievements untold and lost forever …”
The author’s quality
I finished reading the whole book in one sitting. His facts and statements are public information and verifiable. His writing is focused. Coherent. Carries his individuality. His book’s elegant cover compliments its title by giving “the sense of a journey into time of outer space”. His clean and lean and precise prose composed of simple words and phrases made the book faster to read. His rare in context effective sentence fragments made my reading more interesting. He is a great writer.
The book is also a great showcase for his leadership talent and skills. He said “WFP Ethiopia performed at ever higher levels of excellence and productivity” under his leadership. With his team he helped “transform WFP Ethiopia from one of the worst performers in WFP’s Global Staff Survey in 2018 to one of the best performers in the 2021 survey.”
What stands out
When Omamo was the Representative and Country Director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Ethiopia, what he saw, what he felt and what he experienced: The racist sub-culture of WFP’s white leadership. The false narratives the leadership manufactured and used along with the “international community” and the mainstream media for disinformation warfare against Ethiopia. The “international community’s” politicians were allowed to infiltrate and to corrupt WFP Ethiopia’s science-based process to determine the severity of food insecurity.
He said “the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) results were leaked before the report was completed. Without compunction, [Mark Lowcock, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator] and others began to quote these results at global level and declared there was famine in Tigray [although the IPC report which was issued in June 2021 found there was no famine in Tigray from May 2020 to September 2021.”
The image below is the incomplete “IPC Acute Food Insecurity Analysis” from May to September 2021; it stated 353,000 people in Tigray were in “IPC Phase 5 ‘Catastrophe’ conditions”.
The report didn’t say “IPC Phase 5 Famine; [it didn’t] declare a Famine”. Contrary to the IPC’s leaked incomplete report the “FAMINE INFORMATION WARFARE” was launched.
First, [David Beasley] WFP’s Executive Director tweeted on June 08, 2021 that “People are dying of hunger in #Tigray. Time is running out. We need unfettered humanitarian access to scale up and avert a catastrophe. ALL parties must make good on this commitment NOW.”
Second, [Mark Lowcock] former U. N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator helped spread Beasley’s toxic lie. He told Foreign Policy on June 22, 2021 that “There is famine now in Tigray,” “Food is definitely being used as a weapon of war [by the Ethiopian government].”
Third, the worst lie came from Samantha Power the head of the USAID. By almost three fold, she exaggerated the IPC’s incomplete finding of 353,000 people in IPC Phase 5 “Catastrophe” conditions in Tigray. And then she told a lie to the fake news media. The lie was spread by, the Associated Press (AP), on June 26, 2021 that “The United States estimates that up to 900,000 in Ethiopia’s Tigray face famine.”
Omamo said “the source of the higher figure [900,000] was never shared. We [WFP Ethiopia which Omamo led] concluded that it had been fabricated [by Samantha Power].” He also said a major donor [US] ominously added a threat that ‘all options’ were on the table.” That President Joe Biden’s administration could punish Ethiopia, including by bombing.
Fourth, Martin Griffiths the U.N.’s new – he replaced Lowcock – Under-Secretary-General for humanitarian affairs told Reuters on September 29, 2021 that “he assumes famine has taken hold in Ethiopia’s Tigray… We predicted that there were 400,000 people in famine-like conditions, at risk of famine, and the supposition was that if no aid got to them adequately they would slip into famine…” He visited Ethiopia, including Tigray for six days from July 29, 2021 to August 03, 2021.
His statement agrees with the IPC and Omamo’s that there was no famine in Tigray, but contradicts the claim that there was drought in Tigray as of June 2021 by Beasley Lowcock and Power.
Without naming names, Omamo said a Special Envoy [Mike Hammer] from a global power [U.S.] decided to visit Ethiopia and was allowed to travel to Mekelle. WFP advised that he should also visit Dessie in Amhara Region where over 500,000 people had fled following the Tigray Force (TF) invasion…” Omamo also suggested to [Hammer] that “It was important to continue to highlight needs in Tigray…It was also important to look beyond Tigray and begin to understand and speak about the food security implication of the TF offensive into Amhara and Afar …”
[Hammer] confirmed that he had been to Dessie and seen the IDP’s there, but that, to him, “They were not in such bad condition”.
Omamo said he was “Stunned, I contested that point, indicating that I had recently been in Dessie myself and seen great suffering among IDPs.”
What would make the book much more effective?
Since the book is nonfiction and its key characters’ good/evil deeds are public information, identifying the characters by their names (proper nouns) and/or job titles could make the narrations more vivid and helpful to readers who don’t know the detail background context of the book, especially students who might want to use the book for their research paper.
To explain, Omamo said “… a tweet went out on the Executive Director’s handle…” He also said “A major donor even began to quote a figure of 900,000 people on the verge of famine in Tigray…”
The above sentences are vague; the characterization failed to make the story real. Mentioning the characters by their names would make their stories more informative such as: “… tweet went out on the Executive Director David Beasley’s handle…” Samantha Power, the head of the USAID, claimed 900,000 people in Ethiopia’s Tigray face famine.
Author’s Note: After I read the book, I wanted to write my review of it to show my appreciation of the author for taking his time to write it and for his great writing quality and style. When I reread it for my review, I needed to know its characters by their names. To bring them life and to show them vividly, I had to research them based on the narratives. That significantly slowed down my review process and caused me to crowd this review with “Square Brackets”, used to insert clarifications.
I wondered why the characters were only characterized by their job titles. That puzzled me because the book has historical significance for the U.N., WFP, IPC and USAID and the Ethiopian governments.
I encourage you to order this great book with elements of racism, weaponized humanitarian aid used for the donors’ cause, for their false narratives against Ethiopia but in favor of the terrorist TPLF. Famine! You will read true stories, including: Those who terrorized Ethiopians for over fifteen years were considered as good guys by the “international community”, President Joe Biden’s administration. The administration considered a democratically elected government, loved by over 100 million people as bad guys.
I always appreciate the international aid donors and the humanitarian aid industry, including WFP and USAID. I’m aware of their flaws and understand sovereignty isn’t free. Their focus on handouts instead of development shows the donors weakness, lack of confidence and short-sightedness of vision for humanity’s progress which one can obstruct but cannot stop.
Using humanitarian handouts to advance donors’ political agenda has failed to render enough dividends for the donors from Ethiopians. They could amass much more respect and more love from them if the donors focus on to help advancing development, human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
Weaponizing handouts, spreading fake news via AP, Reuters, CNN, the New York Times and the BBC and paying lip service for International Bill of Human Rights which the U. N. defined have made donor countries’ leadership appear they aren’t any better than the colonial powers of the 1600s to 1960s. Their lecture on human rights has made them a laughing stock.
Remember, the major donor countries and some of their banana republics such as Estonia, called the U.N. Security Council meeting 15 times in the period from December 13, 2021 to October 20, 2022 to discuss Ethiopia’s internal affairs and to come up with an excuse to invade Ethiopia, an outdated practice and unsuitable for humanity that share information at a speed of light.
Out of the fifteen meetings, twelve of them were called by the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Ireland, Norway, Estonia, and Belgium. Only three of the meetings were called by African nations: Kenya, Ghana, Gabon, Niger and Tunisia. China and Russia didn’t participate in calling a meeting; they defended the Ethiopian government’s position at the meetings.
This review is dedicated to Maureen Achieng; she was the IOM’s chief representative in Ethiopia, and Dennia Gayle; she was the U.N. Population Fund’s country representative in Ethiopia. Both of them were fired from their positions by the U.N. for telling the truth to Jeff Pearce – a freelance journalist and an author – in private recording that “the U.N. officials globally sympathize with the TPLF”.
The writer, LJDemissie, can be reached at LJDemissie@yahoo.com