Two and a half years ago, I went to South Africa. During my stay there, I went to visit the apartheid museum in Johannesburg. The facility is not very impressive when seen from outside. However, one senses the strangeness of the facility as one enters it. The entrance was divided into two separate passages: “whites only” and “colored and blacks only”, signposts from the Apartheid era. Eerily, my relative went through one and I passed through the other.The museum catalogues the history of South Africa going all the way back to its early inhabitants, a thousand or more years back. What really shook me and left an indelible mark on me was the last part of the history just before Apartheid was crushed. I was so much inspired by the visit to the museum that I inserted the following couple of paragraphs in my long article I wrote at the time (Can Ethiopia Make it or Wallow in Poverty for Good?). The words ring true today just as they did at the time, even more so today in light of the current political quagmire in Ethiopia. Hence I felt the urge to share the paragraphs again, and here they are:
Oh, What a Struggle!
“No one can stop a determined people from throwing off the yoke of oppression”, said a relative of mine to me after we finished visiting the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. We were both overwhelmed by the awesome and earthshaking struggle by the people of South Africa. Videos after videos of the struggle were shown in the museum: videos of the young people of Soweto determined to make South Africa ungovernable for the racist regime; waves after waves of young people fighting the powerful South African security forces as they were being shot at, chased and beaten. The whole Soweto was up in smoke. University students followed suit, marching as they were being bludgeoned. Religious people were demonstrating and speaking openly against the immoral government (liberation theology). Women’s groups and farm workers and trade unions were all out on the street. Everybody was fighting against injustice and the huge South African security forces just could not stop the struggle for freedom. The struggle for freedom spread like wildfire, and the fire was too big to be put out by the forces of brutality and racist machinery. Oh, what a struggle!!
A focused, Concerted Struggle
The time has come for all those who recently shed their tears and anguished over the inability of our people to feed to channel their shame and rage into a positive force to transform our country. Here comes our moment of truth: whether we really participate and fight for justice, freedom and democracy, or just whine and expect someone else to bring the change, someone else to confront the evil, some one else to sacrifice himself or herself.
If we, Ethiopians, really, really want freedom; if we really, really want to end the degrading poverty rather than get used to it and resign to wallowing in it, each one of us must fight, participate in one thing or another to bring change. We must assume the responsibility for bringing change. Only and only then, we can easily get rid of the bullying leadership of Meles and Meles’s apartheid. We can also build an Apartheid museum for Meles’s Bantustan government.