A Comment on General Tsadkan Proposal
General Tsadkan has written two articles which triggered discussions among the political active class as well as silent majority.
General Tsadkan article attracted attention due to the timing and candidness of his proposal. It doesn’t matter who he was and who he is going to be but he has raised important points. That is the system is about to face it’s biggest challenge and it might let the country go on fire if it collapse.
If General Tsadkan article was written about a year ago, many would have laughed as a doomsday prophet and no one would have given time and attention to engage with him.
Prof Desta and many wrote not because the General proposal wrong but because everyone, including the ruling party recognize the danger ahead. So, there is no need to be scared by the General proposal or speculate on his motives.
Six months ago when the Oromia and Kemant protest start the government ignored the political messages and want to turn the agenda in to lack of good governance. The military solution taken by the government ends up in opening the roads to Addis Ababa but didn’t solve it. The students in Oromia continue to protest and trow stone and the calm came when school and universities close. The problems were not addressed and as the school start in September 2009 the problem is going to escalate and may become a danger to the regime and maybe to the country. That is why there is a need for candid discussion to come-up with solution to avert the danger.
Why these problems arise?
Power corrupt; and absolute power corrupt absolutely. Everyone agrees EPRDF in the last 10 years unnecessarily chased absolute absolute power and they have achieved absolute. That become an end than becoming a new ruling class that may rule for 1000 years.
EPRDF is made up of 4 parts but the lion share of EPRDF is the history of TPLF. TPLF we know used to walk among the people, live in the hut of peasants, live with the people, listen and debate with the people to solve the problems. That is why TPLF was welcomed by the people in Tsegede for more than 40 years, in Wello and North Gonder more than 30 years ago, Semen Shewa, Welega, Harrar and Ogaden 25 years ago.
Now as the power accumulate and opportunities gather around it began to see the people as it’s subjects rather than as partners or let alone it’s masters. Like all ruling class it began to believe that it is ordained to rule whether the people like it or not. The Six million party members were recruited who wanted to be feared than loved by the people. Using newly gained fear power began to rob and abuse low abiding citizen. A middle man (Delala) and regional authorities began to demand a million birr kick-back for selling the land of peasants who might get 50,000 compensation
Everyone who voiced his dissatisfaction was branded as anti-government and charged with anti-terrorist low. The government that released Legese Asfaw, Fisseha Desta and the Derge officials began to hand over a random life sentence on journalist like Eskender Nega for saying the Arab Spring might start in Ethiopia. People feared and kept their thought and their grudge to themselves waiting for the right time.
All these are the typical characteristics of monarchy when it began to see itself as a ruling class and the people as it’s subjects that need to behave and ruled.
The road was slippery from a liberator to ruler. Liberators in sandal and who used to sleep and eat in peasant hut began to import tinted glass Toyota Land Cruisers and hand over to the officials and cadres creating physical and psychological barriers with commoners and it ‘subjects.
Every official began to have 3 cars and three body guards to open the doors, do the wife shopping and do the gardens. This lifestyle become a magnate for opportunities march to join the ruling class.
The wealthy businessmen provide the blue label whiskies and the party and the entertainment continue to late nights at Sheraton. Of course, the competition to build the biggest sky scarper began earnestly thinking that the subject have no power to question. Regular talk of wealth registration, corruption investigation and slogans to fight corruption become a ritual than a commitment.
In fact, government officials made the biggest mistake to chase absolute power and assume 100% control of the power. That took the chance of changing the system using the ballot box.
Above all the system used the the educational system to indoctrinate the youth that are different along ethnic line with no reference to shared identities, shared values and shared destinies.
In fact for 25 years the officials want to make the young generation angry by telling them their fathers were oppressed and they are the victim. Rather than creating an enlightened and confident generation hate was planted in the soles of young generation. This was meant to exploit them to be a tool for fighting the system. It started during the libation and the leaders forgot the system is now is themselves.
A generation that grow with victimized mentality and angery are not fully grown. Anyone under the age of 30 was educated by the EPRDF ideology. These guys are now 70% of the population, with not job, hope, feeling inferior while looking at the luxury of their political cadres and leaders.
The new generation is around 70,000,000 and they feel discriminated and excluded. Whether the feeling is real or imagined it makes no difference.
Now there are 25 million students in Ethiopia and close to 500,000 students in Universities who feel that they have no say, stake, marginalized and looked down by the political class and cadres.
These guys now see no fair play and hope and they do not care to set fire on the system. Now as university and school open, the fire will start to burn faster.
General Tadkan detaching himself from the ruling class 15 years ago had a chance to mix and work with ordinary people. He wasn’t seeing the people through a tinted glass of a land cursor.
As a result he saw the danger coming and the power of the new generation against the older and overweight political aristocrats. He wants to show the danger coming but like Ate Haileselase ruling class no body want to listen.
This is not about Shabia, Egypt, OLF or Neftegna. This is an uprising of highly ethicized young generation. Ethnic identity is a primarily identify due to the last 25 years indoctrination of 70 million kids. They are only Oromo, Tigray, Amhara, Afar and Somali. No Ethiopia song was played on OPDO controlled media. The hats, T-Shirts, Scarf, weeding cloths, were made in the flag of regional Killels, and no Ethiopia is associated with the regions.
Now Burayu is their border, Tsegede is their land, Sebeta is their Bademe. When these imaginary borders are violated it is obvious that they have to rise up to defend their territory and identity like my feel about Badema or my generation about the Red Sea, and Ogaden.
The identity politics has side effect and that is now here to burn everything that was built. The easy way out is to tone down division and preach a pan-Ethiopian identity and tell the young generation that we all are one people and boarders were created to make administration better not a feudal fiefdom. .
Ethnic policy and division was meant to be a means to an end but now it became sacrosanct of EPRDF, something that cannot be talked about or criticized.
Like Mengistu, EPRDF is believing it’s own propaganda and want to die by it. Few Student Movement activist and MESON feed Mengistu Socialism and Communism as means but he beloved that is the alpha and omega of the world.
When Gorbachev, unlike Mengistu who can read, write and think realized it no more serving the interest of USSR and abandoned it, Mengistu became more Catholic than the pope to go to Moscow and make speech saying Gorbachove is reactionary (BeRaJe, Kelash). As we have recently read from classified document before Mengistu plane landed back in Addis the Russia Ambassador in Addis went to US embassy to tell the American that they give up on Mengistu and tell the American they can do anything they like. USSR made it clear to the American Mengistu is no more their baby. If he had listened he could have been their Syria of today. As they say, the rest is history, Herman Cohen and Jimmy Carter took over to send him to Zimbabwe while Russia wasn’t interested even to host their own baby.
EPRDF once again repeating the mistake that Mengistu did. It is now blaming everyone except it’s sacrosanct ethnic and identity politics. Now the Oromo youth think that their land is taken and resource robed, Tegede want an identity respected, Sidam has been asking to have their region separated from South to take Hawas with all it’s implications, Konso identity committee has been asking for their region and 2 out of the 5 committee members were killed by Federal or regional authorities sending the Konso police, administrators and youth to fled to the jungle. Somali and Oromia had been fighting in boarders and Borena for long time and no solution has been provided. The Afar and Somali region has been fighting and the Somali have taken the entire Afar town on one side of the road to port Djibouti, the towns like Adamitu, Gedamaiyu etc.
The Federal Minster and Melse have decided to be returned all these towns to Afar while Meles was still alive but now no one has a power to tell the Somali Leyu force to leave and return to old borders. The Tigraian speaking in Afar has been asking to return to Tigray region, Gedio and Guje have been at each other throat and the Southern and Oromia officials cannot do anything except sprinkling water when clash start; the Anuak and Nuere tribes have been fighting and some still argue that there was a coordinated genocide against Anuak.
So far it was suppressed by injecting fear and bruit force. But the young generation is begining to flex it’s muscles. The old generation that grew up under one Ethiopia has passed away and it account less than 30% of the population. Now the feeling on being an Oromo, Amhara, Sidama, Afar and Tigray is burning in the heart of the young generation and they are not afraid to die for the motherland, border, land and the new Bademe of Burayu.
Twenty five years ago many including myself were arguing there is not an Amhara ethnic group. Thanks to EPRDF, it showed how a collective phycological make-up can be created. Humera was a place where anyone can go and farm unless he fear malaria, not a territory that one is prepared to die for.
These are the dangers which we used to shy away to talk about. Tsadkan has seen the danger maybe he was an ordinary person like the rest of us who were not seeing through tinted glass of the masses.
The danger is here and the way out is to sing the Ethiopian nationalism. Prof. Gelawdios Aray has written an article for starting a pan-Ethiopian agenda. That is the only thing that can dissolve the need to have boarders to fight for. All land belong to all Ethiopians.
This is the reality of Ethiopia and denial is not going to help EPRDF. Ate Haileselase was overthrown by students he had educated. He thought just educating was enough to make them his allies. A liberal education he prescribed created the revo generation. Now the EPRDF’s education has created the Oromo identity, the Amhara identity and Konso identity etc. You cannot solve these questions with bullets and make them love the others. There will not be enough bullets and army to suppress it. This not the urban middle class uprising like Kenjit but a generation uprising to assert their ethnic pride by excluding the others.
General Tadkan has seen the danger coming maybe because people are free to express their feeling to Tadkan than Gen. Samora. People in power surround themselve is with the people who want to tell them what they want to hear.
No one dare to take the problem of TPLF to General Samora. So do not try to belittle what General Tadkan wrote. It is easy to be Azmare and sing to the powerful but that doesn’t help the powerful rulers. Telling the truth to the power is difficult and it is that can help them see their short-coming and resolve the problems.
The solution is prescribed by Prof. Gelawios Aray. That is to tone down ethnic differences and talk about shared pan-Ethiopian agenda. Drop the dead ideology of ethnic identity to sing about shared destiny.
Meles was pragmatist; he has changed from Albania Socialism and leader of MMLT to become a partner in with Gorge Bush and Tony Blair. I see him as pragmatic person to change his view and policy when it no more serves his goal. MMLT was formed through Congress but he didn’t call a congress to dissolve it.That would have created endless revolutionary debate with the fighters. As they say, he dropped the dead donkey and moved on.
The fighters were asking what happened to MMLT but he kept them out of breath by creating a dynamic agenda to move them away from the question and potential issue of differences. That is called leadership. Now everyone is ready to fight over their boarders and identify and moving the agenda from boarder to pan-Ethiopian is the way out We either lead them to fight and die for their boarders or make it the boarder irrelevant by elevating them with shared pan-Ethiopian identity.
To be honest, so far, Hailemariam, Demeke and Debretion are not capable of coming with new idea like Meles. So looking towards outside observers like General Tadkan to see the problem of the system about to crumble when the University and School open. 25 millions school kids and 500,000 University students will be back in school. No one knows how they would react.
They will be out to throwing stones and play with fire. Wise leadership will avoid crisis by listening to the generation and answering their concerns. Arrogant leadership trust its guns and bullets and eventually fails.
It is time for EPRDF cadress to listen to independent voices and be agile to change and adopt. Being threatening and chauvinistic, arrogant and believe in your invincible power of the state is wrong. All ruling class fail not because they didn’t do good things in their time but they believed that they are ordained to rule. As ordinary citizen that is why I am supporting Gen. Tadkans suggestion and I share his fear and concern.
Meles saved TPLF from ending up being an eternal liberation front like the one in Latin America by ditching old thoughts and adopting a new idea which sometime happen to be the opposite. He was MMLTpriest and he could have ended up like the Tamil Tiger and PKK of Kurdstan if he wants to die as MMLT. He made a U turn to be an ally to Neo-Liberals like George Bush government. This is called pragmatics leadership and not defeatist.