Today: June 15, 2024

The Clash of Generations Between: Response to Prof. Maru Gubena

March 10, 2006

By Yinegal Belachew

I read Dr. Maru Gubena’s article with a lot of interest. This interest came because we both belong to the same generation he called ‘Golden Period Generation’ and share more or less the same experiences. It would have been wise and scientific to wait until Part II come out and read what is in it to conclude and learn what Dr. Maru Gubena wants us to. I chose not to wait.

I agree to most of the analysis given by Dr. Maru Gubena and do agree on the historical part of the analysis. Two foundations he based his analysis on put their weight on the other side of the scale. Let me explain.

First: Is there a clash of generations?

My answer is NO there is not.

When we make such generalized statements, we have to be careful to cover our bases. We have to ascertain what we mean by generations. We have to establish the two generations that we are describing. Then we have to define what we mean by clashing. Here Dr. Maru Gubena, except throw in a generalized statement, did not establish what he made us think that he is going to do.

Second: What is the purpose of writing the article?

Currently we in the Diaspora, who claim to be on the people’s side in its fight against the illegal group in power, are without a leadership, vision, and means of supporting the people. What is this article intending to do? Are its intentions to foment more divisions and promote my way or the high way?

First let me recap what I agree with Dr. Maru Gubena.

Dr. Maru Gubena is correct when he described the early 70s as the time when there was growing need for new socio-economic and political change. I also agree that Dergue was the uncontested and most ruthless ruler of Ethiopia until now. TPLF is fast passing any threshold Dergue has established in crimes, killings and disestablishing the country. I do agree when Dr. Maru Gubena wrote that the 1974 Ethiopian revolution was began as a people’s revolution until it was forcefully snatched by Dergue. In addition to that I agree in the mess the Kinijit Diaspora Leadership, whatever the division is, created and wasted the good will of the Diaspora Ethiopians.

Here I would like to correct a general misconception. It is with pride that one writes, ‘My generation is excellent. We did this and did that. ‘Of course some take it further and compare theirs with others. This becomes a problem when this comparison belittles others and magnifies itself. I am pretty sure one way or another we heard: “Yezare gize ligotch.” and “The good old days” and the like. In a casual conversation it has its place but when one analyzes a historical perspective of a country it is dangerous. I am transitioning to the first of the foundations in my view Dr. Maru Gubena violated. Every generation has its own historical mission given not by choice but by being born at that time. No one goes to her or his choice of generation one is born into it. In the late 60s and early 70s the historical call was to champion “land to the tiller” “education for all” and “a representative working parliament/government”. In that struggle progressives and saboteurs were created. This is what I think Dr. Maru Gubena called “Golden Period Generation” Unless Dr. Maru Gubena chooses his members selectively, it is this generation that gave Ethiopia the Mengistu Hailemariam and the officers that butchered thousands, it is this generation that gave Isayas Afewrki, Meles Zenawi, and their groups and political followers. Is this the generation that is lumped together and glorified? Of course I belong to it. For me there are bad and good in it as there are in every generation. In the generation Dr. Maru described, “War Born Generation” I found the students in the university in 2001 that fought hard and sacrificed their dreams for the Ethiopian people. I see many that swarmed the rank and file of opposition camps. Are these to be lumped with the few that served Dergue and few that are serving TPLF? THERE IS NO GENERATION CLASH. I am definitely sure you have around you individuals that were born within 1974 ± 5 years you admire for their commitment to the Ethiopian people and their struggle against TPLF/EPRDF. Again, THERE IS NO GENERATION CLASH. The current demarcation is between those who side with the people of Ethiopia and TPLF.

Let me go to the second point.

What is the purpose of writing this article?

In general terms I can correctly say that what we in the Diaspora talk about is the struggle of the Ethiopian people against the illegal and ruthless TPLF/EPRDF group. This struggle is in Ethiopia where young children are telling the illegal group you do not represent me. The form of the struggle is many and the place is everywhere in Ethiopia. Where do we fit in then? Well we support. That is all to it. We could, if we were organized enough do the diplomatic part and help them financially. Thai is the big “if we were”. The problem is we think we are the people. We are the center of the struggle. We are the leaders. We own the struggle. Here is the biggest mistake. Now the shift has taken place. The struggle is inside the Diaspora, between those organized by EPRP and those organized by Kinijit Diaspora. Hallelujah! Let the fight be glorified! I totally disagree with Dr. Maru Gubena when he stated:

“a good number of my compatriots argue that the 1974 Ethiopian revolution should be seen as an extension of the failed December 1960 attempted coup d’etat.”

First of all, Dr. Maru does not say which side of the fence he is standing on. Does he mean he accepts his compatriots view or not. If not why did he bring it up? For me it is comparing apples to oranges. The 1974 revolution was a grassroots movement be it on the side of the people or the army. Just because the end result was not what it started out to be does not make it an extension of the 1960 military coup d’etat. Could it different instead of the military other kind of government was established. No. The result does not define the nature of the revolution. It has nothing to do with the military coup of the 1960.

The following quote vents your frustration but does not weigh anything at all.

“Apart from being directly responsible for making our country a battlefield among various rebel groups and for the disintegration of Ethiopia’s territorial integrity, this is the worst remnant that the Dergue regime left behind: this generation “the War Born Generation”

Just because you do not like a few members of that generation you do not have to say this about all the members of that generation. Are you lumping the Shibre Desalegns in this category? Remember you are talking about a generation!

What the Ethiopian people want is fight TPLF/EPRDF now. Can we be on their side?

I admit there is a lot of mess created by Kinijit Diaspora. There are also some good efforts done by them. Each one of us should not be looking to find faults on others but do our part.

You see there is a simpler way of looking at things at this point.

1. Given the opportunity, the people elected their own leaders.
2. TPLF/EPRDF has been rejected at its own pools.
3. TPLF/EPRDF group has illegally occupied the government power.
4. The Ethiopian people are struggling against TPLF/EPRDF by any means they can.

Here comes the Diaspora; the part it plays is dictated by its wishes.

1. Accept that the people are the owners of this struggle.
2. Acknowledge that the Diaspora is a helper.
3. Do the diplomatic struggle.
4. Help financially.

What political organizations do inside their political organization is the business of its members. Outsiders do not determine the organization’s political path. What they are following is going to determine their place in tomorrow’s Ethiopia. The problem is when one individual or organization says the action of the others is to do this and thus I have to block that now. The center of the struggle is forgotten. The only thing others must do is to evaluate the said organization is then to plan to cooperate with it or go their own way. The final judge is the Ethiopian People. Do not have doubts in the people. They are not afraid of any one with guns or without. The people know.



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