The very purpose of this piece of writing of mine is to express my view point about the challenges that require strong sense of courage to deal with, not neglect and avoid. And I think one of the challenges that requires the willingness and courage to deal with is our mind-set that undesirably characterized by fixed type of thinking. I want to make clear that although I use a couple of articles/comments from my fellow Ethiopians to illustrate the way I see the challenges of undesirable mind – set, I have no any intention to single out those fellowmen or women ( the writers of those couple of comments/articles) and make personal attack. I sincerely believe that is terribly wrong. This is not only because I truly believe it is wrong, but I also believe that this kind of state of mind has a lot do with our political, cultural and other societal aspects. In other words, we as a people have never come across the situations that were favorable for practicing and developing the culture of critical and constructive conversations. I strongly argue that this very difficult aspect of our culture of mistrust, disrespect, excessively self-centered way of argument is among the serious obstacles in the process of our struggle to achieve freedom and dignity we desperately aspire. Yes, our state of mind (mind- set) is the powerhouse of the actions we either intend or want to do. And that is why I believe that we cannot afford to avoid or neglect this undesirable mentality whether it comes from an individual or a group.
I wish I could write my comment in my mother -tong (Amharic) with which I am able to express myself in a much better way. One fellow Ethiopian who has read some of my comments extended his genuine advice in this regard which I completely agree. I want to note here that the very reason for me to write in foreign language is nothing, but it is because I am extremely poor in typing in Amharic with an English alphabet keyboard. Should I try hard to learn the skill? Absolutely! On the other hand, I strongly believe that this should not be a hindrance to come up with my view point on any issue or subject that I believe is important. I am saying this not because of something else, but it is because most of my opinions/comments including the one I am going to do so in this piece of writing are about the writings or orally expressed ideas/ views or analyses/descriptions in Amharic. And I want to make clear to those who may misperceive the reason why I try to express my view in a foreign language before I jump to the point I want to raise. This said; let me proceed to the view point I want to make around the topic I chose.
As one of genuinely concerned Ethiopians, I try to get some sort of understanding from exchanges of ideas that are being made by individuals, political actors, human rights activists, civic societies and the public at large. I do try to pay due attention to discussions, comments, analyses, public meetings, and public demonstrations/protests as conditions allow me .I attentively try to follow up activities undertaken by political parties, human rights activists, independent media and even community service centers. This is not because I consider myself as a person above any ordinary fellow Ethiopian; but it is because I strongly believe that a well-informed personality is one of the powerful inputs in any activity of life let alone in the process of an extremely challenging political struggle for the realization of genuine freedom, rule of law/justice and human dignity. I want to argue that there is no any worst and shameful personality than hiding ourselves under a very ugly pretense. Yes, it is very ugly to try to pretend that nothing bad is happening in our country while the plight of the innocent people of Ethiopia is getting absolutely unbearable because of not only the tyrannical ruling circle but also because of our incredible level of ineffectiveness. And of course, one aspect of our ineffectiveness is our mind-set or fixed type of thinking that does focus not on the issue to be tackled, but on the question of who is involved (personalization of the issue.)
I do try to understand whether the activities or actions of various political and human rights movements or organizations are incremental or stagnant; proactive or reactive; merely emotional or well-thought and well- designed and etc. And I have to say that I have sincere appreciation to those political parties which are operating in a very hostile (dangerous) political environment in our county. I strongly believe that with all their weaknesses as well as our (Ethiopians in the diaspora) severe weaknesses to support them, I truly believe that those opposition forces back home deserve due admiration for trying to do something about the horrible political situation in our country. I want to say that the efforts being made by those political movements such as Ginbot-7 and other relatively doing-well groups deserve at least encouragement, not discouragement and senseless attacks. I am not saying that they are fine in all what they are doing and should not critically be challenged. Absolutely not! What I am trying to say is that it does not politically and morally make convincing sense to try hard to totally discredit the efforts they are trying to make. It is politically and ethically absurd to go to the extent of accusing them of doing something anti- Ethiopia or kind of committing treason because of their efforts to use all available and relatively feasible out lets for their political operations. I want to make clear here that I am referring those opposition forces including Ginbot-7 which have made clear that using Eritrea is a justifiably and convincingly compelling choice. I hear so many fellow Ethiopians genuinely arguing that the struggle to unseat the dictatorial ruling elite should be within Ethiopia. That is true. But the question of “is it realistically convincing that it is possible to make the struggle feasible/practical without making necessary preparations in any available territory of other countries such as Eritrea?” I do not think the idea of “do everything within Ethiopia whether it fails or succeed instead of making Eritrea as stepping stone” is a rational and realistic political argument. Yes, expressing our concern genuinely and advising those forces operating from Eritrea to be cautious enough is the right thing to do. But coming up with extremely generalized and excessively emotional argument against making Eritrea as the only choice to launch a practical struggle against the ruthless ruling elite in our country will take us no where .
And I want to reiterate that it is the right thing to express our concern and forward any advice we believe it is important to those forces who are directly involved in designing and executing the strategies and tactics they believe in. But, it is ridiculously absurd when all kinds of name callings and personal attacks come especially from those fellow Ethiopians (by citizenship or origin) who claim that they are against the tyrannical ruling circle in Ethiopia. Well, even if we might felt that way, I do not know why we are not willing and able to argue in a sense of civility and constructive manner by focusing on the issues we are concerned with instead of throwing any type of ridiculous and crude personal attack. To my observation and understanding, this kind of mind -set should be challenged in such a way that it could turn out to be a positive and desirable input.
I do try to understand whether some groupings and individuals who claim themselves as honestly concerned are really serious; or they just simply pretend. I do try to watch if they really do try to make a difference in the struggle for freedom and justice by focusing and attacking the serious problem we face; or do waste time and energy by focusing on merely personal attacks.
On the other hand, I want to believe that the efforts being made by some relatively popular political opposition forces make our responses to the above critical questions reasonably positive. And that is a good thing! And I also want to believe that the efforts being made by independent media such as ESAT ; civic associations; and some opposition forces abroad including those who are forced to pick up arms and fight for genuine freedom that makes our unity within diversity a powerhouse of integrity and beauty is truly encouraging . I am not declaring that all those genuinely concerned opposition forces have done even an acceptable level of job let alone great accomplishments. What I am trying to argue is that what they are doing for the last couple of months should be the reason to spark a true sense of optimism. And they deserve rational, critical and constructive conversation and support. I do also strongly argue that those of us who do not agree with the way they (those oppositions) are doing, we need to conduct our arguments and conversations in a real sense of civility and mutual respect.
Unfortunately enough, some fellow Ethiopians seem interested in making themselves busy with playing some sort of very difficult, if not unproductive and comprehendible conversation or argument. Let me be specific with no any intention of personal attack or igniting unnecessary dialogue. In other words, my focus is on the issues, not any other way round.
Liji Teklemichael Abebe: He recently has come up with series of comments that mainly aimed at Ginbot-7 particularly Dr. Berahnu Nega. I tried hard to understand his comment if there were critical, teachable and constructive elements in his writings. I am not saying that having a negative way of approach towards a person’s or an organization’s way of doing things is in itself bad. What I am trying to say is that it is absurd just to throw any crude and rude word instead of addressing the issue of our concern with an argument that has a grain of convincing power. One of his statements of argument says that, “as Dr. Berhanu is a politician or a leader of a political movement, he is not supposed to act as a political analyst.” I am mentioning this as a very ridiculous argument made by someone who is not in any way ignorant about the ABC of politics. I do not know how this is a convincing political reasoning. I really do not know how it makes a political sense to argue that a leader of a political movement should not involve in an intensive and extensive analysis and counter-analysis. Yes, it makes sense to say that analysis should not be for the sake of making analysis. It has to serve the very purpose of a political struggle taking place on the ground. But I do not believe that the political analyses being made by Ginbot-7 leadership is far from the relevancy of the struggle.
All the rest of his agreements or comments including accusing ESAT of being owned by Ginbot -7 were not seriously and honestly thought and expressed. I am not only the strong believer in the right of individuals to express themselves the way the feel it ; but I also strongly disagree with the idea that goes to the extent of implying that someone is personally or naturally bad or stagnant . That is not the right way of conversation especially with someone whom we want to engage him or her. I hope Liji Tekle will honestly understand the very necessity of engaging in a critical and constructive conversation at this critical moment we are witnessing in our country.
Commentator Tedla Asfaw: In his comment, “Challenge for Ginbot-7 Leadership –Sept 20/13)” used almost all of his writing to merely criticize, if not accuse of Ginbot-7 for operating in Eritrea. I do not think the argument on the question of whether President Esaias Afeworki is democratic or undemocratic is a determining factor for us to operate in Eritrea. It is so unrealistic and politically infantile to make an internal political affair of a country a criterion to get cooperation that helps organize and make necessary preparation to launch a legitimate offence against the tyrannical ruling circle. Making their government democratic is up to the Eritrean people. I do not think what Esaias Afeworki says about Ethiopia here and there, and then and now should be a major justification not to accept any support. For that matter, who rewrite a very ridiculous political history of Ethiopia and Eritrea as a history colonizer and colony, and gave a blessing to the separation of Ethiopia and Eritrea? Who decided on Ethiopia to be land locked? Who told us that Ethiopia is a country of just one century? Who tried to make us believe that the Ethiopian flag (the great national symbol) is nothing but a rag of cloth? Who repeatedly and arrogantly told us that the history of Axum is nothing to any central and southern Ethiopians? Was it not the late Ato Meles Zenawi who was “the great leader of the country??” So, what makes us surprised about what Ato Esaias said and says here and there? Shouldn’t we be matured enough to see the relationship between the Ethiopians and Eritreans beyond the presidency of Ato Esaias? By the way, I do not think that Ato Andargachew ,Dr.Berhanu and other leaders of Ginbot -7 are less concerned with the issue of how to use the support from Eritrea without compromising our major national interests. I do not think they are less patriotic than any genuinely concerned fellowmen/fellowmen.
I do not think asking Dr. Berhanu to apologize for” saying” what he reportedly said (financial support) does make this much sense. Is it not an open secret that Dr. Berhanu and his organization have made crystal clear that there is a need to accept and use any available means to get rid of the tyranny in Ethiopia? So, why it is necessary to ask Dr.Berhanu to apologize? I am not defending him; but I am just asking if Tedla Asfaw’s argument make sense. Tedla Asfaw tries to declare assertively that it is only mass uprising that brings down the ruling circle. Well, I wish it was or it could be the case! But I do not think that making this kind of assertive declaration is realistically convincing at least at this stage. Given the very nature and behavior of the ruling party, it is not plausible to tell for sure that it is only this or that method of struggle that can bring about the change we aspire. I want to argue that expressing our concern about the need to establish a democratic society after bringing down the tyrannical regime is deeply legitimate and desirable. Yes, being concerned and keep ourselves deeply involved in the ongoing political struggle is absolutely essential. But trying to exclude this or that group because of the methods they choose are different is not productive at all.