By Yilma Bekele – 5 Feb. 2009 — The African heads of states held a meeting in Ethiopia. When it was established in 1963 the Organization of African Unity (OAU) as it was then named was a time of hope and a new beginning for Africa.
The 1960’s ushered in a period of decolonization of the continent. There were two contending ideas being debated by the new leaders. The ‘Casablanca Group’ led by Kwame Nkrumah advocated a Federation of all African States while ‘The Monrovia Group’ as led by Leopold Senghor of Senegal envisioned economic cooperation as a spring board towards the eventual goal of a united Africa.
At the urging of Emperor Haile Sellasie of Ethiopia the two groups met and formed the OAU in May of 1963. There were 32 founding members present to sign the Charter. The OAU served its purpose very well. Among its many accomplishments; the most notable were firm a firm stand against colonialism and its eventual eradication, support and training of freedom fighters from Southern Africa, including South Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Angola, Mozambique and South Africa, closing of African sky’s to South African Airways and denying African Ports to South African ships. It should also be noted that the combined African vote was instrumental in ejecting the Apartheid regime from World Health Organization (WHO).
Organization of African Unity was replaced by African Union (AU) in 2002 and again renamed to African Authority (AA) at the urging of Mohamed Gaddafi this last meeting. I have no idea what the reasons are for this constant change of name, but the following chart will give you an idea of who these distinguished leaders of Africa are and how they got to weld such power.
|Name||Country||Date in Power||Method|
|El Hadj Omar BONGO||Gabon||1967||Coup|
|Muammar Guaddfi||Libya||1969||Coup/for ever|
|OBIANG NGUEMA MBASOGO||Equatorial Guinea||1979||Coup|
|Eduardo De Santos||Angola||1979||Liberation war|
|Joao VIEIRA||Guinea-Bissau||1980||Coup/sham elections|
|Hosni MUBARAK||Egypt||1981||Sham elections|
|Paul Biya||Cameroon||1983||Sham election|
|Idriss DEBY||Chad||1990||Sham elections|
|Meles Zenawi||Ethiopia||1991/2005||War/sham elections|
|ISAIAS Afworki||Eritrea||1993||Constitution pending|
|Umar Al bashir||Sudan||1993||Coup/sham election|
|Yahya A. J. J. JAMMEH||Gambia||1994||Coup/sham election|
|Francois Bozize||Central African Republic||2003||Coup|
The above are but the most egregious serial violators of the peoples trust. The rest not mentioned here, with the exception of a handful do not fare any better. Killing, torture, imprisoning without due process, deportation of citizens, a robust security and the presence of border conflict or civil war are the hallmark of our all-knowing ‘strong men’ leaders bestowed on Africa. The individuals being murdered, tortured, denied basic human rights by these despots are real people. They have families, a wife a husband, children, mother, father, uncles and neighbors that love them. Where their voices are silenced we speak for them. Thus it will be correct to say that there were plenty of scavengers in Addis this last weekend. I am sure Hugo Chavez will smell burning human flesh instead of sulfur if he was in that hall. (youtube)
Lots of words were spoken regarding Africa. The speech by the Ethiopian Prime minister was a tour de force. He did not speak about Ethiopia. In fact he did not even mention Ethiopia. Ato Meles was focused on higher matters. Little Ethiopia was too inconsequential or very provincial. He used the forum to expound his knowledge of economics and confrontational politics.
The first half was all about doom and gloom. After thanking the conference official regarding ‘strict adherence to rules and regulations’ (a curious statement from some one who has his Kaliti dungeon full to capacity without regard to the law and his own Constitution) went on to warn us about the coming global economic crisis. He lamented about the rising unemployment (40%+ in Ethiopia without any safety net) and predicted low growth and volatility. This is how he foresaw the near future:
“… the fate of countries and continents is likely to be determined by how well and how fast they adjust to the transition and unavoidable structural change. Those who have the financial and technological resources to adjust and the necessary leadership with the appropriate insight and implementation capability are likely to succeed. On the other hand those who lack these resources and capabilities are likely to suffer and may even fail to adjust.”
As an African I am glad to hear that we meet one of the two requirements set by the PM. Finance and technology are out of our reach, but we are blessed by ‘strong’ leaders with plenty of capability to make their wish be the law. We are talking muscle here.
With the prediction of global warming, falling commodity prices, reduction in remittances and a drastic cut in foreign aid Ato Meles laid down his solutions to save Africa. He asserted that all our problems are due to the lack of ‘adequate policy autonomy’ given to African leaders by donor nations. He went on to lecture his captive audience the following words of wisdom:
“We have to demand that Africans should be given real voice not the token one we currently have and that to me this is very important that the institutions should be reformed to limit conditionality based on dogmas and to limit arbitrary exercise of power in determining resources flows. Voice and vote without such change in the modus operandi of this institutions is not going to be good enough.”
In other words what Ato Meles is saying is just give us the money and we will decide what to do. As the rest of the world comes to a universal conclusion that ‘institutions’ without adequate supervision are a recipe for disaster, our esteemed ‘strong African leader’ is telling us to give him the key to the vault and trust his judgment. The new international catch phrases are transparency, accountability and robust regulation. Isn’t the PM standing the solution on its head when he demands blind faith in the ability of African leaders to do the right thing? It is surely strange to hear him decrying ‘arbitrary exercise of power’ by his benefactors when he has single handily squashed all opposition in the country and is currently using torture and denying the human right of the Chairman of the opposition party Judge Birtukan Mideksa among other victims.
Next on his plate of complaints is the unfairness of the ‘bailout of banks and major industries’ by the developed countries. He tells us that the bailout proves that the meager amount of aid to Africa is not due to budget and resources constraints. He found this insight to be a ‘eureka moment.’ The conclusion is a little puzzling. The understanding in all circles is that the ‘bailout’ is not a gift rather the governments are investing in the companies until they return to healthy status. Some even call it creeping socialism. When Ato Meles demands Africa to be treated as important as the banks, is he asking for the West to buy stocks in our government? Do we give them sits in parliament or have them serve as Ministers? It does not seem to be a well thought idea. I fail to see the wisdom of increasing aid handouts without accountability when their own economies are a crisis mode.
Last but not least the PM presented a typical TPLF philosophy of coercion and Kilil mentality. It was vintage Meles. He theories that the coming UN sponsored ‘global carbon exchange’ conference to be a good opportunity to lay a guilt trip on the industrialized west and wrestle some real cash. He said:
“Africa has contributed virtually nothing to global warming but is going to suffer ….it is only fair that those who have created the problem pay us to mange the consequences of the problem that they have created … we should ask to be paid compensation for the damage to our economy”
Thus we can even leverage our backwardness to demand unfettered aid. Where over eight million citizens need food aid, where the vast majority of the youth is uneducated and unemployed, where thousands risk their lives trying to flee poverty and hopelessness by drowning, or being eaten by wild animals, abused and enslaved by degenerate oil rich neighbors, instead of mia culpa (my fault) by our leader we are conniving with other worthless despots to finagle spare change. The question what exactly did you accomplish in the last eighteen years you have ruled without opposition can not be answered with any credible statistics.
It is easy to see the quality of leadership and mindset if you compare the plan for action envisioned by leaders such as Mr. Obama and Ato Meles. Obama used his podium to ask the American people and humanity to think outside the box. He urged all of us to use this economic and social calamity to re embark on the search for new knowledge and new social contract and emerge leaner and stronger. Ato Meles sees it as a new opportunity to brazenly demand more handout and unfettered power to decide the fate of millions. Instead of rallying his people and Africans to reach higher and go further, he ignored his own population as irrelevant and spoke of forming a ‘single voice’ representing dictators, usurpers and garden variety thieves to demand ransom.
The only positive things that keep the country afloat are remittances from those forced out of their motherland, aid by donor countries and loans and grants by the IMF that must be paid back. We are still a commodity exporting country, we have no industrial base, and our population is growing faster than our capacity to feed and house and the repression is continuing unabated.
All land is owned by the regime and used for control and bribe. The government is the number one employer in the country. Employment is used to control and intimidate the citizen. Citizens are not allowed to own and operate Television and radio transmission. Internet is regulated and the government is the only service provider. Content is censored and Diaspora Ethiopian sites are blocked. Private newspapers are constantly playing a game of hide and seek with the government. Printing paper, ink and distribution network is used to discourage circulation. Editors and reporters are mysteriously found dead, forced to flee the country or co-opted. Individual imitative is frowned upon and the only enterprise allowed is that which benefits those in power.
The TPLF regime used Dedebit as a primary level school to practice the art of control. Tigrai can be considered their secondary level education where villages were used to sharpen the level of coercion. Taking state power was definitely college level work. Legitimacy was achieved. The new maze included eighty millions subjects closely monitored. Invading Somalia was graduate work and definitely a specialized study under the mentorship of Professor Dick Cheney. This new endeavor of ganging up with other African dictators to demand aid with no need of regulatory agency is surely a PHD level attempt. TPLF have come a long way indeed. What a shame to graduate with such honor but to have nothing to show for it.
I see the glass half full instead of half empty as the PM sees it. I see a bright future where its own contradictions is causing the demise of the TPLF entity and a united front called by Professor Al Mariam (http://www.ethiomedia.com/aurora/9724.html) and Obang Metho (http://www.ethiomedia.com/aurora/9566.html) stirring the sleeping giant Diaspora into action. There is Ginbot7 laying the groundwork for a sustainable and smart organization, and Andenet is exposing the hollowness of the minority regime’s Constitution.
What do you say my friends, are you going to answer the call of your country and your people? Are you going to have your words matching your action? Love for Ethiopia should not only be expressed by flying a big flag, a bumper sticker on back of a car, a once a week visit to the church or mosque and an endless war of words while sipping latté at Starbucks. Loving Ethiopia is protecting her from those that harm her and saying no to brutal, self-centered dictators that use tribal allegiance, personal greed and our good old stupidity to co-opt our weak nature.
Remember our eternal hero Abune Petros who uttered this fateful words facing the fascist firing squad “… May God give the people of Ethiopia the strength to resist and never bow down to the fascist army and its violence. May the Ethiopian earth never accept the invading army’s rule.” They murdered him but he lives forever in our hearts and minds.