By Yilma Bekele — Foreign policy magazine had an article by Professor George Ayittey titled “The worst of the worst-bad dude dictators and general coconut heads.” As an Ethiopian I was sold by the title. I knew I was in familiar territory. That is one category we can claim ownership. There are a few human experiences that are sort of associated with our country. It is like when you mention marathon or distance running the first thing that comes to mind is mother Ethiopia and her barefoot runners. That is good. On the other hand say famine or starvation the face presented is that of an Ethiopian. That is bad.
Thus I was sure that Professor Ayittey’s article was such a place where our country will outshine the competition. Yes sir, we will make them eat dust. Gentlemen rev your engines here comes the most important list. This special list contains 23 autocrats that control 1.9 billion people. Here is how he started his article:
I call these revolutionaries-turned-tyrants “crocodile liberators,” joining the ranks of other fine specimens: the Swiss bank socialists who force the people to pay for economic losses while stashing personal gains abroad, the quack revolutionaries who betray the ideals that brought them to power, and the briefcase bandits who simply pillage and steal. Here’s my list of the world’s worst dictators. I have ranked them based on ignoble qualities of perfidy, cultural betrayal, and economic devastation. If this account of their evils makes you cringe, just imagine living under their rule.
That is just page one. So I shout hurry up with the list and turn the page over. Number one is Kim Jung IL of North Korea. It is ok no surprise here. Kim Jung is a formidable tyrant with some sort of crude Nuclear weapon by his bedside. Guess who comes next. Freaking Mugabe, that is who. I was a little disappointed but continued turning the page. The picture was that of General Than Shwe of Burma. He looks like some character from Disney with all the self- awarded medals covering half his chest. No mention of us. Next is none other than our neighbor General Al Bashir of Sudan.
Well you should see my disappointment. Why do you do this to me Professor, I plead. Are you trying to take the only thing we got going for us? The professor is very cruel. He ranked some dentist turned tyrant from Turkmenistan as number six, followed by our neighbor from the north Isaiyas Afworki, coming at number eight is a ‘ruthless thug’ from Uzbekistan, and Ahmadinejad of Iran taking the number nine spot. Our dear leader for life, architect of 99.6% victory Prime Minister Meles is ranked number ten.
To say I was furious is an under statement. I was crushed. I Googled Professor George B.N. Ayittey’s name. I wanted to know what beef he got with mother Ethiopia. What is going on here? What kind of joke is the professor playing on us? I can understand number three, may be number four but number ten seems a little harsh to me.
This does not bode well to either the Prime Minister or his TPLF cadres. They have been sharpening their craft for the last twenty-five years and all they got to show for it is lousy number ten ranking? I do believe the Professor is trying to make them the laughing stock of the country if not the neighborhood. Have you ever heard of respect for number ten?
As a self-respecting loyal subject of number ten I fired off an email to the good professor. I told him in no uncertain terms that we take offense to that. I understand we might not brandish Nuclear weapons like ‘Dear Leader’ Kim but we make it up with other cowardly acts. Just take the ranking of those crude Generals from Burma as number two. What do they got that we don’t have? For starters they have the Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi but we got Bertukan Mediksa. That is a wash. On the other hand while Aung San Suu Kyi is under a house arrest, Judge Bertukan is in solitary confinement at the rat infested Kaliti Prison. Surely number ten gets extra points for that.
Number ten has sacrificed over eighty thousand subjects in the Eritrean war with another ten thousand or more in Somalia and various other conflicts, can the Burmese tyrants equal that? They don’t even have the balls to start a war with their neighbors. Give me a break professor. The lower ranking of Mugabe and Al Bashir is further insult that should not go un noticed. When it comes to terrorizing ones own population they can’t even hold a candle to number ten. We are talking about targeted shooting of unarmed peaceful demonstrators in broad daylight, imprisonment of over forty thousand suspected opposition sympathizers and incarceration of the entire opposition party leaders. None of the two tin pot dictators can boast of such a feat. A few unorganized acts of terror here and there but I doubt they have a well-equipped Agazi force at their disposal.
I am really surprised that of all the glorious achievements by number ten the Professor saw fit to mention the following:
Worse than the former Marxist dictator he ousted nearly two decades ago, Zenawi has clamped down on the opposition, stifled all dissent, and rigged elections. Like a true Marxist revolutionary, Zenawi has stashed millions in foreign banks and acquired mansions in Maryland and London in his wife’s name, according to the opposition
I tend to disagree. I would like to think murder and genocide will out rank simple thievery in the scheme of criminal acts. I also think those properties are a ruse to camouflage the real location of the retirement venue. As you know both countries have no qualms regarding shipping former tyrants to The Hague, thus I would think number ten is aiming for either Shanghai or Pyongyang.
Further more do you see any of the other contestants at the G20 meeting anywhere? No sir, it is number ten that shows up consistently. The fact that he has noting of value to contribute hasn’t stopped him from hobnobbing with elected leaders. It is not lost on the organizers that number ten’s presence gives vibrancy to a boring and uneventful gathering. It is also true that the organizers reserve a special section for the Ethiopian Diaspora to vent out while forcing number ten to crawl down in the back seat. Master Card is doing a commercial based on this true story. According to reliable sources the ad campaign goes like this:
Plane ticket to Toronto- $1500.00
First class Hotel- $2000.00/night
Limousine rental $500.00/day
The look on number ten hiding in his limo driving by angry Ethiopians: priceless.
There is some things money can’t buy, for everything else there is MasterCard!
In the name of fairness and decency we ask Professor Ayittey to revise his list and restore our well-deserved ranking. Number ten is getting ready to take the oath of office after the grueling campaign and we hope this ranking will not deter the Mugabes, Al Bashirs and other highly rated misfits from skipping the ceremony. Some are claiming that the lower ranking is a conspiracy by Ethiopian haters to discredit numbers ten’s glorious achievement, but I wouldn’t go that far. I urge the Professor to reconsider. You can read his article by clicking at the following site.