By Abebe Gelaw | June 17, 2008 –The politics of hunger has a long history in Ethiopia. For the last four decades, ruthless tyrants have been undermining any efforts to feed the hungry and break the fangs of famine once and for all. As a result of the inhuman interplay of ruthless politics and the struggle of our mindless rulers to enrich themselves and sustain their tyrannical rules at the expense of the sick and the dying multitude, hunger has wiped out millions of vulnerable souls in Ethiopia, which seems reminiscent of the most terrifying horror movies of all time. This fact has been well recorded in the annals of history and will continue to be a dominant theme for generations to come. No wonder Ethiopia is still synonymous with hunger, famine, suffering and abject poverty.
While ruthless rulers, most notably, Emperor Haile Selassie, Mengistu Haile Mariam and Meles Zenawi and their respective cohorts, who spent hundreds of millions of dollars on their personal security, a fleet luxury cars, finest perfumes, Armani suits, assortments of imported alcohol and food to stock in their opulent palaces as well as killing machines to destroy their perceived enemies, to say the least, millions of Ethiopians have died crying for food and water in a country which was once dubbed a “bread basket” and “water tower” of Africa.
The ruthlessness of tyrants in times of great famine and suffering of biblical proportions has, on numerous occasions, created local and international uproars. One of the immediate causes that triggered the downfall of Emperor Haile Selassie was his wanton effort to hide the 1974 famine from the rest of the world lest his royal honour and dignity would be damaged. Over two hundred thousand children, the young and the elderly died famished in Northern Ethiopia. The upshot of the outrage was the downfall of the emperor who was deposed in the 1974 popular revolution. The slogans that echoed across the country at that time were: “Bread to the hungry! Land to the tiller! Ethiopia First!…”
The military junta, which hijacked the popular revolution, was quick to vow that no one would die with hunger in Ethiopia again. “Never…never, never again!” they declared. Unfortunately rulers have never kept their promises in Ethiopia. The revolution ushered in another cycle of untold suffering, famine, war, bloodbath and destruction. Over a million Ethiopians were decimated in the 1984-85 famine while the TPLF, EPLF were waging their destructive power struggle with the Derg.
Nothing has changed in Ethiopia in nearly four decades since the 1974 Ethiopian revolution. Hunger, pestilence, abject poverty and ruthless tyranny are still working in tandem making life unbearable to the greater majority of Ethiopians. But for the ruling elite, the selected few, the privileged minority, overfed rulers sucking the blood of the hunger-stricken people of Ethiopia, there is a lot of fun at luxurious resorts and hotels such as the exclusive Sheraton Addis, the Hilton and Ghion Hotel. They do not want to hear about hunger, famine or poverty while they revel in their endless parties and caravans.
A few days ago the Burmese-style tyrannical regime of Meles Zenawi issued a series of statements via the Ministry of [Mis] Information, Addisu Legese, the deputy “Prime Minister” and the so-called Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Agency lambasting the international media for exaggerating the hunger crisis in Ethiopia which has threatened the lives of millions of Ethiopians. “Though the irregular rainfall witnessed during the last Belg, small rain season, created temporal food shortage in some parts of the country, the government and farmers are striving to boost agricultural production during the remaining time of the current crop season,” according to the statement issued by the misinformation ministry.
The statement unashamedly claimed that “the government and the public have been striving to ensure the double-digit economic growth the nation registered during the last five consecutive years in order to extricate the country out of poverty.” Despite credible reports from UN agencies and international media outlets such as the BBC which have sent out their correspondents to report on the hunger crisis, Addis Legesse had the audacity to dismiss it as exaggeration on the part of “some institutions engaged in relief work that consider the decline in the number of the needy as a threat to their existence. They, therefore, have been suggesting to report inflated figures so as to get huge assistance,” he told the organ of the ruling elite, Walta Information Centre.
The reason why international media outlets have been targeted by the Meles regime is mainly because stories of hunger and famine ruin its multi-million dollars cranky public relations stunt led by two notorious London-based mavericks, Seyoum Bereded and Mulugeta Asrate Kassa. In the name of the year-long millennium celebrations that started last September, it is estimated that the regime has misspent nearly 300 million birr. At a time of drought and famine, the regime has spent millions of dollars throwing numerous extravagant parties at entertainment venues such as the luxurious Sheraton Addis, which is referred to by some as the Las Vegas of Africa. During the height of the millennium celebrations our rulers and their rich fans and business partners were entertained by such global hip hop and pop s