Ethiopian exiles: Rise as a Hero, End with a Zero?
By Eyassu Lebenu
I, myself, being one of a former bureaucrat in one of the TPLF led regime political institution I found it relevant to evaluate the actions and contribution I and people like me have made following our exile so as to reclaim the nation we have been obliged to leave behind as a result of the nature of the regime. This article, therefore, concerns so many Ethiopians from all walks of life who ended up in the same situation as I did. In the last two decades since EPRDF took over power countless numbers of journalists, university lecturers and students, diplomats, civil servants, military and security personnel have left their home land at different times and find themselves as immigrants/refugees in North America, Canada, Europe, Australia and other corners of the globe.
In the nation where the beast makes and breaks whatever pleases it controlling the hills at Arat kilo with no regard to law and order and common human decency expressing descent and taking the high road of exile disregarding one’s own comfort and material gains requires a hero’s heart and conviction. At the time when opportunism and egocentrism is rampant and many keep running around TPLF’s court like a saloon Chihuahua to see many choose exile than serving ill-conceived minority agenda gives us hope that there are still people who believe on ideas bigger than themselves.
No doubt that as everyone knows the essence and ultimate meaning of knowledge and wisdom is when one can stand for the rights and aspirations of the mass and hear and feel the voice and pain of the unjustly suppressed. That is why, under such scenario, exile from one’s home country and defection from the TPLF system is right and justifiable worth the little discomfort and uneasiness that comes with leaving behind one’s family, friends and most importantly our homeland that have no substitute anywhere. That is exactly why I commend countless brothers and sisters who have shown that quality in their decision by abandoning the regime that unravels and Balkanizes the nation as a political expediency meant to perpetuate and extend its illegitimate power.
But the question lies,
The decision of extricating oneself from the TPLF state apparatus in itself cannot be an end in itself for the realization and attainment of peace, justice and freedom in Ethiopia. Our exile from our homeland should be used as a means to mobilize and organize ourselves with the vision of forging a strong resistance to the belligerent regime in Addis Ababa. If our decision to leave behind our home is not meant to achieve that big agenda and reclaim our home back then the whole point of our decision could possibly be in vain. In all viable way our freedom should be used as a tool to free million others who could not have the capabilities to do for themselves. In Ethiopia, as it is everywhere indeed, it has always been the responsibility of the educated class to inspire and aspire to do bigger and better things that would be beneficial to society or solving existing social, economic and political problems.
Exile from one’s home country indeed have lots of responsibilities and finding time to spend on other issues other than our own personal life might be difficult at times. But, it is not hidden from anyone’s mind that there is no other bigger and deeper issue we should tackle more than a problem of the nation we call Motherland. Our residence permit, material needs, hourly jobs and bills can in no way come close to the bigger agenda of freeing others and standing for freedom and justice our brothers and sisters have long been deprived of. If we fail to deliver on this and remain indifferent it is a given fact that it is only the TPLF regime that would be a winner as a result of our exile. Our personal situation should not be used as an excuse for not acting since we will never be as busy and occupied as the NASA scientist or the Doctors from California.
As we know it is one of TPLF strategy to exile opponents to silent their voice or destroys their political weight. We all remember how TPLF coerced and sent in to exile Aregawi Berhe and Gidey Zeratsion when they reflect different political opinion. And following state power grab we have seen countless prominent Ethiopian to choose either to self-exile themselves or decide to remain at home just so they will be thrown in jail. In Ethiopia today, if strong and able politicians, activists, journalists and intellectuals are not in exile then they will be found in one of the places that TPLF is well effective building, prisons.
The only way we cannot let TPLF win as a result of our situation is if and only if we engage it through every means we could wherever we are and through whatever means we have at our disposal. I don’t believe our decision to leave our home abandoning the regime on the basis of political opinion is not just pretentious. I deeply believe that is the real force that drove thousands off their homeland. Therefore, our exile from home and defection from the TPLF system should be succeeded by determination and conviction to organize and mobilize with those passionate same minded citizens so as to redeem our nation and rework the damage that has so far been done. Nothing but only this makes our decision to defect and live in exile worthy than being futile.
TPLF is stronger today than it was yesterday. And because of our inaction or limited action it has been able to amass huge means of violence that it would use to sustain its power indefinitely. That is why what the reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said would be relevant for today’s Ethiopia, ‘The fierce urgency of today’. While appealing for our good angels to rise for what is just and right it would also be proper to recognize those brothers and sisters who whether the time is convenient or not kept moving forward in their effort and engaged the regime to bring freedom and justice to all Ethiopians. That is why I would use this opportunity to say thank you to those Ethiopians who taught us what it means to be relentless and determined for a cause we believe in including, Scientist Kitaw Ejigu, the two Negas / Berhanu and Eskinder/, Art. Tamagn Beyene, Pro. Alemayehu G. Mariam, Dr. Merera Gudina, Andualem Arage and so many other nameless and faceless brave Ethiopians.
My resentment and opposition to the TPLF led regime in Addis in no way emanates from the mere fact that the regime is dominated by a minority group. What I am strongly opposed to is the evil Machiavellian strategy of manipulation and creating contradiction between different ethnic groups as a means of extending political life expectancy. Yes, I, like so many more, am opposed to a system that rewards and coerces on the basis of one’s ethnic identity and political loyalty rather than competence and knowhow. I have no doubt to question the fact that my brothers and sisters in the TPLF are as Ethiopian as I am and they have all rights to be everything they could.
My reservation and relentless effort yearning for the change of the TPLF regime in Ethiopia is rather because of the fact that except the fact that they have guns and bullets that legitimizes their control of state power they have very little expertise and knowhow that would make them unfit to run a nation of ninety million. It should be knows, however, that PHD, Masters or BA degrees bought from local and international shops would not make anyone any smarter or knowledgeable. As they say ‘put a lipstick on a pig, it is still a pig’.
The issue with TPLF is that its disoriented destructive policy and agendas that creates division and contradiction between the brothers and sisters of the nation. What is wrong with the TPLF elites is their fixation in creating competition and rivalry between different ethnic groups that endangers peace and brotherly co-existence. The competition that TPLF should have made was with other countries as to how we Ethiopians could be in equal footing with other countries. The urge and passion of the regime should have been how it could make Ethiopia a factor than a subject in the global power relation, in the African and Middle Eastern sub region in particular. That is the agenda and guiding principle that should be embodied by not only TPLF but all other parties that will be leading the nation.
The only way we can get out winners economically, politically and militarily from the prevalent sorry reality of our nation is only when the idea of me, one group, is replaced by the vision and mentality of us, one people and one nation whose rights and uniqueness is preserved and respected under a democratic Ethiopian state. That is the only all-lifting path beneficial to everybody we should strive to achieve using all the resources at our disposal. If we believe our decision to defect from the TPLF system and exile from our homeland is meant to make a difference at the bigger national landscape then we should not wait for anyone, let’s just listen ourselves because we are heroes not zeroes.