Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Look Who's Talking

So… we were at what is now universally referred to as “the fancy leqso bet” (visiting mourners), and I quickly remembered why the Ethiopian leqso bet is the best place to take the pulse of the Diaspora. People from different backgrounds and political bents are forced to sit in the same room and politely engage in dialogue. The time-honored Ethiopian respect for the dead tempers most people’s psychosis.

So there we all were sitting in semi-silence trying to eavesdrop on stilted leqso bet conversation. Occasionally someone would let out a long sigh and the domino effect of platitude washes over the room just like ‘the wave’ at a packed stadium. As it always does when two or more Ethiopians share airspace, the conversation turned to what’s going on in Ethiopia. A youngish man regaled us with a story about how he sent his family in Addis Abeba a “medium sheep” and a “small bull” for Christmas via one of those incredibly genius online services that facilitate these things. (He mentioned the name of the webpage and I had promised to give them a shout out but I can’t recall the name. Whoever you people are- big up.) Anyway, the guy was deadpan as he told the story.

No sooner had he clicked “done” on his computer, he tells us, his elderly aunt in Addis gets a call from a representative of the webpage: “We are calling on behalf of [her nephew’s name]. He has something from you. Please confirm your last name.” The aunt gets hysterical that her nephew didn't bother telling her he was coming for a visit, of all times during the current political crisis. And, and... not only is he having someone else calling her, but he's forgotten her last name! The rep’s ears bleed as the grief-stricken aunt goes on about how she had changed her nephew’s diapers and cleaned his snot, for what? To be humiliated like this? The rep tries to explain the intricacies of the e-commerce but gives up. Rep says he’ll be there in the afternoon. The aunt has to be persuaded to accept the gift. (“I don’t want any gift from an ingrate!”) Finally she is consoled. Gives the rep directions. The aunt spends the rest of the day cleaning and cooking and gearing up to meet her nephew’s friend from America. The rep arrives... dragging a bull and a sheep. The aunt is stunned. Then miffed. Then stunned. “I only asked him for a sweater!” Rep tries to explain e-commerce again. The aunt is distracted by the bull going to the bathroom on her pristine walkway.

True to refined Ethiopian hospitality, the aunt browbeats the rep into her house and force feeds him a five-course lunch. She asks the rep how he knows her nephew and how is the ungrateful bastard anyway? The rep re-re tries explaining e-commerce. The aunt is distracted by the medium sheep gnawing on her anemic rose bush. After four hours the rep insists he has to leave. The aunt reluctantly agrees but only after she makes him swear in the name of several angels that he will come back to see her before he leaves for America. The rep gives up on explaining e-commerce and promises. The aunt wants to send her nephew some spices and “a little” weT and aliCHa. “You know how he loves my cooking. Did he tell you how much he loves my cooking?” All the time.

So, here’s my thinking: these websites should build in the cost of delivery on future orders:

Dear Sir,

Thank you for ordering from This is a confirmation email. Your order has been delivered. Following is your final bill.

1 medium sheep = 100 birr

1 small bull = 700 birr

Delivery (4 hours @ 5o birr/hour)= 200 birr

Thank you again. We look forward to serving you again.

The customer can then deduct his/her relative’s cost for receiving the gift.

Dear Sir,

I appreciate your prompt service. Following please find expenses incurred by my [aunt] whilst receiving the order:

House cleaning: 14 birr

Food: 59 birr

Tej/Tella: 25 birr

Thank you. I look forward to contacting you for Fasika.

So anyway, I didn’t mean to get distracted, and as always this blog is dragging despite the warnings/pleadings I get from the young and attention span challenged.

Annnyyyway…we all enjoyed the story which flowed seemlessly to, you guessed it, Ethiopian politics. Eventually the subject swerved to the intricacies of cutey-pututie Lidetu Ayalew, one of the opposition members who is mired in one big political mess.

A brief summary of the facts as I know them:

Lidetu was one of the dynamic young leaders of an opposition party, UEDP-Medhin, which is part of the four parties making up the largest opposition coalition, CUD. Post election, these four parties were supposed to merge into one- CUDP. Yay. Well, not so fast. EPRDF went a little unglued after the elections, and like all twingy sociopath organizations it started killing people and imprisoning opposition leaders after some of them refused to enter parliament. Others were arrested because… they scratched their heads with the wrong fingers. Woo hoo, Melesocracy at work. Lidetu was unhappy about even negotiating with the EPRDF during the frenzy of diplomacy last June, so he resigned as spokesperson of the CUD. Fast forward… Lidetu and party decided not to merge with the CUD—because of something as drab as paperwork, and decided to join parliament, thereby protecting the 63 seats they won in the Addis Abeba administration.

So keep that lame summary in mind.

W-hell! You know what that means… Lidetu is now public enemy #1 in Ethiopian circles, his name is said… no, it is spat with the correct level of rancor. Women’s eyes well up and they cross themselves whenever he comes up in conversation.

In it is this context that someone at the fancy leqso bet mentions Lidetu’s name, and very gratuitously I might add, as a means of finding a common enemy to focus on while we hide our pain. The rustling of lips smacking against gnashed teeth echo around the room. I brace for some bitter back and forth. Finally an elderly gentleman shook his head authoritatively and declared Lidetu a traitor. Usually, that ends all dialogue.

But something interesting happened at the fancy leqso bet.

Just when I thought people had finished signaling their agreement with that grand proclamation by either quietly nodding their heads in amazing synchronicity or biting their lips with studied abandon, someone in the crowd, an indistinct young man with impish eyes, bravely cleared his throat.

Although he does not agree with Lidetu’s tactic, the young man said, it might be… um, inappropriate to call him a traitor.

Yes, I do believe I now know the sound a pin makes when it drops.

Necks turn in slow motion towards the man who dared opposed pre-packaged thoughts. The guy squirms. His girlfriend buries her elbows in his ribcage and smiles apologetically at piercing, incredulous eyes. Yeeaww-zer! The young man is undeterred.

Oblivious to the engorged tension dripping in the air, he continues to elaborate. Lidetu probably was starting to feel marginalized at the CUD. He wanted power and to play a larger role in Ethiopia’s future, and he was probably being shut out by the older folks. So, he reacted. A little Don Rumsfeld to elucidate: Has Lidetu inspired a lot of disenfranchised youth? Yes. Has he given them a forum to air their discontent? Sure. Has he worked hard steering his constituency through the harsh terrains of EPRDF politics? Undoubtedly. Does he get credit for that? Of course. Should he get credit for that? Absolutely. Was his latest strategy a smart political move? Probably not. Is he the devil’s spawn? No. Is he, just like the accusation leveled against Berhanu Nega, an EPRDF spy? C’mon. Is he still cute? Yes. Did he behave badly? Yes. Should we let the democratic process sort out who’s who? Hell, yes!

I interrupt this story to insert my two cents:

I’ve never understood the whole foaming with anger thing that takes over people whenever they talk about Merera Gudina, Beyene Petros and now Lidetu. The former two thought it important to agitate the EPRDF from within and showcase the sheer ridiculousness of the EPRDF parliament. Exposing Ato Meles’ cerebrally impeded undertaking is actually a service, if you ask me, but you didn’t, but I’ll tell you anyway. And maybe, just maybe, the presence of Petros and Gudina in the imitation parliament can plant the seed of “Why am I such a gutless asshole?” in an EPRDF underling who yearns to be free.

Lidetu came to the realization that he doesn’t fare well in prison. He likes, what do you call it… not being in one. So he decided to “fight from within.” Or so he tells us. The way he did it might not be to one’s liking, and his strategy was unforgivably proletarian, but can we hold off on the vitriol and personal attacks? A traitor? What are we, the EPRDF? Can we wait to see which bills he votes for or against before we relegate him to the footnotes of Ethiopian history? Is that even possible in Ethiopian political dialogue? Does Lidetu deserve the kind of wrath unloaded on him? Walk it off, people. Walk it off.

I am doubly amazed that this kind of intolerance exists in people who live in a democracy. The best thing about the State of the Union presidents of these great United States give is the pre-speech pageantry. Members of congress from both parties temporarily suspend their enmity and manage to chitchat amicably, some even through clenched jaws. (Did you see Bush last night charming the panties off of the women from the Congressional Black Caucasus? Brilliant.) So how is it that Ethiopians watching this can’t tolerate the awkward machinations of cherub faced Lidetu? Christ, people.

The main accusation is that he is “dividing” the opposition. If the CUD can’t handle the vagaries of political dissent then it is undeserving of the trust people have bestowed upon it. The thing is, the Ethiopian people came up with a great response: CUD is spirit (kinijit menfess new), meaning it is not just persons and their whims. Beqa! People in Ethiopia are more tolerant of dissent than some of us in the Diaspora, and that, my friends, should disturb sociologists. Why can’t we trust what we believe? Why do we always have to be coddled like babies and have someone drown out the noise around us so we can continue napping? Grow the f… hell up. People have told me we don’t have the tradition of tolerance and dialogue. Bullshit. What do you think “chilot”, the traditional way of resolving discord, was? What about the Gada structure? And look who Emperor Haile Selassie appointed to his cabinet when he came back from exile in Bath? And we live in the USA, for chrissake! We are not congenitally predisposed to intolerance.

And if you don’t agree with me, you are a traitor.

Okay, I know Mengistu and Melesocrasy and their respective bastardized Marxist-Leninist-Maoist hoopla have played havoc on the Ethiopian DNA, but we need to get the hell over ourselves before it is too late. People and organizations who are afraid of dissent always have a façade of strength, but they have so many weak points that they unravel at the slightest tug. And when you can’t handle intellectual dissent you resort to preserving your fragile “unity” by any means necessary… I give you the EPRDF. Ato Meles could not survive one single day in Ethiopia without the aid of machine guns trained at the population. He is indefensibly weak, both intellectually and spiritually, so he has to back up his feebleness with guns. That’s why he doesn’t want to engage in dialogue with the opposition: he can’t.

Back at fancy leqso bet land, the young man finished his speech and the ominous silence that hung in the room resembled a taut balloon dancing next to a nail. My cousin, who I had gone to the fancy leqso bet with, looked at me threateningly. She has battle scars from these kinds of political discussions and was in no mood to add notches on her body. I bit my lips. (Besides, I was on the lookout for that man with shaky hands I wrote about: the one who had pointed his finger at me in the middle of a dinner party and yelled, “You! Weichegud! I don’t like you!” Take a number, GashiyE. Take a number.)

Finally the authoritative gentleman blinked. “Awo. Meches le Ethiopia minim alaregem mallet aychalim…” (“Well, we can’t say [Lidetu] has done nothing for Ethiopia.” Tuuuuuusssssss. The Diaspora exhaled. With that one sentence, the mood in the room changed. Palpably changed. An elderly woman agreed with the young man and lamented the lack of “a tradition of tolerance” that makes it impossible for most of us not to always intertwine the personal and the political. Someone else said he felt betrayed by Lidetu, but the way he said it heralded a new era in Diaspora dialogue. It was without the requisite acrimony or thorniness. Another person suggested giving Lidetu the benefit of the doubt. Yet another said that he had heard Lidetu on VOA and was very disappointed in him. Still someone else defended Lidetu, and suggested there might be veracity to his approach. It went on and on, and the general consensus was that once the EPRDF and its henchmen leave for Harare with bags full of money, the election debate between Lidetu and Berhanu, or Lidetu and Very Engineer Hailu will determine who people like better. (I was going to mention how happy I was to hear that Lidetu had a successful surgery—the one he had to remove the big stick lodged up his posterior-- the boy went on one too long an ego trip about “the unmitigated love the Ethiopian people have” for him, but I thought it would be impolite.)

My cousin and I drove home in relative silence. “You realize what just happened,” she said. “The silent majority has started to speak out.”

Much thanks to the people from the Returnee Caucus who were kind enough to send me their press release. I promise to post next time so we can continue the dialogue.

p.p.s Just noticed that Dagmawi has excerpted Lidetu’s new book. It should make for an interesting review.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

4:50 PM, February 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ETW welcome to the camp of the silent majority.

8:46 PM, February 01, 2006  
Anonymous Shimgilina said...

You made my day! This is the most uplifting reading I have on Ethiopia in recent weeks. Until we contain the chronic tendency to see only in black and white (you are either with me or with the enemy) we are bound to repeat our historic mistakes again and again and again......

Our ability to build a democratic tradition is measured by the way we deal with people who differ with the current political tide we are riding. We need daring commentaries such as yours to minimize the never-ending cannibalization.

Vive la difference!!!!!!!!!!!

10:49 PM, February 01, 2006  
Anonymous Inde Hewan said...


I am not even going to ATTEMPT to engage on the alleged machinations and double-crossings of Lidetu, nor on his alleged traits of 'misunderstood hero'. There is a-plenty on these issues in any Ethiopian forum of your picking, and for sure Lidetu terrain ain't my comparative advantage.

All I want to say is, it sounds/smells/feels to me that such an account that you gave was long overdue. While your most recent tale was, of course, in classic Wonk-ET style way high on the literary end and on some quality humour, and abit lower on the substance and the devil-in-the-detail (but hey, that's exactly why we love here in Wonkville!), your blog had a refreshing air of frankness and boy-did-that-need-to-be-said quality.

In this spirit, hail also to your blog on "Motherblogger" of last week. Keep at it.

11:23 PM, February 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


my view is Meles is not intellectually weak, perhaps spiritually but intellectually he can take on any Ethio intellectual without much-a-do.

i have never seen him embarrased in an interview, Q&A or debate from inside the british parliament, to journalists, to other statesmen, to Ethiopian economists. no doubt he knows enough to pass a politician's bar anywhere.

i don't know if i can say the same about many other Ethiopian politicians except may be Dr Beyene

my view

12:38 AM, February 02, 2006  
Anonymous yefilwiha said...

dear wonki,

hmmm... just like that I became traitor # 1!

7:09 AM, February 02, 2006  
Anonymous Queyi Qebero said...

To the anonymous writer who talked of Meles' intellect:

What good is it if you are the smartest fella on the planet, and all your calculations have an evil spirit. The story of Satan is that he was the coolest among the Angles, but his "evility" took him down from grace!

BTW, have you seen that interview of Meles with Stephen Sakcur (BBC Hardtalk, July 4th, I think)? Bro/Sis, please don't be taken in by all the interviews posted on ENA/Walta/ is scripted!! There, that is how smart he is; all you mostly saw him answering was questions he prep-ed for!! And have you paid attention to all his double-talk and side tracking since the election? Only his "mei-menan" can believe what he says, for fear of what his wrath could do to them!

So, my take of the dude's intellect is:Very Evil Spirited Intellect (VESI). This is no ordinary street smartness! People put up with lying and conniving politians because they concede to the fact that most ultimately do serve the public. So, they will ultimately forgive or forget Lidetu too, unless he evolves into a VESI. They will reject the VESI! And the master VESI in ethiopia...Meles.


10:16 AM, February 02, 2006  
Anonymous Gooch said...

Oh, this was just perfect, ETW, just perfect. Well said!

How our intolerance can blind us to even the most obvious - Lidetu may have done some stupid things, but he is not a traitor/EPRDF agent...

My problem with Lidetu is that he has engages in the same dsyfunctional behaviour that you talked about and that he attributes to the 'old generation'. In his writings and interviews since 'the big split', he has impugned the characters of Berhanu, Hailu et al, spread innuendo about their 'motives', shown vindictiveness and spite by appearing completely unsympathetic to the jailed leaders, displayed paranoia and illusions of grandeur by his remarks about how he and he alone was correct and how he has been victimized, ...

To me, Lidetu is, and sorry to generalize, yet another victim of being brought up in a culture that promotes individualism, character assassination, innuendo, ...

Not a traitor.

10:18 AM, February 02, 2006  
Anonymous QQ said...

Well, said, Gooch!!

10:20 AM, February 02, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Yes, Finally! Although I disagree with most of your past postings, I have to give you on this one, Well said!. I am one of those "silent majority", TPLF hater go figure my problem!! I am tired of hearing "if you are not with us, you are against us" kinda slogan from all sides. Glad to hear you are with "US", Wonkette...~:)

10:30 AM, February 02, 2006  
Blogger ZTF said...

I am amazed by people who are amazed and baffled by the level of intolerance exhibited by Ethiopians who live in a democratic society. Merely living in such societies does not make one enlightened. I believe it would require the active participation in the democratic system such as volunteering, advocating, voting and even running for local or national seats. The Ethiopians that I know live a life of mini tribalism, extremely focused on their jobs, immediate families and extended families here and in Ethiopia. A lot of them may be successful in their respective careers, but I doubt if they are truly integrated in the society they live in.

10:40 AM, February 02, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Queyi Qebero

i did see the interview with Stephen Sakcur. in comparison with how his counter-part fared facing the same guy, he was agile in his answers and defended his views well. in some parts of the interview(later section) meles even managed to turn the table on the interviewer and almost led him into questions he wants to answer.

his coutnerpart was like a deer caught in a headlight.


11:31 AM, February 02, 2006  
Blogger Yeluno said...

You weren't talking about me with ' a young man ...' stuff you wrote, are you?
I have many scars to show from my foolish but un- apologetic attempts to 'defend' Ato Lidetu.
Say what you will about his clumsy attempts at coming back to Meles' parliament, or his quarrel with CUD, but a traitor? Come on, people, we ARE the traitors! We do our long distance love affair with our Ethiopia from the safety of our DHS protected homes and we call a man that has done so much for his country a traitor?
In fact, if we are counting here, as we say back home, everything he said about the CUD running into Meles' trap has proved calamitously true. We might be better off listening to him, I say...

11:46 AM, February 02, 2006  
Anonymous QQ said...


I don't intend to go into "eset agaba' with you about the interview skills of Meles you seem to admire. My reference to Satan should close it. I said nothing about the other dude, but I don't think he is accused of ordering his army to shoot women and children in broad day light! I also said most people do recognize and overlook the weaknesses of nearly all politians as long as they largely serve them well.

Are we really talking about interview skills? Or is there something else not obvious here? Well, for that matter, I hear Lidetu is also very "impressive" in interviews. Time will tell if he too turns into VESI.


12:35 PM, February 02, 2006  
Blogger BeTesfa said...


Thank you for sharing what may have been in a lot of Ethiopians minds. I always wondered why we can't distinguish people who we disagree with on issues from foreign invaders. We give them the same treatment. We need to learn to respect the views of others whether we agree or not. Not only respect but also give ear to what they have to say so that what we hold may be challenged for the better.

Keep up the good work.

12:41 PM, February 02, 2006  
Anonymous not anonymous said...

Before you went ahead and worked yourself into a little fit berating us Diasporites for being intolerant, perhaps you should have gauged the sentiments of Ethiopians back home regarding your Lidetu. They’re the ones who gave the man the name “Kidetu,” not us. And, if it’s okay with you, the people directly affected by this self-centered man’s shenanigans just might have a bit more than a single leqso bet experience to work with.

Lemehonu, what does it say about you and your cousin that y’all think a handful of mourners at some fancy leqso bet in these great United States speaks for the ET silent majority? Demmos, how cute can you be?
“You realize what just happened . . .the silent majority has started to speak out.”
Wow! If that’s not a momentous revelation, but I’m afraid, reasonable folks might think you’re generalizing a bit there! Besides, wonq, I don’t know where your cousin has been, but it’s been a while since the REAL silent majority spoke out on the matter of one Lidetu! Shrewd, incorrigible Lidetu, whose primitive craving for the limelight knew no bounds and ultimately became his shame. His undoing!

Lidetu EARNED the lebel “traitor.” And, if you’re one to call a spade a spade, you couldn’t possibly call him your Knight in Shining Armor, could you?! He became a traitor when his unyielding passion for personal glory transformed him from an unremarkable egomaniac to a wickedly remarkable egomaniac perfectly willing to tear the house down if he was not going to be THE MAN, front and center! He became a traitor when his romantic quest for a little power clouded his little judgment and caused him to work against the will of the people that voted for him.

Yes, there was a time when Lidetu might have been a dissenting voice; back when he would throw a temper tantrum over every frivilous issue his random groping for weak points in the Coalition could turn up. But, even under those difficult circumstances he himself had created, the Oppositon’s leadership (level-headed as it was) bent over backwards to accommodate his ass, even coddled/cuddled him a bit like the kid he was. It wasn’t long thereafter that he stopped pretending to be a dissenting voice and began to show his true colors.

You are NOT simply a “dissenting voice” when you concoct openly nefarious schemes designed to bring the demise of the people’s struggle. You’re NOT a “dissenting voice” when you treat your party as if it were your personal fiefdom, arbitrarily change the rules to serve your personal needs, and (knowingly or not) do the bidding of the people’s enemy!

You do all of that and more to folks who placed their trust in you and expect them to treat you as if you were the answer to their prayers? I think not! Here’s something that I’m sure you can relate to. Remember the term Americans coined for Democratic Senator Zell Miller back when he defied the popular will and worked feverishly to get Bush elected? “Zellout!” I’m sure you see the parallel between “Zellout” and “Kidetu.” My question to you is this: Why is it “intolerant” of Ethiopians to call Lidetu a traitor when it’s perfectly “within the democratic spirit” for Americans to call Zell the same? With regard to Americans’ reaction to Zell, why aren’t you “amazed that this kind of intolerance exists in people who live in a democracy?”

“Let the democratic process sort out who is who,” you write. But, of course, wonq! No one is calling for the man’s head! We’re having a perfectly sensible dialogue here, about a man whom some of us believe has betrayed the cause. That’s all, and I think we should be able to do that without being taken to task for it. We should also be able to hold an opinion of someone without you or anyone else calling it a “wrath.”

I don’t know about you, wonq, but I will not wait to “see which bills he votes for or against” in a parliament whose very legitimacy I question. And, I will not walk it off either! I trust what I believe. Do you?

And, believe it or not, I say all of this without the “requisite acrimony.”

12:51 PM, February 02, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is the principle, Stupid!

The son of a bitch got too tight for his own britches and betrayed Ethiopia, pure and simple.

Et tu Wonq? I can't believe you have joined khidetu's chorus line.

2:36 PM, February 02, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


As president bush stated on his state of the union address as we addicted to oil, I have been addicted to your blog and I always refresh the browser after reading your new blog as if my pc will create a new topic of yours magically.

Here is my two on your recent blog regarding Mr. Ayalew.

Your generalization of the Diaspora with your house full of people conversation experience was a bit surprising and startling when it comes from you. So here is my similar experience and you go figure how ridiculous you sounded on your addition of ‘intolerant’ to the following list, ‘hamburger lover, neftegnas, educated- idiots, crying wolf, kererto lovers…..what not’ those words came from the right source which is and will pay the price for ignoring the true nature of the Diaspora and the power it posses and the role it will play for the democratization of Ethiopia.

Here is my not so loqso bet but timket story,

It happened during my annual semi vacation trip to Los Angeles for the celebration of Epiphany (if you ever get a chance to attend one, could you please dedicate a blog for it) it’s the most beautiful thing. So, as usual, when Ethiopian get together especially recently all the discussion from how could my three years old son refuse to wear diaper to how California weather is similar to Ethiopian weather, they all wind up to Ethiopian politics and don’t ask me how. First let me tell you about the group so you can put your perspective. These are a group of religious fathers, young prists(diakons), professional ‘miemenans of different back ground. Religious fathers who form a segment of ETOC leadership in the diaspora especially in US, the main organizers of the event by the way. By that I hope you can understand the animosity of this fathers who are persecuted for not supporting ‘Aba paulos’ towards the very same government who forced or pressured (depending on which side of the story you listen) the previous patriarch and played a role for the appointment of Aba paulos.

Story led stories and end up to Ato lidetu. And as generalizing as I was like you Mrs. Wonk, I was thinking here we go Lidetu bashing. No so fast. As most of the discussion tend to accept Ato lidetu of his views. The argument was the reason led him to reach to his political move. Some say he was neglected since he is not a doc or engineer, some say its because his origin of birth (not mihal sefari, whatever that means), and some think he used his long political experience in Ethiopia to maneuver his moves in the struggle against the ruling party. To your surprise, wonk, I hear no one, I mean not a single person naming him a traitor. And that is from the un likely group of people, that you would expect to discuss how he played a traitor role not weather he is or not, that is if your assumption were to be correct.

So, wonk, keep your hands out of the Diaspora as enough is on it by the self proclaimed political elites in Ethiopia. And the guy hmmm who brought that ‘un intolerance’ atmosphere to the leqso bet, and heralded by you, tell him thinking different for the sake of thinking different doesn’t necessarily make you brilliant or tolerant.

As or Mr. Lidetu,

I think he is in the same way of thinking as the so called the generation of suspicion. Its true that the others where the part of that generation as being a part of ‘ihapa, derg, ediyu…” but most spent a good part of their life in the west, educated in the west and ‘ye diro libsachewn wuliq adirgew tilew’ decided to join the Ethiopian political arena with the intention that what the learnt in the west could bring true democracy in Ethiopia. If you have read comment excerts from the book its all, he said to him to say to them and do this with her to some how push Ekele out of Entin, bull shit. Awww when you actually think he is giving you evidences to his claim, ye entnan sim gin alinagerim crap. As you already mentioned it the dude who disagree with those in jail for having discussion with EPRDF is disagreeing with the same folks for not having discussion with EPRDF(by joining the parliament) Its Ato lidetu who couldn’t tolerate the majority voice and not only decent from the majority but use his fame to damage the collation which gave hope and bright future for despair Ethiopians. And being tolerant to intolerant makes you a fool or an idiot.

Besides no one is calling to be head him or hang him. As the most despaired and hopeless youth could have done it while he has no any security paparazzi as MR. meles and co have. What most are saying is that he betrayed the people who once hailed him as Mandela. He sprayed cold water on the burning struggle for democracy and freedom. It doesn’t matter weather he did it deliberately from the start as some believe (some one was leaking meeting info to iftin, remember..) or he did it because he can for others not listening to his views which I think the case is, doesn’t matter. He damaged the struggle. That makes him a traitor and calling a spade a spade is not being intolerant. What matters is he did it. By doing so he committed a political suicide as I don’t see him to regain his ‘mandela’ status ever again.

So wonk,
As a Diaspora, we demand an apology. Otherwise, we will march on freedom plaza with our hamburger on one hand and a flag on the other, yeferedebin……

3:26 PM, February 02, 2006  
Anonymous dube said...

and the Bard rolls over in his grave.

6:31 PM, February 02, 2006  
Anonymous Phiqr said...

Amen to "not anonymous"

I would love to see ETW and Gooch response to that...

6:40 PM, February 02, 2006  
Anonymous frank said...


Though I have the highest respect for your opinion...I would disagree with your promotion of Lidetus status from traitor to a guy who has a different opinion how things should go.....

Remember that lidetu turned against the Kinijit members when the strugle was at its peak time.

He indid exposed the internal political difference to EPRDF infact event went further inviting the killers to take action against the loyal leaders.

Lidetu knowing the stand of the people against joining the parlament....he joined the parlament...

If it is for lidetus, Merara's and Beyenes action the strugle for freedom could have ceased.

Remeber that those people who have joined the parlament are doing nothnig , all the pressure on EPRDF is coming from people who support the leaders who are paying the untimate price for freedom.

Just look at it....What Lidetu, Merara and Beyene have done....they did everything at the will of EPRDF.

Merara said he joined the parlament to save his party from falling apart,( shame he could not save it)

Beyene said he will continue the strugle from with in.( He loves siting at the Parlament, like our prime minister he is in the parlament for 14 yrs ...doing nothing)

Lidetu said , His party wants him to join the parlament...( This is bulshit , His party kiked him out due to his latest behaviour of seeking power. ( I know lidetu very well....from the begining of the strugle...and I must tell you that I am shocked with his latest political move....

Forget about his being a pionner in the quest for democracy...when EDP started I was there was started because EPRDF wanted an opposition party to create an arteficial compitition.

Please Lidetu is a traitor...he knows it I know it...right now he dose not care for those who are in prison for those who are dying at the street of Addiss Ababa. It is hard for me to turn against lidetu whom I loved even when he has irreconcilable diferences with my political view. But right now believe me what ever he has done so far is nothing because he is working against it all day and night.

For that Matter we have to apploud Meles for throwing the Communist junta and fogive him for his present crime.

Believe me Lidetu is gone ..for some reason he has turned his eyes against the same strugle he was fighting for.

Now in the parlament , he can buy time to save himself from prison.
He can find a temporary shelter from the people that he decived.
He can vote he betrayed.

Dear friend , it is a grave mistake to save Lidetu...he is gone....let peace be with him.

6:56 PM, February 02, 2006  
Anonymous ETW said...

My dear Not Anonymous,

First of all, no hello? No “I like your new hairdo?” Yigermal.

Second of all, I am sensitive to my fits not being “little.” I’ll thank you for future corrections.

I am compelled to think that your comment, which you know I love, almost proves my point. To conclude that my…little fit is an overall exercise in “berating us Diasporites” haphazardly misses the point. Honestly, I think we might be giving Lidetu entirely too much face time. I am less interested in his transgressions than how we, the ‘silent majority’ (of which I assume you are a part, despite/because your big fit) react to it. The way we respond to dissent, betrayal and predicament says more about us than the dissent, betrayal and predicament itself. The point is, the point was not Lidetu. Not by a mile. Maybe I was too subtle.

Lidetu marginalized himself, and yes, those who had trusted him are allowed to express their displeasure, “Zellout” style. But why marginalize ourselves along with him? You see what this has become… a “Are you for or against Lidetu?” argument, which, again, misses the point. Do you see that?

I think you severely underestimate the young man’s boldness at the leqso bet. (Again, fancy, leqso bet. Apology accepted.) He spoke up when no one was going to. Clearly from the conversation that followed some people did not feel that Lidetu was a traitor. Some were disappointed in him etc. But we were all going to remain silent and let the statement hang… except for that young man.

An overall change in society occurs only if we are determined to change the little, everyday things that ail us- and yes, that means speaking up at leqso betoch. The subject on this occasion just happens to be Lidetu. He was a mere tool. But drawing lines in the sand because of someone who has outgrown his usefulness is ineffective. So, yes, let’s walk it off.

Now moving on to politics, when you trust what you believe, you don’t get shaken by something as inconsequential as Lidetu. Seriously. The opposition is much stronger than that. If you believe that, then someone in an even higher position can ‘betray’ it, and it will survive. Going terminally apoplectic about Lidetu is a gigantic waste of time. Seeing what we can learn from it, and how we dialogue about it is a better use of brain cells.

Actually, I don’t think I gave enough credit to the older man at the fancy leqso bet who started this whole thing. If he had berated, scoffed, denigrated or in any other way dismissed the young man, it would have been another unsung scar on yet another silent majority. The older gentleman had the fortitude to step back. That allowed both defenders and detractors to voice their thoughts. That’s all it took. I so believe that our strength as a community is not the way we agree, it’s the way we disagree.

I am told the name of the website for hens and things is

Now, Not Anonymous, let’s go spread freedom and democracy.

I await your gracious response.


8:42 PM, February 02, 2006  
Anonymous phiqr said...

BTW, is this clean of the Meles & Co monopoly. I am getting paranoid by the day since they control literarily all the businesses in the country. I don't want a penny going to them. Before we publicize it can anyone speak to that... thx.

ps, ETW thanks for the great response and for the turnaround... now your point well taken.

10:45 PM, February 02, 2006  
Anonymous hohumm said...

I got you now on this ETW. All this stuff about Lidetu and such does not have anything to do with et politics, but rather about Lidetu himself. I remember you calling him uber sexy and some other fancy lovy dovy names in so many of your bloggs when he was the man of the moment. So this time when this man's name is not an every day news any more, you brought him up, your puppy love, just to mention his name. I remember high school, boy that was quite some times ago, about forty moons past, and I used to fall in love every other week with some big eyed, fair skinned girl who may not even acknowledge my existence, and mention her name at every possible opportunity. Come clean, is not that what you are after?

1:16 AM, February 03, 2006  
Anonymous chebude said...

Alo ppl,

Great blog Wonq. I discovered it a little while ago. Good discussion going on, so I thought I'd add my two cents.

On the Lidetu situation, like the guy at the leqso said, I think he was being marginalized at CUD. I don't know about mahl sefari or whatever but I think it was more of a struggle between the educated elite (the Drs and Engineers, except maybe Dr Berhanu) and the grassroots politicians like Lidetu. I sense there is a very wrong feeling of entitlement to leadership amongst the Engineer Hailus of CUD, because of their age and degrees maybe. I also sense a slight 'you're either with us or against us' vibe from them. They could have been the 'tilq sew' in the situation and compromised with Lidetu and others if necessary, for the cause.

On his part, Lidetu, probably rightly, felt marginalized at CUD. Where he went wrong I think was how he reacted to it. He has a right to disagree, and I would expect from any principled person to dissent if he/she doesn't feel right about what is going on. But the very public way he did it at a time when some sort of united front was needed was unfortunate. I don't think he is a traitor. But I think by the way he went about it he betrayed the cause, his cause. From what I know he's spent a lot longer in ET politics than most in CUD and his party was the strongest of the four. He, more than most, should have understood that change and politics take time, and when he saw the tide shift against him, and he couldn't be on top, then he should have given the struggle (getting rid of EPRDF) a chance to go on. He had a lot more time.

Anyway there is enough blame to go around and both sides weren’t ready to compromise. With that being said I think the situation itself is given much more importance than it deserves. I don't know what difference it would have made had there been no split, when you're up against determined, power-crazy, gun wielding mofos like eprdf.

Wonq, the point you make about speaking up, tolerance, and change in society are a lot more important and you make your point well with the entry and above response. Not anonymous, you make a lot of good points too.


1:18 AM, February 03, 2006  
Anonymous Assefa said...

I almost did give up on humor. Almost because it still survises among friends who are also subject to the laws of 'diminshing returns.It now means I have to take a look or 2 at the blog which I have effectivly been avioding. That is because I am a cowrd. I hate bad manners and all the bag and baggage that accopanies it.

Incidently, some yearsago I wrote an article on 'leqso bet' in print media.Was this plagairism of a sort?

5:53 AM, February 03, 2006  
Anonymous ETW said...

Not Anonymous, and all the Anonymousi brigade:

Take a minute to listen to Lidetu speaking at parliament, here. Okay, first take your blood pressure medicine, then watch ET-C-SPAN. I like the camera pan to Ato Meles at one point, and clearly he is irritated that he has to be lectured by a young’un. The others look uncomfortable, but maybe it’s just the goddamn 1970s ties chocking them. You might not think I am serious, but I do think that this kind of “in your face” is good for a parliament that is used to being herded like sheep. It might give courage to others, amongst whom I am SURE are EPRDFffers who have had enough. That’s why I said to wait and see how Lidetu performs. If he keeps up the badgering, then just let him do it for you. Hello! What’s the problem there? Inde! Whatever happened to strategy? You can’t keep feeling betrayed forever. When life gives you lemon, yes?

Now, if I was a political mercenary (hushyo’ mouth!), I would say that this was actually a coup for the CUD. If it is true that they thought Lidetu was a pain in the ass…. we are speaking hypothetically here, of course, and wanted him out of their hair he just made their job easier. They should be writing him a thank you note and encouraging him to stay. The winningest way to defeat your opponent is by handing him the ropes and not interrupting his suicide. Lidetu just gave the CUD more legitimacy and “the real opposition” status. Again, if you are trying to trip a particularly difficult, coached, smart witness, you don’t badger him from the onset. You let him talk and talk and talk and eventually, splat! But that’s just me, and what do I know about Machiavellian moves? Whatever you think of the guy, strategically he is working for your side. At a certain point, the heart has to let the brain think, abo!

No... no... you're welcome.

Gooch, Not Anon… do I hear you want to be guest bloggers whilst I sip bicherin from the mountaintops?

8:52 AM, February 03, 2006  
Anonymous Gooch said...

ETW, sure, but I feel the pressure to churn out articles already! And the stress of worrying about lowering the standards of this hallowed blog.

Oh well, let me know.

4:09 PM, February 04, 2006  
Anonymous Brook said...

I thoroughly enjoy your blog! It is the only Ethiopian political satire that I know of. We Ethiopians have to learn to practice the true meaning of tolerance for diverse ideas.

Have you considered writing a book? In case you do, please don't forget to bundle it with a dictionary.

3:46 PM, February 05, 2006  
Blogger enaseb said...

Vaclav Havel:
You do not become a "dissident" just because you decide one day to take up this most unusual career. You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society.

if we indeed have faith in the process...there must be room for any and all to follow their hearts. how we judge the heart of Lidetu (oh brazen folk) should be based on his track record not his one act of dissent. therein lies the difference...

11:49 PM, February 05, 2006  

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