“What kind of person would want to harm the people of Ethiopia?”
It was my mother’s lament upon hearing about the second wave of massacre unleashed by the Ethiopian government on innocent people armed only with their audacious belief in a better Ethiopia.
This is not just hyperbole. It is the truth. A government that could not handle the thought of giving up power unchained its inner demon previously gussied up with a cadaverous veneer of respectability.
What kind of person would want to harm the people of Ethiopia? The kind led by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. And he did it with such self-absolved righteousness that let his conscious believe shooting children in the head is acceptable collateral damage.
A year ago today there was a massacre in Ethiopia, devised and executed with calculated cruelty. Eventually Ato Meles will have to explain to his children why he allowed other people’s children to be riddled with bullets and die, sometimes clutching only the rancid air around them. Perhaps only the unforgiving indictment from his own children’s eyes will make Ato Meles understand the pain he has inflicted on Ethiopians. Until then, he will keep calling the dead “hooligans.”
Ethiopia and Ethiopians will survive the consecutive waves of violence from this government because Ethiopia and Ethiopians have had enough. It remains a mystery why Ato Meles thinks a bully can break the spirit of a people who yearn to be free. After all, Meles and Co. fought with ferocity and determination against the brutality of Mengistu. Does he think other people have any less a determination and ferocity than he?
Alas, the Achilles heel of Ato Meles: the kind of hubris that comes from being in power too long to make one forget what it is like to be the underdog. He has become so used to lackeys and sycophants, so addicted to dollars and euros thrown in his tin can, so blithely content with mediocrity and numbing obliquity, and increasingly undeterred neither by his meager intellectualism or lackluster sophistication, he keeps clawing on the flesh of innocent people. After all, that’s his default. It’s all he’s good at.
Ato Meles refuses to understand that temper tantrums are not policies and begging for small change from disdainful foreigners is not economic strategy. And massacres? Massacres are not social programs.
Only honorable men worry about legacies, which is perhaps why Ato Meles and the entire EPRDF operation exist only to pillage ephemerally. But their version of a good time will eventually come to an end, and when it does Ato Meles will have inherited his children trauma and exile. He will end up talking to bare walls, lonely expect for the ghosts of those he massacred.
As his reign crumbles with ignominy, Ato Meles should pray Ethiopians will be kinder to him that he was to them. Ethiopians will remember who they have always been and will make Ato Meles and his coterie mere footnotes.
This is a government that tortures people for passing out calendars. It has forfeited any benefit of doubt. It has squandered whatever goodwill it had stitched together.
Ato Meles confuses ruthlessness with discipline, Melesocracy with democracy and chaos with opportunity. He lights incendiary fires of ethnic discourse and religious wars with the eagerness of a licentious arsonist. He is chronically unable to look beyond the today, uncaring about who or what he takes down with him. He is dishonorable, has become predictable and will become irrelevant.
Last year there was a massacre in Ethiopia.
In remembrance of those burned by tears and blood. May you live to see an Ethiopia that is no longer cruel to your children.
With apologies to the photographer of the picture above. I can't find the credit. Please let me know.
UPDATE: Thanks Mengesha. The photpgrapher is apparently Boris Heger for the Associated Press.