Thursday, June 23, 2005

Suicide Watch

Something happened last night that brought me back to my computer to write a short blog.

It was declared kid-free night, which meant that we actually got to dress up and pretend we have no kids. At the restaurant (of course reservations needed to be moved twice because, y’know traveling with a bunch of Ethiopians means a lot of “You said 8 p.m. It’s only 8:30 p.m. Whaddaya mean I’m late?” Demmo said with such moral outrage that you actually start thinking that perhaps you are being anally retentive… I fell for it. I ended up actually apologizing) …

Anyway, at the restaurant… which, by the way, prominently featured the dual theatrics of a stick-up -their-butts maitre d’ and sommelier, turned out to be pretty good, and it got better when sexually repressed sommelier managed to crack a smile when he found out we were Ethiopians. He regaled us with stories of how his uncle was one of the service people that the British government gave Emperor Haile Selassie during his exile in Bath. Who knows? But at least he got all the details correct…

Anyway, there were a couple of Satre/Rimbauld-quoting ETs snuggling in the corner and they ended up joining us, as did their Satre/Rimbauld quoting friends who materialized almost out of thin air and kissed everyone at the table upon their arrival. (They are friendly, these ET-Francs.) Okay, so my first impression of the Franco-ETs… you know how judgmental I can be… sometimes. They seemed so removed from it all… vacations-in-Fribourg-apartments-in-the-5ème… you know the type.

But after the fifth or sixth bottle of wine the Franco-ETs changed, or maybe I changed. Talk of Ethiopia ensued, which of course meant politics, which meant someone asking why there hasn’t been a demonstration in Paris by Ethiopians. I noticed that one of them, a thin faced, bespectacled, intellectual type, remained quiet. That, of course, gave me license to immediately “poor, miskin, irredeemably-ferenjie” him. (Patronization… my forte.) All of a sudden, he… let’s call him Heruy, all of a sudden Heruy raises his glass and starts a long soliloquy/poetry in Amharic. At first I thought he was drunk. And then I thought I was drunk…

… but there was something about the way the words dripped from his lips, the way he took in sharp breaths between stanzas, the way he said “'to-Piyaa”, the way he made his voice dip down and up, up and down, the way he stroked each word with the proficiency of a seasoned wordsmith, the way he danced around the sem and werq, the way his eyes engaged us, let us go, then engaged us…

By the time he finished, all of us from the States were left gasping… for them, the ET-Francos, however, it was… it was an everyday occurrence. They were totally unaware what listening to poetry in Amharic in a French restaurant in France was doing to us. While we were gasping to recalibrate our invaded souls, they had easily moved on… another one among them picked up where her friend had left off and soon this ridiculously thin woman in a skimpy Agnona cocktail dress was mouthing words to an Amharic poem that still sends shivers down my spine.

I am sure I stopped breathing at one point.

I could tell that memories of Ethiopia had inevitably flooded all our minds… me?… seeing my father cry for the first time when I left Ethiopia… watching my mother bathe my ailing grandmother… the time my mother brushed lint from my shoes on my wedding day… the time my husband sent shimagilEs to my father’s house to ask for my hand in marriage, … the first time my son was able to put his arms around my neck and mumble, “emma-ma… my emmama.” I live for these moments. And last night was one of those moments.

To me, Ethiopia has been politics the past few months. All politics. And the politics of Ethiopia is ugly. And the EPRDF’s politics is downright vile. But what I was in danger of was losing the Ethiopia that gave me immeasurable joy as a child. I had lost the poetry that is Ethiopia. And of all places, I found it in a restaurant in the French Rivera, surrounded my modern day ET-beatniks. . Now, if that don’t beat all.

To the Franco-Ethiopians breaking bread with us, Ethiopia is so much more than ephemeral political woes. What keeps them centered and connected is that they love the Ethiopia that we had forgotten exists. To them Ethiopia is not what some loose lip, half-wit with a gun says it is. To them Ethiopia is also history, literature, poetry and art.

What Mengistu was able to do to the generation before us was to take the poetry of Ethiopia away from it—he dipped it in blood so many times that Ethiopia became a wound. And with all wounds, one can only wrap it up tightly, retreat and evade. It is what the EPRDF is trying to do to us today. It wants to shock us so much with brutality that a new generation of wounded Ethiopians retreats.

Unfortunately for PM Meles, he awoke in us the part that refuses to retreat. We can’t raise arms against him, but we won’t retreat.

I’ll explain.

To me, the true nature of a government can be seen using two simple litmus tests: whether it needs peace to thrive, or if it can only survive in self-inflicted chaos.

The EPRDF, by its very nature, needs fear and chaos to survive. It needs to tell people that if its opponents take over, there will be a blood bath. Listen to Bereket Simon’s words carefully from his latest interview:

But, what was the alternative? Let's look at it. The alternative was strife
between the different nationalities of Ethiopia which might have made the
Rwandan genocide look like childsplay.
This was the alternative.

This is the very nature of a psychopath leading a psychopathic government. To justify killing, it has to hold above everybody’s head the myth that if it hadn’t killed, more killing would have ensued. That sentence will forever define the EPRDF, and its supporters will always have to live with that legacy.

…anybody who feels they are capable of taking matters into their own hands will
reign over society and that will definitely bring the whole Ethiopian society
into turmoil.

The EPRDF needs turmoil and the illusion of unspeakable turmoil to survive, and that is a sign of a bad government. Think about it. How does one leap from students protesting inside a campus to a situation that “might have made the Rwandan genocide look like childsplay”? How is this acceptable to supporters of the EPRDF?

Secondly, the EPRDF is deathly afraid of the truth. To survive, not only has it always got to be on mystical “genocide watch,” but it also has to depend on an uniformed public. When you want and aim for a population that is misinformed, it is another sign that you are a failed government. Good governance demands a vibrant, intelligent populace that will tell you to “shove it where the sun don’t shine” when you spout crap like “we prevented genocide by killing only 36 people.” Like all two-bit, delusional megalomaniacs, the EPRDF thinks that if it says something often enough, it will be true. And to make sure that opposing views are not heard, take that extra step and control the media. How else can you explain that the state-owned media doesn’t even cover opposition press conferences? How else do you explain massive, capricious arrests of the opposition and anyone remotely associated with the opposition? The government whose constitution says that, ehem, people have to be charged within 48 hours of arrest or be released is still holding thousands in camps, now for the third week. It is all so amateurishly control-freaky.

So those are the tests: if a government can only survive by fear-mongering, and if it is afraid of an educated populace, what you got yourself there, skippy, is a monumentally sucky government. Remember what one of the first acts of the EPRDF was after it got comfortable running up and down the halls of Menelik’s Palace squealing, “Is this all mine? All mine?”? Yep. It fired those professors from AAU. Nice move. And then you have the tragedy that is the former “Less Education is Better” Education Minister, Genet (dinqem!) Zewdie, and her cosmic campaign to dumb-down Ethiopia. It’s a theme with the EPRDF, just like its predecessor, the Derg.

It would have worked pre May 15. But the problem for the EPRDF is that people have had enough, and people are, to its utter surprise and frustration, smart enough to decipher the bullshit from the all-out bullshit. It made the colossal mistake of undermining the intelligence of the people, a classic mistake power mongers make because they need to believe that they are love, loved, adored and loved s’more.

The EPRDF will undoubtedly claim victory on July 8 because its gruesome temperament won’t let it accept rejection. It’s kind of democracy is “be grateful we let you vote” democracy. That might have worked in the bushes, but it’s a new world now.

Sure you can always rule with an iron fist, but that’s just counting down your days to the grave. The trick was to have people think you were an okay enough government, and with the exception of a few, we had all fallen for it. But when you manage to radicalize the unradicalizable, you have just slapped an expiration date on yourself. When people have had enough of you, you have got to go.

This brings me to a little self reflection. Someone at the dinner table asked the duplicity of us being politically roused now when we weren’t in 2001 when the government again had mowed down students, or when it was wiping out our people in Gambella. Isn’t it a little hypocritical to be outraged now and not then? I beg your pardon. It is not a little hypocritical. It’s a lot hypocritical. Those of us addis meTewech to this political process have to come to a reckoning about our silence of the past and make sure that our voices are never again silent.

So, is the EPRDF going to ban demonstrations forever? Eventually people are going to come out to make sure the world hears them. And, sure to form, the EPRDF will do something incredibly heinous, and that, my friends, will be Tony Blair’s out. After remaining silent for so long, he is hoping for one stupid move from his “progressive, come be my buddy” pal so that he can wash his hands off of PM Meles. And then Tony Blair will be a hero. He took down Meles! Isn’t he a good guy, that Mr. Blair? And Mr. Blair just has to hope that people suffer from massive amnesia that’ll make us forget that he had stayed silent so long. Hell, I’ll fake amnesia.

For PM Meles, unfortunately, he has embarrassed his benefactors once too many times.

The British government is particularly embarrassed by the turn of

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is a member of the
British led Commission for Africa.

And the central recommendation of the Commission is that African governments should improve their governance. British Prime Minister Tony Blair telephoned Mr. Meles to express his concern at the killing of demonstrators.

Cute. A whole phone call. Imagine if he had done something, oh, really horrible. He’d have gotten a telegraph.

So, anyway, talking about governments who are major suckfests, all you ever wanted to ever know about the EPRDF’s nature is in that fateful interview Darth Vader Bereket Simon gave to Mesqel Square, and when I come back from vacation I will delve more into that. But all you ever needed to know and some things you never wanted to know about the destructive, spiteful and dissolute nature of the EPRDF is laid out for you in that interview. That interview might have sealed the EPRDF’s fate, and I take back what I said about the EPRDF firing loose-lips Bereket. We need him to make our point for us. His words should galvanize us for years to come. We will always remember:
The alternative to this would have been much more disastrous where you might
find millions or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands perishing within the coming days and months."

Noooo... the alternative to “this” could have been, and I am no military wonkette, but, I duuno, using tear gas?

Q: I am still not sure why guns were necessary and not tear gas or water

DARTH: Well tear gas and water canons were

Q: When?

DARTH: During that day. We used them. But the enormity and the overwhelming power of the protesters was not there to be stopped by tear gas.

First of all, Ato Bereket… those little things that whirl and flash, they are called cameras; and in case you don’t know what they do, they capture images. Images captured: your thugs assaulting kids, older men bleeding as they are carried off in stretchers, people crying, mothers wailing, dead bodies, armed cars… nope. No water cannons or tear gas. I know you are used to talking to nauseatingly obsequious yes-men all day long… but… please?

“Comrades, we used tear canons, right? Is that what they are called…I need to say it right.”

“No, sir, it’s water canons.”

“Okay… and those make you cry, right?”

“No, tear gas makes you cry.”

“Okay, comrades, we used tear gas and water cannon, if anybody asks.”

“And when should we say we used them?”

“Just… beqa… during the day. Yes, that’s right. We used tear canons in during the day and water gas at night. Got it?”

“Your sage and masterful logic blinds us with awe.”

And then of course there is Ato Bereket’s ridiculous:

But the enormity and the overwhelming power of the protesters was not there to
be stopped by tear gas.

Enormity and overwhelming power of the protestors?? I mean, wouldn’t that imply the whole city was out in force? Enormity and overwhelming power of the protestors? Shoot… could it be that Darth Bereket is really just a pussy afraid of a few people throwing stones, hmmmm? Were there big crowds that I missed because I watched the, what do you call them… videos and stuff… and … wait. There was no mention of this tear gas thing before and… Oh, I’m sorry, he’s bullshitting. You see? You see how he does me like that. I keep forgetting.

Seriously, are we supposed to believe anything this man has to say anymore? If I was caught in a rainstorm and Darth Bereket told me it’s raining, I’d have to go out and get soaked before I believe him. This is the nature of the EPRDF: it lies about the obvious. And that pisses off people. These are the progressive leaders we are supposed to respect.

By the way, again, let me apologize for ever suggesting that the EPRDF fire Bereket. Please, please… can we forget I ever said that?

“ET-Wonkette, you said the EPRDF should fire Ato Bereket. Why?”

“I never said that.”

“You did... on…”

“I never said that! You are trying to incite an ethnic war by saying that.”

“What?! I…”

“You are. I never said he should be fired. I said that there was a… fire in his belly.”


“You are going to make child’s play out of Rwanda.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Okay forget it.”

Ehhh… my bullshit skills need honing. I should read Ato Bereket's interview again.

By the way, have you noticed that no reporter, especially Western reporters, ask Darth Bereket to … um, explain how the opposition is going to unleash this impending interwhame that had to be preempted by killing people? That’s probably because of the guilt these reporters feel for having said nothing for a long time about Rwanda, and now all you have to do is mention Rwanda and they just move on. Okay, it’s a theory I came up with lying on the beach, but doesn’t it make sense?

I mean, cccc’mon! How do you not ask a follow-up question or even a for a little evidence to substantiate an incendiary and outlandish statement like, "The alternative was strife between the different nationalities of Ethiopia which might have made the Rwandan genocide look like child's play"!! I mean, how about a meek little, “What do you mean by that, Mr. Information Minister? We were just talking about containing a crowd which thinks that you stole the elections, not a crowd saying “Death to XYZ ethnic group. So, how can that escalate to genocide-status? ” Seriously, can anyone tell me why reporters from the BBC and Reuters don’t ask Darth Vader that. Or even a little, “Well, you see, this is what happened in Rwanda.. now can you make the parallels as to HOW the opposition will start an adult version of the Rwandan genocide, hmm, Mr. Information Minister?”

So, you see? Anything you want to avoid from now on, blame it on genocide. Late for work? Genocide. Your child wants a video game? “Son, that causes genocide.” No one will ask why.
By the way, does the Information Minister not realize that was is worse than a liar is a liar who lies about killing people in broad daylight? We used tear gas, my ass.

I was more than a little disappointed by a commentary in one of my favorite Ethiopian weeklies, Addis Fortune. In the June 12 commentary it makes an eloquent case of what makes a good democracy and then assigns both parties, the opposition and the EPRDF, the task of playing by these lovely rules. The rules being?

Ethiopia’s culture is common respect for a set of fundamental values and
institutions. It is time for the political leaders on all sides to acknowledge

I am really hard pressed at this point to come up with one core value or democratic institution that the EPRDF values. Really. Is it democracy? Human rights? Freedom of assembly? Wait. Let me think. I’m sure it’ll come to me.

…both camps to assert - loudly and clearly - their common attachment to these
core values

Yeah… Hold on… I’m thinkin’… I’m thinkin’…

Stable and mature democracies are based on a national consensus around core
values that allow issues to be debated and policies to be changed, without
disturbing the fundamental social and political order.

Sounds, g'ooooo to me, Lucy. But, I’m still stuck on the “what part of democracy does the EPRDF respect?” question…

After all, the victorious candidate does not just represent the people who voted
him into office, but the entire constituency…

Yeah… except when the people of Addis Ababa and most of the country rejected PM Meles’ love... I gotta tell ya, he kinda got cranky.

First, there is the rule of law. We all want to live in a country in which laws
are fair and are fairly enforced.

I’m sorry. Is Addis Fortune telling this to the EPRDF, ‘coz if it is, it needs to speak a little more loudly. What part of the EPRDF intimates that it has the slightest interest in respecting rule of law?

And call me a stickler about things like this but… okay, lovin’ the “fair” part of respecting rule of law… sounds downright yummy to me … ‘cept… EPRDF ain’t so crazy about the “fair’ part. I mean it likes enforcing the law when it comes to “keeping the peace”… but when it comes to that little thing about, let’s say, charging people within 48 hours or letting them go… not too crazy about that part. How did Darth Bereket put it…?

Q: I thought people in Ethiopia could only be held before they were charged for
48 hours. Have these people still in custody been charged or will they go to
court? What is the procedure?

DARTH: It is true that police in Ethiopia, under normal circumstances, have the responsibility to go to the courts and get the permits to detain people.

But… ?

This was a violence that broke out. It happened in the streets.

Uh-huh! It happened in the streets. Well, why didn't you say so in the first place? So you see why that changes the constitution. Let’s move on.

No, wait. I have a question. So when laws are not broken it’s good to have laws. But when they are broken, then we don’t need laws? So, laws should only be valid “under normal circumstances”? Meaning, if any breaking of laws happening under abnormal circumstances (um, like in the streets) it’s okay to not follow the laws. Okay, to summarize, laws when they are not broken = good. Laws when they are broken =not so much good…? I’m … confused, but… go on…

And you can not go to the courts when violence is spreading in the city. The
first thing they have to do is pre-empt it – pre-empt it by detaining people or
by taking the necessary action.

In this case, “the necessary action” meant killing people.

And then you go to the courts and bring charges regarding these people.

Okay, so let me see if I get this one ‘coz I ain’t no law wonkette: So you kill ‘em first and THEN you bring charges. And if can’t kill ‘em, arrest them... and … then… bring … charges? I’m followin’ ya, Darth. Go on…

Now what the police are doing is going to the courts and securing the permits to
bring people to justice. Of course they are releasing people on advice, on
counselling, especially those people who committed minor crimes who were engaged
in not too big subversive activities.

Okay, so arrest them, then go get permits TO arrest them, and since its thousands of people you have arrested with no evidence, then surely, you aren’t expected to get the permits to arrest them within 48-hours…The thing about the 48 hours? Yes, well, we can’t do everything the constitution tells us, now could we? Especially, especially when laws are broken in the streets. … So, I’m diggin’ this… Darth, do go on…

Q: And will any more people on top of this 700 be released?

Definitely. As I have told you, although the police has ample evidence regarding
most of the detained people, they were telling me that they will start
differentiating between the serious and the light offences. So that those who
are accused of light offences will be released either on bail or on advice and
counselling basis. So most of them will be released, I assure you.
Yeee… kinda lost me there, Darth. Kill ‘em. Then arrest ‘em. Then get permits to arrest ‘em and kill ‘em. Then start differentiating between the good and the bad… then counsel ‘em, then release ‘em … rinse and repeat?

Okay, so Addis Fortune people, will you please take the time to explain to the EPRDF about respecting the law, because I don’t think they quite get it.

The next administration must be formed in accordance with the law. That is
clear. Let all parties be clear that they support the rule of law. Next, there
is civility and mutual respect.

Yeahhhh… civility and mutual respect… not EPRDF’s strong points. I mean, when you call kids you killed “hooligans”, ehh, maybe it’s time for a refresher course on civility and mutual respect. But I ain’t no etiquette wonkette.

No one can doubt the EPRDF’s commitment to reducing poverty. One can question
whether its policies have worked, or whether they were correctly implemented,
and one can argue that other policies will be better.

Listen, Addis Fortune. I ain’t no policy wonkette, neither, BUT…

It’s always nice to have the desire to do something… me? I have the desire to get back to running an 8-minute mile. But you know… that would actually mean dedicating my lazy ass to running everyday and not every other day or whenever my kid asks me about girls. So, I’m happy with my 10 minute mile. Sure I am, if it means I don’t have to sweat it. BUT, I still have the commitment for an 8-minute mile, so I must be a-okay? So, surely you are not saying that just having the desire or commitment is good enough, right? Coz I love you more than that, Addis Fortune. Or is that the new standard for Ethiopian leaders now? You actually just have to have a standard. Any standard will do. How about you hate poverty? That’s a pretty good standard. Praise the Lord and hallelujah.


One can question whether its policies have worked, or whether they were
correctly implemented, and one can argue that other policies will be better.

Yeah? Damn straight!… So you mean it’s not enough to just be committed to reducing poverty, you actually have to have policies to back up your desires? Not only do you need policies but, goddammit, the policies have to work? Well, that's no way to run a guv'ment!

Now, I am also no financial wonkette, but is begging for more aid money the way to reduce poverty? Is that what we want our leaders doing? When I was growing up in Ethiopia in the Mengistu era, the only foreigners we saw on TV were the ones giving us aid. Can you imagine the deleterious effect that can have on people? And it has had long term manifestations. Even today, when a group of Ethiopians wants to do something, inevitably someone will ask, “Can’t we ask so and so for financial help?” Or, worse, we look to the West to solve our hunger problem and howl at the ferenjie’s indifference while we sit and scribble on the innernetz.

The PM of Ethiopia went on international media to say that 15 million Ethiopians are on the verge of starvation. And what does he get for that colossal failure in governance? Repudiation? Shame? Ridicule? Nah. He got appointed to Tony Blair’s Commission on Africa, tasked with, um, uplifting the African continent from poverty. Do you not have to perform to get appointed to these commissions? Can I be appointed if I flirted with Tony Blair, I wonder. I’d make a good commissioner. I’d commission my self a vacation to see my new ET-Franco friends.

So, yes, Addis Fortune, not only can one question the EPRDF economic policies, but I AM questioning the EPRDF policies. Like I said, I am no economic wonkette, but I don't think building shiny buildings is progress. Still having a rural based economy in the 21st century? Not progress, neither. (Sure that’d make 80% of the population your personal serfs, but… oh, that’s the point of not making the slightest bit effort to move towards an industrial economy? Sorry, I keep missing the point.) Whatever economic progress it had as a cache, the EPRDF lost. And it’s a shame because I know there must be decent people trying to work hard to make a difference. Don’t listen to me about economics … my checkbook is in a state of perpetual disarray. ethiopundit has laid it all out… (by the way, check out the comments on the last blog about ethiopundit and his studmuffintory status among female Weichegud readers. It’s time women thought intelligence is sexy!)

So, anyway, the Addis Fortune article goes on and one about respect, rule of law... all the things that make a society civil.

Here’s the catch: the EPRDF is not civil. The whole point is that the time for romanticizing the EPRDF is over. That ship done sailed. What events after May 16 showed us and the world is PM Meles and his goons are utterly incapable of accepting rule of law. Whatever sham of a modicum of decency we thought they had, has now been soundly erased from our memory.

To open fire on a crowd, and not even a crowd, at passersbys (read “Mourning of Two Sons” ) and then to justify it with trademark flippancy has disqualified this government from ever championing rule of law.

To fester an ethnic war so that it can be seen as the keeper of peace and stability, has forever marred this government from being thought of as even remotely civil or honorable.

To rig elections (and I hope that we are all in concert that there was so much irregularity in the vote counting that no amount of fiber can fix that baby; read Dagmawi’s analysis) and then take your opponents prisoners, has disqualified this government from ever claiming that it brought democracy to Ethiopia.

Does the EPRDF think that we have forgotten the EU memo of May 24?

In a press appearance on Monday 16, EPRDF claimed victory in the absence of
any results having been made public by the National Electoral Board. A similar
statement was released on May 23.

Ten days after the election, although electoral results had been posted
outside the polling stations in most of the country, the National Electoral
Board has only released results from 121 out of 547 constituencies.

Since election day, the state-owned media have been releasing on a daily basis
provisional, unofficial results mainly showing the partial victories of the
EPRDF in a number of constituencies and regions across the country. However, the
same media outlets have ignored press conferences or any other statement about
results made by opposition parties. For example, on May 18, while international
media (e.g. CNN and BBC) covered the press conference by CUD, Ethiopian TV and
Radio Ethiopia as well as the next day editions of the state-owned newspapers
Addis Zemen and The Ethiopia Herald completely ignored it.

Regarding the European Union Election Observation Mission Preliminary Statement of May 17, the
state-owned media reported the positive side of the statement while disregarding
any critical comments.

These practices, taken as a whole, are seriously undermining the transparency and fairness of the elections. They also risk increasing the scope for manipulation and consequently putting in doubt public confidence in the process. The European Union Election Observation Mission would like to recall that the state media has a duty to report on post election events in an even-handed manner. This duty includes allowing all parties access to the media, albeit while respecting the public interest.

Listen, for the EU to say that, it must have seen a shit lot of stuff, so we don’t even know half the story. This is not a few constituencies here and there, this is the whole election.

So, please, Addis Fortune, no more lectures on what makes a good government. Besides, the EPRDF is not a government, it is a regime. We all know the tenets of what makes good government, but we would be naïve to think that the EPRDF will form a coalition government of any sort as some people have been suggesting. We would be highly, highly naïve to think that the killings will stop. And we would be downright gullible if we think that the Addis Ababa administration will be run by the opposition even though it has swept all 23 seats. And thinking that there will be a fair re-count? Get over yourself!

Last night at dinner, people I had callously dismissed on strictly superficial basis, showed me how to change the world with words; the way to love Ethiopia is not to just hate PM Meles & Co. Our responsibility is to engage in the process, however small. It’s by writing letters, signing petitions, keeping ourselves informed and, most importantly, never letting them take the poetry that is Ethiopia from us. We can’t be numbed any more.

I have said it before and I will say it again, the best position for the opposition is to stay an opposition for a few more years… and completely expose the EPRDF for the ineffectual sham that it is. That way, no remnant of its ghastliness will stay with us. To me the opposition’s job right now is to let the EPRDF commit suicide. And it is our job, we the Fara-Free in the Diaspora, to keep making noise and pointing out EPRDF’s bullshit. This is not a fight about what happens on July 8, or August 8 or whenever the EPRDF claims victory. This is a fight to say, “Enough, already!” once and for all. We cannot be bystanders in the fate of Ethiopia any longer. We have the money, we have the time, we have the know-how, we have the voice, and if we don’t use all of it, then shame on us.

One of the best moves from the opposition I’ve seen so far, and there have been few and far between, is when zany-brainy-sexy-in-a-Woody-Allen-kinda-way Veep Berhanu Nega “welcomed” the EPRDF’s asinine move to move the capital of Oromia from Adama to Addis Ababa. He basically said, “Sure, we welcome them. That means more jobs, more taxes for us. So, welcome OPDO… now pay up.”

It was, simply, brilliant! What the EPRDF wanted was a fight (an ethnic based fight at that) and the opposition wouldn’t give it one. That’s what I mean by letting the EPRDF commit suicide. You make it look so ridiculous (thankfully, not a hard job) that it becomes a complete joke. And the best way to do that is from the inside, especially if the opposition has enough seats to challenge bogus legislation from passing though a bogus parliament. Unless the EPRDF is allowed to destroy itself completely, it might keep creeping back, not unlike herpes. The opposition must never be lured into fighting dirty with the EPRDF because that’s the only kind of war the EPRDF can win. Instead, it must be allowed to checkmate itself, and that takes meticulous planning, not boisterous “zeraf-ing.”

If there is anything we the Fara-Free in the Diaspora have learnt is that we do have some power. And heaven help the Meles regime when we finally exercise that power. I seriously doubt if the opposition would have been invited to the EU in Brussels this week if it were not in small part due to the Fara-Free in the Diaspora/Europe Division making a lotta lotta noise.
Listen, only an obtuse institution like the EPRDF can think that it can rule a country while having lost all major cities. It wants the opposition to keep on challenging the elections because that will deflect from the reality that it really has lost a lot in these elections. The last thing the EPRDF wants is for someone to say, "so, okay, let's get back to business" because that will show the EPRDF have little power it now has.

So, July 8 is when the countdown to EPRDF’s final demise starts.

But no one listens to the little ET-Wonkette.

The way to win against an adversary, as those of you trained in the legal profession know, is to first ask yourself one vital question: how low will my opponent go? That’ll map out how you are going to fight. If there are certain boundaries that you both respect, then you can look forward to a fair fight.

But with the EPRDF’s debased mind-set, however, the rules of engagement are that there are no rules of engagement. Just like there were no rules of engagement with the Derg.
So, how do you fight someone who has a voracious appetite for power? How do you win against someone who only thrives by creating a series of havoc? What can you do to counter your opponent’s relentlessly rapacious appetite to stay in power?

Simple. You hand your opponent the noose and watch him tighten it around his neck.

(Was this supposed to be short? Okay, I’ll be back to mommy duty/vacation in a few hours. p.s. My husband just told me that some of the poetry that them Frenchies were reciting was Tsegaye Gebre-Medhin’s rendition of Atse Tewodros’ speech at Meqdella and Solomon Deressa’s “fnCH yelew tarik.” Now all of you… go read some poetry and listen to Asnaqech Werqu. It’ll rejuvenate you. Promise. Then write a few letters to your Senators! )


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay Wonq,

This should be proof enough that i am your #1 fan.I am the first to send a comment ona new blog. Isn'y that enough to woo genie? gennie, you are woo'ed-- despite not anon doing some of the leg work.

I was dreading July 8, Wonqqiye, until today. thank you for refocusing my lens.

The Closer.

10:49 PM, June 23, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a few words.
- You are a great writer, no doubt about it. You must be happy about your ability to express yourself so eleqountly.
-Please stop the silly references about weird sexual acts, it only reduces you to vulgarity, which you are not.
-It is my idea that you should pursue serious journalism, you have all the elements of success in this.
- This time Ethiopia needs some one who can tell its true story to the world. Neither the opposition parties nor our intellectuals have the adequate resources, time, and inclination to speak about Ethiopia on steady basis.
-As to ADDIS TRIBUNE, forget it . . It openly tried to be the mouth piece of the Woyanne , in the pre-election period , with an open editorial glamorzing the virtues of the supreme leader ( SHUMBASH GOBLIN-as he is locally called), and the benefits of Ethnic politics, as though we have not received direct and heavy doses of hateful and uniquely destructive, embarrsingly idiotic propoganda based on , a strange blending of Enver Hoxa ( Albania) Stalinism and South African Apartheid.
-You have a great potentail to be a great writer, in English, in the defence of the rigths of Ethiopia and Ethiopians.

Best Wishes ,
Teddy from Addis Abeba

2:20 AM, June 24, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

no, either *I* am drunk or you are starting to make too much sense. finally someone who thinks self sufficiency is the path to true independence. ethiopia might have not been colonized in the traditional sense, but aid is our new colonizer. how do we not get this?? but every time we get more aid we think it's a triumph. debt cancellation is *not* an achievement! It’s galling to think that our current leaders think that’s the crowing jewel. it’s a bizarre economic policy. like you said, building an industrialized economy would be a great feat, instead we are made to feel grateful for f***ing aid money! i have never seen a government be any more proud of its ability to squeeze more money out of guilt-ridden ferenjies. it’s something i have been seething over, and , maaaan am i glad you said it succinctly! not only does ethiopia need a new “fara free” government, it needs a new wave of thought that can instill the work-ethic back into us.

i haven’t head the theory you have about tony blair’s final move anywhere, but it makes sense.

you made my day. Fine. i’ll give money to the opposition. i’ll dedicate it to you. :>)

(don’t listen to teddy from addis. We likkeee the double entendre. My two favorite things: sex and politics. i like you.)

9:08 AM, June 24, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

iNa sileraqnish raqshin
sileregemnish regemshin
immama adbar man yastarqen?
keteseqelnibet ibrit betihitna man yawriden?
riqetachinin bedildiy genbito man yaqerarben?

Be-ibriteNinet adega
yeminikeflew yedem waga
nare ketiwlid tiwlid
bewidachin hone begid

kezemen zemen Tenabin
be-baidan amlikoachin
be-menfess kifatachin . . . . . .

from Adbar
Tsegaye G/Medhin

Yes, WonqE-dearest, “we can’t be numbed any more.” And, yes, we have to “make sure that our voices are never again silent.” Let’s remember also that our efforts will go a long way if we guard against Hubris “as we engage in the process.” A double-edged sword this Hubris, it cuts both ways.

12:06 PM, June 24, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finally. Someone remembers. Ethiopia is so much more than the politics and the brutality and the soundbites...

I wake up every morning, say my prayers, eat a proper breakfast (miskinoch enante bagel/starbucks minamin sitilu) go to work. Throughout the day, I ran into aunts, uncles, old and new friends. Some live well, some don't. Some are into politics, most are not. There are tigre, oromo, amara, gurage schoolmates/colleagues/cousins. We have one thing in common. We all love this country. For all its fucked up-ness. It is my home. I could be elsewhere. But I choose to be here. I was born here for a reason. I was given the opportunity to educate myself elsewhere. but after that, America has enough of its children to build it along. Ethiopia on the other hand, has been draining its best brain power for decades. And it seem all that occupies those best brains when they think of this land is is what CNN/BBC picks up..which is when the politicans talk/kill/run sham elections. etc.

bakachihu...I wanted to write more. gin hod basegne. I can't tell you how sad it is that here this country is left behind, and yet she has so many capable children who are off beautifying some other chick's house.

1:08 PM, June 24, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Land of Wonqs,

how do you do it, Wonqi? You mashkerkered me from the emotional to the political and now I don't know if I should cry or laugh. Yetabash!

we had all forgotten about the poetic ethiopia, because understandably,these were unpoetic times. but i can see your point about not letting go of it completely. a lot of us in the diaspora are wondering what role we play regarding ethiopia, and i can understand mamo's despair. but it can't be a "here or there" issue. what i have learnt the past week is that it we do have a role to play, and i don't think it's hubris to state so. (couldn't figure out what part not anon thought was hubris.) you have made some bold statements, but i don't think it's anywhere near hubris.

TquretE ke honebih eda
ye buhaqa, ye buhaqqa
lmet america

-solomon deressa

yonni, i am woo'ed and wow'ed. you and me can hold each other on july 8. it's a date?

2:11 PM, June 24, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mamo begebeya,
never have i read my own thoughts expressed by someone else who thinks/feels it too... ifoy asbalkeng! igzer yibarkih! i would've asked you tomarry me but this ain't no love-chat-room... too bad :-(

i've become addicted to your blogs :-)

2:13 PM, June 24, 2005  
Blogger tazabi said...

Hello Wonkette!

I hate that that I am about to develop an addiction of checking your page daily. I have avoided addictions all my life and I am seeing myself succumbing to this one in my old age. Your fault, lady!

You had mentioned in your latest blog that EPRDF's downfall begins on July 8... Well, let me take this date back a couple of months... although Meles has been doing quite a bit to assist in his own downfall for a while. To me, his Thelma & Luise plunge really started the night of May 15 when he showed up on Ethiopian Television deliver his "fingers" speech! ("We are prepared to fold those fingers that are pointed at us... [ I am] in charge of security [you ingrate Addis Abebans]…") Emphasis mine.

You should have seen the dude. He was livid! You could tell that he already KNEW he has been rejected (indeteteffa) by the majority of Ethiopians at the polls.

With that short speech, he not only angered the public but also in a backhanded way, heralded his downfall.


2:30 PM, June 24, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


This article says it all.,15756,1513358,00.html

Resettlement is also alive and well in Ihagid's "commitment" to fighting poverty. Viscious circle until land is privatized, which will happen "over my dead body", according to our progressive leader.

Ke akbrot gar,
Samson G.
Washington, DC

p.s. Teddy, I believe Wonkette said Addis Fortune not Addis Tribute.

3:05 PM, June 24, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


i would have written to you earlier, but it would have resulted in a genocide that would have made Rwanda toddler's play.

(Good job. So there is sanity in Ethie-Politics?)

Ye Dirre Lij

3:28 PM, June 24, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In small part this is the 'fara free ethiopians in the diaspora's' contribution:

we could not have said it any better if we had dictated it.

onwards with the intellectual warfare against the fara government. we have to be relentless about this.

6:46 PM, June 24, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry, the link was not live..

>US Congress

6:51 PM, June 24, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"... someone asking why there hasn’t been a demonstration in Paris by Ethiopians."

j'habite le marais, ca te dit un petit cafe avant de repartir?

5:18 AM, June 25, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


how do the women know that ethiopundit is a man? because he writes superbly, with clarity and reason? Huh? isn't that sexist?

on the other hand, i am all man. so, not g.z., & molqaqa... i'll be happy to accomodate. i have it on good authority that ethiopundit is an 80-yr-old woman. errriff belu.

now, about that three way...

4:03 PM, June 25, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can we put a stop to this 3-way road? We can be witty with out being graphic? i know you coud it ...not anon

11:21 AM, June 27, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I don't you if your realize how important and powerful your last blog was. What brought down Milosovich was collective ridicule, not "constipated intellectualism." You might have started something big wittingly or not.

God speed, Ato Meles.

3:18 PM, June 27, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great reflection of a coming-back. Two very important things (I dearly share) you eloquently speak-of, honor and reverence to life, and you gave our leaders (Mengistu-Meles duo) the measure they deserve on these subjects: F ! The 2005 election is like awakening with a smell of an aroma coming from a Sunday morning coffee: sweet (your sister tidily preparing for your 'gesgash' parents returning from church while your are lazily tossing in your bed: oh I long that smell). Thanks to the opposition for awakening the dormant, 'lazy' spirit. I agree with you in your characterization and hope some of the opposition leaders and particularly Beyene Petros (and I guess Berhanu Nega) may help bring back: honor to Ethiopian politics and national discourse. I think over the last decade and half Beyene has demonstrated that he is a man of honor: a LONE ranger and under trying circumstances at that. I may have to disagree and disappoint you on why and how Lidetu's case was handled especially how Lidetu behaved during this crisis. For one thing we do not have all the facts out in the public. So without full and clear picture of what happened to bestow similar accolade (the way CUD handled Lidetu's "difference") vis-à-vis brining back honor to Ethiopian politics is a little too haste . In addition there are counter, and very sound arguments, this hot and fiery guy has little clue about democracy (populist yes, democrat not think so). With out going into a lot of rumors (which some of them may turn out to be true) a person's character and past history got to tell you a lot (not every thing) whether you can trust him for public office. I am not sure this young fella had a clean record before he joined politics. I heard he has some dirty laundry that murky-up his participation in the process and there was no away around but to handle the "difference" the way CUD did: hush it up or say very little. BTW, it is interesting how fiery Lidetu gingerly responded (I should say in more than few instances) when pressed for more info around his 'resignation': for the public to seek more information from CUD (not directly from him but from CUD). And what was all that about his 'last rite' (Yideres Le Ethiopia Hizib)? Discussing a 'worst case scenario' a friend of mine pointed to Lidetu as the most likely candidate to replace the Mengistu-Meles shoe. He cites his factors: populist, fiery, very young, very little life experience or education: the optimum and best mix in the making of a dictator. I must add great dangers to REVERENCE to LIFE and certainly HONOR.
Please keep it up! Your article encouraged me to read and to respond.

ye kolo temari

1:27 PM, July 27, 2005  

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