You See? Are the Skies Brightening Over Ethiopia?
December 24, 2008
I want to extend my greetings to all of my fellow Ethiopian
brothers and sisters throughout the world.
I am wishing each of you who are followers of Jesus,
a very Merry Christmas as we celebrate this most joyous
time of the year when Jesus Christ was born, not in
a palace or mansion, but in a humble stall.
For those of you who are my very dear Muslim brothers
and sisters, I greet you, “Assalaamu Alaykum,”
and hope that you may find encouragement, peace in your
hearts, protection and blessings in this coming year.
For those who are Jewish Ethiopians, some of you even
living in Israel, I say, “Shalom or Peace be with
you,” as Hanukah is being celebrated. May God,
our creator, bless you, bring you joy, and reveal Himself
most powerfully to you this coming year.
For all those precious Ethiopians of other beliefs
or who may have no belief, I am hoping that this holiday
will be a wonderful and enriching time for each of you,
where we can all be reminded of the joy, uniqueness
and importance of those around us as they are reminded
of the same towards each of us.
Ethiopia is a country of great beauty in its people
and in its landscape. As you celebrate this Christmas
or holiday with your family, do not forget to think
about your greater family, the family of Ethiopians.
Let us remember those less fortunate, those struggling
around us due to poverty, hunger or homelessness and
those facing extreme hardship in far away places like
in refugee camps in Kenya, in difficult circumstances
in the Middle East or in hostile places within Ethiopia
where daily survival is complicated by constant life-threatening
jeopardy due to threats from this government.
Let us also remember those forced into the military
or caught up in a destructive system, not knowing how
and when to get out—prisoners of conscience and
sometimes body, just waiting for the right time to set
things right. All of these people are ours and are not
This article is about all of these people. We often
do not know what is going on in their minds. We in the
Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia want to share
some of what we have been hearing, particularly related
to what diverse Ethiopians think of the movement—it
may really surprise you!
Over the last two years, I have received thousands
of telephone calls and emails from Ethiopians. Through
them, I have been so privileged to hear some of these
inner, uncensored comments from so many Ethiopians who
have touched my heart. I have no adequate words to thank
the many of you have blessed and enriched my life.
This may be a difficult job, but one of the most rewarding
things about it is receiving words from so many of you.
I cannot reach out to every one of you so I am extending
my warmest greeting to you and your family, wherever
I also cannot share all of the comments because there
are so many, but I will be dividing many of them up
into separate articles. The first two will be comments
from Ethiopians throughout the world and the third will
be from non-Ethiopians like some key people in the US
Congress, the US Senate, the European Parliament, the
Canadian government and other influential decision makers
regarding what the mission of the Solidarity Movement.
As I have received these comments, one by one, I am
reminded of a vast dark room filled with countless people
holding unlit candles, like in some of the services
people of faith hold. The room remains in darkness until
one person finds a spark to light their candle, showing
the faces of those nearby. That one person then passes
on that light to them and those then pass it on to others
until the combined light of countless candles illuminates
the entire space. It is a quiet transference of light
that begins slowly, but once it starts, its speed accelerates
exponentially. This article is about this.
It begins in the mind that has been darkened by hatred,
division and despair; but, as minds are freed to see
the value of putting “humanity before ethnicity”
and caring about others because “no one will be
free until we all are free,” a different kind
of Ethiopia can emerge.
As you read the comments from Ethiopians you too may
catch that spark; that, if combined together in solidarity,
could break through the darkness hovering over our land
and continent. We must remember that those who benefit
from maintaining the dark may resist the light, but
when it starts changing a society from the bottom up,
there may be nothing they can do to resist it until
it is too late. When that happens, many more may join
together with this movement—even the TPLF or Woyanne.
I do not want another
December 13th anywhere in Ethiopia.
Some have asked me why I am advocating for all people—including Woyanne
supporters. The reason is because I do not want what
happened in Gambella to happen to any other Ethiopian
ethnic group. Tragically, I know that this government
has purposely deepened the hostility between people
and if it is not handled properly, it could get out
of control and cause unjustifiable killing and misery.
I do not want another December 13th anywhere in Ethiopia.
I am also certain no one wants Ethiopia to be another
Rwanda, yet the seeds of hate, based on ethnicity, can
take many forms.
One Tigrayan man, Desta, recently told me how painful
it was to him when he went out in opposition to the
TPLF government to rally with other Ethiopians against
the killing of the election protestors in 2005, only
to be told that he was not welcome there. Someone told
him, “This is not a Woyanne rally or Tigrayan!”
This is totally unacceptable, hurtful and against the
principles of this solidarity movement. We cannot put
people into a box to exclude them. If someone has done
something wrong, fairly hold them accountable for whatever
that is, but do not discriminate against a whole people
group. This is the kind of dehumanization that leads
to human rights crimes and the marginalization of others.
For those of you who have seen Christina Manpour’s
CNN presented documentary on genocide titled, “They
Scream Bloody Murder,” you will know that it covered
such genocides as in Armenia, during the Holocaust,
in Cambodia, in Yugoslavia, in Rwanda and in Darfur.
In every case, there was a pattern.
Hatred led to the dehumanization of others and that
led to the acts of mass atrocity. There is an alarming
pattern among such people who committed these crimes
and what I see in the attitudes of some of my fellow
Ethiopians. I call on every Ethiopian to stop this darkness
from spreading and instead to be among those passing
on the light.
For me and my fellow Anuak who watched this program,
we could plainly see all the same ingredients that led
to the Gambella massacre, but what really struck me
most about the documentary, was the inaction of the
outsider or the international community. There was not
one single case where outsiders took action to prevent
or to stop the mass killing until it was too late, even
though there were many warning sides.
The international community’s only response to
their own failure to intervene was an apology. In other
words, we Ethiopians must not tolerate this build up
of hatred against others in our country. If it continues
unchecked and explodes, no one else will be there to
intervene except for Ethiopians themselves. It will
be easier to prevent now than to contain it later.
Recently there was a demonstration in front of the
Ethiopian Embassy in Washington D.C. for Teddy Afro.
One of the slogans read: “Woyanne should leave
Ethiopia.” Instead of ignoring this, we should
follow the example of my friend Nanu, a brave, loving
and caring Ethiopian woman from Munich, Germany. During
a rally two years ago, the person with the microphone
shouted, “We need Woyanne to get out of Ethiopia.”
Without any hesitation, Nanu took the microphone and
said to the public, “No! We don’t want Woyanne
to get out of Ethiopia, we only want them out of power!
They have nowhere to go. They are our people too!”
Perhaps, the holder of this sign meant the same thing,
but we must be very careful about our language because
it can defeat our purposes and ignite hatred. Also,
we must find ways to maintain the rule of law. If someone
within the Meles government has done something wrong,
we will have to figure out how to hold those people
accountable through a court of law, truth and reconciliation
hearings, or in some other way with the ultimate goal
of working towards reconciliation and justice within
our society so we can be healed and move on.
Secondly, we should remember, there is enormous pressure
on some to join the EPRDF and that joining the EPRDF
does not mean that a person has committed a chargeable
crime or is even sympathetic to the government. In fact,
as you will later read, many within the “Woyanne
government” do not support Meles and later may
become “agents of upholding the Constitution,
protecting life and of positive change.”
Thirdly, as I have said before, there are true government
supporters within every ethnic group, and conversely,
there are countless Tigrayans who strongly oppose the
brutal tactics of this government as much as anyone
else does. They should not be excluded as Ethiopians
as they are part of us. All of us love Teddy Afro, but
I cannot believe he would support intolerance against
a brother or a sister Ethiopian based on ethnicity.
I do not even believe Meles cares that deeply for Tigrayans.
Instead, I believe he and his elite are manipulating
Tigrayans for to gain their support and to ensure their
power. Unfortunately, some government supporters are
falling for it.
This is a “me-first” government. If Tigrayans
are not useful or blindly loyal, they are discarded
like anyone else; just look at all the Tigrayan poor,
including the Tigrayan beggars on the streets of Addis.
How much mercy does Meles have towards them? We also
have received reports of how human rights abuses towards
Tigrayans opposed to Meles are covered up so other Tigrayans
do not know. If Meles falls, will he make sure that
all “his people” are taken care of like
himself? I doubt it!
This is why Tigrayans or any other group of people
can never be lumped together. Instead, we must act humanely
to each other in protest of a dehumanizing culture of
oppression. How we treat the Tigrayans and any people
thought to be Woyanne, will tell the world what kind
of people we are. What each and every Ethiopian has
to avoid is falling into Meles’ game of divide
and conquer where ethnicity is used to breed hatred,
exclusion and killing.
Even though the Anuak have been killed by this government
and no one still has been brought to justice, I do not
want a life of hate and revenge. Instead, I have chosen
love and acceptance. Hate and exclusion will only bring
more hate. I do not think any of us wants that kind
Instead, in the Solidarity Movement, we seek to be
inclusive of all people, based on life-affirming principles,
hoping to reflect a “new Ethiopia” of the
future. For instance, we have someone from the North,
from Oromia, from the Ogaden, from Afar, from Benishangul-Gumuz,
from the Amhara region, from the South, from Gambella
and now we have found someone from Harare. We have Christians,
Muslims, women, men, mixed ages and people from mixed
political groups, not representing their groups, but
themselves and their perspectives.
These Ethiopians and the many others I have heard from
inspire me and now, I want to share some of their thoughts
with you. Keep in mind, as I describe different people
we should neither glorify nor erase our ethnic, cultural,
regional, religious, gender or political differences
because diversity is part of life. What we have in Ethiopia
is diversity gone wrong and used against other human
Comments from Ethiopians
A Tigrayan from Toronto, Canada:
I am Ethiopian first, then a Tigrayan. I am also a husband
and a father. Being a father, I want to raise my children
knowing their country, culture and where they have come
from, but what the TPLF is doing in the name of the
Tigrayan, is hurting and confusing me as to what I can
teach my children. I am really torn between the two.
After the killing in Addis after the election, I joined
the rallies in Toronto, but was told by other Ethiopians
that it was not a Woyanne rally, simply because I was
a Tigrayan. If the SMNE can help bring about a more
open, free and reconciled society, like is said in your
mission statement, I believe this is the only way Ethiopians
can be free. I do not support the TPLF at all, but still
I have been labeled as a Woyane just because of my ethnicity.
An ONLF leader from Minneapolis,
Minnesota, USA: The mission and principles are
what the ONLF is actually fighting for. If there is
an Ethiopia where all of these principles apply, the
ONLF would have no need to not be part of this society.
Belachew from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia:
I was one of the one million who came out to rally in
Addis in 2005 and we are still here. What we are lacking
is leadership and organization. The minute that call
comes and there is a leader and an organization that
stands up for what is right, wanting to free the country,
we will answer the call.
Sioum, from Oakland, California,
USA: Every day, I am learning new things about
you. YOU ARE AN ACTION ORIENTED MAN. I will tell you
something! As long as we approach it systematically,
methodically, persistently and with a well articulated
action plan, I will guarantee you, we will succeed.
Hanok, from Mursi tribe from
the South who now lives in London, UK: I will
do whatever I can to really support the SMNE. What struck
me most was the inclusiveness of the objectives—fighting
for human dignity and human value rather than for a
political post. The lack of such inclusiveness is why
the Mursi are only valued because Westerners come and
take pictures of our women with plates in their mouths;
otherwise, we are not good enough for clean water, education
and opportunity like in the central part of the country.
The only way I was able to obtain an education in the
West was because of a missionary who helped me.
An elected Parliamentarian in
Addis Ababa: Solidarity is the way to go. The
mission statement says it all. I am asking Ethiopians
to join it and make it come true. If the Solidarity
Movement can mobilize the people in the Diaspora, it
will spread easily through the country. The need for
solidarity is not only needed in the Diaspora, but it
is needed here at home. That is why the Democratic Forum
has been organized by Ethiopians from different political
parties, different regions and different ethnic groups.
We hope the Solidarity Movement can lead us.
Achame, a man from Shekacho tribe
who lives in London, UK: Bringing Ethiopians together
is something that will serve us all because division
has destroyed us all. This government has divided the
people, making us to become enemies of each other. What
I like about the principles of the SMNE is that it brings
people together rather than dividing them. Anything
that brings people together, I will be there.
Mulugeta from Awasa, Ethiopia:
Senator Obama did not only inspire Americans, but he
inspired Ethiopians as well and we are ready for our
change. Let us create that change together, in solidarity.
Abdifatah, a member of the Afar
Liberation Front from Frankfurt, Germany: I agree
with the mission of the Solidarity Movement because
it is clear and seems genuine. To me, I like the principles
that are so inclusive. It is an invitation to the Afar
people. The people of Afar are very marginalized and
do not have opportunity for development and if the Solidarity
Movement can help bring Ethiopians together to free
the country, we do not even need an invitation, we are
on board. No one is free until we all are free means
we are included; not like the previous Ethiopians movement
or four generations of government that never included
us. The principles of the movement seem to say that
we (the Afar people) matter and of course, we do matter.
Lemlem T, Vancouver, Canada:
I want to show you my sincere appreciation for your
work. This call is a GREAT CALL. I strongly support
your call. Yes, we have to do something. We have to
come out in one voice, together. The regime is not strong
it is just because we are not united; it is using our
weakness to abuse and destroy our national treasures
and our people. As you said, let us take this peaceful
national/international call as a new beginning for a
NEW ETHIOPIA. HOPE WE WILL CONTINUE UNTIL our people's
voice is heard. Many, many thanks.
Jacob, a man from the Omo Valley
now living in Ottawa: The mission statement of
the Solidarity Movement really speaks for me because
it means standing up for all. It is promoting inclusiveness
and for everyone to work together for principles, not
like the previous politicians. If it is implemented,
it will benefit my people who have been left out from
the advantages of the 21st century.
An Anuak pastor in Gambella:
The objectives of the SMNE is what is needed—a
body that speaks the truth, teaches the truth and stands
up for the truth because this is what we really do not
have in Ethiopia. It is the lack of the truth that has
allowed a man born in the highlands, but raised in Gambella—who
could speak Anuak as well as anyone else—to side
with Woyanne troops on December 13 and kill three Anuak
people. This could have been prevented if he followed
the truth and feared God. If the Solidarity Movement
could be supported and followed by Ethiopians, this
movement could become the African National Conference
(ANC) that brought truth and reconciliation to Africa.
An Ethiopian man from London:
The principles are full of truth and hope. This is a
struggle of humanity and the protection of human beings.
I was in Ethiopia during the student movement and that
movement was not one to protect one another, but it
was a movement to destroy one another. As a result of
that movement, almost 30,000 Ethiopian lives were taken.
The difference between that one and this is how the
SMNE values human life. I like it and I support it.
Adane, PhD student, in Germany:
First of all I would like to take this opportunity to
thank you for all your effort to shape our future Ethiopia.
I read the statement and it is really fantastic and
you raised all the points that should be given attention.
Having said that let me introduce myself in brief. Fortunately
or unfortunately I have seen all the regions of Ethiopia
except Tigrai, Afar and Somali. I have lamented when
I worked in most of the rural areas of Ethiopia. All
the peasants of Ethiopia be it in Gojam or Gonder, Benishangul
Gumuz or Gambela, Oromia or Southern nations and nationalities
are living a miserable life. They are not considered
as a citizen by their own "government." Even
they don’t have second class citizenship status.
I don’t mean that life in the urban area is better,
it is simply to mention the majority.
In my opinion unless these parts of the people of Ethiopia
participated in building of our future Ethiopia, we
can’t talk about future Ethiopia. I was at home
during the 2005 election and the participation was very
fantastic. Every body was optimistic be it youth, women
or elders. Even under age groups were so concerned.
But now things are going back. It is a pity for us.
Every body is in state of fear and confusion. The WOYANES
have done their jobs to secure their sit but our Mother
Ethiopia is suffering and will pay for it unless something
is done. So please keep up your struggle. I am at your
side to cooperate in all aspect as far as it benefits
the people of Ethiopia. If you are willing to have my
cooperation in any ways I am ready for that. You have
also God and Bible on your side. I want to end it with
one verse from the Psalm. Princes shall come out of
Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto
God. Psalm 68:31. May the Almighty God send His Merci
to us and for our mother land-Ethiopia.
An Ethiopian Orthodox Priest
from Los Angeles, USA: This is not advocacy,
this is a ministry. When it comes to bringing our people
together for national reconciliation, it is something
I have been wanting for a long time and I will do anything
to help make it possible.
Omot, an Anuak from Gambella:
I read the mission statement and I totally agree with
it, especially the principles, because if these were
implemented, it would be the best thing that Ethiopians
have ever done for themselves. I would not want any
other Ethiopian to witness what I did in Gambella at
the time of the massacre; but if it is not handled properly,
it will happen again. The ingredients of hatred that
lead to a massacre begin when the people of a nation
see themselves as separate groups of “others”
rather than as “us”.
Metti, an Ethiopian woman from
Seattle, USA: I am behind you with all my energy.
I pray God paves the way and bring honest and good people
to realize this dream into a reality. I also pray God
gives the Woyane leaders the wisdom to see that it is
also in their best interest to steer away from oppression
and abuse. Most of all I pray God enlightens you and
gives you courage and energy to push forward against
all adversity. Please don't be discouraged, keep marching
Godi, a man from the South, now
living in Las Vegas, USA: I totally agree with
the mission statement of the SMNE because of its inclusiveness
of all people, especially as someone coming from a tiny
ethnic group numbering no more than 500,000. I may be
the only one of my ethnicity who has a post-secondary
degree. The previous national governments and national
organizations have never really reached out to the minorities
in the dark corners of Ethiopia. This was not by accident,
but intentionally because we were not forgotten about
during the Dergue or during the 1998 war with Eritrea
when a lot of our young people were forcibly taken to
war to fight. In the eyes of this government, our people
are good to die for Ethiopia, but they are not good
enough to be given an opportunity for education, health
and development. This is why I like the principles of
the SMNE because our voice will be heard too.
A medical doctor from the Czech
Republic: Putting ethnicity first and the lack
of caring about others in Ethiopia is the reason I am
a medical doctor in the Czech Republic, where there
are many doctors, rather than in Ethiopia where there
are so few. I will do whatever I can to help this SMNE
and to bring people together.
Damtew, Ethiopian International
relations student, Switzerland: I can not help
being impressed by your positive attitude towards our
political turmoil, mostly created by the hated mercenary
minority Junta in our country. They are intentionally
dividing and rule us, at the same time working day and
night to destroy the social fabric of the Ethiopian
people, by playing the old and destructive ethnic politics.
If I can give any kind of assistance to the struggle
against tyranny and genocide please do not hesitate
to contact me. May the lord give justice to our innocent
brothers and sisters who are savagely butchered by TPLF!
Sadiq, an Ogadeni man from Minnesota,
USA: I honestly feel that the Solidarity Movement
for New Ethiopia will make great strides within all
Ethiopian communities across the world. No one can deny
the genuine appeal that the purpose of this movement
brings to the table.
Wolde from Hadiyas who lives
in Washington D.C: I really like the guiding
principles of the SMNE, especially reconciliation. If
Ethiopians can come together in reconciliation, it will
benefit everyone, including us in the South so I hope
the educated Ethiopian will make it possible.
Tizita, an Ethiopian woman custodian
at the Minneapolis airport, USA: I am not a very
educated person. I work getting my income to support
my family here and in Ethiopia by cleaning the public
restrooms. If there were peace and opportunity in Ethiopia,
I would rather be there. I hope the people in the SMNE
and those Ethiopians who are educated will work to create
that kind of Ethiopia and if they do, I will do whatever
I can to support it financially.
Yemisirach, Ethiopian university
student in Tel Aviv, Israel: I hope that Ethiopians
can see the meat of the SMNE as I am seeing it because
if Ethiopians feel the same as I do, I think this is
what is needed to bring Ethiopians back to free their
land—bringing them back from exile like the Jews
found their way back home. Sometimes when I walk through
Tel Aviv, I am reminded of how the Jews worked so hard
to create their country and I hope Ethiopians can do
the same. I hope we can create a government that people
are proud of rather than ashamed.
A EPRDF government official in
Ethiopia: The mission statement of the SMNE touched
me very much and if there is something I would like
to say, it is that there are more supporters in the
government than you can believe. So, do your thing.
When the right time comes, you will know.
Belaye, Ethiopian banker from
London, UK: After the SMNE meeting and hearing
about the principles, I can assure you that you have
planted a tree here. You have my support.
Abdirahman, a Muslim Iman from
Toronto Canada, an Oromo: I really agree with
the mission statement. If Ethiopians can pull it together,
it will be a wonderful thing. As far as I am concerned,
the crisis in Ethiopia can only be solved through reconciliation
and forgiveness. I support the idea and will do whatever
I can to share the message with my people in my mosque.
Professor Seid, from Kentucky
USA: This is a great beginning and I cannot thank
you and your collaborators enough. This is what I have
been talking and dreaming about. Let us get down to
Dr. Golto, USA: There
are rural communities who have no access to the outside
world and nobody knows their plight. One person who
happens to be thinking along the same line had been
calling for Solidarity among Ethiopians, and you must
be aware of Obang Metho. I have been planning with Obang
Metho about how to mobilize our people to stand together,
and has been the most elusive dream so far.
So when I heard about this conflict, I called Obang
and told him. He did not know what Burji or Guji were!
After hearing what I had to say, the nightmare of the
Anuak massacre came flooding to him and immediately
went into action. He called the foreign offices of 5
western nations, including the US and Canada; he called
Amnesty International; he called Human Rights Watch;
he called the Genocide Watch and many other organizations.
Many of them called him back with reassurances they
got from Meles's office. Interestingly, since this flurry
of activities was initiated, there has not been any
fighting on the front-lines. We have no idea about the
reason for the silence of the guns, but live in the
hope that someone in power has intervened!
Many of our so-called opposition leaders have only
lived to take care of their interests - I have never
heard of leadership in raising funds for the millions
who are dying of planned starvation in Ethiopia, and
I have never heard of any efforts by these leaders bringing
our people together to resist this destructive divisions.
However, it is encouraging to know that there is one
Ethiopian who hails from South-West Ethiopia but who
feels the pains of every Ethiopian, and willing to fight
Obang Metho has begged for Solidarity, preached Solidarity,
prayed for Solidarity, and is now spearheading the fight
for the survival of the Burji in Solidarity with his
compatriots! All we have to do is join him and we shall
see results that we all yearn for!
I want to make crystal clear to all, that I consider
the Guji to victims of Woyane abuse! They have been
uses as a stick to beat the Boran, the Gabra, the Garri,
the Sidama, the Koira... you name it! This is a classic
product of divide and destroys policy! The Meles administration
sets up the environment for conflict and let these tribes
fight each other instead of fight misrule by this regime!
When the matters get out of hand - like now the world
outside learns about it - they are the "peace makers"
who just call and give instructions to stop the fight,
and the opposing armies just stop dead in their tracks!
Just imagine what kind of life the Guji will have after
the departure of Meles! Every community which have been
tortured by the Guji are just waiting for their day
to pay back! This is the most troubling concern to me,
because with this kind of relationship, Ethiopia will
be burning all over, long after Meles has gone. So let
this be a lesson! The intervention of one man may well
be responsible for a number of people being alive in
What if all of us stand together, and by that I mean
even Guji and Burji stand together? The problem of Ethiopia
will be multiplied when stand divided! Only NON-PARTISAN,
NON-POLITICAL SOLIDARITY WILL BRING US TOGETHER AND
SAVE OUR MOTHERLAND! Let us act, we have talked enough
and it is getting rather late!
Biniam, Tigrayan man in Minnesota:
I just came from Ethiopia two years ago and I do not
support the government in Ethiopia. I have been praying
for something to bring all Ethiopians together. When
I read the mission statement of the SM, I think that
this might be what I have been praying for. My only
advice is to please carry on for it is desperately needed
and I will do whatever I am asked to do.
A former TPLF official in Ethiopia:
I like the idea of the Solidarity Movement. My only
hope is that it succeeds because this is the only way
we can free our country and live as a people. I was
in the TPLF for years and I got out of it when it went
in the wrong direction. To get it to the right direction
will require inclusiveness of others. The TPLF was founded
because of exclusiveness of the Dergue, but when we
came in, we did to others exactly what led us to form
the TPLF. To stop this cycle, it must be done differently.
It seems to be that the Solidarity Movement leaders
have clearly thought of this already as seen in their
principles—humanity before ethnicity. The word
humanity alone is inclusive and is what was missing
from the TPLF. No one is free until we all are free
summarizes what went wrong with the TPLF. I cannot agree
more than this with the SMNE. You have my support. This
is my solidarity.
Almaz, an Amhara woman from Virginia,
USA: I agree with the principles of the Solidarity
Movement because they speak the truth and the truth
is what is needed to build and better Ethiopia. I am
an Amhara who grew up in the north. The place where
I grew up is much poorer than any other parts of Ethiopia
where I have been. We had no clean water or other benefits.
The belief that Amhara prospered under Mengistu was
just a lie. There are many, many Amhara who did not
benefit at all. It is just like some of the Tigrayans—like
those who are beggars in Addis Ababa, even though Meles
has run the country for 18 years. It is a lie that all
Tigrayans are benefitting in the same way that many
Amhara did not benefit under Mengistu. Instead, it is
his elite group who has prospered from his rule.
An Ethiopian businessman from
Beijing, China: Solidarity is the way to go and
if Ethiopians can come together and do what is right,
I am convinced that can do good things for the country.
Where China is today related to where they were fifty
years ago shows unthinkable progress. If Ethiopians
can put it together, we can become an independent country
rather than one that always depends on others.
An Ethiopian professor from Washington
D.C.: We as a people and a government have failed
to appreciate our diversity and how we treat our minorities
and I can understand why the darker skinned Ethiopians
do not feel Ethiopian. I think the principles of the
SMNE will correct this.
Hamelmal, from Boston, USA:
This is a great idea! It is what is needed. I just have
come from Ethiopia. The two weeks I spent there were
weeks of sadness because everywhere I went, I saw signs
of hopelessness. If the SMNE could be that driving force
to bring everyone together, it could be a source of
new hope to the people. I would like to be part of this
Mang, an Anuak man from the Twin
Cities, USA: I support the SMNE because of the
principles, especially because it acknowledges that
there has to be a new Ethiopia. This is based on acknowledging
that in the “old Ethiopia,” there were certain
people who believed they were more “core Ethiopian”
than others. The SMNE seems to say in its principle,
“humanity before ethnicity,” that we are
all “core Ethiopians”. This is the truth
and because of this, I would love to be part of this
“new Ethiopia” because I was never proud
to be an Ethiopian in the “old Ethiopia.”
Professor Mammo, Denmark:
I think this draft is wonderful... It is short and curt
and to the point. I like it…and agree with it
fully... you are truly a special son of Ethiopia...That
is very good. We can produce a covenant/manifesto to
create a movement of a united Ethiopia as Africans first
and foremost... I think we should go for it...Let us
works on it. I like the concept... We create a synthesis
of the pre-World II to the post- World War II thinking...
Please go on building a new and strong movement...
Girma, in USA: You see
all of us are culprit one way or the other. I think
we need to come together not to dwell in the past and
spend time on finger-pointing. I think what we need
now is for all of us to recognize that we have problems
and come together. THIS MUST ALSO INCLUDE THE EPRDF.
We need to have a unity and solidarity for something
not against something. As we come together for one,
prosperous and democratic Ethiopia where all its children
are equal, then by default individuals who would like
to be agent of evils will have no place. It is like
a light. As the light comes darkness will go away. So
let us not be worried about the darkness; let us illuminate
the light. I think the solidarity ought to be bringing
ANYONE together for the good cause.
I think the solidarity ought to be to move us forward
to real and concrete actions other than simply rhetoric’s
against the regime. Therefore I am more focused on promoting
and encouraging reconciliation with the EPRDF. I believe
by doing so we may help good elements from the EPRDF
come out. Once we have come together and established
a stable acceptable government, then it means we will
have a platform over which we can exercise justice.
Then everyone who has blood in his hand shall be made
accountable for JUSTICE MUST BE SERVED. I think that
is the best and pragmatist approach. Unless we engage
the EPRDF we will go nowhere. Engaging means talking
not begging. We can have strategies to force the EPRDF
to talk. I am just sharing you my viewpoint which is
a bit controversial among many Diaspora activist .Take
good care of yourself.
Melese, an Ethiopian woman from
California, USA: Thank you for your call of Solidarity
Movement for all Ethiopian and others who are willing
to be missionary of peace, equality, love and justice
for their fellow Ethiopian. It is time to listen to
the call. It is high time to get read off enmity, thirst
of power and fighting each other for the sake of selfishness
arrogance. It is time to open our hearts and minds towards
those who have lost their daily meals, freedom, peace,
justice, equality etc. It is a call to save or kill
our motherland for those who stand for freedom, peace
equality and justice. (I would like to suggest that
all the oppositions to be called different Ethiopian
social forces who stood for freedom, peace, equality
and justice. Because, to my understanding the word opposition
reflects enmity, destruction, war, jealousy etc.) Let
everybody of us be the messenger of peace, love, equality
and justice. God bless Ethiopia and her beloved children.
Ibrahim, a Muslim man from Benishangul-Gumuz,
from Winnipeg, Canada: I love the principles
of the Solidarity Movement because I used to work in
Ethiopia under the TPLF. Lack of those principles is
the reason I am in Canada and the reason that my loved
ones continue to be killed, persecuted and tortured
in the Benishangul region. By looking at the principles,
you have my support, 100%. Ethiopia cannot be freed
by one group. It has to be all groups. Most important,
it has to be like a genuine union based on truth rather
than deception. The dishonesty and deception of the
previous and current Ethiopian government and organizations
are the reasons why so many Ethiopians do not want to
be part of an Ethiopia where they use the people.
Derje, a public servant in Addis
Ababa from the Wolayitas: This idea of bringing
solidarity that could unite Ethiopians together is great.
Unity is needed in Ethiopia today more than anything
else. With unity, anything else is possible—like
inflation and the economic crisis—could be addressed.
I hope Ethiopians make the mission come true.
Abiti a man from Dallas from
the Gedeos tribe: I really hope this solidarity
succeeds in bringing our people together because if
our people come together and create a better government
in the country, life can improve for most of the people
and those of us living outside the country can go back
home. The reason why people are outside of Ethiopia
is because of lack of good government, peace and security.
If there was a good government in Ethiopia, people would
return. They will work, create jobs and bring money
to the country, but first, people need to stand in solidarity.
This is a good beginning.
An Ethiopian military commander
in the country: I agree with the mission of the
Solidarity Movement. Some of us call us Woyanne troops,
but we are Ethiopian troops and do not support destroying
our country, killing our people. The reason you do not
hear our voice is because the people in charge of the
military control us. Even if I speak out by myself,
I could be picked up and taken and killed like a fly.
No one would do or say anything. There are many Ethiopian
soldiers whose hearts are burning for change, but have
no voice and no way to demonstrate it. Most of us voted
for change. I voted for the Kinijit. Giving up is not
a choice because we have nowhere to go. If we do, no
change will ever come so please carry on. There are
many of us here who are ready when the movement arrives.
Yonatan, Ethiopian man in Melbourne
Australia: It is my great privilege to convey
our heartfelt appreciation and admiration we have to
the service you are giving us (to the nation) on be
half of our radio program and listeners. You are one
of the few leaders who deeply understood the present
dangerous to our nation existence. Allow me to quote
you from one of your epic speech's you made on our brother
and sister Oromo Community Conference at Minneapolis
"If we want to survive as a people, we have to
put our humanity before our ethnicity.
Meskerem, Ethiopian grandmother
from Maryland, USA: I pray that the SMNE succeeds
because I do not want to die, leaving Ethiopia as it
is. My three children are married to people from three
different ethnic groups—Oromo, Amhara and Tigrayan.
Since the Woyanne government has come to power, who
they have married becomes a negative topic due to their
ethnicity. I hope a government comes that wants to see
all Ethiopians join together and that is why I value
these principles of the SMNE—humanity before ethnicity.
My children are married to human beings, they are not
married to ethnic groups. I don’t want my family
to be divided.
Beshir, Ethiopian Muslim man
in USA: I read your statement and found out that
it is interesting and I also share your idea of justice,
equality, forgiveness, peace, new leaders. I respect
you so much because you are principled man. Let me tell
you, we must discuss our problem openly. We Ethiopian
Muslims never lived equally with non Muslims right now
even in USA. All radio programs, political parties,
civic organizations are christano-Ethiopian intentionally
or un -intentionally ignored Muslims some of them even
consider us foreigners. For every thing there is solution.
Let us address this problem openly and out reach Muslims.
Mahlet, an woman from the Kambatas
tribe in Debre Berhan: I agree with the principles
of the movement and my only hope is that people understand
the importance of it. Ethiopians have to work together
A Nuer man from Calgary, Canada,
originally from Gambella: I like the principles
of the Solidarity Movement. If it could be applied properly,
it could not only solve the problem of Ethiopia, bringing
people together, but it could solve the ethnic problem
between the Anuak and the Nuer in Gambella based on
the principle that until we are all free, no one is
free. What I mean is that the Anuak have to fight for
the rights of the Nuer and the Nuer have to fight for
the rights of the Anuak. If you look into that, it means
they don’t really need to fight.
Gezee, USA: I have read
the mission statement with a great deal of interest.
What makes you unique is your call for all to come together
for the common good. Only if some like you could understand
that there is a BIGGER and HIGHER power that will go
the extra mile, if we just attempt to take the first
step-for it is HE who detests the perpetrators of any
act of injustice as well as those who have fallen silent
to such deeds. As Clarence Darrow has once put it "True
patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than
anywhere else." Keep up the good work. PERSIST,
PERSIST and PERSIST.
An Ethiopian Protestant pastor
in Atlanta: I have been called for the word of
God, but I think you have been called too, to bring
our people together. You should know that I am always
here if there is anything I can do.
Tessema, Arizona, USA:
Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia mission is all
important and must be addressed as quickly as possible.
I advice the movement to divide the work in categories
as listed and create a working group on each with individuals
with the knowledge and know how to brain storm and come
up with a proposal how, when, who, where etc and execute
it with in a time table. Let me know the over all plan
of the movement's commitment that was made public and
the rule of engagement, so that, I can assess where
I can contribute effectively.
Bella, USA: I am an Ethiopian
and I must say that you inspire hope and courage to
our helplessness. The Ethiopian people have suffered
for such a long time and there is fatigue. Ethiopians
need people like you to inspire them and give them hope
that things can change and that we all can make a difference
by uniting. In my view Ethiopians have a difficult time
working together and that is because everyone has some
pain. What I admire in you and your principles most
of all is that you have transcended your pain and you
are a uniting figure to stand against injustice, oppression
and tyrannical rule. I pray that Ethiopia and its people
will live in freedom and unity.
As you can tell from the comments of these people, they
are diverse people with different perspectives, but
they have one thing in common. They want a free Ethiopia
where no one is above the law and peace, justice and
opportunity for all. These are viewpoints of only a
few Ethiopians. There are thousands or even millions
of others who would love to give their view if they
had an opportunity.
I am now inviting all of you to attend our Ethiopian
traditional coffee ceremony. In Ethiopia, when a coffee
ceremony is taking place in a neighborhood, no one is
left out. The invitation is for everyone. All of the
people who are invited to this coffee ceremony will
be served with coffee in one Jebena.
Most of you know what a Jebena looks like. As that
image is in your mind, please look at the map of Ethiopia.
Do you see any similarity? If not, let me just elaborate
a bit. I was recently struck with these two images that
seem to match each other. Is it by accident that the
map of Ethiopia looks like the black clay coffee pot,
round at the bottom with a straw lid, that Ethiopians
have used for many years to make traditional coffee
for our coffee ceremonies?
If you look at the handle of the pot, it might remind
you of the area of Ethiopia where Gambella is located.
If you look at the other side near the Ogaden, it appears
to be the spout and our missing straw lid is Eritrea.
The main part of the Jebena is within most of the country.
Ethiopia is well known as the birthplace of coffee
and we all know how much coffee means to us, especially
as we carry out our coffee ceremony. More than any other
cultural practice, this ceremony symbolizes us as people
When we set up our circle of seats and cups out in
the open, we purposely leave spaces, welcoming the stranger
to join as the smell of freshly roasted coffee beans
moves through the air. When the coffee is finally ready,
the woman handling the Jebena does so with great care
for if she is careless and drops it on the ground, it
will shatter into many pieces and the ceremony is over.
No one will have the enjoyment of a cup of coffee, despite
all the time and work it took to make.
Ethiopia right now is just like that Jebena pot.Our
ethnic politics, which are ingrained with hate, corruption,
deception, greed, guns and cruelty, have made us very
fragile like the Jebena. If our political situation
is not handled properly, it could shatter the country
and Ethiopia could disintegrate into many pieces. Who
then would benefit?
If all the people of Ethiopia do not stand up collectively,
this Ethiopia that looks so much like a Jebena on the
map, may not be the same in even a few years. We have
already witnessed it. The head of the Jebena is no longer
the same without Eritrea.
We do not want the handle of the Jebena, where Gambella
is located or the spout, where the Ogaden is located,
or the belly of the pot, where most of the Ethiopian
regions are located, to break apart. This is in our
national interest and is the responsibility of everybody.
Let us come together to take care of this Ethiopia,
protecting it for the future.
You are now invited to join with the Solidarity Movement
to build a stronger, more humane Ethiopia. This invitation
includes those in liberation and separatist groups who
want to break away from an inhumane Ethiopia. As I have
said it before, the map of Ethiopia, the name of Ethiopia
and the flag of Ethiopia have never oppressed or killed
any ethnic groups. It has always been individuals within
the government who have done this so there is no need
to break away when there is a place set for you in our
Together, we must handle this fragile political situation
with care, spreading principles of love, truth, responsibility,
peace, justice and equality from person to person until
it brings new light to every dark corner of the country.
May God help us to live out these principles so we
and others near and far are both blessed in a “ceremony
of harmony, peace and inclusion” as we stand for
love rather than hate, justice rather than injustice
and equality rather than inequality.
May God bless you with joy and peace and may each of
us pass on these blessings to others in Ethiopia, in
the Horn, in Africa and beyond. May God revive and bless
Please do not hesitate to email your
comments to me at: Obang@anuakjustice.org
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