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Deconstructing Feeble Peeble’s E(ri)SAT-Style Journalism: Confusing myths for facts

Deconstructing Feeble Peeble’s E(ri)SAT-Style Journalism: Confusing myths for facts


Selam Yiheyis (PhD), Canada


I read an article entitled “Counterpunch’s -Ethiopia: Unity in Opposition” by someone named Mr. Peeble. Its verbatim version was posted at Aiga Forum, some three weeks ago. After reading the article, I asked myself: who the heck is this guy with a European sounding name, audaciously misinforming the public and meddling in our internal affair? Well, curiosity landed me at his rarely-visited website where I observed a couple of things: First, his poorly designed website is full of un-researched, ill-informed, hypocritical and make-believe stories of alleged human right abuses in Ethiopia, India and Palestine, but, for the most part his target victim is the Ethiopian government. Then I asked myself again: how and why did he cherry-pick these countries? Are these countries the worst violators of human rights in the entire globe, even compared to those around us who chop off people’s limbs and heads for just minor infractions? The simple answer is, his ‘analysis’ of current events in Ethiopia does not stand the test of logic and fact-check; the person simply has an ulterior motive thinly veiled as ‘activism’. Secondly, no biography of this person could be found to corroborate any expertise and/or in-depth knowledge of Ethiopian politics (because he has none!). 

Based on these observations, I could think of two plausible explanations (scenarios) about his sinister motives: (1) he may have been hired by enemies of Ethiopia to wage a cyberwar and create havoc by inciting ethnic conflicts, or (2) he may be one of those barely-employed con journalists craving for attention and the highly charged political atmosphere in Ethiopia, he might have thought, would serve his purpose if he fabricates sensational and provocative pieces (Sounds familiar, right?. Remember the good Portuguese lady from nowhere, who came to the spotlight due to our 2005 election predicament?). In any case, after struggling with myself a lot as to whether/or not to disregard his article as nonsense, I decided to write this commentary, cognizant of the fact that I might be giving him the recognition he is desperately craving for. Left unchallenged, such wolves in a sheep’s skin can cause a lot of harm to our beloved nation because the big lies they keep on echoing are becoming louder.

Peeble’s article seemed to be extremely biased and a divisive propaganda campaign meant to embolden the radical ragtag opposition and derail the overall interest of Ethiopian peace and development. So biased as it was, I felt rather bewildered by the writer’s selection of sources (informants) and the absolute lack of balance in presenting opposing views. The writer did not seem to care very little about these ethical standards and expectations. After all, journalism is often used and abused by so many international personalities, who are self proclaimed towers of knowledge. I am more than assured that the writer has a certain mission (unmasked) to destroy the only relatively peaceful and growing nation in the Horn of Africa-Ethiopia. But I assure the writer that his evil wish will never materialize; thanks to gallant sons and daughters of Ethiopia. 

The writer made so many unsubstantiated and outlandish allegations regarding the situation in the Oromo region. To start with, the Oromos about whom Peeble is hypocritically pretending to cuddle are 1000 times closer to us than to aliens like him who are messing up in our internal affairs; this is a family affair to be resolved by Ethiopians and Ethiopians alone. For that matter, who does not have an issue in any multicultural and multinational country like Ethiopia? Feeble Peeble has no idea that the ethnic groups he erroneously described as ‘privileged’ are in fact the ones with more legitimate grievances, except that they are less vocal! The reality is that the more vocal and militant you are, it seems, the more audience you get regardless of the sincerity of your cause.  In any case, the question of good governance, corruption, development demands and political space is not something relevant to one ethnic group alone; everyone is demanding that those issues be addressed properly as these are so vital to the very existence of the country.  Any genuine concerns, regardless of what ethnic group is raising them and regardless of how big or small that ethnic group is, must be addressed

I am optimistic the government will boldly address those genuine concerns by engaging various disaffected groups and the general public in a peaceful and constructive dialogue. Pressing issues of the public must be addressed and sound political reforms introduced sooner than latter before it becomes too late and too little to impress the concerned public.  Nevertheless, equally important is that legitimate opposition should put national interests in place ahead of sectarian or elite political interests. They should always opt for constructive engagement, and should denounce any kind of “flower inspired movement” or violence that vandalizes Ethiopian investment and rare resources for cheap political profiteering.  Ethiopia, suffering from drought and famine as well as security deficits at a time when yet demanding for emergency support of its famine victims cannot afford this kind of havoc.  Let’s be far sighted.

As the Amharic adage has it: “Jiboch bekededut wushoch yigebalu”(lit.Hyenas enter as loyal dogs create a loophole) , some irresponsible elements of the opposition have been hell bent on vilifying one or another ethnic group. They are the ones who are inventing stories to those foreigners who would like to divide us and prey on us. Foreign journalists have neither the time and interest nor the accurate knowledge to cross check data. They are not also accountable to our   people. They merely wish to publish divisive news-in a typical proverbial market driven motto-“no news is news good news!” Sadly enough, that is what has been reflected in Peeble’ article where he, in a Hitler-style rhetoric, branded an entire ethnic group as “enemies”.  In the first place, does he really know his subject matter? Foreign scholars taught us to be impartial and logical. Does this same question guide them when they write about our developing world, especially Africans societies? Can a people be holistically be labelled as “enemies”? Is that what Western journalism has taught Peeble? What a feeble idea is he bringing up to the international readers?! When did he visit Ethiopia and made a rigorous understanding of the interethnic relations?  Should a certain ethnicity be a target of character assassination for selflessly sacrificing over 60,000 lives to liberate their nation from military junta and paving the way for the birth of the new Ethiopia with a constitution that guarantees the rights of individuals and groups (albeit not having the kind of out-of-this world/utopian democracy) ? Feeble Peeble should be assured of one thing though: an attack on one ethnicity is an attack on all Ethiopians. He may be helping his payroll masters to score a few cheap shots here and there on the propaganda front, but that is short-lived and Ethiopia will march forward in leaps and bounds regardless.

It is worrisome that Peeble’s description of present day Ethiopia was extremely biased and based on a one-sided account of the irresponsible opposition elements. This becomes crystal clear in in his praise of E(ri)SAT as the only ‘independent’ media. This must be the mother of all sarcasm! We all know that E(ri)SAT is a media run by callous politicians and sell outs that who are paid for by the rogue Eritrean government and probably its overlords within the Middle East.  E(ri)SAT has now become the mouth piece of the despised and visionless opposition groups and individuals (like Prof. AR MARYA). Ethiopia deserves genuine visionary, patriotic and strong oppositions groups with unquestionable loyalty to their country and conviction to unite its people; not the kind of divisive and short-sighted groups like Gim-7 who openly declared their readiness to bargain with the devil if that would bring them to the helm of power. Those of us who lived during the last 41 years very well know how the country has evolved, of course, with all limitations in democracy, governance issues and political culture. We don’t bargain with our priceless commodity-peace. I am pretty sure Peeble doesn’t wish to see his nation crumble before his eyes. Yet, he never felt shame and any sense of guilt into sowing seeds of discord and poisonous propaganda to divide our multi-cultural and multi-national Ethiopia.

Peeble and his biased informants should not have expected utopian values and norms to flourish and blossom overnight. Neither should democracy be culturally de-contextualized. The ruling party and (the ill-prepared) opposition commonly share weaknesses that are inherited from our past political culture. And Democracy and governance were often work in progress. But, still the ruling party is still far in a better position than the opposition to run the state owing to its time tested governance experiences and its record of adaptability to global changes. The EPRDF has evolved through time and, has undoubtedly, delivered better in moving the country a step forward. This does not discount our demands to the EPRDF to keep on addressing its serious governance deficits. Yet, Ethiopia is too dear to be a laboratory for callous opposition who are not ready and had willfully missed a series golden opportunities, a case in point being their 100% win in Addis in the 2005 election and their subsequent refusal to take over the city’s administration. By the way, a 100% win is acceptable if it happens to be the opposition!

In conclusion, I urge all my peace-loving compatriots to intensify our struggle against the unholy alliance of foreign enemies, the sell-out opposition, dissolute journalists, pseudo-activists and  self-styled ‘international political analysts’ and tell them enough is enough. This demands responsible citizens to sacrifice a little bit of our time and energy to expose their nefarious activities, despicable lies and smear propaganda campaign that is gathering steam nowadays than ever before.  It is not acceptable to condone any opposition signing up with our enemies, simply because it has raised the banners of an opposition like a fashion show. The old era of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” has basically ended during the cold war! Ethiopia deserves a responsible, ethical and legitimate opposition that won’t open loopholes to historical enemies. Those who preach to dismantle the pillars of the current constitution and the legal state institutions will not be accepted and tolerated. An old African state with over 3000 years of state tradition cannot tolerate anarchy and political vacuum. Legitimate state institutions should not entertain malfunction and should act proactively before it is too late. Our peace is way above narrow any party politics or the rush for power grabs by the ragtag diaspora opposition.


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