Back to Front Page

Locusts. Famine and The Ethiopian Elite

Locusts. Famine and The Ethiopian Elite


Bekele Berhanu                           October 20, 2020

The Ethiopia of yesterday is descending upon us again.

In the early 1960’s hundreds of thousands if not millions lost their lives from the devastating famine of the time.  It took a British journalist to inform the world Ethiopia’s agony.  The Emperor and the feudal lords were holding a lavish party for a birthday celebration.  I believe these men and women of the time were not mean and devilish.  But they were far removed from the people. And, of course, they care less.

Similarly, in the 1980’s another famine of similar proportion visited Ethiopia.  It took ‘live-aid’ to make the world aware that famine has stalked Ethiopia again.  Then, history was repeating itself.  The military junta of the time, the “Derg”, was in a mood of celebration and holding lavish parties to commemorate the anniversary of its coming to power.  Hundreds of thousands of people perished.  Tens of thousands of people trekked to Sudan in search of food.  In that great exodus many were bombed and killed by the government of the day for political reasons. Many were forcibly resettled in malaria infected area by the Derg in Southern Ethiopia.  Lives were lost. Some survived.  Unfortunately, many who have called Oromia their home were hunted, and driven out of Oromia in the last three years.  Few were killed by vigilantes as well as government security functionaries.

Videos From Around The World

It was only in the 1990’s when EPRDF of Meles was in power that Ethiopia was saved from recurring famine and beat the natural disaster of similar proportion. It was a period that we learned natural disasters could be overcome if due attention is given to the problem. We were made aware that natural disaster alone need not be a cause for a loss of life. Politicians were the culprit.

Now, Ethiopia is being tested again. The locust swarm has descended over Ethiopia.  Once again, the lowlands of Raya in Tigray and Wello are the worst affected.  The central government in Ethiopia is again deliberately trying to break down the resiliency and determination of the people of Tigray by refusing to send essential materials to fight the locust swarm. The man who claims to be the leader of Ethiopia is instead dining and wining with Isaias Afewerki of Eritrea, the arch enemy of Ethiopia. These people who are now rendered helpless by locust swarm will never forget the crime that is being committed by the so-called central government of Ethiopia as we speak.

As I was writing this piece this shameless man, the supposed Prime Minister is making a mockery of the people that locusts follow the ‘Medemer’ philosophy of his.  There will be no more despicable messenger of destruction than this devilish man.

On the other hand, the support and pouring of aid by Tigrayans of Ethiopia, Eritrean neighbors and very few others is heartwarming and provides a flicker of hope to the affected large population.  If this can be withered away it will be a sure testimony that Tigray will be on a verge of self-sustenance and prove to be the most resilient nation in Ethiopia.

When the 1985 famine broke out, I was a graduate student in the United states.  The footages I saw in the TV are unforgettable. It is entrenched in my mind and haunts me every time I remember it.  Then, it made me emotionally broken. 

You see, I came from a region in Tigray that was known for the fertility of the land and crop abundance – a sub-region called Raya.  I felt that all the people in that unfortunate exodus were my relatives: uncles, aunts, father, mother, brothers, and sisters. I could not resist but be drown into a state of helplessness and extreme sadness. Those days are now bygones, but the feeling persists.

But then, Ethiopians of the time, those Ethiopians that are now considered to be a cause for the political turmoil now existing in Ethiopia by uninformed circles, join hands in raising funds to help the people.

The possibility for the occurrence of famine is very real. But the current political elite of Ethiopia remains tight mouthed.  Many ignore the looming disaster because primarily it affects mostly Tigrai.  This is an extremely dangerous development and may create a division among peoples of the country that may not be easily resolved soon. It is high time that they break their silence, come out of their narrow and hate-based political shell and be part of the solution to the current natural disaster and speak against the current anti-Ethiopia regime that is bent on destroying the country Ethiopia as we know it.

So, I would like those compatriots to stand up for a cause and show their solidarity to the people of Tigrai who are now mostly affected by the disastrous locust invasion.  There is no more proof of being an Ethiopian than coming to the aid of the affected people.  Tomorrow will be too late and too little to make a difference.

Finally, it will be a remiss if I do not mention the determination and heartfelt pouring of donation/ fundraising/ mostly by Tigrian and Eritrean Diaspora in support of the affected people.  History will be a witness to your remarkable contribution



Back to Front Page