A succinct response to his far too self-humiliating and depreciating interview that literally made him look like not the true son of our Abiy Abona Blata Hailemariam.
By Gebru Boj’Boj 08-26-20
After years of interrogation, torture, and mistreatments at the notorious Mae'Kelawi prison center, one Saturday late afternoon I and my fellow Tegaru prisoners were shipped off to Alem'Bekagn as it was getting over-crowded and to keep us in Alem'Bekagn until the regime decides on our fate. When we were leaving Ma'ekelawi for Alem'bakagn all of us including the other prisoners who remained in maekelawi believed that our last day had arrived. We thought we were going to the no return “Death Valley”. I remember how we were exchanging a goodbye hug among ourselves while we were heading out on the streets of Addis Ababa. God is good and we were wrong. After few minutes of drive, we arrived at Alem-Bekagn prison and we were dumped off at about six p.m. that Saturday. We arrived at this place without having any belongings such as blankets, spare clothes, etc. as we were not sure where we were heading.
When we arrived at the Alem bekagn prison center, we were warmly received by the prisoners. They had no idea about our coming. They were caught off guard and started to get together and organized an informal welcoming team after impromptu gathering. About fifteen prisoners were informally created to direct and support us: Kidane Musie ( RIP ), Getachew Belay, Sebhat Hailemariam, Yemane Teshome ( RIP) , Solomom Kibrom, Sahle Gebemedhin, Hailemariam Konach ( RIP), Desta Tesfay ( RIP), Michaele Bereket, Berhane Yemane, Assefa Abraha, Dr. Gebremeskel, and others. That night, most of them spent sleepless night to serve and support us (there was no curfew in Alem Bekagn).
Of all these selfless guys, the dedication, the level of support, encouragement and commitment I saw on one guy was something that I could not forget to this day and I am taking this treasure memory to my grave. This guy was giving everything including his extra clothes, blanket, and his sleeping spot. He spent the whole night without sleeping. He was going from room to room to check and encourage us all. He was caring, gentle, and loving. I remember Dr. Kiros Alemayouh and Gimael Berahle, Nugusse, begging him to minimize or stop smoking as he was smoking nonstop. “I wish this cigarette kills me before derg kill me” was his response. He was courageous and bold that completely accepted the environment without an iota of fear. The words of encouragement he was given us were energy for us. I cannot forget the common word coming out from him which was “Ajou’kumm”. This long, slim, humble, and selfless guy was Sebahat Halimariam, the eldest son of Abona Blata, and older brother of Lilay Hailemariam who had a strong accent as he speaks Tigrigna language as he was born and raised in Ginka, Arba Minch in internal “exile”. Humble Sebhat was one of the best teachers at Saint Joseph High school in Addis after graduating from Addis Ababa University before he was imprisoned which was the top high school in the city of Addis Ababa. The Tigray and Tigrean loving from heart Sebhat had spent eight years in prison.
As the Woyane fighters encircled the capital city, suddenly derg started to look merciful to fool the rest of Tegaru and a good number of us were let go and released.
That very Weekend of my release, my friends took me to a bar and restaurant in Kazanchis area to celebrate my release. After eating dinner, I headed back to the bathroom to wash my hands and I met a guy as he was exiting. That sudden encounter was with Kassa Hailemariam the other son of Our Father Blata Hailemariam and younger brother of Lilay. I and kassa were attending Addis Ababa University before I headed out to prison. This encounter is after many years. Kassa was rushing to leave as though he had urgent matter to take care of. After giving good and long congratulatory hug he checked his pocket and give me all the money he had. He did not give me enough time to talk and thank and he said, “I will see you soon again God willing” and headed out and disappeared into the dark of the night. On the next day, thinking that he was staying in the hotel, I headed back to thank him. I found out that he left Addis to join his fellow Tegaru in the wilderness of Tigrai along with his wife, kibrti Brhan.
Both Kassa and his soft-spoken, mature, and worth respecting wife graduated from AAU in the same year and started comfortable life with their newly born son. They started their loving relationship while they were students at sidist killo university while they were students. Their love relationship was obvious and common knowledge to all University students of Sidist Kilo. Their relationship was a true model of genuine love so much so they could not even hide it from the students of the campus. Berhan was pregnant when we were fourth year students and the level of care kassa was showing to her was amazing. It was a lesson for us to learn from.They were the talking point of us in a good way. They both were no nonsense, hardworking and disciplined students. Soon after their graduation and new life, their son was not lucky to be raised by them as they left him behind with his grandmother to join the fight which he died shortly from the separation shock that denied him the love of his parents. One family member told me how he was repeatedly asking where they are every time, he saw their pictures. What kind of dedication and heart they had to put Tigray before their new Angel and abandon their comfortable double income life? After many years of dedication and giving, they were back with victory and continued their love life as husband and wife to this day blessed with children.
Knowing such sacrifice and determination firsthand, it is an inspiration that makes you feel prouder to be Tigraway. It is a repeat of what Abona Blata Hailemariam did for us all Tegaru. It is dagmay hirane and fikri of people. And thank you for your services Kassa and Berhan. We love you and respect you. And we owe you a debt of gratitude, a debt that is prohibitively expensive to pay back.
The sacrifice of Abona Blata Hailemariam and his extended families is something you cannot say enough. As soon as Atse Haile Selassie’s successfully defeated the popular Woyane I movement, Abona Blata was uprooted from his region and taken to Jinka, Arba Minch region of the country to live in exile and explicitly refused permission to return to Tigray and threatened with imprisonment or death upon return. This was 26 years before the coming of derg into power.
As soon as he was taken away, the Haile Selassie regime continued killing the immediate and extended families of Abona Blata Hailemariam. As a result, most of his families were killed, men and bread winners. Many children of the killed were raised by grandmothers, mothers and aunts in a group dividing among themselves. Even during the second woyane struggle many of their families were killed and others joined the fight including the younger brother of Kassa or the last son of Blata. Close to ten of the families of Blata had joined TPLF. Did you know by the way some of the wives of the leaders who were killed pushed off from high places and mountains alive? The sacrifice Abona Blata and his families paid is a debt shared by all Tegaru that cannot paid back at any time. These sacrifices fueled dagmai woyane and dagmay woyane learned from it a lot and prevailed and successfully achieved what was not achieved during first woyane.
Abona Blata Hailemariam had left us every love, respect, commitment, and sacrifice that we treasure more than anything else. You are our great hero, father, and legend. Rest assured we have inherited and retained all your footprints and legacies. We are only missing your flesh and bone. You are living in our heart, mind and spirit every day. Once again, thank you and thank you. We Tegarus are blessed with countless heroes and heroines who paid their one and precious live one by one. Every time such great Tegaru come to my mind, something does move and enliven or wake up in my spirit, something that defines my very being in the great land of Tigrai. Once again, we are deep in your debt.So much so, we are teaching our children that the ground under their feet is the ashes of our great grandfathers, fathers, sisters, and brothers that need to be treasured and dealt respectfully.Whoever spits on this blessed and rich land is spiting upon themselves.
Lilay: First, please, accept my genuine greetings. Time flies fast as they say. Yes indeed. Fast enough, it has been over three decades since we did not see each other. During our young years, we both left Mekelle and headed out to Addis Ababa University. I was sad not seeing you after our first year as you headed out to the labor market to work for Addis Hilton. I vividly remember your narratives when we were students especially sharing your experience when you were Tegadalay. I also remember the time you came back to Mekelle from the field of Tegadelti.
Honest to God, what perplexed most is that you have not changed all these years even an iota. If you remember, in our social circle or group, we used to challenge you unanimously when you were trying to give dividing narration of Tigray. You used to label Woyane struggle as though it was awraja-based. As you can recall, you used to say that Agame, Wukro, Enderat, Tembein and Raya Azebo are not part of the struggle. You had a serious and disease-like hatred againstthe sons and daughters of our historical and woladit jegannu Adwa. For the benefit of your understanding I am not from Adwa and I am from the part of Tigrai that you said would like to secede to Afar. In all seriousness, how could you say this nonsense? Do you really mean it when you said The Agame of Dr. Mengesha Gebrehiwot and Sebagaddis, the Wokro of Agazi and Dr. Kiros Alemayouh, the Enderta of our father great Yohanese, Megesha Seyoum, and my one time mentor Dr. Yohanse Aberra, the Tembien of Amora, Alula and Seye Abraha, and the Raya Azebo of the original Woyenti and real fighters against Haileselassie regime would like to secede to Afar Region? Where and how did you get this conclusion? Do you really think we will abandon and leave behind the land of Hayelom, Sihul and Gessew Ayele? Do you really think we leave behind our Axum the place of our cradle of Civilization? How about our Mariam Tsion? How about our Great region Adawa and soloda the place where our ancestors made history? Please do not try to speak on behalf of us. Let alone from our real and blood families who we have common mother our Tigrai even with Ethiopia we do have yet real interest to split from unless things continue like they are now. We are families where no one or region gets left behind. We will fall or rise together. In good or bad times, our unity and living together is sealed for eternity. Further, we Tegaru are like an atom in physics where we are like the smallest particle into which further subdivision is impossible. If it does, we will lose our eternal identity. Thus, there is not division among us like you tried to depict. We are one and united. Anything less is impossible.
Some of the claims you made were not only factually incorrect and without foundation but also bizarre, outlandish, and offbeat.
We have become as strong as diamond. Trying to break up our unity is like trying to break or split a diamond with a stick. It is an utter foolishness. Our care and love to each other have become beyond you one can perceive. We are in a historical juncture where we are heading to a higher level for good. We are as strong as the Israelites of the forties and fifties and beyond. No one should have an iota of doubt about this.We have never faced a single problem that we did not surmount. There has never been any mountain that we failed to climb. There has never been any time that we hesitated to fight our enemies no matter what the cost is and become victorious.
To be frank, I really found your interview disgustingly and mind-bogglingly irresponsible. You have abandoned your Tigrawaynet unlike the teachings of your great father. Tigraway is in a special time fighting its historic enemies headed by the idiot, little-minded, childish, and power monger Abiy once and for all. Tigray is in a very important juncture of history making. It is in a state of practicing and implementing genuine democracy like never in Africa. One should follow the news from Tigry to see and believe.
According to your claim, you said TPLF was formed only by Deki Adawa. Are you kidding me? Is Dr. Hailu Mengesha , the first to propose about creating TPLF, from Adawa? How About Siye Abraha? What about Seyoum Mesfin, Agazi, Abay Tsehaye, Sihul, Gessew Ayele, Gebru Assrat, Getachew Assefa, Dr. Arkebe Equobay, and so on and so forth? By the way, the hatred you have against our brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, and children of Adawa is sickness. I know for fact that that you have this sickness for so many years. Please fix it do not take it to your grave. If you want me to be frank on why you have deep hatred against our fellow Tegaru from Adawa is coming from your misreading of the history of first Woyane. Whatever Dejat Gebrehiwot did to the movement has not to do with the then and current deki Adwa. The people of Adwa were suffering from the oppression, mistreatments, robberies, and killings of the dejach Gebrehiwot. The people of Adwa did not have love for him. What he did was his personal decision not to benefit people of Adwa. It was a lust for more power. Period. Please understand this and fix your mental fixation. Once you do this you will be freed and healed from all the mistakes you are making. Do we have to blame the people of the center for what mililik did to us? Do we have to hold accountable the people of Amhara for what Haile Selassie did to us? No, not even a bit. What dictators do is for their own power grip. The people of Adwa have nothing to do with what Dejat Gebrehiwot did to the Woyane movement. Please stop scratching old, dried, and forgone wounds. Anything more on this wrong and dead issue is uncivilized and crime. Please also stop living in the past. You are doing this betrayal at a time where we are facing existential threat from our historical enemies.
TPLF leaders, according to your words deki Adawa, were the top investors in Dubai: Can you show us a documented prove to you claim? This was another extension of your hatred against deki Adwa. The foolishness of labeling people based on their awraja has been behind us many years ago. It makes me feel sorry for you that you still have such mentality. It is not only backwardness but also persistent psychological fixation.
One of the funniest things you mentioned in your interview was about abiy and isayas where you said are not enemies of Tigray. If the bombardment of innocent children at Ayder in a broad day light where close to two hundred students died and hundreds disabled due to the bombardment of the school is not enmity what else could be? Please visit Ayder if you can. The shell is still inside the school yard. Oooops, I forgot that you cannot dare to go to Mekelle now. If highway closure, budget cutting, warmongering against us, and spreading hateful campaign against Tegaru is not work of hateful man what else could be? I could have listed many things to prove how sickly enemies of Tigray they both are. However, I do not want to waste my time on this as my fellow Tegaru who are living inside it know better than me.
You also continued your hatred against Adwa and its people. You said Addi Abun has 22-bedroom palace much better looking that the palace of arat killo. Please! Have you ever been to Adi Abun since this “palace is built”? I know for fact that you have not. So, where did you get this information from. You were only fed all the information you mentioned and very much coached. In some of the interviews you gave, your face was very telling that you were being coached and you face was revealing. To see you being used like that by the enemy of Tigray is bizarre and mind-boggling to me. Like I said above, if you need to be healed and prevented from making wrong decision, please cleanse yourself from the hatred. Hatred, especially long seated hatred, is like mental illness.