I have lived in the Diaspora for the last forty-seven years. I left Ethiopia following completion of my 8th grade General Examinations. That is, a year before the late Emperor Haile Selassie (RIP) was overthrown. Since then, I have traveled to Ethiopia for a total of five times. Once for a duration of two weeks following the death of my father and sister during the reign of the Derg. The other three were following the demise of the Derg, with the last trip before the very recent one, being some twenty-five years ago. And so, it was after twenty-five years of being away from home, I took my recent trip. Hence, what I am sharing on this piece is an account from my diary about what I witnessed during my two and half stay in Tigray.
First disclosures. Educationally, I am a Microbiologist/Biochemist, and an Agronomist with graduate degrees in both. Incidentally, in this time of coronavirus, and for the benefit of those of you in the scientific field, among other things, I have studied viruses and published my research work on peer reviewed scientific journals. Professionally, I have worked in the pharmaceutical industry for the last twenty-seven-years with expertise in mega fermentations, purifications/crystallizations, and in management. I am now retired and if I could, I would like to devout the rest of my life to give back to the people of Tigray-Tigrigni and the Ethiopian people in general!
I have never been a member of any political organization. I cannot stand politicians! But I have been an activist advocating for human rights, democratic rule and accountability all my life! As an activist, first, although not a journalist, I was the publisher of the Ethiopian Commentator magazine, and its sister online version both which are now inactive. Moreover, until his passing, I have been one the most virulent anti the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi (RIP) and his so called “Palace Group!” So much so, I had launched a radio programming (Dejen Radio) to hold him and his group accountable for their mishandling of the war with Shaibia, departure from the core mission and value of the TPLF, and for the undemocratic and illegal suspension of those most senior TPLF leaders known as the “Seye/Tewolde Group” but I called them then the Guardians.”
Incidentally, I am still a virulent activist! One of my projects right now deals with working with investigative journalists and lawyers hoping to build legal cases against those media outlets which, in violation of both U.S. and EU laws, have fanned, in the past and continued to do so to this day, ethnic cleansing in Ethiopia from their safe heavens in the U.S. and Europe! I hope too, in the near future, to do the same for those top ANDM leaders who carried out the actual ethnic cleansing of innocent, hardworking and civilian Tegaru from Gondar! And I do what I have done in the past and do what I am doing today, for nothing else (not for money, political position land or anything else) but, even if it is in a very small way, I feel I am duty bound to do everything I can, for justice, for the cause of our people, and for the sacrifices they made on our behalf! I feel too, that I do have a responsibility toward those martyrs of ours of whom some were my 8th grade friends, who gave their lives for the Ethiopia which, until the light wentout two years ago, fluoresced with cosmic brilliance, and did so with so much hope and promise obvious on the faces of the Nations and Nationalities which makeup Ethiopia! I believe with the full force of my core convictions that it is my duty to cheer when our leaders do a good job and hold them accountable when they do wrong! The same goes for those merchants of hate currently advocating death and destruction of innocent people!
I believe that the TPLF is a major Tigrayan institution built over almost a half a century and at an extraordinary cost. This is an institution which must be cherished, reformed and reinvigorated. With all its short comings, this organization is without equal. More than any other party in the history of Ethiopia, this organization, has delivered extraordinary deliverables both in Ethiopia’s domestic dire needs and in its international interests/affairs! This is a fact and anyone who denies this, is nothing but a hominoid with the smallest brain for the biggest mouth! And it looks like we have too many Lucy in Ethiopia nowadays!
As a Tigraway, I believe that I have a responsibility to the welfare of this institution. This organization is not Dr. Debrestion’s playground or some other personality’s piggy bag! But an institution built with the sweat, blood, bones and lives of the Tigrayan people! As far as I am concerned, this institution is a giant political institution of our time, tantamount to what our Obelisks in Axum are to our history! Are there dry twigs in the lush forest? You bet! I have been screaming for the eradication of the dry twigs for a quarter of a century! Although not always successful in carrying that mission, I sure have tried in the past and will continue to do so for the rest of my life! Yes, make no mistake about it! Yes, I do not support personalities but I do support TPLF as an institution, and within TPLF, I only do support those ever selfless, lawful, and those who would never choose bread over honor, honor not only their personal honor but more importantly, the honor of the people who built a civilization second to none- the great people of Tigray!
I support too, Arena, TDM, Bytona, Salsay Weyane, EDU and TAND. And within all these organizations, just as in my support for the TPLF, I only support those honorable, and seriously committed to the honor, cause, and interest of the people of Tigray! Let’s face it and let’s have a straight talk. I am not an internationalist with a pipe dream. I am one who believes in the well-being of my family before that of my neighbor. That is, to say, I am a Tigraway first (incidentally, Tigray for me is Tigray-Tigrigni), an Ethiopian second, an African third, and a member of the global family last! Anyone, be it in the TPLF or in any of the other Tigrayan parties, who does not subscribe to the supremacy of the people’s cause and interest over all others, is a liability not only to his/herself but a mortal liability for our people too! I do not support any Tigrayan party which cries foul when a single person is killed in Tigray but is willing to sit down with those former ANDM leaders who not only killed and ethnic cleansed innocent Tegaru from Gondar but have imposed blockade on our people, and have failed to demand justice for Engineer Shimengnew, Generals SeArre Mekonen and Gezai Abera and the ethnic Tegaru selectively imprisoned in Addis Ababa and elsewhere in Ethiopia! In fact, I believe that these Tegaru should be ashamed of themselves!
One final disclosure. During my stay in Tigray, I did not have any discussion with any member of the political parties currently competing in Tigray. And this was by design. I did not want to hear what the political leaders say. I already know much of their plat forms and political rhetoric. I know who were intellectually competent, socially, morally and spiritually committed and I knew too, those making fools of themselves! But what I did do was talk to a lot of people of whom some where teachers, doctors, farmers, men, women, Christian and Muslim. What I tried to gauge was the people’s take on the burning issues of their time. I wanted to understand for myself what things were like on the ground and in the real world of Tigray.
With that disclosure, let me share what I observed during my recent trip to Tigray. Please note that this is not a literally work with strict adherence to norms of publication. It is directly from my diary logged just about on a daily basis. And so, if you find the topics discordantly positioned, you know why.
And what a great shock and awe I went through/experienced! And the shock and awe started as the Ethiopian air line plane touched down in Addis Ababa. Sorry, Prime Minister Abiye, but you are wrong. That, the last twenty-seven years have been years of light for Ethiopia was apparent to me from the airport’s transformation! Twenty-five years ago, I boarded an Ethiopian air line plane from the very same spot, but I believe it had only two or so doors: one for domestic and another for international. I also remember it, what it was like from forty-seven years ago when I first came to the U.S. and when a few DC3s, 707s and 727s labored to various destinations!
After a six hours layover at the airport, we boarded our flight for home (Axum). And as the plane descended for its landing, apparent it was for me that Axum had also been transformed too! But the biggest shock did not come until the next day when I saw with my own eyes the magnitude of that transformation! Just to give you a sense of the transformation, after lunch at my in-law’s house, I decided to take a walk outside. But, because blocks after blocks was so new to me and it was too, too interesting (so many of our people engaged in so many different businesses) for me to experience such fundamental changes, it turned out that I walked too far, and as a result, I had to ask people to get me back to my in-law’s house! I was lost and could not find my way back! I am not exaggerating! I was lost in the Axum I was raised and once knew like the back of my hand! I just could not believe it! The Axum I saw was very much like the Asmara I knew from some forty years ago and better!! Ours, run by us for us just as those years long ago when we became one of the four great civilizations on the planet! But it was not Axum only.
Although most of my stay was in Axum, my family and I travelled from Selekleka to Mekelle too. We went to Mekelle through Tembien and returned to Axum through Adi Grat. I do not know if it had to do with my aptitude for the microscopic, but although I was amazed by the macro structure of bricks and mortars which have transformed just about all towns large and small in Tigray, but what was more on my mind was how deep into the micro that change has taken root or place. And so, my eyes tried to zoom deep into the change on the lives of our people! Following is what I saw:
1. On the Overall change: In a nutshell, the first thing that was so boldly obvious to me was how just about everyone, and no matter where I was, be it in the town and or in the villages, was very busy working so hard! No more an abundance in leisure time! Even my family members who had not seen me for twenty- five years, had no time for me! That work is King, and Queen in Tigray is not an exaggeration! But not just work to survive but work to thrive! The reverence for work, the attitude toward work, the commitment and dedication for work and the sky-high confidence that he/she can in fact move mountains, was everywhere! I have seen it in the young lady who drove the Bagage, the driver who took me places, the mechanic whose garage kept the cars and trucks on the job, the real estate agent who specialized in building mansions, the female farmer who had turned farming upside down; not confined to a single crop per year but multiple ones for each season plus multiple vegetables in between or in parallel, the Professor at Axum University working hard to resurrect the glory of our past, the doctor treating our people, and the Tegadaly absolutely certain to make history on all fronts, again! The other thing that was so blazingly obvious to me was, like the Tegadaly who assured me of total victory on all fronts, the readiness of the people to do justice! I have never seen the people of Tigray in such single mindedness before! Forget what any politician peddles about dissent in Tigray! Yes, I have seen multiple parties with various platforms but on the mission of supreme importance, which is not only self-defense but also bringing justice to those Tegaru ethnic cleansed from Gondar and the betrayal committed by the top echelon of ANDM, and those who murdered Engineer Shimengnew, Generals SeArre Mekonen and Gezai Abera, all are one! Given what I have seen, if I was to make a bet as to where things will be in the very near future, I am convinced and beyond any shadow of a doubt, the former ANDM leaders currently cunningly derailing Prime Minister Abiye, will be either in prison in Ethiopia or if they manage to escape to Europe or America, they face legal charges which will have them sent back to Ethiopia! And finally, for this section, I would like to add that just about everything in Tigray has changed and did so for the better! And the change is so huge, I cannot put the joy I felt into words. Three weeks before we arrived in Axum, my brother had passed away, and the grief I felt was more than made up by the joy and happiness that I felt seeing the fact that our martyrs are in fact living in the incredible change they have left us behind! On my trip from Selekleka to Mekelle, be it in the towns and more so on the highways in the countryside, I did not see anyone without shoes! And I did not see Abo Gedid or Mordofa on the young students I saw all along my trip! And that is a huge change!
2. Urban versus rural versus economies: It was clear for me that all the towns I knew growing up, have been physically and economically transformed. As I have indicated elsewhere, the urban metamorphosis is simply mind boggling! Things have changed so much that just like my life in the Diaspora, people worry about all sorts of bills: school fees, health care, telephone, cell phone, Internet, electricity, water and garbage, groceries, cost of going out, you name it! Urban Tigray is so much on the digital age, I believe bill allergy has become the norm! I did not travel in rural Tigrai extensively. But I have travelled to Anguesti, Adishiadi, Mahbere Diyogue and Dereka. And so, my take of rural Tigrai is a limited one. Having said that though, it is my overall sense that there too, has been a fundamental change. What touched my heart along the way to the villages, were our people working so hard and the product of the Mesnos they built at great cost and suffering. In some of these villages, it was music to my ears to hear generators humming as they pumped the life-giving water to the vegetables. It was one of my highlights of my trip to see that the places I once knew bare and dry nine months out of the year, now blanketed in the green colors of vegetables of every type! I have talked to many of our rural residents of whom some are my family members, and what I learned was universal that the martyrs did not in fact die in vain! And from what I have seen with my own eyes, I believe rural Tigrai, although we have a long way to go, is much better off than I have seen it some twenty-five years ago, and infinitely much and fantastically much better off than during the reigns of the previous Ethiopian despots! Having said that though, although “better off,” our people do still face monumental challenges with the scourge of underdevelopment! And now that TPLF is back home, it is my not only hope but the expectation or demand of all of us, that, just as they prevailed over the Derg and made us so proud, they will do the same with the war against this scourge of underdevelopment!
3. On Health, Education, road, power and water infrastructures: Let me start with the good. I have taken the time to learn about these very closely. My take on these is that although there is a long way to go on quality, I have witnessed a quantum leap in health, educational, transportation, electricity and water infrastructures. I forgot the number of hospitals in Tigrai, but the health and educational infrastructures have made it all the way to every Kushet. Now, I am not saying that a quality medical care is available (we made significant expansion on quantity but quality is in high demand) or that many of our young are not being schooled in “Dases,” but what I mean is that, be it in a shack or Das, the young are not going without schooling! As Engineer Tadesse of TDA who, is also my hero, has made it crystal clear, we all know what we must do on the educational front! By the way, I have seen so many presentations in the course of my professional life, but I have never seen a presentation of the caliber of Engineer Tadesse’s! His presentation on what Tegaru must do to launch Tigrai into the club of the Asian tigers, was without common denominator! I have never seen simplicity used for so much power, resolve and empowerment! What a job he did; and I believe that, that presentation has very much guaranteed Tigrai’s destiny to the top! On the transportation front, once again, a quantum leap has been made. The main highways are paved with asphalt and what a treat it was to drive on them and experience the awe courtesy of the fantastic natural treasurers of Tigrai! I have seen some and I have been told that there is an extensive unpaved road to very much of the entire Nation. Electricity like in the educational, health, and transportation has made a quantum leap as well, but dependability/reliability is plagued with uncertainty! When we were in Tigrai, there was service interruption just about on daily basis! And this problem is related to the national service courtesy of the Federal government! But of all the infrastructural bottlenecks with the potential to stunt or stifle Tigrai’s development, I believe power and water generation are the top ones! Not just urban centers are suffering from shortages of reliable power and water sources, I believe, if we are to attract local and foreign investments, these are key resources which we must have in place!
4. On skilled manpower: When I was in the 7th grade in Axum, I had a Suzuki 125 CC motor bicycle (the only one in town), which was the talk of the town then, and the traffic police used to come after me for being so young and without a license. But when it broke down, because there was no single mechanic to fix it in Axum, I sold it in Asmara for a fraction of what I paid! Let alone a mechanic that can fix a motor bike, there was no mechanic and no garage at all in Axum then! But now, there are not only mechanics, technicians and skilled people who can fix automobiles of every size and function, computers, power grids, planes and every machines of war, but what moved me the most was the five star hotel Atranos in Axum, one like no other on the planet and adorned with our timeless and finest art, was built in its entirety by our people! All the kilometers of electrical wiring, the computer systems, the plumbing, the elevators, the HVAC, you name it, was courtesy of the skill, technical knowhow, craftsmanship and determination of our people! Simply amazingly heart-warming!
5. On unemployment: First, what I observed was that just about all of Tigrai seemed to me a land of the young. And I could see it in their faces how much they wanted to be engaged in transforming Tigrai. Those I talked to, did not tell me they wanted to work to eat but to do their part! It was like that time when we are invited to eat but despite our desire to do so, we refuse until we are pushed insistently. Maybe it was not the latter but that characteristic of Tegaru to sacrifice and endure for the higher Calling! Maybe it is that they see the gargantuan challenge Tigrai faces and they do not want to add another burden or demand to a government dealing with multiple challenges on many fronts. Yet, it was apparent to me that the cost of living is soaring and increasingly becoming difficult to make ends meet. I would have thought the young would be worried about their daily bread and the rent, and other modern conveniences for which they must pay! But in fact, what I learned from these hope of the Nation, was that they will never choose bread over honor, making it clear to me that the young have not in fact lost where they come from! And in fact, the young of Tigrai are, at this junction in time, I believe, more like the times of Azena, Kaleb and Emperor Yohannes! They seemed to me armed with the glory of our past, a past so evident in the historical foot prints standing tall in our ancient capital, Axum, in the hidden architectural/Engineering wonders that are the rock-hewn churches just about all over Tigrai, the al Negashi mosque which proudly waves the flag of welcome, plurality, tolerance and acceptance so innate to our way of life, the historical gems beneath the ground yearning to be uncovered, and not only in the glory of Adewana where we made Europe’s worst vanquish and vanish but the glory of the likes of Dogali, Kushet, Seati and others all the way from to Meroe and across the Red Sea! They have not forgotten too, the legacy of the epic battle against the chauvinists, and the betrayal of their progenies! No, they have not forgotten their heritage! It has been said that “what is written is inherited.” And so how could they, for theirs is a heritage written not on the perishables but in a time defying books and scrolls of rocks, obelisks, rock-hewn churches, and so many Solodas from Monroe in the Sudan to Sana of Yemen! Yes, I have seen the young complete with their honor but in my view, in terms of our priority, unemployment must be second to the national defense in Tigrai. The sense I felt was that we have so many skilled people and high school and college graduates ready to write their own history but without the adequate tools and support needed for them to unleash their creative power. And so, I urge every Tigraway of economic means/strength to reach out for these precious young. And similarly, I call on the Tigrai government to do everything to get the young enrolled and engaged in productive services!
6. On the Cobblestone paving of our urban streets: During my trip to Tigrai in 1991, one of the things I thought we could do to cut on the dust, runoffs, waste discharges and other public hazard threats was the idea of paving the streets with cobblestones. I thought of the large pool of idle labor I saw too and wondered on how this could be used to transform our cities/towns. And guess what? To my delight, I was so thrilled to see just about all the streets of our large and small towns paved with cobblestones. This was such a fantastic scene for me, and how I was simply ecstatic to realize what this would mean to public health, and to see the kind of beauty the cobblestone has added to our cities/towns! And nowhere was this more apparent than around the historic sites in Axum!! I would like to urge the Tigrai government to please keep this up and make it a requirement for all urban centers!! Extraordinary accomplishment and I congratulate both the TPLF and the Tigray government for such a fine a game changer job! The only thing left is a maintenance program which is so indispensible if we are to reap the benefits, both health wise and the beauty to our eyes, for so long in the future to come!
7. On the Herculean Terracing and Use of Productive land: There was something else which made my heart fill with joy. It was not just beauty, smiles, the kindness, resolve of our people, the work ethic/entrepreneurship, the schools, health centers, the roads, power etc., which filled my heart with immeasurable delight, but it was too seeing what looked to me just about every hill and mountain in Tigray, terraced!! The late Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi had once said “Enquae zi hizbi ezuy Naymatna aykone!” I believe he added too “Enquae tafti hizbi ezuy tefeterna, enkuae kabaka tefeterna!” He captured it right! I tried to imagine what it took to get all this done and as I did, it reaffirmed that which I have long known: that we are a people second to none! And no wonder we domesticated that Teff and seasoned our stew long before when the European lived in caves, and why the footprints of our glorious past captures the minds of people the world over! Long live our people! I have a word of caution to the government of Tigrai though, and that is as we urbanize, we must be very careful and thoughtful about how we manage our productive land! I strongly believe that we must think twice before we use land which is agronomic ally critical for crop production for industrial or residential functions in our expanding towns large and small!
8. On Our Youth: I have already touched on this topic elsewhere but I have one more point. Educationally, intellectually and socially, our young are at the cutting age of things. In talking to the students of Axum University or conversing with the young people on the avenues, it was very clear to me that the young are not only dressed in the latest fashion but also at the cutting age of the digital universe! They are highly educated, well versed on the topics of our time and they are physically and mentally healthy and strong, and on the current multi-prong challenges, they stand impregnable and, on a war-footing resolved to make history on all fronts!
9. The elders/grown are up on it too: It is not only the young that is poised to make, once again, another round history. I thought the fireworks and organizational finesse on the 44th anniversary of Lekatit 11 was without equal. So much so that, following completion of the latter, I had once written “I have followed Lekatit 11th anniversaries and celebrations for almost half of a century and I must say that the 44th was without equal! Not only was it without common denominator in terms of organizational finesse and effectiveness but more importantly, in substance, it was, if not a Big Bang, it sure was a combination of solar flares and earthquakes whose magnitude on the electromagnetic detectors and Richter scale was off the charts! Usually massive solar storms and earthquakes have one outcome, in that, the former knocks out satellites, GPS navigation systems, and electrical power grids without which the modern world would be dead on its tracks, and we all know massive earthquakes ensues death and destruction on a massive scale! Interestingly though, the solar flares and earthquakes (there were hurricanes, tsunamis and tornados too), of the 44th were unusual, in that, they were a force of good in one sphere but a force of incalculable devastation in another. A force of good they were as they have launched Tigraian nationalism into a cosmic domain the likes never seen in my lifetime and perhaps in the history of Tigrai! And a force of devastation they are, for the geomagnetic storms and seismic shockwaves unleashed on the 44th, have not only knocked out the power grid which fuels the digital mischief and bravado which has been ubiquitous in the recent past but more importantly, they have incurred a monumental psychological liquefaction and defeat on those with our blood in their hands! And it looks as though the show has just begun! And it is not over yet; the aftershocks are still ongoing, reverberating and gaining more strength and momentum with each passing day, and there can be no doubt that the worst is yet to come! I trust that you know why these galactic fireworks were taking place while we find ourselves in the midst of regional and national mourning. But just in case, you must know that the spectacularly resolute demonstration of unity and resolve so superbly expressed on the 44th, was not because some political leaders have performed miracles but because firstly, the people of Tigrai are thrilled that the hack and scam that is “Tehadiso” and its progeny “deep Tehadiso” are dead and shelved into the dust bin of history, and secondly, because the people of Tigrai have said enough is enough and have taken TPLF back into their own hands! And when I say the people of Tigrai, miss not that I mean, all, irrespective of religious, ethnic and political differences! And this includes not only those who have handed us the greatest defeat since time immemorial and those who have repented, atoned and resolved themselves for redemption but also those who have never wavered and relentlessly fought on our own behalf as well those who have been lost in the waves of political storms! In short, what I witnessed on the 44th was the product of a democratic ray of hope or as some have put it, a democratic extravaganza for which our people fought for, for so long, but, despite winning the greatest battles ever, never, until the very recent past, appear to have made the first step on the march of a thousand steps, to win the war!” I had written the latter from afar in North America! BUT then I landed in the heart of it all- Tigray for the 45th! For two and a half months, I did studiously try to gauge the peoples stand, resolve and readiness to confront and atomize evil in its tracks! And as a person of science, I could not help it to think of our people as self-assembling proteins! They do not need leaders to lead them; they seemed to instinctively and instantly know the nature of things and self-assemble accordingly! That is not to take away the credit from the TPLF organization and its leadership for their incredible mastery of mobilization! I have seen it with my own eyes from the epicenter. And it is not only the thunderous events leading to the 45th finale which convinced me that Tigrai in fact has the largest army on the planet but also what I saw just about everywhere! Everywhere I went in Tigray, I have met no one who is not ready to bring justice to the victims murdered and ethnic cleansed by ANDM, the children of Ayder whose young lives were cut short by the disciple of Europe’s worst, and bring light to the nations and nationalities of Ethiopia condemned to two years of darkness! On this, I am convinced that Tigrai has already one and is on the move, with the elders leading the way and the young in their footsteps!
10. On democracy and the rule of law: I have seen seeds of plurality being sowed too. Multiple parties with a diversity of views have been born in Tigrai. And yet, these parties are one vis-a-vis the well being of Tigrai! But it is not the political parties born but since TPLF came home, I have seen an explosion of extraordinary Tegaru, ones with unmatched intellectual prowess, take center stage not only within Tigrai proper but also in the den of our mortal enemies, articulating that we are not, like those snack bar revolutionaries, brittle without substance! And the TPLF leadership has publically made it plain that it will work with parties in Tigrai proper committed to a common stand in the defense of Tigrai! These developments are fantastic and truly one of the highlights of my visit! We must remember that the idea of “Let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred schools of thought contend” may be born to Mao, but it really is fundamental not only for democracy, development, accountability, the rule of law etc but I whole heartedly believe that it is fundamental for our very survival! It is not by coincidence that life is built on diversity; it is in fact by design, for life depends for its very own very survival on the reshuffling of genes from all fronts! I know we dread catching the cold, the flu and threatened by that coronavirus, HIV and many other retro viruses. But you will be amazed to learn that life would be impossible if these viruses were not around and our genetic makeup was not over 8% viral. Many of the retro viruses are critical for shuttling (transducing) genes we need to survive and thrive! And so, the next time you catch a cold or the flu, as you suffer the temporary ailments, please be comforted by the fact that nature is doing its transporting genes (transformation/ transduction) which someday may save your life. Similarly, as in life or nature, we cannot do without diverse “political genes!” We need an epidemic of “political genes” in Tigrai so that the edifice of democratic justice which would secure our not only survival but also to once and for all eradicate war and obituaries, and in their place, peace, liberty and the pursuit of happiness could become a way of life! Imagine if we had that missing plurality for the last “twenty-seven years!” Imagine where Tigrai, and for that matter, Ethiopia, would have been now! Had we been infected with cycles of “political genes,” evil of the kind we see now, would never have had a chance of becoming king in our country! And I must say that, although the TPLF leadership has so much to do to redeem itself, I have been encouraged by what I have seen, and on that, I say Bravo and recommend more infection and not vaccination with a whole lot of democratic political genes! We cannot do without it!!
11. On the maladministration, corruptions, and the “Hang” epidemic: During my travels, I have learned from people across Tigrai that maladministration/corruption have gone unchecked for too long. And although only on one instant, evidence of it was evident to me during my visit too. I have thought about this a great deal and asked the question as to how could corruption/maladministration, be so rampant in the Nation, Tigrai, with faith (see more on this on #12) so coded into its genetic makeup? Moreover, I have asked myself as to how could in the Tigrai which chants with just about prayer convictions “zele-alamawi zekri nisema-e-tatna,” fall victim to the very mission the martyrs gave their life to rid Tigray free of this scourge? And finally, I thought of the Tigrai shortly after the triumph over the Derg where one could leave the door to the house wide open or walk all night long without fear of being robbed or killed by the likes of the current mafisos (Hangers). And so I asked myself how is it that in this citadel of faith, and the land Weyane Tigrai, such spiritual, moral and ethical derelicts, are not only born but allowed to thrive in our midst, to the extent that although Tigrai is basking in peace vis-à-vis the external forces but unsafe from the home grown killers? For me, I believe that it is not on the faith front that is the problem although I have seen some which concerns me, mainly regarding the religious lax leading to cultural deterioration I saw among some of the youth, the main source of the current problems with “Senay Mimihidar,” “Gubo” and the so called “Hang,” has to do with the fact that, those in positions of public service as well as the rest of us have forgotten that “zele-alamawi zekri nisema-e-tatna” is not just for rallies and other public functions but more importantly, I believe, it is for a way of life, meant to guide us do the right thing in everything we do in the course of serving our people everyday! That is to say, be it a judge, a lawyer, a doctor, a priest, layman or woman, young and all, in fact our society as a whole, must internalize what those words of “zele-alamawi zekri nisema-e-tatna” mean, and use them in every decisions and interactions we execute or conduct in the course of our every day of our lives! There can be no greater way to honor our martyrs than living that for which they paid the ultimate on our behalf!!! And I urge all of us at home and in the Diaspora to recall, recalibrate, synthesize, align and internalize that special Calling our martyrs left us at their time of parting! I have no doubt that should we align and practice what we promise at every meeting and rallies, mainly that “zele-alamawi zekri nisema-e-tatna,” not just maladministration, corruption, and “Hang” will become the thing of the past but also propel Tigrai’s development (on all aspects) into the stratosphere! And so, I urge for a revolution in realignment; an alignment between what we say and practice, synchronization between what we say we believe and what we do in our daily lives, and live true not to just “mizikar” but “mitigbar!” Mitigbar is the perfect antidote for the current scourge in Tigrai!
12. On the Whitewashing us and our faith: So many years ago, I had put together a playlist on YOUTUBE. This Playlist was for the purpose of educating my children about their heritage, and so it encompassed Ethiopian history starting from the birth of Tigrai to the Ethiopia of Nations and Nationalities in modern day Ethiopia. It was one day on a “Family Night” evening and as the family watched the spiritual dimension section of the Playlist, one of my kids blurted “he looks like an Ethiopian!” My kid was reacting to the painting of Jesus Christ painted on a wall of a church in Ethiopia. And how thrilled I was when it was picked up by my kid! When I was growing up in Anguesti/Axum, no matter what church I went to, what I saw was paintings of the divine who looked like us!!! No Leonardo or Angelo’s propaganda but our take on history which is truer than Leonardo’s take on history which really was designed to put his kin on top and dehumanize the rest! In fact, on the bible Jesus is referenced as one like “a burnished bronze with dark short hair.” And in 2018, Archeologists from the University of Haifa discovered a painting from the six century which showed Jesus with hair that was “short and curly hair. But what I saw in my current trip was that Leonardo’s version has not only taken over our churches, but it has become what we value most! Remember “ferengi yimesil etc!” And during my recent travel to Tigrai, I was really horrified to see Leonard’s propaganda just about at every Bajag, bus, truck, shop and yes, even at Enda Mariam Tsion church one can see the onslaught on our history! And if you look at the Patriarchs and Bishops Ethiopia, they are adorned with broaches of the Virgin Mary, Jesus and angels straight from Leonardo’s playbook!! Now remember that, at the time of Jesus there were no Jews in Jerusalem that looked anywhere close to the blue eyes and blond hair that Leonardo is telling us to believe! In fact, Jews along with Egyptians at Christ time were brown and very much in the texture and hue of most of us! The white Egyptians we see today are in fact a product of colonial artifacts! Egypt has been colonized by so many forces that the whole elite of Egypt has, in fact now become white (Prime Minister Abiye! Please realize that you are being screwed by these genetic freaks!). But the Egyptians who built the Pyramids have been phenotypically and genetically black to brown in color/texture/mixture. Similarly, white Jews are in fact, a new phenomenon who much later immigrated from the Baltic, Balkans and other Eastern European countries to the Jerusalem. These white Jews, just like the current white Egyptians, are a product of cross breeding with the Europeans for thousands of years. These are also the Zionist protagonists who advocated from Europe for the formation the state of Israel and succeeded in 1948. And there is the whole question of who were the original Jews? We may have been or at least we are one of the contenders! I talked with so many people about the “whitewashing” that I saw during my visit, but they seem to think that it is just a symbol and nothing else. But I think it is more than that. Just imagine what goes through a child when he/she goes to church and he/she sees Leonardo’s version of history hammering into the child’s clean slate that is the growing mind? What is that child to make of himself/herself when he/she sees that all divine is white? Now, I believe human beings are like a bouquet of flowers! But you and I know that, that is not what Leonardo and his likes are trying to peddle and sadly they are succeeding!! We need to do something about ensuring our history and perspectives are not adulterated from within and from without!! If I had my way, I would stop the sale of these kind of propaganda, and at the same time educate our people with our perspectives! And one final injury to the wound! As I boarded Ethiopian Airlines back to the U.S. and pick the magazine “Selamta,” I was hit with another whitewash. There, I saw an article about Liya Kebede, and if I did not know her, I would have concluded she was a Caucasian; she has been completely photo shopped by Caucasian journalists into a color which she is not! I was shocked to see that and the fact that we are paying for it! I plan to write to Ethiopian Airlines, but we need to address these kinds of cultural colonialism currently devouring not only our culture but also sneaking into our minds! And the most urgent one? Outlawing the peddlers of the Greek and Leonardo’s vice that are you know who! Read below.
13. On the Other Leonardo on our midst: One of the most incredible truth I learned during my trip to Tigray, was the extent to which the chauvinist vice has tried to use the church for not only financial plunder but far more depravedly worst, for subverting Tigrayan history, undermining our Church, spying, and the destruction of Tigrayan culture and institutions, all designed for, you guessed it: chauvinist rule (Ahdawee Siltan)! They call themselves, Mahbere Kidusan. But there is nothing holy about them, but political gigolos filthy and sinful to the core! They come as preachers, monks and hermits but their true mission is not the word of God but the creeping hand of tyranny. They are at the universities, civil service, and well woven into the Tigrayan religious institutions. I even run into two of them at the monastery of Mahbere Diegue, secretly swindling the faithful there! They are merchants too, pretending to raise money for the church, but in reality, peddling, you guessed it, among other things, Greek and Leonardo’s propaganda, thereby, as Menelik was to the Italians, the progenies are at it too, importing mental colonialism to their fellow Ethiopians! From what I have been able to gather, Mahbere Kidusan is nothing but a criminal enterprise bent on political power! It must be dismantled and outlawed in Tigray! And there is the other eye opener I learned during my visit. And that was, although Tigray, based on Article 39, has political independence, such as having its own government and running its affairs, I was shocked to learn that its Church, the Orthodox church of Tigray, does not have the same right; it is in fact in the shackles of the Synod in Addis Ababa, also packed behind the scene by members of the Mahbere Kidusan! What? Yes, horrifyingly shocking! This must change and change with the at most urgency! Tigray must not only have its own Bishops and a Patriarch and complete control of its church affairs but also must demand that the Synod is moved to where it belongs: in Axum!!! Moreover, the Tigray government must not only modernize and revolutionize the church establishment complete with modern seminary schools and ensure that the church and our history is guarded by a cutting edge Patriarch, Bishops, Priests, deacons and laity but also it should to it that all services is in Tigrigna! I believe each Kilil must be free to run its churches affairs and provide service in the language of that Kilil! The first step toward that end? Expunge and outlaw Mahbere Kidusan!
14. On Tezkar and Wedding extravaganza: Our people are incurring an incredible debt, I have been told. Even my nephews, who just lost their father, and ones with so much need for themselves, were quick to talk about Tezkar for my brother, and I do not believe they liked me when I told them that I do not believe in Tezkar and will not contribute a penny! I did not witness any Tezkar, but I have seen and been to wedding of extraordinary extravaganza! The weddings I saw, no doubt, it, would put to shame my own wedding in 1991 European. I believe, if there was such a thing as Tigrayan/Ethiopian Guinness book of record, my wedding would come in first! First, my wedding was very small and held completely with vegan eateries; no meat of any kind but Hilbet, Timtimo, Shiro, Hamli, Silsi, Enjera, Himbasha, and Siwa! That was it! I think Dimsti Weyane TV which by the way is providing an extraordinary service especially so on our history, should use my wedding as the poster child for their current campaign to get our people to save and not to drawn in debt! Even those who can afford it, I think they should set an example! Now, let me let you in on the secret of my wedding; it was held right after Hidar Tsion and in the midst of Tsom (Fasting). You could imagine what would have happened had there been any thought of meat; I would have been still single to this day!
15. On salvaging our history: There are two aspects to this topic. One has to do with an urgent one and the other with time. Put in another way, we must salvage the extraordinary history of the last 45 years of our people’s journey urgently as we rescue our eon-aged history from the vultures of our time! During my travel around Tigrai, I have talked with so many veterans Tegadelti, and listened to extraordinary tales from the very people who passed through that hottest fire. DW TV has started to do a good job with programs of the long march all the way to the den of those who made our people shed tears of blood. But there is more that needs to be done. Before every Tegadali/Tegadalit leave us forever, since we have not kept records of those who made us proud, I call for a mobilization of every Tegadali/Tegadelti to write not only about the martyr(s) he or she knew but also about themselves! Toward that end, I urge all of us to raise the money to be able to purchase the pen and paper that goes toward that effort, and for the logistics it will require to get this treasure from vanishing into the dust bin of history!
16. Lady of a Mission: Her name is Asefu. If you are ever in Axum, you will find here tent just about a minute walk away from Yared Zema Hotel. She could not afford rent for her coffee shop, and so she roasts, pounds, and brews coffee from the wee hours of the morning until dark! Just imagine coffee miwkat (crush the roasted coffee bean all day long!)!!!!! But that is what she does all day and seven days a week!!!! And what brought so much awe and empowerment, and yes tears to my eyes to this day (I tear up whenever I think of her)! Incidentally, there are many fellow Tegaru deki anistiyo doing the same just about everywhere, and what I miss the most now is sitting with them, and as I enjoyed the freshly made coffee, hearing and recording their life stories!!! I cannot to wait to go back!! But Asefu is one without equal. When my brother who is kind of like her, told me that she has donated $80,000.00 Birr, and that she has raised another $150,000.00 to turn one of the Dases on the TDA list into a bonafide school, the awe, pride and inspiration I felt was and still is one of the greatest thrilling encounters of my life thus far! She sure has captured my heart and mind and empowered me to do the best I can in the war against underdevelopment!!! Incidentally, my brother, Memhir Beyene Abebe, is like her too. He has thus far built an elementary, a high school and a clinic which serves some thirty thousand people in Anguesti which is about 10 kilometers from Axum. Currently, in collaboration with his Rotary club, Voice for Hope and the Ethiopian YMCA, he just pre-lunched when I was there a new Axum, a YMCA. I love my brother! He has been building schools just about all his life. He is, like Asefu and the many other selfless Tegaru invisibly reaching out for their fellow Tegaru everyday! And I am absolutely certain that in this time of Corona virus, many are out there invisibly risking everything for the well being of their fellow human beings! I love these silent and invisible warriors of good! And I pray that we have an epidemic and pandemic of angels of kindness! We need them to eradicate the worst in us and bring the best in us! We need them to help us realize that we are here for a flash of time, and that it would be a waste of an incredible gift called life spending it worrying about the trivial or advocating intolerance or my way or the highway mongering! We need, instead caremongereing (I know it is an unusual use of the word)!! We need people like Asefu and those of you trying to help TDA, and the many others like you I met spreading caremongering all over Tigrai!
17. On Tigray Tigrigni: I met so many brothers and sisters, young and old during my visit. There is no question on my mind that the mighty bridge from Axum to Adolis which once heralded one of the four great civilizations in the world, is on its way back! That, the wall so erected by the evils of Europe and maintained by Arab Petro-dollar has collapsed! That, the people of Tigray-Tigrigni are one people from the same stock, ones who pioneered a civilization second to none, has resurrected from the graves of courtesy enemies from nearby and from afar! That, this ONE people have built the timeless obelisks, pioneer the alphabet (Geez) and invented languages such as Geez and including, yes, Amharigna, domesticated Teff, innovated Zema, contributed to philosophy and yes, became the center of faith and tolerance, has become the hottest fuel for the revolution underway! The notion of a visa for the so called Tigraway to go to Adolis and for the so called “Eritrean” to go to Axum, has become not only an idea without a future but the ultimate sin! The way I see it, forget about bullets and obituaries, this ONE people are on the move to take their rightful place, to once again, build a civilization second to none!
18. On what needs to be done in Tigray: After seventeen years of incredible sacrifices, our peopled prevailed over the Derg and its superstructure backbone! But when we thought the war to end all wars had been achieved, there came Shaebia. We had all the warning of the latter, but it was dismissed with ‘ezuy nay inda mesheta zereba eu!” But when it turned out that it was not a gossip, we remobilized those we dispatched in demobilization and got them not only killed but we left Isayas alive to go at us again! Worst, TPLF left without Halawa Weyane, was eaten by the hatchlings conceived and born as we disemboweled our wudib on and off camera! As a result, our people are now ready for the third war! This is three huge wars in forty-five years! Our people cannot go on like this! We must bring an end to the endless battles and win the war once and for all! How do we do that? We need the rule of law; I mean law which holds accountable from top to bottom! And that can only come from an endemic in “political genes!” Fighting economic poverty is fundamental but if we are to deal a death blow to it, we must first get rid of democratic poverty!!! We have the ideas not only so obvious on those obelisks, rock churches and mosques, alphabets but also in the footprints of Romhay, Azena, Kaleb, Yohanes, Alula, Hayelom, Amora, SeArre, Gezae and Samora. And above all, we have it in abundance in the people which built one of the great civilizations! We really do have it!!!
19. On what I learned about Ethiopia’s Predicament: How fortunes change! Some two years ago, Prime Minister Abiye had the good will of all Tegaru the world over. I personally was so happy for him, and his first speech at parliament followed by another one in Mekelle, all delivered with that youthful energy and beautiful smile, was for me, and I do not think I would be wrong if I say for all Ethiopians free of political ambitions, not only a breath of fresh air but also of so much hope for Ethiopia! I had once met and interviewed the former President of Ethiopia, His Excellency Dr. Negasso Gidada (may his soul rest in peace). He too had a wonderful smile, a warm personality, incredible humility and humanity, and unmatched principle and courage! When I first saw Prime Minister Abiye accepting the nomination to the Prime Ministership and beaming with that beautiful smile and what appear to me great humility, he sure reminded me of the late Dr. Negasso Gidada! Sadly, it did not take him long to turn off the light and run away from us, his own people, and join hands with the historic mortal enemies of the Ethiopian people, and with those whose main mission in life is to rob the dispossessed of the world! I have been asking why for the last two years but despite the obvious that the Ethiopian people are, in return, running away from him, instead of recalibrating his path and coming back home, he is accelerating his own demise! And unfortunately, that day of reckoning is coming at a speed of light!
This is really a sad tragedy! We had a bloodless transition of power, but we know have blood everywhere and the worst is to come. Some two and a half years ago, we had Egypt on its knees, Isayas on the ropes, prestige on the African continent and respect around the world! But now Egypt has us on our knees, Saud Arabia and those other fountains of evil, are on our throat, Isayas with his Mussolini’s poisons, fellow Africans ashamed of us, and those who call us “shit holes” are not only robbing us in a broad day light but also calling us “Niggers!”
And there is the other inferno. The inferno in the home front. I spent several days at Axum University talking to fellow Ethiopians from just about every geographic area of Ethiopia, and what I learned from this students and faculty is that Ethiopia is in fact in the midst of ferocious wildfires everywhere except Tigray. But it is not the wildfire that is the worst, but the smoldering volcano hidden below the surface and just about to unleash its fury! And the question is why? Why is the Prime Minister driving into oblivion? And why is he willing to take the Ethiopian people in such direction, and why is he handing Ethiopia to its worst enemies in a silver platter? And the mother of all questions I have for him is does he really know what is truly taking place in Ethiopia, and is he getting the best advice from the best people in Ethiopia?
My theory is that he is not getting the best advice! My sense is that he is surrounded with the worst people possible! Some of these are those from the Diaspora who are the posterchild for all failures. Others are from the home front known as born condemned for a life of deceit, cunning, crime and betrayals! These are too, people completely without any sense of honor and justice; they will do anything including selling their country for a change of coins! Menelik delivered Eritrea to the jaws of fascism, Mengistu abandoned Djibouti, EPRP betrayed and delivered Berhane Meskel Reda to the swords of the Derg, and like father like son, ANDM not only killed and ethnic cleansed innocent Tegaru and betrayed the TPLF but worst, they are at the table right now selling the sovereign right of Ethiopia over the Nile to the Arabs! And there can be no doubt they are preparing Prime Minister Abiye for his downfall! My unsolicited advice to the Prime minster is to get rid of these vampires and pivot toward those born for a true change. Those who actually put their lives for fundamental change and did so for so long and got the job done! Head for Mekelle and bring with you the likes of the leaders of OLF leaders, Professor Bekele Gerba, Jawar, and every other authentic leader from all the Nations and Nationalities who has thus far disagreed with you with courage! Get rid any yes man or woman or those political gigolos who would die for bread over honor! Unless you do something like what I have outlined, based on what I have learned in Tigray and what I understand about the current storm over your head, your days are numbered!
A final note on the election. Tigray, of course, must conduct the election! Not to do so would be like urinating on the graves of our martyrs! Prime Minister Abiye should have done the same! The election should have been held as mandated by the constitution. He had two years to prepare and he should have respected and carried out the election on time. The Coronavirus snake oil can never fool anyone! The fact is he did not want the election to take place either his chauvinist advisors have misled him, so that they can buy time to take power from him or he has terribly miscalculated! And there is a heavy price to pay for that, and trust me, savor rattling will get you no where but to his demise! I am absolutely certain that should he keep listening to Isayas and fire a single bullet in the direction of Tigray, based on what I have witnessed in Tigray, and what I have learned about the long arm of the people of Tigray, Tigray is already in his midst and at his throat! Make no mistake about it, Tigray has already, without firing a single bullet, devastated the entire ANDM infrastructure, the Ethiopian armed forces have already told him that he is too Arab centric and will have nothing to do with him, they have told him too, that they are tired killing their own people and that they want to go home to their family and resume a normal life, and he should know Isayas is not only without the means but even if he had the means, he will never dare, for he knows the people of Tigray Tigrigni will never again allow blood in their midst!
Mr. Prime Minister, please pick up on the obvious. Isayas is a rabid German dog and on death row. Egypt is nothing but the brothel of every power old and young, the joke of the Israelis, and could not even poor Yemen in the eighties! And the chauvinist camp has blood on its hands, and that blood trail is over a hundred years long! A case in point? Menelik’s horror on our Oromo brethren. Brutality and dehumanization, I once documented and published, one which would make the most racist European or Apartheid crusader, cringe! Black on black crime is too mild to describe it. It was something worse, something beyond the physical pain and devastation, humiliation and degradation, and beyond the breakup of families and fragmentation of communities! It was a “total war” on the mind, attempting to erase it clean and in many ways, succeeding and replacing it with a new one! It was an abomination bent on recreation of a new man complete with new identity! Never was seen such a horrific black on black social reengineering in the African continent! But now civilians, the very progenies of Menelik, are at it now including screwing you up into oblivion! And I have not even added the crimes against the people of Tigray Tigrigni and those elsewhere in our country! So, my friend, your only option is to go to Mekelle! Listen to Bekele Gerba, OLF leaders, Jawar, Dr. Debretsion and the other Federalist forces! Your future is in the Federalists and never with the chauvinists!
Make the right choice. Do not choose evil! Choosing evil is easy and so is causing death and destruction! Do not take Ethiopia back to the “Misery Index “that it was known for under the chauvinists! The Ethiopian people are tired of war! They want to see their children to live and never to die in endless insanities and wars with their worst interest! Think about your own family, your wife and children. Think about someone harming them and how you feel about that! I am absolutely sure, you would never want to see your wife and children in tears or in a coffin! But should you start a war in Ethiopia, you are in fact bringing not only tears of blood to so many children and families but you are in fact, by choice, putting their loved ones to death! Time is running out! Do the right thing! Think about it! So, help you God!