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The Footsteps of a Lion: In Memory of Meles Zenawi

The Footsteps of a Lion: In Memory of Meles Zenawi


By Elias Dawit 08-25-21


“Our dam.” Every time an Ethiopian says these words, whether they like it or not, they are paying tribute to the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and his party. This is gravely important to acknowledge in the context of the attempted genocide of the Tigrayan people.


Nine years ago this month, Ethiopia tragically lost Meles Zenawi, and along with its prime minister, the idea of Ethiopia’s potential for greatness. For 27 years, Meles and his party represented the best of what Ethiopia could be—a collective of nations, nationalities and peoples living together and working towards a democratic and prosperous Ethiopia set to lead Africa into the 21st century.


There were problems—many problems. Few parties can escape the personal weaknesses such as greed, arrogance and hubris from some of its leaders who became drunk with the power of success. But the TPLF is more than its leadership. It, too, like Ethiopia, is an idea.


The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dan (GERD) was a living symbol of the idea of Ethiopia’s greatness.


A son of Adwa built a physical manifestation of this idea. The dam—what Ethiopians say “my dam”—took root in the political imagination of man who sprung from the very ground now soaked in the blood of the Tigrayan people. There is little logic in the appropriation of the dam—and the idea of Ethiopia’s greatness—by the very people who support the genocidal campaign against the Tigrayan people. 


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Today’s Ethiopia, rather than an idea of potential greatness, is now an idea embedded in the fetid mythology of the past where one group of people claim sole ownership of “Ethiopia”—not the collective of nations, nationalities and peoples but a collective of narrow-minded individuals desperately clinging to a past long gone and of little relevance to the 21st century world.


Just like those same Ethiopians who say with pride “my dam”—rejecting the realism of 6,450 megawatts of hydroelectric power to embrace the false promise of the prosperity gospel and its prophet.


Ethiopia is now a failed state, demonstrating the most basic characteristics that define a failed state.  It has lost control of much of its territory as well as its monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force. It has lost its authority to make collective decisions. Instead, the state has become authoritarian—vesting all authority in Abiy Ahmed. The state can no longer provide people with the most basic social services other than the trees so proudly planted by the leader who cannot govern, only perform.


Moreover, Ethiopia has actually handed over its sovereignty to Eritrea’s leader like a used tissue—filthy with the snot—the neft—of over 100 million people.


Meles Zenawi led a country that, despite its burden of centuries-old poverty and backwardness, was beginning to take form as a nation destined to lead the African continent. Meles Zenawi left footsteps difficult to fill but entrenched in a clear direction towards greatness.


Today, the footsteps Meles left in Ethiopia are walked on by mice—narcissistic, savage mice addicted to power and the empty symbols of a corrupt nationalism they have embraced at the expense of the people.


It is in Tigray that Meles’ footsteps are walked on by lions—six million lions that have faced evil with courage, persistence and resolution.


The Tigrayan Defense Forces are making their way towards Addis Ababa.The empty protests of the international community and demand to withdraw from Amhara and Afar regions are an abuse to every Tigrayan person who has been killed, tortured, raped, detained, starved, displaced and robbed of even their cooking pots.




The Tigrayan people will do everything they need to do to survive the genocidal assault of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, the U.A.E., Turkey and every country that has kept silent in the noise of this war.


It makes no tactical or strategic sense to retreat in any way while the people of Tigray continue to be killed, tortured, raped, detained, starved, displaced and robbed.


The international community once again has gotten it wrong in its misguided attempt to project a balance and equivalency. There is no balance and no equivalency. If the international community cannot be helpful, it needs to stand out of the way.


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