A Nation Mourning – Celebrating a Life of a Visionary Leader
Kelemu Smeneh August 23, 2012
I didn’t always have a soft side for Meles Zenawi, the late Prime Minister of Ethiopia. I have criticized him when I thought his, what I thought at that time, excessive focus on ethnic issues were wrong. Then, I thought that his approach would weaken Ethiopia.
But history proved me wrong. He knew that Ethiopia could only become one and strong if all its peoples feel that they belong to it; that they are equal partners in it; that the periphery is no longer subservient to the centre. In concrete forms, he and his colleagues knew that democracy and freedom could not materialize in vacuum; that they have to have form and shape. Hence, the concept of a federal Ethiopia that recognizes and respects the identity of its people.
He was a visionary!
A Leader Vindicated
The sorrow and ache that the people of Ethiopia, especially Addis Ababans expressed by the passing of their late Prime Minister in the last two days shows volumes about how the reality is different in Ethiopia than what toxic politics of the toxic Diaspora sect tries to project to the outside world. There is no more telling expression of rejection to the toxic politics of the toxic Diaspora than what one saw in Addis in the last few days.
I have never had any liking to radical politics. Hence, I neither read nor comment on toxic diaspora outlets. They are irrelevant to Ethiopian politics and I wonder why people give them undue attention and feel agonized by their rude, rubbish and inhuman comments, uncivil scribbles.
True to form and character these toxics will give a different spin to what we saw in Addis. Characterised by white lies, they will tell us that people were forced, or that they are ‘woyanes’, that it was a camera trick. They are a disgrace devoid of any Ethiopian decency that one should not expect anything positive from these remnants that are the incarnation of evil.
Ethiopians have mourned the passing of a great leader, a visionary who will be crowned by the people of Ethiopia, in the years to come, as the greatest leader Ethiopia ever had in its modern history. Yes, this pronouncement is coming from a man who was a past critic of Meles’ politics. My conclusion is based on the expression of love and sorrow of the Ethiopian people that I am witnessing as I write these lines.
Now the time has come to celebrate the achievements of Meles and move forward to materialize the projects that he devised for the people of Ethiopia. The time has now come that the great majority of the Ethiopian Diaspora takes the centre stage and sideline the elements of hate politics that were doing everything in their power to saw division among the people of Ethiopia.
Our efforts should be geared towards achieving an Ethiopia that is self-reliant, just and strong. The Renaissance Dam, the industrial complexes that are in the pipeline, the huge agro-industrial undertakings, the incredible infrastructure developments that are taking place are the true manifestations of a prosperous, just and strong Ethiopia. Our role in making these great beginnings come to an end cannot be seen lightly.
I for one vow to take an active role in conveying a message of hope and be an active participant in the development of Ethiopia. It took a passing away of a great man to awaken me from a slumber. I pledge to work with my compatriots abroad so that we play a relevant and uniting role in building a positive image of our country.
It is our firm belief that the current leadership will handle this difficult transitional time wisely and selflessly. One thing that is consistently and clearly conveyed by the ordinary Ethiopian in the Ethiopian media is for the leadership to carry the torch that Meles has lighted and move forward to eradicate poverty, build a democratic state and spearhead the African Renaissance. I am confident that the current leadership will surmount the heavy burden of leadership, the great expectation of the Ethiopian people on the leadership and heed the wise advice of the ordinary citizens of Ethiopia.
One thing the late Prime Minister would hate to see is subdued and heartbroken Ethiopians. Let us the change the sorrow to an energy that will change Ethiopia a thousand-fold.
My sincere condolences to the family of the late Prime Minister Meles and all Ethiopians.