Teshome Abebe


In his response to my article, Mezgebe Gebrekiristos asserted that
During Menelik’s and Haileselassie’s Era, Luck was for the Few, and Silent Death for the Many, and took me to task for having the temerity to mention two names, each once, in an entire article which was four pages long. I don’t generally respond to musings out of principle because it only proves that provocation works and that provocateurs are successful. But because Lij Mezgebe has taken time to read my article and written a response—a response, I believe was written in haste and, regrettably, in anger, I wish to point out a few points.


First, a correct and careful reading of my article will reveal that I spread the blame for the current quagmire of immigrant Ethiopians on: government policy going back to the 1970s; social factors within Ethiopia; public attitude about immigration; economic factors; attitudes of opposition politicians; and the attitudes of Ethiopians in the Diaspora. My struggle for Ethiopia, such as it is, is not political. Rather, it is developmental, social and technological.


Second, Lij Mezgebe does not point out where I have erred in facts and figures so that I can correct these errors. Instead, he prefers to scold me for having mentioned two names—names, apparently, anathema for a person of his standing and stature. For the record, I am a dog lover, and I prefer Japanese Chins to the Shih Tzu breed though both are magnificent companions (cat lovers, please don’t write me).


Third, like students of mine, Lij Mezgebe wanted to change the topic to a comfortable subject for him, and write about Menilik and Haile Selassie—I presume personalities he has only read or heard about. That was not the topic of my article. Rather, it was about the plight of Ethiopian immigrants in the Middle East. And to appear concerned about the plight of the immigrants, he went on to criticize me for not having suggested solutions to the problem. It would have been more prudent for him to devote the entire length of his article actually suggesting solutions rather than writing about Menilik or Haile Selassie—personalities he detests.


Fourth, Lij Mezgebe appears to be very defensive about the record of the current government of Ethiopia, and feels slighted that I had not praised it in the article. Because he brought it up, I wish to point out to him that the current government of Ethiopia has been in power longer than the reign of Menilik as Neguse Negest (1889-1909 when Taitu effectively took over); and it has been in power longer than the Derg (1974-1991). As a result, the current government of Ethiopia has a record that it must defend; the current government of Ethiopia doesn’t need any one else to defend that record; and by all means, the current government of Ethiopia does not need validation from me that it is doing its job.


Finally, the art of writing presupposes imagining some one reading the work sometime in the future, even if it is just the writer herself. I take great comfort that Lij Mezgebe took time to read my piece, and even more so, that he took time to respond. I welcome the scrutiny, and I welcome the interest.


Let me just conclude, however, by asking him to let me praise whom I wish to praise, and to let our readers be the judges. I assure him that I am not offended to learn that there are individuals whom he wishes to denounce, detest, despise or condemn.


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