Ethiopia: An African Political Miracle in the Making?
Ethiopia rising from the ashes of ethnic apartheid
For decades, we have heard of the “Asian Miracle”.
Beginning in the early 1960s, the “Four Asian Tigers” — Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan – managed to industrialize and attain extraordinary economic growth and today are hubs for high tech manufacturing and international finance.
Are we beginning to see an “African Political Miracle” and the rise of an “Ethiopian Lion”?
The political transformation that has taken place in Ethiopia over the past 19 months can best be described as miraculous.
I use the word in both its original Latin root meaning “miraculum” (“object of wonder”) and common understanding suggesting divine intervention in human affairs creating an object of wonder.
In January 2018, all indications were the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) was hunkering down to defend its ethnic apartheid system.
The TPLF leaders always bragged without them at the helm of power, there will be no Ethiopia. Everyone feared the TPLF leaders will not hesitate to blow up the country into smithereens if they felt they were going to lose power.
In February 2018, I had given up all hope of a peaceful democratic transition.
I was convinced Ethiopia was on the precipice of a civil war.
I wrote in The Hill, “To save Ethiopia from civil war, solutions must work from the ground up.” I concluded, “Time is running out for Ethiopia and the point of no return nears.”
By April 2018, the game had changed. It was clear the TPLF was in the throes of its final battle to remain in power.
On April 1, 2018, the day before Abiy Ahmed officially became prime minister, I wrote, “After 27 years nearly to the month, there is no doubt that T-TPLF wounded beast is in retreat but not in defeat.”
On April 2, 2018 when Abiy Ahmed was named prime minister, the TPLF and Ethiopia had crossed the point of no return.
The TPLF was going down, down, down into the dustbin of history!
Ethiopia was going up, up, up from ethnic apartheid into multiparty democracy.
On November 24, 2019, the TPLF bit the dust. More poetically, the TPLF was dumped into the dust bin, garbage heap, of history.
That was surely miraculous!
Since the TPLF took power in 1991, its leaders had bragged and boasted about how mighty, invincible and untouchable they are.
They used to brag about how the mountains would shake, rattle and tremble at their mere presence.
The late Meles Zenawi used to taunt the opposition with contempt. “We got power by shedding our blood. If you want to get power, you must fight your way to power just like we did. The TPLF will remain in power for a hundred years.”
The tragedy is Meles Zenawi and his gang came to power by shedding their blood and stayed in power for 27 years by shedding the blood of others.
Then came Abiy Ahmed and declared, “To kill is to be defeated. Victory must be achieved only in the battlefield of ideas.”
He proclaimed we “shall beat our swords into plowshares, and our spears into pruning hooks.”
No more lifting sword against one another nor against neighbor.
In less than a month, Abiy Ahmed and Isaias Afeworki removed the dark clouds of war and made peace.
Abiy Ahmed was named the Nobel Peace Laureate for 2019.
In 2010, Meles Zenawi told American diplomats how he will teach a lesson the opposition will not forget: “We will crush them with our full force… and they will vegetate like Birtukan (Midekssa) in jail forever.”
In 2019, Birtukan Midekssa is the Election Commissioner of Ethiopia and Meles Zenawi and the TPLF are dead, forever.
The little big man Meles Zenawi did not understand the greatest men and the empires they forge are nothing more than sands in the hourglass. Nor did he understand, “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.”
The evil Meles Zenawi and his TPLF gang have done will live after them. But there is a major cleanup of evil underway today.
The TPLF and its 27-year rule of oppression, corruption, human right violation came to an end suddenly, not with a bang but a whimper.
In December 2015, I had wondered what the “end of the story will be for the T-TPLF in Ethiopia.”
I argued the only outstanding question was whether the TPLF story will end with a bang or a whimper.
Two months later in February 2016, I knew the TPLF’s end would come with a whimper.
I knew the TPLF was an evil beast with feet of clay. When gazed upon, the TPLF appears awesome, formidable and infinitely powerful. It has guns, tanks, rockets, planes and bombs. Though the TPLF has legs of iron, its feet are made of clay.
In May 2016 when the TPLF celebrated its silver jubilee (25th anniversary) extravaganza, I prophetically warned them their end is near but they cannot see it because they are blinded by arrogance and ignorance. “There is no doubt about it. The day of reckoning for the T-TPLF will come ‘unexpectedly, like a thief in the night.’”
On November 20, 2019, the end came like a thief in the night for the TPLF Alibabas and the Forty Thieves.
What poetic justice!
The TPLF whimpered in a public statement and a letter, delivered it and then put its tail between its legs and moped into the sunset, beckoned by the garbage heap of history, hanging their heads low and blustering, “We will create a de facto state.”
How strange these TPLF blokes (or is it blockheads) are?
Are the TPLF Schrödinger’s cat saying they are legally dead but are alive in fact?
They will soon realize, if they have not already, the true meaning of Napoleon Bonaparte’s regrets. “Death is nothing, but to live defeated is to die every day.”
“Parting is such sweet sorrow” TPLF. We hope to never to see you on the morrow.
R.I.P. (Rest in Pain) TPLF!
The Ethiopian political miracle
The Ethiopian Miracle can be stated simply as follows: 1) Ethiopia’s youth managed to defeat one of the most repressive and brutal regimes in the world with nonviolent resistance and massive civil disobedience. 2) Ethiopians are today structuring a genuine issue-, -program and -ideology-based (not ethnic) multiparty political system.
Ethiopia’s nonviolent political revolution is simply unique in the history of post-independence Africa.
I have always believed the way of nonviolence change will prevail in Ethiopia.
I have always been an advocate of nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience.
When I first joined the Ethiopian human rights movement, I launched my “new career” by writing two commentaries on nonviolent struggle.
In my first commentary (April 2006,) I argued civil disobedience and nonviolence in the face of oppression is both an act of uncommon virtue and valor, and an extraordinary act of patriotism by an individual in a given society.
In the second commentary (May 2006), I explained Gandhi’s use of “truth/love force” (Satyagraha) as a tool for human freedom, and how this force could revolutionize social ideals and do away with despotisms.
In my July 3, 2006 commentary, I announced nonviolence is the only way out of TPLF oppression: “I believe we prove the righteousness of our cause not in battlefields soaked in blood and filled with corpses, but in the living hearts and thinking minds of men and women of good will.”
I became a laughingstock at the time. My friends and relatives pitied me for my naiveite.
I knew all too well the saying, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
They said I have been away from home too long. I don’t understand the depth of evilness and depravity of the TPLF. They seized power by the power of the barrel of the gun. They can only be removed by the power of the barrel of the gun.
But I had no doubts the TPLF would be defeated and not in the battlefield with the crash of guns.
They would be defeated in the epic and final battle for the hearts and minds of Ethiopians.
I knew from history how Gandhi led Indians to victory over British colonialism in a nonviolent struggle.
I also knew Gandhi was so convinced of the efficacy of his nonviolent methods that even Abyssinians (Ethiopians) could prevail over fascist Italian aggression using his method.
Gandhi explained, “if every Abyssinian man, woman and child refused cooperation, willing or forced, with the Italians, the aggressor would have to walk over the dead bodies of their victims and to occupy the country without the people.”
In a strange vindication of Gandhi, over 80 years later, young Ethiopians refused cooperation with the TPLF masters of ethnic apartheid who had clung to power for 27 years and won without firing a single shot.
That is simply miraculous!
Ethiopia’s miracles never end…!
In the first six months of his administration, H.E. Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed had completely transformed the Ethiopian political landscape.
Abiy Ahmed came to power preaching the gospel of Ethiopiawinet, Ethiopian unity and Ethiopian reconciliation, forgiveness and love.
Abiy Ahmed declared there will be no collective punishment, mass arrests, mass persecution and massacres. Due process of law will be the law of the land in Ethiopia.
Abiy Ahmed ended the TPLF’s “state of emergency”.
Abiy Ahmed released some 30 thousand political prisoners.
Abiy Ahmed set the media free to do their thing and the internet is accessible without restriction.
Abiy Ahmed brought peace and reconciliation to contending religious factions in and out of the country.
Abiy Ahmed made peace with Ethiopia’s neighbors and played a leadership role to stabilize the Horn region.
Abiy Ahmed invited all exiled opposition to peacefully participate in the political process and organize as parties to seize power in elections.
Abiy Ahmed insisted there will be a free and fair election in May 2020 and he will be ready to earn the people’s mandate to govern.
Abiy Ahmed is no idealist. He is a man of action. A man of vision. A man with a mission.
His mission and vision: Transition Ethiopia from dictatorship to multiparty democracy without bloodshed, bloodletting, and bloodguilt.
On his first day on the job, Abiy Ahmed proclaimed:
Killing to remain in or to grab power is the politics of losers. Real winners do not kill, they heal. We have only one country and the only way we can solve our problems peacefully is through dialogue without mouths, not through the barrel of an AK-47.
Abiy Ahmed, nineteen months after taking office, has delivered on his promises.
Abiy Ahmed has cleaned out the cesspool swamp of TPLF corruption and criminality.
But the TPLF political garbage accumulated over 27 years will take more than 19 months to completely clean out.
Yet, the Chicken Littles and social media hounds continue to cluck and bark and heave sounds of anger and fury signifying nothing.
Abiy Ahmed and his team continue to plug away with their shoulders to the wheel and noses to the grindstone,
Best of all, Abiy Ahmed has presented his blueprint (Medemer) for TPLF trash removal and now he has his clean up and construction crew (Prosperity Party) fired up and ready to put the pedal to the metal and drive Ethiopia on the highway to progress, prosperity and peace.
Medemer replaced “revolutionary democracy” and “developmental state”
After the TPLF came to power, it put a cloak of “revolutionary democracy” over its allegiance to Stalinist-inspired “Albanian socialism” and established a dictatorship.
The TPLF used “revolutionary democracy/developmental state” to suck Ethiopia dry to the bone.
Meles Zenawi blathered about “revolutionary democracy” and the “developmental state” but he never articulated either except use them as empty slogans.
He allegedly wrote a master’s theses on “revolutionary democracy” but he never had the intellectual confidence to publish and defend it in the court of public opinion. But the two slogans were Meles’ cure all for everything.
I knew Meles Zenawi was the master of cut-and-paste, the consummate charlatan and a phrase-monger.
He cut and pasted Marxist phrases and slogans to talk about “revolutionary democracy” and other such nonsense.
Meles was a shockingly hollow and shallow man.
I remember when Meles Zenawi defended his anti-terrorism law as the best in the world and “flawless.”
Meles Zenawi cut-and-pasted bits and pieces of legal language from anti-terrorism laws of different countries and called it “flawless”.
I tried to explain to him on his level that his cut-and-paste anti-terrorism law could be likened to the creation of an imaginary biological creature:
One cannot create a lion by piecing together the sturdy long neck of the giraffe with the strong jaws of a hyena, the fast limbs of the cheetah and the massive trunk of the elephant. The king of the jungle is an altogether different beast. In the same vein, one cannot clone pieces of anti-terrorism laws from everywhere onto a diktat and sanctify it as “flawless in every respect”.
That was exactly how Meles and his TPLF gangsters used “revolutionary democracy and developmental state”.
They would collect words and phrases and babble them with an air of intellectual respectability.
One scholar who studied so-called revolutionary democracy commented, “Abyotawi [revolutionary] democracy seems neither revolutionary nor democratic… [It] is a powerful political tool, rather than a genuinely revolutionary programme. [It has been used] as a tool to fight and exclude internal and external enemies.”
Suffice it to say “revolutionary democracy” was nothing more than TPLF snake oil!
A bosom buddy of Meles Zenawi once asked him, “Why can’t we include the smaller minority parties in our coalition in their own right?”
Meles answered with arrogant dismissiveness, “Because they are pastoralists and they don’t have the institutions to practice revolutionary democracy.”
But PM Abiy declared, “Not only do we want the smaller minorities to join our party, we want them to become leaders and prime ministers.”
Today, Ethiopia is following a new road map called “Medemer”.
With “Medemer” road map in hand, there is no need for a guide, leader or follower.
Anyone can find his or her way to a shining City Upon a Hill called Ethiopia.
Ten things I like about Prosperity Party
On November 22, 2019, the new Ethiopian “Prosperity Party” came into existence.
The creation of Prosperity Party from the crucible of an ethnic apartheid coalition created by the TPLF is simply stunning. It is historic.
No one would have predicted such an occurrence even a year ago.
With the exception of the moping TPLF, the three other members of Prosperity Party include the Amhara Democratic Party (ADP), the Oromo Democratic Party (ODP), and Southern Ethiopia Peoples Democratic Movement (SEPDM) formed “Prosperity Party”.
Prosperity Party has published its party programs and procedures.
The core mission of Prosperity Party is to ensure the material prosperity of all Ethiopians in dignity and freedom.
Prosperity Party means no ethnic-based parties.
It means the end of ethnic apartheid party system in Ethiopia.
No kililistans! No divisive ethnic politics.
Only agreements and disagreements on political programs, ideology and philosophy.
Prosperity Party and the other political parties that are coming together for the 2020 election herald the dawn of a new day and new politics in Ethiopia.
With Prosperity Party and others competing in a genuine multiparty system based on ideology and programs, Ethiopia can now experience true federalism that recognizes and respects the diversity and contributions of all Ethiopians.
I have supreme confidence that with the formation of Prosperity Party and the other parties Ethiopians will be able to prove to the whole world Gandhi’s maxim, “Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.”
But I want to congratulate and express my appreciation to all political parties who are getting ready for the 2020 election.
I have no doubts Ethiopians, with a robust multiparty system, will soon prove to the world the beauty of their unity in their diversity!
The formation of Prosperity Party, on the grave site of ethnic apartheid, is simply a miraculous act accomplished with divine intervention.
I know it was not the work of ordinary men and women, only inspired men and women.
I have read Prosperity Party’s political programs, bylaws and procedures.
There is a lot I like about Prosperity Party.
I will list just a few below.
First, I like the fact that Prosperity Party, unlike the TPLF’s EPRDF, will now include people from all ethnic groups, including those considered “pastoralists” and other groups considered too small to make a difference.
I applaud Prosperity Party for its open declaration that people who belong to minority groups will have as much chance to be leaders at all levels as those in the majority.
It is said, “A civilization is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” For me, a nation is measured by how it treats its poor, unrepresented, ignored, defenseless minority citizens.
As I wrote back in 2014, “I am always for the underdog. It could be the homeless veteran at a freeway exit asking for spare change or the throngs of young people I have never met in Ethiopia who are unjustly imprisoned merely because they spoke their minds or expressed their opinions in a publication. I guess I was born that way. That is why I never get discouraged even if others believe my efforts are ultimately in vain.”
I defended and advocated for the poor people living around Lake Koka when their water was being poisoned.
I was an environmental activist for the people of the Omo River Basin when they were displaced by the TPLF without proper environmental impact statement.
I defended the people of Gambella when they were victimized by the TPLF and World Bank-ruptcy.
Second, I like the fact that Oromiffa, Tigrigna, Somali, and Afar languages will also serve as national languages in addition to Amharic.
For the past 27 years, the gods of the TPLF built a “Tower of Babel” in Ethiopia dividing the people not only by ethnicity, religion and region but also language.
For 27 years, the TPLF shut the doors of opportunity by forcing groups in society to speak only “their languages” and by preventing the use of a common language for communication.
The Prosperity Party has declared it will open the language space if elected. Oromiffa, Tigrigna, Somali, and Afar languages will serve as national languages in addition to Amharic. Why not? That is the beauty of our diversity!
There is no greater proof of the value of multilingual proficiency than Abiy Ahmed himself. He speaks Oromiffa, Amharic, Tigrigna, English. I have even heard him speak in Arabic in certain forums. Because of his language proficiency, he can communicate with the diverse people of Ethiopia.
I look forward to the day when the coming generation of Ethiopians will be able to speak four or five languages like Abiy Ahmed.
Mandela said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”
That is how Abiy Ahmed has been talking to the “heads” and hearts of Ethiopians over the past nineteen months.
Third, I like the fact that Prosperity Party will seek the best and the brightest Ethiopians and will appoint them to office based on merit rather than “ethnic balancing”.
The TPLF uber boss Meles Zenawi once said words to the effect, “We don’t care if you have a Ph.D. We value loyalty more than merit.”
Fourth, I like the fact that Prosperity Party will abandon the self-serving TPLF nonsense of “revolutionary democracy/developmental state”. Prosperity Party will be led by Medemer philosophy and has pledged to open the economy to foreign investors and to strongly support the country’s private sector.
Fifth, I like the fact that the guiding principles of Prosperity Party are popular consent, democracy , rule of law, ethical professionalism and national and social unity.
Simply stated, Prosperity Party is about Ethiopiawinet. That suits me just find since I am the PROUD ETHIOPIAN.
Sixth, I like Prosperity Party’s values of human/people’s dignity, justice and national unity.
That’s suits me just fine too because that is what I fought for day and night and every week and month for the last nearly 14 years.
Seventh, I like the fact that Prosperity Party is open to any Ethiopian citizen to join by simply submitting a written application.
Unlike the TPLF’s EPRDF, Prosperity Party will enroll into its ranks those who meet the Party’s transparency and accountability requirements, e.g. knowledge, understanding and acceptance of the Party’s bylaws, strong belief in national unity and social diversity, commitment to public service and renunciation of corruption. A political party can be effective only if its leaders and members are well-informed, well-organized and well-intentioned.
Eighth, I like the fact that Prosperity Party will maximize the participation of young people and women.
Over the past nineteen months, PM Abiy has proven beyond any doubt that women and young people are playing an unprecedented role in the country’s political life. Ethiopia’s President, Chief Justice and one-half of all ministerial posts are held by women, mostly young women. Young men are equally well represented.
That gives me great pleasure because I have been a defender and advocate for Ethiopia’s Cheetah’s (young people) for the past nearly 14 years.
Ninth, I like the fact that the Prosperity Party program places a high premium on accountability and transparency. What is even more impressive is the fact that ordinary party members have the right to demand accountability of the highest leaders by following established procedures.
Tenth, I like the fact that Prosperity Party has buried “democratic centralism”, the TPLF’s Leninist practice of top down binding decision-making process in which the rank and file have virtually no voice.
Prosperity Party places a high premium on party member engagement, participation and discipline. Party policy making is intended to be a two-way street. Members as well as leaders can propose party policies based on shared ideas, values, programs. Unlike democratic centralism, the voices of the ordinary members will be heard by the leaders who will in turn engage the members. Such an approach should maximize party allegiance, cohesion and efficacy.
Tyrants and murderers always fall!
Democracy and truth crushed to earth shall always rise!
I am very glad to see the formation of a national, non-ethnic, -religious, -regional, -linguistic based political party in Ethiopia.
Truth be told, I never thought I would see the day when a national party could be forged out of ethnic parties after 27 long years of TPLF scheming, conspiracy, intrigue, collusion, machination and double dealing.
But the impossible has become not only possible but the die is cast for multiparty democracy.
In 1994, Nelson Mandela in his inauguration speech said, “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.”
I remember that moment vividly.
As I sat on the couch watching, tears welled up in my eyes and I thought, “Will there ever come a time in my lifetime when I can feel so confident to say to myself, ‘Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land of Ethiopia will again experience the oppression of one by another.”
And so it is…
Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
Man never is, but always to be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
Indeed, a national political life of forgiveness, reconciliation and love to come!
I wish all Prosperity Party members, “Live long and prosper in peace.”
I wish all other parties preparing for the 2020 election, “Live long and prosper in peace.”
Congratulations to all who worked so hard in good faith and goodwill to form Prosperity Party!
You have done the impossible!
Believe, Ethiopia’s best days are yet to come!