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Letter to My Son [By Eskinder Nega from Kaliti Prison]





The mistakes of my life. Ah! I could go on and on and on about them. (Warning, I am aiming for your sympathy.) There are the missed opportunities. (God is generous, I squandered them all, literally.) There are the wrong choices (Hey there is at least the adrenaline rush that comes with every wrong move.) There is the conceited self-absorption (Obviously more and more as I rush through middle age.) There is the lack of direction (Bitter to admit, but true.) There is the incapacitating self-doubt. (Question: are you teary-eyed or disgusted?)

But here is what my strategy is not: a crafty debasement of expectation at the outset, so that by the end the balance of sympathy could sway no way but in my favor. I simply hanker honesty.

Indeed, I too yearn to be a hero in my son’s eye. Somehow privy to the notion that a male child’s first hero is the father, I dream to play the role. That this phase of the child is posed to pass quickly matters not an iota to me. I insist on my 15 minutes of fame. But I am also interested in the most enduring kind of appraisal, that of respect. While the former, unexplored adoration, is innate in every child, the latter, empathy and regard of the person, is the result of a complex process. And it has to be earned. Whether I merit this honor should be clear by the end of this letter.

I have reluctantly become an absent father because I ache for what the French in the late 18th century expressed in three simple words: liberté, egalité, fraternité. Before the advent of my son in my life, I was a nonchalant prisoner of conscience on at least seven occasions. The blithe was hardly unnoticed by my incarcerators.

It troubled them greatly because they did not know how to defeat it. Tyranny is a function of fear: the terror of state violence, the menace of imprisonment, the dread of imposed penury. None of these, however, could be applied against an entire population. But strike only against a handful and copious number of peoples are hypnotized into inaction. Our collective dignity, as the world’s oldest black nation, demands that this spell be broken irrevocably.

No myth has had wider resonance than the supposed gulf in history, lifestyle, psychology and hence politics between nations. Indeed the measure of progress has trended at varying pace for disparate peoples. But between antiquity and the 16th century, when the first flicker of scientific revolution appeared with the works of Copernicus in astronomy, the rift between the most advanced and the primal was inconsequential. It took two more centuries, until the invention of the steam engine in 1789 in Britain, before science commenced to transform society. Up to this time, the structural gap between Europe, the most advanced, and Africa, perhaps the least developed, was no more dramatic than the cleavage between rural and urban Europe itself. Only in the last 100-150 years was there a recognizable paradigm shift, with rural Europe finally overtaken by the rise of cities.

No country save the British, with their Magna Carta in 1215 and bill of rights in 1689, could claim centuries old evolution of democratic institutions. The rest of the world plunged haphazardly and unceremoniously into an unexplored world of democratic reconfiguration. The trail blazer, revolutionary France, in 1789, did not seek space for evolution to abscond from the bosom of one of Europe’s most strident monarchy to the enduringly seminal rights of men men and citizen; which enshrined not merely for France but for all humanity the principle of a government constrained by law. No less significantly France and many parts of Western Europe were democratic well before a sizable middle class emerged. The same holds for Britain. The U.S., too, was not only securely democratic in the early 19th century, but was also a nation with an overwhelmingly rural citizenry.

But fast forward to the mid-20th century and democratic countries were still far from the norm. It took a world war between 1939 and 1945 for democracy to reverse catastrophic slide and settle for an uneasy parity with ascending totalitarianism in Europe. An additional four-decades long cold war, spanning 1945 to 1990, was needed to decide the winner convincingly. Only then did democracy attain momentum.

Despite the popular convention mischievously amplified by most autocrats, to deter demands for rights, no people or country could plausibly claim an extended tradition of democracy. Unless, that is, the last 200 years of humanity’s 5,000 years of communal history is deemed as elongated.

And it seems Africa has finally moved to aptly realign with history. The tempo is to boldly march the French way. The result is breathtaking. Over two decades, the period between the collapse of Communisim, in 1989, to the end of the first decade of the new millennium, Africa was transfigured from a repository of fatuous dictators to a stronghold of more democracies than Asia, the continent with the fastest growing middle class in history. How Ethiopia lagged in this transformative saga of African renaissance and reformation accounts for my imprisonment, cruelly and yet impersonally imperiling my prized duty as a father.

My parents brief matrimony was an early causalty of the intractable tension between tradition and modernity in post-liberation Ethiopia. Gruesome though the Italian occupation was, in the late 1930s, it tore down a smug culture of complacency. The need to modernize, to embrace the know-how of the outside world, was no more in doubt. The ease with which the nation had fallen to fascist Italy was proof beyond reproach. That my parents, both hailing from profoundly conservative Orthodox families, who traditionally equated modern education with Catholicism, were allowed to attend school is testimony of how deep feelings run.
Modern Singapore’s founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, idealizes, by way of his still ongoing great marriage debate, the kind of union my parents forged. Highly intelligent, both had won super-competitive scholarships to do tertiary studies in American universities. Father was in New Jersey at Rutgers University for six years. Mother’s tenure at the American University of Beirut, the jewel of higher education in the Middle East, was shorter, having pursued post-graduate studies for a year. Both returned home full of energy, with [a] plethora of bright ideas, and a healthy dose of the sanguine optimism of the inexperienced.
Like many of htier contemporaries, their rise was swift, easy and assimilated in style. Both were successful, upwardly mobile, and still hungry for more when they met. The only predicament was in how they personally embraced modernity, an allegory of the dilemma at the national level.

To his credit father did not yield to the sentiment which Lee Kuan Yew ruefully laments about: the compulsion of educated young men to marry down. In mother he met a remarkably rare Ethiopian woman: financially independent, educated, emotionally secure as a single woman, and no less ambitious than himself. But unlike many of his peers he did not dive for cover. He was in fact a persistent pursuer, her repeated protestation notwithstanding. She was not particularly wary of him, rather she was circumspect of her odds in a primeval society. But in the end, I presume, his charm, and certainly family pressure, inexorably prevailed. A lavish wedding sealed the pact.

Unlike virtually all the women of her generation, education had emancipated mother not only financially, but crucially, emotionally. Reversal of either was unsavory, to be fended off at any cost. She was in a sense a feminist, absent the creed. There was little of the past she cared for. To exemplify her feelings, she started smoking, though discretely. Had he known, her devoutly religious father would have simply died of grief. Neither, as far as I could discern, did father. He would have certainly balked at the prospect of a smoking wife. Even if he had wanted to oblige her, society, his friends and kin would have censured him. But every puff was an exhilarating expression of freedom for her. Freedom not from want, but the strictures imposed by tradition. When she finally stopped, after her divorce, it was for my sake. I was trying to emulate the only parent I knew. And by this time she also had a more serious diversion to engage her energy; the quest, unprecedented in Ethiopia, to prove that there can be a better life for a single woman after a divorce. Her vindication came, in little over five years, by way of the most successful clinic in the country, which she owned and managed. Father, awed and embarrassed, could only watch from the sidelines. A rebellious wife customarily returned to her husband chastened and humbled.

To all appearances, father was the quintessential modern man. He was moderately liberal, he lived in the right neighborhood, he dressed fashionably, his English was faultless, and until the rise of communism drove the latest cars. And he had money. But this was only the façade. His acquiescence to modernity extended only slightly beyond these parameters. The nucleus of the values he internalized from society, which were in need of metamorphosis to complement his public image, remained intact.
In this sense his profiles outlines the paradox that is the modern Ethiopian intellectual. There is the fixation with the façade of modernity—the technology, the infrastructure, the economy, the lifestyl. But there is also the corresponding resistance to its essential modus operandi—a radically transformed worldview. This means redefined relationships between husband and wife; parents and children; individual and society; the state and its citizens.

To mother, on the other hand, most established values were anachronistic. She had no compunction discarding them. In their place, a singular fixation with independence took hold. Society was, of course, less than ready to accommodate her. Though unexpressed, her husband had expected blunting of the fiery spirit, a gradual but inevitable acceptance of a place in life as a stay-at-home-mom. She thought otherwise. Forsaking a secure and well-paying job, when females with jobs were a rarity, for a precarious entrepreneurial venture was inexplicable. Both departures from convention were broadly misread as expressions of aggressive disposition. Few were able to see an indomitable spirit of individualism that make a modern society possible. This discord between a cumbersome past and a future grappling to unfold is also at the core of our national dispute over democracy.
A coarse encounter between the novel and the archaic is as old as history itself. The anecdotal evidence is rarely for the new to relinquish to the old. After all, women no[w] live in a far more liberate milieu than the yesteryears when few brave souls like mother were challenging convention.

Our modern politics has its genesis in a coup attempt in 1960. Though overwhelmed with relative ease, it left a lasting imprint on history by precipitating the rise of a fiery student movement, a precursor to the nation’s major political parties. Inspired by Egypt’s much romanticized coup, in 1952, which propelled young left-leaning revolutionary officers to power, Ethiopia’s was the first shot by soldiers to seize state power in black Africa. But while Egypt’s was conscientiously planned and executed to eschew violence, Ethiopia’s was marred by wanton carnage. Thus the debut of modern Ethiopian politics shadowed by unbridled violence. Fifty years later, the menace of brute force still lies at the heart of politics.

By the reckoning of the imperial government, father, like many of the intelligentsia, harbored suspect reformist sentiments. Though rewarded with high positions at an early age, there was tension in his relationship with the government. But it was tension devoid of danger for both sides. For the government, father and many of the young Turks, as they were propitiously called by some, posed no danger of subversion. They were impatient for hasty reform from inside, not calamitous revolution from outside. Even if the young Turks had their way, the result would be far less than catastrophic, with some measure of discomfort, they were tolerated. And indeed no sedition was ever intended by the young Turks. All they wanted was to upgrade, not change, the software. This somewhat cozy but uneasy bond between government and intelligentsia was upstaged the day university students flooded the streets in support of the coup attempt.

In 1960, the year of the coup attempt, Ethiopia’s elite center of learning was cloistered in a lone university college. A full-fledged university had yet to be realized. This was almost a generation after liberation from the Italians. In about the same interval, war-ravaged Germany and Japan had not only reconstructed but were on the verge of crossing new economic frontiers. Ethiopia’s shortcoming was manifestly evident. And finally a new generation scandalized by the inertia, indolence, stoicism and cynicism had risen. It was palpably time for change.

The 1960s could be credibly dubbed as the decade of student movements. But at its dawn, students nurtured no greater ambition than to be part of the global post-war economic boom. The revered genre of the silent, strong male, which dominated the 1950s, was still paramount. By the mid-1960s, Vietnam radicalized American youth, primarily on its colleges and universities. In France it was another war, Algeria, that was the impetus for campus militancy. In Iran and Europe [think he meant Ethiopia] it was a coup, successful in the case of the former, [a] debacle in the latter. The quartet gave the world the most animated students in history. By the mid-1970s, however, the Americans and French had fizzled out. The Ethiopians and Iranians peaked in the late 1970s, and quietly faded into oblivion in the early 1980s.

But their fleeting existence notwithstanding they left behind powerful legacies. The backlash against the counter-culture (contempt for authority and tradition) the students triggered in the US made the seminal presidencies of Nixon and Reagan possible. It took the coalition forged by Obama to win a second term to alter the dynamics of American politics. At their peak, Iranian students mesmerized the world by storming the US embassy in Tehran and humiliating a proud superpower. In less than a decade and a half, Ethiopian students inspired a nation to uproot a monarchy that had preserved for a millennium.
Though they were from four far-flung continents, had distinct histories, and promoted radically different visions, the students shared a common denominator: disdain for the status-quo. To the Americans no one older than 30 was trustworthy. As a way to unshackle tradition, they attacked its prudish sexual mores. The French were unduly agitated against their government, and vented their anger on the streets of Paris with passion unseen since the storming of the Bastille. After rejecting the modernizing pretensions of their foreign-tainted monarch, Iranian students yearned for the purity of a lost age. To the Ethiopian students, groomed by rote learning rather than critical thinking, Marxism became the Holy Grail, the panacea to all the nation’s ills.
But a pivotal divide also separated them. The Americans and the French lived in free societies. There were adept political parties, vibrant free press, useful civic organizations, multitude of professional and trade unions to channel grievances and represent interests. None of these were about to be supplanted by students. The Ethiopians and Iranians lived in tired monarchies. There were no conduits for dissent. Here was an opening for transformative impact.

Unlike the Japanese and the Chinese after the madness of the Cultural Revolution, Ethiopian students never really made the crucial connection between the indigenization of science and development. They saw national redemption primarily in the social sciences, and many of the best students flocked to them in droves despite steady underperformance on standardized reading and comprehension tests. To father and his generation, the monarchy was sacrosanct. Very few of them flirted with republicanism. Their ideal was a British monarchy. To the students who were embittered and abruptly radicalized by the events of 1960, the monarchy, and the US, which was implicated in the reversal of the coup attempt, became loathed icons. Embracing socialism seemed only logical and inevitable. And here is where an academic culture chronically short on critical thinking was to have detrimental effect. Whereas in the U.S. and France deep scholarly foundations mitigated against the swamping of the student majority by extremism, in Ethiopia and Iran intellectual buffers against infantile radicalization were ominously absent. But while Iranian students rallied around grassroot sentiments for religious chastity and nationalism, only Ethiopian students militated against all things aboriniginal. Nothing was sacred to them. The emperor was lampooned. Religion was rejected. Culture was mocked. Tradition was attacked. History was disputed. Ethnicity was politicized. It was a tsunami at full thrust against all things established. A good measure of excitement was the intriguing possibility of engineering society from scratch.

But rejection is virtually a carefree venture. There is little strenuous intellectual effort involved. The demanding undertaking lies in the pursuit and nourishment of an alternative consensus. Ultimately, this is where the students failed calamitously. Singularly transfixed with rebellion, and only perfunctorily with its aftermath, they were governed by no moral codes, were disciplined by no hierarchy, and were direly lacking sense of proportion to temper emotions. In this sense, they had no analogue in the Americans or the French. Nor indeed in the Iranians. The Americans and the French were ultimately anchored by nationalism and ingrained identity. The Iranians of course had religion. Having rejected both nationalism and religion, Ethiopian students had nothing durably satiating to replace them with. This was the pristine environment in which militancy thrived. Extremism thus became not a mere idiosyncrasy, but rather the structural building block of the movement. Tragically, what the Ethiopians radicalized was really nothing more than nihilism. The mania was to tear down an existing order. In the end, after the collapse of the imperial order, only a small minority, by now metamorphasized into armed insurgents, had the energy to tread o. The majority was too exhausted to continue, opting for exile and a well-earned rest in the West.

Of [A] multitude of vague memories from my distant childhood, the sense of dread that permanently enveloped my grandmother’s home, where my mother and I lived intermittently after the divorce, still lingers with me. Years later, in the 1990s, I was to learn, rather to my shock, ours was only one of a handful of families in the neighborhood that mourned the fall of Haile Selassie, the diminutive king who had held sway over the nation for over half a century. Initially I thought it was loss of privilege that explained our anomalous. But I know now there was more.

If one word was to render the spirit of the revolution, it would certainly be equality. An inordinate passion for equality suddenly bewitched the public—what in theory could only have meant equality of opportunity was in practice subverted to imply equality of merit. Not even the elderly, the repository of wisdom in traditional thinking, were to be deferred to anymore. The nation’s best and brightest, whose income, lifestyle and manners marked them from the majority, became more subjects of derision than role models. They were no more in vogue. It was time to celebrate mediocrity, to artificially elevate it to a higher podium. This atmosphere endured, with disastrous consequences for the entire reign of the military dictatorship, the guardian of the revolution and still influences the present. It is this pauperization of value that lies at the provenance o fthe national malaise that has numbed the intellectual elite.

To be fair, many nations, including the meritocratic U.S., where guilt-ridden 2008 (2012?) presidential candidate Mitt Romney was bullied for his wealth, occasionally toy with debased populism, but rarely has it persisted with the kind of intensity evident in Ethiopia. It was this slide to debauched populism that distressed grandmother’s household. It was a prescient reserve that anticipated an impending moral morass.

The ultimate failure of the military dictatorship, including its gross human rights violations, is the failure of Communism. But even within the narrow constraints of communism, more was possible. The Soviets failed broadly but compensated with a world-class military-industrial complex. Nothing works in Cuba except health services, one of the best in Latin America. Mao’s China at least liberated a billion plus mass of humanity from worry about its quotidian meals. Ditto for many Communist countries, where a lone bright spot attested to the restrained potential of an oppressed people. But because the principal consensus in post-revolutionary Ethiopia had been an unremitting joy derived from the leveling of society, a culture against exceptionalism gained traction. Blending became the default modus operandi both at the individual and group levels. No distinction was made between superiority stemming from privilege and superiority attained by merit. For a government fighting multiple insurgencies, this was a fatal shortcoming. Unable to build a professional army based on merit, it eventually succumbed not to superior force but to weaker adversaries who had assembled meritocratic fighting machines. It took seventeen years, but there was no avoiding it: grandmother was vindicated. And she lived to see it all. God bless her soul.

Sadly, the implosion of the military dictatorship did not necessarily entail reorientation of national disposition. On the contrary, unlike their less fortunate, American, French and Iranian brethren, Ethiopian students, untempered by outside influence, ascended to power in 1991 and had their nation at their complete mercy. And they did what was unthinkable to everyone but the puritan nihilist: facilitated—nay, promoted—the secession of Eritrea, the heartland of historical Ethiopia. Whether the nation will survive the shock that ensued is still an open question.

But while this is where we are, our future is not predestined. The future is malleable, at least in its mid to long-term facets. This is God’s way of internalizing hope into our existence. And best of all, the age of the students is fading. Consider recent events.
Even in sane democracies, the death of a nation’s leader can be the slow motion drama that it customarily is in autocracies. In contentedly democratic Ghana, where the specter of succession no more bodes the possibility of bloodletting, the president’s ill-health was the state’s most guarded secret. When John Atta Mills finally spoke of his illness, it was to insist of a successful cure. In the spirit of the famous adage, he wanted a return to normalcy. What he lacked, though, was an obliging public. This is Ghana, after all. Cynicism, one could argue plausibly, is a national brand. But in the end, even his deputy and successor, John Mahama, could not help but be caught unawares by his boss’s abrupt transition.

In increasingly Orwellian Ethiopia, the mere mention of the leader’s ailment required a radical departure from an entrenched—and prized—ethos of opacity. The enduringly hapless Ethiopian public does not expect to be told the truth by its government. The absence, not the histrionics itself, would have surprised Ethiopians. Thus only the hopelessly guileless were surprised by the delayed news of the leader’s death.

The paranoia is hardly misplaced. The death of despots has altered the course of national histories scores of times, and sometimes even world history.

One of the greatest empires in world history, that of Alexander the Great, simply collapsed with news of his early death; clearing the path for the rise of the Romans. The inopportune death of Odedai Khan saved Europe from an unstoppable Mongolian invading army in 1241. Had the Mongolians overrun Europe as they did China, world history would have changed beyond recognition. Along with the body of Oliver Cromwell was buried the political prospect of republicanism in 17th century England. Ominously, cautionary tales from local history are hardly in want. The legacies of Ethiopia’s last four kings, stretching from mid-19th century to mid-20th century, have all been marred by lack of continuity. And now there is the instinctive inkling by Ethiopia’s ruling party that history is about to repeat itself. But this time, absence of an enduring legacy awaits not merely a leader or party but an entire generation, the spirited students of the 1960s. Theirs will mostly be a legacy of infamy. To paraphrase Reagan, a legacy meant for the trash bin of history.

Life is tragically short. But only when challenged by a mid-life crisis, or when shock is triggered by illness or accident, does existence’s fleeting status dominate consciousness. How people react to the challenge is a measure of character. The broad motions people go through, however, are well established. There is the initial dazed realization of how disloyally momentary life is, then a reaction abounds, and finally, either stoically or grudgingly, acceptance of the inevitable assumes primacy. Prison has been the triggering element for me. And however exalted, the cause of justice is that has landed me here. I miss you and your mother terribly. The pain is almost physical. But in this plight of our family is embedded hope of a long suffering people. There is no greater honor. We must bear any pain, travel any distance, climb any mountain, cross any ocean to complete this journey to freedom. Anything less is impoverishment of our soul. God bless you, my son. You will always be in my prayers.

March 2014

Eskinder Nega
Kaliti Prison

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    April 4, 2014 at 4:55 pm

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  3. Anonymous

    March 28, 2014 at 11:01 am

    “our freedom fighte
    r”,we love u ,God be with u & ur family

  4. desalegn

    March 28, 2014 at 8:17 am

    I realy proud of esku man of freedom! God will componsate your problem he will solve soon this is our faith of pray VICTOTR VICTORY FOR FREEDOM & ESKU በዚች ህዝቡ በተኛበት አገር ብቻህን ነቅተህ ተሰቃየህ አይዞህ የኔ አንበሳ፤፤

  5. Anonymous

    March 27, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    How old is the son ? I think this is too complex for a small boy to understand.

  6. Dejene Negera

    March 27, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    A great wonder for me is that is this man refering the pre-derg era absolute monarchy & a derg time military dictatorship a ‘freedom’ or he is dreaming of another sort of administration that the country has never been familiar with?

  7. Dejene Negera

    March 27, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    A great wonder for me is that is this man refering the pre-derg era absolute monarchy a ‘freedom’ or he is dreaming of another sort of administration that the country has never been familiar with?

  8. Anonymous

    March 27, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    esku u r fighting for the nation justice you will always be in my prayers… u pave the way ….. and we go on

  9. Anonymous

    March 27, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    I am speechless . God bless you . We love you and resepect you for your vision and scarifying for freedom. Ayzohe . You are our Mandela.

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በኦስሎ ዳይመንድ ሊግ የ5000ሜ ፉክክር ኢትዮጵያውያን አትሌቶች በሁለቱም ፆታዎች በአሸናፊነት አጠናቀዋል



ትላንት ምሽት በኖርዌይ ኦስሎ በተከናወነው የዳይመንድ ሊግ 5000 ሜ. ውድድር ኢትዮጵያውያን አትሌቶች በወንዶችም በሴቶችም ከአንደኛ እስከ ሶስተኛ ያሉትን ደረጃዎች በመቆጣጠር አሸንፈዋል፡፡ 

በዝናባማ የአየር ሁኔታ ውስጥ በተካሄደው የሴቶች 5000 ሜትር ፉክክር ዳዊት ስዩም በመጨረሻዎቹ መቶ ሜትሮች ውስጥ ፍጥነቷን በመጨመር ጉዳፍ እና ለተሰንበትን ቀድማ አንደኛ ወጥታለች፡፡ የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ፌዴሬሽን ለኦሪገን 2022 የአለም ሻምፒዮና ከመረጣቸው ዕጩ አትሌቶች ዝርዝር ውስጥ ያልተካተተችው ዳዊት በኦስሎ ያሸነፈችበት 14፡25.84 የሆነ ሰአት የራሷ ምርጥ ሲሆን እጅጋየሁ ታዬ (14.12.98) እና ለተሰንበት (14፡24.59) ባለፈው ወር በዩጂን ካስመዘገቧቸው በመቀጠልም የዘንድሮ የአለም ሶስተኛው ፈጣን ነው፡፡ በውድድሩ ላይ ከነበሩት ሌሎች ኢትዮጵያውያን መካከል በዘንድሮው የውድድር ዓመት በርቀቱ የመጀመሪያ ተሳትፎዋን ያደረገችው አልማዝ አያና በ14:32.17 ስድስተኛ ሆና አጠናቃለች፡፡ ሀዊ ፈይሳ በ14:33.66፣ ፅጌ ገብረሰላማ በ14:43.90፣ እና አበራሽ ምንሴዎ በ14:47.98 በቅደም ተከተል ሰባተኛ፣ አስረኛ እና አስራ አንደኛ ሆነው ሲያጠናቅቁ ሶስቱም ያስመዘገቡት ሰዓት የራሳቸውን ምርጥ ያሻሻሉበት ሆኗል፡፡ ጥሩነሽ ዲባባ እ.ኤ.አ. በጁን 2008 ዓ.ም. ያስመዘገበችውና 14:11.15 የሆነው የኦስሎ ዳይመንድ ሊግ የሴቶች 5000 ሜትር የውድድር ስፍራ ሪከርድ ይሰበራል ተብሎ ተጠብቆ የነበረ ቢሆንም ሳይሳካ ቀርቷል፡፡  
ዳዊት ስዩም ውድድሩን በድል ካጠናቀቀች በኋላ ለውድድሩ አዘጋጆች በሰጠችው አስተያየት ‹‹ዛሬ ለእኔ ደስታን ስላመጣልኝ በውድድሩ ሰዓት የነበረውን ዝናብ ወድጄዋለሁ ማለት እችላለሁ፡፡ ጠንካራ ተፎካካሪዎች የነበሩበት ከባድ ውድድር ነበር እናም ሁሉንም ለማሸነፍ በቅቻለሁ። በርቀቱ የራሴን ምርጥ ሰዓት ማሻሻል መቻሌም አስፈላጊ ነበር፡፡ በስታድየሙ ውስጥ በከፍተኛ ስሜት ድጋፍ ይሰጡን የነበሩ ወገኖቻችን ነበሩ። ለሰጡን ድጋፍ እናመሰግናለን።›› ብላለች፡፡
በኦስሎ የወንዶች 5000 ሜትር የመጨረሻ ፉክክሩ በኢትዮጵያውያኑ ጥላሁን ሀይሌ እና ሳሙኤል ተፈራ መካከል የነበረ ሲሆን ጥላሁን የ1500 ሜትር ስፔሻሊስቱ ሳሙኤልን በአጨራረስ ፍጥነት ቀድሞ በ13:03.51 በአንደኛነት አጠናቋል፡፡ ሳሙኤል ተፈራ የራሱ ምርጥ በሆነ 13:04.35 ሁለተኛ ሲወጣ ጌትነት ዋለ የግሉ የዓመቱ ምርጥ በሆነ 13:04.48 ሶስተኛ ደረጃን ይዞ ጨርሷል። በውድድሩ ላይ የነበሩት ሌሎች ኢትዮጵያውያን ሚልኬሳ መንገሻ በ13:05.94 አምስተኛ እንዲሁም አሊ አብዱልመናን የራሱ ምርጥ በሆነ 13:16.97 አስረኛ ወጥተዋል፡፡
ጥላሁን ሀይሌ ውድድሩን በአሸናፊነት ካጠናቀቀ በኋላ ለውድድሩ አዘጋጆች በሰጠው አስተያየት ‹‹ሶስት ኢትዮጵያውያን የመጀመሪያዎቹን ሶስት ደረጃዎች ይዘን መጨረስ መቻላችን ጥሩ አፈጻጸም ነበር። እየጠነከርኩ እንደሆነ የተሰማኝ ሲሆን በውድድሩ እና ባስመዘገብኩት ሰዓትም ተደስቻለሁ። ለረጅም ጊዜ ጉዳት ላይ ስለነበኩ ወደ አሸናፊነቱ መመለስ መቻሌ በጣም ጥሩ ነው።›› ብሏል፡፡

በኦስሎ የሴቶች 800ሜ. ውድድር ላይ ተፎካካሪ የነበረችው ኢትዮጵያዊቷ ድሪቤ ወልቴጂ በ1፡58.69 አምስተኛ ሆና አጠናቃለች።
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የዘንድሮው የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ብሄራዊ ሻምፒዮና በእኔ እይታ



ከመጋቢት19-24/2014 ዓ.ም በሐዋሳ አለም አቀፍ ስቴድዮም የተደረገው 51ኛዉ የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ሻምፒዮና ከሞላ ጎደል ስኬታማ በሚባል ሁኔታ ተጠናቋል፡፡ ከአምስት አመት በኋላ በድጋሚ በአካል በመገኘት ስለተከታተልኩት የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ሀገር አቀፍ ሻምፒዮና የግል ምልከታዬን እንደሚከተለው አጠናቅሬዋለሁ፡፡

የበለጠ ትኩረትን በሳቡት ውድድሮች ዙሪያ የተመዘገቡ ውጤቶችን በወፍ በረር በመዳሰስ ስጀምር ከፍተኛ ፉክክር በታየበት የመጨረሻ ቀን የወንዶች 5000ሜ. የአለም ከ20 አመት በታች ሻምፒዮና የ3000ሜ የብር ሜዳልያ አሸናፊው አሊ አብዱልመና 13፡45.0 በሆነ ሰዓት ከጥላሁን ሀይሌ፣ ጌትነት ዋለ እና ዮሚፍ ቀጄልቻ ቀድሞ አሸናፊ ሆኗል፡፡ የፉክክሩ አካል የነበረው እና የርቀቱ የወቅቱ የአለም ሻምፒዮን ሙክታር እድሪስ ስድስተኛ ወጥቷል። 

ከ20 ዓመት በታች የ3000ሜ የአለም ሻምፒዮኑ ታደሰ ወርቁ በ28፡12.0 የወንዶች 10,000ሜ. ሻምፒዮን ሲሆን በ1996 ዓ.ም. በአትሌት ስለሺ ስህን ተመዝግቦ የነበረውን 28፡16.23 የሆነ የሻምፒዮናው ሪኮርድ ለማሻሻልም በቅቷል፡፡ በ10 ሺህ ሜትር የሴቶች ፉክክር ግርማዊት ገብረእግዚአብሔር በቀዳሚነት የጨረሰችበት 31፡21.5 የሆነ ሰዓት አዲስ የሻምፒዮንሺፕ ሪኮርድ ሆኖ ተመዝግቧል፡፡ በርቀቱ የከዚህ ቀደሙ ሪኮርድ  ለተሰንበት ግደይ ከሶስት ዓመት በፊት ያስመዘገበችው 32፡10.13 የሆነ ሰዓት ነበር፡፡

ሳሙኤል ፍሬው በዘንድሮ የወንዶች 3000ሜ. መሰናክል አፈፃፀም ከአለም ሁለተኛው ፈጣን በሆነ 8፡22.5 ሰዓት አሸናፊ ሲሆን ጌትነት ዋለ ከአራት ዓመት በፊት አስመዝግቦት የነበረውን 8፡28.98 የነበረ የሻምፒዮናው ሪኮርድም አሻሽሏል፡፡ በሴቶች 3000ሜ. መሰናክል ከ800ሜ ወደ ረጅም ርቀት የተሸጋገረችው ወርቅውሃ ጌታቸው በ9፡41.8 ሰዓት መቅደስ አበበን (9:43.8) በማስከትል በአሸናፊነት አጠናቃለች። 

አድሃና ካህሳይ (3:51.0) የወንዶች 1500ሜ ፉክክሩን በበላይት ሲያጠናቅቅ በሴቶች 1500 ሜ አያል ዳኛቸው (4:10.0) ተጠባቂዋ ዳዊት ስዩምን (4:11.1) በመቅደም በአንደኛነት አጠናቃለች። በ800ሜ. ወንዶች ቶሌሳ ቦደና (1:47.1) በሴቶች ወርቅነሽ መሰለ (2:02.1) አሸናፊ ሆነዋል።
ዮብሰን ብሩ በ400ሜ/400ሜ መሰናክል (45.9/50.5) ድርብ ድል ሲቀዳጅ፣ በወንዶች ጦር ውርወራ ኡታጌ ኡባንግ ብሔራዊ ሪኮርድ በሆነ 73.28ሜ. አሸንፏል፡፡ የኋልዬ በለጠው እና ዮሃንስ አልጋው በእርምጃ ሩጫ የሻምፒዮንነት ክብርን ተቀዳጅተዋል።

ጥቂት አስተያየቶች፡-
የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ስፖርት አፍቃሪ እንደሆነ እና ለዕድገቱ እንደሚቆረቆር ሰው በብሔራዊ ሻምፒዮናው ላይ ስለተመለከትኳቸው አዎንታዊ እና አሉታዊ ጎኖች ጥቂት አስተያየቶቼን እንደሚከተለው አስቀምጣለሁ፡-

አዎንታዊ ጎኖች
• ባለው ነባራዊ ሁኔታ ውስጥ ሊገጥሙ የሚችሉትን ተግዳሮቶች በሙሉ በመቋቋም ፌዴሬሽኑ ውድድሩን ከአዲስ አበባ ውጭ አካሂዶ በሰላም ማጠናቀቅ መቻሉ አንደኛው ስኬቱ ነው፡፡

• በሻምፒዮናው ላይ ጥቂት የማይባሉ ታዋቂ አትሌቶች በሀገሪቱ ትልቁ የአትሌቲክስ ፉክክር ላይ ተሳታፊ ሆነው ሲወዳደሩ መመልከት የተቻለ ሲሆን በተለይም በወንዶች 5000 ሜትር ፍፃሜ ላይ የታየው የኮከብ አትሌቶች ፉክክር ልዩ ነበር፡፡

• በውድድሩ ወቅት ለአትሌቲክስ ዳኞች የብቃት ማሻሻያ ስልጠና መሰጠቱም የውድድሩን ጥራት ለማሳደግ የሚረዳ እንደመሆኑ እሰየው የሚባል ነው፡፡
• እንደ ኢትዮ ኤሌክትሪክ ያሉት ክለቦች ለአትሌቲክስ ስፖርት የበለጠ ትኩረት በመስጠትና ተጠናክሮ በመቅረብ ከዚህ ቀደም በጠንካራነታቸው ከሚታወቁት መከላከያ እና ኢትዮጵያ ንግድ ባንክ ጋር የቅርብ ተፎካካሪ ሆነው መታየት፤ የኦሮሚያ ክልል፣ ደቡብ ፖሊስ እና ሲዳማ ቡና ክለብ አትሌቶችም ጠንካራ ተሳትፎ ሳይዘነጋ የሻምፒዮናው ፉክክር ድምቀት ነበሩ፡፡  
• የአንዳንዶቹ ተገቢነት አጠያያቂ ቢሆንም ብዛት ያላቸው የሻምፒዮናው ሪኮርዶች የተሻሻሉበት ውድድርም ነበር፡፡ 

አሉታዊ ጎኖች
• የሀገሪቱ ትልቁ የአትሌቲክስ ውድድር ውጤት አሁንም በኤሌክትሮኒክስ የሰዓት መቆጣጠሪያ የማይደገፍ መሆኑ በተለይም በአጭር ርቀት እና በሜዳ ላይ ተግባራት ውድድሮች ላይ የሚሳተፉ አትሌቶች ልፋት ተገቢውን እውቅና እንዳያገኝ እያደረገ ይገኛል፡፡ የሻምፒዮናውን ውጤቶች በዘመናዊ እና ዓለም አቀፉን መለኪያ በሚያሟላ መልኩ አለመያዝ በአህጉራዊ እና አለም አቀፋዊ ውድድሮች ላይ ለተሳትፎ የሚያበቁ ውጤቶችን በማስመዝገቡ ረገድ የሚኖረው አሉታዊ ተፅዕኖ ከፍተኛ መሆኑ ከግምት ውስጥ ገብቶ አሁንም መፍትሄ ያልተበጀለት ጉዳይ ነው፡፡ 
• የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ፌዴሬሽን ወደ ሚዲያ/ለአጠቃላዩ ሕዝብ የሚያስተላልፈው የመጀመሪያዎቹን ሶስት ደረጃዎች ይዘው የሚያጠናቅቁ አትሌቶችን ውጤት ብቻ መሆኑ አወዳዳሪው አካል የሚያደርገውን የራሱን ውድድርም ሆነ አትሌቶቹ የለፉበትን ውጤት ከማስተዋወቅ አኳያ በቂ አይደለም፡፡
• በወንዶች የጦር ውርወራ እና የሴቶች ምርኩዝ ዝላይ ብሔራዊ ሪኮርዶች እንደተመዘገቡ ይታመናል፤ በሴቶች 100ሜ መሰናክል እና የወንዶች 400ሜ መሰናክል የተመዘገቡት ሰዓቶችም የምንግዜውም ፈጣን ሊሆኑ ይችላሉ፡፡ ነገር ግን ውድድሩ በኤሌክትሮኒክስ ታይሚንግ ያልተደገፈ እና የንፋስ ንባብ ያልነበረው መሆኑ ውጤቶቹ በዓለም አቀፍ ደረጃ ተቀባይነት እንዳይኖራቸው የሚያደርግ ነው።

• በ20 ኪ.ሜ የእርምጃ ውድድር ላይ በሁለቱም ፆታዎች የተመዘገቡት ሰዓቶች ከሚጠበቀው በላይ እጅግ በጣም ፈጣን እና እውነታዊ አለመምሰላቸው በውድድሩ ላይ የተፈጠረ አንዳች ስህተት መኖሩን የሚያመላክቱ መሆኑ፡፡ እንዲህ አይነት ለማመን የሚከብዱ እና ጥርጣሬን የሚፈጥሩ አይነት ውጤቶች ሲመዘገቡም የተፈጠረ ስህተት መኖር አለመኖሩን ለማጣራት አለመሞከሩ፡፡
• የሴቶች 10 ኪሎ ሜትር ውድድር ላይ ለውድድር የማይፈቀድ የጎዳና ላይ መሮጫ ጫማን በመጠቀም የተመዘገበ ውጤት በሪኮርድነት ጭምር ተይዞ መፅደቁ። ብሔራዊ ፌዴሬሽኑ ከተከለከሉ ጫማዎች ጋር የተያያዙ ዓለም አቀፍ ሕገ ደንቦችን ማወቅና መተግበር ቢገባውም በሴቶች 10 ሺህ ሜትር ውድድር ላይ የተከሰተው ነገር የውድድር ሕገ ደንቦቹ መረጃ በፌዴሬሽኑ ውስጥ በትክክል የተሰራጩ እንዳልሆነ የሚያመላከት ነው፡፡  

• በሴቶች 1500 ሜትር የግማሽ ፍፃሜ ውድድር ላይ አትሌት ዳዊት ስዩም የሻምፒዮናውን ሪኮርድ ያሻሻለችበት ውጤት እንደተመዘገበ በውድድሩ ወቅት በተደጋጋሚ ሲነገር ከተደመጠ በኋላ ግልፅ ባልተደረገ ምክንያት ውጤቱ በሐዋሳው ውድድር ላይ ተሻሻሉ ከተባሉት የሻምፒዮናው አዲስ ሪኮርዶች ዝርዝር ውስጥ ሳይካተት መቅረቱም የፌዴሬሽኑን ግልፀኝነት ጥያቄ ምልክት ውስጥ የሚከት ነው፡፡

ከላይ የተዘረዘሩት አዎንታዊ እና አሉታዊ ጎኖች ለረጅም ግዜ የኢትዮጵያን አትሌቲክስ ስፖርት እንቅስቃሴዎች በቅርበት ከመከታተሌ አንፃር በራሴ እይታ ያስቀመጥኳቸው እንደመሆናቸው አንዳንዶቹ ሀሳቦች አከራካሪ ሊሆኑ ይችላሉ፡፡ ሆኖም የውድድር ደንቦችን በአግባቡ ከማስፈፀም አኳያ በታዩት ክፍተቶች ዙሪያ ምንም የሚያከራክር ጉዳይ ስለሌለ በወቅታዊ የውድድር ደንቦች ዙሪያ የግንዛቤ እጥረት ላለባቸው የስፖርቱ ባለድርሻ አካላት በሙሉ አስፈላጊውን ገለፃ እና ትምህርት መስጠት የፌዴሬሽኑ ኃላፊነት ነው፡፡ ከውድድር ጋር የተያያዙ ደንቦችን ከመጣስ አኳያ በሀገር ውስጥ በሚደረጉ ውድድሮች እንደቀላል ነገር የሚታለፉ ጉዳዮች በዓለም አቀፍ ውድድሮች ላይም ተደግመው እንደግል አትሌቶችን እንደቡድን ሀገርን ትልቅ ዋጋ ሊያስከፍሉ ይችላሉና አስፈላጊው ጥንቃቄ ቢደረግ መልካም ነው፡፡ ባለፈው መስከረም ወር በቪየና ሲቲ ማራቶን ውድድሩን በአሸናፊነት ጨርሶ የነበረው ኢትዮጵያዊው ደራራ ሁሪሳ የገጠመውን አንዘንጋው! 

ሀገራችን ኢትዮጵያን በመልካም ጎኑ ስሟ እንዲነሳ በሚያደርገው እና በትልልቅ ዓለም አቀፍ የውድድር መድረኮች ላይ የኩራታችን ምንጭ በሆነው የአትሌቲክስ ስፖርት እንደጎረቤታችን ኬንያ ዓለም አቀፍ ውድድሮችን የማስተናገድ የብቃት ደረጃ ላይ ደርሰን ማየት የዘወትር ምኞቴ ነው፡፡ የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ፌደሬሽንም የውድድሮቹን ጥራት ለማሻሻል በትኩረት እንደሚሰራ ተስፋ አደርጋለሁ።      
የ10,000ሜ. አሸናፊ የሆነችው ግርማዊት ገብረእግዚአብሔር (Photo by EAF)

በመጨረሻም በሀዋሳ በተካሄደው 51ኛዉ የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ሻምፒዮና ከመሮጫ ጫማ ጋር የተያያዙ ደንቦችን በማስከበሩ ረገድ የተፈጠረውን ክፍተት እንደማስተማሪያ ብንጠቀምበት በሚል የሚከተለውን ለማለት ወደድኩ፡-

የመሮጫ ጫማ ደንቦች ለትራክ ውድድር

64 ደቂቃ ከ14 ሰከንድ በሆነ ሰዓት የዘንድሮ የራስ አል ካይማህ የግማሽ ማራቶን ውድድር አሸናፊ የሆነችው ግርማዊት ገብረእግዚአብሔር በሐዋሳ በተከናወነው 51ኛው የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ሻምፒዮና ላይ 31 ደቂቃ ከ21.5 ሰከንድ  በመግባት የ10,000ሜ. አሸናፊ ሆናለች፡፡ የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ፌዴሬሽንም ዓለም አቀፉን ደንብ ከግምት ባላስገባ ሁኔታ ውጤቱን በአዲስ የሻምፒዮንሺፕ ሪኮርድነት ጭምር አፅድቆት አልፏል፡፡ ይሁን እንጂ መጋቢት 20/2014 በተደረገው የሴቶች የፍፃሜ ፉክክር ላይ በኢትዮጵያ ምድር የተመዘገበ የምንግዜውም ፈጣን የሴቶች 10 ሺህ ሜትር ሰዓት የሆነው ውጤት በአለም አትሌቲክስ ዘንድ እውቅና ሊሰጠው የማይችል ነው።


አትሌቷ የሶል ውፍረቱ 40ሚሜ የሆነ ዙምኤክስ ቬፐርፍላይ (ZoomX Vaporfly) ጫማ አድርጋ በመወዳደሯ ምክንያት።

ደንቡ ምን ይላል?

በትራክ ውድድሮች ላይ የሚፈቀደው ከፍተኛው የሶል ውፍረት ፡-
– 20ሚሜ ከ 800ሜ በታች ለሆኑ ውድድሮች እና ለሁሉም የሜዳ ላይ ተግባራት (ከስሉስ ዝላይ በስተቀር)

– 25ሚሜ ለ800ሜ እና ከዛ በላይ ለሆኑ ውድድሮች እንዲሁም ለስሉስ ዝላይ

– 40ሚሜ ለትራክ ላይ የእርምጃ ውድድሮች

እነዚህ ደንቦች እ.ኤ.አ. እስከ ኦክቶበር 31, 2024 ድረስ በሥራ ላይ ይውላሉ። ከኖቬምበር 1 ቀን 2024 ጀምሮ ለ800ሜ እና ከዚያ በላይ ለሆኑ ውድድሮች እንዲሁም ለስሉስ ዝላይ የሚፈቀደው ከፍተኛ የሶል ውፍረትም ወደ 20 ሚሜ ዝቅ የሚል ይሆናል።

የትራክ ላይ መወዳደሪያ ስፓይክ ጫማ ከሌለኝስ?  

ደንቡ የጎዳና ላይ የመሮጫ ጫማዎች በትራክ ላይ እንዳይደረጉ አይከለክልም ነገር ግን በ25 ሚሊ ሜትሩ ገደብ ምክንያት 30 ሚሜ ወይም 40 ሚሜ የሆኑ የጎዳና ላይ መሮጫ ጫማዎች በትራክ ውድድሮች ላይ እንዲደረጉ አይፈቅድም፡፡

ለበለጠ መረጃ :-

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On the TPLF’s Love Affair With ‘Genocide’



Ethiopia's Lalibela, a UN World Heritage Site, now under Tigrayan forces control

Today, the joint investigation report by the Ethiopian Human Rights Council and the UNHR
on human rights violations committed in Tigray concluded that there is no evidence that genocide has taken place so far. While this is a bit of a setback for the TPLF, which has wanted the world to believe—since the 1990s, even as the TPLF was dominating power in Addis—that a genocide has been perpetrated against the people of Tigray, unfortunately the group still appears to be determined to make genocide a reality. This is confusing for people who don’t understand why the TPLF is obsessed with genocide, why its internet cadres began using #TigrayGenocide in April 2020, months before the war began. So many weapons have been deployed in this war, and among them: confusion and obfuscation.

In the past several months and more so in the past few weeks, we have been getting
testimony after testimony from allied Amhara forces fighting the TPLF that Tigrayan residents of cities in Wollo have been collaborating with the TPLF by a) attacking ENDF and allied forces from behind; b) forcing ENDF and allied forces to withdraw from towns and cities afraid of committing large scale massacres by firing back at the civilians (Tigrayans) firing at them; c) helping the TPLF locate and execute young Amharas believed to be a threat; and d) in at least one horrifying account by an IDP who managed to escape occupied territories, handing TPLF soldiers a list of women to rape. Another shocking development in the past several months has been the widespread use of child soldiers by the TPLF, which, according to experts who have studied the practice, is an “alarm bell” calling attention to possible plans to commit mass atrocities. The use of child soldiers by the TPLF and its attendant implications, along with the widespread deployment of civilian sleeper agents in Amhara cities the TPLF has taken over, serves to create an overall perception of every Tigrayan as a potential enemy, sowing fear and mistrust.

Many Ethiopians are looking at this and wondering: why are Tigrayan elites on the internet
either celebrating the TPLF’s advance via these toxic methods or silent about all this? How can they not see how dangerous this is for everyone, especially for Tigrayans who live outside Tigray? How can they not see that there is no “winning” after stoking all this lasting animosity? Do Tigrayan elites not understand that there can be no justice for Tigray—whether Tigray secedes or not—unless there is justice for her neighbors, for Tigray does not exist in a vacuum? The questions are being asked but nobody is answering them. Our academic class has largely failed to offer viable analyses of the ideas driving this war, as they failed over the past fifty years in regards to coming up with a fitting paradigm for understanding Ethiopia’s unique situation.

Here is my humble attempt to explain what I think is happening with the TPLF’s obsession
with—and with its active attempt to inspire—genocide:

The most successful psychopaths in any field understand that, in order to win anything, one
must risk everything, including the very thing one is supposedly fighting for. In the case of the
TPLF (and associated Tigrayan political elites), whose motto appears to be “give me supremacy or give me death,” that “everything” they are risking is the lives of ordinary Tigrayans in whose names they are fighting. We have seen over the past several months the extent to which the TPLF is willing to go to sacrifice ordinary Tigrayans in order to get what it wants: wave after wave after wave of young poorly armed and inexperienced Tigrayans were unleashed upon ENDF and Amhara and Afar forces in order to force the latter to waste ammunition and energy before the more experienced soldiers are sent.

So, for a political group who sends tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of
young Tigrayans towards open fire, violence against hundreds of thousands of Tigrayans is nothing if it means the TPLF will in the end win the “prize” it has been obsessed with for decades: genocide. You see, merely attaining power in Addis Ababa is not enough for the TPLF, whose core driving ideology is Tigrayan supremacy. Power is temporary; anybody can take it away from you, and the 2018 uprisings demonstrated that. Genocide is forever. Nobody can take away from you the story of genocide committed against your people.

The TPLF looked at countries like Israel and Rwanda and realized what a potent instrument
genocide is for establishing perpetual minority rule. We have some indications suggesting that the TPLF views Israel as a model. When the war between Ethiopia and the TPLF began in November 2020, Sekoutoure Getachew, a TPLF official, went on TV to tell us that the TPLF’s decision to launch a preemptive attack on the Northern Command was inspired by how the young state of Israel, feeling threatened by her neighbors, launched preemptive attacks against them in the “six-day war” of 1967. Another indication is the manner in which the TPLF, during its 27 years in power, invested heavily in creating a wealthy and strongly networked Tigrayan diaspora which has been used to lobby and influence western governments and organizations much in the same way as the Jewish diaspora aids the state of Israel. The TPLF has figured out that truth does not matter in politics, especially in international politics. If you have the wealth and the personnel to peddle your preferred narrative, if you have the military power to subdue the people you want to subdue, if you are willing to make concessions to external forces (US, Egypt, etc), you can do unspeakable things to others (much like the state of Israel does to Palestinians) and still manage to portray yourself as the victim.
This calculation is so far working for the TPLF, but nothing would seal the deal like the actual
commission of genocide—or something that looks like it—against Tigrayans. As we have seen over the past twelve months, western governments and organizations have shown their willingness to adopt TPLF’s narratives without scrutiny and can easily reward the TPLF with its much pursued prize, genocide, even if actual genocide doesn’t take place.

But why does the TPLF need genocide to establish minority rule? Because, as we saw in their
first tenure in power, you can only rule with an iron fist for a limited period of time. Leaders of the TPLF are adherents of Tigrayan supremacy: the idea that Tigrayans, as the “only” heirs of the Axumite empire, are the natural rulers of the Ethiopian state, and cannot be ruled by “barbarians” south of them. The only acceptable power arrangement for the TPLF is one in which Tigrayans are either directly dominating political power or are the perpetual kingmakers pulling all the major strings. Anything outside that, any system that forces Tigrayans to live on equal footing with everyone else, is unacceptable. And this kind of domination by a minority cannot coexist with a democratic system that the majority of Ethiopians clearly prefer. So, the TPLF needs something more potent than pure political/economic/military power to justify bypassing democracy to establish itself as the permanent ruler/kingmaker of Ethiopia. It needs a new and powerful raison d’être to justify its domination not just to Tigrayans and the rest of Ethiopians but, and most importantly, to the rest of the world. If a genocide were to be committed against Tigrayans (or if the U.S. decides to reward the TPLF with the genocide label even in the absence of it), then the TPLF can license itself to impose all manner of drastic measures aimed at “protecting Tigray and
Tigrayans.” This could be anything from redrawing internal borders (and taking debilitating
measures against the peoples whose lands are being robbed—most likely Amharas and Afaris—so that they will never be in a position to assert themselves) to ethnic cleansing and genocide against populations considered to be a threat. And when you oppose it, the TPLF will say “you committed a genocide against Tigrayans” over and over and over, and its western backers will repeat the same chorus. If they have been this loud over a non-existent genocide over the past twelve months, just imagine what it would be like if the U.S. or UN rewards them with that label.

And this is where the Ethiopian government’s major dilemma comes from: if ENDF and
Amhara forces fight to regain their cities and towns, they risk committing large scale massacres. The TPLF networks reported to be operating within these cities wear civilian clothing and fire at the armies from inside civilian establishments, in an apparent attempt to set up pro-Ethiopia forces. Pro-Ethiopia forces are essentially being dared to commit large scale massacres in order to win back their own cities. So far, they are choosing to withdraw from these towns and cities. But that is another problem: not only is the TPLF committing unspeakable violence against civilians and destroying infrastructure in those cities, the takeovers are emboldening it to continue pressing, giving young people back in Tigray false hope that they are winning and—this is very important—the false idea that they are being “welcomed” by locals in those cities. Then more and more and more young Tigrayans are sent to their deaths.

So the Ethiopian government is stuck between a rock and a hard place. One option is
allowing its forces to do whatever it takes to take back territory, thereby offering protection to its citizens in Wollo and elsewhere, but also risking the “genocide” label by western governments who have been eagerly waiting for such an opportunity so that they can blackmail the government into submitting itself to their wishes on GERD and other issues. Option two is avoiding large scale violence and allowing the TPLF to take power in Addis Ababa and do to Ethiopia what it wishes. One of the things it might do to Ethiopia, according to its leaked strategy document, is force a confederation that will no doubt privilege some states, i.e. Tigray, more than others, and that will no doubt be designed to subdue some populations—mainly Amharas and Afaris—who are considered obstacles to Tigray’s aspirations of domination and expansion (in the TPLF’s original manifesto, Afar is claimed as Tigray land).

And there is absolutely no doubt that the TPLF will make big concessions on the GERD in
order to compensate its western and Egyptian backers, if not redraw borders to make Benishangul Gumuz Tigrayan territory. If you think this is wild, read about the history of the state of Israel, the TPLF’s model state. The redrawing of borders that the TPLF undertook in 1991 was also wild at the time; people don’t think of it as outrageous anymore because the fact that they held onto the territory for 30 years has normalized the event in our minds. And that’s all the TPLF needs: another thirty years to normalize all the outrageous things they will do next.

One may argue that this is a false dichotomy, that there is a third or even maybe fourth option: winning these cities back without mass violence much in the same way the ENDF managed to do during its first campaign in Tigray. We all should pray for such a miracle, of course. However, one can also say that in the early days of the war, the TPLF was mostly withdrawing from Tigrayan cities to avoid urban warfare. And even when they engaged in urban warfare, it was not at the same scale and intensity as has been the case over the past four and half months or so. Starting in mid June, the TPLF’s use of civilians as human shields and fighters stopped being just another weapon in its arsenal and became a center of its operations. The near collapse of the ENDF inside Tigray right before its withdrawal was precipitated by the TPLF’s intensified use of “civilians” to trap the ENDF. Many ENDF soldiers chose to surrender rather than fire at those “civilians.” It is still possible to avoid large scale violence in the attempt to retake towns in Wollo, but the risk for it is very high, and is possibly behind the federal government’s reluctance to take decisive actions.

The point is: barring miracles, the Ethiopian government is positioned to lose something
one way or another. All that is left is choosing its preferred poison. Perhaps one thing to consider for the federal government is: the rights of Amharas and Afaris to defend themselves against the existential threats posed against them by the TPLF is much bigger than the national government’s concerns about its place and relationships with the rest of the world. If the federal government decides to risk the disintegration of Ethiopia, like it has done so far either due to incompetence or severe fear of committing large scale violence, that is fine for the federal government. But when you allow that disintegration to happen, please don’t leave the people of Amhara and Afar in a vulnerable position, unable to defend themselves and their lands. If we must return to the State of Nature, at least give these two peoples, who have so far shed more blood than anyone else in defense of their country, a chance to preserve their lives and their lands. Give them the resources they need to defend themselves before it is too late for them even if you feel it is too late for Ethiopia. Anything less is just a continuation of the gross criminal negligence that the federal government has been guilty of so far.

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