What Do WE Want and Do NOW (that we are under T-TPLF Reign of Terror)? (Part II)

By Prof. Al Mariam

October 23,2016

These perpetual little panics of the French – which all arise from fear of the moment when they will really have to learn the truth – give one a much better idea of the Reign of Terror. We think of this as the reign of people who inspire terror; on the contrary, it is the reign of people who are themselves terrified. Terror consists mostly of useless cruelties perpetrated by frightened people in order to reassure themselves.”

Karl Marx in a letter to Friedrich Engles during the Paris Commune (1870).

____________ *** ___________

…You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police … yet in their hearts there is unspoken fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts: words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home — all the more powerful because forbidden — terrify them. A little mouse of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic. They make frantic efforts to bar out thoughts and words; they are afraid of the workings of the human mind; but how are they to quell the natural promptings of human nature of the human mind… Dictatorship- the fetish of worship of one man- is a passing phase. A state of society where men may not speak their minds, where children denounce their parents to the police, where a businessman or small shop ruins his competitor by telling tales about his private opinions; such a state cannot long endure if brought in contact with the healthy outside world…

Winston Churchill, October 17, 1938; Broadcast to America. (It could have been broadcast to Ethiopia today!)

____________ *** ___________

terror-4In my commentary last week, I sought to provide an explanation on what the T-TPLF wants and do now that it has declared a “state of emergency” for itself. (Ethiopians have been under a T-TPLF state of emergency for the last 25 years! Ho-hum!)

In this commentary, I explore what “WE” want and DO now.

Aaah! But only if I knew who “WE” are.

To be perfectly honest, I do not know who “WE” are. Who are “WE”?!

I know only one thing about who “WE” are. “WE” are they who want to see the end of the scourge of the T-TPLF in Ethiopia.

Beyond that, I do not know who “WE” are. How ironic that I should ask a simple question about what “WE” want and do now.

The pronoun “WE” has many connotations and denotations in the context of Ethiopian politics.

“WE” are Oromos, Amharas, Tigreans, Gurages, Anuaks…

“WE” are Christians, Muslims.

“WE” are the “nations, nationalities and peoples”.

“WE” are the Diaspora.

“WE” are the young and old; the men and women; the rich and poor…

How I long for Michael Jackson who taught us, “We are the world”:

We are the world./ There comes a time when we heed a certain call/When the world must come together as one/ There are people dying/And it’s time to lend a hand to life/The greatest gift of all…/ Let’s realize that a change can only come/ When we stand together as one.

Yes! When “WE” stand together as one! As Ethiopians.

If only someone could teach us, our people are dying; we must come together as one; and that lasting change can come only when we stand together as one and sing out, “WE are Ethiopia”. If “WE” could only heed that certain call.

Just the fantasy of a utopian Ethiopian.

Is there a reason why I am insisting that “WE” must know who “WE” are before we can talk about what we want and do?

I am afraid most of us would rather avoid the “WE” question. To paraphrase Marx, the “perpetual little panic of Ethiopians arises from fear of the moment when “WE” learn (face) the truth about who “WE” are.

But I will excuse myself for having raised an academic or abstract question.

For the last 25 years, “WE” have been defined, re-defined, identified and misidentified by the T-TPLF.

The T-TPLF has tagged and bagged us into ethnic identities and corralled us like cattle into kililis (Bantustan homelands) to facilitate its tyrannical rule and predatory exploitation.

“WE” have been, to paraphrase Malcom X, took, hoodwinked, bamboozled and led astray by the T-TPLF.

“WE” have been so “took” that we have accepted the T-TPLF ethnic classifications and kilils as immutable historical facts and irrefutable political realities.

“WE” have lost the most elementary awareness that “WE” are not who the T-TPLF says “WE” are.

“WE” have lost the most elementary awareness that it is a crime against humanity to reduce a person to an ethnic identity. I have never met a person who chose his/her racial, ethnic or gender identity. I do not know anyone who chose to be an Oromo, Amhara, Tigres… These are accidents of birth and circumstances.

But the T-TPLF insists that every Ethiopian must be tagged and bagged as a member of an ethnic group.

In Ethiopia, the T-TPLF officially requires, under penalty of “law”, that every citizen declare his/her ethnicity on the official identification card. It is illegal to report “Ethiopian” as an identity!

I wonder how many people have actually taken the time to carefully study and scrutinize the official identity card issued by the T-TPLF to every Ethiopian. It is much worse than the dreaded and infamous “Passbook” of apartheid South Africa. (See discussion below.)

To read the full commentary, click here(Al Mariam's Commentaries).