Tunisia woke up and said: "Enough!" Might Ethiopia be next?
By Zekarias Ezra / January 21, 2011
Ivory Coast, December 2010. Laurent Gbagbo says he won the presidential election. The Independent Ivorian Election Commission (CEI) said former prime minister Alassane Ouattara is the winner by a nine-point margin. The African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United Nations, the United States, the European Union all say Ouattara is the winner. Gbagbo is only the latest African dictator to steal an election in broad daylight, flip his middle finger at his people, thumb his nose at the international community and cling to power like a barnacle to a sunken ship.
I hope and pray this event would be a turning for good moment for Tunisia and its people; a turning point that marks the flowering of a genuine democracy even across the continent.
The roots of the grievances in Tunisia are similar to that found in Ethiopia and elsewhere: rising prices, repression, massive corruption and unemployment. The people of these countries know full well how they have been abused right and left by a ruling class that has consolidated power and money in a few hands.
In Tunisia, it all began with the despair of one man, a young graduate unable to get a job, who, when his produce was confiscated because he supposedly did not have a trade permit, lit himself on fire as a protest. This act of public protest by one young man sparked something extraordinary; a chain of public protests that resulted in the ousting of a brutal leader in a matter of days.
How did it happen? I am certain that questions like this are being deliberated in the corridors of power in Addis, Cairo and other capitals. Tunisia is a small country, but the shock waves and not necessarily the lessons are being felt far away. Thus, it is impossible to over-estimate the importance of what has happened in Tunisia.
But, how did it happen? It happened because courageous protesters, who resolved enough is enough, withstood bullets, beatings and bloodshed to oust a brutal despot who had made their lives a misery.
One has to but wonder on the power of public protest when one learned that the Tunisian protests began not in the capital but in the young man’s home of Sidi Bouzid, a struggling rural town and from there spreads with intensity to all other cities and towns culminating in the overthrow of the dictator.
Few would have predicted such a sudden uprising. Tunisia was seen as a stable country in an unstable region, long held in the iron grip of a man who had thwarted any threat from Islamists or other rivals.
The same could be said of Ethiopia and Meles Zenawi. We all would be better off if despots heed to this timeless truth: When the Lord God decrees ‘Time is up’, it is but ‘Time is up’. I have come to the realization that Meles Zenawi’s time is fast nearing, and with that the liberation of our people.
I know and I feel in my heart that sooner than we think Ethiopians will rise up like a single person to say no to a degrading and shameful subjugation and thereby get rid of their despot leaders to reassume their dignity under a pure sun.
May the Lord of Hosts bring it to pass without bloodshed!
The writer can be reached at email@example.com