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Special Tribute for His Excellency Ato Haddis Alemayehu
ArticlesSpecial Tribute for His Excellency Ato Haddis Alemayehu

Solutions with DEBTERAW

By Obo Arada Shawl

November 3, 2009

እኔም ልመስክር…አንተም አንቺም ተወራረሱ

የሥነ ጽሑፍ ሰው አይደለሁም ክቡር አቶ ሐዲስን ለማወቅ

አርቲስት አይደለሁም ወጋዮ ንጋቱን ለማወቅ

ታጋይ አይደለሁም ጸገየ ገ/መድህን (ደብተራው) ለማወቅ

አብዮተጘ አይደለሁም ዋለልጝ መኮነን ለማወቅ

የሠረተጞች መሪም አልነበርኩም ሣሙኤል ዓለማየሁን ለማወቅ

የዩንቭርሲት ምሩቅ አልነበርኩም ፕረሲደንት ሣሙኤል ኣለማየሁን ለማወቅ

አውሮፕላን አብራሪም አልነበርኩም

ለማወቅ ሐዲሱ ዓለማየሁ

ነገር ግና በስማቸው ሳይሆን በተግባራቸው ሁሉንም ለይቸ አውቃለሁ።

አየ ስመ መኩሽነት

የብዕር ሥም

የሱሪ ሥም

ስንቱን አታልለሽ

ስንቱን አስማምተሽ


Call me by my name, address or title?
Symposium for Haddis
Symposium for DEBTERAW

While I was surfing the Internet, I came across some websites that on October 17, 2009 a symposium in memory of a centennial birth anniversary for Ato Haddis Alemayu was scheduled. Many of the speakers were from the old school of Haile Sellasie University.

Last year, it is also to be recalled that Assimba.Org had held a symposium for DEBTERAW for no purpose other than to remind Ethiopians to search for his body or his soul.

What is symposium and what is its purpose? Originally, it was referred to a drinking party but since then it has come to refer to any academic conference.  

In other words, symposium will encompass one of the following

    * A meeting for drinking, music and intellectual discussion adopted from ancient Greeks.
    * A collection of writings on a particular topic
    * A meeting or a conference for a discussion of a topic, especially one in which the participants form an audience and make presentation

Many educated Ethiopians have been conducting symposia but there is little evidence for concrete results.

It is to be recalled that the two Tsegaye Gebre Medhins met for the first time in a symposium that was organized by memh’re Alemayehu Moghus to discuss about the real cause of poverty in Ethiopia. It was a lively discussion whereby Ato Alemayehu attempted to convince the audience of the perpetual threat of famine/poverty. According to Memhr Alemayehu, the recurring famine/poverty was because Ethiopians have over two hundred religious holidays in a year. That symposium of the 1970 did not hold to be true. The answer may lie in the works of Samuel Alemayehu’s obstacle to empower and encourage Ethiopian alumni.

Today, this time it is reported that millions of Ethiopians are struck by hungry; I have come to learn about Ato Haddis’s symposium was meant nothing but to celebrate. After 39 years, symposia did hold to be true. What is wrong with those educated researchers or scientists? What a tragedy!

So what is this hundred years of ceremony for? According to the program organizers, known as Tibeb International Project (TIP) along his Excellency’ family members, his close friends and fans came to celebrate not only Ato Haddis’s 100 years of anniversary but to solicit a fund for a foundation. If that is the way foundations are organized and funded, all the good luck for the organizers.

I am concerned that there seems no political contribution by Ato Haddis. I was not in the symposium but from the program it seems to me that Ato Haddis was apolitical man.

His book ኢትዮጵያ ምን ዐይነት አስተዳደር ያስፈልጋታል? What kind of governance for Ethiopia? This by itself was political unless politics has different meanings.  

Ato Haddis’s contribution to literature, to humanity and personal philosophy may assist to fund raise for a foundation in his name and honor. As at now, Ethiopia is not in glorifying names and deeds. Its expatriate people are being humiliated, its local population are harassed and imprisoned, its national resources are being abused and depleted and above all its citizens are on the verge of death because of famine. The answer lies, my dear readers, in the primacy of politics.

At this juncture, there is no better time to explain the way Ato Haddis and DEBTERAW has painted and struggled for the Ethiopian people via the art of politics of Reform or Revolution. It is proper to compare and contrast the two giants of a generation.

Ato Haddis and DEBTERAW

Side by Side

    * Ato Haddis has exposed the culture of Feudalism by writing fikire eske mekabir ፍቅር አስክ መቃብር whereas DEBTERAW has exposed the nature and culture of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

    * Ato Haddis got married and remained so until death despite no children of his own whereas

      DEBTERAW did not marry to a wife but to a cause

    * Ato Haddis had aspired to democratize Ethiopia from top down whereas

      DEBTERAW believed a change could only become feasible from both top and bottom. In practice, DEBTERAW fiercely struggled from the University community as top down phenomenon and he set an example by teaching from the Agaw Midre - a case of a forgotten place and people - Kehas Ber aka Chagnie - in an attempt to explain of bottom up - change.

    * Ato Haddis believed in the perpetual hospitality of Ethiopians to the outside world. DEBTERAW never believed hospitality to the outside world at the expense of Ethiopians.

    * Ato Haddis was for a reform whereas DEBTERAW was for a Revolution. Later on Ato Haddis joined the struggle for DEMOCRACIA for he saw the sharp contrast of Socialism Hibresebawinet that was propagated by the DERG and his cronies and the struggle for DEMOCRACIA by EPRP.

The Eway Revolution versus Socialism (hibresbawinet)

As it turns out, Ato Haddis, like the majority of Ethiopian intellectuals became supporters of the Revolution rejecting his old idea of Reform. There was debate after debate for the Revolution but not for reform. That was another reason why we go from one extreme to another extreme even in the present situations having learnt for decades of indoctrination.

The Shengo as described by Ato Tegegne Mogus was not meant to transform Ethiopia from a feudal system to a democratic system via constitution. According to Ato Tegegne Moghus, at a certain point in time, Ato Haddis became a candidate to be a prime minister by the DERG. Further Ato Tegne pointed out that Ato Haddis demanded the need for a provisional government Ato Haddis refused to accept, through the proxy of General Aman Andom.   

The call for a provisional people’s government was a revolutionary slogan that was demanded by EPRP. Why did Ato Haddis demand this slogan? Ato Tegne did not elaborate, but here is what I think.

I have no doubt that Ato Haddis had put a condition on his becoming prime minister but for me I have another side of a story.  

While Ato Haddis was being solicited to become a prime minister for Ethiopia, Addis Zemen Newspaper was also interviewing him simultaneously. Some of the questions I can remember was about what books he was reading. His answer was Das Kapital. And what he thinks about his critics on his book on explaining democracy. ኢትዮጵያ ምን ዐይነት አስተዳደር ያስፈልጋታል?

His answer was shocking to many opportunists of the time. Ato Haddis responded that he wished that Ethiopia had five such men in order to progress and prosper. He probably has regretted having written that book, (ኢትዮጵያ ምን ዐይነት አስተዳደር ያስፈልጋታል?) after his critics taught him the concept and function of democracy is it in the West or East.

Who were these individual critics? They were Tsegaye Gebre Medhin alias DEBTERAW and Yohannes Berhane. What was the role of these individuals in the Eway Revolution? Both were not only part of the leadership of EPRP but also the members of the Editorial Board of DEMOCRACIA – the mouthpiece of EPRP. I know for sure Ato Haddis and many other intellectuals and ministers were reading the issue of DEMOCRACIA every week though clandestinely. Those who have been reading DEMOCRACIA definitely would not have accepted any position in the DERG regime.

By the way, how did these two individuals have convinced Ato Haddis? DEBTERAW critiqued on Ato Haddis’s ideological philosophy while Yohannes Berhane explained the root and the nature of democracy. For these individuals, life is what one can give up and not what you can get. Herein lies the basic struggle between Ato Haddis and DEBTERAW’S EPRP.

Lessons to be learned

At the time of the formation of the so-called Shengo, it was not peoples’ movement but revolutionary movement Ato Tegegne should correct his position. We all remember that during the peoples’ movement, the Emperor had promised a new constitution. It was a hoax to buy time. It was a missed opportunity by the Emperor to abdicate power to his son or sons.

Most of us remember that the collection of military that were selected from various units was known for their unruly behavior including Menghistu Haile Mariam. I believed that the DERG of 120 were chosen not for their contribution to society but to their negative contribution in their place of garrison or unit.  The Shengo was a replica of the Derg council. Another hoax.

I do not know of many others, but in the place where I was working, the majority of employees chose a person not only he was unfit to be representative of the highly esteemed organization but he had neither moral nor ability. The employees just wanted to get rid of him. We have seen this trend again and again. Since there was no other way of controlling the liars, the cheats and the thieves, Ethiopians have a history of disposing the unwanted elements from their surroundings. It was a physical removal not mental. Where there is no democratic right such as to assemble, to speak or to print, it is impossible to elect reliable representatives but to elect/send the bad guys.

Take for instance, the case of Borana boys. The first time Haile Sellasie request the elders of Borana society to send their kids to Addis Ababa for education, the elders decided to send the children of the unwanted elements among them. It was after the first group’s returnees that they began to send their own children.

Take the case of EPDM; those unwanted and tarnished elements of EPRP became another hoax to TPLF’s coalition government.

The lesson here is that, the party of the DERG, the Shengo, and the coalition of EPRDF were/are all fraudulent. Let us get real for a real political party.

Ato Haddis and many other Ethiopian intellectuals have changed position away from the socialist propaganda path of the DERG but to accept the Revolutionary path of EPRP.The clandestine paper of DEMOCRACIA has played a major role in educating ministers, managers and officers during the DERG era thereby to the downfall of the DERG.

The guiding light for EPRP members and supporters was the publication of DEMOCRACIA and without this publication there is nothing that EPRP can do to move foreword. The current issues that are being published by both EPRP and its splinter group not only are tedious but irrelevant to the current situation.  

I hope this is a bridge for the splinter groups to come together and make one DEMOCRACIA. It is not about having the name and logo that will legitimize EPRP to come to power. After all EPRP is mostly has been defined by its opponents. What is in EPRP’s historical and potential soft power lies in the concept of democracy – a solution for Aethiopia. Ato Haddis has learnt from his mistakes and why not the Mersha’s and his groups? That is the difference between maturity and immaturity. It is about the postponement of immediate gratification.

It is high time to come together. Why do we have to confuse listeners and readers by having two radio programs and two mouthpieces for EPRP?  I suggest that if the Mersha groups do not want to associate with the word “REVOLUTION”, let them use “EPDP”. That would be a perfect compromise.  

In EPRP’s goal and operation, it is not about private matter but public. Let those who claim the crown or the political power think about the Assimba-Tselemti-Mercato (ATM) factor. There is a missing link to search.

Even one generation could not afford to wait for one hundred years in order to testify and certify.

For questions and comments

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