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Fiker Yashenifal: the Revolution We Have Been Waiting for is Love

Today was supposed to be the day when I publish my first article under the auspices of Ethiopians for Constitutional Monarchy. I was in a rush to get the story out under a self-imposed deadline that I set in yesterday’s article. But upon further reflection and some introspection, it dawned upon me that my transition from journalist to a leadership position is one that requires deliberate actions instead of rushing to “make news”.

Journalism is an honored profession, but in a lot of ways it has gone to the dogs because there is always a pressing need to garner more eyeballs, get more page views and grab attention. The era of muckrakers is far behind us, we are firmly entrenched in a paradigm of vanity where truth-seeking is sacrificed for clicks. I am not saying this to be pious, as much as I have been railing against corporate “journalism” that traffics in sensationalism for the sake of self-adulation, I too have been swimming in egotism even as I was writing against the narcissism of mainstream media.

I have to change. I can no longer rush to be heard. I instead have to slow down to listen. I can no longer aim to make headlines, I have to find ways to seek and form consensus. I can no longer act with autonomy, I have to work within a team setting where inclusion is valued as much as expression. My life has been an open book since Bethlehem and I launched Ghion Journal more than 2 years ago. Frankly, my life has been an open book ever since my dad Fikremariam Million passed away and I picked up a pen to bleed away my sorrows. This part of my life has to come to a close, my writing has to be less about me and more about giving back through direct action. Writing is not enough, I have to be out front and lead by example.

To this end, I’m going to spend a bit more time reflecting and praying before I write my first official communique from Ethiopians for Constitutional Monarchy. But I wanted to take this time to say thank you to everyone who has been kind to me over the years. When the Ghion Journal first launched, I was still living in a homeless shelter, a community farm where I dedicated a year and a half of my life trying to get closer to God. That journey, though it was the hardest row I’ve ever hoed in my life, was my greatest blessing. Through tribulation, I discovered my purpose in life. More importantly, love found me after I gave up on love a long time ago.

This clip below will always be my favorite video I’ve ever produced, living 2,000 miles apart, Bethlehem sent me the raw footage and I edited the video while I was volunteering at a book store in Fort Collins, Colorado named Wolverine Farm. If you only knew me two years ago, I am not the man I am now. I was broken by my circumstances and I had little hope for the future. The irony of it all, the song Bethlehem is dancing to is an homage to Atse Tewodros by Ethiopia’s legendary singer Teddy Afro. Atse Tewodros is my grandfather 7 generations removed who was one of Ethiopia’s greatest kings. It’s my lineage to him that led me to become the chair of Ethiopians for Constitutional Monarchy. But without Bethlehem’s belief in me when most, including myself, had given up on me is the reason I am writing this to you instead of being broken in Colorado.

However, there was something important that occured before Bethlehem came into my heart. I would not have been able to receive love if not for the, random acts of kindness by angelic strangers made me believe in hope again. With my faith in humanity sparked, I wrote a missive on Facebook titled “Memo to shE“, it was through that write up that Bethlehem and I first connected. Distance and circumstances did not matter, love shone through. There is a reason I am writing this, it was love that renewed me, it shall be love that redeems our planet. Within our tongues and in the words we choose to use lies the power over life and death, we can either reclaim this world through love or we can incinerate ourselves through anger.

I will leave you with this thought for now. The revolution we have been waiting for will never be delivered through bullets or ballots. Violence and votes are counterrevolutionary; the former kills liberty as it fights for liberation and the latter gives illusions of freedoms while robbing US of agency. The greatest revolution is love. Life is poetic, part of my last name, Fikre, means “my love” in Amharic. It took a queen by the name of Bethlehem to make me believe in my last name again. If a critical mass of people believed in love and gave it freely, the world would change instantly. As we say in Ethiopia, fiker yashenifal, love wins. #FikerYashenifal Click To Tweet

Be love, and let love win::

Below is a poem I wrote to Bethlehem from 2,000 miles away.

Sublime to Breathless

I’ll be damned
You are turning back the tides
It’s like you are reversing the ride
Is it possible you are inverting the chains

Refusing to let me revert to pain
Turning weeping willows into daises
Morphed endless cracks in pavements
Into Picasso’s pain strokes

Transforming tears and heartburn
Into chuckles and hopefulness
Once scorned and torn
You are restoring optimism

From bitter taste
You feed me gursha of bliss
Renewing innocence
Like a doctor you heal me
Like a teacher you lead me

From gutter to gains
Shifting all my misfortunes
Into abundance and blessings
I mean is this just perspective
or is it your essence and presence

I feel like analyzing it all
Life taught me to be tentative
Fearful of hurt and torment
But your tigist is slowly
Restoring tesfa in my wounded heart

Romance once buried
You are resurrecting my love
It took a perfect stranger
To make me believe in my last name again
Magical how life works
When you expect the worse
Unexpected joys visit without warning

From alone to your company
I was getting used to embi
Silently you whisper eshi
Lost as to what was mine
You became my yene
Keep changing my circumstance

Cocooned in solitude
You are the butterfly
Who is leading me to love
Rebirthed through your eyes
Sanctified by your touch
Your sway and your smile
Is converting a hard heart
Into a believer again
Imagine that

Where life dips
It’s a pause a blip
Before life takes off
Chance meetings
Leading to new directions
Sublime is her name
I am breathless

Lij Teodrose Fikremariam
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Lij Teodrose Fikremariam

Lij Teodrose Fikremariam is the co-founder and former editor of the Ghion Journal. He is currently the chair of Ethiopians for Constitutional Monarchy. A published author and prolific writer, a once defense consultant was profoundly changed by a two year journey of hardship and struggle. Going from a life of upper-middle class privilege to a time spent with the huddled masses taught Teodrose a valuable lesson in the essence of togetherness and the need to speak against injustice.

Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.
Lij Teodrose Fikremariam
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