It did not surprise me in the least bit, the minute I decided to stop giving Abiy full-throated support and instead chastised him for his recent decision to keep the internet shuttered throughout most of Tigray, I knew there would be a blowback from the same people who were singing my praises up to that point. This is something as habesha as shisha, notice I did not say Ethiopian, somewhere along the line, we lost our way and decided that anything less than 100% compliance must be vilified like ISIS.
After a long hiatus from writing—an absence caused by personal loss that hit me like a ton of bricks this year—I happened to start writing again around two weeks before TPLF decided to initiate a rampage of terror. When hostilities broke out on November 3rd, I initially resisted pointing fingers and instead urged patience before rushing to judgement. All that changed when a TPLF spokesperson admitted that they started the conflict by attacking the ENDF Northern Command without provocation. From that moment on, I spent weeks pushing against media narratives, going on various radio shows highlighting the evils of TPLF and shaming people like Gerry Simpson and Susan Rice for their duplicity. I did this because I saw the perils of allowing an extremist group to effect a political outcome at a point of a gun.
However, from the outset, I always noted that my aim was narrow and that my stance against TPLF should not be conflated as a stand on the backs of all Tigrayans. I even wrote an open letter to our Tigrayan brothers and sisters to let them know that I was with them and that my exception to TPLF should not be seen as a condemnation of all Tigrayans. Abiy echoed these same sentiments last week when he extended an olive branch to even those who picked up the gun to fight; a move that I openly praised him for the minute I heard him utter those words.
In an open letter that I wrote to Abiy about a week ago, I stated that I would support him as long as he does good by the Ethiopian people, and by that I mean ALL Ethiopians without bias to ethnicity, and that I would criticize him when he falls short of that standard. I thought that was a reasonable position and one that I believe is shared by many Ethiopians. Politicians are mortal after all, even emperors who once called themselves “king of kings”—which is blasphemy because there is only ONE King of King and he was crucified by men who aspired to be kings—were humans with flaws just like us. We should think twice about worshiping leaders or risk being turned into sacrifices.
As long as I stayed in my lane and only praised Abiy, his base loved me. Parenthetically, a large segment of people who are now passionately defending Abiy are the same people who used to fervently protest against the TPLF in the 90’s and aughts. I used to belong in that camp until I realized that marching without a vision and liberally throwing around the word “woyane” as both insults and a weapon to silence anyone who dared to stray too far from their accepted political orthodoxies is not a movement but mortem.
In short order, the same people who were tossing roses at my direction because I took a hammer to TPLF started throwing brickbats at me when I had the temerity to criticize their dear leader. I used to garner this same reaction from Meles Zenawi’s devotees every time I wrote an article criticizing his actions. Some disregarded everything I did over the past month and started calling me a cadre, inferring that I was loyal to the same terror cells that I lambasted for turning Tigray into a battlefield and using Tigrayans as human shields. Let me note to those who try to intimidate others through coordinated campaigns of rumors and hate, you will not do to me what you did to Abonesh Adinew and the countless people’s lives you ruined over the past two decades based on speculation. You should really ask for forgiveness; if you find yourself struggling at this moment, it’s because hate pointed outward eventually consumes within.
You can’t spell culture without the word cult, whereas the former is a cure the latter is death. Unfortunately, too many would rather treat politics as a cult and abort our culture in the process. The battles taking place in Me’kele, Shire, Hawzen and beyond are nothing compared to the wars taking place in our minds; this politics of personal destruction is the reason why Ethiopia is a wasteland of poverty even though we live in an oasis of natural resources. Instead of putting aside our differences and collaborating as fellow Ethiopians, we have become a nation of Caines bashing each other with canes and killing hope for our children in the process.
Let me address this to the younger generation, which unfortunately I am not a part of given that I am trending closer to the half-century mark; one can’t beat abat time—forty is still the same forty. Do not emulate the childish ways of the usual suspects who have been hogging the mics for more than three decades. Don’t be us, be better than us. If Ethiopia has any hope, it is with the youth and those who reject the politics of division and instead believe in the ways of Fetari (Creator) who adds to us through love and multiplies our numbers.
To the older generation, while I honor your sacrifices and I have no doubt that you love Ethiopia, I nonetheless feel compelled to speak this truth. Too many among you love to dabble in juvenile behavior and toss around words like Woyane, Galla and Neftegna to slur your fellow Ethiopians. You say you love Ethiopia while disparaging her children, you say you honor our heritage while taking a hammer to the foundation of our nation which is the diversity of our cultures and customs. The time for acting like teenagers is over, the moment before us is too important and the opportunities to make a transformational change too big for us to waste time trafficking in racist slurs.
Either act your age or step off the stage and tend to your wounds so others with empathy and an understanding of our common humanity could lead us out of the wilderness. If you are unwilling or unable to forgive old grudges and bury hatchets for the sake of a better #Ethiopia, the problem is not the evils of a political faction you disagree with but the hate that festers in your heart #CultVsCulture. Click To Tweet
It’s tragic, seeing so many people who are rightfully outraged by the excesses of this world and a system of theft that enriches a few while kneecapping billions around the world into a life of either economic anxieties or outright poverty being hoodwinked by mercenaries who pretend to be for the people. Instead of uniting to defend our common interests, we let invisible hands, who hand pick our leaders and suffocate us with debt, deceive us into fighting one another. I do not dismiss the centuries of pains that many Oromos, Tigrayans, Somalis and yes Amharas harbor in their hearts. The nefarious brilliance of “ethnic federalism”, which reprised apartheid in Ethiopia, is that it ghettoized us based on ethnicity and made us think about our differences above our common cause. We have become a tree without a root that is dying at the trunk while hacking at each others branches.
As I point out the specks in the pupils of readers, I acknowledge that I have planks in my corneas. I too must heal if I am to take part in an effort going forward that aims to restore hope in our people back home and abroad. I carry in my veins the blood of martyrs who had their lives cut short for daring to speak their minds and I am weighed down by the pains I witnessed growing up. There is a reason why I react viscerally every time someone disparages me; as much as I have healed old wounds over the past couple of years, I am but on step one of a thousand mile journey to redemption.
I want to take a moment to acknowledge my friend and an awesome soldier of Christ named Andrew Fingall. During my dark moments last year, he gave me counsel and prayed for me. And it was a conversation I had with him last evening that inspired the title “cult vs culture”—acts of kindness changes lives.
Brother Teddy, your mission is greater. thick skin is a required. You don’t have time to chase taunts or answer to what is antithesis to your mission of love and tolerance. take the building blocks from real critics and the chinks to your armour as soldering strength.
— Eritrea First (@PositiveEritrea) December 8, 2020
The same is true for my fellow Ethiopians. What is needed the most in our community is not a political movement nor catchy slogans that promise mana only to give us nada. What we need is the mending of the heart and the purification of our minds. Until we loosen the grip that decades, if not centuries, of grievances and seething revenge have on our souls, we will keep slow walking towards our final dissolution.
As for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, I do not harbor any hatred towards him. Though he occasionally disappoints me, in the end I pray for his success for his failure would have devastating consequences for 100 million plus Ethiopians and hundreds of millions more throughout the Horn of Africa and beyond. I will continue to applaud when he does well and will continue to criticize when he falls short, my job is not to be a cheerleader like Fox News to Trump nor a hatemonger like Jawar Mohammed, my aim is to speak on behalf of the people who continue to be marginalized in their lands. I will make mistakes and I know I am flawed, all I can do is seek to do better daily and ask to be forgiven of my sins as I point out the iniquities of this world.
Now I fully understand the profound meaning behind Psalms 68:31. “Ethiopia shall quickly turn back her hands to God”; shall implies that we must do something, by extension it means we are not doing that now. When Ethiopians decide to turn away from the spirit of Satan which is division and animus and instead quickly turn our hands to God which is love, we will be restored as a people and our children will no longer have to beg for rice from the helicopters while our natural resources are being syphoned off with cargo planes. May God bless Ethiopia, zelalem tinur enatachen::
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” ~ Luke 6:37
Speaking of Abonesh, I am blessed enough to call her a friend, Abiti you truly are the voice of Ethiopia. You can sing in more than 8 different dialects, your songs represent the diversity and beauty of our nation. As you note in this song below, which I pray one day becomes the anthem of Ethiopia, fiker Egzyhaber new.. aygebanem zeru (love is God, I don’t care about his ethnicity). If only people followed artists who paint with love instead of heeding politicians who draw hate, we would have peace on earth::
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