Ethiopia: just like Bush- Meles in biblical course

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Mon May 28 13:51:37 UTC 2007

Despite the common view of perceiving Meles Zenawi's intervention in Somalia
as a Christian vs. Islam war, this has had no fuel at its base other than
the usual ignorant reporting from Western Media outlets as well as the Arab
propaganda. Accordingly, Western media outlets have recently & wrongly
labeled Ethiopia as a "Christian nation" and the smarter journalists tried
to label it a "Christian-led Ethiopia." Both were wrong and the recent New
York Times article
the label "Christian Island in an Islamic Ocean" didn't help either. Also
the Arab news media sources, (including Libyan & Egyptian media outlets) and
the various "Jihad" callers, as usual labeled Ethiopians "Crusaders,"
"invaders" and "imperialists." This also was a failure from its base. In
reality, if Libyan government's attempt to create and manipulate the
so-called United Stated of
AFRICA<>(USA) while
secretly arming ONLF and OLF insurgents to divide and conquer
Ethiopia is not an imperialist venture, maybe no one knows what imperialism
is. Maybe the Libyan leaders are the only ones who know the definition of
imperialism in this world.

So it is no wonder that most Somali Muslims have mostly ignored the
ridiculous Arab "jihad" import and it is no wonder that Ethiopian Muslims,
including Al Amoudi, continue to be the biggest supporters of the so-called
"Ethiopian Crusader" government of Meles zenawi. Thus Prime Miniser Meles,
despite outside efforts, has no resemblance with George Bush's
"biblical" mission
from God
we compare Iraq & Somalia.

But, how can one ever say Meles Zenawi has similar biblical calling just
like George Bush in any other aspect? To understand this, one needs to go
back in history a few thousand years in biblical time to Genesis Chapter 11.
According to that biblical narrative, a city in Babylon called Babel was
where humans were clustered. Until that point, the whole world had one
language for all people and the people were skilled in construction thus
they decided to build a big city with a tall tower.
[image: Tower of babel]

The tower was supposed to reach to heaven and it was called the Tower of
Babel. But according to the Bible, God saw what the people were doing and
thought this future tall tower would only lead the people away from God. He
saw how united they were so he confused their language causing them to speak
different languages. Not much different and relatively not much less
significant from the Tower of Babel's biblical story, Meles Zenawi's policy
on language has damaged Ethiopian unity by minimizing the role of Amharic -
the Ethiopian national & official language. Taking a drive to southern
Ethiopia to any Oromia or Somali state towns, one would find that most
people don't even understand Amharic. The schools also neglect the official
language of Amharic that it has often became hard for Amharic speaking
professionals and teachers to go down to the south to teach public schools.
Since most of the educated with degree come from schools like Bahir Dar
University, U-Gondar, Mekelle University or Addis Ababa University; unless
students that are multilingual are greatly favored in colleges and teacher
institutes, there is and has been a severe shortage of teachers, healthcare
employees and assistants who are able to serve in the non-Amharic speaking

Also even the rest of Ethiopians in the south who do understand Amharic can
only listen and are mostly "Koltafa" or can barely speak Amharic. All of
these not only harms Ethiopian unity but also creates a lower sentiment of
nationalism, polarization of politics and a higher chance of future
disintegration. An Amharic speaking businessman would need a translator just
to invest in a business in southern Oromia. The more south one moves and/or
the further one goes to Ethiopian borders, the worst the situation gets.
When people analyze this language problem; before one evaluates this
specific failure of Meles Zenawi's policy to criticize his party, there must
be caution.

The attempt by some Ethiopian politicians to randomly make current EPRDF
leaders "evil" because of political issues and disagreements is simply
imprudence and foolishness. It has become easy and a daily part of some
Ethiopian politicians' life to first find problems in policy then suddenly
call the opponent "dictator," "killers" and "evil." This is just one of the
various dysfunctional behaviors that are harming our progress to democracy
in Ethiopia. When Mengistu Haile Mariam overthrew the Monarchy in 1974, many
Ethiopians said "Baria" is going to rule Ethiopia and destroy Ethiopian
solidarity. In regards to political thought, that was also ignorance on
their part to invalidate the 1974 movement because the original or the root
cause of the 1974 revolution was legitimate. It was a grass root movement
against Monarchial negligence, one-ethnic hegemony, oppression, serfdom and
many other problems that more than legitimize the 1974 movement. The same
way, the 1991 peasant northern revolution which put Meles to power has a
valid root and was legitimate as well. The movement was in response to
extreme poverty, historical famines, Shewa hegemony, religious & political
persecution, mass executions etc. So it is important to understand the
negative consequences of de-legitimizing the whole root of the movement of
1991. In contrast, criticizing any ongoing policies of the government
without de-legitimizing the root movement is constructive, progressive and
democratic. But presently many Ethiopians have found themselves stuck in a
"my way or the highway" stance. Most of these issues are the result of
dehumanizing, de-legitimizing and/or invalidating the 1991 movement instead
of focusing on the specific issue of disagreement. The way some ill-advised
Ethiopian politicians speak about politics, they make competing leaders like
Meles Zenawi appear like Doctor Evil everytime they criticize. They are
experienced at making others look wicked and inhumane. After one finishes
hearing politics from such Ethiopian politicians, one would easily portray
Meles Zenawi with a big red horn on his head, wearing a red cloth, a fire
burning all around Meles, with a red pointy tail in his back and appearing
like the Devil himself. This has been the destructive way political
reasoning that has dominated some Ethiopian mediums and it has greatly
harmed the progress of democracy.

Thus without de-legitimizing the root movement of the peasant revolution
that brought Meles Zenawi to power in Addis Ababa in 1991 and without
overshadowing any benefits that might have existed because of the current
language policy, it is constructive for an opposition to criticize the
current lack of a uniform & uniting national language in Ethiopia under the
leadership of Meles. When one looks at the future of this policy, it can and
possibly will be disastrous and a failure in the longterm. Whatever positive
honeymoon it has had, Meles Zenawi's current language policy (unless
adjusted) will be a failure and cause big problems for Ethiopia in the
future. No one hates Meles Zenawi's diversity policy(especially as it is
written on paper) but when diversity comes ahead of unity, it only fuels
division and eventual disintegration. In America, there is linguistic
diversity. Many people use their own languages everywhere, with their
families, friends and even in business places when meeting someone who
speaks a non-English common language. But everyone in America still listens
and speaks English and even those with such deficiency, spend hours learning

When Ethiopians, especially ethnic Amharas, bring the issue of language,
they are often accused of being Neftenga. But that is just an impolite
attempt to hide the root problems that exist and/or are pending in Ethiopia.
Many Amharas in Ethiopia don't seem to mind learning another language. If a
national referendum is carried and if the majority of Ethiopians choose the
Oromo language to be the national language of Ethiopia, the majority of
Amhara Ethiopians will accept & abide by the people' vote and allow Oromiffa
to be thought as the only official language in Ethiopia. In general, an
Amhara Ethiopian can deservingly be accused of being a real "Neftenga" only
if he or she is NOT willing to accept the vote of the people in such a
referendum on language and if he/she insists Amharic as the only possible
selection for an official language.

Ethiopia is made up of various ethnicities that have been intermarrying and
mixing for centuries, not just after Emperor Menelik's control of the south
but even decades before that. Such intermarriage has created millions of
mixed Ethiopians that are currently being forced to choose and label
themselves using just one of the ethnicities. Traveling to most of northern
and western Amhara state will show how much deeply Tigrayans and Amharas
have mixed and intermarried. Traveling to what is formerly known as Shewa of
the regions of Oromia state; most people are mixed with Amhara, Gurage,
Tigre, Oromo etc. Thus despite the diversity of the nation, Ethiopia is a
proud country that deserves to have one language which everyone from the tip
of Oromia to the tip of Tigray, from East to West, can fully listen, speak
and communicate with. Trying to conclude that Meles Zenawi's policies are
completely wrong because of this or to say his mission is Ethiopian
disintegration is only ignorance. But when one travels to many regions in
Ethiopia, the current inability to communicate using one language between
fellow Ethiopians appears just like the Biblical account of the Tower of

This Monday, it will be Ginbot 20, the national holiday for some Ethiopians,
mostly for pro-EPRDF or pro-government Ethiopians. Hopefully it will also be
a day when leaders like Meles Zenawi reflect on both the successes and the
mistakes of their current policies. Without invalidating the root cause of
the 1991 nationwide revolution, the current case of diversity gone wrong in
Ethiopia should be addressed carefully and seriously. And whether it is
Amharic, Oromiffa or Tigringa - there should be one official language that
plays a significant role in the daily lives of all Ethiopians in every inch
of the country

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