Friday, 28 May 2010
It is very unfortunate that Ethiopians have not had the luck to have such leaders; they have rather been under the siege of TPLF/EPRDF for the past two decades which is on the verge of going to the third. Though the Ethiopian constitution has the following clause in its Article 38 (1) (C) “Every Ethiopian national, without any discrimination based on colour, race, nation, nationality, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion or other status, has the following rights, To vote and to be elected at periodic elections to any office at any level of government; elections shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors. The clause remains only on papers as TPLF/EPRDF can translate the constitution in whatever way it wants to satisfy its power addictions and consequently quell dissenting voices. All leading human rights organizations and independent journalists had long made it crystal clear that the May 23 election in Ethiopia was going to be neither fair nor free. That is what the international community has once again witnessed; sham election which would give a rubber stamp to the power addict depots in Arat kilo who tell us that their achievements especially their double digit economic growth was the reason behind their dubious victory. All credible election observation groups have made it clear that the election was not free and fair; excepting the toothless African Union which has hailed the election. What can democracy and justice aspiring people expect from such an organisation which is a place for a cluster of African dictators. How can we say there was a free and fair election in a situation where there was no level playing field for the all the parties that chose to be part of the game? I wonder how we can have free and fair election in a situation where every thing is controlled by a ruling clique. How can we expect to have free and fair election where the electoral board, the security forces, the judiciary, the media both TV, Radio and printed are run by the ruling party. How can we have such an election while the leader of the main opposition is in jail and leading political figures are forced to go into exile and those at home threatened with imprisonment? How can we have free election while forcing independent journalist and human rights defenders into exile or threatening them with imprisonment? Of course beneficiaries of the governing party may tell us that the election in Ethiopia was free as far as they can achieve whatever they need and fill their hungry bellies. If someone genuinely believes that Ethiopia needs respect to human rights, democracy, independence of the judiciary, freedom of the press, and all other themes of democracy, then the argument would be whether the pre-conditions for these basic themes are available or not? Whether there is a level playing field for all political parties that choose to go to the polls. If those conditions were available, we know where the dictators would find themselves by now; not least The Hague. If those conditions were put in practice, then the tyrannical group would get its lessons from the Ethiopian people who are fed up with one party system which is not even different from the very secretive style of leadership we see in North Korea.
We have now seen concerns from the US and EU about the sham election. That is a good sign but not an end by itself. We want them to stick to their ideals and stand up to the truth. It will be very unfortunate if the government that clings to power through such a sham election is given a recognition by the West and everything goes ahead as normal in the not too distant future. Of course all the leading international human rights groups had long made it clear that the political space was so limited that there could not be a credible election in the Ethiopia; though their cries had fallen on deaf ears. It is high time for the West to stop its rhetoric and act for justice. Of course the Ethiopian government has made it clear that it wouldn’t bow to any pressure from the international community. But it still knows it can not live without their dollars, euros and pounds. The Ethiopian government says it wouldn’t bow to pressures because it knows that the west will get back to it sooner or later. It is only if such dictatorial regimes are punished for their hubris that they could learn. It is only by standing up to dictators that we can have a better world, where every one can relish his/her God given human rights. After all it is our own right that is being eroded by dictators and hence we must retake it. We need to seek the truth that our hearts know. As Mahatma Gandhi once put it, “Truth resides in every human heart, and one has to search for it there, and to be guided by truth as one sees it. But no one has a right to coerce others to act according to his own view of truth.”
Tuesday, 20 April 2010
Hole in the wall
Mama had a problem
Which is of financial
Took up the phone to make the call
London or New York should I call
Isn’t London cheaper to call?
Asked the old woman herself
As she believes to know western life
And remembers how money is pulled from the hole
The hole deep in the wall
She still recalls
Putting the cards
How could they put money in the wall
For every passing individual
Mom is thinking about the hole
And is now making the London call
Hello my son
How is your life?
How are the people around
The buses, the trains
And the one that goes underground
Is that supernatural or man made
Mom continued asking questions
When did they build those places
Where were we then in those times
She had questions with no answers
The young man who was worried
Asked his mom why she had called
Mom was so quick to remember
To ask her son what to send her
I need only some money son
Which I should get very soon
The son answered politely
Telling mama there was no money
Explaining the slow down in economy
That made mama so furious
As she knows there is a hole so generous.
Hole in the wall so generous.
So generous for bye passers.
On a bright afternoon in North London, I was in a tube to the centre.
Hurried to reach Victoria so as not to miss the coach; for the trip to Cardiff.
The guy next had an issue; an issue with which he was obsessed.
He then asked a question; mate what time is the match
Mate, it is the match of the day, he continued; as I looked a bit confused,
It is Arsenal versus Tottenham; The North London derby.
I think you are an Arsenal fun, he continued.
Of course I am an arsenal fun; though I didn't tell him that.
I don’t know why I kept so quite.
I was just listening; listening to what the gentleman had to say
I am for the Gunners, he added; as he prepared to get off; by the Finsbury park station.
He said to me see you later.
Showing me with his hand; that he was going to inject.
Some heat into the blood; in terms of a pint.
I gave him a warm good bye; for his being friendly.
Yet had to think about him; his dedication and freedom
Of thought and expression.
The Cardiff coach was ready; to take its passengers on board.
It was unusually full.
Do you mind my sitting next to you
I politely said to a guy who I think is a Welsh.
He gave me way to the seat by the window.
As I sat next to him and started reading a book
Which was written in Amharic; which is my tongue language,
Where are you from mate if you don’t mind, said the gentleman next.
I am originally from Ethiopia, I replied;
Oh gosh! Have you got rugby in Ethiopia, he asked.
I have no idea was my answer; as I had no clue whatsoever.
What Rugby is after all; it is running that we love.
There was a very good match last week, he continued.
The blues with Gloucester; which was the best match of the year.
In the millennium stadium; especially the try from John
That helped the blues have the dominance in the game.
Did you know that the match; was also international, he continued
I have never watched Rugby mate, I replied.
While at the same time showing interest; to know a little bit about it.
I asked some naive questions; as I didn't know what Rugby meant.
And the guy replied and made sure that I understood what he said.
I appreciated his effort to help me understand.
But at the same time I learnt that he was also in love
In love with Rugby to the bit
That gentleman must be around; around in the city.
As it is time for six nations; six nations in rugby.
The gentleman is in love; in love with rugby.
Let me question
Why I am shy
Is it nature
Religion or culture
Background or gender
Are there reasons
Why I am shy
Or is it man made
Education or what is it
The reason for my being shy
I want to know
Why I am shy
As I feel shy
To remember that I am shy
And promise not to be shy
Yet it remains only promise
As I start to feel shy
As soon as I go into life
And have something in common
So what is it that makes me shy
Can I ask it again
As I am afraid of my shyness
As someone born to feel shy.
My pillow, my bank
What did I hear the other day
Banks run short of money
Financial institutions go burst
The same is true for insurance
Do I worry about it
Or should I worry for my pillow
Which is my bank for what I have!
My pillow my bank
My bank is my pillow.
Rush and run
Run, run, run.
Nobody says hi,
Or expects same.
They still run,
Rush and run,
Push and pass,
Run on stairs,
In the streets.
Some run down,
Others run up.
Some run in,
Others run out,
Some run east,
While others west.
Still others run
South or north
They all run,
Rush and run
The beauty of rush hours,
The beauty of busyness.
Run, run, run
What do they mean?
The stranger is to travel,
To move around in big city.
With no experience how to make it,
Taken by his deep thoughts.
How do I go to this place,
Train or bus should I use,
What do they mean when they say zones,
Are there cities within city,
Locating places and zones,
Knowing the price,
Buying the card
From the machine or the office.
Checking the line,
Boarding the tube,
Getting off the tube or changing,
Listening to the announcements
And reading same,
This is station X,
Change for line A,
The announcements come once again,
Attention please, attention please,
This is a security announcement.
The stranger is awakened,
His ears stand like nothing
As he gets more vigilant and worried.
There goes the announcement again,
Please keep you luggage with you,
And report unattended items,
And suspicious behaviour,
He recalls the announcements.
What do they mean when they say that,
Poses the question to himself.
As he gets more confused,
And contemplates to get off,
Yet he recalls the announcement,
Suspicious behaviour, as he recalls,
What do they mean when they say that,
The stranger looks around,
As he is more confused,
But no body looks that scared,
Different or Worried,
Is it only him who is scared,
Most are busy, busy reading,
Newspaper, book, magazine.
There come announcements once again,
This is station Y,
What a relief to reach at Y
He finally gets relived,
And awakened from his thoughts,
Before he even went to ask,
As to whether he should get off,
Or what do they mean when they say that,
Not knowing that the man next
Is a stranger Like himself.
Going for the unknown
I still remember
That very moment in my life
When I decided the unknown
Over the little known
Booking a place in a plane
Leaving behind the family
And close ones at home; and
Deciding to be part of the unknown
With optimistic view of the day
Having some hope
Which are yet to be dashed.
Leaving the home airport was frustrating
As it involved a lot of risk
I remember those prayers
Which I had done time and again
A prayer to escape home
A payer to keep the hungry lions silent
The journey was full of thoughts
Thoughts from childhood to present age
Thoughts that took me back and forth in time
Thought where hope and despair
Had to face one-another.
The arrival wasn’t bad
Though I didn’t know
Where I would finally end up
As destination was unknown
Life has now changed forever
For worse or better.
The airport was as huge as usual
Embracing people of all colour
Some looked familiar
While others confused
The way to the city wasn't easy
Using the underground trains
To a place not booked before
It is all keeping going
Going, going, going. going.
Following instincts and thoughts
How tough is it to prefer the unknown
Over the little known
To keep life on hold
On hold for unknown time and future
On hold for reasons little known.
Written in May 2009.
The talk is change
Obama talks change,
So does McCain,
Brown and Cameron.
So do students,
So too teachers,
So do others.
So what is wrong,
If those who seek sanctuary.
And voice their concerns,
On the change they all dream.
That allows work
And safeguards education,
That uses experience
And restores confidence
That goes for family union
And avoids family breakdowns
That encourages full participation
And helps to come out of misery
Many hoped for
Spoke about for years
This should come at last
For justice to prevail
For life to be normal
For that sends message for hard work
So as to pay back to the host
And discharge self responsibly
And get recognition and dignity,
That is the change we all dream.
Written in October 2008.
Tuesday, 13 April 2010
I usually reserve Sundays for going to the church and visiting friends; but there is one place in the United Kingdom that gives peace to my mind; Rese Adbarat London Debre Tsion Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Battersea, which is given the utmost grace by our holy father God the almighty.
11 April 2010 was, however, totally different for the church as devout Christians and forward looking Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia witnessed the best the church could avail to its congregation. That is the program entitled “Yanten Lante” which means “Yours to you”. I have learnt that it has taken about five months to prepare for the program that took the hearts of all those who chose to be part of the event.
The program was widely advertised and all the necessary media outlets including the net were used. The leaflets which are eye and heart catching were placed almost everywhere and there was a lot of mouth advert which showed people’s commitment to the success of the program. Ethiopians had come from different parts of the United Kingdom, some travelling up to 7 hours. Many people had bought tickets in advance and were ready to be at the place well in advance, which is very unusual with the Diaspora community. That was why it was well attended and the hall could not be enough for all those who wanted to be part of the event and consequently history. Though we knew that the program would start at 2pm most of us were already at our seats a few minutes after 1pm. That was amazing. Many of those in the hall men, women and children had worn their traditional Ethiopian clothes. Others were in their suits and formal dressings. One could see the famous tricolour, green, yellow and red , hand badges, sticks and signs almost everywhere. It added to the beauty of the event as anything that has the trio is always beautiful.
We could have a million and one reasons to tell why the event was different. To mention a few, the event was organised by people for people. It was one that involved renowned Ethiopian artists who gave their at most talent on their own initiative. It was an event organised in Europe for the first time in history. It was an event that was mainly organised to support the church which at times needs supports from its children. It was an event many people were moved by spiritually and showed the hunger of such an event. It was an event which united artists and ordinary folks for the common good. I could go on putting my reasoning. To put it in simple words, it was an event which was a success by all standards. Of course I understood that there were many people who could not enter the hall as it was at its maximum capacity. That was why the organisers and the artists made it clear that the program would be repeated at the church on Sunday 18th of April for free.
The hymn presented by London based legends such as Girma Teferra, Hirut Bekele, Kesintu Dejene, Yezina Negash and many other prominent artists had moved all those in the hall. The short liturgical play which was played by Behailu Nekatibeb and his team was also equally moving. Every artist had accomplished his/her mission and that was why the artists and organisers received standing ovation that lasted for more than 10 minutes from the audience. We owe the artists and organisers of the event a lot for making such a wonderful event happen and for bringing us together. The message from the head of the Church Aba Komos Girma Kebede was as always very clear. He asked all those in the hall and beyond to come together to help the church and those who need our help as that is part of the true Christian value. He is right to say that the church which we all love is there as a place of worship and good doing for the current and many more generations to come. The program which was successful by all standards was over around 8pm. It is my and many other people’s hope that the DVD of the event comes out in the not too distant future so that people all over the world be part of the blessings while supporting people’s church by buying the original copies of the DVD as it comes out. Well done to the organisers once again.
Saturday, 3 April 2010
Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia came out in large number to protest against Meles Zenawi, the dictatorial leader of Ethiopia, who came to London on March 31st 2010 to co-chair the new High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing as he has been selected to the position by the miss informed Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon. Despite the cold and chilly weather the protesters descended to Downing Street from different parts of the United Kingdom and spent more than 7 hours chanting slogans and distributing leaflets to passer-bys that reveal the barbaric acts of the Ethiopian tyrant and his government.
I still recall sitting in a room with colleagues from Citizens UK to talk about the worsening refugee crisis; talking about what we coul...