Sunday, August 28, 2016

#Ethiopia: "What is the Solution?"

Some Facebook friends are recently tagging me with their posts of 'solutions' to the contemporary crisis in Ethiopia. (i.e. the anti-government protests in Oromia and Amhara, two biggest regions in Ethiopia). Most of these Facebook friends recommend maintenance or what's otherwise called 'cosmetic change' to the regime. Others seem to be conspirators against the 'unprecedented' cooperation of biggest players in Ethiopian politics, the Oromo and Amhara people, against the ruling Tigrian elites group, TPLF.  (The group claims to represent 6% of Ethiopian people (Tigrians) as compared to 62% - Amhara + Oromo people). The latter (of facebook friends suggesting solutions) claimed that it is only Oromo Protests that's genuine and some went far to portraying Amhara protests as an act of power mongering.

There is no Half Liberty!

In my opinion, it is hardly possible to give one sect of a society its freedom and denying the rest. Freedom will either be assured for all or is denied for all. One of the nations in Ethiopia cannot be given regional autonomy and proportional representation in the federation while others are denied these. It will be oppressed with the rest, or get freedom with them. Even TPLF (which is the supreme Front in the coalition of four parties in the name of EPRDF) including its makers and supporters will only get liberated or be free when it lets others free. The common understanding that a jailer is not free until it frees its prisoners is true. One has to free their prisoners to regain their freedom of movement; otherwise, they will have to be sitting there watching their victims. 

So What to Do?

The solution should be all inclusive. But this happens only if all of us have the genuine intention to compromise on our interests for the sake of justice, fairness and peace. Now, all the power and opportunity is controlled by the ruling party, EPRDF. So, EPRDF must be the sole body willing for this to be true. The issue is freeing the party itself as well as its dissent. Otherwise, however its oppression increases, the public grievance and riot will also increase and the challenge that can be solved through compromise today may not tomorrow. 

In this, maybe naïve, understanding of mine that EPRDF may become willing to hear alternative solutions, I suggest a filtered compilation of alternative solutions from what I heard of people's recommendations.

1) Apology

Ethiopian people deserve an apology. TPLF/EPRDF should ask the Ethiopian people an apology for all the mistakes and wrong doings that it has done from its conception up until today and even for leading the country to a dangerous end. This has to be done in a written format.

2) Amnesty and Warranty 

We have to cross the bridge of past failures at some point. EPRDF should give amnesty and release all people who were convicted and are on hearings of court proceedings in relation to their political stance. The amnesty should not be with any pre- & post-conditions. In addition, the ruling group should cancel the proclamation that labelled dissent organizations as 'terrorists';  it should give warranty for the return of exiled politicians, journalists and activists so that they would be able to contribute for the political fate of their country. Rebel groups should also be given the guarantee to peacefully and legally act according to their political program. A proclamation of amnesty and warranty should be passed by the parliament as to this end. 

3) Discourse

Anti-terrorism proclamation, the charity law and the press laws inacted in the country are used to restrict democratic discourse. Therefore, they should be cancelled for the time being until a legitemate house ratifies other ones (or until it amends them in a way) that don't stifle constitutional rights. In the mean time, successive and multiple country-wide dialogue that are broadcasted live in the state-owened television with the participation of all stake holders and with moderation of international rights groups should be conducted.  

4) Election

Finally, by freezing the current parliament including the electoral board and by establishing a temporary electoral board of technocrats from other independent countries, there should a new election to be launched at ‘national’ and regional level.

Having suggested that, I have also considered possible criticisms for these alternative solutions:

A) These don't consider TPLF's position not to ever compromise;

B) A naïve comment that has assumed the recent protests have shakendown EPRDF's hold;

C) A solution that encourages dependency on foreign support;

D)  A comment that disregarded the immediate necessity of resolving the controversial issues regarding federal structure, electoral system, Parliament system, land ownership and others in the constitution.

Regarding the first two possible comments (put in 'A' & 'B'), it is because I have the fear that the crisis we are in go worse than better that I wanted to take the risk of being ignored speaking rather than keeping quite. On the other hand, I suggested the participation of independent foriegn technocrats and rights groups because they are the only possible bodies who wouldn't have much interest to rig the election for transition. My answer for the possible criticism put in 'D' is my enthusiasm that if we once established a legitimate house of representatives, the rest would be taken care of by them. Controversial issues will always be there. But, in the way down the road from there, everything to reform including constitutional ammendments is possible for it is easy to do so once a platform is lay for democracy. The most urgent and important issue, for me, now is forming a legitimate government for the majority.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Understanding Ethiopia’s Crisis through Rio Olympic

"Sport is a profession that needs discipline," Haile Gebresilasie told to one FM radio sports show in Addis. Haile Gebresilasie is the most known and successful Ethiopian athlete who has broken more than three dozens of records from 1,500 meters to marathon races. He said "Athletic federation should not be ruled by people who are politically assigned; if we're continuing in the same manner, the worst is yet to come." He was talking about the fact that Ethiopia's scores at the Rio Olympic have declined as compared to previous Olympic Games. The Ethiopian Olympic Committee had planned to bring at least 4 Gold, 4 Silver and 4 Bronze medals in Rio Olympic 2016 where it has returned with only eight medals: 1 Gold, 2 Silver and 5 Bronze medals standing far behind its usual competitor team Kenya.

'Robel The Whale' – the Symbol for Nepotism

Ethiopia had begun its participation in Rio Olympic in an ever embarrassing 100 meters free style swimming race. Robel Kiros is the son of the President for Ethiopian Swimming Sport Federation. Robel went to Rio with his father. According to Addis Admass, a weekly Amharic newspaper, there were claims that his coach was not allowed to go to Rio with Robel because the budget allocated for the Olympic is used by his father. Robel finished the race 59th out of 59 participants and he finished it 17 seconds later to the pacesetter. His body wasn't athletic at all and Ethiopian social media sphere was hit by criticism over his defeat and in question how he could make it to there.

The annoying fact is that Robel's father is from Tigray, a region with 6% of Ethiopian population, from where the ruling group has emerged out. People took this as an act of nepotism not just because Kiros Habte (Robel's Father) is from Tigray but also because out of nine Ethiopia's sports federations six presidents and two deputy presidents are Tigrians. Like wise, in the federal government of Ethiopia, most powerful positions are taken by Tigrians who are TPLF members and it was easy for everyone to easily take Robel's embarrassing defeat at the Rio and his unprecedented participation as symbol to the nepotism widespread in the country.

Feyisa Lilesa – the Heroic Symbol for Public Protests

Ethiopia's last participation in Rio was in men's marathon race on which Feyisa Lilesa gave the world another but different experience than 'Robel the whale' had given. A husband and father for two, Feyisa Lilesa, has become silver medalist in Rio Marathon Men Race. Feyisa, upon crossing the finishing line of the race (and later when he sat for press conference), has displayed a political protest by crossing his arms up in a symbolic way Ethiopian political protesters use to show that they are not free.

Feyisa, unlike Robel, is from Oromia, the biggest and most populous region in Ethiopia's federation. Oromo people have been protesting for at least the past 10 months continuously over injustices and marginalisation while losing more than 600 lives during brutal attempts of police to crackdown the protests. Feyisa, like Robel, has become a hot agenda in Ethiopian social media community but, again unlike Robel, it was with joy and admiration that everybody was referring to him. 

From Robel To Feyisa

Robel is a privileged loser where as Feyisa is the un-favored winner. Robel is coming back to his country however it is too risky for Feyisa to enter the country. Feyisa himself said to journalists at Rio, "if not kill me, they will send me to prisons". Robel vowed that he will participate in a better condition in the next Olympic Games to be held in 2020 in Tokyo. This seems unlikely for Feyisa. By gesturing political protest, Feyisa put his career at risk. He might face sanctions from International Olympic Committee for showing prohibited political gesture during the game.

On the other hand, Robel remains a hated symbol of nepotism in Ethiopia whereas Feyisa is already portraid as the son of his people. Feyisa may become Stateless or end up refugee in another country; and/or he may be revoked from the medalists list where he finished second; but, he will always remain the symbol of defiance at the hearts of concerned Ethiopians.

Monday, August 8, 2016

ቋንቋችንን እንታዘበው

በፍቃዱ ኃይሉ

፩. Independence, Freedom, Liberty (ነጻነት የቱ ነው? የቱስ አይደለም?)

"ነጻነት ውስብስብ ነው" ብዬ ልጀምር።ነጻነትየሚለውን የአማርኛ ቃል በተለምዶ ከላይ የዘረዘርኳቸውን ሦስቱንም የእንግሊዝኛ ቃላት ለመተርጎም እንጠቀምበታለን። ትርጉሙ ግን ሁሌም አጥጋቢ አይሆንም።

ቃላት ባብዛኛው ደረቅ አይደሉም ፅንሰ-ሐሳብ (concept) ያዝላሉ። የሆነ ፅንሰ-ሐሳብን የሚወክሉ ቃላቶች በሆነ ቋንቋ ውስጥ የሉም ማለት የዚያ ፅንሰ-ሐሳብ በቋንቋው ተናጋሪው ማኅበረሰብ ዘንድ እምብዛም አይታወቅም እንደ ማለት ነው። ፅንሰ-ሐሳቡን በቃላት ቀንብቦ ማስቀመጥ መቻልና ብዙኃን በየለት ንግራቸው እንዲጠቀሙበት ማድረግ መቻል ቃሉን ከነፅንሰ-ሐሳቡ በማኅበረሰቡ ውስጥ ማስረፅ ማለት ነው። ይህንን ለማስረዳት ቀላሉ መንገድ የአየር ሁኔታን መግለጽ ነው። በረዶ (Ice) እና snow (የበረዶ ብናኝ እንበለው) ሁለት የተለያዩ ነገሮች ናቸው፤ በአማርኛ ግን የሚጠሩት በአንድ ሥም - በረዶ - ተብለው ነው። Frost (snow ወይም የበረዶ ብናኝ የለበሰ ተራራ) አመዳይ ይባላል። በአገራችን የሌለ በመሆኑ ሥሙ የውሰት እና እምብዛም የማይታወቅ በመጽሐፍ ቅዱስ ላይ (መዝ 147: 16) ከመገኘቱ በቀር ቃሉም፣ ሐሳቡም በማኅበረሰቦቻችን ዘንድ የሌለ ነገር ነው። Tornado የሚለው ቃል የአማርኛ አቻ የለውም፤ ምክንያቱም በሐሳብ ደረጃም እምብዛም አይታወቅም። ሩቅ ምሥራቃውያን በየጊዜው ለሚያጠቃቸው የነፋስ እና የማዕበል ዓይነት (ነፋስን ከነፋስ፣ ማዕበልን ከማዕበል) የሚለዩባቸው እልፍ ቃላት አሏቸው። የቃላት እና ሐሳብ ቁርኝት እንዲህ ይገለጻል።

ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥነጻነትየሚለው ቃል እና ፅንሰ-ሐሳብ በአማርኛ ተናጋሪው ዘንድ እንዴት ነው እየታየ ያለው? መነባንቡ (rhetoric) ብቻ ነው ወይስ ግንዛቤውም አብሮት አለ? አብረን እንፈትሽ።

ምሳሌ ፩፦

A) Ethiopia is an independent country.
B) Zone 9 is an independent blogosphere.
C) She is an independent woman.

በሚሉት ሦስት /ነገሮች ውስጥ ‘independent’ የሚለው ቃል ሦስት ተለምዷዊ ትርጉሞች አሉት፣

) ኢትዮጵያ "ነጻ" አገር ናት።
) ዞን ነጻየጡመራ መድረክ ነው።
) እሷነጻሴት ናት።

ሦስቱ ቃላቶች በዐውድ (context) የተለያዩ ቢመስሉም በመሠረታቸው አንድ ናቸው። ሁሉም፣ማንም ላይ ጥገኛ ያልሆነ/ወይምራሱ/ሷን የቻለ/የሚለውን ሐሳብ ያዘሉ ናቸው። ነገርዬው በራስ ጉዳይ ላይ ውሳኔ ለመስጠት ወይም በሌሎች ጉዳይ ላይ አቋም ለመያዝ የማንም ተፅዕኖ የሌለበት እንደማለት ነው። መቶ በመቶ ራስን መቻል ወይም ከሌሎች ተፅዕኖ መላቀቅ የሚባል ነገር አለ ብዬ ባላምንም የሌሎችን በራስ ጉዳይ ጣልቃ ገብነት በእጅጉ መቀነስ መቻልንራስን መቻልብለን ብንጠራው አይከፋኝም። በላይኞቹ ምሳሌዎች ላይ ‘independence’ ራስን መቻል ወይም ገለልተኛ የሚሉት ቃላቶች ሊተኩት ይችላሉ።