By Teklu Bekele <email@example.com>
From the outset Im deeply worrying about the indifference I observe these days among the vocal Diaspora when it comes to the future of Ethiopia. As audience and on lookers from our comfort residence in Diaspora, we never ask ourselves twice if we are really and critically organized enough to play the role of legitimate substitutes to the incumbent regime in Ethiopia. No matter how bad we may judge its activities and style of governance, are we really doing our homework in preparation for the take over of power in a more structured and convincing manner? Or are we simply shouting to end in power vacuum? Viewed from our current hair-splitting and paradoxical political stand perspectives at least we can fairly admit that TPLF is in a better position as an organized political group in its own way and manners; that befit TPLFs principal objectives and standings. How about us that oppose the TPLF-governance styles in Ethiopia? We have not yet put our homework in order; we dont try to compromise and co-exist relating to or organized as a fraternity; we prefer going unilateral without achieving any tangible success story to tell. Are we still expecting a miraculous change to take place in Ethiopia? I leave the likely responses to these paradoxical and open-ended quarries to readers own judgments. In what follows let me explain what I mean by Berhanu and Andargachew as the Diaspora Rubble Raisers.
The Men on the Twilight Zone
These few days the global mass-media was busy telling us about an attempted coup de stat by Ginbot-7 group in Ethiopia. Much has been said by way of comments in different websites too. In connection to this, let me share my own opinions. I may be provocative to most readers but for its own good. If it stings anger or delight in who ever is reading it from what angle; so be it. I think it is time that each reader should really rationalize the case in point and come up with his/her own conclusive judgments than to drift away with the wind in the ocean of emotion laden political discourse. What is critical is how we solve the riddle political puzzle left in our hands. That said let me briefly touch upon the two fellows about whom much is being talked in all corners of discussions these days. It concerns Berhanu Nega Bunger and Andargachew Tsigie of Ginbot-7 political group (hereafter labeled as Gunboat-7). These two fellows traversed their earth shaking political moves from abandoning their trust worthiness to EPRP in the 1970s to becoming TPLF loyalists and pro-Woyane advocating-tugs throughout the 1990s. Their long political muddling march took them through to KINIJIT and ultimately into molding a new terrorist group called Gunboat-7 conspired and organized no where else but under the blessings of the Shaabia leader Issayas Afeworki. To our dismay Berhanu and Andargachew were running in desperation left and right to comfort the Ethiopian Diaspora by working hand and gloves with the Regional God-father of Pirates and fundamental Islamist terrorist-organizer – Issayas Afeworki of Asmara, Eritrea.
Particularly the forked tongue Andargachew, who is characterized as an arrogant political adventurer, was a student at Teferi Mekonen High along with Yared Tibebu of ANDEM. In early 2005, when Berhanu came to London to garner support for his newly formed political party – Keste Demena; the first person he contacted was Andargachew who since then remains on the long political journey to attain their day-dreams and hunger for power through the barrel of Gunboat-7.
The first time when Berhanu and Andargachew made a go at it and joined TPLF, one should recall, they had Africa Group Entrepreneurial mandate at their disposal. Not only did they simply overstep their mandate of running business; but also they overreached themselves by transforming each into a He-Messiah ordained to heal the political pathologies that poor Ethiopia has suffered for decades thus far. Especially when Berhanu followed TPLF in 1991 and entered Addis Ababa as one of its loyalists he was immediately designated as part of the AFRICA GROUP Ltd., an entrepreneurial group designed by TPLF to attract business ideas in the honey moon days in TPLF-Ethiopia. While in AFRICA GROUP Ltd., Berhanu took huge sums of loan from Woyane regime treasury and became an entrepreneur and founded the Ethiopian Agro-Maize, a fertilizer producing company, and Addis Village Family Home Builders. Later he aspired to hold ministerial position but in vain (see note # 1).
In fact, out of sheer personal disappointment of not getting their highly aspired ministerial positions from the TPLF regime, the two fellows dropped KESTE DEMENA; instead they grabbed and hijacked the platform of KNIJIT initially created by Lidetu till Berhanu and Andargachew were taken into jail for causing urban unrest in 2005. Upon his mystical release from captivity Andargachew traveled to Asmara and consulted Issayas Afeworki prior to officially establishing their Gunboat-7 group in Diaspora; and operating in semi-clandestine fashion as those ones orchestrated by Issayas Afeworki and assigned for covert mission inside Ethiopia (see: note# 1).
Andargachew who initially crafted and drafted Article 39 in the current TPLF constitution still remains a diehard advocate of self-determination up to secession of Ogadenia, Oromia and Gambela. That was what he promised to Issayas Afeworki while in Asmara. And that is what Berhanu and Elias Kifle of Ethiopian Review are standing for to this very day as I write. The reason is simple. They believe in realizing nationalities to determine their secession without any challenge. Indeed, no matter what it may cost, the Gunboat-7 group shall fight any one or any thing that stands against Article 39. Both Andargachew and Berhanu are operating against the hardliners of AEUP and EPRP, etc. on this critical national matter. Both of them openly support UDJP and/or Medrek, the coalition made up of loyalist opposition parties with ethnic based agenda who signed on to the TPLF-charter for ethnic-federalism and secession up to self determination (for details see notes # 2).
Worse of all, some among the Ethiopian Diaspora go to the extent of suspecting Berhanu and Andargachew as likely CIA agents. Incidentally, we should not be alarmed about such revelation. These days it is conventional political game and quite natural for any politically motivated group to work hard and come to power in any part of the developing nations by networking with and by way of ensuring their loyalty to CIA if they want to come to and remain on power for a longer period of time. That is exactly what each leader in Africa is doing these days. Those who refuse are sanctioned until they surrender and show their loyalty to the West (especially USA and UK).
A case in point is Issayas Afeworki that is suffering from global isolation for refusing to be part of the CIA-club; consequently in order to draw attention and to secure substantial amount of desperately needed hard currency he has nowadays resorted to training pirates and Islamist fundamentalists who earn him funds, and material support the fluid and feasible way (for details see notes # 3).
Is the Gunboat-7 leadership in Diaspora day-dreaming of climbing up to power in Addis Ababa on the back of those that are toiling and putting their lives on the lime-line against the sharp-shooter TPLF? And if so would some of these generals succeed in any form of grabbing power? Would TPLF relinquish power without much resistance? Do the Gunboat-7 leaders think they will snatch power from these generals upon their arrival at Bole International Airport without any challenge? Let us assume they succeeded in taking over power; how would they sort out critical national issues including the border dispute with Eritrea, Ethiopias access to the sea, the ethnically federated regions, the question of Ogden, Oromia, Gambella etc.?
To ones dismay, Berhanu and Andargachew just dont get it, no matter what! The world could be changing before their eyes – winds of change would blow right through their nose – and yet they hold onto their good-old worldview with their clock-stop-syndrome. History – for these 2-people – has stopped at some fixed location in 2005 – spatial and temporal. They believe in a clock stop syndrome while living in the midst of mind-numbing motions both at home and abroad. Berhanu and Andargachew of Gunboat-7 preach the gospel of fixture on 2005 to anyone who has the stupidity to listen to them. Often times they have the propensity to imbue their message with messianic fervor. Whatever the discipline they like to indulge in – be it politics, economics or business – they tend to have a penchant for the religious. All their strongest convictions – whether they make friends or enemies – are the stuff of fairytales and their passion for the abstract often gets the better of their worldviews. Quite simply, Berhanu and Andargachew constitute a class of their own. Entitled as they are to their clock-stop syndrome worldview, they become sometimes nuisance beyond measure. Their momentary fame seeking coup de stat attempts – as the medium on whose back Berhanu and his street smart comrades were hoping to find themselves in the corridors of power – may immediately have proved just a mirage; nonetheless, they have chosen to cling on to that illusion.
Chanting The Usual May 2005 Election:
The May 2005 election was lasting mantra, and by far the magnum opus of Berhanu and Andargachews entire political career. It appears, judging by the hysterical level of deep-seated resentment that is evident in just about every statement both Berhanu and Andargachew make in their public appearances ever since, that role they dreamed through Kinijit back in 2005 was the closest they came to wielding a real enough political power. Four years on, they remain harping on the same good old string as if the entire world had gone down the drain along with their illusory king-making opportunity. The election in May 2010 is approaching while we are singing the same good old 2005 melody to date. How strongly are we prepared this time compared to the 2005 attempts made by various groups? Have we learned from previous mistakes yet?
In my view we are far poorly organized than ever before; disintegrated to work at creating ethnic-led mini-states by setting-up chains of political kiosks spread throughout the world for collecting alms the conventional EPLF-TPLF way. Consequently, what is happening?
At the end of the day, Berhanu and Andargachew maintain a misplaced trust in Ethiopia. Their Gunboat-7 group passion and vision for democracy remains badly ludicrous with the apathy prevalent in Ethiopia. Berhanu and Andargachew put too much emphasis on democracy, which is even hard to put into real action in a very educated and informed society like the USA and Western Europe. So instead of barking on and bragging about war of words on the urgency to topple TPLF through wishful thinking, we would have been blessed if they reconsidered clear-cut solutions for our paradoxical national homework that remains in the hands of the opposition groups with serious, systematic and strategic deliberation. TPLF is doing what is in its priority agenda to execute the way it perceives. We should not expect to incorporate our in it while at the same time remaining intolerant with it. We have to devise ours and find ways and means how to realize it. Indeed it is disappointing to even observe the likes of Berhanu who simply make empty slogans and shouts for momentarily causing havoc in Ethiopia at all costs. Without organizing supporters and sympathizers to potentially be considered as better alternative governing groups; and without impressing the overwhelming majority Diaspora Ethiopians to follow suit with them; simply these fellows continue to muddle and commit same old mistakes. What good does it make to persistently complain and harp on the evilness of TPLF; and continue shouting in bravado for any silly action that may incidentally happen; as if war of words can bring lasting solutions to the country in critical needs for peace and progress?
Only God knows if Berhanu and Andargachew still fancy themselves as someone who can rid Ethiopia of all its ills – in which case they and only they would have been proved totally insane in the membrane. As though to make up for their all too quick descent into the depths of irrelevance, Berhanu and Andargachew luckily have secured a rock-star status and place in a very tiny corner of Ethiopian politics: the clock-stop syndrome caucus of the Ethiopian Diaspora that claim support for Gunboat-7. For both Gunboat-7 and their handful of Diaspora fans, only cynics or those disposed towards the evil-TPLF could dissent from the self-evident truths of absolute dictatorship and human rights violations in present day Ethiopia. Apparently, only that to indulge their questionable wishes and tastes to the Gunbot-7groups – is what constitutes just about everything they are left to do in the way of active politics. In what would amount to a dramatic reversal of role, Berhanu and Andargachew have ironically transformed themselves from an inconspicuous – inconsequential no less University Professorship and lampoon proletariat respectively into a full-time crusader for the grab-power-by-any-means coalition of Diaspora rubble raisers who have long renounced all sensibility rather choosing to hold tenaciously onto their make-believe world of melt away politics.
It looks as though the laws of physics – that depicts on how like poles repel each other – totally gave way to coincidence in order for similarly charged entities to attract each other in a given magnetic field thereby forming such a strange constellation of resentful -losers the Berhanu and Andargachew crafted Gunboat-7s. Laughable enough their recent coup de stat attempt at making sense came by way of an interview with the VOA-Amharic program (Part I & II) this month (April 2009). Interestingly, though, Berhanus interview – very typical of the kind of sloppy analysis that often boosts the morale of few Diaspora doomsayers – has not received much publicity. Could that be because Berhanu has already outlived his importance even for Gunboat-7 enthusiastic fans? May be yes, may be not. Like Berhanu or despise him, he is a bag of curiosity in his own right; at least a series of his recent radio interview he gave in the USA are.
To say that rigorous analysis has never been Berhanus forte is almost to state the obvious. Not surprisingly, the series of radio interviews are all showcases indicating the extent of Berhanu and Andargachews anger and the length to which they would go to portray the incumbent government – and harp on the same old TPLF-string in a negative light in anyway they can. To try to focus on all the issues Berhanu and Andargachew raise during their series of radio interviews is very difficult; since most of their talk is downright sloganeering deprived of any substantial solutions whatsoever. They are simply overstuffed with numerous inconsistencies and fallacious claims that I personally refuse to dignify them by their responses. But I think a word or two is well in order to address two topics I believe can mutually exhaust all that can be said of the Gunboat-7 leadership. The first has to do with the version of democracy the likes of Berhanu and Andargachew want to impose on Ethiopia and the mindset that made such arrogance possible in the first place. The second point – also related to the first – has to do with what sort of things the Gunboat-7 leadership thinks – despite the effort to conceal it Berhanu and Andargachew can and will do to help remove Meles Zenawis government and the Gunboat-7s case for that.
Apart from the usual diatribe against the incumbent regime – most of which was pure sloganeering the series of their recent radio interviews simply contain a rather childish blather on issues that the two fellows clearly dont have any grasp whatsoever. Their notion of the process of building democracy could win the Gunboat-7 leadership a name in the annals of the authors of worst political theories. Biting more than they can chew, Berhanu and Andargachew rush back in forth in a mindless rambling all the while drawing strange parallels and making contradictory suggestions in a matter-of-fact ease. For instance, they talk of nationally divisive article-39 stipulated in the incumbent regimes constitution as legitimate while at the same time talking sustaining of a united democratic Ethiopia. It turns out these two die-hard fellows dont blink even for a second when it comes to reconciling the irreconcilable; democracy and armed struggle; violence and nonviolence; border dispute with Eritrea; Ethiopias legitimate access to the sea through Assab Port; western intervention and independence; the fate of Birtukan Mideksa and what not. Their notions of democracy or freedom are idiosyncratic at best and idiotic at worst. As the series of recent radio interviews reveal Berhanu and Andargachews take on the relation between democracy and national stability could have put their fans to shame. As obvious as this patent ignorance is, there must however be a method to their stupidity, if the pattern is any guide. More than anything, the series of radio interviews they give these days reveal tons of materials that point to their eternal marriage with conducting coup de stat or for a take over of power in the notion that the democratic process in Ethiopia can and ought to be remotely controlled by the Western world acting on behalf of Ethiopians (see note # 4).
Living in their comfort zone some ten thousand miles away from Ethiopia Berhanu and Andargachew complain that Europeans and Americans have made it business as usual with Ethiopia despite Gunboat-7s scathing website reports back in the days. The 2-fellows decry the G-8 for inviting PM Meles to their summit as if he was a respectable leader. Berhanu and Andargachew hope Barrack Obama will correct the wrongs of his predecessor that they blame for discouraging democracy in Ethiopia. Berhanu and Andargachew claim that George Bush was to blame for what they believe was the reversal of the democratic process, namely – the fact that their power sharing proposal was turned down systematically – because Bush did not force PM Minister Meles to choose democracy over Stability. In parentheses, what does it really mean democracy takes precedence over stability? That democracy can coexist with anarchy? That stability is just an excuse for dictators to cling onto power? It is very difficult to know what exactly these two fellows meant to say; whatever their relentless intentions, however, that kind of idiotic argument is enough to put the two fellows in a class all of their own: they remain in the category of un-teachable political lightweights.
Looks like Berhanu and Andargachew cannot come to terms with the futility of such a bona fide mandate bestowed upon each as the Mayor of Addis Ababa Municipality. They love this title more than any thing else. Berhanu and Andargachew have ever since been tirelessly straining every nerve and muscle to bring what little influence they may have left to bear on the manner the rest of the world conducts itself with the Government of Ethiopia. Now a spent force even in their own chambers, Berhanu and Andargachew seem to have found a consolation of sorts in what they believe is a gathering storm against Meles Zenawis government: Gunboat-7 (Berhanu Negas May-15 movement). With his Gunboat-7 reports flashed down the toilet as pure nonsense by none other than those who supported their mission in the first place, Gunboat-7s new-found weapon is an uncanny campaign on behalf of a group of desperados led by their best friend Elias Kifle of ER (see note # 5).
But their fanciful rise to the Babylonian heights of king-making was dealt a shattering blow once the two were told they were simply out to grab power by any and by all means. It seems that Berhanu and Andargachew havent learned their lessons of Ethiopian history. No amount of domineering by Diaspora Fanatics will ever arm-twist the situation inside Ethiopia into changing the course charted by TPLF by way of remote control from their comfort seats in Diaspora. We should sacrifice ourselves, our time and energy if we want to see change. That was the case yesterday; is the case at the present; and that will always be the case in generations down the road; it means we must force ourselves to delve into doing our home bitter works well enough; before we open our mouths ahead of time. Unfortunately for the good Berhanu and Andargachew, it looks like drawing such lesson has eluded them even four years after that 2005 fateful day of costly gamble has gone once and for all. Throughout the series of recent radio interviews and website reports, they make rather flimsy (or was it phony?) claims that they are going to fight the incumbent regime by all means including waging war. When the real thing comes to the fore, here is Berhanu denying blind-folded as not knowing any of the Gunboat-7 suspects except for one cuisine of his. It is not the superficial disclaimers that matter but the subterranean similarities of their so-called ways out of dictatorship for the Ethiopian Opposition with that of Berhanus and Andargachews protégé-in-exile, Berhanu Mayor-Elect-of Addis; Andargachew X-Mayor of Addis. That they are working in cahoots with groups with hideous agendas of violence and subversion is anything but hidden. Only the Gunboat-7-people assure all of us to raise our hopes; have the magic wand that can do the tricks in this would-be comprehensive, no-holds-barred Gunboat-7 movement; a harebrained PR stunt Berhanu coughed up to try to explain away his wishy-washy ways of conducting opposition tactics including, but not limited to, waging war against the incumbent regime.