U.S.–Africa Summit Highlights Challenges of Africa’s Rise

Sadiq A. Abdirahman

As part of President Obama’s comprehensive strategy for engagement in Africa, the first United States and Africa Summit was convened in Washington, DC. All but three of Africa’s heads of states were present. According to the Obama administration, the summit is intended to foster strong economic ties between the United States and African countries. It will show and explain the investment opportunities Africa holds for U.S businesses. The summit has generated a lot of excitements and some criticism from the general public including the African Diaspora who resides in the United States and is attached to their homeland.                Supporters of President Obama’s initiatives point to Africa’s economic potential and the need to exploit investment from the United States. They feel that Africa needs investment and expertise from the United States, in order to develop their own economies, create jobs and reduce the continent’s massive unemployment problems. Those who oppose the summit cannot imagine that the United States had invited autocratic leaders who some of them are branded as human rights violators. They are uncomfortable about how the summit can be construed as supporting these dictators, when in fact it is not. They place much of the responsibility for Africa’s leadership crisis that translated into an economic crisis and bankruptcy on the shoulders of these men. The United States and Africa need each other to cooperate in multiple fronts, but first the United States has to know that Africa is a continent and not a country, therefore, it should be selective and use criteria to separate countries within Africa who have met good governance and those who have not. As of now there are sixteen countries that would meet this criteria and not fifty countries that were invited to this summit.

Africa Needs A Real Partnership

The African people have the same hopes and aspirations of the people in the United States. They want freedom, peace and prosperity for their countries. For more than a century, Africa’s fate was more often not decided by people beyond its shores. It has experienced the inhumaneness of European colonization, the impact of the Cold War between East and West, and the racist Apartheid system. As a result of these vivid experiences, Africans are hesitant to get in the middle of two big powers they know are fighting over to grab their natural resources. Although massive unemployment issues exist in Africa, yet, according to U.S. Commerce Secretary, Penny Pritzker states that Africa is home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world and GDP growth is expected to be above 6% per year for the next 10 years. Real incomes have risen at least 30% over the past 10 years. By 2040, the workforce in Africa will be larger than that in either India or China. Secretary, Pritzker is right, Africa has a real potential that is attracting foreign investment, but what benefit would it have, if Africans themselves cannot benefit from this growth opportunity at home. Since Africa does not have good leaders, who will be negotiating with these foreign corporations and would make sure that benefits generated are used appropriately to support the people’s needs. African people are not apposed to foreign investment from the United Stated and would in fact benefit from it, if it were managed well. The problem is that the African leaders are corrupt and will put their personal interest above their countries needs.                China’s involvement in Africa is worsening the situation. China has secured access to African markets and raw materials with little concern about improving governance and human rights. According to Kitisson (2007), there are over 700 Chinese companies operating in Africa. Sudan, Angola, and Nigeria are China’s leading oil suppliers, surpassing even Saudi Arabia. China uses its strong position at the UN and its respect for sovereignty non-interference in African leadership to woo these corrupt leaders. China does not care about the democratization aspiration of the African people. The United State is not like China; it values transparency, accountability and respect for human rights. Therefore, if the United States wants real partners who they can do business with, it has to first pressure the African leaders to change their habits or face the consequences. Moreover, the United States should always be on the site of the African people. At every opportunity it gets it should try to empower them to be the catalyst of change they are seeking and the future they want for see in their continent.

The Burdens of Leadership

The majorities of African leaders who were invited to the summit are undemocratic and were not elected into office. These leaders came by force and only want to enrich themselves through the expenses of their people. They have not shown any regards on how their actions will impact the development of their country. These tyrants have shamefully looted public funds collected from the people as a form of taxes and have stashed them in their Swiss bank accounts. The use and abuse of power and national wealth has caused division amongst their people. This results in the need for these tyrants to maintain their grip on power by force. They practice retribution of public money to their supporters. Therefore, the point of reference for these corrupt leaders is not about making their countries conducive for investment, but it is all about how to retain power at all cost. In other words, power is racked as the central guiding force for these regimes and not the developmental needs of their people. For the past fifty years, since colonialism has left the continent, it has become the norm to see one big man replacing another by force. The remedy to fix these leadership challenges is to find exemplary leaders who can lead Africa to live up to its full expectations and potential.

The United States should understand that the main reason why Africa is in this deplorable condition is lack of exemplary leadership and good governance that should come before their investment needs. Exemplary leadership is part and parcel of what makes it possible for development to take place. For most part, this has been lost in the Africa’s leadership circles. Before Africa can commit to foreign needs, it needs to show that they can work for their own interest. The African people need to see leaders who understand how the world economy and diplomacy operates; leaders who care about their legacy beyond lust for power; leaders who respect the consent of their people and would leave power alone when their term is over.  Leaders who would manage resource to educate their people by establishing good education system and adequate health care for all. The real priority of Africa today is about good leadership that can inspire its people and without it, nothing else is possible.

Sadiq A. Abdirahman is an independent political analyst specializing in the Horn of Africa and 2014-2015, Hubert Humphrey Public Policy Fellow. He can be reached at sabdira@gmial.com





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Yekatit and the EPRP

By Gemencho

Yekatit is 40 years old.  Though at the time, the EPRP was too young, it had not even declared its existence-, its organ, Democracia, was already a household name amongst the Yekatit revolutionaries.    Democracia spoke their language, hoped their hopes, articulated their visions, and helped shape the course of their struggle.  An organic link between Yekatit and the EPRP was already in place.  In a way, the EPRP was born to cook Yekatit.  So, with the birth of the EPRP, Yekatit was inevitable

Though the EPRP came out late to save Yekatit from the military coup, its coming out, nevertheless, made the Yekatit/EPRP symbiosis official. Those who stood with Yekatit stood with the EPRP, and those who stood against Yekatit saw the EPRP as their mortal enemy.  To the minimum, a generation has laid down its life highlighting this symbiosis.

Often, the discussion about Yekatit is focused on what Yekatit did to the archaic feudal system.  While getting rid of that system, in and of itself was a glorious accomplishment, the discussion does not give the most important, and most fundamental account of  what Yekatit was about.

No other event has shaped the contours of modern Ethiopia’s history, the way Yekatit had.  By all indices, Yekatit has radically changed the national discourse for good.

In Yekatit, women rang the death bell of patriarchy. Workers and peasants rose to take the fruits of their labor.   Moslems and Christians marched shoulder to shoulder in solidarity, as Ethiopians.  Students, teachers, taxi drivers, street vendors, , shoe shiners,  the unemployed, the homeless,  the marginalized, all rose ,to say, “this is our time”.   In Yekatit, the everyday Ethiopians entered history as subjects of history.

In other words, Yekatit was more about the people (the every day Ethiopians) who made it happen than the system it destroyed.  It was about their refusal to be silent any more- their rebellion against their own dormancy-their rejection of their old selves.  It was about their awakening, their visibility, their readiness to act on their own behalves, to live the life they believed they deserved.

Yekatit was also about their patriotism, their sense of themselves as owners of their nation’s history and destiny.  It was about their assertion national consciousness, what  nationalism meant to them.  It meant, Land to the tiller, Democracy without limits, Provisional Peoples’ Government.  It meant, Ethiopia belonged to them. .

Yekatit revealed in no uncertain terms, the unbridgeable gap between the unelected unaccounted ruling elite (with its decadent values and ethics) , and the everyday Ethiopians,  between the domesticated and the national elite, and between dictatorship and nationalism.  It showed the path to a just and humane future.

Yekatit was the project of the everyday Ethiopians and their organic/nationalist intellectuals, the center of which was/is the EPRP.  It is not of co-incidence that Finote radio begins and ends its program with a moving anthem honoring Yekatit  .  . .

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Request for the Westerners

By Elizabeth Girma Zewege


We, Ethiopians, are delighted and highly excited to participate and celebrate the International Workers’ Day (also known as Labor Day) here in a place we are living just like  the way millions are celebrating it across the world.

Over the years, the struggles of workers around the world have indeed come a long way since the 1st day of May was designated as international workers day .

Today we celebrate workers day in a country where the Government of Norway promotes jobs and recognizes the effort of workers, protects citizens’ rights and freedom. It is this day that various labor organizations and trade unions come up with their processions so that the economy of the country become effective jointly working with the government.

On the contrary, our country – Ethiopia celebrates this day where the current ruling party (i.e., EPRDF-TPLF) endorses employment priority given for individuals who joined its party; dehumanizes working classes;  forces tens and thousands of citizens to migrate hence pushes many young working individuals to extremes; crashes citizens’ rights and freedom, detains tens and thousands of dissents and journalists behind bars; displaces millions of people forcefully from their homeland; puts nearly 6.5 million people in food crisis and starvation; and many others in the name of democracy.

In our country Ethiopia many people are still under informal employment, unprotected people right and freedom, many working class youth journalist and other are forced to go to jail. It’s country where the economy and social affair are controlled by one ethnic group. Peoples ,civil and social and workers are earning the poverty rather than  income for their standard way of life and many others.

This is very sad to hear every day in our country the bleak and dark back drop a scar on which we celebrate today. We have no other option but to return the dignity of Ethiopia, rights, freedom and justice for it’s people.

Despite this and many other facts westerns including Norway is supporting this government financially and it is being used to kill, torture and abuse human rights of the people in Ethiopia by their own government. I wish we could have a Government that creates jobs for millions; respects workers dignity and recognizes the contributions of workers for the development, prosperity and well-being of our country. It is a kind of dream. Isn’t it? It may sound a dream, however, it is going to happen in the near future if and only if you support us at least by breaking your silence and saying “My money should not be spent to kill, imprison, displace, and starve people in Ethiopia”; “Stop aid to the dictator of Ethiopia”. Remember once again that people are being slaughtered in their own country because of your money and silence. In such a way we will able to free our country from the current dictatorship and apartheid; hence establish a well-balanced and strong working class citizens.

May God bless Ethiopia.

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Misplaced opposition to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

Minga Negash, Seid Hassan and Mammo Muchie[1]

The 1929 Nile water allocation agreement that was signed by Egypt and the United Kingdom (which excluded Ethiopia and nearly all other upper basin countries) allocated 48 billion (65%) cubic meters of water per year to Egypt and 4 billion to the Sudan. The 1959 agreement between Egypt and the Sudan raised the share to 55.5 (75%) billion and 18.5 billion cubic meters to Egypt and the Sudan, respectively.  This agreement also excluded all the other upper Nile riparian nations. Egypt wants to keep the colonial-era agreements and the 1959 accord. This unfair allocation of the Nile water enabled Egypt to construct the Aswan Dam and the two countries never cared to consult the upper riparian nations. As argued by Badr Abdelatty, a spokesman for Egypt’s Foreign Ministry,[1]  Egypt wants to keep the status quo because it needs all the “assigned 55 billion cubic meters a year for vital use such as drinking, washing and sanitation needs” by 2020. This clearly indicates Egypt’s desire to secure its own Nile water-related benefits intact while at the same time denying other (Sub-Saharan) Nile riparian countries from using their own waters for alleviating poverty and enhancing sustainable development. Contrary to theNile Basin Initiative (NBI) that was formalized in 1999[2] that Egypt was a party to, it is now saying that any change to the colonial era agreement would be tantamount to affecting its strategic interests and repeatedly threatens to use all means available if Ethiopia continues to build the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Egypt continues to escalate the confrontation despite Ethiopia’s claim that the dam would have no appreciable negative impact on Egypt. Ethiopia, along with the other upper Nile riparian countries object the privileges that Egypt gave itself and consider Egyptian monopoly over the Nile waters as a violation of their sovereignty. In accordance to the 2010 Entebbe Agreement by the upstream countries, which included Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania, and now effectively Sudan and South Sudan),Ethiopia, therefore, insists on adhering to its plan and is forging ahead on constructing the dam.

In what follows, we use an amalgam of economics, history, law, security and environment factors to examine the Egyptian opposition to the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). We try totriangulate these factors hoping to contribute to the debate and gain insight into the current tension between Egypt and Ethiopia. We attempt to make a dispassionate analysis of the water sharing problem between upstream and downstream countries. Consistent with theory and real life cases, we surmise that water has been and continues to be the cause for conflict in a number of regions in the world[3] and, unfortunately, water wars tend to be irrational, unsustainable and economically and socially destructive. Trans-boundary water sharing and pollution (environmental-ecological) problems are never resolved through hegemonies, militarism and ultra-nationalism.

Dissenting voices against mega projects such as GERD are not new[4]- the criticisms ranging from cost and scheduling overruns (as a recent study by Ansar, Flyvbjerg, Budzier and Lunn of Oxford University shows[5]), to their impacts on population dislocation, corruption, transparency in awarding of contracts, the manner in which such projects are financed, social and environmental impacts in upstream and downstream countries and water security concerns. Hence, Ethiopians may legitimately ask questions and raise concerns about the manner in which the Government of Ethiopia is handling the project. In this article, however, we focus on trans-boundary environmental problems, the fair use of the Nile water and address Egyptian concerns. This is important because the construction of GERD has reignited the long standing explosive issue of the equitable use of Nile waters. We also believe the recent (counterproductive) Egyptian threats of war and various forms of diplomatic offensives require the attentions of scholars of substance and policy makers.

Egyptian worries and aspirations over the Nile River system however is historical and goes back to the days before the formation of the Egyptian nation/state even though the issue began to dominate the country’s political landscape with the generation of militarism and ultra-nationalism (from Gamal Abel Nasser to the late President Sadat’s 1979 threat of war and to the current leaders of Egypt vowing not to lose a “drop of water).”[6] The recent political instability in Egypt must have made the trans-boundary water sharing problem a point of political opportunism. Reports indicate that Egypt may indeed be laying the ground work to “destroy the dam before Ethiopia starts filling it with water or risk flooding Sudan’s flat eastern territories upon its destruction.”[7] A WikiLeaks report is also known to have revealed that Egypt, in collaboration with Sudan, had plans “to build an airstrip for bombing a dam in the Blue Nile River Gorge in Ethiopia.”[8] In its June 2013 analysis of Egypt’s military options, Straighter, a global intelligence organization indicated that the country does have military options against Ethiopia’s dam, but noted that distance will heavily constrain Egypt’s ability to demolish the work. The options, however, may include air attack from bases in the Sudan, Djibouti and Eritrea[9] and/or sponsoring present day local “militants” to frustrate the construction of the dam.  Obviously, Ethiopia is aware of the Egyptian options and its age-old aspiration to control the sources of the Nile River system. For example, on April 17, 2014, amid reports that Egypt was trying to woo South Sudan towards its dispute over Nile waters[10], the Voice of America reported that the President of South Sudan assured the Ethiopian authorities that the recently signed military and economic cooperation between Egypt and South Sudan would not allow Egypt to attack Ethiopia or allow subversive activities.

Egypt’s policy towards upstream countries is primarily driven by its interest on the water which aims at thriving at the misery of downstream countries, apparently without any form of substantive reciprocity. In contrast to the present day relationship between Egypt and Ethiopia, their ancestors, despite their limited knowledge of geography and hydrology, had a better understanding of the economics of water sharing. As the renowned historian Richard Pankhurst documented, the Turkish Sultan who ruled Egypt before the British, had “paid the ruler of Ethiopia an annual tax of 50,000 gold coins” lest the latter diverts the Nile.[11] Nowadays, and not surprisingly, even the Egyptian Minister of Antiquities is against the GERD.[12] In fact, institutional memories and abundant documents of the last sixty years indicate not only just the inconsistency, but also an immense level of damage that Egyptian foreign policy has done to Ethiopia and the Sudan. Egyptian interference in the two countries’ internal affairs has been largely driven by the Ethiopian and the Sudanese[13] use of the Nile waters. For instance, Egypt objected the independence movement in South Sudan but promoted the separation of Eritrea and the creation of one of the most densely populated landlocked countries in the world. The international community is not unaware of these facts but Egypt’s strategic location and its pivotal role in the politics of the Middle East did not allow the powers to be to call a spade a spade. As of late, intergovernmental organizations like the African Union which were once mute about the behaviors of successive military rulers of Egypt, who often controlled political and economic power under the cover of phony elections and revolutions, have started to recognize the problems of the Nile River system. Ethiopia’s and the other upstream riparian countries’ rights to equitably share the waters of Nile is now an African agenda though key members of the Arab League continue to support the position taken by Egypt.[14]

Ethiopia’s right to use the water that originates within itself would have included (and, in our view, should include), in addition to power-generating purposes, irrigation, water recreation and navigational services, flood control as well as water storage and supply. It is obvious, therefore, that dams provide valuable economic benefits. Just like any mega project, dams also involve several side-effects, which could be summarized as environmental and ecological, social (forced relocation of locals), economic and even political. Other concerns may include evaluating and managing the risks associated with dam construction as well as asking questions whether the product (GERD in our case) would provide the desired and needed benefits to stakeholders such as access to electricity. A reasonable framework of concern about dam construction, therefore, would include a thorough benefit-cost analysis, not just one-sided focus on the costs. This is our major concern in regards to environmentalists and some of their Ethiopian supporters who campaign against the 6000 MW dam.

The environmentalists refer to the GERD as a “white elephant,”[15] despite the fact that the project’s leaked document, alleged to be prepared by International Panel of Experts (IPE) showing favorable financial and social benefits to Ethiopia and the Sudan. Environmentalists such as the International Rivers Network (IRN)[16] need to, therefore, quantify the magnitude of the side effects of the project and should not rely on “covert” and “secondary” data. More importantly, rather than being the butterflies of potential conflict in the Eastern Nile region, they need to: (i) acknowledge Ethiopia’s sovereign rights to use its own resources in accordance to international law and without hurting downstream countries; (ii) identify mitigation strategies so that genuine concerns are addressed before the construction is finalized; and (iii) propose how the mitigation strategies are going to be financed. In April 2014, the California based environmental pressure group which is against any form of large dam that is proposed to be built in Africa and Asia leaked the 48 pages long confidential document that was prepared by International Panel of Experts (IPE) on Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam.[17]  Now that the confidential report is in the public domain, it allows everyone to put to test the concerns of both the friends and foes of the GERD.


The key features of the IPE’s report could be summarized as follows:- (i) unlike the options of smaller dams which would have included potential irrigation projects, GERD is an energy production project and any fear of large and permanent reduction in the flow of freshwater to downstream countries is unfounded; (ii) the filling up of the dam is planned, to be done in stages by taking into account rainfall patterns and the catchment area; (iii) both the financial and social cost-benefit preliminary analysis of the project on upstream and downstream countries are favorable and the expected damages on downstream countries are not insurmountable; (iv) the preliminary findings about the project’s side effects on Egypt is not sufficient and hence there is an information (hydrological) void, and much of the current allegations and threats are based on unfounded Egyptian fears;  (v) work has progressed to the extent that, at the time of writing this article, the project has reached a degree of completion rate of 31% and the water diversion has been successfully carried out; (vi) the expected loss of water due to evaporation for the new project is not worse than what Egypt is currently losing from its environmentally unfriendly projects and poor water management; [18] (vii) recent geological and hydrological studies have documented an abundant level of ground water in the Nile basin countries[19] and hence downstream countries will not be thirsty if upstream countries build dams that generate electricity. It is clear, therefore, that Egypt’s no dam policy or stance against large energy producing dams in upstream countries is a misplaced opposition and therefore calls for a new thinking in Cairo.

As Professor Aaron Wolf of Oregon State University observes, there are about 261 trans-boundary rivers across the world and unless carefully handled a significant proportion of these rivers could be causes of conflict. Wolf documented that water has been the cause of political tensions between a number of countries, including but not limited to Arabs and Israelis; Indians and Bangladeshis; Americans and Mexicans, the Chinese and other downstream countries, Brazilians and Paraguayans and all the ten riparian states of the Nile River system. He observes that “war over water seems neither strategically rational, nor hydrographically effective nor economically viable.” [20]   In other words, there is little reason for a “water war” between Egypt and Ethiopia.  The two countries can also learn from inter-basin development projects that are successful, such as the Colorado River Basin allocation between the US riparian states and Mexico, the Columbia River Agreement between the US and Canada and the numerous European collaborative projects and integrated river basin managements of the River Rhine. In particular, Egypt and Ethiopia could learn a lot from South Africa paying[21] Lesotho to quench its increasing thirst from the Lesotho Highlands Waters Project. The framework for exploiting the Niger River Basin, the Zambezi River basin and the Nile Basin Initiative[22] itself could serve as useful points of departure for cooperation.

Notwithstanding the above, Egyptian politicians often argue about “historical rights” and connect the water issue with the civilizations of the antiquities on the Nile delta and forget about the history of the formation of nations and states. Evidently this stance is self-serving in that it ignores historical tensions between black people in the region (present day Sudan, South Sudan, Niger, Eritrea and Ethiopia, among others) and the race controversy in the African origin of humanity and the history of the Nile Valley (see for example Martin Bernal’s Black Antenna, 1987; Anta Diop[23], among others). The politics of the Nile River system thus has an Africa-Arab dimension and hence sensitive to Pan Africanist and Pan Arabism agendas. Hence, if a conflict between Egypt and Ethiopia erupts, it is more than likely to have spillover effects on the rest of Africa.

Like most of the post colony states of Africa, modern and independent Egypt was created out of the ashes of colonialism (see for example Achille Mbembe and Samir Amin, among others). Britain’s colonial interest on the Nile dam at Lake Tana (main source of Abay/Blue Nile) is the foundation of Egypt’s historical and legal claims to the water. Britain’s interest however was primarily driven by its desire to irrigate its large cotton plantations in the Anglo Egyptian colony of the Sudan and supply its factories which were located in the United Kingdom. Modern day cotton plantations in Egypt are entirely dependent on the soil that gets exported by the river primarily from Ethiopian highlands. In a series of short articles, Dr. Yosef Yacob[24] documented the history of colonialism in the region and indicated how Emperor Menelik (1844-1913) and Emperor Haile Selassie (1892-1975) managed to escape Britain’s colonial ambitions over the Ethiopian highlands. He also revealed how Emperor Haile Selassie was visionary in that he successfully resisted Britain’s encroachments on Lake Tana by hiring an American engineering company to construct the dam and trying to finance the project through the issuance of debt securities in the United States. In other words, had the Emperor’s wishes were realized, the GERD would have been built a long time ago.  We have yet to see any reasonable criticism of Dr. Yosef Yacob’s treatise by those who oppose the construction of the dam.

The next leg of the Egyptian opposition is international law. Here too the argument collapses before it faces the scrutiny of legal scholars. Egyptian officials often refer to the 1929 colonial era agreement and the 1959 agreement signed between Egypt and the Sudan (both former British colonies) that Ethiopia was not party to and had never consented to. First, it is important to note that colonial treaties have no direct relevance for resolving Africa’s contemporary problems. The Nile basin countries have already rejected it. Thus, the dominant view is that trans-boundary assets belong to the post-colonial states and the new states have to agree how to share their jointly owned assets. Second, Ethiopia was and is an independent state and it was not a party to the 1929 and 1959 agreements. Historical records also indicate that Britain, Egypt and the Sudan conspired and excluded Ethiopia from the negotiation. In this respect, Wuhibegezer Ferede and Sheferawu Abebe, writing on the Efficacy of Water Treaties in the Eastern Nile Basin, Africa Spectrum, 49, 1, 55-67 (2014) outline two approaches that evolve from the principles of international law.[25]  The authors show the fundamental differences between upstream and downstream countries in that upstream countries (Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea and South Sudan) appear to  favor clean slate policy while downstream countries (Sudan and Egypt) favor colonial treaties.[26] Notwithstanding the preference of one or another form of legal principle, Egypt’s insistence on colonial treaties collapses simply because Ethiopia was not a colony of Britain or indeed any other European power.


Now that we have seen Egypt’s historical and legal arguments falling apart, the next step is to examine the third foundation of the Egyptian stance – the environmental aspects of the dam.  Previous literature indicated that carbon emissions and contaminations of rivers that cross national boundaries are examples of trans-boundary environmental problems. Hence, policy formation requires enforceable global treaties, sound national policy and the examination of advances in a number of disciplines.[27] Furthermore, investments in big national projects such as stadiums, mineral extraction, oil and gas, canals, big dams, highways, and big architectural projects add behavioral and political dimensions to the science, technology and the economics of such undertakings. Most of the finest buildings and stadiums that host world cup games were and are being constructed in that national pride. And behavioral and emotional factors dominate financial arguments. In other words, national projects by their nature have behavioral dimensions and may not be captured by the paradigms of rationality and net present values. Time will tell whether the Ethiopian dam is different.

The mainstream literature on environmental economics focuses on welfare measurement, sustainability, technological change, externality and green accounting.  The world commission on environment and development (aka the Bruntland Commission, 1987), for example, states that “sustainable development is meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. Consistent with this understanding, the Nile River system has both trans-boundary and non-trans-boundary features for the riparian states and hence Egypt, in theory, may have a cause for concern. This concern can nonetheless be resolved through international instruments and institutions and bilateral relations that are based on mutual respect and trust. The international convention on the protection and use of trans-boundary and international lakes which was signed by nearly 40 countries does not provide the base for resolving disputes, and worse, no country from Africa (including Egypt) has actually ratified it. It nonetheless can be another point of departure. The United Nations Environmental program could also be a facilitator. Furthermore, as noted earlier, Africa has frameworks for inter-basin development. The Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) has been a major institutional development which enables all riparian states to collaborate and act as equal members. Egypt’s effort to undermine[28] this agreement is a mistake.

Other features of the leaked report of the International Panel of Experts covers the main factors of the project.  Among other things, it confirms that: (i) GERD is economically feasible; (ii) the design meets international standards, subject to  minor “corrections”; (iii) the contractor is reliable and has extensive international expertise and reputation in building large dams; (iv) the environmental impact study within Ethiopia is adequate and the trans-boundary effect on the Sudan is favorable and controls flood; and (v) the section on trans-boundary effect on Egypt requires additional study using complex models and actual data rather than reliance on desk work. In short, the authors of the 48 pages-long confidential report did not say that they expect a catastrophe and the vanishing of the Egyptian nation if the project gets completed. In short, Egypt is not in any imminent danger. This conclusion has ramifications for the multilateral institutions that refused to finance the project.In summary, Egypt’s opposition to GERD is indeed misplaced.  Its return to the negotiation table and the African Union and the ratification of the Nile River Basin Cooperative Framework and Convention on the Protection and Use of Trans-boundary Watercourses and International Lakes are avenues for resolving the sticky problems of water sharing.[29]



[1] Minga Negash is a Professor of Accounting at the Metropolitan State University of Denver Colorado and at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg Minga Negash can be contacted at mnegash@msudenver.edu or minga.negash@wits.ac.za.

Seid Hassan is professor of Economics at Murray State University. He can be reached at shassan@murraystate.edu.

Mammo Muchie is a research Professor of innovation studies at Tshwane University of Technology (Pretoria) and Senior Research Associate at Oxford University (U.K). He can be reached at MuchieM@tut.ac.za




[1] http://chimpreports.com/index.php/special-reports/18421-ethiopia-egypt-tensions-shift-to-power-plant.html

[2] The NBI is composed of ten countries: Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as well as Eritrea as an observer.

[3] Hassan (2011): http://www.ethiomedia.com/augur/4363.html

[4] http://world-wire.com/2014/04/23/scientists-present-alternative-to-sarawaks-mega-dams/

[5] http://world-wire.com/2014/04/23/scientists-present-alternative-to-sarawaks-mega-dams/

[6] http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/03/06/troubled_waters


[7] http://www.madote.com/2014/02/is-egypt-seeking-military-defense-pact.html

[8] http://origins.osu.edu/article/who-owns-nile-egypt-sudan-and-ethiopia-s-history-changing-dam

[9] http://www.madote.com/2014/02/is-egypt-seeking-military-defense-pact.html

[10] http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/03/egypt-south-sudan-nile-water-dispute-ethiopia.html#


[11] http://www.linkethiopia.org/guide-to-ethiopia/the-pankhurst-history-library/the-portuguese-ludolf-and-le-grand-the-nile-myth-is-shattered/

[12] http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2014/02/04/renaissance-dam-poses-threat-egyptian-monuments-antiquities-minister/

[13] http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/News/5823/21/Egypt-Sudan-water-relations.aspx


[14] http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article46307

[15] http://www.ethiomedia.com/broadway/4503.html

[16] http://www.internationalrivers.org/

[17] http://www.theafricareport.com/Soapbox/rejoinder-on-the-construction-of-the-grand-renaissance-dam-in-ethiopia.htm

[18] A number of analysts have indicated that Egypt has not been an efficient user of the available water. Not only is water not priced properly, but the Egyptian authorities also have allowed the expansion of water devouring crops of rice and sugar cane- against the advice of experts and bilateral donors. The irrational and increasingly thirsty nature of Egyptian use of water has failed to recognize the realities of our time: escalating shortages of water exacerbated by global warming, population pressure and life-style changes.

[19] http://www.gwp.org/Global/ToolBox/References/Capacity%20Building%20Actions%20in%20Groundwater%20Management%20Issues%20as%20an%20Aspect%20of%20IWRM%20for%20the%20Nile%20Region%20(CapNet,UNDP,BGR,%202007).pdf

[20] Natural Resources Forum, Volume 23 #1, February 1999 pp. 3-30.

[21] http://gurukul.ucc.american.edu/ted/lesotho.htm

[22] http://www.academia.edu/2243972/Supporting_the_Nile_Basin_Initiative_A_Political_Analysis_Beyond_the_River ,

[23] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qi0IRivzlNM

[24] http://www.ethiomedia.com/14news/5712.html

[25] http://water.tkk.fi/wr/tutkimus/glob/publications/Ilomaki/chapters1-8/ch2_laki.html

[26] It is not clear whether some of the governments would change their position as a result of Egypt’s recent diplomatic offensive.

[27] http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?articleid=17038597

[28] http://law.missouri.edu/melpr/recentpublications/Ibrahim.pdf

[29] http://www.internationalwaterlaw.org/documents/regionaldocs/Nile_River_Basin_Cooperative_Framework_2010.pdf

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“I can’t eat GDP!”– Why Numbers don’t Matter!

 Fekadu Bekele, Ph D      April 27, 2014

On 25th February 2014 a one-day seminar was conducted by Heinrich Böll Stiftung, a foundation which is founded after the name of one of the legendary figures of peace movements during the 1970s and 80s, famous for his many critical works as a writer. The foundation intimately linked to the Green party, actively participating in ecological, democratic and peaceful movements is contributor to civil society organizations in Germany and civil society organizations worldwide. In this spirit, it actively promotes the aforementioned ideals in Africa and other underdeveloped areas in the world. After many years of active participation in Ethiopia, the foundation decided not to extend its activity under the current politically repressive conditions and was compelled to close its office in Addis due to the ongoing arbitrary arrests of journalists and civil right activists.

The idea behind this seminar was to examine and discuss the nature of economic growth in many African countries, and to scrutinize whether repeated statistical publications about the high performance of the economy in Africa South of the Sahara has a positive impact on the lives of the people. The event was host to many critical participants who provided the audience with assessments about the well-publicized economic growth in many African countries. While not all presented ideas were entirely new, I can say that we have learned a lot during the seminar.

Among those invited was Prof. Lorenzo Fioramonti, who is currently teaching international political economics in South Africa, at the University of Pretoria and who is well known for his very challenging books and articles about inequality and economic growth in Africa. Though he couldn’t participate physically, his well evidenced and thoughtful analysis transmitted by Skype to the audience was very remarkable and the message was clear for all of us. Prof. Fioramonti informed us that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a new concept, heavily loaded with ideology and does not reflect the realities on the ground. According to his analysis, GDP is a very misleading concept, and does not only reflect the realities on the ground and systematically neglects other economic activities that take place outside the formal sector. Accordingly, GDP considers only market transactions and no other aspects of human activities performed by the people in each country. Another misleading aspect of GDP is it does not take into account ecological damages, inflicted when mineral resources are exploited. According to his assessment the ecological, social and cultural damages are far greater than what the society gets from selling minerals. The revenue from selling the minerals goes into the pockets of those companies extracting the resources. That means foreign companies instead of creating social wealth for the people as whole steal African resources while destroying the environment and the entire social fabric of the continent.

Dr. Kumi Naidoo who is also from South Africa and is currently manager at Greenpeace made a vibrant speech, and told us that in South Africa almost 12 Million people are hungry every day because of lack of food. Though rich in mineral resources and relatively developed compared to other African countries, according to Dr. Naidoo, South Africa is the second most unequal country in the world next to Brazil where inequality is more apparent. He informed us that corruption is practically destroying the social fabric of the South African society. Dr. Naidoo has shown us that economic growth in many African countries did not improve the life of the people as the World Bank and the international community makes us believe, but on the contrary, increases inequality. In fact the continent is on the rise, but not Africans. According to his estimation, the number of poor people has increased from 175 million to 239 million people within 20 years. One out of four people in Africa is hungry. Those who benefit from the well-publicized economic growth are the political and the economic elite, while the situation for the majority of Africans is very bleak. Subsidies from the EU for its farmers, and poultry importation from certain European countries, such as Holland undermines the lives of the people in Ghana and elsewhere. In his statement, many African leaders do not understand what they are doing and are simply being manipulated by multi-national companies and consulting firms and are leading their countries to an unknown destiny. In such unequal continent it is not surprising that the criminality rates are very high.

Other participants, such as Dr. Franklin Obeng-Odoom, Ghanaian by birth and currently conducting research at the University of Technology in Sidney and Mr. Nimmo Bassely a Nigerian, who came directly from his country for the seminar, gave us very sad pictures about the conditions in many African countries, and how the resources of the continent are being plundered by multi-national companies and by the respective African governments without real contribution to economic development or to the improvement of the life conditions of the African people. Dr. Obeng-Odoom has stressed the need for understanding the meaning of economic growth in its broadest sense. Accordingly any healthy economic growth must also include the concept of well-being, and from this perspective the living standard of the people in each African country must be analyzed. By comparing economic growth in Mauritius and Botswana with that of Zambia, Angola and Nigeria, he explained to us that while inequality in Mauritius and Botswana reduced to a certain extent, this is not the case in Nigeria, Angola and Zambia. In these three countries economic growth and the rise of inequality are two sides of the same coin. In Nigeria, economic growth has even greater negative impacts on the environment. As a city planner and researcher in political economics, told us that city planning in many African countries is being planned from the perspective of market economic activities, and not as a place to live, where human values, culture, ethical norms are being integrated so that individuals develop a sense of belongingness and social awareness. Such cities in Africa and elsewhere which are being constructed from the perspective of pure market transactions produce aggressive individuals which become harmful for any society in general. On the other hand many governments will be compelled to be converted into police states to counter attack such aggressive individuals and groups which the system has produced. It is not therefore very surprising that many African states have become more militarized over the last 20 years to cope with such kinds of problems. In other words, globalization and neo-liberal economic policies inevitably produce overcrowded cities, and destroy generally all human values such as cultural, social, ethical and moral values that are the attributes of all human beings. In Ghana the economy has grown by about 14% with oil, and yet in the western region of the country inequality has risen dramatically. The fact that multi-national companies have free hands, and are doing whatever they like, exploit the resources without contributing to the social and economic developments in the respective countries. Mr. Bassely a Nigerian by birth and well-educated and articulated personality told us about the ecological damages that the oil companies have inflicted upon the environment, and according to the study conducted by his organization, it will take at least 25 years to clean the land, and another 30 years to clean the water, even more than that to get rid of the ecological damages already deep-rooted and widely spread in many areas of the Niger Delta. According to him, the oil companies are criminals and must be charged for what they have inflicted and are still inflicting on African societies and their environments. He is also very concerned about the situations in Lake Turkana, in Kenya and Lake Albert, in Uganda. As a humanist he reminded the audience to ask themselves about their relationships with nature. He told us, as we are part of nature, and since we need nature for our existence we have to ask ourselves about the meaning of life, and therefore we can’t be indifferent to what is going on around us. From this perspective we also have to define the essence of economic development, and since economic planning and economic development reflect economic and political power relationships that prevail in any given country, they are not value free. When foreign companies come to Africa in order to invest in the name of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), their main motive is to take out as many resources as possible without creating social systems that are conducive to live and would enable the people to produce high culture. Statistics show that 70-80% of FDI goes to extract mineral resources, and this number tells a lot about the main aim of foreign companies. Mr. Bassely further explained to the audience that Africa is still a controlled continent, and some countries in West African that were once colonies of France still don’t have their own currencies, and do not have the right to know how much currency reserves in the central Bank of France they possess. Since 60 % of the foreign earnings of the ex-colonies remain in France, these West African countries cannot control their own monetary affairs. As long as any country does not have the right to control and manage its own monetary mechanisms, it cannot control the movements of capital and can’t adapt monetary policies in accordance to the need of the economy.

Generally speaking, the participants gave us a very dark picture about the nature of political constructions and lack of knowledge that exist in many African countries, that are being exploited by those foreign forces which at the moment think and believe that they are omnipotent in many areas, and clever enough to take out huge amounts of resources and profits as much as possible without ever thinking about the damages they are consciously or unconsciously inflicting on various African countries. Though the picture is clear and the participants spoke in clear languages, it was unfortunate to see how the audience became reluctant and was very uncritical. Nobody dared to raise critical questions and it seems that many are either confused or are adapted to such situations.

What do we learn from such analysis given by our African brothers? First, though the continent is nominally independent, in actual fact it is still a controlled continent. Second, the economic and political orders that were constructed after the Second World War do not favor the continent. The continent is still being considered by the so-called international community as exporter of raw materials. That means Africa must not use its own resources in accordance with the needs of its people. Third, since the continent does not have its own economic theory and policy it can easily be manipulated by foreign experts. Therefore all the economic policies that have been applied since the 1960s could not help the continent to create true national wealth. Fourth, the way out of this dilemma is that the people in each African country must be empowered to control their own resources and decide over their own destiny. Fifth, this requires strong political leadership form within that does not obey and accept economic policies of international partners.

The Problem of the Topic and the Discussion

Though the critical analysis that was presented to us was remarkable and very thoughtful, many fundamental aspects could not be discussed and could not be thematically analyzed. Frist, the ideological basis of GDP was not discussed at all, and nobody had raised questions to get clear answer about the fundamental aspects of GDP calculation in many African countries. In other words the place of manufacturing, science and technology was not discussed. Secondly, the differences between economic growth and economic development was not debated or thematically analyzed. Third, the differences in economic growth between those developed capitalist countries and African countries were not highlighted and debated. In other words, though the economic growth in many capitalist countries have never surpassed that of 3% over the last 30 years, and in many cases it was below 2%, why in counties where the economic growth allegedly reaches up to 6%, and in some countries like that of Ethiopia, where the government boasts that the country experiences a double-digit growth rate, why poverty persists and why there are many slum areas? Fourth, the seminar could not bring into light the economic, political, ideological and military construction that are purposely produced and organized after the Second World War, and that are the main causes of poverty, inequality, resource plundering, ecological damages, war and militarization in many African counties. Fifth, the so-called international division of labor that is being thought at the universities across the globe, and the role of the two sister Organizations, the IMF and the World Bank that are vehemently advancing free market economic policies and deregulation and their ideological foundation have never been discussed. Sixth, growth literally means expanding in many directions. Though many African countries show such a remarkable growth rate of 6% or more than that, why many African countries could not experience market expansion in all areas, and why everything concentrates in few cities, especially in capital cities? Such kinds and other numerous questions could not be raised and thematically analyzed. Normally it is up to the moderators to raise such kinds of questions and ask the participants to make clear about these and other related issues. Unfortunately they could not use their privilege position and neither ask the participants to make clear about certain points nor ask the audience whether everything that was presented there well understood or not.

From the outset it must be clear that the economic, social, political and ecological crises in many African countries are not the product of nature that are sent by God to punish Africans, but they are the products of such unequally constructed and ideologically manipulated world, so that the majority of the people in this world should take it for grant that Africans are condemned to live under such kinds of circumstances. Therefore, controlling resources and enriching ones elf, while pushing others into abject poverty, manipulating political power through diverse mechanisms and strengthening the repression apparatus to maintain the status quo, etc. are not natural products, but are products of certain social and political power relationships that are being produced and reproduced on national and international level. Mostly, the abnormal conditions in many African countries are the products of slavery, colonialism, the so-called international division of labor, imposed economic policies by foreign forces that are not congruent to the social, cultural, political and economic conditions of many African countries. In short, since the 16th century until today, the continent and its people are condemned to be exploited and therefore the people of Africa must remain undeveloped devoid of all rights. All the policies that were and are being imposed on Africa are not intended to develop the continent, but their mission is to make it permanently exporter of raw materials and other agricultural products that could not grow in the northern hemisphere.

The introduction of slave trade and subjugating Africans under colonial administration had practically destroyed developmental and evolutionary processes, and African societies were compelled not to grow organically in all areas as coherent nation-states with all their attributes. The civilized Europe has at the end managed to create sophisticated mechanisms that make for Africans very difficult to understand all the intrigues and use their own resources to develop economically and socially. This situation has been perpetuated after the Second World War by implementing the so-called import-substitution industrialization, the basic needs approach program, the Green revolution and later on the so-called structural adjustment program (SAPs). All these policies that have more ideological character than solving the continent’s social and economic problems have never been applied in the European economic and social history. The implementations of all these policies in many African countries have distorted developmental processes; and they are responsible for the state of the African societies as we see today. As such the ideological basis of the well propagated GDP is neo-liberalism or neo-classical economic thought that diametrically opposes real economic development that is based on vast division of labor, expanded manufacturing activities with increasing returns, and that is again supported by science and technology, innovation, research and developments, big market activities, sophisticated infrastructure, and well-designed cities and villages. Neo-classical or neo-liberal school of thought becomes an ideology after most European countries had successfully managed to develop capitalism on solid foundation. Until the 19th century all West European countries including the United States of America and Japan had followed an interventionist or mercantilist economic policy that helped them to build coherent economic structures on the basis of manufacturing activities. After a long battle against state interventionist policies and the political economy of Marxism, neo-classical economic thought that is based on empiricism could triumph. Therefore neo-classical school of thought does not know historical, cultural, social, political, and intellectual processes. It does not therefore incorporate space and time in its model; and even it does not understand the role of human being in shaping its destiny. Economy in any country grows for its own sake, and not to satisfy human needs. Each person in each country can satisfy his needs through the market and by participating in the market. Only the market knows what the people in each country want, and not the people themselves. Therefore the market does everything. It can read the minds of the people; accordingly it plans for them. Governments and the people themselves by mobilizing all the available resources must not act against the rule of the market. Unfortunately, individuals can participate in the market as long as they possess money. Otherwise they will be excluded from the market; and can only satisfy their needs as long as politicians and those who control the means of productions and the resources are benevolent enough and willing to create jobs. Jobs can only be created as long as buyers are willing to pay the prices what the market demands.

When we come to the second aspect, what can be seen, but not well recognized by many, the economy of many capitalist countries is being governed by different laws, and social mechanisms that do not exist in many African countries. First, many European countries by luck and later on by learning and doing could transform their social and economic structures. Most European countries have gone through three mind cleaning processes, which could not happen for various reasons in all African countries and in other Third World Countries. Renaissance, Reformation and Enlightenment are the starting points of western capitalism; and the preconditions that enabled most European countries to organize their societies on new foundation were laid from the 13th until the 16th century. After the 16th century onwards, many European countries introduced conscious economic policies that could lay the foundation for market capitalism. The so-called invisible hand as the source and precondition of capitalistic development is a myth. The invisible hand is rather a product of interrelated factors that become slowly effective after traditional values were systematically abolished through various mechanisms, when individuals were freed from old bondages of all types.

From this perspective, the development of capitalism is an ongoing process, based on expanded manufacturing activities, sophisticated and interconnected division of labor, which could slowly be supported by constant scientific researches and institutions in a given country. Capitalism has never functioned and is not functioning without effective institutions and state intervention. Only through effective and well organized institutions resources in any given country can be mobilized and allocated. Countries that lack a strong state and institutions are condemned not to develop in all directions. The people remain poor and will become victims by those forces that think and believe that they are more clever than others. The hierarchical relationships among different nations on a world wide scale have the sole purpose of maintaining the status quo and poor people are being seen as redundant and as such they are not blessed to determine their own fate.

Present day capitalism is unique in essence that it can only operate on a global level and absorbs resources from all over the world for its survival. Production, finance, circulation of commodities and even cultural production are taking place on a global scale; and hence capitalist accumulation in the center is not conceivable without the participation of the periphery. Its contradictory movements on a global level inevitably checks and blocks developments in other countries. From the perspective of capitalism that creates capital accumulation on a world wide scale, it is therefore natural to convert those weak countries into plantation economy and exporter of raw materials. It is indeed silly to expect something good from such a system that is not organized on the free will of the people in each country. Since present day capitalism is not synonymous with that of the days of Adam Smith, there is an intense competition among the different capitalist countries for market share and resource control in other countries. Only those strong nations with developed cultures and uninterrupted historical processes could withstand such fierce competition from the west and build their economies through a catch-up strategy. Many African countries couldn’t follow this catch-up strategy, because their historical and social processes were heavily interrupted by slavery, colonialism, international division of labor, and by economic policies that come from the west and that do not have scientific basis, and proxy wars that have destroyed human lives and dislocated millions of people from their living areas. In these kinds of circumstances, when normal life is not possible, when people of a given nation are deliberately interrupted not to make their own history, how is it possible to develop a given country?

Africas Economic Growth- Growth versus Development

After experiencing economic growth in the 60s as a result of the then prevailing demand for raw materials that was triggered by the reconstruction of Europe, beginning the 1970s the demand for raw materials had slowed. The oil crises of 1973/74 and the economic recession in many developed capitalist countries began affecting the balance of payment positions of many African countries, and hence due to shortages of hard currencies many governments could not finance existing projects. When the new emerging economies like that of China and India began demanding raw materials, and due to the favorable raw material prices on the world market, starting 2003 many African countries began showing economic growth. Especially raw material producing countries have benefited from demands that come from China and India. Like in the 60s this time too the economic growth in many African countries is supported by raw material demand on a world market, and not due to special economic policies that could help innovation and widen market activities based on manufacturing. Therefore the highly publicized economic growth in many African countries and that is admired by The Economist and the international institutions, is simply an increase in numbers rather than qualitative development from within that could equally expand across a given country. The supposed economic growth in Angola, Nigeria, and Ethiopia and in other African countries lacks four fundamental aspects that are crucial for a healthy and sustainable economic development. The economic growth in all these countries is not organic by nature and hence does not have evolutionary character. Second, it is not transformative. That means, qualitatively seen many African countries are not transformed. There is no economic, social, cultural and political transformation that is supported by science, technology and cultural renaissance that is crucial for a cumulative development on all sides. In addition to these, resources are simply exported without being processed. In this way the value-added chain will be cut, and many African countries can’t develop internal market structures that could fasten the valorization of money capital, and hence enforces capitalist accumulation on a wider scale. Third, innovation and invention that are central for economic development are not part and parcel of this kind of economic growth. Fourth, many African economies are not being supported by two departments that are essential for capital accumulation, and continuous economic development; namely the one that produces machines and various installments, and the other that produces non-durable goods. As long as there is no clear cut division of labor in these two departments, there can’t be capital accumulation, and hence an internal market can’t develop in scope and size. The growth of income, savings for investments, and demand in any given country depends on such kinds of interconnected economic structures and activities. When a given economy is organized in such a way there is continuous and cumulative growth. Invention and innovation become inevitably part and parcel of such an economic system. This is not the case in many African economies.

The economic growth in many African countries has rather created abnormal conditions in many Areas. Due to its dependency on one sector, the market of many African countries couldn’t expand. Therefore the much exaggerated economic growth that even the west allegedly wishes for itself couldn’t create employment opportunities for the millions of people who seek jobs. Youth unemployment in many African countries is rampant, and the criminality rate has increased at alarming rate. One could observe that over the last 30 years economic activities have shifted more and more to the service sector where one could earn easy money. Hence, the mentality of getting quick money by being engaged in the service sector where social wealth can’t be created has become a culture in many African societies. As a result of such over exaggerated economic activities whose products come from abroad, there is unequal development in many African countries. Over the last 30 years the gap between those rich and poor people has increased widely; and the rich people who become richer without working hard and without investing strategically to expand the internal market, are leading their own lives. Such a class which is living isolated from the rest of the society has become by itself a market for foreign products. In this way resources that are needed for productive investments are being allocated for luxury goods. Building new hotels, apartments that become common in many capital cities, especially in Addis, Lagos and Luanda are pushing hundreds thousands of people from the center and compel them to live in isolated areas. The outcome of such kinds of unplanned building activities and styles without any proper space planning is slum building. At the same time many capital cities have become dumping grounds for second hand goods whose negative consequences are not yet well known. Since such kinds of construction activities absorb resources, like water, energy, and food items of all types life for the ordinary people has become like a hell. This in turn has compelled millions of Africans to live below the poverty line. In many cities, thousands of people lack the necessary food for life support. Due to the backward nature of the manufacturing activity in many African countries, the continent as a whole produces goods and services worth of only $ 1.9 trillion for 1.07 billion people. In comparison Germany produces goods and services worth of $3.5 trillion for only 80 million people. This shows the huge cultural and economic gap between Germany as a country and Africa as a continent. Though we are told that many African countries are showing good performance in terms of economic growth, 40% of Africans live below the poverty line; and one person earns only $1 a day. Out of 40 countries that are characterized as least developed countries in the world, 34 countries are from Africa.

When we come to Ethiopia that is favored by the international community for its “success”, the gap between the rich and the poor has widened over the last 15 years. The Gini Index or coefficient for income distribution is just 0.47; that means there is a huge income gap among the Ethiopian people. The economic growth that is highly celebrated by the West has produced very few wealthy people which accumulate too much wealth while the majority of the people are pushed to abject poverty. The manufacturing sector is still underdeveloped, and its contribution to GDP is only 11%. Youth unemployment is very high, and amounts to 50%. 87.6% of the Ethiopian people do not have access to sanitation. 54% of the people lack clean water; and 89.6% of the Ethiopian people have problems of getting energy of all kinds that they need to cook food. 90% of the people are undernourished, and have even a problem to get one meal a day. 80% of the population in Addis lives in slum areas. Because the government is not in a position to feed its own people it is still dependent on the so-called door communities. At least 30% of the government’s budget comes from Europe and the USA. All these misery is irrespective of the well celebrated economic growth. The so-called structural adjustment program (SAPs) of the IMF and the World Bank has brought to the Ethiopian people not prosperity but abject poverty and degradation. It is not as the international community tries to make us believe that the country is progressing, rather it is moving by leaps and bounds backwards to the Middle Ages. That is what the Ethiopian people tell us, and what the reality on the ground proves.

The globalization process that has been going since over the last 30 years has worsened the economic and social conditions in many African countries. The fact that many African countries are compelled to open their markets for foreign products, de-industrialization has become common. Studies conducted by UNCTAD and by other non-governmental international and national organizations, show that SAPs has severely affected many African countries; and as a result of monetary policies of the IMF many countries are far away from a normal functioning market economy. Land-grabbing and commodity markets that are intended to feed foreign consumers are practically killing the economy of many African countries. Due to ignorance from the side of certain African governments, especially that of the Ethiopian government, fertile and valuable land is being allocated for foreigners to plant flowers and other products for exportation. In order to earn foreign currency the Ethiopian government has planned to open 10 sugar factories, and has allocated 150,000 hectare land for sugar cane plantation. It is estimated that the government has budgeted almost $ 4.6 billion to install 10 sugar factories. This is at a time when 3 to 4 Million people urgently need food; and instead of allocating the fertile land to cereal productions that has more economic, social and cultural values, in this way millions of people are being dislocated or compelled to work in non-productive activities. The government of Ethiopia rather imports dehydrated wheat every year worth of $ 150 million from the USA. At the same time it imports seeds of various types from American seed companies, while it has destroyed the country’s traditional seeds, and this makes the peasant more dependent on the American seed companies. In many areas of the country we hear that over 10,000 hectare land of wheat farm is destroyed because of drought and diseases. Though the causes are not yet being investigated, one can guess that such kinds of GM and hybrid seeds might be the causes of such kinds of destruction across the country. Studies in Argentina and Brazil show that millions of maize plantation were destroyed because of wide spread application of GM seeds. Beside this the Ethiopian government exports sesame seed, and flax seeds of all types, while it imports saturated oil that is very unhealthy, and become one of the causes of growing diabetes and blood pressure in many households. In short, instead of economic growth and well-designed cities with clear-cut division of labor we see chaotic situations in Ethiopia and in other African countries

If one observes and studies the economic policies and economic growth of many African countries over the last 50 years, they are planned not from the perspective of fulfilling the basic needs of the African people. Since all economic policies come from outside and are simply imposed from above without any challenges, they couldn’t address the needs of the people of Africa. The fact that humans must first of all eat and drink in order to survive and work effectively is not within the economic concept of the planners. What the planners had and still have in their minds is simple market economic activity, that functions and exits for itself. Such a philosophy that has been propagated on a world wide scale is throwing many Third World countries to non-governable situations. Actually globalization and free trade doctrine are mere instruments of controlling resources in many Third World countries. They favor those multinational companies to exploit the resources of these countries, and at the same time block economic development in each country. Under the pretext of globalization and free trade the entire world must be converted into a neo-liberal shopping zone. Those who vehemently advocate for a total free trade and implementation of neo-liberal economic policies everywhere forget that such a uniform model and changing the world into a pure neo-liberal supermarket is against nature and human social order in general. As nature is diverse, each society in this world has also its own historical experience, unique culture, way of living and mentality, social and political constructions that can’t be converted into homogeneous ways of lives. What each society needs is conscious modernization to cope with the growing population. Modernizing of a given society must be holistic by nature, and it must not have the potential of destroying the social fabric of a given society by developing unnecessary social and cultural contradictions. What the advocators of globalization and free market ideology are doing is not to create social and economic dynamism through holistic policy instruments, but consciously and unconsciously to create chaotic conditions in many Third World countries. This will enable them to exploit the resources of these countries.

The Question of Economic Growth and Nation Building

In the social and cultural history of Europe begging the 16th century, economic development had never been planned by dissociating from nation building. At that time it was common that the fate of the people of a given country was intimately linked with economic development. It was believed that only through expanded economic activities that are interconnected through various kinds of instruments, people of a given country come together and feel that they belong to one nation and culture. Therefore absolute Monarchs had pursued conscious economic policies to realize their dreams. Though many European countries had experienced bloody wars in their history, there was a common understanding among the various kings and Monarchs that the urgent task of any government was to lay down the foundation for broader economic developments. Therefore the creation and building of a nation-state on firmer grounds is the task of every successive generation. Though economic development was a necessary criterion for the formation of a nation-state, however it must also be accompanied by many other factors like culture, city buildings, infrastructure, and various types of activities that could hold the society in a given country together.

The concept of nation building and nation-state are practically abolished especially from the minds of the present leaders. Many African governments are simply pursuing and implementing the advices of foreign experts and do not bother about nation building and creating harmonious societies on the basis of science and technology. On the other hand inward-looking attempts by certain African leaders are seen by foreigners as dangerous; and from the outset such kinds of thinking and attempts must not be tolerated. From this perspective all economic policies that have been practiced in many African countries are not suitable for nation building and for the formation of nation-states. The impositions of austerity programs had the sole purpose of blocking each African country not to organize its own system based on science and technology that ultimately leads to strong nation. Therefore the clue to poverty eradication and continuous economic development in all sides’ is not by pursuing a neo-liberal economic policy that strangulates the economy in general, but by pursuing conscious economic planning that has the capacity of mobilizing all the available resources in any given country. For this African governments must follow a strategy of protectionism for at least a period of 30 to 50 years. Only when they strictly control the movements of goods and capital and also their resources they could surely build an economic system that could benefit all the people in each country. Therefore it is an urgent task to bring all the intellectual and political forces together for a common agenda i.e. to build strong nation-states on the basis of manufacturing, science and technology.


These kinds of seminars are important. However, it is the task of African intellectuals to create and drive a debate over the social, economic and cultural conditions of their own countries. African intellectuals should voice their opinions and create platforms for their voices to be heard. Since African intellectuals understand their own culture, development related issues and structural problems better than foreigners; it is up to them to formulate economic policies that are suitable for African countries. That does not mean that they should totally reject advices and good intentions that come from friends and certain institutions. What I want to say is that every advice and intention must be theoretically and scientifically studied and assessed whether it has the merit of solving African problems. Therefore they have to focus more on theoretical issues that are scientific and philosophical in nature. This will surely help them to understand also their own role in their societies.

Concerning the seminar that was conducted under the title “I can’t eat GDP”, though the organizers must be thanked for they have chosen such a title and invited prominent civil right activists, it was practically impossible to raise critical questions and give one’s own assessment. Questions and comments that have been raised by well-articulated Pan-Africanist activists, like Dr. Aziz Fall who came from Canada and others about the role of AFRICOM in destabilizing Africa were simply unheard and the participants didn’t want to comment on this and other critical issues. Comments about inherent consequences of neo-liberalism and the production of poverty on a global scale are seen by some as ideological, rather than answering the questions in a scientific way. It seems that from this and other seminars in which I have participated and heard that neo-liberalism as a policy instrument remains without any alternative. Such attitudes are very dangerous for humanity in general, and especially for the people of Africa. The continent can free itself and develop well when it looks at alternative economic theories and policies that can eradicate poverty and at the same time lay the foundation for a science and technology driven economic development. It is up to African intellectuals and citizens to come up with alternatives and show a way for Africa to harness its own resources and at the same time develop economically and socially.

Fekadu Bekele is a Development Economist by profession and holds Ph D

He is also an expert in international politics, peace, and social systems


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Hama Tuma


It has been said that solutions proposed by governments are often worse than the problems themselves and we can realize this when we consider many weird and strange laws decreed out of the blue to deal with problems that are sometimes only seen within the presidential palaces and the offices and villas of the officials. Uganda has given us one strange (and irrelevant) law after another and it has amused us to no end. Museveni’s “scientific” tirade against homosexuality and his recent stringent decree against it actually concerns a minority in a country whose majority consider poverty, bad governance and corruption (by Museveni and his family) as their major problems. He went on to ban miniskirts too. Go ahead and laugh.


Actually, and if truth be told, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and other like him in Africa are not exceptions. There are by far too many strange, weird and absurd laws all over the world. Some are ignored and dated others are not still repealed. In Oklahoma you can be arrested for making ugly faces at a dog and in Devon, Texas, it is illegal to make furniture while you are nude. In France you cannot name a pig Napoleon, and in California it is illegal for a vehicle without a driver to exceed 60 miles per hour. In Switzerland it is illegal for a man to relieve himself standing up after 10pm and in Samoa it is criminal to forget you own wife’s birthday. In Ethiopia, it was illegal not only to protest but to even think of protesting and push others to think of dissenting. In England it is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament, to carry rabid dogs and corpses in a city cab and an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the Queen upside down. America is the weirdest as is to be expected: in Texas it is illegal to threaten a man with an unloaded gun, in Miami imitating animals is illegal, in Washington pretending to have wealthy parents is illegal, in Baltimore taking a lion to the cinema is also illegal, and in Texas if you are going to commit a crime you legally have to give the police 24 hours’ notice. In North Carolina it is illegal to swear in front of dead people and in Florida having intercourse with a porcupine is very illegal. In Saudi Arabia, it is illegal for women to drive, in Bahrain a male doctor can check a woman’s genitals only via a mirror and in Singapore chewing gum is illegal. In Equatorial Guinea it was illegal to observe Christmas, for the Boko Haram of Nigeria it is illegal to get modern education, the Al Shabab has banned the internet and in Ethiopia anyone found trying to access to prohibited web sites will be jailed.


I am not trying to make Museveni appear as a feather weight but his vitriolic against gays is not even original—Mugabe (whose first president was gay and a priest) has done it better. In Sweden, where prostitution is legal, it is illegal to use the services of a prostitute and in Thailand it is illegal to leave your house without your underwear. Israel makes it illegal to pick your nose on Sunday, in Turkey it is illegal for men above 80 years to become a pilot, and in Chicago it is illegal for anyone to eat in a place that is on fire. In Ohio, it is illegal to get a fish drunk and in Minnesota, it is against the law to hang male and female underwear on the same washing line. In Lebanon, you can be killed if caught having sex with a male animal but not punished if the animal is female. In Bahrain if you insult the king you get seven years in jail and a $26,500 fine.  In most African countries it is illegal to demand democracy, to yearn for good governance and accountability from the power holders.  The burning issues of Uganda and many African countries do not concern dresses or sexual orientations and yet the rulers have to harp on these issues while persecuting anyone who would ask on corruption, bad governance, ethnic discrimination and real concerns of the majority of the people. Actually, it is ridiculous for immoral (and polygamous) rulers trying to legislate on morality with the advice (and money) of right wing American Christian evangelists/fundamentalists


Irrelevance is part of clever (does not mean good) governance in Africa. The rulers are adept at raising issues that are of no significance but become burning ones thanks to the State controlled media. The regime in Ethiopia is an expert at this art—it will blatantly steal an election, murder hundreds and manipulates the whole situation to make a gullible and amateurish opposition cry foul on the mere arrest of political dissidents. The main issue forgotten, the secondary concern made crucial—add a weird law to this and the whole focus of the people will be hijacked to a non-relevant issue.  Make a carnival of the death of a tyrant (North Korea and Ethiopia for example) and Operation Diversion would be a success. How many women wear miniskirts in Uganda and who cares? Of what importance is it if women drive cars or take the same bus as men? Why should men with moustaches be forbidden to kiss women including their wives? Nigerians and Ugandans are more concerned by the fight against corruption, against the Boko Haram and the LRA, against the absence of basic necessities for millions, the violation of the rights of children and women. Fundamentalists of all hues need to be declared medically crazy but this would affect critical allies of Washington like the Middle East autocrats and it will not be tolerated. Alas, the malady is wide spread and the weird laws are universal. Smashing those who dare to protest is very much legal..

With its anti-gay law, Uganda has received many bashing from various quartersand aid money has been suspended.  A perfect example of double standards and hypocrisy has raised its head once again. Zenebu Tadesse, the minister for women, children and youth affairs in Ethiopia, criticized the Ugandan law as if the world does not know that homosexuality is illegal in Ethiopia (15 years prison term) and that her masters had vowed that Ethiopia would be a burial ground for homosexuality. In addition, human rights criticism of the regime can get you 20 years in prison holes without even a warrant. (The Minister has been reprimanded by her strict masters and she has withdrawn her criticism of Uganda). That is why Washington’s hue and cry against Museveni’s anti-gay law may appear hypocritical because it has also weird laws and tolerates as good allies monsters with grotesque decrees and practices. It is to be remembered that Apartheid (talk of strange decrees!) was tolerated, backed and condoned by the West for long and the now eulogized Mandela was deemed a terrorist for years and his incarceration considered legal. In Ethiopia, the more the regime has turned repressive the more it has enjoyed Western support—who cares for some darkies being slaughtered so long as the killers are serving Western interests in the region? Obama built his cover when he said “we live in a world of imperfect choices”. This seems to be the justification for America’s alliance with dictators from Equatorial Guinea to Ethiopia, Djibouti, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan and more. Museveni himself is a close ally of Washington despite his worsening human rights record. It is in this light that Uganda’s anti-gay antics and banning of miniskirts becomes a farce much more like the antics of a Bokassa or Idi Amin. What decree will he propose next? It is like the cruel regime in Addis Ababa saying Ethiopians, who cannot afford three decent meals per day, need to diet and stop complaining of the rampant famine.  It is like Chuck Hagel ,the American official, talking of democratic progress in repressive Bahrain and Hilary Clinton embracing so many dictators as democrats and trying to babble about ‘great opportunities to develop democracy in Uzbekistan” where one dissenter was even boiled alive.. Take the case of the dictator of Equatorial Guinea: “Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warmly welcomed Obiang to Washington as a “good friend.” Even President Obama has posed for a photo op with the dictator, who once won reelection with 103 percent of the vote in some precincts. Why all the love? Equatorial Guinea’s $9 billion oil and gas bonanza, almost all of it produced by U.S. companies, has made it one of the largest destinations for U.S. investment in Africa, and much of that oil, naturally, finds its way across the Atlantic”. Susan Rice wept for the late Ethiopian tyrant heaping praises on the man who had close to 35,000 political prisoners in his various known and secret prisons and had been accused of ethnic cleansing and massacres. So why the hue and cry against Museveni? How are women treated in all the Arab countries that are close allies of Washington? Aren’t some countries, American allies, forcing preteen girls to marry old people? Freeing rapists so long as they agree to marry their victims? Honor killings? And can America honestly condemn Museveni as it still treats homosexuality as an offense in its own states. Writing on this hypocrisy Tracy Clarke-Flory had the following to say in her article: Sodomy laws still exist?!


EnlargeWhen the Indian Supreme Court this week reinstated a law banning gay sex, everyone in my liberal social circle began circulating outrage. I shared in this — and yet, I couldn’t help but wonder at the remnants here in the U.S. of attempts of doing just that.

In fact, we still have laws against sodomy in several states – Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Utah. Currently. In the year 2013. [I pause to let you pick your jaw up off the floor.] Two states — Kansas and Texas — explicitly outlaw homosexual contact. That’s right: the United States of America still has laws on the books criminalizing gay sex”.  Arizona?


Museveni is getting international heat and suspension of aid because of his anti-gay law. Other African countries have done the same without the outcry. No African regime has been threatened with sanctions for massacres, human rights violations and violent repressions that have all affected the majority, the millions and have ruined our continent.  As I wrote years ago, homophobia on the part of the repressive regimes is but a cover for “demophobia”, a rabid fear of democracy and the peoples’ demand for good, or at least tolerable, governance. Museveni and others actually enjoy the hue and cry on the gay issue, a perfect distraction from very many serious problems. India, China, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, the Arab countries, Russia etc. are all engaged in the lucrative gay bashing—forget your serious problems, your hunger, the absence of democracy, the oppression of women, the sale of children, the political prisoners and the rampant torture, the injustice that shocks to no end and make sexual preferences the priority issue and just bash the gays. Amen!


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Merchants of deception

By Gemencho

The May 2005 election was supposed to go according to the plan.  The TPLF would allow the election, as long as it controlled the entire electoral process. The loyal opposition would begrudgingly go along with that.  The people, whom the election was supposedly for , would remain on the sidelines as cheerleaders.  The donor countries would congratulate all three-  the TPLF, for allowing the election,  the loyal opposition for not setting unreasonable pre-conditions, such as demanding the election to be free and fair, and the people for accepting the outcome, whatever that be. The election day came.  The TPLF declared itself, the winner.  The loyal opposition cried foul, and appealed to the conscious of the donor countries to intervene on its behalf.

Then, the unexpected happened.  The people went against the plan, and revolted.  Things got out of hand.  This was something the loyal opposition was most afraid of, and had hoped to avoid at all cost.  The civilized and loyal opposition was taken over, by an uncivilized and disloyal multitude.

What was until then hidden beneath the surface came out to the open.  The nexus of interest  between the donor countries, the TPLF and the loyal opposition, became glaringly visible .  By all means, the uprising had to be dealt with.  The TPLF unleashed the Aghazi f force against the defenseless population, while the loyal opposition made sure the much anticipated and promising nationwide strike did not take place.

The May 2005 uprising was historical in a sense, that not only did it show  the people’s resolve  to take matters into their own hands, but also,  what the loyal opposition was composed of.   It showed, the leaders were no Ghandis or Mandellas, but hustlers who found their way to embellish their resumes at the nation’s  expense.    The uprising outed them, as weaklings of the regime.  it ended their political theatrics as  opposition leaders.

To begin with, the loyal opposition was an incoherent group hastily patched to save the “Ethiopia is moving on a democratic path” narrative of the donor countries.   Its leaders  were either at one moment bona fide members, friends and/or functionaries of the TPLF regime.  They were vetted, because they were deemed safe and submissive.  They were there to defend the narrative.   So, it was not surprising, when the uprising came, they began to unravel.   Some joined the parliament while the others looked for a way out of the country.   In other words, it was the uprising and not the TPLF that fractured them.  .

Since then, much has not been heard from the parliamentarians, but the latter, under a new brand name, Ginbot 7 have come out swaggering at the TPLF with vengeance.   The latter are vowing  to do everything in their power, including armed struggle, to get rid of the regime.   They are ratcheting their  rhetoric, through their website, and their media, ESAT, that they are already causing panic within the TPLF.   According to them, the TPLF is passing many sleepless nights, worried about them, pre-occupied in trying to assassinate them.

This is quite puzzling, since there is nothing in their history that suggests this turnaround of attitude towards the TPLF could happen.  This was a regime that they served loyally, up until their departure, and shielded it from its possible collapse. This was a regime, in response to their loyalty, treated them with kid gloves, and when their tenure expired, sent them to a safe exile, for a comfortable life.  If they needed to blame someone , they should blame the uprising, and not the TPLF.  Which prompts us to ask, do they really mean what they say? Are the Ginbot 7 leaders really after the TPLF ?

The Ginbot 7 leaders have changed one master by another, and they want this move, to be called patriotic.  They want their servility to the EPLF, to mean, anti-TPLF.  In a way,  they are doing what they  did best, in the past,  under different brand names (The Horn of Africa, EPDM,  Keste Demena)- serving,, whoever hires them.

Ethiopians know by now that  not all anti-TPLF groups are anti-TPLF in the truest sense of the term.  Groups like the EPLF, OLF, ONLF may have their own grudges, but, they don’t see  the fall of the TPLF in their  strategic interest.  The TPLF may always be greedy, and never satisfy their needs, but it is the best bet they have in Ethiopia, at least, for the moment..

The EPLF and TPLF may be adversaries, they have even gone to war, but their deeply held common interest far outweighs that. What is fundamental to  both is keeping Ethiopia fractured and bantustanized, which means working together to eliminate if possible, or else, to weaken  the threat coming from the forces of unity.  No matter how much the Isayas regime detests the TPLF, it is not that stupid to allow pan-Ethiopian movements operate freely in its territory.   That is why it collects groups like OLF and Ginbot 7-not to threaten the TPLF, but rather, to use them as its conveyor belts to its strategic interest.

Actually both the EPLF and TPLF know they have a compelling reason to forgo their differences and make amends.   Both know they are sitting on a time bomb that could explode on them at any moment.   Though not verified, there is already a chatter from Sudan of a secret meeting  held between both initiated by their long time ally, Al. Bashir.  If it is the case, it should not come as a surprise.

The Ginbot 7 leaders may insist otherwise, but they did not join the EPLF to fight the TPLF.  As is clear, from their history, they have no reason to hate, let alone to fight the TPLF.  The TPLF has done nothing to them to deserve their wrath.  Their brief imprisonment, compared to the countless many  Ethiopians who are languishing,  was no less than a vacation.

They joined the EPLF to keep on doing what they were doing under the TPLF to serve  the anti-Ethiopian campaign run by the TPLF and the EPLF.  It matters little for which group (the EPLF or the TPLF) they work. It is even doubtful, either group cares that much.

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Et tu, ESAT?

By Yilma Bekele

‘Et, tu Brute?’ is what the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar was heard to have said when he saw his dear friend Marcus Brutus in league with his assassins. In English he was saying ‘you too, Brutus?’ It is said by historians that Caesar was fond of Brutus and treated him as he would a son. His betrayal must have been very painful.

This last week I was forced to utter Et tu three times in one weak. Like Caesar was blindsided by the turnabout behavior of his friend I was completely rendered speech less by the action of those I considered dear and close. As an Ethiopian I definitely consider myself beyond surprise when it comes to news and actions of my homeland and people. What country would ever consider of robbing abused returning immigrants? In fact I have managed to develop such a thick skin that most things just bounce off barely leaving a scratch. It is not for being uncaring but a simple defense mechanism to survive. I am an Ethiopian and I suffer in silence.

The last month has been very difficult for us Ethiopians like it or not. To witness the cold blooded and ugly behavior of the Saudi Government against our people was a painful experience. Our heart goes to the victims. The shameful act of the so called Ethiopian government was a lesson on what happens when warlords, village idiots and their enablers take over a country. The Woyane mafias were more concerned about offending the Arab billionaires more than the suffering of their citizens.

To make matters worse the pride of all humans in general and Africans in particular Nelson Mandela Died. The world was a sad place. Not many Mandela’s come around this way often. Talk about Mandela completely dominated the news. The international media was looking under every nook and cranny to find anything to do with the great leader. No story was deemed irrelevant if it has anything to do with Madiba. The love for Mandela was universal.

I was sucking on Mandela lore when I came across ESAT’s presentation. They stopped me on my tracks. That is when like Caesar I said Et tu ESAT? (antem esat?) How could you mix water and oil my friend. Isn’t that what they were attempting to do? Asking an ordinary criminal, a murderer to give testimonial about a liberation fighter, a humanist, a leader by the ballot box is bizarre and insults the memory of our Madiba not to mention our poor tossed around Ethiopian existence.

The interviewer referred to criminal Mengistu Hailemariam as the former president of Ethiopia. That is totally not true. The individual was the former dictator of Ethiopia. As far as history tells us we Ethiopians have never freely elected a leader. We had hereditary kings until Emperor Haile Selassie and a successive of dictators since then. What we got today being dictator number two and half. No matter how ever much painful it was I listened to the monologue.

As I suspected it was the usual hot air with no deep analysis but your garden variety personal views presented as verifiable facts. It was déjà vu time if you remember during the hay days of the Derg era where the ‘leader’ was an expert on every subject. This was chapter two where the dictator became a historian and political scientist and gave us a lesson on the liberation movements, the international situation and the colonial era. He is entitled to his opinion but not his facts but dictators are allergic to facts thus they weave their own theory out of thin air which with the help of the gun they force all to see it their way. He must be starved for attention because one question is all he needed to run away with his rehearsed play of course with himself as the star.

To add insult to injury the criminal was asked for advice regarding the current situation of our precious homeland. This is where I got sick. I felt insulted. I shrank until I disappeared. It is like asking the arsonist about the building he just torched. May the Gods have mercy on our soul?

Thus I took my time and talked to a lot of Ethiopians on the subject of Mengistu. Some were offended like I was, a few dismissed it as a nonevent and there were a few that actually liked it. Mengistu Hailemariam dominated our people and country for a long time. His reign is remembered to be a very traumatic time for our people. He was accidentally thrust into being a leader, a position that he was not prepared or had the aptitude for. There is no need to spell out the many horrifying and cruel acts carried out by his gang which no Ethiopian escaped from.

Today we are harvesting what Mengistu sowed. Millions of relatives of his victims are still with us. There are those that lost a family member, a loved one, a neighbor, a friend whose memory is still fresh and constant reminder of those difficult days. Mengistu is our collective nightmare.

I heard him mention the Emperor and thought how cold blooded he must be talking about the person he murdered presiding as judge, jury and executioner. How callous one has to be. But we knew that. They say he is brave and decisive but he left his army behind and run away. That is the dictionary definition of a coward. He said he hasn’t killed a fly but when he was the leader blood flowed like river in the streets of Ethiopia. That is an example of a person on denial. Some claim he was patriotic, loved his country but a generation of educated were sacrificed, high ranking military officers faced the firing squad, and thousands started the exodus which hasn’t abated yet. That is what happens when you have a mad person in charge.

This is the individual that ESAT and some other obscure outfits are trying to invite to our living rooms as honorable guests that would contribute positively to the conversation. What valuable lesson could we learn from an individual that has not even come to terms with the crimes he perpetuated and has not even bothered to ask for forgiveness to the people and nation he hurt and bring closure to those that have lost their loved ones? What exactly did he tell us that we don’t know?

He said Mandela did not come to Ethiopia because he did not like Woyane’s ethnic policy. Wow is all I could say. He was brought out of the deep freeze to tell us what we already know? All this excitement to show that Madiba was not fond of the likes of the nameless warlord? I had no idea that we needed Madiba to tell us how awful Woyanes are. I am sorry ESAT that is yesterday’s news. The Ethiopian people have gone beyond that and if it was not for the network of terror cells Woyane has established on every street they would have dealt with the mafia outfit a long time ago.

What else, I am afraid nothing. Not that there could be anything more and no earthly reason to expect to be anything of value. So what is the idea of getting this has been individual to come out and disturb our peace, derail our freedom train and confuse the many young Ethiopians that have not yet made an intelligent determination on what has happened the last forty years.

May be I misunderstood. It is possible I am barking up the wrong tree. I always thought of ESAT as different. You know like a weapon of Democracy and freedom. The voice of the voiceless is what I tell people. ‘Ethiopia’s eyes and ears’ Is what is said of ESAT. Organ mal function is what my brain screamed. What happened here, and where is the disconnect? What trajectory are we heading? Are we going to be the voice of the least common denominator?

Some would try to argue about freedom of speech. Little knowledge is always dangerous. I am afraid that principle is not applicable here. I would not advocate silencing the fascist thug but at the same time I wouldn’t hand him my microphone to disperse his toxic, irrelevant and idiotic idea using my hard earned media. We welcomed ESAT to raise the level of conversation to a higher level. Diaspora Ethiopians that are by no choice of their own displaced from their mother land contribute to ESAT so it could help us inform each other, echo the cry of our people, organize to fight injustice and teach each other to love, respect and help create the future democratic Ethiopia.

Inviting the likes of yesterday abusers is not the way to go. Felling the hurt brought about by Mengistu and Meles is the first order of business. If we don’t feel each others pain we are likely to inflict pain on others. If barbaric acts by usurpers and warlords is not condemned and etched in our brain to avoid in the future aren’t we condemned to repeat history?

I was feeling sad and dejected when I came across more of the same waiting for me around the corner. It is no other than the Honorable Ato Bulcha Demeksa that made me rush to the pharmacy in search of valium or any drug that would numb my frayed nerve. In an interview on German Radio our elder father was peddling hate filled discourse on the relationship between different ethnic groups in our country. He even went to the extent of describing it as a colonial situation. A very interesting analysis when you consider our elder statesman was Minister during the time of the Emperor and a member of Parliament during Woyane rule.

You would think that age has a mellowing effect and being an elder, an experienced statesman, and a leader would make you choose your words carefully and foresee the consequences of loose speech. With all due respect I am forced to conclude the honorable gentleman made a major mistake. He gave fuel to some erratic, ego driven jihadists the perfect argument to peddle their nihilistic argument for fifteen minutes of fame.

The final straw that was trying to buckle my back was the interview with Tamrat Layne an idiot that always requires a crutch to stand up straight. Yesterday he was a Marxist that supposedly fought to get rid of military rule and build dictatorship of the proletariat. In fact he was so gung ho about it he went to the bush and raised a gun to build his new society. Upon wining he was crowned Prime Minister and sent out to disparage his own ethnic group and incite war against unarmed peasants. Needless to say when his usefulness was exhausted he made to confess to financial crimes and thrown in the dungeon.

This criminal whose hand is soiled by the blood of our family members is now living among us as a Christian preacher. Hi current crutch is no other than the holy Bible and I am afraid he is deeply immersed until the next phase of his transformation. Who knows tomorrow he might pick crack cocaine to lean on to support his weak underdeveloped brain. But no matter he was interviewed as a newsmaker to tell us on how to conduct our struggle against his former friends. It is not him I am worried about but my poor country and people that are jumping from one criminal to another to lead us on the road of failure.

Et tu ESAT, Et tu Bulcha is what is keeping me awake at night. May be I need new friends that would not play with my fragile ego and show a little bit of respect and empathy. As for Tamrat I await for his next interview and hopefully he would show up as a Drag Queen complete with makeup and that I promise would put my world right side up.


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Open Letter to Tesfaye Gebrab

By Tedla Asfaw

Tena Yestelen Obo Tesfaye,

It is now Friday Oct, 11, 2013 to be exact 8:30 pm ET. I  just have finished your book “YeSedetegnaw  Mastawasha”. I read it posted on PDF. Sorry It has not yet been released for sale.

I started reading it around 9:30 am and stopped around 4pm on page 318. I read the rest of the book starting around 6pm. The book was easy to read but there are fabrication and lies.

You were not telling us your stay in Holland with your  roommate  with Alemayehu Mesel. It seems you tried to avoid that part. How is it possible to ignore this part of your story while you said a lot about people you met for a day or for few hours ?

You mention Kiflu Asefa the editor of EMF and Alemayehu Mesel on your asylum application as friends, Are they still your friends ?

When did you break up with Alemayehu Mesel ? Is that the reason you have  not mentioned his name ? Did you edit your draft after you realized that Alemayehu has copied some of your hand writings secretly ?

What is the reason the Ntsanet Publishing Agency (NPA) pull the add about your new book ?  Who is now the publisher ?

There are major fabrications and lies I observed on your book. The story of “Chaltu” in Addis was during Derg Ethiopia. That time almost students in  schools were very active  reading Socialist Books like Mao,,Lenin etc.The “Gala” insult in school Chaltu allegedly faced was not a norm at all. This is your own creation, a continuation of “YeBurka Zimita”. Amhara VS Oromo hate.

Addis Ababea junior or high school students  at that time were intoxicated in class struggle. People were seen as “Teramaje” or “Adhari”. Ethnicity was not the driving ideology of that time. You forgot that it was a time of “Meret LeArashu”. generation.

“Ehaba”  a word you equate with your made up “Dog” is an insult to the generation of EPRP which is known as “Ehaba”  by the ordinary Ethiopians. What a shame and hate you have for this brave generation, ” Lehager Yemote Tewlede”.

As far as I am concerned your “Mastawash” as ” Sedetegna” ” is not more than a tourist travel experience from one city to another. Whoever met you on your way shared their thoughts with you. No one take this book as a historical fiction or history as you suggested. It is a travel experience.

I wrote this week  a piece ” A one Way Ticket to Fatherland ” after I read Judge Woldemichael Meshesh piece about “Who is Tesfaye Gebreab  ? ”  based on your hand writings leaked by Alemayehu, “AleLeaks”.

I  “pray”  for  you to go to your “Fatherland” because you will not get anything living in Holland. Holland culture of tolerance is quite contrary to your advocacy of ethnic war between Amharas and Oromos and the disintegration of Ethiopia. Europe is now under European Union. You are not going to be happy with any idea of unity among people.

Go to your Fatherland and help in propaganda work for OLF. You are not a person who care for human dignity. If you have courage you should have said a word in support of hundreds of journalists who are suffering in Shabia’s jail for more than a decade.

 Your hate for Ethiopia where you grow up and blind love for your Fatherland is very common characteristics of most of the Eritrean people. Most Ethiopians do not care for Eritrea separation. The problem is you can not even live peacefully with Ethiopia under Woyane/Shabia control. How are you going to survive  Ethiopia under  nationalist government ? Broken up Ethiopia like that of Somalia is your and Shabia wish but one thing is sure, breaking up Eritrea is not hard at all. A person who is living in a glass house can not be the first to throw a rock in someones else house.

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Challenge For Ginbot 7 leadership

By Tedla Asfaw

This coming Sunday Sept 22 in Arlington, Virginia Ginbot 7 has called all Ethiopians for open public dialogue. On this public meeting  Ginbot 7 chairman, Dr. Birhanu Nega and the Secretary, Andargatchew Tsige will be there. This is the “Mother of all Meetings”. Hope it will be aired live on ESAT.

Ginbot 7 has been on news recently after Dr.Birhanu’s  leaked “embarrassing” audio and the interview Ato Andargatchew gave on ESAT this month. Both are now to face the public on what they have said in public among many other questions.

Dr. Birhanu has a budget of 500,000 dollar from bankrupt Eritrea. The budget is used for Ginbot 7 and also for ESAT. Most of us believed that ESAT has nothing to do with Ginbot 7, that is now history, Ginbot 7 owns ESAT.

We all remember when Tamagne Beyne  of ESAT fundraiser/Activist answered this question long time ago by saying if ESAT is a Ginbot 7 media  let it be, “Behonese”. Dr. Birhanu backed Tamagne positively thanks to the leaked  audio that ESAT is financed by Ginbot 7. It is no more “Behonese”, ESAT is a media wing of Ginbot 7.

Dr. Birhanu should be asked this coming Sunday why does he need to “Deceive” the public for almost three years. He should  apologize for the public. ESAT should be judged by its own record so far the Ethiopian public see it as a positive media.

One thing ESAT can not do is to criticize its financiers, Isaias Afeworki and Ginbot 7. As long as it does that it will be on air. The Diaspora fundraising has to go on because Isaias Afeworki is not a reliable partner.

 Ato Andargatchew is working hard to make sure Isaias finance is coming. That was the reason he came strongly to sell Isaias as “a man of the year of 2006”. Lionizing a dictator as a model for Africa “self rule and reliance”. If Ginbot 7 has such leadership in mind for future Ethiopia after Woyane it will not win any free and fair election.

Ethiopians should  ask how could Ginbot 7 leadership defend working closely with Isaias Afewroki who on this new year of 2006 message to his subjects  and the rest of Ethiopia said that Ethiopia is a creation of “Second World War” among many anti Ethiopia activities for more than two decades.

We all know that after Dr. Birhanu leaked audio that the fighting army of Ginbot 7 has yet to be formed. Eritrea will not send its army to overthrow Woyane in the near future. It is only the mass uprising of Ethiopians that is a strong possibility for which isaias is preparing itself to control such an event by sending ethnic armed groups to different part of Ethiopia for long term conflict.

We heard recently from Ato Andargatchew that “educated Ethiopians” are joining the Ginbot 7 fighting army. The braking news on ESAT yesterday was about 4 Ethiopian Air Force pilots joining the army.

The Ethiopian army members that defected after the election 2005 massacre and many before that are now in Asmara fed and sheltered in their ethnic zones waiting to take power if  there is a power vacuum in Ethiopia.

There is no armed rebellion in Ethiopia except low level skirmishes between Woyane and Ogaden National Liberation Front. The news of defecting members of the Ethiopian Army is a propaganda victory and should not  be seen as a beginning of a military action against Woyane.

Ginbot 7 “Hulegeb Tigel” is not on field, it might be on air. Information is very important for the people of Ethiopia and ESAT has done its part on the last 3 years and should continue but ESAT can not liberate Ethiopia because it is not an armed organization.

If Ginbot 7  “Hulegeb Tigel” means  media and armed rebellion it is true  it did very well on the media front but nothing on the battle front. If the media is not independent to criticize the armed part of its movement it is very troubling.

The challenge of Abune Filipose  On Washington, D.C. recent ESAT organized meeting for  the leaders of opposition/Ginbot 7 showed the dilemma of ESAT independence. Bishop Filipose challenged Ginbot 7 leaders where and what their army is doing. ESAT moderators/journalists  did not ask  follow up questions and the public questions regarding the Ginbot 7 army is surely censored. 

This coming Sunday many people who care deeply for freedom to come to Ethiopia should be free to ask all questions. It is up to  Ginbot 7 leadership to answer all,  it will be a decision time for members and supporters of Ginbot 7.

For the rest of us who wish change in Ethiopia should not be shy in expressing our views regarding Dr. Birhanu and Ato Andargatchew led Ginbot 7 movement because we need them to succeed.


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