As a leader and tireless worker for the progress of his people, one area of his activities he so dedicatedly fought in the trenches of public opinion, was the propagation of the history of Black folks and how the American public at large illogically so perceives it. Such example of bold discourse can be found in the "Propaganda Of History," where Du Bois thundered by saying,
"I write then in a field devastated by passion and belief. Naturally, as a Negro, I cannot do this writing without believing in the essential humanity of Negroes, in their ability to be educated, to do the work of the modern world, to take their place as equal citizens with others. I cannot for a moment subscribes to that bizarre doctrine of race that makes most men inferior to the few. But, too, as a student of science, I want to be fair, objective, and judicial; to let no searing of the memory by intolerable insults and cruelty make me fail to sympathize with human frailties and contradiction, in the eternal paradox of good and evil. But armed and warned by all this, and fortified by long study of the facts, I stand at the end of this writing, literally aghast at what American historians have done to the field."
(See Eric J. Sundquest, "The Oxford W. E. B. Bu Bois Reader," Page 438 to 454, also quoted in Annette Gordon-Reed, "Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings," page IX)
The above wisdom and warning of W. E. B. Du Bois flushed into my mind as I was finishing reading Wondimu Mekonnen's December 8 Open Letter to the NAACP which was full of falsified history, racist to the core, and more or less tells the mental setting of Ethiopian Intellectuals and their hold over history which I found it, over the years dealing with them, to be tenuous and at times childish. As Du Bois pointed out, one would expect Wondimu "to be fair, objective, judicial and with extra-care not to let his mind be overwhelmed by intolerable insults," and sadly and contrary to Du Bois maxim and worthy advice, Wondimu chose the road of a plantation owner with all the vulgar words an Ethiopian dictionary can hold.
If Wondimu's intention was to win the hearts and minds of the NAACP leaders and persuade them not to accept Eritreans as full members of that "AUGUST BODY - THE NAACP", then, does sending a letter, full of racist invectives, that dehumanized Eritrea and Eritreans would do the job? This I would venture to say "NO" for the NAACP leaders are shrewd and tested by history of mass hysteria of race hate and thus, in no time, they will separate the wheat from the chaff. And then, even more so, Wondimu's proposition is absolutely unattractive for one has to realize that "no man is an island unto himself as we are all attached to each other by our common creator." Thus hating one person is equally despicable as hating the other. Let it just be said that, it would be wise for Wondimu and others to remember the fact that the NAACP was found to promote "LOVE NOT HATE."
The question is, why do Ethiopian Intellectuals like Wondimu Mokennen hate Eritrea and Eritreans so much so to the extent of sending such open letter with full of foul language and vulgar words of hate? And more than anything else, why do they continue to "FALSIFY HISTORY"? So then in the next few pages, this question of "venting mass hate through lying will be addressed." The pompous and fraudulent history of Ethiopia will be exposed, in order to reveal its shameful past. And as much as possible, I would try to let others do the talking. One point though, before I go on to the main burning issue, I find it necessary to digress and say few words about pathological lying and Pathological Liars. So let's move on!
One of human beings' arts used for existence, justified or unjustified, is the "act of lying." People lie for variety of reasons. Some lie for material gain. Others lie for love. Still others lie when they found out that they are in tight situation of life and death. People who are in death row do that. The most visible lying comes from Politicians, particularly those whose political craft depends on race hate. They habitually lie to gain and advance their power. Cato, the Roman Senator and the unrelenting hater of Carthage lied repeatedly by declaring "delenda est Carthage - Carthage must be destroyed." At first few in the Roman Senate believed him for Carthage posed no threat to the Roman Empire. Still he wouldn't stop. "The Carthagenians are our enemies," declared Cato, fanning his colleagues' fears, "for he who prepares everything against me, so that he can make war at whatever time he wishes, he is already my enemy even though he is not yet using weapons," shouted Cato in the forum of the Roman Senate. Then the inevitable chorus: "delenda est Carthage." He went on repeating that same stanza year in year out. Finally the unthinkable happened. Romans started to believe him and in no time the third Punic ensued that heralded the destruction of Carthage and the end of the Carthagenians as history knew them. (For Cato, see Manias and Delusions, "from Time-Life editors," page 38)
The most destructive and fearsome liars are those whom Psychiatrists and Clinical Psychologists term them as "Pathological Liars." As Robert J. Campbell recounted in his Psychiatric Dictionary, (see page 400), these type of liars are
"often grouped under the category of PSYCHOPATIC PERSONALITY. Pathological liars and swindlers are imaginative and champion tellers of 'tell-tales,' they invariably play the leading role. They build up their stories by proper accessories such as accents, uniforms, forged documentary evidence, and other items. They have no qualm to claim heroism in unconfirmed battle or Nobility in peasant heritage."
Pathological liars are uncomfortable living in the real world. For them, living in made-up world is a lot easier. Thus they lie constantly to make themselves what is not their true-selves. They manipulate masterfully any person or situation to their benefit and with no end. And so by definition as was put forth 50 years ago by L. S. Selling... personalities who have a constellation of symptoms are characterized psychopathological by their very definitive tendency to tell untruth about matters which perhaps could easily be verified and which untruths telling may serve no obvious purpose.
The biggest challenge of pathological liars is not to them but to those who try to argue with them based on reason and goodness as background. To argue with such kind people is an uphill battle, for pathological liars have no principle since they never care about telling the truth. For them, the more they tell deceitful tales, the more they relish their accomplishments.
Sadly in our Continent, particularly in the Horn of Africa, the Amhara Intellectuals and their fellow Tigreans, usually feel at home when telling deceitful tall-tales about Eritrea, which by now are taken for granted and almost a habit. "Eritrea has no history, Eritreans are so poor; they can not stand by themselves. Eritrea is a burnt land thus cannot feed itself..." The lies go on and on... Some even claim that "Eritreans always frat southward ways because they hate Ethiopians". And the hate against the President of Eritrea, Isaias Afewerki... Oh! Many Ethiopians have earned their living by churning out tall-tales and devilish bigotries about him endlessly.
And therefore, when I saw what Wondimu Mokonnen has to say about Eritrea in his letter to the NAACP, I was actually not shocked but a bit surprised by the intensity of his foul language. What he has to say against Eritrea, although, it is through and through false, stupid, and reckless, most of it was something commonly expected from Abyssinian Intellectuals.
What surprised me the most about Wondimu was his temerity to lecture the NAACP about "how Ethiopia historically always acted as a light at the end of the bleak tunnel and a script for Black liberation and how Ethiopians respected and love Black leaders." With such mouthful boast, Wondimu declared that not only African Americans but also Black People worldwide look upon Ethiopia for inspiration due to her heroic defense to the image of black color. "That's why," said Wondimu, "the Ethiopian Orthodox Churches, Abyssinian Baptist Churches, and Ethiopian Methodist Churches everywhere became established and remain well-known to all members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples (NAACP.)"
The truth is, Ethiopia never cared about the suffering of African Americans nor it ever gave a hoot about the decolonization of the rest of Africa. Yes the truth is on the opposite side of what Wondimu claimed to be and that (A) Ethiopia and Ethiopians always rejected their blackness in favor of pipe-dreamy "Whiteness"; (B) that Ethiopia's SONS happily participated in the commerce of SLAVE TRADE; (C) that not only Ethiopia supported and abated colonialism, it also participated happily as any European power. Other areas that will be addressed in this article are the American complexity and their unethical help to bring Eritrea under Ethiopia and whether Eritrea was favored to enjoy economical development by successive Ethiopian rulers; all these issues will be addressed earnestly.
In his book "THE FIRE NEXT TIME" the philosopher and novelist, James Baldwin pointed out that
"the person who distrusts himself has no touchstone for reality - for this touchstone can only be oneself. Such a person interposes between himself and reality nothing less than a labyrinth of attitudes. And these attitudes, furthermore, though the person is usually unaware of them (is unaware of so much!), are historical and public attitudes. They do not relate to the present any more than they relate to the person. Therefore, whatever white people do not know about the Negroes reveals, precisely and inexorably, what they do not know about themselves."
(Also quoted in Annette Gorden Reed, page 158)
James Baldwin penned the above stanzas after the he saw the reaction of the white majority to the LA riots and the destruction of Watts. The justified finger pointing of James Baldwin arose from the fact that for the powers that be, the LA race riots were ignited out of the blue and that there was no reason unfair enough for Blacks to protest to such degree, as they are invariable assumed to be happy with their existence. The habit of white folks of "hear no evil and see no evil" and of their "continual seeing and judging of things as they are not" occupies the center of the James Baldwin's sad and excruciating book, "The Fire Next Time."
In Ethiopia too, history is judged as it is "NOT" which is why many Ethiopians, although their facial feature betrays them, continually claim that they are not Africans but more close to whites. What is more worse, this attitude of racial superiority is forcefully used to suppress the desire of others to be free and become one among equals. They have been doing it to the Oromos for the last 120 years just and as equally as they have been doing it to Eritreans for the last 50 years. As sad as it was,
"Ethiopia's rulers, befuddled by Western power and propaganda, had actually repudiated the reality of their African heritage and embraced the fabricated myth of a Caucasian identity. Misled by legend, pseudoscientific theories and anti-Negro indoctrination, Ethiopian leadership had sought to wash the color of the Abyssinian people white."
(See W. R. Scott, "The Sons of Sheba's Race", 1993, p.206.)
This tragic belief in racial superiority of Ethiopians has produced war and famine, despair and economic stagnation for all the peoples of the Horn of Africa including the average Ethiopians.
The sycophancy of Ethiopians believing themselves to be "White" has its roots in the legend of "Kebra-Negest." It is there that the make-belief historical legend of King Solomon and Queen Sheba line started. It is there that the legendary claim of "Amharas and Tigreans as the chosen people of Africa" visibly asserted. And it is there that Ethiopians have the roots of their arrogance and their never-ending contempt they harbor against all Africans. The truth is, historians and no less admirers of "Greater Ethiopia" such as Harold Marcus (A History of Ethiopia), Graham Hancock (The Sign and Seal), Edward Ullendorff (the Ethiopians), Donald Levin (Greater Ethiopia), and Sylvia Pankhurst (A Cultural History of Ethiopia) have spoken in unmistakable terms about the falsity of the "Kebra_Negest" document. All these Historians are no friends of Eritrea and particularly Harold Marcus, who has an impeccable enmity of Eritrean independence; he cannot be accused for false misrepresentation of the "Kebra-Negest." Here is what he had said about the "Kebra_Negest."
Speaking about the genesis of "Kebra_Negest and Yukuno-Amlak," Mr Marcus said,
"As an usurper of power from the Zagwe Dynasty, the new monarch, Yukuno Amlak, encountered considerable resistance, and, in order to win over Tigray with its many Aksumite tradition, he and his supporters began to circulate a fable about his decent from Kong Solomon and Makeda, Queen of Shaba, and their son Emperor Menelik-I, a genealogy that, of course, gave him traditional legitimacy and provided him the continuity so honored in Ethiopian's subsequent national history."Speaking about the "Kebra_Negest," itself, Mr Marcus asserted in unmistakable terms the falsity of the document by saying, among other things, that
(See "A History of Ethiopia," page 16)
"It is a pastiche of legends conflated early in the fourteenth century by six Tigrayan scribes. Yishak, the chief compiler, claimed that he and his colleagues were merely translating an Arabic version of a Coptic work into Ge'ez. In fact his team blended local and regional oral traditions and style and substance derived from the Old and the New Testament, various apocryphal texts, Jews and Islamic commentaries, and Patristic writings. The Kebra_Negest's primer goal was to legitimize the ascendancy of Emperor Yukuno_Amlak and the 'restored' Solomonic line. Most of the book is therefore purposely devoted to the parentage of Emperor Menelik-I."
(See page 17)
Historian Edward Ullendorff, too, has spoken at a great length about the source material of the "Kebra Negest" writing. Ullendrof who is through and through admirer of "Haile Sellassie & Greater Ethiopia", who immortally dedicated his book (the Ethiopians) to "Haile Sellassie" even writing it in Amharic, and who translated Haile Sellassie's autobiography (Hiwettie'Na Ye'Ethiopia Ermiga - My Life and Ethiopia Progress) from Amharic to English, this man can not be accused for misrepresentation. And yet here is what he said about the "Kebra Negest" in his book, "The Ethiopians."
With a solemn assertion and word of force a British historian can summon, Mr. Ullendorff thundered by saying that
"the historical fiction of uninterrupted line of Kings descended from Menelik-I, the son of King Solomon and Queen Sheba, has very deep roots in Ethiopia and must be one of the most powerful and influential sagas anywhere in the world." Added Mr Ullendorff, "the historical kernel of this legend no doubt derives from the identification of the Ethiopian dynasty with Hebraic-Jewish elements in the Abyssinian past and their insistence on the Semitic, or at least Semitized, ethnic relationship."
(See page 61)
Continuing on the same line, Mr. Ullendrof went on to say that
"the Kebra Negest has as its 'piece de resistance' the legend of the Queen Sheba (based on the Bible's narrative in I-Kings 10:1-13 and liberally amplified and embellished), how she visited King Solomon, accepted his religion, bore him a son (Menelik-I), and how the son visited his father and abducted the Arc of the Covenant, which was taken to Aksum, the new Zion. Apart from numerous quotations and paraphrase from the Old and the New Testament, we find generous borrowing from apocryphal literature, the Book of Enoch, the Book of the Pearl, from christological and patristic writing in Coptic, Syriac, Arabic, and Greek, from the testamentum Adami, Rabbinical literature as well as the Koran. The legend of Solomon and Queen Sheba has had a great vague in many parts of ancient East. Details vary, especially the narrative of the King's seduction of the Queen, but all the principal ingredients can be found in the Targum Sheni of Esther or the Alphabet of Ben Sira, the Koran (Surah XXVII, 15-45), and many other sources. In fact, the main story must have had a very long period of gestation in Ethiopia and elsewhere and have possessed all the elements of a gigantic conflation of cycles of legends and tales. When it was committed to writing, early in the fourteenth century. Its purpose no doubt was to lend support to the claims and aspirations of the recently established Solomonic dynasty, its author, the Nubra'ed Yessaq of Aksum and his five helping scribes, were thus mainly redactors and interpreters of material which had long been known, but had not until then found a coordinating hand, an expository mind, and a great national need" such as Yukuna Amlak's legitimization.
(See page 138)
Oh! And my dear innocent and simplistic Eritreans are dumbfounded how on heaven those Woyanes could fabricate a map over night. How silly of us to think like that when fabrication is in fact in their books whose origin goes to 700 years of "Kebra Negest" tradition.
Finally Mr. Ullendorff closed his commentary by saying that "The Kebra Negest" is indeed a "literary work" and a good fiction that it is but as the
"Old Testament was to the Hebrews or the Koran is to the Arabs, it is the repository of Ethiopia national and religious feeling, perhaps the truest and the most genuine expression of the Abyssinian Christianity."
(See page 139)
In other words the "Kebra Negest" is not only 'Political Road Map' of the Abyssinian mentality (see for example article two of the 1955 constitution), it is also and has always been deeply cherished religious artifact and source of justification of subjugating others particularly the indigenous people of Southern Ethiopia. Thus armed with Kebra_Neget, the Ethiopian feeling of being "White" has always been overtly asserted to all Africans and African Americans. And we have a testimony from Homer Smith, an African-American, who was a resident of Addis Ababa in 1957.
"In his private letter to Claude A. Barnett of the associated Negro Press in Chicago, Mr. Smith bitterly complained that 'Abyssinians disdain black Americans. As an example of how the Ethiopian elite scorned African-Americans, Smith cited his futile efforts to solicit their assistance in erecting a fitting monument for the deceased Negro war hero John Robinson. According to Smith, none of the aristocracy, including the Duke of Harar, who Colonel Robinson had taught to fly, had responded with one cent to his solicitations. Moneyed Ethiopians, he charged, had, on the other hand, placed a fine stone over the grave of a Russian nurse whose sole contribution had been providing sick care for some Ethiopian dignitaries while Robinson's nearby burial place, marked by a rotting wooden cross, was in disrepair. 'Don't let anybody tell you or anybody else that Ethiopians do not worship white people. They do look down on the American Negro despite the fact colored Americans are incomparably centuries ahead of them in education, wealth, culture, etc'. "
(W. R. Scott, The Sons of Sheba's Race, 1993, p. 219)
And never-mind that Black Americans solidly helped Ethiopia materially as well as physically in the war against Fascism in 1935; never-mind too Black Americans like John Robinson of Chicago and Hubert Julian of Harlem flew the few fighter aircraft Ethiopia had and challenged Italian pilots' head to head. All these courageous brotherly act of heroism by itself should have been enough of a reason for Ethiopians to receive Black Americans with open arms and yet Ethiopia and Ethiopian rulers chose to look the other way curtly denying, as Mr. Smith sadly experienced, the hand that helped them in their dire hour. (About the Black Pilots who helped Ethiopia, opinion cited in Angelo Del Boca, "The Ethiopian War 1935-1941," page 92)
Even those who Admire Ethiopia and who are believers of "Greater Ethiopia" have pointed out the same racism that Homer Smith mentioned above. According to Donald Levin
"The ethnic self-conception of the Amhara"and their follow Tigreans "is one which stresses certain physical and cultural characteristics, thanks to which he regards himself as superior to all non-Abyssinian groups in Ethiopia as well as to all non-Ethiopian nationals. With regard to race, the Amhara consider themselves distinctly more handsome than both the white man and the Negro man, to both of whom they apply derisive epithets. ... And being an Ethiopian Christian is to the Amhara a mark of superiority in at least two respects: it means belonging to a chosen people, heirs to the Jews and sole bearers of authentic Christianity; ... Knowledge of Amharic is considered another index of superiority, and the Amhara look down on Ethiopians who do not speak Amharic or who speak it with an accent. ... The Amhara claim superiority over other Ethiopian peoples in connection with certain other aspects of culture besides religion and language, being an Amhara is thus belonging to a superior category of human beings."On the same line, here is another comment from an Ethiopian observer, Glyn Daniel. Said he,
(Donald Levine, "Wax & Gold," p. 82)
"The Amhara and Tigrean hierarchical society presents a complete contrast to that of the Negroid tribes who inhabit the outlying parts of the Ethiopian empire to the west and south -- peoples they formerly regarded as fit only for enslavement. The Abyssinians take immense pride in their long history, their superior culture, and their martial prowess. Other African (or indeed non-African) races are generally held to be inferior."
(Glyn Daniel, "The Abyssinians," p. 58)
The belief of Ethiopians being White via the legend of "Solomon and Sheba" and as detailed in the "Kebra-Negest" has left a great sense of betrayal in the soul of Africans and African-Americans. As the noted historian, W. R, Scott said,
"Africa, according to Abyssinian folklore, constituted little of the Ethiopian's ethnic heritage; their origins were believed to have been directly linked with Sabean migrants who in ancient times filtered across the Red Sea into the Ethiopian highlands, conquered the aboriginal population, and founded a series of powerful Christian Kingdoms beginning with the great state of Axum. These historical beliefs, embellished with the fabrications of reputed Solomonic dynasties, seem to have produced among Abyssinians the perception that they were neither white nor black; that they were a distinct racial group, whose heritage and history made them more civilized than the so-called Negroes and the cultural equals of the world's Caucasian races."Regardless of the mighty contribution African Americans made to help Ethiopia at a time when it faced the Fascists aggression in the 1930s and which Wondimu uncomfortably admitted, the Ethiopians maintained their cultural smugness and their show-off skin color. And regardless how loyal African Americans were and remain to the causes of Ethiopia, vis-a-vis the Italian aggression of 1935, Ethiopian leaders never desired to associate themselves with the Black leadership. Read on below!
(W. R. Scott, "The Sons of Sheba's Race," 1993, p. 217)
"Ethiopian Loyalist in the United States conceded, however, that Abyssinian traditions gave credence to all the anti-Negro propaganda being spread among African-Americans. Black authorities on Ethiopia, such as Joel Rogers, observed that, although the Sabean strain of early invaders from the Arabian Peninsula had become increasingly African through the ages, the Abyssinian highlanders held tenaciously to claims that they were an "Asiatic people." They insisted not only that they were distinct from the region's indigenous and darker inhabitants, but also that they were superior to them."Wondimu's "love-you-brother love-you-brother kiss. Kiss." letter to the NAACP notwithstanding, the plain fact is the feeling of whiteness is deeply ingrained in the Ethiopian psychic and thus highly unlikely can be erased by tender phrases inserted in a mudslinging letter. Once more lets hear William R. Scott
(William R. Scott, "The Sons of Sheba's Race," p. 197)
"African-Americans encountered extraordinarily few experiences in which Ethiopians so boldly proclaimed their membership in the Negro race. Throughout the crisis [1935-1941], they yearned for a definitive statement on the racial question from the Ethiopian government itself but sadly never received even a faint hint."
(William R. Scott, "The Sons of Sheba's Race," p. 199)
"Ethiopian highlanders, because of their physical characteristics and mythic origins, ... seem to have produced ... the perception that they were neither white nor black that they were distinct racial group, whose heritage and history made them more civilized than the so-called Negroes and the cultural equals of the world's Caucasian races."
(William R. Scott, "The Sons of Sheba's Race," p. 217)
In fact it was this "superior race mentality" of the Tigreans and Amharas in general, and the ruling class in particular that made the famous Marcus Garvey withdraw his support for Ethiopia and made him go all the way to the other side to condemn Haile Sellassie in 1936. The later, after he fled Ethiopia and sought refugee in London, had refused to associate himself with the African-Americans who stood with Ethiopia during the Italian invasion. He had ignored prominent black leaders that had assembled to greet him at the airport in London, had declined to attend a welcoming party that was prepared by the West Indian community in his honor, had hosted a party where he had invited no black people at all. Here are the words of Garvey:
"We hope the Emperor will forget he is from Solomon and realize that the world looks upon him as a Negro, and it was because he was a Negro why they treated him as they did."
(Marcus Garvey, "Italy's Conquest?" The Black Man, Vol. 2, No. 2, July-August 1936)
The most telling point of Haile Sellassie and his compatriots prejudice towards the Black color comes via his foreign policy advisor for forty years, Professor John Spencer. In his memoir, "Ethiopia At Bay," Professor John Spencer recounted that Haile Sellassie prejudice toward Black people was not only when the Emperor was on official duty but also in social gathering too. "Thus," said Professor Spencer, "the wife of Dr. Tesfay Gebre Egzyabher (an Eritrean), ambassador and permanent representative of Ethiopia at the United Nations, who happened to be a Black American, was refused to be received at the court." (See Ethiopian At Bay, page 123-124). The hypocrisy and double standard of Haile Sellassie was gleefully seen on how he handled other foreigners who were married to Ethiopians. Dr. Tesfay was not alone who got married to a foreigner. Prime Minster Aklilu Habtewold also had married to a French Lady and Foreign Minister Minassie Haile to an American Lady, just to name a few. Both of them are Whites. In-spite of Professor Spencer's claim that "Haile Sellassie was an equal opportunity employer in his prejudice" (see page 124), it is my distinct recollection (circa 1960th & 70th) that Haile Sellassie in fact accorded the proper status to the white ladies commensurate to the position of their husbands. Yes I witnessed it in the Ethiopian TV as Madam Minassie was being received by Haile Sellassie and Madam Aklilu Habte Wold, oh! She was a permanent fixture particularly during Haile Sellassie's birthday party. This event I subsequently verified it with a Camera Technician who dealt with the films of Haile Sellassie birthdays. The yearly party of Haile Sellassie birthday testifies that all the invited guests were either beefy Ethiopian Rases or White Men in high places and their spouses and here and there African Ambassadors. African Americans who can easily be recognized by their dressing and demeanor, unlike the African Ambassadors, were never to be seen in Haile Sellassie's Birthday party. As the camera never lies, that pretty much proves Professor Spencer's claim of Haile Sellassie prejudice against Black Americans.
The tragedy is Ethiopia's ruling class is still racist even to this day as their Southern compatriots can easily testify. It has been said that old habits die-hard. And sure enough, if any thing, the present Ethiopian government's heinous act of literally sending thousands of Oromos, Wollaitas, and Benshanguls to die as "FENJIREGATCH" (human-mine-sweepers) to make a safe passage for Amhara and Tigrean tank commanders is in and of itself a testimony of their racism. And no wonder too Wondimu's letter is also full of racist invectives such as "sycophant Askeris" "mindless animals" "children of Askeris who migrated to America" "they developed perverted nostalgia for serving their White masters"they will not rest until they achieved that final wicked goal"building their piccolo Roma" "Ethiopians had first known Christ while Europeans were dwelling in caves..." "Whites with their perverted and tainted Gospel" All these racist invectives are a sure sign of deeply held contempt Ethiopians have against any African who does not fit into their image.
In the World of the Jim Crow South, it was common sight for Southern racists to talk about Black folks just as Wondimu spoke about Eritreans. It was uncommon for Southern newspapers not to carry stanzas that smugly talk about so-called honest opinion of race relation. A passage from the Shreveport (Louisiana) Times, 1919 had it this way.
"We venture to say that fully ninety percent of all the race troubles in the South are the result of the Negro forgetting his place. If the Black man will stay where he belongs, act like a Negro should act, work like a Negro should work, talk like a Negro should talk, and study like a Negro should study, there would be few riots, fights, or clashes."
(See Leon Litwack, "Trouble In Mind, "Black Southerners In The Age of Jim Crow," page 179)
What Wondimu talked in his letter to NAACP was in similar venue like what was written in the Shreveport (Louisiana) Times. We Eritreans have tried in numerous ways to get out from the racist world of Ethiopia. We tried it the diplomatic way in the 1950th but thanks to United States diplomatic tilt in favor of Ethiopia, we ended up under Ethiopia's bondage. We waged 30 years war and killed hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians and when we thought we won and that Ethiopians have finally settled to be good neighbors, they came-back with more wars and more racist invectives. To survive, we Eritreans had to do a deep soul searching, study the experience of others and one of the unexplored avenues and never understood, as it should by us was the psychology of race hate. Indeed to survive Eritreans had to change the gear particularly on things that help us to understand Ethiopian rulers and their Intellectuals never-ending war-mongering hate. And what better teacher is there than the NAACP to learn from. Thus for us to meet the leaders of the NAACP leaders was long over due and I wish we had done it long time ago.
In the World of Diplomatic language, Eritreans are pretty much unlettered and Wondimu & Co know this. Therefore, Eritrea desire to change its tactics and at last to learn from a World famous organization whose skill in law and diplomacy is quintessential American and not to mention how its legal work affected the course of American history as in "Brown Vs the Topeka Board of Education" that ended school segregation. That happy meeting between Eritreans and the leaders of the NAACP has sent a cold shiver in the spine of Ethiopian racist. Thus Wondimu's letter that mimics the Shreveport (Louisiana) Times is a fitting reaction of perfect racist who does not want to see freedom and progress of his fellow human beings. And indeed all the talk of Ethiopian brotherhood to African-Americans is rather scandalous talk that does not hold water. The bigotry and supremacist attitude of "Kebra-Negest" still persists and unless Ethiopians officially discard it, the Ethiopian phrase of brotherhood will remain as empty talk as vacuum and will never attract friendship from any corner of the World.
One of the most annoying statements Wondimu made in his bombastic and totally disgraceful letter was this: "In the history of your struggle for freedom and equality," asserted Wondimu without any regard to the validity of history,
"Ethiopia occupies a special place. Why is that? We all know the reason. When you were persecuted for being black in America, as the Negro, your brothers and sisters in Africa were also taken hostage by the same kinds of people. The mighty European force, which came first with a Bible preaching Christ, a White Christ, and after stealing the peoples hearts and minds, later, with a gun to steal their land and pride, failed when it reached Ethiopia. When they attempted to come in with their PERVERTED GOSPEL (my emphasis), a living, true Bible awaited them, humbling them with the knowledge that we Ethiopians had first known Christ while Europeans were still dwelling in Caves. They could not bring us, the Ethiopian people, their new God, for the God they sought to preach was alive in Ethiopia and by then had dwelt there for one and half millennia. The gun could only come through the road torn open by their PERVERTED GOSPEL (my emphasis). Ethiopia had kept holy the original Bible and its message of loving kindness, and she fought back steadfastly refusing to accept their tainted Gospel, for the Living Word of God is a two-edged sword in the hands of the faithful. Therefore, they went about wrecking havoc until they had subjugated all of our Black brothers and sisters, all except our small corner of Africa, where we, the original Ethiopians, survived unconquered."
Gee! That same Gospel that Wondimu called it PERVERTED was happily accepted by multitude of Ethiopians once it was preached to them by Aba Fremenatos (see David Phillipson, "Ancient Ethiopia," page 7), a Greek from Syria and White of Whites and I am sure he was not living in Caves too in spite of Wondimu's claim. Further more, when that "original Gospel" that Wondimu is so proud of was on the verge of being extinguished by Mohammed Gragn and his Turkish mercenaries, it was not Wondimu's warrior kings that defended it for King Libnedingil and his followers chose to hide in the highest plateau of the Ethiopian monasteries, Lalibela. Ironically, the defense of Wondimu's Gospel was left to the people of highland Eritrea, which Wondimu fervently hates so much, and their leader Bahri Negassi Issak. A valiant and proud man that he was, Bahri Negassi Issak handed Gragn his first defeat near the area of Debaruwa, made sure that the area of Massawa was always open, and by doing so, it enabled the Portuguese troops, who were in their way to help Ethiopia, to safely land at Massawa harbor. It was this Portuguese troops in coordination with Bahri Negassi Issak that saved Wondimu's so called proud Gospel. (See E. Ullendorff, "The Ethiopians," page 68 to 73).
Wondimu's Warrior kings were never to be seen in that fight. Harold Marcus who always, as a matter of principle, supports the missions of "Greater Ethiopia" from Menelik down to Meles, is on the record bitterly denouncing Ethiopian defenders against Gragn in Showa by saying they left their Churches, Monasteries, books and other religious artifacts and above all, their women and children, to be used at will by Gragn's mercenaries. "To survive people accepted the demolition of their churches, holy books, and other relics." (Marcus, "A History of Ethiopia," page 32)
Worse still, if Ethiopia is the kind of country that Wondimu thinks it was and still is, a Nation of proud defenders of freedom and human rights, why was that Ethiopian citizens were sold as SLAVES all over Europe and Asia for the last two millennia. In his series of books about world slave trade and conquest, the historian, Hugh Thomas, has said that Ethiopians were sold as slaves all over the Roman and the Greek world. As Hugh Thomas recounted,
"the Greeks and Romans bought Ethiopian slaves, some to be used as sex slaves for both men and women, and others to be used as field workers, and in times of war as Army support"
(Hugh Thomas, "The Slave Trade - The story of the Atlantic Slave Trade," page 27).
This Ethiopian selling of human beings to slavery and bondage is an issue I would like to address exclusively in this segment. But since Wondimu's praise of Hosannas was centrally showered on the 19th and 20th century warrior Kings, I will only concentrate on the slave trade of that era and its tragic consequence on the development and growth of the Ethiopian State.
Over the years, one of the hardest subjects I found to talk, even as an exercise for my own benefit, is that of the institution of "SLAVERY." The more I read about it, the more remorseful I become in light of the abject failure of we Africans in not doing any thing to stop it. Our sin, in great measure, should be said that we Africans became instruments of slave merchants as millions of our brothers and sisters were shipped across the ocean. And thus, I must say, our historical guiltiness is unpardonable which inevitably makes us the least morally qualified to talk about slavery and much less ethically correct to remind African Americans who and from where the source of inspiration came in their struggle for liberation. Which is why in going through Wondimu's letter, I was trembling that "he may shockingly surprises me by saying the Honorable Frederic Douglas escaped from the bondage of Maryland plantation thanks to the inspiration he got from Ethiopian's Warrior Kings." The sad thing is, even if he didn't say it openly, the intent, spirit, and focus of his massage was just that which is something hard to swallow.
So then, my quarrel with the hypocrisy of the son of "Kebra Negest" is the fact that in his runaway zeal to spread false history about Eritrea, he ended up talking about African American history without modicum of understanding that our African American cousins in fact liberated themselves. Even Abraham Lincoln, as great as he was, cannot claim full credit for he only issued the "Emancipation proclamation" after, literally, a million black folks braved it by crossing the confederate army line and joined the Union side and thus by that simple act of courage, they made their liberation a de-facto and de-jure. The other ingredient for liberation was when more than 200,000 fearless heroes (many like the 54th Massachusetts) joined the union army and thus by doing so, they became a decisive factor for the Union army to overrun the South.
Sad to say it, for Ethiopians like Wondimu who grew up learning the falsity of the "Kebra Negest", the necessity to know such detail of Afro-American history is immaterial as their history, in and of itself, is that of the slave traders and as well as slave holders. And no wonder that all the words of the slave holding American South are also part and parcel of the Ethiopian language, Amharic, such words as Gasha Meriet (share cropper's farm land), Balabat (plantation owner), Gasha Meriet Arash (share cropper farmer), Wond-ashker (house boy), Seit-ahker (house girl). Chin-gered (the slave Master's female bed entertainer); which space wouldn't permit me to recount them fully here.
Of course to many of us, Eritreans, who know the Ethiopian boastfulness, anything they say is not a surprise. I once had a sharp exchange with an Ethiopian e-mailer about a letter I wrote to an African American, which I would like, to excerpt part of it in the following.
"You know 'Sister'; I would be the last person to claim expertise about Black History, and yet with that little ability that I happen to have, I did some reading of Black History although I must qualify it that it was only at the level of a pedestrian reader. Still for any person who reads the history of the first arrival of those unfortunate Africans at Jamestown and then progressed all the way to the Rodney King affair. The horror dear sister, the horror the Black Man has to go through, is without doubt horrific and stupefying particularly when one remembers that out of every four captured Africans, only one made it to the slave market of the Americas. The rest died, some deliberately poisoned by the ship Captains to gain higher insurance fee and others died because of typhus and dysentery due to the crowded and wretched condition they were put into the crammed quarters of the transporting ship. And if they ever arrived to the shore with dysentery, ship doctors were routinely ordered to stop the leaking anus of each slave by applying a hefty dose of oakum. This way, it was made sure the prospective buyer is seeing no discharge from the slave anus. Years ago I remember reading about this gruesome story as I was completely thrown off balance and my shelving the book (Justice Denied: The Black Man in White America) several times to reclaim my composure. This is why I say the very fact that the 'Black Man and Woman' survived that kind of beastly indignity and hostile environment 'must decidedly be a cause for celebration.' It was such a big win against the forces of 'Slave Trading Satans.' In short, as sister Maya Angelou memorably said, 'AND STILL I RISE'."
I wrote the preceding paragraph to a Soul Sister whose name in Dehai goes as Nicole. The reason of my writing was to point out my understanding of the magnitude of the bleak suffering Black Folks have to go through in the Americas. And yes by understanding her forbears' pain, I was standing in front of her contrite about my collective African guilty for not doing enough to stop the "Slave Trade" and thus indirectly, I dutifully asked her forgiveness. More so, by reaching out to her, I was hoping to reach Black folks at-large spiritually and by acknowledging my guilty openly, I had hoped to cleanse myself from my African past misdeeds. Truly we African had done some horrible things to our brothers and sisters whom we let them down as the White man was shipping them down across the oceans and in some cases, and this one is the most unforgivable, our idiotic participation in the "Slave Trade" institution. The sad thing is, this minor massage to the soul sister didn't go well with the Ethiopian writer and he said many derogatory epithets which I am bounded by ethics not to say it here where even the most moderate phrase was curtly said, "Only an Italian Nigger understands an American Nigger." Such is the mentality of Ethiopians and by extension, Wondimu's letter was written in that spirit.
One consolation I got by reading Afro-American history was the fact that the history of those cousins who were shipped to the Americas is thoroughly recorded, at least to the satisfaction of my humble perception. The condition of the slave-ships, the horrible travel experienced crossing the middle passage, condition in the slave market, life in the plantation, Emancipation, Plessy vs Ferguson where even the United States supreme court joined country-wide rednecks by saying "Separate but Equal." one a hell of an evil judgment that gave the birth of Jim Crow. etcetc This magisterial achievement, praise be to the Lord, belongs to the many Alex Haley's families (Roots fame) and all who left us with the many oral tradition that enabled us to see the magnitude of their suffering.
Now compare the above to the fate of those other brothers and sisters who were shipped to the Arab world and before one have the opportunity to know it, one is faced with blank stare for no one compiled the story of those Africans who were shipped to the east in full measure as is in the West. Since we Africans are oblivious to their suffering, no shred of evidence exist that tells what the end of their fate was once they reached the destination of their bondage. Here and there some stories do exist, a page here, a chapter there. Still if it ever exists at all, it only tells as the slaves were being captured; as they were traveling in the caravan; and as they readied to cross the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, and on to the Far East, the Middle East, and the Ottoman-Turkish Empire. Yes such types of stories of the slave trade, particularly that of Ethiopia is fairly documented if not as thoroughly as in the Western coast of Africa. But only as they were captured and to the time they were forced to embark into the slave ships.
Which brings me back to Wondimu's letter. According to Wondimu, Ethiopian history is presented as if it is free from the taints of the scrooge of the slave trade and in his opinion; Ethiopia fortunately was led by "Warrior Kings" hence no slave merchant dared to point his evil eye over Ethiopians. Unlike the rest of African Chiefs, Wondimu's leaders were presented as if they are some kind of Saint Francis of Assisi and Hannibal combined into one who fed and closed every downtrodden and protected every hamlet to death. He told us that Ethiopia was "the Black man's Holy-land" and "thus," asserted Mr. Wondimu,
"the Ethiopian Orthodox Churches, Abyssinian Baptist Churches, Ethiopian Methodist Churches, everywhere became established and remain well-known to all members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples (NAACP)."
When I read the above assertion, I was literally gasping for fresh air because Ethiopia is the least qualified country that deserves to achieve that kind of canonization. If one is to ask what Ethiopia's position was during the slavery era, the answer comes with fast frequency and clear tone. That Ethiopia and Ethiopians collectively were hell-bent participators in the slave trade. That its Kings and Emperors enriched themselves with the tax collected from the caravan of slave Merchants. That its beefy Monarchs didn't do a damn thing when slave merchants came all the way from the Arab World and kidnapped innocent Ethiopian citizens at will. That in some cases, Ethiopian Rases themselves happily participated in the slave trade. And in the case of Emperor Menelik (Wondimu's warrior king), the slave merchants were very happy about his credential as protector of the slave caravans and thus as thank you bonus for job well done, they
"opened for him a credit line in the bazaars of Cairo."
(See Chris Prouty, "Empress Taitu and Menelik II," page 15.)
Wondimu's claim of rosy picture notwithstanding, all these inhumane acts are recorded history of Ethiopia that can easily be read in Mordechai Abir's book, "Ethiopia In The Era of The Princes", page 53 to 72."
The most paralyzing thing one has to consider in the history of this unfortunate affairs is, the depth and intensity of the slave commerce that went on in Ethiopia, literally century in and century out, which has left a great insecurity over those who were its victims be it the Oromo, the Wolayta, or the Benshangul. And although they, at the present moment, by definition, are the majority of today's Ethiopia, in reality, they still are at the mercy of the descendants of the Abyssinian slaveholders, principally the Amhara and their Tigrean cohorts. The chilling tragedy about these people that one is forced to face in reading the history of the Ethiopian slave trade is, how humans were treated as if they were herds of animals. As historian Mordechai Abir recounted, those who were caught by slave traders
"were examined like cattle by their purchasers, the sullen Shankela (Abyssinian's pejorative name given to any person with black face) fetches a price proportioned to the muscular appearance of his or her giant frame; and the child of tender years is valued according to the promise of future development. Even the shame faced and the slender-clad maiden is subjected to every known indignity, whilst the price of her charms is estimated according to the regularity of her features, the symmetry of her budding form, and the luxuriance of her braided locks."
(M. Abir, page 61)
What is not known to the Western world and where Ethiopian intellectuals like Wondimu do not want to talk about it is the fact that "Ethiopia has always been known for its slaves who were much sought after in the Islamic world". As Abir pointed out (see page 53)
"the most important item in the foreign trade Ethiopia had for years was the exportation of slaves."
"This can easily be proved," asserted Mr. Abir,
"by the hoards of thalers in the treasuries of some of the rulers of the Ethiopian plateau"
which, I am forced to add, were mainly Wondimu's forbearers, the Amhara and the Tigreans. Abir went on to say that,
"the HABASHA slaves, as Ethiopian slaves were commonly called by slave merchants, were not actually Ethiopians in the strict meaning of the Amhara and the Tigreans, as they came mainly from the Galla (a pejorative name the Amhara gave to the indigenous Oromos) and the Sidama areas in southern and western Ethiopia and to lesser extent the Shanqella areas that surrounds Ethiopia's proper."
The Majority of slaves that were sold in Ethiopia were females (according to Abir, it was A 2 to 1 ratio) where they were much sought after in the conquest of sexual libido by men of the Arab-Turkish empire. This was even more exacerbated after the Russians conquered the Caucasus where traditionally was the source area for white slave girls. When the Caucasus slave trade dried up "Ethiopian slave girls took the first place in the slave market of the Arab world."(See Abir, page 54) The most unfortunate girls were the Gurage girls for, next to the Caucasus girls, the slave merchants found them easily saleable and hence they achieve a higher price as they were called "red Ethiopians."
Both Christians as well as Muslim Ethiopians had no qualms in owning, buying, and selling slaves. Both societies were happily in it. For the record, let it be said that Islam forbids the enslavement of Muslims. And all the same, ecclesiastically and by civil law of the Amhara rulers, Christians were forbidden to buy and sell Christians who at that time were mainly Amharas and Tigreans. Sadly when it comes to the indigenous Oromos, Wolayta, Sidamas, and Benshanguls, the rules that were used to protect Christian and Muslim Ethiopians were never invoked nor ever applied to protect the indigenous innocents.
The most appalling aspect of the Ethiopian slave trade was the fact that all the terminology of today's commerce were used while the rulers and the ruled have no idea what modern economy was to begin-with. Such words we now commonly associate them with sanity and suaveness of Wall Street transaction were used to the hilt, words such "Broker Wakil (representative), local agents, credit, and the worst of it all when the market is slow, the indiscriminate use of the word SELL.. SELL SELL!"
"Even minor villages like Yejube, near the important market of Basso in Gojjam, had seventeen slave BROKERS, and it was claimed that 5,000 to 10,000 slaves passed through the brokers annually and in slower days, just to warm up and reinvigorate the market, slave girls were decorated to adore with all kinds of gaudy jewelry which would be taken from them immediately after they were sold."
(See Abir, page 59 to 66)
Every possible method in the Ethiopian imagination and their Arab merchant collaborators were used to acquire slaves. Majority of them acquired as war prisoners, wars that were instigated by the rulers and the slave merchants. Some were also kidnapped as they were traveling from one village to another. Similarly, as Mr. Abir reported,
"thousands unsuspecting innocent people were kidnapped while working in the field."
Religious moral was never a hindrance for the Ethiopian slave merchants. Mr. Abir reported, that literally
"hundreds of Christians were either kidnapped by passing caravans as they didn't get any help from their follow villagers or sold in secrecy by other Christian Ethiopians
(Abir, page 54).""The Muslim traders had also their own antics. They took their slaves with them to Jeddah where they can fetch a better price than the home market, sold them at the highest profit, and then performed the Haj at the same time." (Abir, page 68-69)
Oh! Talk about the Ethiopian way to go to heaven! It sad very sad!
Wondimu & Co will not admit it but almost every corner of Ethiopia had slave markets. The most important centers were the city of Harrer, Basso in Gojjam, Gonder, and not to be outdone, the Kings of Showa purposely turned their central Kingdom into what Mr. Abir called
"an emporium of trade where merchants from different parts of Ethiopia would meet and trade and consequently enrich Showan treasury. Thus the village of Chanoo was allotted to the Tajurans slave merchants and the village of Aliyo Amba to the Hararis, while Tigreans and Northern merchants had to live in Ankober."
(See Abir, page 62)
And this place, Showa, was supposed to be the eminent power center of Wondimu's warrior Kings (Sahle Sellassie, Haile Melkot, Menelik, Haile Sellassie, so on and so forth). Despite all that mouthful boastfulness of Wondimu about Ethiopian warrior kings protecting their people and in spite of Wondimu's claim of "receiving the original Gospel of Jesus Christ," millions of Ethiopians were sold to bondage of slavery irrespective of the originality of the Ethiopian gospel. The truth is when it comes to making money, "love thy neighbor as thy self" never seems to easily emerge in the Ethiopian consciousness hence the reason for the slave trade.
There were other port centers for shipping out slaves and among them were towns like Berbera, Metemma, Tajura, Zeila, and Massawa under the Turko-Egyptians. Each gathering port had their specialization. For example,
"while Tajura and Berbera were the main outlets for the so called Guragie slave girls who were the sought after prize of Arab and Turkish harems and were exported mainly to southern Arabia and the Persian Gulf; on the other-hand, Massawa and Metemma were the outlets for the Oromo and Sidama slaves of South Western Ethiopia who went mostly to Egypt, the Hajaz and even Turkey."
(See Abir, page 69)
Each line of caravan outlets was protected by Ethiopian rulers. For Example, the Massawa slave caravan line that passes through the Tigrean proper of today's Woyane, was protected by variety of Tigrean warlords stalwarts such us Dejach Sibagadis, Ras Michael Sihul, Dejach Wube (a.k.a. Emperor Tekle Giorgis), Ras Welde Sellassie, Ras Araya Dimsu, and Dejach Kassa (a.k.a. Emperor Yohannes). Also too, the lines that run to Berbera, Zeila, and Tajura were protected by Wondimu's warrior kings of Showa and the Emirs of Harrer who themselves were slave traders.
The most cruel and inhumane acts of the Ethiopian slave trade were the cutting and mutilation of genitals of boys under 20 and turning them into EUNUCHS to be sold as slaves to Arab merchants. As Mr. Abir reported
"these unfortunates were mostly young children, who fetched the highest price in the Muslim World" slave markets, as they are perfectly suitable for harem doorkeepers.
(Abir, page, 56)
And no! It was not only the Arabs who used these unfortunate boys in their harems. The kings of Showa, again Wondimu's warrior kings, from Menelik down the line to Haile Sellassie also used these eunuchs as servants in their Castle. When I was living in Addis Ababa in the 1960s, the presence of EUNUCHS in the palace of Haile Sellassie's was fairly well known to the residents of Addis Ababa and they were used to watch the palace girls and keep them straight until suitable husband is found in which the marriage is usually done not for love but to tie down other restless nobles lest they rebel.
Before I conclude this segment about Ethiopian Slavery, again let it be said for the record that the practice of buying and selling slaves in Ethiopia stopped for only two reasons.
First the British progressives applied a heavy pressure on the government of Queen Victoria and thus in turn, the British government ordered the Indian colonial government to send its Navy to the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. Aden was purposely found to be a depot for that noble reason.
"To that end," Mr Abir reported, "the final legal loophole in the battle for the abolition of the slave trade in the area was closed when the Ottoman Porte, under British pressure during the Crimean war, issued a firman on 1854/5 outlawing the slave trade all over the Ottoman Empire."
(See Abir, page 70).
Eventually by the beginning of the 20th century, it completely stopped. Be that as it may, the internal commerce of slavery stopped in the early 1930th only after the League of Nation made the abolition of Slavery a cornerstone and a prerequisite for Ethiopia to join the League, which Haile Sellassie grudgingly did just that, in order to join the league.
All the above sad story of Ethiopian slavery forced me to question and fiercely disagree with Wondimu's wisdom and content of his letter to the NAACP leaders in which he said,
"in the history of your struggle for freedom and equality, Ethiopia occupies a special place. Why is that."?
I seriously doubt making such statements are sensible for no NAACP member in his right mind will ever have a special place for Ethiopia given Ethiopia's deep complexity in the slave trade as enumerated in the proceeding pages. No! I cannot see for the life of me any NAACP leader will willingly celebrate Ethiopia's sinful past of selling its citizens to Arab and Turkish harems. No Wondimu, only those who are imbibed with the Kebra Negest "white is the best" mentality will accept the mutilation of innocent boys that were forced to become EUNUCHS in the name of achieving the highest profit. For me what is important to say is "May God help Ethiopia in the years to come as it is now heading for fragmentation thanks to the Woyane inchoate ruling." Let's just move on to the third main point where Wondimu claimed that "Ethiopia and Ethiopians were preeminent leaders in fighting colonialism."
COLONIALISM AND THE ETHIOPIAN STATE
The first Time I met Wondimu talking about the question of "colonialism" was via his article titled "Shame on Shabia (Arabic word for EPLF)" that appeared in one of the Ethiopian Intellectuals' monthly whose sole purpose for its founding was to defame the Eritrean State by propagating fabricated history endlessly. The name of the magazine as it should be is "Ethiopian Register" and Wondimu's article appeared in May 1999.
The most astonishing thing about this monthly magazine is, all the sworn enemies of Eritrea are arrayed lest Eritreans forget who used to be in control in Eritrea in yester-years. There we see the chief editor, Professor Getachew Haile, EX-Eritrean son-in-law and sworn enemy of Eritrean independence. There we also see Professor John Spencer, the illustrious foreign policy legal advisor of Haile Sellassie for over 40 years and I must add, the brain behind the acquisition of Eritrea via the United Nation, which in this capacity too serving as editorial advisor. Another editorial advisor is Weizero Hirut Imiru, the daughter of Ras Imiru and grandniece of Haile Sellassie and yes she is also a sister-in-law to an old Eritrean, Lorenzo Tazaz.
The pages are also adored with an invitation to the annual award dinner and dance, a tribute to Dr. Aklilu Habte; Haile Sellassie's pugnacious sheriff in the area of higher education or for the sake of truth, I must rather say, in charge of the exclusive advancement of Amhara education (more will be said about Dr. Aklilu and the traditional profligacy of the Amhara later). Then there are Wondimu Mokennen and Mamo Mucho, two certified haters of Eritrea who are heroically featured with two virulent articles that dehumanized Eritrea and Eritreans from head to toe. Last, there is this curious name that went by "Azeb Ze Mariam" as an Associate Editor. God forbid, could she be the sister of Yohannes Zeri Mariam, one of those malignant Eritreans who are now flirting with the Woyane clique? I shudder to think so and I pray to the Lord that that is not the case. I must also say that the preceding names are only those whom I am familiar with. Otherwise there are also other advisors like General Wolde Sellassie Bereka and Professor Theodore Vestal.
The important point that must be said is, the volume of propaganda against Eritrea this magazine churns out on monthly basis would certainly force the face of Joseph Gobbles, Hitler's propaganda Minister, to smile.
In that venomous article Wondimu wrote and where many of its farcical ideas also appeared in his Letter to the NAACP, no insulting epithet was spared toward defaming Eritrea. He even borrowed comments made in 1938 by a racist British writer against native Eritreans who were then living in the city of Asmara. Here is what Wondimu borrowed from the racist Brit.
"I studied the native town of Asmara closely because it seemed to offer a fair laboratory test of whether the Italians could introduce European civilization to the natives in Ethiopia. As Eritrea had formerly been part of Ethiopia, the natives belong to the same races, spoke the same language, and observed the same religions and customs as the Ethiopian across the frontier. For more than a generation they had been in close contact with European civilization through the Italians. I thought their advancement or luck of it would indicate whether they were capable of absorbing this civilization After several visits to the native town, I concluded that they either observed 'civilization' extraordinarily slowly or hadn't been sufficiently exposed to it."
(See Ethiopian Register, May 1999, page 19)
Now if we only remember that the year, 1938, was the year that Hitler and his right hand man Mussolini declared the supremacy of the white race and that they openly said, "all others should serve to the wish and preponderance of that race." It was the year that, in the name of achieving German racial purity, Hitler deported more than 200,000 German Jews from their land of their birth just as Meles, the Ethiopia Prime Minister, is doing it, as we speak, to thousands of Ethiopians of Eritrean origin. And therefore the racist tract of the British writer was in relation to and a sign of those times. Thus he was indirectly telling the British government that it has no business to interfere in the internal affair of Italian colonies. Wondimu quoted the British writer because he thought he was refuting the false claim of the so-called Italian civilizing mission to Ethiopia. And yet the way the British writer put his words negate Wondimu's assertion.
The sad thing is, Wondimu didn't seem to realize the motive and asinine intention of the British writer nor did he know that the insult is also directed to Ethiopians just as equally. All he saw was a good whipping phrases against the Eritrean consciousness and therefore, he used the stanza to further defame and disparage Eritrea and Eritreans. Wondimu brought on this racist tract of the British writer in order to claim that Ethiopia emancipated Eritreans from the handcuff of the Italians and then went on to say one of the sordid claims ever made by an Ethiopian Intellectual.He wrote,
"Ethiopia gave Eritreans pride when they became her citizens again. SHE LET THEM WALK IN THE STREET OF ASMARA WITH THEIR HEADS UP AS FULL MEMBERS OF A PROUD NATION" (emphasis is mine, See Wondimu, "Ethiopian Register," May 1999).
In other words according to Wondimu, Eritreans were liberated from Italian Colonialism thanks to Ethiopian courage, which to us Eritreans, is absolutely false and laughable.
Of course we are not reading a story presented by a seasoned historian who know his subject matter but rather a story of a man who is so consumed by his hate of Eritrea, thus, any and every possible hearsay is indiscriminately used in a similar fashion that no one in his or her right mind can expect "truthfulness" from a member of the Jerry Springier show which Wondimu is a perfect candidate to be guest of that despicable and childish show. The tragedy is, most Ethiopian Intellectuals believe the same genre of Wondimu's fake history. As a matter of their unwholesome principle, they believe in this fake history, which was why Wondimu didn't have any qualm to spice his Letter to the NAACP with all the thoughtless words he used previously in his shameful article in the Ethiopian Register.
What then is the true story of Eritreans and Ethiopian vis-a-vis colonialism. Did Wondimu's "Warrior Kings" spend their time more than their share to defend Mother Africa against the encroachment of foreign colonialists. Ethiopian Intellectuals think so and habitually lie about it. And Wondimu in his letter to the NAACP repeated the same fabricated heroism to the extent of claiming the British had desired to colonize Ethiopia.
"All the conquerors, who tried to subdue Ethiopia, one by one, failed and failed utterly to subjugate this last defiant black people. First the Ottoman Turks tried to take over Ethiopia. Ethiopia lost a great deal of land and people to the Turks, but she stood her ground on the very soil that is still her home today, plus the land recently re-christened 'Eritrea'. Then the Portuguese came. They too badly failed. The English were the last but one to nearly occupy her. Yet the invaders soon realized that administering Ethiopia was impossibility, unleashing a disaster of unprecedented magnitude. They left in peace. All learned their lessons bitterly and in the end left her alone. Finally, one more macho gangster by the proud name of Italy cast its eyes on this freedom loving people and this beautiful, holy black land."The truth exposed to its barest form gives a different picture and Ethiopia in spite of all the false claim that was made rather have a dismal record to show for it. And there is ample reason why this is so. The very geography of modern Ethiopia came as a result of southern conquest in a similar fashion like what the European colonizers did to the rest of Africa. Emperor Menelik himself said, "I will not stand by idle while Europeans were dividing Africa and enriching themselves." True to his word, he then went on subjugating the nations of the Oromos, Wolayta, Benshanguls, the Sidama and many others, which now constitute all the area south of Addis Ababa.
Similarly, Wondimu's "Warrior Kings" are also well known when it comes to their collaboration with European colonizers, ceding lands that are not theirs, helping colonizers with physical aid and comfort in their conquest of African Lands as enumerated below, and worst of all, the disparaging anti-African serenade that Ethiopian Leaders lectured to every visiting colonizer, namely, "we are not Africans, look at our 'Kebra-Negest' chronicle, we are the sons of Solomon and Sheba On and on."
Just to give few examples as an appetizer, Emperor Yohannes signed the treaty of Hewitt that ceded Western Eritrea and all the area near the Massawa proper to Anglo-Egyptian power in an exact format Dejach Wube was ready to hand over that same area to the French colonizers in return for the French recognizing him as preeminent chief of Highland Tigray and its environs. Not to be outdone, Emperor Menelik signed the treaty of Wuchalie with the Italians that gave away the entire Eritrean land and in effect recognizing Eritrea as an Italian colony from there into eternity.
I am sure our esteemed friend Wondimu is not going to accept the facts of history and yet his beloved "Warrior King - Menelik" is recorded in black and white for every body to see which at one point, he wrote to King Umberto of Italy and said, among other things, that
"I beg Your Majesty to defend me against every one as I don't know what European kings will say about this let others know that this region is ours."
(See Chris Prouty, "Empress Taytu and Menelik II," page 54)
Now do these heart-wrenching pleas for help in any way sound the language of "Warrior King." Wondimu can hide things that are not favorable to Ethiopia's image and yet the truth is the truth.
Menelik is also again on record telling the then Italian representative to Ethiopia, Count Antonelli,
"that he loved Italy so much that HE FELT 'HALF ITALIAN' AND HAD NO GREATER WISH THAN TO GO THERE AND SEE IT."
(Emphasis mine, see Prouty, page 57)
May I then ask Wondimu what he would make about this wish of Menelik and whether it realistically sounds like the language of warrior African King who is proud of his African heritage. Wondimu in his privacy definitely think so but not us Eritreans just as well members of the NAACP whom in million times won't allow themselves to consider "HALF ITALIAN." But ahhh! The feeling of "Kebra Negest"! Which is why Menelik felt half-Italian.
Repeating again let it also be known that, it is the heartfelt cooperation of Menelik that brought the Italians to Eritrean highlands as Menelik correspondence with the Italians testifies. If one has to face the facts, after Emperor Yohannes' death in the battle of Mettema, Menelik forcefully advised the Italian colonial forces who by then were stationed at Massawa to move on and occupy Asmara. As Ms Prouty recounted
"Via Antonelli's courier, Menelik informed the King of Italy that he would like the Italian soldiers to occupy Asmara, in order to discourage the imperial pretensions of Mengesha Yohannes (the son of Emperor Yohannes)." "There after," added Menelik, "God will give me the throne that for many years I have had the right to have."
(See Prouty, page 61)
Ethiopian collaboration at magnificent splendor! Again does this sound the language of a "Warrior King" who is principled to the core in his anti-colonial defense of the Native population. The answer is resoundingly no!
In the 5th paragraph of Wondimu's letter, history was completely turned up side down and Wondimu made it to look as if the Italians came to Asmara on their own free will. The truth is different the fact that all the able-bodied Eritreans were in Mettema with Ras Alula and that was why the Italians at the instigation and cooperation with Menelik had an easy time occupying Asmara.
Again for the record, let it also be said that he also seceded the land what is now constituted as Djibouti to France just as he readily blessed Eritrea to Italy and not only that but Menelik also did his obligation to the French by helping them wherever help was needed in their conquest to lay down a claim from Djibouti all the way to West Africa, particularly Bahir-El-Ghezilla. To that end, Menelik assigned Ras Tessema, with his 10,000 troops, to support the French colonizers in their march all the way to Central Africa. In his book "The Race to Fashoda," Historian David L. Lewis, W. E. B. Du Bois' biographer, talked at length about Ras Tessema (he spelled it as Tassama) and his French connection extensively (See pages 133-135, 193, 211-212).
All the same and just like Menelik, the duplicity of the Tigrean Rases vis-a-vis Eritrea is also beyond pardon. Just as Menelik found it profitable to give his blessing to the occupation of Eritrea by the Italians, the Tigrean Rases had also tried their best to entice the Italians in order to advance their selfish agenda of undermining Menelik's grip in their homeland, Tigray. Here is how Ras Alula, the Hero of all Ethiopians did his bid:
"You want the country to the River Mereb (meaning the whole Eritrea) to cultivate your gardens, to build your houses, to construct your churches? We can give it to you [And not to Menelik.]. Let the Italian soldiers come to Adwa, I shall come to meet them like friends."
And in trying to persuade the Italians not to make friendship with Menelik, Alula begged the Italians by saying,
"And you, why do you need to look for distant friend? We are neighbors (meaning Eritrea and Tigray) and can serve each other. You went the road to be open and I want the road to be open. You should guard to the Mereb River and I will guard it to Gondar and even beyond Gondar. We must be able to go to the coast to trade in order that our country (meaning Tigray) would flourish, with the help of God, Menelik is too far to be of any use to you. Let us make friendship between us."
(See, Haggai Erlich, "Ras Alula,", page 164)
Oh! Talk about Ethiopian heroism!
To top it all, Eritrea was further weakened after Ras Alula honchos with the blessing of the Ras conspired and incarcerated one of Eritrea's able Chiefs, Rasi Woldemichael Solomon of Hazega, and the aim was to be able to maintain their hold in the Eritrea highlands. By the 1890s even those Eritreans who dared to fight Italian colonialism, like Lij Beyene Biru of the Adi Quala area, were incarcerated by Ras Alula, all in the hope that the Italians will be happy with this act of imprisonment and in return they would respond with the much needed aid that expected to enable Alula & Co to save their beloved Tigray from ending up under the grip of Menelik.
At one point, Alula cleverly invited
"the anti-Italian Lij Beyene for a meeting (Mr Hagai spelled it as Bayyana) and treacherously imprisoned him in the hope of getting a favor from General Baratieri who was then visiting Seraye at that time. Word got out to the castle of Ras Mengesha who was then in Mekele, and not to be outdone by Alula's contact to Baratieri, Mengesha and Ras Hagos came running to Adwa. Upon their arrival, Mengesha ordered Alula to hand over Lij Beyene to the Italians. Alula fearing that the Italians will give credit to Mengesha and not him, he refused the hand over. In response to Alula's refusal, Mengesha sent Ras Hagos with an armed escort to Alula's camp, where they took custody of the rebel and delivered him to the Italians."
(See, Haggai Erlich, pages 174 & 180)
The betrayal was not only on Lij Beyene, the Tigrean Rases also betrayed another able Eritreans chief, Bahta Hagos of Segeneyti. It is to be remembered that Bahta Hagos tried to work hand in hand with Ras Mengesha and Menelik in his resistance against the Italians and pleaded Ras Mengesha and sent him several letters in the hope Mengesha may share few rifles with him. The help never ever came (See Roy Pateman, "Eritrea", page 51-52).
The most amazing thing is, when Ethiopian Intellectuals speak about Alula, they always make him to look as if he is a demi-God and yet from the proceeding four paragraphs, one can visibly see the temperament of Alula not as a statesman and defender of Freedom but as duplicitous intriguer; not anti-colonizers but a hell bent collaborator. The heroism of anti-colonial defense that Wondimu talked so much, in this case, is a mere pep talk.
Now, one may legitimately ask why Menelik and the Tigray Rases did all these sordid collaboration against their follow Africans. The simple answer is, they always cared about how to hold power and non-what so ever about the safety, independence, and prosperity of their subjects. It is also accurate to say that Menelik's duplicity was centered on the need of armaments that he desperately was looking around in order to enlarge his little kingdom of Showa and with the armaments he got from Italy, France, and elsewhere, he made his Showan Kingdom the strongest in the area at the cost of enslaving the Oromo and others and letting the Italians occupy Eritrea. The Kingdom Menelik founded, reigned for almost 100 years uninterrupted, except the 5 years of Italian occupation, until the fall of the dictator, Mengistu Haile Mariam. This is why centralist advocators hate Eritrea so much so because it became a means for them to lose power to the Woyane Tigreans. Thus focusing on the basic political facts, this lose of power, in and of itself, is the central point for all the howling and yelling of Ethiopian Intellectuals like Wondimu hence his illogical reason to write a vulgar letter to the NAACP.
Ethiopian Intellectuals, time and again, accused Eritreans as collaborators with the Italians. This aspect of their pipe dream is completely false. And if truth is to be told and as some of them openly admitted, although grudgingly, Eritrea disproportionately paid a heavy price in the fight against colonialism. In his book "Red Tears," the former Dergue official, Dawit Wolde Giorgis had said,
"Eritreans were the coast guards of the mainland. The major battles that are recorded in Ethiopian history except Adwa were in Eritrea and were fought by Eritreans most of the time. The battle-fields of Debaruwa, Gundet, Gura, Kufit, Saati, Dogali, and Koatit against the Sudan, Turkey, Egyptians, and the Italians" are typical examples
(See "Red Tears," page 74)
Except the one in Debaruwa, all the others were fought within less than fifty years, 1870 to 1889. Add to these numbers, those who perished in the battle of Mettema. It clearly shows how a heavy price that was to pay for a population with no more than 1.5 million souls. And by the time the Italians occupied Asmara, Eritrean highlands as well as lowlands were completely devoid of able bodies to do any meaningful defense against the coming Italians.
Nowadays, Ethiopian Intellectuals like Wondimu are so hard at work denigrating Eritrea and its unhappy occupation by the Italians. Time and again they made us to look as if we Eritreans invited the Italians while the main collaborator, if truth is to be told, were Wondimu's Warrior Kings, Menelik, in particular, and the Tigrean Rases. The truth is, there isn't a single battle that Ethiopians won without the heavy participation of Eritreans. Just to give few examples, Alula wouldn't have won the battle of Kufit against the Sudanese forces of Othman Dinqa, without the gallant collaboration of "BENAMIR HORSEMEN."(Mentioned elsewhere in Haggai Erlich but my information comes from, oral history, Aboy Haji Beyan, Mendefera). Similarly Rasi Woldemichael too played a substantial role in the defeat of the Egyptians at Gundet as Haggai Erlich mentioned (see page 10-12). The defeat of Gragn and his Turkish mercenary at Debaruwa was pretty much the work of Bahri Negassi Issaq as I recounted it earlier. Even the most celebrated battle of Adwa that all Ethiopians are proud of has solid Eritrean contribution. Here is how.
"If the history of the battle of Adwa is to be recounted carefully, the Italian defeat came largely as a result of an able Eritrean double agent in the Italian camp. Simply said, the outcome of the battle of Adwa would have been untenable for Menelik if it wasn't for Awalom Berhe, who, as an able spy and double agent, passed absolutely wrong information about Ethiopia's Military formation to General Debermuda and his crack brigade where he convinced them to travel to an isolated and confusing area (the valley of Mariam Shawitta) that was so far-off and a mountain apart from the center of Italian battle formation of General Albertoni. It is also true that Ras Sebhat and Hagos Teferi defected from the Italian battle formation with 500 men, where most of them were Eritreans, moments before the start of the battle which gave Menelik crucial information where to attack. Without these two timely and important information, the disastrous defeat and capture of General Albertoni brigade (the Italian main battle line of defense) was unthinkable. As it happened, Debermuda's blunder compounded Albertoni's confusion of not seeing Debermuda's brigade, turning General Barateri's (the overall commander of the Italian colonial army) battle plan into defeat, defeat into disaster, and disaster into catastrophe."
All the above marvelous service of Eritreans to Menelik was never to be appreciated and never to be counted as means to save the life of other Eritreans on the Italian side who ended up as Menelik's war prisoners. Menelik went on cutting off the right hand and the left leg of every Eritrean (Italian Askeris) war prisoner while at the same time he held with esteem and accorded White Italian prisoners with well crafted treatment of civilized behavior. Out of the over 1000 Eritreans that were mutilated by Menelik, only 400 made it back to Eritrea to tell their saga.
(Much of the source of the past two paragraphs came from Oral history told to the writer in the 1950s by Aboy Ghebremariam, who himself was a veteran of Adwa and who had lost his limbs like every Eritrean at the devilish behest of Emperor Menelik. See also Anthony Mockler, "Haile Sellassie's War," page XXXI. For the over all picture of the battle, see Thomas Pakenham, "The Scramble For Africa," page 477-484).
Menelik's flimsy excuse for mutilating the limbs of Eritreans was said to be that "the Eritreans betrayed their Nugus - that is Menelik - and their country" while in truth, it was Menelik himself who betrayed his country by signing the "Treaty of Wuchallie" and all the other sacrilegious games he played that brought the Italians to the gate of Adwa.
The most annoying and fabricated history of Wondimu was, he even accused those who came to help Ethiopia, the Portuguese and the British. Wondimu's lie notwithstanding, "the Portuguese came as result of Queen Helena's, (the mother of Emperor Libnedingel) request for help to defeat Gragn forces (see Ullendorff, "The Ethiopians," page 68 -69). Wondimu's claim that they came to colonize Ethiopia is not only untrue but also absurd. Let it be said for the record that
"the Portuguese came largely at the instigation of the Vatican because Queen Helena and her son, Libnedingel, promised to bring the Ethiopian Orthodox Church under the supreme jurisdiction of the Church of Rome."
(See Ullendorff, page 71)
As a result of that agreement, Emperor Siceneous converted to Catholicism and many of the nobles followed him. When the local priests realized the threat to their religious hegemony as a result of conversion, they revolted and that was the end of early Catholicism in Ethiopia. But by then, the remnants of the Portuguese troops were long gone. The fact that they defeated Gragn and saved Ethiopia from becoming an Islamic and a Turkish colony can't be denied. Thus it is a matter of honor for Wondimu to know the fact that the Portuguese came to save Ethiopia and by extension Wondimu's beloved Warrior Monarchies. If any thing, he should thank them for the precious blood they paid.
In similar fashion, the first time the British came to Ethiopia was in the 1860s when Emperor Tewedros imprisoned the entire British Embassy led by Capitan Cameroon at his headquarter, Meqdella. The problem was Cameron failed to convince Queen Victoria to send British technicians and armaments as Tewedros requested. Once the news of Captain Cameron imprisonment reached Queen Victoria, she sent out Lord General Napier and his Indian colonial troops with huge armaments carried by more than 40 elephants. Regardless of the strength of Lord Napier's forces, the British would have never made it to the headquarter of Emperor Tewedros on their own and thus they found a willing local traitor and collaborator, Dejach Kassa (later named Emperor Yohannes). Kassa not only provided the forces of Lord Napier with literally thousands of men and animals for transpiration, he also personally led them to the gate of Emperor Tewedros where the British forces ended up victorious and liberated their diplomats unscathed. The price for Kassa: Lord Napier left him all the modern armaments he came with and Kassa used it to subdue his opponents and became Emperor of Ethiopia. Here Wondimu cannot say that Napier came to colonize Ethiopia. If that was true, he would have never left immediately after he liberated the British diplomats. (This part was covered in Ullendorff, page 84-85) As for Kassa's duplicity, well it runs in the house of Abyssinian warlords particularly those of Tigray.
The second time the British came to Ethiopia was in 1941. This time too, they never came with the intention of colonizing Ethiopia. If they had any intention to do so, everything was in their power and in their hand. They could have done it militarily. So where did Wondimu got this sordid idea of British colonial intention? Perhaps the good way to start answering this question is by asking "why did the British come in the first place and liberated Ethiopia when every beefy Ethiopian Ras was compromised with Italian lira (Italian currency) and Haile Sellassie was happily settled at the town of Bath in England doing nothing except contacting Mussolini via the Vatican and demanding adequate compensation of Lira and proper title in return for his offer of Ethiopia becoming a protectorate which actually Mussolini offered him one million pound sterling for his abdication?" Professor John Spencer wrote in his memoir that Haile Sellassie attempted three times to negotiate with Mussolini via the Vatican. The main reason the negotiation for abdication didn't succeed was because the British government didn't want to see Mussolini achieve legal occupation of Ethiopia.
There is also another important point I need to make it clear. In spite of all the courage and tenacity that Haile Sellassie promoters advanced so many times. The truth is, he too never cared as far as Eritrea goes. He didn't even care about his people much less about Eritrea. Throughout his carrier, he only cared about how to continue to hold on to power. Once he was butted out from power by Mussolini's forces, and before he left for England, he too was ready to hand over the Northern half of Ethiopia to Italy just as Menelik did about Eritrea. Here is how it went as Jasper Ridley points it out in Mussolini's Biography.
"In his desperate act to hold power, Haile Sellassie now made a secret peace overture to Mussolini, sending a former Ethiopian Minister in Rome to contact the Italian consul in Djibouti. HE OFFERED TO SELL A LARGE PART OF EHTIOPIA TO ITALY FOR ONE AND HALF MILLIARD LIRA AND TO APPOINT SIX ITALIAN ADVISORS TO DIRECT THE POLICY OF HIS GOVERNMENT. MUSSOLINI SENT A COURTEOUS REPLY TO THE INTERMIEDIARY, EXPRESSING HIS PLEASURE THAT THE NEGUS HAD AT LAST DECIDED TO NEGOTAIT DIRECTLY WITH HIM; but he said the offer was UNACCEPTABLE."
(Emphasis mine, see J. Ridley, page 270)
This makes it clear the duplicity of Abyssinian warlords and exposes for every body to see all this empty talk of "Ethiopia's superior stand of anti-colonialism."
More to the point, the moment Ethiopia was occupied by the forces of Mussolini, the love of beneficial lira became very widespread among the so-called patriot Nobles. The table below shows who received salaries from the Italian Colonial Government.
|Name||Monthly Salary in Lira|
|Dejach Ayalow Burru||16,000|
|Sultan of Aussa Mohammed Jaja||15,000|
|Sultan Abdullah Abba Jifar||8,000|
|Sultan Abba Jobir Abdullah||8,000|
|Dejach Hossanna Jiotte||15,000|
|Dejach Yohannes Jiotte||15,000|
|Sheik El Hogwli||25,000|
So much for Ethiopian heroism!
As Haile Sellassie's luck of liberating Ethiopia has it, the casus-beli that became for the British to liberate the Italian colonies in East Africa was to be Mussolini's declaration of war against France and Britain on June 5, 1940. Without this impetus, it was highly unlikely that the British would have come to the aid of Ethiopia. This declaration of War by Mussolini neatly fit the prayer of Haile Sellassie, which, as Anthony Mockler pointed out,
"Britain's war with Italy was Haile Sellassie's opportunity, indeed his only hope of ever recovering his throne."
(See "Haile Sellassie's War," page 212.)
Once Italy declared war over Britain, the British war planners decided to attack the fascist forces and kick them out from the entire Italian colonies of East Africa including Ethiopia with the aim to stop any further lose of British interest in the Middle East, Africa, and the Indian Ocean. They also correctly guessed that the liberation of Italian colonies in East Africa would make all war production material of the Italian colonies available to support British forces in the Middle East and North Africa.
Since all mainland British forces were busy fighting Hitler in North Africa and elsewhere in Europe, the liberation of the Italian colonies were left to the British colonial forces; South Africans, Australians, Nigerians and Indians. For example, the biggest battle between British forces and the Italians that took four months to complete was done at the town of Keren, Western Eritrea, and mainly by Indian Forces and the Gurkehas out of Nepal. After the fall of Keren, the Italian forces didn't put up much fighting in the rest of Eritrea and Ethiopia. In fact the British forces of General Cunningham that started from Kenya didn't see a hard fight thus General Cunningham entry to Addis Ababa can almost be called a walk over.
"In under two months General Cunningham four Brigades had captured Mogadishu, Harrar and Addis Ababa, three of the six capitals of the six governorates of Italians East Africa. They had defeated, dispersed, or captured without any aid from the Ethiopian rebels, forces many times their size and strength-for a total loss of 135 officers and men killed, 310 wounded, and 52 missing."
(See A. Mockler, page 370-371)
Wondimu's ferocious boast notwithstanding, the hodgepodge forces of Haile Sellassie, the so-called Gideon forces, didn't do any hard fight, as it was never an organized Military force. In the Deja.com NG, Wondimu & Co claim so many credits for the liberation of Ethiopia from Italy in 1941. The crucial fact is, such claim will always remain an empty hoopla as it lacks concrete evidence of fighting by Ethiopian military forces. Americans are fond of saying "show me the money" and I am inclined to say "show me the evidence of the fighting" and I will be ready with open mind" to entertain the evidence." The senselessness of Wondimu's claim is, he also believes, deep, down that Ethiopia also Liberated Eritrea. Could this be true?
Wondimu also boasted that Ethiopia liberated Eritrea. In other words, the talk of "we gave them the chance to walk in the streets of Asmara." The recorded history speaks for itself the fact that the British colonial forces liberated Eritrea as the battle for the control of the hills of Keren amply testifies and which thereby Eritrea ended up being another colony of the British flag for over 11 years until it was forcefully federated with Ethiopia through the diplomatic machination of the United States. All that talk of Wondimu about the Eritrean liberation by Ethiopia was merely doing his usual daydreaming.
After Eritrea and Ethiopia were liberated from Fascist Italy, there was diplomatic haggling between the British and the Americans about who will control Ethiopian commercial interest, oil exploration in the Ogaden, and the nascent Communication Station the Italians left behind in Eritrea which the Americans found it to be valuable. The United States won the fight over who will have more influence over Ethiopia and who will have more indirect control of Eritrea.
Furthermore, as the 1940s was ending, the Cold War became more vivid as demonstrated by the Berlin blockade and the Maoist ascendancy to power in china. To contain the advance of communism everywhere, American reaction was forceful and as a result, the interest to acquire Military base also became not only necessary but also a must in all the areas where it is frequented by Soviet forces. Based on the 'purity of radio frequency technical results' as experienced by Anglo American Force fighting Hitler and Mussolini forces in both the North and East Africa war theaters, Asmara and its environs was discovered to be the preferred place of American communication experts who would like to spy on those ships of the Soviet Union that were passing via the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.
This desire to build communication base for their Armed Forces made Americans to become thoroughly obliging helpers of Ethiopia to acquire Eritrea through their influence in the United Nation. And to speak truthfully, without American help, Haile Sellassie would have never got a chance to set his nasty foot in the airport of Asmara even for one minute. Wondimu's daydreaming aside, America forcefully and uncompromisingly brought the UNHAPPY marriage of Ethiopia and Eritrea. This intense American involvement can be seen in the following four paragraphs that came out from the FOUR top branches of American Government.
As far as the view of the 'Joint Chiefs of Staff'' is concerned, the desire to set up a communication base in Eritrea was "to travel miles to achieve it and to pay any price to get it" which the following paragraph amply indicates. Here are the words of the 'Joint Chiefs of Staff'': "In relating the importance of making Eritrea under Ethiopia, thus fulfilling the over all strategy of American power in the area, Admiral William Leahy of the 'Joint Chiefs of Staff' said the following
"The joint chiefs of Staff would state categorically that the benefits now resulting from the operation of our telecommunication center at Asmara - benefits common and of high military importance to both the United States and Great Britain - CAN BE OBTAINED FROM NO OTHER LOCATION IN THE ENTIRE MIDDLE EAST - EASTERN MEDITERRANIAN AREA. THEREFORE, UNITED STATES RIGHTS IN ERITREA SHOULD NOT BE COMPROMISED.'"
(Emphasis on original, see Harold Marcus, "Ethiopia, Great Britain, and the United States," page 84)
THE NATIONAL SECUIRITY COUNCIL:
The job of this department was to insure that Eritrea is not perceived or justifiably seen as viable state by members of congress (the few who may harbor Italian feeling rather than Haile Sellassie's) and thus marshaled its clout and office proximity to the president of the United States with the sole purpose of making Eritrea LOOK as a non working entity. Thus the elites of National Security Council said,
"Eritrea is neither socially, politically, administratively, not economically qualified for independence, nor will it be for some time. An independent regime would be unable to maintain law and order against the internal ravages of border marauders, or to prevent a move for secessions and union with Ethiopia - which would not be unlikely - by the people of the Central Plateau. If attacked from outside, it would be unable to maintain its territorial integrity without external aid."
(See, Harold Marcus, page 85)
THE STATE DEPARTMENT:
Not be upstaged by the above two departments, the State Department chief diplomat, Secretary of State John Dulles, also spoke in the most undiplomatic way. A short time before the UN vote to federate Eritrea with Ethiopia was implemented; Mr. Dulles bluntly explained the American Government's attitude over Eritrea. Said he,
"From the point of view of justice, the opinions of the Eritrean people must receive consideration. Nevertheless, the strategic interest of the United States in the Red Sea basin and considerations of security and world peace makes it necessary that the country has to be linked with our alley Ethiopia."
(See Bereket Habte Sellassie, "Eritrea and the United Nation," page 106 to 107)
The United State Congress on its part also put out its view in plane technical language about the importance of having Asmara as a communication center for the U.S. Armed Forces. It said,
"The United States wanted the communication base at Asmara because 'it was located in the tropics far from the north and south magnetic poles, the [aurora borealis] and magnetic storms, in a zone where the limited degree of seasonal variation between sunrise and sunset reduced the need for numerous frequency changes.' Its mile and half high altitude and locations near the equator made Kagnew an excellent primary relay station in the U.S. worldwide defense communication system."
(About this hearing, opinion cited in Richard Sherman, "Eritrea: The Unfinished Revolution." page 143)
With all the above forceful and relentless push by American DIPLOMATIC POWER to federate Eritrea with Ethiopia, Eritrea had neither committed friends that extend a helping hand nor cohesive internal power to challenge what was coming, which amounted to the fourth stage of slavery life Eritreans had yet to experience under the Amhara and their American friends.
As if all the pain Eritreans had gone through under the Ottoman Turks, the Egyptians, and the Italians wasn't enough, the Amhara came with the mighty American flag on their side. To reward for their diplomatic help in the United Nation, Haile Sellassie gave the Americans unlimited power to do what it damn pleases them in any part of Eritrea deemed to be of importance to U.S. Defense need. The only requirement was that they pay 50 million dollars rental fees yearly and that Haile Sellassie and his Ministers were to be accorded a courtesy medical check up at the hospital of American Military personnel. The consequence of American presence in Eritrea was a double-edged sword. It was not only to fight the spread of Russian communism in the Middle East and Africa, but it was also to keep an eye over nagging Eritreans who harbor any ill-will against the Ethiopian feudal State.
In the name of fighting Russian communism, the Americans behaved a virtual state within state. They had this huge compound known as Kagnew Station, a town unto itself, with its own telephone exchange, power station lines, schools, hospital, PX market, restaurants and even a bank that handles Military paycheck and other exchanges. A huge farming land, three times the size of the DC metro, all over the Hamassien highland, land was taken by the Americans to be used to lay down radio communication antenna poles including the two huge Satellite antennas located just few blocks from the main city center, which at a later date as I came to read about it, were used as part of the hotline communication between Washington and Moscow. By nighttime, the flashing light from those antennas made to look as if Asmara and its surrounding was huge industrial base. The sad thing was that the Eritrean farmers whose land was taken by the Americans never received a single dime of deserving compensation.
American public communication, even those high Military Officers who were residing in Asmara, was always done strictly with the Ethiopian ruling class and their representative in Asmara. Every thing Americans needed in the day to day existence came from the outside world, without paying any import duty and was given priority of unloading vis-a-vis the goods that were coming for the local Eritrean market need. Simple stuff and as fresh as vegetables and fruits that could have been bought at a much cheaper price in any local store were deemed unfit to be eaten by the American personnel.
The irony of irony was, at that time, Eritrea was exporting successfully vegetables and fruits, particularly banana from the "Denadia Farming Co" to Italy and other European countries. Sadly those export successes never became an incentive for the Americans to look into the local Market for their need. As far as the American Military personnel were concerned, what was important to them was the fact that the goods in those endless containers stumped with the American flag were peacefully unloaded without any hitch at Massawa harbor.
Any unhappiness shown by Eritreans was taken care off by the Royal Ethiopian Navy. As for the so called beneficial employment as a result of the base, yes there were some jobs, but those were mainly in house cleaning and maintenance, dry cleaning and dish washing, gardening and night guarding. Other than to exploit Eritrean lands for their Military use, Americans spent not even a dime on the Eritrean economy, as they were never seen even buying a bottle of mineral water.
This in fact was Haile Sellassie's desire as he was keen not to see the local Eritrean Market grow and prosper. Americans had similar Military bases in Spain, the Philippines, and until recently in Panama. In each case, Americans were obliged to buy what they could get from the local economy. In Eritrea, things were different. Haile Sellassie was more interested about developing Showa and to continually get the rental fee of 50 million dollars, which was helpful and was the main concern of the Ethiopian oligarchy. Besides, no Amhara plutocrat in his right mind wants to see Eritrea advanced any more than his or her beloved Showa.
Let it also be said for the records that, during the Cuban missile crises, Kagnew and by association, the city of Asmara, were few of the prime targets of nuclear annihilation by the Warsaw Pact Forces. The reason was, as it turned out, Kagnew was the main coordinating station for American forces in the Indian Ocean and the American six fleets in the Mediterranean as it also doubles as snooping center to grab radio Message of Russian fleets in the same area. As Richard Sherman recounted,
"Kagnew Station, over the years, was the most complex and the largest high frequency station for the United States. Kagnew's functions have been variously described as that of an eavesdropping operation, a space-tracking station, and naval communication facilities. The station's activities involved 'various types of intelligence, electronic countermeasures such as jamming, target exploitation, and transmission of coded material.' It no doubt served as an electronic listing post, monitoring both Arab and Soviet communications."
(See Sherman, page 143)
Here in lies why the Soviets targeted Asmara during the Cuban Missile crises.
But no this was not all, in the name of protecting American GIs', American MPs were given unlimited power, to come to any place. A coffee shop or a bar, anywhere Americans happened to frequent, be it on official duty or enjoying themselves off duty. Even more so, at their preferred will, these MPs could incarcerate any locale that dared to show unfriendly eye to American personnel. There were armies of prostitutes that supported the libido of American soldiers and with it came all the bad habits and avarices known to man and civilization, including the introduction of drugs to a city and citizens that hardly knew the existence of mariwana in the prior days and years.
If ever a GI was affected by sexually transmitted diseases, real or imagined, the American MPs will come in into the place of the hapless lady who supposedly transmitted the disease, grab the girl, and order her to see a doctor and of course paid from her own pocket. They had also local mercenaries as translators who see to it that the MPs orders were done. This, if we have to confront the issue head on, as we must, was their prerogative demanded by American Negotiator and given to them by Haile Sellassie as quid-pro-quo for the American help to federate Eritrea with Ethiopia. If the place happens to be a bar where the disease transmitting lady worked, a judgment was passed by the MPs on the bar to be off-limit to drinking Americans which was a tantamount to closing the doors of the business, because in no time, the city municipality will also come after the owner of the bar in whose name the license was issued.
The worst thing Eritreans had to experience from the American Military presence in Eritrea was the humiliation the locales felt from Americans where they were not governed by the local laws. A drank GI could, at his pleasure, break the whole possessions of the bar and there was nothing the bar owner could do for the GI was protected by American laws.
During the height of black power movement in the late sixties in the United States, it was common for group of American White GIs to come out from their compound, start a fight with an innocent and an assuming Asmarino who was unlucky enough to pass their way; break a tooth or two; hop unto their car; and then run into their compound before the locales had a chance to congregate. Once inside their compound, they were free from any criminal judgment. Even if they were caught when the crime was happening, nine out of ten times, the judgment was in their favor. Haile Sellassie, through Ras Assrate Kassa, the then governor of Eritrea, made sure that no amount of grievance from Eritreans should come into the way of earning the 50 million dollars yearly rental fee.
What fills me with the utmost sadness more than anything is, since the closing of Kagnew Station, American Foreign policy makers continued with their never ending contempt over the people of Eritrea and on their struggle to be free throughout the years. Only grudgingly did they accept the independence of Eritrea just in time when it came obvious in 1991as de facto and de jure. Yes, for years, American policy makers were zealously preaching about those Jeffersonian things of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, with all the sentimental words of the declaration of independence." Yet when it came to Eritrea they ended up making a mockery of the very Jeffersonian maxim to their shame forever to be remembered by all Eritreans. And now we see the continuation of that same contempt in the current crises as American policy makers, Susan Rice at the State Department; Gale Smith at the National Security Council, and Ambassador at large, Anthony Lake too, siding with the Ethiopian wish at every junction and pushing Eritrea to give concessions after concessions, only to find out that the problem in fact was centered squarely with the Woyane clique themselves.
Tony Lake has been yelling at the president of Eritrea throughout 1999 and forcing him to make concessions after concessions and now when the turn came for him to do the same pushing on the Ethiopian government, Tony Lake changed his address and no one knows where he lives. He simply disappeared for all senses and purposes. In my humble consideration, this political disappearance of Tony Lake is in fact purposely done because even at this juncture, American policy makers are still dwelling with that old shibboleth and truly misguided opinion that said, "American interest is better served by Ethiopia rather than Eritrea." How long this illogical policy will hold, time will tell.
Those of you who read the above paragraph will certainly disagree with me in light of the recent development in the United States Congress - House Foreign Relation Committee - particularly the pronouncement of Congress Benjamin Gilman (praise be to him) which I found it the most heart warming and ethically correct discourse ever to come out from that August body. Still I pray to the Lord that the executive branch also shares this ethical stand by Congressman Gilman and that this "ethical stand" of Congressman Gilman is not by any means a temporary show off like a delicate spring flower whose lifetime is no more than one to two months. I also pray to the Lord that the United States will finally come to realize who the real culprit is this whole agonizing affair and thus, commensurately, I do hope to see American diplomatic power directed to end this senseless war as it nobly did and brought peace to the people of the Balkans.
I brought all this unhappy memory we Eritreans have in dealing with the Americans to negate Wondimu's boast that said "Ethiopia liberated Eritrea". In other words, the talk of "we gave them the chance to walk in the streets of Asmara."
And no Wondimu, the truth is, first and foremost, the British forces kicked out the Italians from Eritrea as I amply discussed it elsewhere. Secondly, if any thing, just as Menelik sold us to Italian colonial slavery, Haile Sellassie too sold us to American occupation and the chance to get annihilated by the nuclear forces of the Soviet Union. Thus the whole idea of "we gave them the chance to walk in the streets of Asmara" is simply childish opinion that can only come from a mind utterly unlettered in historical truth and seditious in its geopolitical thinking. Lets just pass to the next Wondimu's jaundiced point of view that said "Ethiopia favored the economic development of Eritrea over other Ethiopian Provinces." Is this true! Let's see
In his NAACP letter Wondimu also claimed that
"the Emperor (Haile Sellassie) pumped every meager resource into Eritrea. The best schools were opened and Eritreans got the best educations, while the rest of Ethiopia was still illiterate. The best hospitals were built in Eritrea, while millions died of malaria and other curable disease elsewhere in Ethiopia."
The above mischief was in fact lifted from his racist article "SHAME ON SHABIA" that appeared on the Ethiopian register (May 1999 issue, Vol 6, No 5, page 20). In that article Wondimu said,
"Ethiopia gave Eritreans pride when they became her citizen after colonialism. She let them live anywhere within Ethiopia and prospered. While ignoring the dire needs of other regions, Ethiopian administrators unwittingly invested the meager resources of the country to develop Eritrea, opened hundreds of Schools, hospitals, and manufacturing industries. The cries of Gojjam, Gonder, Illubabor, Gamo Goffa, Bale, Arussi, Showa and the other provinces for attention were ignored, while 'Eritrea' was pampered."
In other words, according to Wondimu, "Haile Sellassie and his Showa Mokanint - nobles" economically favored Eritrea over their beloved Showa??? IAnd we are expected to believe him!
Wow! This claim is an absolute lie! If any thing, Ethiopia mightily benefited from incomes that rightly belonged to Eritreans such as the Massawa and Assab port fees, Telecommunication that was built by the Italians and the British, civil aviation, fruit export from low land Eritrea, minerals such as the copper mining in Debaruwa and the potash mining in Dalul, the 50 million dollars yearly rental fee of Kagnew Station paid by the AmericansI. These incomes garnered by Ethiopia were not all. All foreign companies who built factories in Eritrea were expressly ordered to pay tax directly to Addis Ababa, companies such Fish products that were canned by a Yugoslavia concern; Encode, the Israeli meat factory; Coca-Cola; the Baratollo textile factory; the Merengi glass factory; Mellotti brewery; the list goes on and on. And make no mistake, Haile Sellassie left these factories to continue operating in Eritrea because either they were built prior to the Federation era or they happened to be of interest to the Ethiopian state to be there as was the case with Encode which was really a cover for the "Mossad," the Israeli Intelligence service and which Haile Sellassie depended on Israel about Arab governments' intention against Ethiopia.
What did Ethiopia give to Eritrea in return? None whatsoever. Ethiopia, to begin with, was so undeveloped, it is just unthinkable for her to be generous to people (Eritreans) that were and still are so hated by the Amhara and their Mekele and Tembien brethren. Let alone to build manufacturing base, Haile Sellassie wouldn't allow Volkswagen and Fiat to build transportation Bus and truck factories in Eritrea and from there to export the finished product to Africa and to the Arab World. After the license application for a factory in Eritrea was rejected, Volkswagen stopped its intention altogether while Fait moved its plan to Addis Ababa and went on to set up its factory in Akaki on the way to Debre Zaiti.
As for the hundreds of Hospitals and Schools Wondimu claimed that the Emperor built in Eritrea, I must say, such claim is nothing more than a mind set full of mirage. To begin with, Ethiopia's high Officials, in every economic sphere that counted, were making sure that Eritreans wouldn't go further ahead of other Ethiopians. Even in that one big University Ethiopia had, personalities like Dr Aklilu Habte, the then president of the university, were making sure that the number of Eritreans were kept at a minimum level. And when the number of Eritreans indirectly increased via those who matriculated in provincial towns out side Eritrea, be it Assella, Jimma, and also Addis Ababa, Dr Aklilu roared with anger saying,
"yehe universitie eiko le ande GOSSA new yemiyaglegil yale - This university is overwhelmingly serving the interest of one single tribe - meaning Eritreans"
He said this in a meeting of the University's Academic Senate. Yes, Eritreans were there in the meeting when Dr Aklilu roared with such unfortunate and tribalistic comment and it was these Eritreans who leaked the badmouthing of Dr. Aklilu. Now does Dr Aklilu smells like he was pampering Eritreans out of all proportion? No, only a schizophrenic mind would blindly talk about such nonsensical favoritism of Eritrea.
What Wondimu & Co must know is the fact that Haile Sellassie's and that of the Dergue's priority was always to benefit the Amhara. If truth is to be told, income generated from Eritrean ports fee and others as enumerated above was to the tune of 35% of the Ethiopian budget and what did Eritrea got in return? Virtually nothing that meets the eye. And we can measure this lopsided disparity in terms of the educational benefit that existed in Haile Sellassie and the Dergue's Ethiopia because if there is any yardstick that gives accurate measurement of progress of one country, it is education.
Educational progress under Haile Sellassie was very impoverished, even measured by 3rd World standard. Yet the few places of higher education that Haile Sellassie tried to open for the most part benefited the Amhara mightily and exclusively. Haile Sellassie made sure every institution of higher learning was opened primarily in the Amhara land i.e. Showa, whose population was the mainstay of the Emperor. Other Amhara lands like Gojjam and Gonder or Oromo areas that were heavily populated by Neftegnas (Amhara soldier) settlers got their fair share of Haile Sellassie's blessing as well.
Accordingly, the main University in Addis Ababa under the watchful eye of Dr Aklilu and with about six colleges was heavily populated by the Amhara. The Agricultural College in Alemaya and the Harrer Miltary academy, Haile Sellassie's West Point, although both located in Eastern Oromia, were an exclusive Amhara Clubs. Other Amhara locations like Gonder had the Gonder Public Health College; and Gojjam the Bahir Dar Polytechnic Institute. Both institutions were purposely located to serve the sons of Amhara peasants from all over Amhara lands. There were also the Ambo agricultural college, in western Showa and Jimma Agricultural colleges in Keffa. Again they were purposely founded in the most fertile area of Ethiopia and to serve the sons of Amhara settlers and the agro-business (Gasha-Meriet and all that) interest of Amhara noblemen. All the same, the Abadina Police college, the Holleta military academy, both in Addis Ababa; the Air-force College in Debrezaiti; The Naval College in Massawa, 99% Amhara and headed by Haile Sellassie's grandson, Iskider Desta, were all at the service of the Amhara pin-pointedly allocated, in the case of the Air Force and the Navy, the ruling class, and the rest; the second level Amhara citizens like Mengistu Haile Mariam, the X-dictator of Ethiopia. Mengistu was a lousy student, still being the son of an illegitimate daughter of Ras Kebede Tessema; he cashed in his Amhara connection and in time, he was able to enter Holleta Military Academy that became the reason for his salvation. Make no mistake; Mengistu would have never made it to Holleta as "CLEAN CUT DORSSIE THAT HE WAS IN HIS FATHER's SIDE." But boy! Ones you have an Amhara blood in your vein, even the heavens promptly open for you regardless of your school record. (About Mengistu's line of illegitimacy, see Dawit Woldegwergis, page 348)
Add to all the above sectarian Amhara progress, the help that was coming from foreign governments. The British had one of the finest Grammar School in the Nation, Gerneral Wingate, also located in Addis Ababa. An education in Wingate was like an education in those prep schools like Andover and Chaot that serve the offspring of the American Eastern Establishment that enables them to enter Harvard and Yale. Success in Wingate guaranteed you to win scholarship to a foreign university or to enter the local ones. The British modeled Wingate after Eton where the sons of the British ruling class attend (Example - the elder son of Prince Charles is currently attending that school) and Haile Sellassie made sure the Amhara dominate "General Wingate."
The French had their Lissie Gebremariam with its associated Municipal College and was also located in Addis Ababa. No Ethiopian student can hope to win a scholarship to a French University unless he or she attended "Lissie Gebremariam". The Amhara, as Haile Sellassie himself was conversant in French education, carefully controlled the gate to that school. Since it also doubled as a lighting road to the University of Paris, the Sorbon, and other Ecole-Normales.
Not to be out done, Sweden was represented by having and running an exclusive Building college located in Addis Ababa. The Polytechnic in Bahir Dar, Gojjam, was a Russian contribution. The Germans built the Engineering College, again located in Addis Ababa. American help was exclusively military, particularly the Air Force and the Naval Colleges but their contribution to the main University was also substantial where they built the biggest library in the Nation and was named after President Kennedy. Then there were also the Elementary and Middle School Teacher Training Colleges in Harrer; Debreberhan, Showa; the one in Addis Ababa; another in Bahir Dar; all these were built to serve the 3rd level Amhara citizens. Canada was a heavy contributor on this score including paying for the upkeep of the ongoing summer refresher course given to Junior and High School Teachers.
By comparison, Haile Sellassie made sure that nothing of substance was built in any part of Eritrea that benefits Eritreans; not even a single college. The one University the Catholic Nuns privately tried to set up to help the people of Eritrea; the Amhara put every possible hurdle in the sun so that it wouldn't prosper and grow. More on this later.
The one single foreign aid Haile Sellassie favored to set up in Eritrea was military training school modeled after "THE MILITARY SCHOOL OF THE AMERICAS" where the United States used it for years to train Latin Americans in the name of fighting the many Latin Castros and in which many of the murdering Noriegas (Panama) and Dabusones (El Slavador) were trained and where Pinochet (the chief Gestapo of Chile) was a frequent guest.
With "THE SCHOOL OF THE AMERICAS" in mind, Haile Sellassie gave the Israelis a green light to open a school to train Eritreans as a spearheading "Commando" with the express purpose of making Eritreans fight Eritreans. On that score, I am ashamed to say, he was successful for many Eritreans unwittingly got trained to fight and kill Eritreans. However, finally Eritreans understood what Haile Sellassie was doing to them and after few years of operation it got stopped.
Wherever Eritreans show up and seem to excel in a minor way, Amhara Officials in the teaching profession made it a habit of creating discord so that the momentum of Eritreans will not get a head way. The Amhara desire to control was so overt and shamelessly executed that in the late 60s and early 70s there were bitter fightings between Eritrean and Amhara students. It pained me to remember the record of the Amhara students cabal who raided at midnight the dormitory of innocent Eritrean students at Harrer Teachers Training College and Bahir-Dar Polytechnic Institute. The wound from knife mutilation of innocent Eritreans still is remembered and I must say it was patently done with the Amhara instructors blessing to deny Eritreans a decent education. At one point, Haile Sellassie ordered Dejazmatch Tesfahanese Berhe to come to Bahir Dar and as an Eritrean in the pocket of the Emperor, Dejazmatch Tesfahanese was expected to tell the Eritrean students frankly "who is in control and who is on top." He came and did exactly what the Emperor instructed him to do. The fighting somewhat slowed and yet the damage was done. The number of Eritreans was few to begin with in comparison to the Amharas, after the communal fighting, the number of Eritrean students became even fewer.
The most cynical aspect of the Amhara was the issue of making sure that all places of Higher Learning service the interest of the Amhara. To achieve their heart's desire, Haile Sellassie and his nobles, like Dr. Aklilu Habte made it a rule that "A PASS IN AMHARIC LANGUAGE IS REQUIRED." A high school student, for all he or she cared, could be a straight-A student in the sciences and conversant with Newtonian mechanics and related laws. Pufff! Forget it, no aspiring student can hope to have a chance to improve his lot in Haile Sellassie's Ethiopia unless he or she passed Amharic. Call it Jim Crow law if you will, but that was certainly what happened. The language control of the Amhara was so pervasive, that all Oromos and Tigrean students were not allowed to write and develop their native languages and cultures, Oromiffa and Tigrigna respectively. By virtue of making Amharic the medium of instruction, even in elementary school and without providing the necessary budget to support the program of Amharaization, Haile Sellassie made it a rule so that non-Amharas can not write what they speak.
A clear cut example of language control freakishness of Haile Sellassie and the Amhara was, most Tigrean students including the current Woyane Leaders were indoctrinated to think, write, and laugh like the Amhara as they were denied to know how to think and write in the language of their forefathers. The only exception to the rule or those who defied the language control of the Amhara were the Eritreans. All Eritreans in Addis Ababa and even more so in Eritrea, were speaking and writing in their own languages except of course those who were born outside Eritrea. They were doing it as they please which greatly angered and offended the powers that be of the Amhara ruling class ever deeply hence Dr. Aklilu's anger, "yehe universitie eiko le ande GOSSA new yemiyaglegil yale - this university is overwhelmingly serving the interest of one single ethnic group - meaning Eritreans." It is this courage and defiance of Eritreans that became a fine example and a great gift of emancipation for many downtrodden Ethiopians including the Woyane clique who are now hard at work to extinguish the independence and freedom of Eritrea.
To support the Amhara's unethical and truly tribal economic progress, a colony of different societies were created. For example, I would venture to say over 90% of the Officers of the Ethiopia Army, Navy, and Air Force were Amhara. By comparison well over 80% of the Sergeants and Privates were Oromo, Sidama and Wolayta. Eritreans vocations were, in most cases, as Mechanics, Taxi Drivers where they were 90% or more, and construction workers. Either Amhara or Amharized Oromos headed all Government departments. Government Officers from director and up were Amhara. The Ministers of Haile Sellassie and Mengistu's Governments were all Amhara except those that were associated by marriage to the House of Haile Sellassie like the Eritrean Dr. Sium Hargot. The Eritreans and Oromos were better off, somewhat, in the Engineering and Science schools where the skill of a mathematical "FENJIREGATCH" is heavily required. The Amhara notable absence in these areas was not because of lack of skill, but because the Amhara, by nature, love to give ORDERS and the best places for that type of occupational training were the Political Science, Law, Military, Social Welfare, Business and the list goes on and on. Any type of education where dirtying the hands is required, the Amhara avoided it as a matter of commonsense. In a way they had Ethiopia at the command of their fingers as God given private fiefdom thus they didn't need to dirty their hands like other mortals, be it Eritreans, Oromos or Sidamas.
The Amhara had it so good that the moment they see something that creates competition and thus benefits those who were not Amhara, they immediately jumped to do a damage control lest they lost their exclusive Amhara authority and the benefit that went with it. In such one damage control, Ethiopian Officials behaved so outrageously to the degree that when the Italian Catholic Nuns tried to make Santa Familia University work on behalf of the people of Eritrea in a modest way; Haile Sellassie and his nobles brought so many hurdles to make sure it wouldn't function smoothly.
Every Eritrean remembers how the University in its early stage tried to round up recognition from Universities around the world. As proper ethics demanded, the first University the Nuns contacted was that of Haile Sellassie's University in Addis Ababa. The Amhara, clever as always, knew full-well that having an institution of higher education in the center of a city they fear the most was not in their best interest. Thus one way to destroy the Nuns' hope for growth was to deny the deserved recognition. Knowing that denying recognition was going to be a controversial they devised a clever trick. Dr. Aklilu, with the approval of Haile Sellassie, assigned Dr Abrham Demoz, an Amharic language expert at Haile Sellassie I University and their man from Adwa, to be the chief investigator that would pass the judgment whether Santa Familia was fit to be called a University or not. This way, when denial comes, Eritreans will blame not the Amhara but the Tigrean. And yes, the formula worked. Dr Abraham and his followers went to Asmara, toured the University, and presto! Dr. Abrham's verdict was "It is very energetic high school, but a university, highly unlikely!" This verdict denied Santa Familia from getting foreign aid; no foreign government was willing to spend its money in an institution where it was NOT favored by the NATIONAL POWERS THAT BE. And this was not all, at a later date, the private University was nationalized by the Ethiopian Government and was made to run under the watchful eye of the Amhara with no sense of freedom. They emasculated it beyond recognition as they also forced the Nuns to leave Eritrea. And this sad story of the Nuns, in no small measure, makes Wondimu's claim of "Ethiopian administrators unwittingly invested the meager resources of the country to develop Eritrea" absolutely bogus that should shame him to the core.
While the Amhara were busy denying opportunities to Eritreans and Oromos, in their case, they really had merry time particularly the ruling class in Addis Ababa. Their dwellings, all the fashionable Mansions for themselves and small Bungalows for their Ashkers (House-boys & girls) near the old Air Port with its high walls and a sign that read "Tenakash Wisha alle - there is petbull dog inside". Their sports, Golf, Cricket, and Polo. Their food: Australian lobster and New York stake. All imported with taxpayers' money and made available to this class way below the actual cost of import. This unnecessary food import was required because the ruling class invariable considered the fish produced from the Red Sea and the top-grade meat from Sidama as unfit to be consumed by European diplomats. Thus seemingly patriotic and protectors of the Ethiopian image, they ended up helping themselves to the hilt. All for the same reason, their drank, Yohannes Aramaj (Johny Walker), their Man from Scotland. Their official car that was a sign of progress and civilization, Mercedes Benze, where rumor had it that Addis Ababa had the highest concentration of these cars in the whole of Africa next to Lagos, Nigeria. Haile Sellassie actually had 27 cars, which among them were Rolls-Royces, Mercedes Benzes, and Lincoln Continentals specifically assigned to keep his image high and his pleasure non-compromising. And their school for the children, the many exclusive private schools such as St. Joseph, English School, American School located near the University campus; the list goes on and on.
Measured by the insatiable profligacy of the Amhara ruling class, one sees the picture of Hanoverian London all over as it occurred in the time of Jonathan Swift to the time of Victoria Jubilee. Haile Sellassie, as Professor John Spencer informed us, had a love of Egyptian Belly Dancers. He usually invited a whole troop whenever marriage celebration in the palace occurred, which ultimately was a drain in the coffers of the Nation.
All the same, when its came to insatiable consumption, the Amhara Nobles were in exact mirror image of the Emperor. Ras Asrate Kassa, at one point, ordered a wedding cake for his daughter's wedding directly from Paris and when those shameless coolies (Ras Assrate Kassa's word not mine) didn't handle the wedding cake with care as they were unloading it at the air port, the bloody cake broke. Ras Assrate Kassa was in no mood to accept the broken cake. He ordered the hapless pilot and his plane to fly back to Paris immediately and he brought back an unbroken cake. That, thanks to the millions of dollars of Eritrean Tax payers' money Ras Assrate Kassa stole, was done in time for the wedding to pass smoothly.
Better still, when it comes to celebrations, nothing tops Haile Sellassie's 80th birthday. A whole battalion of Ethiopian Nobles from throughout the impoverished Empire and their fellow foreign dignitaries from around the world were gathered in Addis Ababa and celebrated the festivity with French Champaign bottled for the occasion. The native specialty was augmented with multiple Ferengi food expressly ordered from Paris. Varieties of it, Caviar, Lobster, Oyster and so was Chinese food too pointedly made to make happy Chinese diplomats who were there representing the newly minted budding friendship of Chairman Mao and Haile Sellassie which was cemented by the Emperor's visit to China. (*)
Add to all these happy entertainment, the fireworks that lit the skyline
of Addis Ababa and its environs with all the colorful geyser of light.
Every street of the city was adored with Neon lamps, millions in number.
What is Las Vegas in comparison! A poor-man's Christmas tree! And what is
Paris's Eiffel Tower millennium celebration but children's play. Actually
Haile Sellassie's 80th birthday was expressly done to outdo "Queen
Victoria's Jubilee" of 1887. Little did the Amhara ruling class cared
that, at that very moment, hundreds of thousands of their compatriots in
the province of Wollo were dying of hunger which in three years time it
became one of the catalysts in booting out the Emperor from his endless
gluttony and lawless power
All the above wicked and immoral consumption was actually a minor symptom of a larger disease that went on for years; i.e. the hypnotic desire of the ruling class to acquire wealth all day without end. And when it comes to acquiring wealth, Haile Sellassie was a class by himself. As John Markakis & Nega Ayele recounted in their book about the Ethiopian revolution,
"Haile Sellassie was not only the major owner of a public transport in the capital through the Anbassa Bus company, he was also the country's first beer baron through the ownership of two major breweries and a large share in a third one, as well as control of a wine factory. In the Haile Sellassie I Foundation, he owned the only holding company in Ethiopia, thinly disguised as a charitable institution, with shares in dozens of enterprises ranging from hotels to firearms production. The urban real estate holdings of himself and his family were countless, while their holdings in land throughout the empire were legion. Yet with undiminished greed, he and his brood never ceased accumulating possessions through methods that were seldom above board. Haile Sellassie even demanded and received regularly a share of the contraband goods confiscated by the customs service. Haile Sellassie, who never distinguished between his own money and the public treasury, regularly used public funds to acquire possessions that were classed as private imperial property. The most astounding revelation concerned the appropriation of the entire output from the country's sole gold mine, which he said to have deposited regularly in the bulging vaults of a Swiss bank. At the time that this corruption was revealed, the enormity of the allegation caused widespread incredulity. Indeed, the produce from the gold mine never appeared in any government revenue accounting, and the revenue of the Ministry of Mines never came close to matching its expenditure. To support the charge, the Dergue showed in television a letter from a Swiss bank manager, in which the Emperor was allegedly asked to delay new shipments because the storage capacity of the banks vaults had been exhausted."
(See "Class and Revolution in Ethiopia," page 112 to 113)
Similarly other Nobles were not that far behind. Ras Asrate Kassa used to own all the choice real state near the new airport. At one point, with the help of connivers from the top Ethiopian Airline management and Civil Aviation top dogs, Ras Asrate Kassa shrewdly dumped his land holding to unsuspecting Airline employees at darn good price for himself and a cut for the Airline Officers. This for their help in availing their Office to arrange employees to borrow money which they would pay it with monthly installment from their salary. I remember asking a friend of mine not to fall into this trap since by 1972, situations in Ethiopia were becoming unpredictable and untenable. I was proved right because the Dergue ended up nationalizing most of the houses that were built in that area. Another notorious ill-gotten wealth collector was Ras Mesfin Silleshi. That man used to own the entire province of Arrussi. The only exception to the rule was Ras Imiru. Sensing the tragedy and the demise of the nobility that was around the corner, he, early enough, gave all his land holding to those who were farming for him. This became his saving grace that when the revolution came, he was the only nobleman to escape execution by gunfire and to earn a burial in a marked grave accompanied with military honor.
The thing that is still engrained in my mind is the following: As the skyline of Addis Ababa was lit by the fireworks of the Emperor's Birthday in a split of a moment I distinctly remember asking a friend of mine to walk with me so that we can get closer to the palace and witness the firework from the nearest possible distance. We got closer as much as we could. In the end, we found the palace completely surrounded by a whole division of soldiers. We approached the palace from the backside and instead of witnessing fireworks, we witnessed the spectacle of our lifetime that we never expected to see. As we got closer to the palace we saw a whole group of people. First we thought they were palace workers although their clothing was out of line considering the mood of the celebration. Once we arrived near them we realized who they were; the poor and the downtrodden who were absolutely forgotten by the ruling class. And then the spectacle: these groups of people were from the Komatta Sefer (Leper Colony) who lived in the outskirts of the West Side of Addis Ababa. There they were; enjoying the best time of their life as big dishes of leftovers were carted out to them again and again. Many of them constantly struggling to collect for tomorrow as much as they can, every crumb of it, in their shabby Nestella (a shawl of close), and then one of the lepers threw one the funniest sarcasm of the night.
This leper, while the palace supervisor was looking the other way round, sent his two struggling fingers; all he had, what were left from his bacteria infected hand. He dipped them as far as he could into a big dish full of leftovers and after which, he miraculous came out with long and meaty bone. He displayed it in-front of his eyes in what seems an eternity, marveling at it, and adoring it, something he never-ever expected to come face to face in his life time, something that warmed his heart and delight his eyes. Negotiating himself whether to believe the object in front of his eyes could ever be true and thus the shocking reality starkly demonstrated about the quality and quantity of food intake between the poor and downtrodden vis--vis the Amhara ruling class. Never have I seen, eyes of a human being, so fixated toward an object, which reminded me about a pictorial observation I saw of Galileo Galilee as he was peering into the heavens with his first telescope accompanied with an epigram that said, "here was an observation that delights the heart and quenches the thirst of soul." As the leper took a healthy bite out of that meaty bone, his face flushed with a happy smile that out-shined Leonardo Davinchi's Mona Lisa and then threw a sarcastic quip of the night that would delight Halka Ghebre-Hanna:
"Yechi-ma Keferengi Sehan Yeterefech mohon alebat - Yehen yemessele Atint yeEtiopia Ras EsKe-mifenda Yibelatal Enji Aytewatim - This meaty bone must be a leftover of a Diplomat's plate, if that would be in the plate of an Ethiopian Noble, he would choose a stomach explosion rather than leave it intact."
All those who had heard him curtly laughed. The Good thing was the palace people who were bringing the leftover didn't hear him. And the joyful moment of the poor continued at least for the next ten to fifteen minutes.
When news got out that a group of lepers were enjoying the leftovers of the celebration, a whole fresh brigade of poor people immediately congregated and fighting ensued between those who ate and those who newly arrived. In no time, an armada of police cars arrived to make sure that the palace celebration is not interfered in any way or shape whatsoever. Police buttons flew and some heads of the poor were gushed as every one was running to save his butt.
The irony of irony was, the poor were cursing the police while they shouted praising the Emperor "Ababa Janihoy Yinurulin, Yedeha Zemed - Long live the King, a Worthy Relative of the Poor!" Little did the poor knew that this so called worthy relative of the poor in fact was, one among the many ruling class, who cares little about the POOR, come what may. In his irony filled book, "The Emperor," the Polish journalist, Ryszard Kapuscinski extracted what is certainly a truthful stanza from one of Haile Sellasie's close palace intriguer which he code named him as A.A... And speaking about those who were dying from uncontrolled hunger in the province of Wollo, A. A. said:
"Death from hunger had existed in our Empire for hundreds of years, an everyday natural thing. Drought would come and the earth would dry up, the cattle would drop dead, the peasants would starve. Ordinary, in accordance with the laws of nature and the eternal order of things Since this was eternal and normal, none of the dignitaries would dare to bother His Most Exalted Highness (meaning Haile Sellassie) with the news that in such a province, a given person had died of hunger. Of course, His Most Exalted Highness visited the province himself, BUT IT WAS NOT HIS CUSTOM TO STOP IN THE POOR REGIONS WHERE THERE WAS HUNGER."
(Emphasis is mine, see "The Emperor," page 111)
Such was the nature and modus-operandi of the Amhara ruling class and in which their son ,Wondimu, the letter writer to the NAACP, is proud of about their merry making existence.
The Emperor and the ruling class insatiableness to spend the wealth of the Nation was so outlandish that by the early 1970s, it was common knowledge in the streets of Addis Ababa that scarce budget was squandered for meaningless projects such as the Haile Sellassie foundation, Haile Sellassie prize to imitate the Noble prize and where the Amhara awarded the prize to each other, the Miss Ethiopia pageant, the Haile Sellassie Building this, the Haile Sellassie Building that, the list goes on and on with no end in sight. At one point, there was even a talk to arrange a dbutante party supposedly to benefit those who suffer from leprosy. This type of merry making party is very unusual for a country whose literacy rate was never above 10% even if one has to exaggerate a bit. Mostly the "dbutante" type of partying is held in the European World on the occasion for young women making their formal entrance into society where fathers take their daughters to this party. Whether those who were suffering from leprosy benefited or not, no body knows. The question that concerned me here is the means and the Nth degrees the Amhara ruling class desired to travel to enjoy themselves and squander society's scarce resource. That to me is the most unforgivable.
Another means the Amhara found to squander the wealth of society was the build up of private fiefdom by each Minister. The bloatness of the bureaucracy was so big that it was common for a given Ministry's people to show up for a couple of hours and then do their private work the rest of the day. In creating bureaucracy, the Emperor was a class by himself. Witness what Ryszard Kapuscinski has to say about a man whose job was to clean the urine of the Emperor dog:
"It was a small dog, a Japanese breed. His name was Lulu. He was allowed to sleep in the Emperor's great bed. During various ceremonies, he would run away from the Emperor's lap and pee on the dignitaries' shoes. The august gentleman were not allowed to flinch or make the slightest gesture when they felt their feet getting wet. I had to walk among the dignitaries and wipe the urine from their shoes with a satin cloth. This was my job for ten years."
(See "The Emperor," page 4; for the fleet of cars, refer page 12).
The Palace was full of people like that, some whose job was only to open doors of specific gate and others to carry pillows wherever the Emperor goes. Imitating the Emperor, every Minister was following the same example that cost the Nation direly. It is from this dreadful and sleazeful bureaucracy that Eritreans tried to disengage after the fall of the Federation in 1961 and now Wondimu is blaming us for doing so.
The Amhara were obsessed to be seen civilized by the outside world that, while many citizens even in Addis Ababa had no clean drinking water, Haile Sellassie made sure the city of Addis Ababa had a Philharmonic Orchestra and the conductor and Maestro was Professor Isaac who after the fall of Hail Sellassie's Government ended up at Harvard. Not to be out done, the National theater was also busy producing not something based on the local culture. The rage and priority of their foremost poet, Tsegaye Gebre Medhin, was to produce Shakespear's Othello. Of course the Audience were the ruling class and the diplomatic societies. The Ministry of Culture was so happy with the success of the Othello production they made it their main future in the Cultural competition show of African culture that was held in Algiers in the late 1960s. When the hour of truth and judgment came, Tsegaye Gebre Medhin and his followers entered the Algiers stadium where the competition was held expecting laudatory hosanna and appreciation. Well, this was never to come, as revolutionary Algeria was in no mood to receive kindly the one foremost language of Imperial Britain and Tsegaye Gebre Medhin and his troops was shouted so loudly and so mercilessly by the audience, they quit the performance before they finished it. The Ethiopian Herald angrily demanded apology and hipped insult upon insult saying, "what did Arabs know other than herding camels."
This rejection by fellow Africans never gave the Amhara ruling class a second thought. Haile Sellassie & Co continued with their merry time celebration to the end of their time. It has been said that old habits die hard and sure enough, even the so called revolutionary government of Mengistu Haile Mariam, in the true tradition of old Ethiopia, continued the same immorality to the extent of importing Plane load of bottles of Whiskies directly from the factory in Scotland at a cost of millions of dollars as it happened during the celebration of the founding the Ethiopian Marxist Party, and this while millions of Ethiopians were dying from hunger in Tigray and Wollo that left Ethiopia to be synonymously associated with none but hunger, for ever and to eternity.
The children of the ruling class had also adopted every conceivable foreign habit to the hilt. Their dress, straight from Italy; after Shave for the boys and first class fragrance for the girls, with no import tax added and directly from Paris; the music, as a rule, classical composers such as Bach, Mozart, and Schubert, and after a heft alcohol is consumed, Elvis and the Beatles duet, John Lenon and Paul MaChartiney will show up. Sometimes when one of them suddenly realized the presence of black color in him or her, "The Temptation" will be included. Otherwise it was all white musicians, lest the ruling class kids forget the time-honored rule of sitting down side by side with only those who are deemed coequals as demanded by the royal decree of the "Kebra - Negest" chronicle, and I must add, this rule is always stealthily observed if not openly. The ruling class kids only act and seem to worship the locales (Buzinesh Bekele, Telahun Gessese, Alemayehu Eshette... so on and so forth.) when contact with the Working class became unavoidable which didn't happen quite often. Otherwise they were a world unto themselves isolated in the high walls of their mansions. This worshiping of Elvis & Co at one point almost created a diplomatic incident. As the story that was then rotating in Addis Ababa has it, one of the Palace girls wrote a letter to "ELVIS" that includes "I love you and all that." Elvis replied curtly saying "I hate to have a black latch for my shoes much-less to desire a love from a darkie girl in far away land." The content of Elvis's letter in time came out and reached the working class. The ruling class were very enraged not so much from Elvis reply but the fact that the content reached the downtrodden unvarnished. Thus to show their macho, or else it may end up being interpreted as weakness by the worshiping faithful in the working class world, the palace Chamberlains went into the attack and expressly instructed the most notable artist in town, Afeworki Tekle, to send Elvis a patriotic Ethiopian shock. Mr. Tekle drew the picture of Elvis as he was being attacked by a merciless petbull dog whose body color adore that of a pure charcoal and was slashing the hell out of Elvis's buttocks as Elvis was squirming and trying to get way to save his life." What was not known by the palace girls was the fact that Elvis was an FBI informer and a friend of Richard Nixon thus his derogatory feeling about the black color was something to be expected. Pity the palace girls and their ignorant adventure for they knew not what they did. Aside of this type of minor inconvenience that happens from time to time, over all, life was good for this bunch of indolent boys and girls. Little did they knew that their world of endless consumption and continuous merry time of partying was to end in a crushing halt as power was violently transferred to what they considered for so long as non-entity Captains and Sergeants. In short the world of Mengistu's Marxist power.
So then the whole language of Wondimu of crying wolf where a wolf doesn't exist and where he blasphemously accused Eritrea and Eritreans by saying,
"Ethiopian administrators unwittingly invested the meager resources of the country to develop Eritrea, opened hundreds of schools, hospitals, and manufacturing industries"
was merely to hide the truth of what went on through the years and the miserable failure of the Amhara ruling class be it the "Kebra-Negest" types or the "Marxist" types to hold on to power. The Amhara enjoyed power with all the benefit that came with it for over 100 years. The power to command where to open a center of higher learning; where to open Business while denying the same opportunity to Eritreans, and alas! All that joyous merry time they enjoyed for so long thanks to income generated as a result of gold from Adula, Sidama; Coffee from Oromia, port fee from Eritrea, so and so forth. In the absence of the entire exclusive benefits for the Amhara that made Wondimu to howl and yell incessantly hence the main reason for his senseless letter of accusation to the NAACP.
The most amazing thing about the Abyssinian Mentality is its pervasive durability where one cares only about his own folks. The Woyane from Tigray, one of the provinces where Haile Sellassie neglected so much and for so long are now playing the same trick that the Amhara played to the hilt for years. It is pay back time now and the table of power is turned upside down as it was foretold in the Bible that those who were first will be last and those who were last will be first. As the Amhara were busy developing their beloved Amhara land, in a similar fashion, the Woyanes are now doing it with flying colors; opening a Business college in Mekele; an Agricultural research center in Adwa; a Pharmaceutical manufacturing center in Adigrat; pushing the border of Tigray to incorporate lands that belong to Begemidir, Wollo, and Eritrea in an exact manner that Menelik and Haile Sellassie did to enlarge their beloved Showa (read Menze and Merhabetie). And then the case with the Armed Forces; 95% of the senior Officers are now Tigreans as the Airforce is now an exclusive club of the Tigreans. Just like the Amhara game, they have the Negasso Gidadas here and there, but those are the exception than the rule. And the list of Tigrianization goes endlessly as every Government department is now controlled by the Tigreans. We were told that the bank that was opened in Mekele few years ago is now the most profitable money making center and financially speaking, more sound than the central Bank of Ethiopia. And why not, with all the wealth the Woyanes stole from Eritreans in broad daylight as the world was watching, the profitability of the Woyane Bank is a must "Every thing to war front" said the daily shout of the Tigreans meaning every meager resource of Ethiopia is to be spent to develop Tigray just as the Amhara had done it shamelessly for years. Now Gebru Assrat & Co, in their underground bunker in Mekele, call the shots about life and death and about what Ethiopians should do and not do; whether to send thousands of innocent Ethiopians to die as "FENJIREGATCH" or to reject the peace deal that was meticulously designed to satisfy both Eritreans and Ethiopians.
This then is the true nature and the exact face of the Abyssinian warlords. The disgraceful pronouncement of the Amhara, if I may say so, is they call the Tigreans as "Narrow Nationalists" conveniently forgetting that they themselves are just as equally brutal; hence my hope for Wondimu is to see him spend his time to solve the endemic and historic narrow nationalism of Abyssinians at large and give hope to the millions of Ethiopians who suffer from hunger century in and century out. Writing a useless letter to the NAACP accusing Eritrea and Eritreans won't do the trick if he meant it to help his compatriots' i.e. those who deserve help.
The annoying arrogance of Wondimu's letter to the NAACP and his blind claim of Ethiopian help in the years of struggle for African American liberation is one of the hardest to fathom even if one has limitless open-ended mind. He labored so hard to make it look as if Ethiopia was solidly behind the black struggle. This claim is contrary to what history has recorded and I would let Marcus Garvey do the talking.
"We can remember in 1920 inviting the government of Abyssinia to send representatives to the International Convention of the Negro Peoples of the world in common with other Negro governments, institutions and organizations. Whilst others replied, and most of them sent representatives to that greatest of all Negro conventions, the Abyssinian government returned the communication unopened. They ignored Negro relationships from without and throttled Negro aspirations from within. The result was that they dragged along without any racial policy, except that of the ruling classes, believing themselves white and better than the rest, with the right to suppress the darker elements which make up the tremendous population."
[See Italy's Conquest? The Blackman Magazine, August 1936. As quoted by Clarke, J. H. in "Marcus Garvey and the Vision of Africa (1974) p. 363.]
The above statement is pretty much ascertained for its validity by none other than Professor John Spencer, Haile Sellassie's legal advisor for over 40 years. Here too, I am going to leave Professor Spencer do the talking.
"Until 1955, Ethiopia had identified herself largely with the West. Ethiopians tended to regard with indifference the other peoples who, unlike those of Ethiopia and Liberia, had not succeeded in attaining independence against the tide of colonialism. ... The growing influence of the new states of the Middle East and Far East, the intervention of Egypt and Syria in Eritrea and the calling of the Bandung Conference alerted Ethiopia to the need for accommodation with the Third World and in particular, with the rest of Africa now approaching independence. Such an adjustment was difficult for Ethiopians who had always regarded themselves as non-African, looking to their cultural and linguistic origins in the Arabian Peninsula and the relationship between the Amharic and other Semitic languages such as Arabic and Hebrew. 'I am not a Negro at all; I am a Caucasian' the Emperor Menelik told the West Indian pan-Africanist Benito Sylvian who had come to Addis Ababa to solicit the Emperor's leadership in a society for the 'Amelioration of the Negro race.' Haile Sellassie confirmed that view in a declaration to Chief H. O. Davis, a well known Nigerian nationalist, stating that the Ethiopians did not regard themselves as Africans, but as 'a mixed Hamito-Semitic people'."
[John H. Spencer, Ethiopia at Bay (1984), p. 306.]
"In essence Ethiopia's turn to the Third World was a reflection of the problems experienced over both Eritrea and the Ogaden."
(Ibid, page 308)
And thus all this Wondimu's hullabaloo of "I love thee" was a manifestation of their innate nature to hoodwink and their immensely condescending attitude toward those whom they think they are below them. This peculiar attitude can be seen starkly and neatly encapsulated by an Ethiopian anthropologist, Gebre Zaudu, and as was told to C. S. Coon in 1935 who also happened to be white. As Mr. Coon laid it out, here is what he learned when his Ethiopian interlocutor revealed what was inside his innermost heart.
"'I do not,' he said to me in a confidential manner, 'associate myself with these blacks. In my country they are our slaves. We are of Semitic origin, and are not Negroes. But in America all who are not white are unscientifically considered black, and on that account I have great trouble. 'Although we are not black,' he said, 'we must identify ourselves with them. We are all Africans, and we are all nonwhites. Our people have been too aristocratic, too discriminating. This is an age of democracy and all colored peoples must work together. We will be their organizers and leaders in order to maintain our rightful position in the world. I am willing to give up my status for this end."
[C. S. Coon, "Measuring Ethiopia" (1935). P. 10]
So much for Wondimu's Ethiopian brotherhood.
Wondimu repeatedly told us that Ethiopian leaders from time immemorial were and are a caring bunch that for all practical purpose tirelessly worked to better off the citizenry. This is rather truthfully incorrect since Ethiopian leaders from time immemorial were well known to care ONLY ABOUT THEIR OWN EXISTENCE. In fact if we have to dig deeper in the historical closet of Ethiopia, we find that this unfortunate country is synonymously associated with hunger. As historian Graham Hancock painfully recounted, Ethiopia experienced 23 major hungers beginning the 16th century between 1540 and 1800, which among them are: 1540, 1543, 1567, 1611, 1623, 1625, 1633, 1634, 1535, 1636, 1650, 1653, 1678, 1700, 1702, 1747, 1748, 1752, 1783, 1789, 1796, 1797, and 1800."
Similarly it goes without saying that under Menelik, over one-third of the Ethiopian population, most of them in Tigray, Wollo, Gonder, Gojam and Northern Showa, were left to die in the great hunger of the 1890s. And what was Menelik doing at that time? He was busy enlarging his empire by forcefully taking every real estate in Oromia. To just remember the innocents, Menelik wiped out more than 100,000 citizens of Wolayta in one battle alone. It is all recorded in Chris Prouty's book about "Menelik and Tsehaitu."
All the same, under Haile Sellassie, more than 1.5 million Tigreans and Wolloyes were left to die in the great hunger of 1972/74. And what was Haile Sellassie doing? He was busy bombing Eritrean Villages particularly in low-land Eritrea and also wasting millions of dollars celebrating his 80th birthday including, as those in the know said, "importing call-girls from Europe to be attached with every Ethiopian Lord and respected foreign guests." And no wonder, in his memoir, "Ethiopia At Bay: A Personal Account of the Haile Sellassie Years," his foreign affair legal advisor, Professor John Spencer, diagnosed Haile Sellassie as
"Coward, scheming, devious, remorseless, egotistical, avaricious, ceremonious and like Hitler, the most kind to animals"
but not to human-beings hence the "split- personality" the Professor attached to him in the most psychoanalytic way. (See page 136)
Under Mengistu, more than 3 million Tigreans and Wolloyes were left to die in hunger in 1983/86 while Mengistu and his cohorts were celebrating the founding of the Communist Party of Ethiopia including importing a full load of whisky bottles directly transported by Ethiopian Airlines from a factory in Scotland and not to mention his numerous attempt (like Key Kokeb Zemecha) to defeat and erase Eritrea from the face of the Earth.
And now, like father - like son, the Woyane are busy making war over Eritrea, a war that every Eritrean rejects and abhors in the most strongest terms. Woyane's refusal to a ceasefire while more than 8 million Ethiopians are currently suffering from hunger, when 2.5 million Ethiopians are sick and dying because of uncontrolled AIDS epidemic, when 7 out of 10 Ethiopian children do not have formal elementary school, when the Nation foreign debt, more than 10 billion of it, is consuming the yearly national export earning to pay just for the interest arrears, all these dereliction is a symptom and a signature of old Ethiopia, the Ethiopia of the "I don't care mentality." Instead of addressing the pressing problems of the Nation as they should, the Woyane clique are now on the buying spree, acquiring, just last month, 20 MI-24 helicopter gunship, about 15 Su-27 and Mig-29, and countless missiles, all of it in the preparation to continue the senseless war they are waging against Eritrea. I have yet to see a single Ethiopian leader, past or present, which honestly cares about the welfare of his people. No, sad to say, caring is not in the genetic code of Ethiopian leaders.
As for Wondimu's claim of "economic favoritism showed to Eritrea by Ethiopian Officials," this again is laughable. To begin with, Ethiopian economic development was mainly concentrated in their beloved Amhara land. Even in the Amhara land, every thing rotates with the aim of supporting the gluttony of the ruling class. As I said it elsewhere, "Boy did they have endless merry time!" All that partying, wherever they go in any corner of the World, as Haile Sellassie was precisely nicknamed by World journalist as "the longest traveler of any head of State in the World." Much less to favor Eritrea where we were considered as demons, Haile Sellassie didn't even care about his own poor and downtrodden. He only knew them from the distance as Mr. Ryszard Kapuscinski graphically described the world of the Ethiopian poor.
The following information in the next paragraph, as telling as it is about "the Ethiopian have and the have not," comes from a certain Haile Sellassie's entourage whose sole job was being "a purse bearer to Aba Hanna Jema" who doubled as confessor and fiscal advisor of Haile Sellassie until his death by palace gunfire during the Girmamie and Mengistu Newayes attempted coup-detat against Haile Sellassie. I should also say that Aba Hanna, in his time, was a model and replica of Zsarist Russia's Raspitan. After the death of Aba Hanna, this purse bearer identified by the author as "I.B." continued as an aid to Haile Sellassie in the same capacity and here is what he told to Mr. Kapuscinski about the way Haile Sellassie remembered the poor.
"As his purse bearer I always accompanied his Distinguished Majesty where ever he went, carrying behind him a large bag of top-grade lambskin filled with small coins particularly on the eve of national holidays such as the Emperor's birthday, the anniversary of the coronation, and the anniversary of his return from exile. On such occasions, our august ruler always went to the most crowded and lively quarter of Addis Ababa, Mercato, where on a specially constructed platform I would place the heavy, jingling bag from which His Benevolent Majesty would scoop the handful of coppers that he threw into the crowed of the beggars and other such greedy riffraff. The rapacious mob would create such a hubbub, however, that this charitable action always had to end in a shower of police batons against the heads of the frenzied, pushy rabble. Saddened His Highness would have to walk away from the platform. Often he was unable to empty even half of the bag."
(See "The Emperor," page 38)
Such was how Ethiopian leaders cared about the poor and downtrodden. Similarly and even more cruelly, Mengistu collected the poor from everywhere, Tigray, Wollo, Northern Showa, and then shipped them to the swamplands of Southern Ethiopia and where most of them died in what has yet to be told, the cruel and shameful story of the Ethiopian Gulag.
Again much less to help Eritrea, the prime mental concentration of the Amhara ruling class was always on "how to stay in power" as for example, each one of Haile Sellassie's Ministers had created huge bureaucracy that worship his idiosyncrasies. The starkest example of such rapaciousness was Haile Sellassie himself. Let's turn to Mr. Kapuscinski for the last time. This one from a certain palace intriguer identified as A. M. M. and how his job was only to open and close the third door of Haile Sellassie's Audience Hall. Here is what he said:
"As the Keeper of the third door, I was the most important footman in the Audience Hall. The Hall had three sets of doors. And three footmen to open and close them, but I held the highest rank because the Emperor passed through my door. When His Most Exalted Majesty left the room, it was I who opened the door. It was an art to open the door at the right moment, the exact instant. To open the door too early would have been reprehensible, as if I was hurrying the Emperor out. If I opened it too late, on the other hand, His Sublime Highness would have to slow down, or perhaps even stop, which would detract from his lordly dignity, a dignity that meant getting around without collisions or obstacles,"
(See "The Emperor," page 26-27)
Wondimu won't admit it, but in reality the Amhara bureaucracy as typified by the job of the above doorman was the main reason where Ethiopian yearly budget usually ends up, supporting such rapacious bureaucracy. It was true in Haile Sellassie's time and was also true in Mengistu's time as it is also true in the Woyane era as we speak. Is it any wonder then Ethiopia and Ethiopians never had a chance to move forward and seems destined to stagnate in an endless sad living so long the Abyssinian mentality is not changed for good. This is something that Wondimu & Co should spend their time thinking about instead of spending their time writing useless letters to the NAACP.
No for us Eritreans, life under the Ethiopians was hellish through and through and it pains me to remember all the cruel acts that went on in the 30 years war Haile Sellassie and Mengistu waged against innocent civilian Eritreans. Atrocities such us the carpet bombing of the towns of Nakfa, Afabet, Massawa, and Barentu; the dehumanizing breast cutting of Eritrean women that went on for years; the thousands of Asmara citizen that were hanged by piano-wire in the city streets; the massacre of religious people in the church compound of the Woki Duba village; the five hundred villagers of Sheeb that were forced to lie down in the farm field and where subsequently, General Tesfay Ghebre Kidan, the then defense Minister, ordered his brigade size tanks to roll over all the innocent villagers bodies that were forced to lie to the ground at gun point and where every skeleton was found cemented to ground; the fire torching of the village of Adi Gaul by retreating Ethiopian soldiers. I could go on recounting many similar atrocities but suffices it to say that Ethiopia and Ethiopian soldiers killed up ward of 500,000 innocent citizens of Eritrea that have nothing to do with war of liberation. Is it any wonder then the size of the Eritrean population was about 3.5 million by the beginning of the war of liberation and by the end of the war, it was a paltry of 3.3 million. Thus instead of going up as it should, the population size of Eritrea went down thanks to the Ethiopian leaders' merciless killing.
Worst of all, it is the destruction of the Eritrean environment that the Amhara soldiers did to our land that will live with us for years. In some places they deliberately torched forest areas in the name of keeping out their enemies, the so-called Eritrean bandits. Cattle, sheep; and goats were deliberately taken by the Ethiopian soldiers to have merry time meat consumption and at the same time to purposely impoverish the meager hold of Eritrean farmers.
In some cases, the Amhara soldiers sent their Tigrean mercenaries to willfully poison the drinking water wells of innocent villagers. By the end of the war, the Eritrea that I knew with its lovely savanna environment was changed to unrecognizable monish demon with all the relentless napalm bombing and deliberate forest cutting that changed a lovely climate into a heart wrenching desert. And in the first morning of Eritrean liberation, there wasn't a single school that was functioning in the entire of Eritrea, nor was there any running water in any town. Electricity, telephone, postal, health service, all these civilized amenities were forcefully destroyed. No, let alone the Ethiopian to build Schools and hospitals, they even made it a rule to destroy all moving things in the name of controlling the so called the Eritrean bandits.
No, Eritrea was never favored at any time neither before nor now and what
better example is there than the Woyane clique's MERCILESS DEPROTATION OF
ERITREANS AND ETHIOPIANS OF ERITREAN ORGIN where the majority of them were
legitimate citizens of Ethiopia. The mugging of their property in broad
daylight, the disappearance of thousands of them, and then those who are
still languishing in the incarceration jungle area of Southern Ethiopia,
adding all these hedonism doesn't demonstrate that Eritreans are favored.
Right now some Ethiopians, although few in number, have already recognized
the danger of endless deportation and what that may portend to the
Ethiopian future. A certain Ethiopian, Mamo Kilo, who had never shown any
learned or considerate opinion about Eritrea in his previous writing other
than to insult with full force expletives has now harbored unexpected
second thought about Woyane's fascism. Here is what he said in the "deja
NG as posted under
The Tigreans have made it public policy that Eritreans are not
Ethiopians under any circumstances no matter if they thought of
themselves as Ethiopians or not. All were expelled
indiscriminately - children, old ladies, young men, old men -
It was a cruel and inhuman thing to do, but ultimately it serves
the interests of Eritrean independence. There will be no turning
back to the old relationship. All Eritreans, even those who wanted
to be part of Ethiopia have had it graphically demonstrated to
them that they are not and can never be Ethiopians. Eritreans are
not wanted in Ethiopia. The tens of thousands who tried to be part
of Ethiopia were robbed, humiliated, imprisoned and expelled as
part of official government policy.
The Tigrean legacy will be that they burned the bridges behind
them concerning reconciliation between Eritrea and Ethiopia. And
they may yet destroy the rest of Ethiopia with the ethnic unrest
they have stirred up among the other groups all over Ethiopia." And indeed as Mamo said above, what is going on in Ethiopia today is far
more dangerous than what Ethiopia may face from peaceful Eritrea, that the
very illogical policy of the present Government of Ethiopia may certainly
in the end push Ethiopia to become free for all "Elderado." This is an
issue of paramount importance that Ethiopian Intellectual should spend
their time discussing about.
In the closing paragraphs of Wondimu's letter, he admonished the members
of the NAACP leaders by saying,
This is like insulting the intelligence of the NAACP members. Because as
the Honorable Martin Luther King said, "judgment is better served if done
based on the content of the individual character." Thus I firmly believe
that the judgment is going to be based on neither what the thinking of the
group could be nor because of who we are, "children of Askeris" as Wondimu
ignoramusly said but strictly based, and I am happy to say, on the
individual character of every Eritrean who aspire to become a budding
member of that venerable body. It is quite possible there could be some
Eritrean sinners. Yes, as any society, we too have felons. And yet, for
Wondimu to admonish the NAACP leaders to pass summary negative judgment
over all Eritreans is like "asking the Camel to pass through the eye of
the needle." Because it is like formally asking the leaders of the NAACP
to go against the precious credo of the honorable Martin Luther King; i.e.
"judgment based on the content of the individual character." Consequently
whether Eritreans are worthy friends, I am sure the NAACP will find out
soon and the judgment is entirely theirs not in the hand of Wondimu's
No matter what the Ethiopian Wondimu will say in the future, the coming of
Eritreans to the JUST-HOUSE of the NAACP is not only timely but honorable
as we are fully aware that the cultural baggage that we brought from home
- Eritrea - may not be adequate to enable us to negotiate and navigate
effectively side by side with a highly complicated 21st society. There is
a lesson to be learned about the intricate nature of American life and
politics. And what better way is there than to learn from those who
learned it the hard way. I am certain one of the best lesson plan and
advice one can get comes from Dr. King's letter, which he wrote from the
Birmingham City Jail in response to a group of Clergymen who condemned him
for his nonviolence demonstration. The seminal letter of Dr. King in part
"You may well ask: 'why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so
forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?' You are quite right in
calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of
direct action, Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a
crisis and foster such a tension that a community, which has
constantly refused to negotiate, is forced to confront the issue.
It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be
ignored. My citing the creation of the tension as part of the work
of the nonviolent-resister may sound rather shocking. But I must
confess that I am not afraid of the word 'tension.' I have
earnestly opposed violent tension but there is a type of
constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth,
Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create tension in
the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myth
and half-truth to the unfettered realm of the creative analysis
and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent
gadflies to create the tension in society that will help men rise
from depth of the prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of
understudying and brotherhood." And so, the home coming of Eritreans to the NAACP is not "to eat the
organization like cancer" as Wondimu erroneously asserted, but rather to
learn from them as Dr. King laid out in his letter from the Birmingham
jail and yes, their hopes and their disappointment too. We have already
witnessed their majestic and heroic navigation of their society out of the
swamp and the dark ages of Jim-Crow laws to that of light, happiness, and
self confidence, without ever commuting a single act of illegality and as
they better themselves, they also bettered society at large. Hence
Eritreans need to learn from that lesson is a must and crucial as we
attempt to integrate and become contributing citizens of the United
States. No Wondimu, we are merely trying to learn and be near them closely
and witness for ourselves what makes them tick successfully in-spite of
all the odds arranged against them. For that, you or any other person
should not blame us.
Finally Wondimu, you constantly wrote to defame Eritrea and Eritreans,
everything of it flat lie, shameful, and condescending. If I may have to
say so, I am not addressing here only your NAACP letter but all the
disrespectful and disgraceful expletives you wrote, phrases such as
"Askeri Children," "Uncle Tom servants," "builder of Piccola Roma," on and
on. You wrote in the Deja.com NG and in the Ethiopian Register in the
worst undignified manner and irresponsible intellectual dubiousness ever
to come out from one who habitually annotates himself as the foremost
Ethiopian Pharisee. You think you feel elated by dehumanizing Eritreans
and yet rest assured Ethiopia and Ethiopians are also invariable
dehumanized by your senseless self-afflicted wounds. As Dr. King taught us
in his address
So my advice to you is to listen to Dr. King. It will help you to wizen up
and stop writing senseless expletives. You need to grow up brother for
pathological lying will take you nowhere.
You also said that Eritreans are destroying Ethiopia although in reality
this is further from the truth. If truth is to be told, what is killing
Ethiopia is the tribalist nature of Ethiopian leaders where an Amhara
cares always about the Amhara and a Tigrean cares about Tigray, which, at
present, is manifestly exercised in the illogical thinking of the Woyane.
It is crystal clear in its dehumanizing, and disuniting form of governing
thus please understand that the one and only source of Ethiopian
disintegration is non other than the Killilized principle (Bantustanism)
of the Woyane Government which is tearing Ethiopia as never before. The
sad thing is, instead of trying to cure the cancer that is within, Wondimu
& Co are going on and on demonizing Eritreans as if the cancer is coming
from that end. The reality is, as Dr. King said in his speech at the steps
of the Alabama State Capitol after the march from Selma to Montgomery, one
could never successfully hide the truth of state of society forever. This
is even more true particularly when one considers the Ethiopian
self-inflicted wound that goes on Millennium in and Millennium out. And so
my brother Wondimu, I bid you farewell with an offer of advice from the
honorable Dr. King as thundered at steps of the Alabama State Capitol.
In short, the Ethiopian problem is not from us, Eritreans, whom you
undignifiedly termed us as "Wolves dressed in sheep-skin," the real
problem, honestly speaking, is the Millennium-with-out-end mismanagement
Ethiopian leaders inflicted for so long upon the downtrodden Ethiopians
that is now catching up. As Dr. King would say, "Ethiopia is reaping what
she continually sow with no end in sight."
It is in Ethiopia's best interest that men like the misguided Wondimu
understand the basic truth that "no lie can live forever." Yes, "the arm
of the moral universe is long," as Dr. King, said. And yet in the end, "it
bends towards justice." What better proof is there than last month's
pronouncement of Congressman Gilman that absolutely supports Dr. King's
time tested logic?
As for us Eritreans, we wish you no ill will but your happiness for we
fairly know that we are all interrelated travelers in this cosmic World
endlessly stretched before us mortals.
So long and Peace and Harmony to all of us
Selam Nerayo N.B.
(*) I would like also to thank Ghidewon and Elias for their valuable
support with material and encouragement.
"One thing that will last forever in the history of the current
war between Ethiopia and Eritrea is the permanent separation of
Eritrea from Ethiopia. The independence of Eritrea was cemented by
the expulsion of Eritreans from Ethiopia.
"For many Ethiopians and other Africans, who know the so-called
Eritreans, it is an open secret. They seek to become part of you
just as they became part of Ethiopia, and to work from within you,
to eat you like a cancer from the inside out, and destroy your
historic solidarity with Ethiopia."
"As in so many past experience, our hopes had been blasted, and
the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no
alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would
present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the
conscience of the local and the national community. Mindful of the
difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of
self-purification. We began a series of workshops on nonviolence,
and we repeatedly asked ourselves: 'Are you able to accept blows
without retaliating?' 'Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?'
"Where Do WE Go From Here," "all life is interrelated. The agony
of the poor impoverishes the rich; the betterment of the poor
enriches the rich. We are inevitably our brother's keepers because
we are our brother's brother. Whatever affects one directly
affects all indirectly."
"I know some of you are asking today, 'How long will it take?' I
come to say to you this afternoon however difficult the moment,
however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because truth
pressed to earth will rise again.
How long? Not long, because no lie can live forever.
How long? Not long, because you will reap what you sow.
How long? Not long, because the arm of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."
Everything I said about Dr. King came from "The Book of the American Values and Virtues." For deeper understanding of Dr. King's work, the Series of Books authored by Claiborne Carson are very informative. For an understanding on the work of W. E. B. Du Bois I have profited from Du Bois biography by David Levering Lewis.
The Tigreans have made it public policy that Eritreans are not Ethiopians under any circumstances no matter if they thought of themselves as Ethiopians or not. All were expelled indiscriminately - children, old ladies, young men, old men - everybody.
It was a cruel and inhuman thing to do, but ultimately it serves the interests of Eritrean independence. There will be no turning back to the old relationship. All Eritreans, even those who wanted to be part of Ethiopia have had it graphically demonstrated to them that they are not and can never be Ethiopians. Eritreans are not wanted in Ethiopia. The tens of thousands who tried to be part of Ethiopia were robbed, humiliated, imprisoned and expelled as part of official government policy.
The Tigrean legacy will be that they burned the bridges behind them concerning reconciliation between Eritrea and Ethiopia. And they may yet destroy the rest of Ethiopia with the ethnic unrest they have stirred up among the other groups all over Ethiopia."
And indeed as Mamo said above, what is going on in Ethiopia today is far more dangerous than what Ethiopia may face from peaceful Eritrea, that the very illogical policy of the present Government of Ethiopia may certainly in the end push Ethiopia to become free for all "Elderado." This is an issue of paramount importance that Ethiopian Intellectual should spend their time discussing about.
In the closing paragraphs of Wondimu's letter, he admonished the members of the NAACP leaders by saying,
This is like insulting the intelligence of the NAACP members. Because as the Honorable Martin Luther King said, "judgment is better served if done based on the content of the individual character." Thus I firmly believe that the judgment is going to be based on neither what the thinking of the group could be nor because of who we are, "children of Askeris" as Wondimu ignoramusly said but strictly based, and I am happy to say, on the individual character of every Eritrean who aspire to become a budding member of that venerable body. It is quite possible there could be some Eritrean sinners. Yes, as any society, we too have felons. And yet, for Wondimu to admonish the NAACP leaders to pass summary negative judgment over all Eritreans is like "asking the Camel to pass through the eye of the needle." Because it is like formally asking the leaders of the NAACP to go against the precious credo of the honorable Martin Luther King; i.e. "judgment based on the content of the individual character." Consequently whether Eritreans are worthy friends, I am sure the NAACP will find out soon and the judgment is entirely theirs not in the hand of Wondimu's bigotry.
No matter what the Ethiopian Wondimu will say in the future, the coming of Eritreans to the JUST-HOUSE of the NAACP is not only timely but honorable as we are fully aware that the cultural baggage that we brought from home - Eritrea - may not be adequate to enable us to negotiate and navigate effectively side by side with a highly complicated 21st society. There is a lesson to be learned about the intricate nature of American life and politics. And what better way is there than to learn from those who learned it the hard way. I am certain one of the best lesson plan and advice one can get comes from Dr. King's letter, which he wrote from the Birmingham City Jail in response to a group of Clergymen who condemned him for his nonviolence demonstration. The seminal letter of Dr. King in part says:
"You may well ask: 'why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?' You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action, Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community, which has constantly refused to negotiate, is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of the tension as part of the work of the nonviolent-resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word 'tension.' I have earnestly opposed violent tension but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth, Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myth and half-truth to the unfettered realm of the creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the tension in society that will help men rise from depth of the prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understudying and brotherhood."
And so, the home coming of Eritreans to the NAACP is not "to eat the organization like cancer" as Wondimu erroneously asserted, but rather to learn from them as Dr. King laid out in his letter from the Birmingham jail and yes, their hopes and their disappointment too. We have already witnessed their majestic and heroic navigation of their society out of the swamp and the dark ages of Jim-Crow laws to that of light, happiness, and self confidence, without ever commuting a single act of illegality and as they better themselves, they also bettered society at large. Hence Eritreans need to learn from that lesson is a must and crucial as we attempt to integrate and become contributing citizens of the United States. No Wondimu, we are merely trying to learn and be near them closely and witness for ourselves what makes them tick successfully in-spite of all the odds arranged against them. For that, you or any other person should not blame us.
Finally Wondimu, you constantly wrote to defame Eritrea and Eritreans, everything of it flat lie, shameful, and condescending. If I may have to say so, I am not addressing here only your NAACP letter but all the disrespectful and disgraceful expletives you wrote, phrases such as "Askeri Children," "Uncle Tom servants," "builder of Piccola Roma," on and on. You wrote in the Deja.com NG and in the Ethiopian Register in the worst undignified manner and irresponsible intellectual dubiousness ever to come out from one who habitually annotates himself as the foremost Ethiopian Pharisee. You think you feel elated by dehumanizing Eritreans and yet rest assured Ethiopia and Ethiopians are also invariable dehumanized by your senseless self-afflicted wounds. As Dr. King taught us in his address
So my advice to you is to listen to Dr. King. It will help you to wizen up and stop writing senseless expletives. You need to grow up brother for pathological lying will take you nowhere.
You also said that Eritreans are destroying Ethiopia although in reality this is further from the truth. If truth is to be told, what is killing Ethiopia is the tribalist nature of Ethiopian leaders where an Amhara cares always about the Amhara and a Tigrean cares about Tigray, which, at present, is manifestly exercised in the illogical thinking of the Woyane. It is crystal clear in its dehumanizing, and disuniting form of governing thus please understand that the one and only source of Ethiopian disintegration is non other than the Killilized principle (Bantustanism) of the Woyane Government which is tearing Ethiopia as never before. The sad thing is, instead of trying to cure the cancer that is within, Wondimu & Co are going on and on demonizing Eritreans as if the cancer is coming from that end. The reality is, as Dr. King said in his speech at the steps of the Alabama State Capitol after the march from Selma to Montgomery, one could never successfully hide the truth of state of society forever. This is even more true particularly when one considers the Ethiopian self-inflicted wound that goes on Millennium in and Millennium out. And so my brother Wondimu, I bid you farewell with an offer of advice from the honorable Dr. King as thundered at steps of the Alabama State Capitol.
In short, the Ethiopian problem is not from us, Eritreans, whom you undignifiedly termed us as "Wolves dressed in sheep-skin," the real problem, honestly speaking, is the Millennium-with-out-end mismanagement Ethiopian leaders inflicted for so long upon the downtrodden Ethiopians that is now catching up. As Dr. King would say, "Ethiopia is reaping what she continually sow with no end in sight."
It is in Ethiopia's best interest that men like the misguided Wondimu understand the basic truth that "no lie can live forever." Yes, "the arm of the moral universe is long," as Dr. King, said. And yet in the end, "it bends towards justice." What better proof is there than last month's pronouncement of Congressman Gilman that absolutely supports Dr. King's time tested logic?
As for us Eritreans, we wish you no ill will but your happiness for we fairly know that we are all interrelated travelers in this cosmic World endlessly stretched before us mortals.
So long and Peace and Harmony to all of us
(*) I would like also to thank Ghidewon and Elias for their valuable support with material and encouragement.