"The thing that lies at the foundation of positive change, the way I see it, is service to a fellow human being." - Lech Walesa
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Ethiopia: Heroes of the Storm that is Coming
December 16, 2014
by Masresha Tilahun
I once met Laureate Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin during a 3 days and closed door meeting between top opposition leaders of 15 political organizations from inside and outside of Ethiopia in Alexandria, Virginia. Despite his deteriorating health, Laureate Tsegaye attended the most anticipated meeting of the opposition group as an observer. Representing the youth, I was also in the meeting as an observer.
I was also observing Laureate Tsegaye across the boardroom while he was quietly listening to the discussions and rhetoric of the so called leaders of the opposition.
Laureate Tsegaye had to leave before the completion of the 3 days meeting for his scheduled medical treatment and gave his wise and heartbreaking advice to the leaders. After a year or so this wise and good man passed away.
Once he gave his advice to the group, he got up and started walking out of the conference room of the hotel. When I noticed that he was struggling to walk, I rushed to him to give him my hand. Since I spoke with him a few times before over the phone, he knew who I was and so he called me by my name and started talking to me while we were walking together to his family’s car, which was parked in front of the hotel.
The words he said stayed with me for years and I’ll never forget that day. He turned his old and wise face towards me and said: “I have always wondered about, been amazed and dismayed by the failure of the opposition; but NOW I KNOW.” He was of course referring to what I had just observed during the meeting. What he meant was that it is not the nature of the Ethiopian opposition politics that has prevented democratic changes from happening in Ethiopia so far; rather, it is the rift and distrust that is so evident amongst leaders of the opposition. Their interactions with each other is actually not unlike a forced marriage.
Before he got into the car to head to New York where he lived, Laureate Tsegaye said that “Ethiopia will only be liberated by you [the Ethiopian Youth]. It was prophecy. Hibret, Kinijit and Meles Zenawi have come and gone, but nothing has happened yet to change Ethiopia for the better. Only the words of Laureate Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin resonate in Ethiopia today. I’m sure you know whom I’m speaking of: of course, the lion and lioness of the Blue Party. These young and brave Ethiopians are the heroes of the storm that is coming. I tell you, there is nothing more precious for Ethiopia in this world than its own liberation. It is a long time coming!