Dare to Dream With Me About the New Ethiopia in 2017 [Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam]

“Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,… [and] see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.”

Author’s Note: I get to celebrate New Year twice every year. The first on September 11, the Ethiopian New Year. The second on January 1.

In this first commentary for 2017, I aim to challenge all Ethiopians to rise up, lock arms and march together as ONE people to meet their destiny.

I challenge them to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, learn from those mistakes, unchain themselves from the dungeons of false history and set personal examples of courage, creativity, honesty, hope, kindness, humility, teamwork, leadership, forgiveness and prudence.

Above all, I write this first commentary of 2017 to challenge and to invite all Ethiopians to dare to dream with me about the New Ethiopia in 2017!

A Happy New Year to all of my readers!!!

Will you dare to dream with me about the New Ethiopia in 2017?

I can only imagine how agonizing it must be to dream while living a nightmare.

On the first day of 2017, Ethiopians are living a nightmare called the Thugtatorship of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (T-TPLF).

The T-TPLF has declared a “state of emergency” by which it has licensed itself to kill, jail, torture, persecute and prosecute any Ethiopian on a whim.

Over the past year, the T-TPLF has jailed, imprisoned and disappeared hundreds of thousands of people; and today the T-TPLF holds one hundred million people hostage in a totalitarian police state of emergency.

In November 2016, the T-TPLF announced it had arrested 11,607 people. Of course, the actual number is many times m more than the figure reported by the T-TPLF. Without exception, all 11,607 persons were arrested, imprisoned and deprived of their liberties by the T-TPLF without due process of law.

In 2013, CNN declared the T-TPLF regime runs “a police state” in Ethiopia.

The T-TPLF has clung to power in Ethiopia for over a quarter of a century not only by killing and jailing innocent citizens, but also by creating ethnic and sectarian conflict, fabricating hatred, sowing division and disunity, fomenting discord and strife and stirring trouble every chance it gets, and by operating a fetid empire of corruption.

Is there a worse nightmare than what the T-TPLF has done in Ethiopia over the past 25 years and is doing now?

The only nightmare worse than what the T-TPLF has done and is doing now is what some of those blathering ethnic chauvinists and atavists who professedly aim to overthrow the T-TPLF are doing today.  Indeed, it is a fact that some of them are on the T-TPLF payroll, though they are paid indirectly to do  the T-TPLF’s work of hate and division particularly in the Ethiopian Diaspora.

Those superannuated and obtuse politician wannabes who deny the unity and oneness of Ethiopia and Ethiopians and preach the gospel of ethnic division and sectarianism in my view are more T-TPLF than the T-TPLF itself.

Those self-appointed wannabe chieftains of hate toil everyday to rename Ethiopia, “Kilil-istan”, the apartheid version of South Africa’s Bantustan.

Those self-commissioned capos are prepared to sever and dissolve the millennia-old bonds of marriage and birth and put asunder what God has put together as ONE Ethiopia.

It is written, “Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.”

Ethiopia shall stretch her hands because God is ready to lift her out of the clutches of the Beast known as the T-TPLF and its wicked minions who now sow the seeds of division, hatred and conflict among Ethiopians.

I say to the T-TPLF and its handmaidens: “The hottest places in hell are reserved” for those who conspire to divide and rule Ethiopia, cling to power and line their pockets by robbing Ethiopians of their voice and wealth, and for those whose hatred for Ethiopia and Ethiopians is exceeded only by their love for power and filthy lucre.

I say to them all: Vadis ad infernum!  Where you belong!

Why dream…?

I like to start the new year with an exultant expression of my dreams of a New Ethiopia.

Dreams are vitally important for individuals, societies and nations.

The Framers of the American Constitution dreamed an impossible dream, a dream undreamt before they set themselves to dream. They dreamt of a republic where they can “form a more perfect union, establishing justice and securing the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity.”

Unfortunately, the American dreamers left out Africans forcibly shipped to America and trapped in the nightmare of slavery. Malcom X, a descendant of those slaves declared that for “twenty million [negroes] in America who are of African descent, it is not an American dream; it’s an American nightmare.”  Another descendant of those slaves by the name of Martin Luther King two centuries later demanded a share of the “American Dream” and immediate payment on the “promissory note” made at the inception of the Republic “that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the ‘unalienable Rights’ of ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’”

I am inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream of an America at peace with itself and the world. I believe in his dream of “hew[ing] out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope” and “transform[ing] the jangling discords of [a] nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. I  believe in his dream “that one day [America] will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men [and women] are created equal.’”  Dreams can  be transformational.  

I am inspired by Nelson Mandela’s dream of a non-racial, non-ethnic South Africa: “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.” I am inspired by his message of love: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” In my “Dreams”, I even had an imaginary conversation with Nelson Mandela. He had “a dream of an [South] Africa which is in peace with itself.”  He pleaded: “All of us should ask ourselves the question: Have I done everything in my power to bring about lasting peace and prosperity in my city and my country?” Dreams can be inspirational.

I am inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s dream: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world. … You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty… To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest.… There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always… The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong… First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win… Dreams can be tactical and practical.

I am inspired by Scriptural dreams. In the Old Testament, God made Solomon an offer in a dream. Solomon chose wisdom, “a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong.” In Acts, God decreed, “… and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams…” Daniel’s interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a gigantic statue made of gold, silver, bronze and clay. I wrote about that dream in my February 2016 commentary, “Ethiopia Under the Boots of the T-TPLF Beast With Feet of Clay”. Dreams can be prophetic.

Some Native Americans believe good and bad dreams (nightmares) fly invisibly around in the darkness of the night.  They have  a tradition of  hanging “dream catchers”, a simple handmade object of knotted thread (web) over hoop, over their beds to trap and exclude bad dreams (nightmares) and let in only good dreams. The “dream catchers” symbolize the struggle between good and evil. If we dream of good things, when we wake up in the light of the day we do the right things. But if we choose the path of evil, we will have nightmares and find ourselves on the dark side. Good dreams are in harmony with Nature and the Great Spirit. Dreams can be caught.

Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was a great dreamer in her own right. She dreamt that all human beings wherever they may be have rights which should be protected by law. She dreamt up the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” [UDHR] (1948) which set a “common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations” with respect to equality, dignity and rights.

Apple’s Steve Jobs had a dream of “putting a computer in the hands of everyday people.” He ended up creating the most desirable consumer electronic products of all time. To Jobs, his dreams were his life. “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me… Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me,” declared Jobs.

The late thugmaster Meles Zenawi and his T-TPLF had a dream; it is a dream that became a nightmare to Ethiopians.

Meles dreamt of an Ethiopia permanently divided by ethnicity, split by language differences, antagonized by religion and separated by region or kililistans, a slightly modified version of apartheid Bantustans. He dreamt that he and his Tigrean People’s Liberation Front party will rule Ethiopia with an iron fist for one hundred years.

The Meles Nightmare today has filled the official and secret prisons in Ethiopia with hundreds of  thousands of political prisoners and made Ethiopia the killing  fields of Africa.

Dreamers are not chosen; they are self-made. Ordinary people can be great dreamers.

Ethiopian journalists Eskinder Nega, Reeyot Alemu,  Woubshet Taye, Temesgen Desalegn Andualem Aragie and many others like them are ordinary young  Ethiopians who dared to dream.

Eskinder dreamt of the inevitability of freedom in Ethiopia. He emphatically argued, “Freedom is partial to no race. Freedom has no religion. Freedom favors no ethnicity. Freedom discriminates not between rich and poor countries. Inevitably freedom will overwhelm Ethiopia.”

Reeyot was willing to pay the price for the courage of her dreams: “Shooting the people who march through the streets demanding freedom and democracy; jailing the opposition party leaders and journalists … preventing freedom of speech, association and the press; corruption and domination of one tribe are some of the bad doings of our government. I knew that I would pay the price for my courage [to report] and I was ready to accept that price.”

Andualem Aragie proclaimed his dream of a collective struggle for a collective victory over oppression. He dreamt of leaving a legacy of freedom to the coming generations. “I ardently believe that there is nothing more precious in this world than freedom for which man could live and die… That the Ethiopian people are unable to be masters of their freedom is primarily the failure of the Ethiopian people themselves… We Ethiopians should wage a well-planned and strengthened struggle for our freedom in unison, undivided by politics, religion, age or economic class. The secret of our failure to be free lies in the fact that we individually or in unison have been unable to wage a struggle that gave priority to the well-being of the people and of the coming generations and to the future of the country as a whole. There is no concern for each of us and each of us has no concern for all.”

In his book “Yefera Yimeles”, Temesgen Desalegn dreamt about the rule of law, good governance, democratic institutions, accountability, transparency and respect for human rights in Ethiopia. Temesgen could not keep his silence watching his country slowly dismembered and his people transformed into strangers to each other.

Bekele Gerba, a resolute opposition leader, dreamt of a country where there are no classes of citizens. He stood against the “four classes of citizenship” created in Ethiopia by the TPLF: “the first-class citizens are those who are in power to give away land; the second-class citizens are those who receive land; the third-class are those who are reduced to observer-roles of such illicit transactions; the fourth-class are those whose land is taken away from them by force.”

Professor Merara Gudina once told the BBC, “If I’m detained, there are more than 30 million Oromos who can take up the struggle.” Today, Prof. Merara is imprisoned by the T-TPLF for speaking truth before the European Parliament.

Today, the T-TPLF is launching a big jobs program in Oromia to buy off the 30 million Oromos so they will not take up or continue the struggle.

Abubaker Ahmed, a human rights advocate for religious freedom, dreamt of a country where the rule of law reigns supreme and the supreme law of the land is respected irrespective of who happens to be in power. “We are not opposed to any administration. All we are asking for is that the Constitution be respected. All we are saying is those bodies that say they respect the Constitution actually respect the Constitution.”

It is natural for human beings to dream of great things.

The Americans have the “Americans Dream”.

The Chinese have “The Chinese Dream”.

Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke of  the  “Chinese Dream”. It is a dream of “national rejuvenation, improvement of people’s livelihoods, prosperity, construction of a better society and military strengthening.” He urged the young people of China to “dare to dream, work assiduously to fulfill the dreams and contribute to the revitalization of the nation.”

There is no reason why Ethiopians cannot have their own “Dreams”.

I say there is an “Ethiopian Dream”.

From an American/California dreamer to…

Until the late thugmaster Meles Zenawi personally ordered the massacre of hundreds of unarmed protesters following the 2005 election, I had only one dream, the American Dream, the California Dream.

I was not merely in pursuit of the American Dream seeking material fulfillment and success. I wanted the whole kit and caboodle of the “American Dream” for which MLK worked and gave his life.

To me the American Dream is a point in spacetime, where, as Thomas Wolfe described it, “…to every man, regardless of his birth, has his shining, golden opportunity ….the right to live, to work, to be himself, and to become whatever thing his manhood and his  vision can combine to make him.” Of course, this applies to every woman equally.

I dream of two things today.

I dream of seeing the T-TPLF swept into the dustbin of history.

I dream of a New Ethiopia, a truly democratic society at peace with itself, rising on the ash heap of the T-TPLF.

In July 2012, I wrote about my “Dreams of an Ethiopia at Peace”.  I also made a prediction:

There is volcanic pressure building up slowly but surely in Ethiopia. We see small precursor eruptions here and there.  Public dissatisfaction with the status quo has turned to utter public desperation. People cannot afford the basic necessities of life as inflation and cost of living soar to new heights. Corruption, abuse of power, massive repression and poor governance are about to blast the dome on the grumbling volcano. The situation is deteriorating by the day…

In my March 2015 commentary, “The Poison of Ethnic Federalism in Ethiopia’s Body Politic”,  I warned the T-TPLF that it is sitting on a powder keg:

I believe the T-TPLF leaders know with absolute certainty that they are sitting on a powder keg.  The T-TPLF has built its castles in the sand. The only question is whether those castles will be swept up by a tidal wave of deep public discontent or blown away by the tornadic wind of the people’s fury. In either case, the T-TPLF will be vacuumed and deposited in the dust bin of history. There is an immutable iron law of history the T-TPLF should know if they don’t know it already.  Mahatma Gandhi articulated that law.  “There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall – think of it, always.

In 2016, the volcano and powder keg exploded just as I predicted.  I wrote about it in my August 2016 commentary, “Ethiopia: The Volcano, the Beast and the Tiger”.

Today the T-TPLF finds itself in the grips of its self-made nightmare of a “state of emergency”.

To dream or to choose to live in a nightmare, that is the question!

“To be or not to be,” is not the question. To dream or not to dream is the question.

To dream of the New Ethiopia or to accept the T-TPLF nightmare in Ethiopia, that is the question for Ethiopians!

Heartbroken by the poverty and malaise in Europe following  WW I, George Bernard Shaw in Act I of his play “Back To Methuselah” (a series of five plays), posed the question to end all questions: “I hear you say ‘Why?’ Always ; ‘Why?’ You see things; and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why not?’”

I see Ethiopians in a nightmare of a “state of emergency” and ask: “Why not dream of the New Ethiopia? Why not teach our children to dream about the New Ethiopia that is soon to be? Why not dream of finding the long road that leads to the undiscovered country called new Ethiopia? Why not dream of Ethiopia  in a state of ecstasy instead of  “a state of emergency”?

Yes, I am chasing the dream I call the New Ethiopia.

Let me correct myself. It is actually more than a dream. It is a vision. The word vision comes from the Latin “visionem”, meaning wisdom.

Having a vision is having the wisdom and insight to see past present trials and tribulations to a greater victory on the horizon. Vision is what we see with our mind’s eye.

The essence of a dream is the ability to see beyond what others see with their eyes. It is an innate ability that every person has to varying degrees. Some people cultivate their abilities to dream. Others are afraid of their power within and doubt themselves and avoid dreaming.  They avoid dreaming because  they expect opposition and criticism.

When we work to materialize our dreams, we transition to the stage of vision. That vision becomes a mission. The mission becomes action.  The action becomes the realization of the dream.

To dream is not to daydream or indulge in a pipe-dream. But many of us daydream and pipe-dream.

Many of us daydream about the day the T-TPLF will be dumped into the trash heap of history.

We daydream about the good old days.

Some of us even daydream about grabbing power and walking in the T-TPLF’s dirty shoes.

We daydream and pipe-dream about a whole lot of things.

But few of us dream of things that never were and ask, “Why not”?

Why not dream about the New Ethiopia?!

So what are my “Ethiopian Dreams” for 2017  and beyond?

I dream of ONE Ethiopia at Peace.

I dream of Ethiopia as nation united by its history and the suffering of its people.

I dream of brotherhood and sisterhood in Ethiopia.

I dream of Ethiopians finding their unity in their humanity instead of their ethnicity .

I dream of Ethiopians regardless of ethnicity, religion and region subscribing to the creed, “I am my brother’s, my sister’s keeper.”

I dream of the day when Truth shall rise from the ashes of lies and lead all Ethiopians on the path of reconciliation in Ethiopia.

I dream of human rights extinguishing  government wrongs in Ethiopia.

I dream of the day when all Ethiopians shall come to understand the futility of war and conflict and the utility of collaboration and cooperation in nation-building.

I dream of the rule of law forever banishing the nightmare of rule by outlaws in Ethiopia.

I dream of Ethiopia ridding itself of tyranny and thugtatorship and enjoying a true multiparty democracy with iron clad protections for human rights.

I dream of Ethiopia’s learned men and women using their intellectual powers to teach, preach and touch the people.

I dream of the release all political prisoners from T-TPLF prisons and jails.

I dream of criminals against humanity brought to the bars of justice.

I dream of  my generation one day wake up from the slumber of fear, despair, self-doubt and self-interest and making lasting legacies of peace, freedom and democracy to the next generation.

I dream of tolerance and civility among all Ethiopians.

I dream of the day when Ethiopia’s young people will put their shoulders to the wheel and taking full charge of their country’s destiny: Leaving behind the politics of hate and ethnicity; turning  their backs on those wallowing in moral bankruptcy and corruption and create a New Politics for a New Ethiopia based on dialogue, negotiation and compromise.

I dream of the New Ethiopia, a shining “city upon the hill”.

So I challenge my fellow “Ethiopian Dreamers” once again to dream, and to DREAM big in 2017.

In the poetic words of Langston Hughes:

Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird,
That cannot fly.”
Or soar!    

My Quest: The possible dream of the New Ethiopia 

Is the New Ethiopia an impossible dream? Am I chasing an impossible dream?

I think not.

I am on a Quest, in pursuit of a possible dream of a New Ethiopia locked inside an impossible nightmare.

But dream on, I shall!!!

In the lyrics of  “The Impossible Dream (The Quest)”, I shall continue to:

To dream the impossible dream/To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow/And to run where
the brave dare not go/To right the unrightable wrong
And to love pure and chaste from afar/To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star/This is my quest
To follow that star/No matter how hopeless
No matter how far/To fight for the right
Without question or pause/To be willing to march,
march into hell/For that heavenly cause
And I know/If I’ll only be true
To this glorious quest/That my heart
Will lie peaceful and calm/When I’m laid to my rest
And the world will be/better for this
That one man, scorned /and covered with scars,
Still strove with his last /ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable, /the unreachable,
The unreachable star/And I’ll always dream
The impossible dream/Yes, and I’ll reach
The unreachable star… 

On Earth, the New Ethiopia!

A life without dreams, like the unexamined life, is not worth living. 


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