Yimer Muhe – February 24, 2019
When one thinks of Ana Gomes, the inescapable question in everybody’s mind should be why a Portuguese national is so much immersed in Ethiopian affairs. Considering the intensity of her passion and the scale of her involvement, no doubt it would give us great pleasure to imagine an Ethiopian identity underneath her Portuguese one. Her background as a member of the Portuguese Chapter of Amnesty International way before the advent of the apocalyptic TPLF on the Ethiopian political scene might partially help us understand her crusade on the side of the Ethiopian people. Her gravitation towards Ethiopia and Ethiopians may also remind history buffs about the Portuguese interest in Ethiopia during the 16th century. Her ancestor Christopher da Gama – the son of Vasco da Gama – and his musketeers fought alongside the queen mother Seblewengel and her son Atse Gelawdiwos against Imam Ahmad Ibn Ibrahim Al-Ghazi. Da Gama was later captured in one of the battles and executed by the Imam in August 1542. No matter how we try to explain and understand it, Ana Gomes’s unflinching stand for our cause is so powerful, it makes us think the unthinkable such as if she was an Ethiopian in another life only to be reincarnated as a Portuguese in our time. Simply put, Ana Gomes is God-send.
Ana Gomes has been a member of the European Parliament representing her country since 2004. However, for most of her life, she has been a diplomat with a zeal of an activist. In 2008, she was named “Activist of the Year” by the Parliament Magazine - a publication that deals with the European Union.
Ana Gomes’s legendary expose of TPLF is a glaring testimony that Ethiopia and Ethiopians have a special place in her heart. Her dedication to our cause as a non-Ethiopian is simply unrivalled. Characterizing her as more Ethiopian than some of us is not a hyperbole at all. She made our issues her own and stood with us steadfast. She felt our pains and sufferings and trials and tribulations and did everything she could to help us deliver ourselves from the fangs of the TPLF tyranny. When our own brothers and sisters made our country a living hell for us, Ana Gomes stood on our side wiping our tears, and nursing our wounds. For the last several years, she lectured the European Parliament so much about TPLF’s crimes that one might justifiably wonder if she ever paid enough attention to issues affecting her own country. Even the most articulate among us wouldn’t have conveyed the depth of our agony the way she has done it from the benches of the European Parliament with her voice rising and falling, and quivering with passion and rage. She is indeed our Florence Nightingale (the Lady with the Lamp), and a midwife to the transformation that is transpiring in Ethiopia today.
Let’s not forget when Ana Gomes’s unwavering voice was reverberating, at the same time she was putting on notice the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank that were generously funding TPLF’ tyranny. She was warning the leaders of the West such as Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barrack Obama who were providing TPLF with a diplomatic cover and at times lionizing its leader Meles Zenawi ignoring its horrendous human rights violations only because it was considered as an alley in the so-called “War on Terror”. Of course, we will never forget former President Obama who, in August 2015, standing next to PM Hailemariam Dessalegn in Addis Ababa, went as far as declaring Ethiopia as a democratic country under TPLF and sternly warning anyone who dared to destabilize it – meaning anyone who did not like the murderous TPLF including us Ethiopians. Obama’s no less powerful advisors such as Susan Rice, Gail Smith, and Wendy Sherman were no less reckless and disdainful towards Ethiopians in general. Time and again, be it in the European Parliament, during Press Conferences, or any other gatherings, Ana Gomes, in diplomatic jargon, never stopped reminding IMF, the World Bank and leaders of the West that they were partners in crime with TPLF.
When Ana Gomes came to Ethiopia in 2005 at the head of the European Union’s Election Observation Mission (EOM), she got her first opportunity to witness in her own eyes and conclude that the election was nothing but a shenanigan that TPLF was trying to pull in order to give a semblance of democracy for donors’ consumption. She also observed and concluded that TPLF was nothing but a conniving and heartless ballot robber not fit to run a country by any measurement. That was a watershed moment for her.
Ana Gomes’s occasional heated exchanges of barbs with that pathological liar and current inmate Bereket Simon which at times culminated to a personal level are testimonial to her determination to help us dislodge TPLF from its very lucrative seat. She was probably caught unaware like the rest of us when the TPLF leadership suddenly converged in Mekale and dug in there in defeat. But, have no doubt that her fingerprint is all over TPLF’s exodus out of the rest of the country, and undoubtedly her overall relentless efforts supplemented the sacrifices made by Ethiopians of all walks of life resulting in the birth of a very promising new era for Ethiopia. Thus, Ana Gomes belongs to an exclusive club of icons such as Sylvia and Richard Pankrust – the mother and son duo and others like them. She is to our struggle against TPLF what the Pankrusts were to our history who lived and breathed it while collecting, preserving, teaching and writing it.
When on February 16, 2019, Ana Gomes appeared on the stage at the Millennium Hall in Addis Ababa, where a fundraising event for ESAT was taking place, the crowd went wild. I doubt if there was a single soul in the crowd that didn’t cry to express their gratitude for this savior and champion of peace. In fact, her visit to Ethiopia on the heels of the return from exile of the leaders of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Patriotic Ginbot 7 Movement for Unity and Democracy, Oromo Democratic Front, Oromo Liberation Front, EPRP, the Ogaden National Liberation Front and prominent individuals such as Sheikh Seid Ahmed Mustofa, and Obang Metho, etc. was a crowning moment. It would not have happened at a better time.
Ana Gomes is already being memorialized by parents naming their newborns after her. She is also affectionately referred to as Hanna Gobeze - ethiopianizing her name. She is a household name far away from her home. We should not be surprised to see in Ethiopia in the near future a statue of her being erected or being considered; highways, schools, institutions, hospitals, bridges and business being named after her and deservedly so. She will definitely be inducted into our history books and remembered for generations to come.
Ana Gomes’s fight for Ethiopia and Ethiopians is not over yet. We should expect her to remain a leading voice in support of the reform underway in Ethiopia. She would not back down from doing everything under her power to make sure TPLF is decisively dealt with and its leaders brought to justice either at home or before a body like the International Criminal Court (ICC). She is not either going to sit idle and let TPLF spoil the rainbow of hope that we are experiencing today of which she is part and parcel. No matter what we do: erecting statues, naming bridges and hospitals in her honor, etc., we will never thank enough this living legend – Ana Maria Rosa Martins Gomes.