THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND, THIS LAND IS MY LAND | BY SELAM ADUGNA

Ogaden

Through the years of my life Ethiopia has lived unraveling turmoil of political instability. Reflecting back to Ethiopian Student movements organized by Haile Selassie (Now renamed Addis Ababa) University Student Association brings the nostalgia how young Ethiopians felt responsibility to lend their voices for the voiceless super majority of the Ethiopian population during the Imperial rule. The change initiated and facilitated by courageous, conscious, selfless, and determined student body brought unexpected ruthless military rule for of seventeen years with the final outcome of unprecedented bloodshed and loss of hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians by Ethiopians. The Dictatorial Regime of Derg exposed millions of Ethiopians to unfamiliar and degrading option of becoming refugees. The caring and trusting Ethiopian masses preferred to allow the TPLF/EPRDF to march freely to the capital city of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, and other cities and towns of their nation believing that this political organization made up of people from the Student Movements was really the democratic and inclusive party to bring the elusive Democracy to Ethiopia instead of defending the unpopular dictatorial regime. Twenty-five years of TPLF/EPRDF rule broke the trust of Ethiopians and has demoralized the spirit of the nation by pitting ethnicities against each other for the purpose of staying in power. Ethiopia is not a monolithic, one language, and one religion nation. Its beauty is its mosaic of nations, languages, and religions lived together for generations of generations. That beautiful mosaic of peoples functioning as ONE unit has kept external invaders away from conquering our beloved land and country from generations to generations. That is why we can boast and be proud of our three thousand years of Independence and Freedom. It is saddening that the three thousand years of Independence and freedom from foreign invasion cannot be translated into a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by the people directly or indirectly through a system of representation involving timely held regular free elections. I do not think that Ethiopians imagined that they will go through the same scenario of being fooled and undermined by the organization seen as better and democratic twenty-five years ago to be at the worst level of oppressing and dehumanizing the Ethiopian people than the Derg regime.

The very essence of a free government consists in considering offices as public trusts, bestowed for the good of the country, and not for the benefit of an individual or a party. What happened to that essence of a free government? The free government of the people, by the people, for the people has become the government of the oligarchy instead of the commoners. The public trust bestowed on TPLF/EPRDF by Ethiopians has unashamedly been ignored and laughed at by the functionaries of the government. While the vast majority of Ethiopians deal with the economic uncertainty manifested by lingering joblessness, continuous increasing cost of living, and ever stagnant income except for few privileged members of the governing party and its ass kissing affiliates. How on this good earth can land and properties cost more in Addis Ababa than lands and properties in most cities and towns of United States of America?
A rational and honest government that believes in serving the people of the country do not rely on military power to govern the people it is supposed to represent. In true sense of democratic rule, government officials are servants of the people not rulers of the people. The people dictate the government officers and officials not vice versa. How painful it is to witness from generation to generation the decay of humanity exposed through the actions of heartless and soulless individuals in power. For those in power at this moment in Ethiopia, you are not more and better Ethiopians than the rest of Ethiopians. Your assumption that you know what is best for Ethiopia by oppressing and suppressing Ethiopians is misguided as the assumptions of the government you succeeded. How stupid can the collective leadership of TPLF/EPRDF be to keep the failing attitude of military might in order to stay in power? History repeats itself. It seems that time has come for Ethiopians to break the chain of tyranny imposed on them by greedy human vultures hovering over Ethiopians for the last twenty-five years. Ethiopia belongs to all of Ethiopians not personal property of TPLF/EPRDF.

The TPLF/EPRDF government may have control of the money by selling the land for profit by forcing the indigenous people out of their lands which they owned for multiple generations. Land is the identity of the people. The inhabitants of the specific land define the existence of that land. Ethiopians define the existence of the land of Ethiopia. But TPLF/EPRDF seems that it does not care about the people but the monetary value of the land they sell for highest domestic and foreign bidders by displacing the rightful land owners in Gambella and southern Ethiopia. How can people become devoid of their humanity for the money and material wealth? Can TPLF/EPRDF leadership remember Meles Zenawi who died and buried wrapped in a four-meter piece of cloth? Has he taken any jewelry, cash, building, or any material wealth except his mortal body? I do not think so. We all belong to the land and the land belongs to all of us. In that regard, here is my version of Woody Guthrie’s 1940 song titled “This Land”

This land is your land, this land is my land
From Tigray to Sidama land
From the Bale Forest, to the Abai stream waters,
The land called Ethiopia l love always.
God blessed Ethiopia for you and me
This land was made for you and me.
As I went travelling that ribbon of muddy way
And saw above me that endless skyway,
And saw below me the golden valley, I said:
God blessed Ethiopia for you and me
This land was made for you and me.
I roamed and rambled and followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts,
And all around me, a voice was sounding:
God blessed Ethiopia for you and me
It is the land that was made for you and me.
When the sun come shining, then I was strolling
In Teff fields waving and dust clouds rolling;
The voice was chanting as the fog was lifting:
God blessed Ethiopia for you and me
This land was made for you and me.
One bright sunny morning in the shadow of the steeple
By the UN Relief Tent, I saw my people —
As they stood hungry, I stood there wondering if
God blessed Ethiopia for you and me, if
This land was made for you and me?
I came to realization with all the sufferings
My people endured through generations
Imprisonment, hunger, poverty, and oppressions.
With all the cruelty my people witnessed
Nobody takes away from the heart and mind
Of my people, the land that God has blessed.
Ethiopia belongs to you and me
This land was made to you and me!

The current political atmosphere in Ethiopia predicts that change is on the horizon. The Ethiopian people from Tigray to Southern Ethiopia, from Gambella to Somaliland have been frustrated with the heavy handedness of the tyrannical regime of TPLF/EPRDF. Twenty-five years of divide and rule of this patriotic seeming destructive force that undermined the long-lasting fabric of unity has reached to the boiling point. It is the moral obligation of this governing body to think deeply (if it is equipped with commonsense) to avert any unnecessary bloodshed and losses of lives. Ethiopians have suffered a lot. It should be a collective duty of all Ethiopians to resolve the common problems with conversations and dialogue. The main responsibility of accommodating the platform falls exclusively on the shoulder of the TPLF/EPRDF government because it relies on its security and military might. As History reminds us, nobody and no military might can stand against the anger and rage of people that brings the political tsunami. How long can regime stay in power by defying the will of the people it needs to govern? How long can a government deny the democratic rights of the people it allegedly governs “democratically”? How long can a government refute the legitimate quest for political participation in governing the nation by the opposition political parties? TPLF/EPRDF should start to listen to the political heart beats of the nation which is echoing further and further. I say to my Ethiopian compatriots belonging to the privileged political party of TPLF/EPRDF that you have to question your loyalty if it is for the nation as a whole or to keep the oppressive party in power by all means necessary. Remember the following saying:

“ALWAYS PUT YOURSELF IN OTHER’S SHOES. IF YOU FEEL THAT IT HURTS YOU, IT PROBABLY HURTS THE PERSON TOO.”

As the world is overwhelmed with selfishness and attitude of I-do-not-care for the plight of others, we are everyday reminded about our vernability, fragility, need of empathy, sympathy, and compassion by events around us. We are not islands of men and women. As we share the land, air, water, the sun light, darkness, and whatever nature offers us, we share ourselves with each other in many ways. So if we refuse to feel the pain and grief of others for the sake of our political biases resulting in material benefits, we prove to ourselves and others that we denude ourselves of humanity.

So God blessed Ethiopia for you and me. Ethiopia is the land that was made to all Ethiopians from North to South and from West to East. It should not be your and my land of conflict and armed struggle but the oasis of our agreement and peace. Let us not make your land and my land the land of incompatibility but that of harmony. Stop the atrocity on Ethiopian brothers and sisters. Demand for Democracy is a universal demand for justice and equality. Your pain is my pain. Your plight is my plight. Your tears are my tears. That is what I feel and that is what I expect from Ethiopian brethren and sisters towards each other. Ethiopia was made to you and me. It is our common land that God blessed for you and me.

LONG LIVE YOUR AND MY ETHIOPIA!