By Keffyalew Gebremedhin – The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
A perspective on Ethiopia’s Zami 90.7 FM and Rwanda’s defunct Radio Mille
Radio Zami 90.7 FM‘s persistent slanders and horrifying political lingos and symbolisms, especially against a large part of the Ethiopian peopulation, i.e., – the Oromos, when necessary the Amharas, and also the legal opposition political parties – have struck me for its criminality intended to further TPLF objective of domination of our country.
If Zami 90.7FM is allowed to continue with its racist and divisive opportunistic politics, I fear, our country would again be irresponsibly pushed into building apartheid within a multi-ethnic state.
Perhaps out of weakness those in power may see this as facilitating their political objectives of establishing a mafia kingdom masquerading in the name of Tigray. The sad thing is that even its elites, a home and in the diaspora, have shamefully allied themselves with it and offered themselves and their services in exchange for small benefits such as cars, houses, lands, businesses and direct and indirect power.
Nonetheless, what the TPLF mafia could not understand is that such corruption would only intensify the anger of the Ethiopian people and further accelerate their downfall; we may take it on behalf of Ethiopia as the silver lining – perhaps part of the signs and mystery behind our nation’s survival skills.
Anyone who has listened to House Speaker Aba Dulla Gemeda angrily telephoning Zami Radio station toward the end of December 2015 to request the manager Mimi Sibhatu to stop her team’s pretentiously contemptuous behavior against a group or groups of Ethiopians, based on their ethnicity, is evidence of his annoyance both by the politics of the station and those that are running it.
Not only evident in that conversation was the speaker’s breathing was heavy and his anger detectably like flameless fire. But anyone could also sense the station manager’s arrogance, as the support she received from the accented Amharic of one of her Round Table pals was there for her. This could be heard from the audio below:
While the TPLF House Speaker’s call had lacked to influence in a positive direction the station’s approach, in fact the winner was Mimi Sibhatu who seemed to have used it to further flex her muscle.
The irony in all of this is that the TPLF state structure and its running of a multi-ethnic state is essentially of a concentric nature – with few insiders and many people outside, since the latter are needed only to achieve limited goals. Readers note here that already during his call to the station, Speaker Aba Dulla was preparing to travel to troubled parts of Oromia on a TPLF mission to persuade protesting Oromos to temper their anger at the TPLF.
This he had already done in May/June 2014 during the first protests demonstrations of all Oromo university and high school students, who were angered by the TPLF land grab and the violation of their rights as human beings. At that time, Oromia parents paid the lives of 110 Ethiopians, when the TPLF crack force and their sharp shooters – entirely constituted of Tigreans – slaughtered them at that time, mostly at the Ambo and Haramaya Universities, according to an earlier interview by OFC’s Dr. Merera Gudina!
Frankly speaking, although the charges against Zami 90.7 FM and its Round Table participants is serious and in a sense extreme, I sympathize with those that accuse the station, especially its manager Mimi Sibhatu, of deliberately orchestrating and imitating the once widely popular Rwanda’s Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines’ (RTLMC, or Radio Mille).
Thank God, Radio Mille lasted on air only 389 days between July 8, 1993 and July 31, 1994. Of this, its 120 or so days, i.e., from April to July 1994, could be listed as the dark days of man’s inhumanity to fellow human beings.
The station’s disgraceful racist propaganda, including its use of words such as ‘cockroaches’, successfully promoted war crimes against Tutsis, some moderate Hutus, Belgians and the United Nations mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR). Because of this cruelty, it was not the foreigners, but an estimated 800 thousand to one million helpless Rwandans that were exterminated.
Radio Mille was silenced once and for all by July 31, 1994, after it was too late those genocide victim Rwandans. Luckily, the international community has collaborated with Rwanda and the United Nations Tribunal for Rwanda in hunting like animals the perpetrators of this heinous crime and making them to face justice.
The truism is that those who cannot learn from the mistakes of others happen to be the ones that repeat it. Accordingly, this same practice is stupidly showing its tentacles in Ethiopia today in stations like Zami, as well as even by some hired hands in the state-owned media and, of late, even in the government communication and spokesperson’s outfit.
My worry is that, things being as they are, at the current pace citizens are being massacred by the TPLF in many parts of our country, reaching Rwanda’s number of elimination of citizens would not require the TPLF too many efforts and anymore lesser calibre, as Ethiopia has become a land without the rule of law, institutional and individual accountability – even when the language of Radio Mille is repeated by Radio Zami and so-called government spokesperson’s office.
I wanted to listen to Zami station because I have been hearing a number of things about it, mostly accusations that are strong and not all too common. So I set time and did that on March 2, 2014. The segment I heard is denial by the station that it said such things. It reminded me of the denials by Abay Tsehaye and Getachew Reda, what was on digital record!
Not surprisingly, the station’s air was stuffy; the Round Table professionals are pretentious, whose preoccupation seemed to project themselves as all knowing, better informed and more concerned for Ethiopia and its poor people. This too goes for the invited guest that day on telephone, a diaspora with tentacles in Ethiopia and a woman going by her paltalk room alias Lojira.
Therefore, it did not surprise me that I could not find – even amongst reasonable and responsible Ethiopians I know – positive word about the station and its manager Mimi Sibhatu or about what she is doing.
For many, she has been known from her brief stint at the Voice of America in Washington D. C., Amharic Service. Later followed her official respectability, accompanied by public derision at her back, for her association with Meles Zenawi’s widow. In her own right, she is a person many Ethiopians see as the soulless butcher and a clone of Marie Antoinette, Queen of Louis XVI, whom the swords of the French Revolution silenced in untimely manner. Poor soul, she Marie Antoinette was executed on October 16, 1793, as woman whose excesses France hated so much.
See what one of the many tweets says about Mimi Sibhatu, for instance, and a picture linked to it, not to rehash the many stories on blogs and facebook pages.
Consequently, I could not help being astonished by how much the air of pretension of hired hands at Radio Zami and the deceptive concern they exhibit toward the people of Ethiopia has earned them profound distrust and disrespect.
What I understood is that it is not so much the Mimi Sibhatu factor that is responsible for this, but, to put it mildly, the Zami gang is a collective that is doing a hatchet man’s job in the service of the mafia in power in our nation’s seat of government. Worst of all, the people that for a quarter century pitted the state against civil society lack snippet of responsibility and conscience, honesty and nationalism – sense of true ኢትዮጵያዊነት!
Why our nation should not divisively call itself the ‘peoples’ of Ethiopia!
The broken heart Mimi Sibhatu gave me on March 2, when listening to her station came from her revoltingly and excessive references to the ‘peoples of Ethiopia’. However, in some sense I would oblige myself to give her a reprieve for doing so in, since her repetition pales in comparison with the 1994 TPLF constitution that has 89 references.
For reasons I cannot comprehend, unlike any other constitutions in the world, the preamble in the TPLF’s begins with the words: “We, the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia” !
I needed to exert some effort to lull my mind into thinking that perhaps the People’s Republic of China, with its 1.4 billion population and as a socialist country, should be the only nation that should refer to itself as ‘peoples’. Actually not so, no such reference is found in its constitution.
Not in India’s constitution either, a nation with 1.26 billion population, 29 federal states and seven Union territories.
Only the 1977 constitution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) loosely makes mention of people’s in three references in its preamble, e.g., the “peoples of the country”, compared to the 41 references “to the Soviet people” in the entire constitution!
For obvious reasons, i.e., especially with nations of the world as its constituency (193 today), in its Preamble the United Nations Charter speaks of “We the peoples of the world determined…”, which is proper.
The United States constitution opens with the words: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…”
In the case of apartheid South Africa’s constitution, in its Act, it states:
- “IN HUMBLE SUBMISSION to Almighty God, Who controls the destinies of peoples and nations …
- We declare that we:
Are conscious of our responsibility towards God and man…;
Are convinced of the necessity of standing united and of pursuing the following national goals:
To uphold Christian values and civilized norms, with recognition and protection of freedom of faith and worship…,
To further the contentment and the spiritual and material welfare of all,
To respect and to protect the human dignity, life, liberty and property of all in our midst,
To respect, to further and to protect the self-determination of population groups and peoples,
To further private initiative and effective competition;
Are prepared to accept our duty to seek world peace in association with all peace-loving peoples and nations”!
Just like the TPLF constitution, despite the above solemnity, apartheid South Africa moved to its demise and its ones oppressed people have achieved a semblance of being free, yet mired in poverty – democracy notwithstanding!
The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), like the TPLF, has dabbled with the idea of secession from Ethiopia. Of late, we have heard its recantations of the divorce it sought. Nonetheless, in the 1976 I have not come across in its political program, where it makes reference to ‘peoples’, except in reference either to solidarity with oppressed peoples or its policies toward minorities within Oromo territory!
Much clearer is its 2012 amended political program, which envisions to live as part of a federal and democratic state of Ethiopia. There clearly one finds language from the current constitution, as in the preamble, mentioned above.
Why Mimi Sibhatu had danced on Zami to the secessionist tune, revoltingly addressing the ONE People of Ethiopia, as the peoples of Ethiopia has hit me hard with its irony! Her advocacy of TPLF domination is not acceptable to me.
I am not fan of centralized unitary state, but committed to united Ethiopia. In the substantively improved version, where the state’s anchor is democracy and that everyone is now talking about these day – after the model Arbengotch Ginbot 7 has been advocating – I have always wanted that to enable our people reject dictatorship once and for all.
We know that she is half Tigryan and half Amhara, whose parents died – bless their soul – always as proud Ethiopians. They never had any need for today’s opportunism and promiscuity that others consistently criticize in her and some of her younger siblings.
Whatever the potion the TPLF gave her, Ethiopia need not be dragged along into this shameful path of divisiveness to benefit the mafia. In stating this, I am not arrogating to myself what Mimi should believe in or who to support as a political position.
In fact, I make distinction between acceptance of the rights of others to say things they believe in in a Voltarian sense and total loyalty to defending their right to say things. I would only defend Radio Zami to say things so long as whatever they are saying are not injurious to others.
This year the celebration of the 120th anniversary of the Battle of Adowa and Ethiopia’s sterling victory has brought with it great surprises. Even TPLF people have joined in organizing the celebration! I have appreciated it, but I happen to be skeptical of the intentions.
Why this change of attitude now? Did they forget Emperor Menilik and Empress Taiytu led the united Ethiopian army under their command into Tigray to save the country from Italian colonialism?
Not long ago, I remember the TPLF beat and imprisoned the “Taytu girls” for taking her as their model in their love of freedom and independence.
I would believe that change to be real, when the TPLF learns its lessons properly and apologizes to Emperor Menilik in public. After all, he had passed on to generations of Ethiopian gallantry, which has kept our country alive and free.
Would it ever be lost on any generation of Ethiopians that it is only the TPLF mafias that began to break our country, through their long and persistent attacks and wars in support of the EPLF until they finally rendered it landlocked!
An American friend was asking me days ago in connection with TPLF’s massacres of Oromos and, if at all they would ever learn from their latest debacle and try to be true citizens.
My initial and honest answer was: “I don’t know!” I immediately corrected myself and said, “I don’t think so!”