Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Renowned Ethiopian historian dies at 78

May 25, 2013 (Borkena) Taddesse Tamrat, one of the most prominent Ethiopian scholar and authority in medieval history of Ethiopia, dies at the age of 78. Professor Taddesse Tamrat was among the early and few Ethiopian faculty members of the department of history.
The department of history at Addis Ababa University was established in 1961 and most of the staff at the time of its establishment were expatriates. Available online records about the department of history indicate that Taddesse Tamerat was one of the scholars who helped Ethiopianize the department and has a tremendous contribution for the scholarly reputation of the department. As well, Taddesse Tamrat did help in the formation of Institute of Ethiopian Studies.

Tadesse Tamrat mainly focused in the study of medieval Ethiopia. His research work “Church and State in Ethiopia” is much acclaimed among scholars in Europe and Africa alike.

Some scholars have published review of his book in academic journals published in reputable European Universities.

Charles F. Beckingham, in the Journal of African History, Vol. 15 No. 1 , 1974 pp.137-40, had this to say about the monograph:

This important book offers the reader much more than the title might suggest, for it examines most aspects of the Ethiopian state and the Ethiopian church from the supposed restoration of the supposedly Solomonic dynasty to the eve of the Muslim invasion [Ahmed Gragne] in the sixteenth century.
…No one interested in any aspect of the medieval Ethiopian history, whether political, administrative, ecclesiastical, military, ethnic or cultural will find Dr. Taddesse Tamrat’s monograph unrewarding…”
Without a doubt, the monograph he produced is a lasting and significant contribution in the study of Ethiopian history. Indeed, it is a great loss to Ethiopia.
Professor Taddesse Tamrat was receiving treatment in a Chicago hospital and passed away last Tuesday,according to sources in social media.


 The news was first published on Borkena website

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Andualem and Eskinder: Court ruling and its implication

If the court ruling againstEskinger Nega and Andualem Aragie shocked anyone from the opposition quarter or not even from the opposition quarter, it only suggests ignorance about the real nature of TPLF and how government institutions function under TPLF.

If we have not yet reached to the point to believe and profess, in meaningful way, the fact that TPLF is into ravaging Ethiopia (subtly and unsubtly) while building its ethnic base rather than standing for justice, then that represents not only a case of bias and indifference but also it gives a significant clue as to where we really stand in relation to truth, justice and the cause of Ethiopia.  In fact, in light of numerous repressive measures ranging from an outright massacres in towns to genocidal moves in the south west and south eastern parts of Ethiopia which are all recorded by reputable human rights organizations for well over a decade now, even those who tend to distance themselves from politics should have declared TPLF enemy of justice long time ago. For some “neutrality” is a cover for a subtle support.

Logically, if the government is dictatorial, then there is little or no chance for government institutions to be democratic. Independence and impartiality of courts is unthinkable. In the case of Ethiopia, TPLF dictation transcends governance structures and encompasses the realm of religion as religious institutions are made subservient to TPLF agenda. It’s a different totalitarian model for a number of reasons. The intervention in religious affairs met a moderate resistance only from Ethiopian Muslims. For the record, Ethiopian Muslims are consistently and seriously, in relative terms compared to the rest of the population, resisting TPLF’s agenda of domesticating Islam in Ethiopia in a way to serve TPLF agenda.

Speaking of dictatorship, the Chinese leadership, which TPLF leadership pretends to emulate, has never been implicated or criticized for  parochial ethnic supremacy  or ethnic chauvinism agenda.  Other former Asian dictatorial governments were not aspiring ethnic chauvinists too. The rhetoric of “developmental state” was not staged against the backdrop of ethnic supremacy agenda. Nor ethnic supremacy agenda was embedded in policies and policy implementation strategies in a way to serve ethnic supremacy agenda. TPLF is fundamentally different.

When we talk about TPLF, we are talking about a political group and government at the same time which is aggressively pursuing ethnic-supremacy agenda- at times taking unimaginably brutal measures . One can cite numerous points that speak volumes about their aspiration of ethnic-supremacy. Programs aired in the state run television in their first ten years as government contain valuable information for anyone with interest to study  their ethnic supremacy agenda.  As guerrilla forces, they have clearly demonstrated in their manifesto as to what they are fighting against. Assumption of government power following the fall of the military government provided TPLF with the opportunity to pursue ethnic chauvinism  agenda thorough policy measures that foster TPLF as a single dominant military,economic  and political power in Ethiopia.

The most cunning point about pursuit of this agenda is that much of it was achieved through the use of other ethnic based political organizations which they formed, in fact, directly or indirectly immediately before or after assuming state power.For a political novice, for a naïve, for an ostentatious commentator, for an opportunist and for state actors who are doing this or that business with TPLF government, the country is “governed” by coalition party -‘EPRDF” and that the ruling party has just “imperfections.” This brutal government machinery knows no economic sanctions from donor countries- sanctions like what Myanmar or Zimbabwe experienced while it is far more worse in its dictatorial nature. It was not even meaningfully challenged with “tied-aid.”

While TPLF exploits ethnic based political parties to repress in the ethnically instituted federal regions in different forms, the strategy employed in the jurisdictions outside of ethnic based federal regions is a combination of  “legal” and outright repression. Federal governance institutions including courts serve the purpose. In consequence, TPLF successfully managed to make  peaceful struggle virtually impossible in the country. On top of that, there is a huge investments in social practices that could effectively enervate the nationalistic and political spirit of the youth which is far worse than De-politicization. Tendency of longing for change which is  or which should rather be a common attribute of young minds does not seem to be the case for a considerably  big portion of Ethiopian youth.  No question that depoliticized youth in a country where there is no rule of law and accountability and in country with huge political mess amounts to big trouble. It represents not just unfriendly future  but also impending slavery like unfreedoms. In such a situation the onus of awakening rests on the shoulder of visionary opposition party leaders and the press.

The whole world including TPLF know that the practices that journalists and opposition party officials, against whom the court ruled today and who are now behind bars to serves insane prison terms, were engaged in had nothing, what so ever, to do with “terrorist” acts. So far there is no official policy elsewhere in the world that equates political dissension or activism with “terrorism.” Needless to say, the purpose was not just to challenge people like Andualem or Eskinder. It rather sounds like a psychological game against citizens with a tendency to engage in political activism and citizens with the intent to assert rights and freedoms.  TPLF  dared to legitimize repressions of this nature with the rhetoric of “development.” If there was a rejection of “development model” that does not give a room for democratization process and assertion of rights and freedoms on the part of the principal donors to TPLF regime, it would have been  reflected, among other things, in the form of imposing sanction in development aid. There was not. TPLF is getting more aggressive. The court ruling is a manifestation of that. TPLF is telling Ethiopians : “Yes, this government is dictator. what are you going to do about it.?”

If TPLF, through the courts, could do what it has done to Eskinder and Andualen whose incarceration is pretty much known to activists at the international stage, can anyone  imagine as to what had happened and as to what is happening to other dissenting voices in the country? How many more are in the torture chambers without even the chance to appear in the sham courts, if that means anything at all?
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