We, Habesha people, didn’t learn from the Germans. We couldn’t even preserve the history of our fathers. We are humiliated. Indeed, very humiliated. We should have acted with determination to eliminate racists and traitors from the face of Ethiopia. If we lacked the courage to do that, we should have at least preserved our territorial integrity and sovereignty. But we didn’t. History recorded this as a bad failure. [Askual newspaper May 2004]

This is the second part of the series “On Eskinder Nega”. Please, read the first part here (link)]

There was a man by the name Eskinder Nega. He was the bravest of all. His bravery got him to prison and he must be saved by all means. At least, so goes the narrative reiterated by the western media and organizations.

What in particular is he charged of and what are the evidences? You might wish to know.

Well, those with the resources are not willing to bore you with the detail. They simply tell you he is the man of noble characters and a saint-like figure.

Ok. What were his achievements as a writer that made him so ‘popular’ in Ethiopia? You might ask. Though, few Ethiopians knew his name prior to the promotion by the western media following his detention on suspicion of terrorism (a.k.a. – plotting a regime change)

The promoters simply tell you he was ‘the real power behind Askual, Menilik and Satenaw newspapers’ until their closure following the 2005 post-election violence. They rarely specify the contents and quality of the papers. But, since known organizations, like, CPJ, New York Times, PEN, etc., endorsed them, you will be tempted to consider them as exemplary ones.

However, those newspapers portrayed as Eskinder Nega’s brainchild barely made on-ground reporting. Their headlines stories were mere hearsays and their contents were more suited to show how not-to-write a news story. Almost all news items and columns were copied or translated from the internet with extremely sensationalized provocative titles. Several of them were inflammatory, defamatory and/or blatant disinformation.

But, there was one column series that dwarfs all the rest and considered by readers as the brand of Askual newspaper. It was titled “Get Lost Judae”. Perhaps, it could be the ‘courage’ to publish this column series that impressed the promoters of Eskinder Nega.

The column series run almost uninterruptedly from 2001 to 2004. It was always given a prime space and promoted with a caption on the front page. It was written by a man who was then a senior member of an opposition party – of which Eskinder Nega was a deputy Chairperson. The man left to another opposition party sometime later, after a sort of split in Eskinder’s party, but that didn’t affect the publishing of the column.

The column had one consistent theme: Hating Tigray, which is an ethnic group, in the northern tip of the country.

It is beyond my means to post or summarize all the “Get Lost Judae” column series (about 150 published in the span of four years). Though, each is no less outrageous than the other.

The column started as a response to a book published by a Tigrayan historian. Then, after a couple of months, it went to another Tigrayan author. In the guise of correcting historical inaccuracies, the column engaged in an explicit attack on Tigray people. Gradually, it abandoned the book review exercise pretext and focused solely on condemning and vilifying the ethnic group.

By 2004, the column was already calling for action against the Tigrayans whom it blames for supporting the current government and for causing all the ‘evils’ that have fallen on the country – past and present. At some point, it started putting a disclaimer that ‘Judae’ refers to individuals rather than groups. The purpose of the disclaimer is not clear, though.

The columns published from May to June 2004 are demonstrative of the “Get Lost Judae” series.

Here are translations from May 1/2004 and May 8/2004 editions of Askual newspaper.

Note: The translation is mine. I decided to make word-to-word translation of more than half the two columns to preclude any doubts on the context. Moreover, the column rambles at length and presents history in present tense, thus making it difficult to pick a representative paragraph and/or to use a liberal translation approach.

*Words and phrases in brackets are mine and intended to clarify.
* ‘Banda’ – literally refers to individuals who worked with Italy, when it invaded Ethiopia during WWII. It is also commonly used to as an insult to a person claimed to be allied with enemy of the country.
* ‘Mateb’ is a thread worn by devotee of Ethiopian Orthodoxy Christianity to demonstrate their religious identity.
* ‘Badmme’is a town on the Ethio-Eritrea border and a major battle during the 1999-2000 war between the two.

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“Get Lost Judae”

(May 1/2004)

[Starting at the third paragraph]

Our rulers, who dribble their cheap politics in the name of history, know that the Ethiopian people didn’t take a genocidal stance on any tribe during the Dergue regime. They know it for fact. It is nonsense to claim that the Dergue regime tried to exterminate our rulers’ tribe, in an era where the people didn’t show decisiveness to translate its hatred into action. This is not an old story, it is of recent memory. The Ethiopian people used to attend meetings alongside anti-peace forces in every Kebele [district administration]. It was silently observed that while the armed bandits [TPLF] were in the woods [fighting the Dergue], their people were sending them food from our capital city and other Ethiopian towns. They also provided timely intelligence to the enemy. No one from our side gave the matter proper attention. We laugh in regret when we note that the humble Dergue regime was looking for bandits hidden in the woods but left alone the bandits openly working in all Ethiopian cities. Dergue spent 17 years choosing bandits among bandits. Similarly, the extent of our weakness and ineptness embarrasses us even strongly when we recall that the Ethiopian people, which is no better than a suckling baby, sat alongside members of the bandit’s tribe in Kebele meetings held to discuss the military campaign [against the rebels]……….

Did the bandits really take power by defeating us militarily? Had our armed forces were loyal to their oath, wasn’t it possible to exterminate the wolves, who are currently ruling us, from the face of the earth? It was certainly doable. Wasn’t it possible to eliminate these people, who have no history other than being Baandaa, from Ethiopia? We feel it was a very easy task. But there was no determination. We became unconcerned about the future generation. Our Ethiopian bravery melted down. We bowed to the enemy due to our personal weakness. We need to admit this. What else could be the source of our current humiliation? We can’t point fingers on anyone. We ruined history by our weakness. We earned humiliation. We became as good as the dead. We, Habesha people, didn’t learn from the Germans. We couldn’t even preserve the history of our fathers. We are humiliated. Indeed, very humiliated. We should have acted with determination to eliminate racists and traitors from the face of Ethiopia. If we lacked the courage to do that, we should have at least preserved our territorial integrity and sovereignty. But we didn’t. History recorded this as a bad failure.

We have travelled in the path of truth and for truth. Ethiopia has always been more accommodating to her enemies rather than true citizens. History is a witness. It is visible today. The traitors who have been toiling to scrap this country from the world map are today combing honey from this poor country. This is not a lie. Truth is our mateb. Truth is our reference. What can we learn from history? What did we learn? The German people who took a decisive stand against the exploitative Jewish, under the resolute leadership of the Nazi, had continued showing their bravery in action. The German people have continued marching forward demonstrating its rage in action. Who can hold it lack? What does this tell us – real Ethiopians? What is the lesson for us? It teaches us that any citizen should act resolutely to become the actual owner of his country.

The Germans stood up resolutely. Their struggle continued. The Jewish were captured in-masse and deported to concentration camps. Especially, male Jews between the age of 16 and 60 were targeted. The Jewish were spitted on. Their face was disfigured with mud. The Germans were furious. The Jews were degraded. The Germans crusade against the Jewish. They are hoping that the Versailles Treaty, which German was forced to sign at the end of WWI, will be scrapped under Nazi leadership. They are positive that unemployment will end. Especially, Adolf Hitler is seen as God-sent for Germany’s Renaissance. Given the existing reality, millions are convinced that there was no better leader than Adolf Hitler. Thus, they followed him. We find it suited to quote what Goebbels said to express his admiration of Adolf Hitler. We shan’t forget the sentiment was shared by most Germans. (To be continued)

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“Get Lost Judae”

(May 8/2004)

[Starting at the third paragraph – with the quote of Joseph Goebbels,( the Minister of Propaganda and close party associate of Hitler)]

“In the Munich court you grew before us to the greatness of the Fuehrer. What you said are the greatest words spoken in Germany since Bismarck. You expressed more than your own pain . . . you named the need of a whole generation, searching in confused longing for men and task. What you said is the catechism of the new political belief, born out of the despair of a collapsing, Godless world . . . We thank you. One day, Germany will thank you . . .” (The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William L. Shire, Fawcett publication, in Greenwitch, conn. 1960. P. 181)

The principle of administration prescribes a country shall equally serve as a geographic residence of all citizens. Heterogeneity is not a problem by itself. However, there won’t be peace in a country where a cancer tribe or community exists. The majority will be sacrificed for the prosperity of the minority. The current situation of Ethiopia is a good example.

Today, several millions have paid all the sacrifices required of us for the comfort and luxury of a minority tribe. In Ethiopia, where equality is absent, ‘slavery’ has taken the meaning of ‘equality’. In the 21st century, we have returned to the ancient tribal system. We have lost countless people in meaningless war, on Badme and related battle fields, for the sake of one very small tribe……Human sacrifice has become a necessity for the honor of the ruling tribe. The majority has been scarified for the greatness of the ruling tribe. Ethnic politics eats ethnic groups. Whose turn will be tomorrow? We should note that the Gambella massacre is today a talking point of the global community. Let’s not forget ethnic politics is the cause of all the political, economic and social problems of Ethiopia. A talk of peace would be a meaningless play with words in a country where a cancer tribe or community exists. The minority becomes economically rich and holders of political power. Traitors will steer the honest. Citizenship becomes meaningless.

The German people rose with determination during a political, economic and social crisis similar to the current Ethiopia. It was a public agenda. And, the public had to address it in action. The rage on Jews continued to be translated in action. (To be continued)

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Still not convinced? Wait for the next part of this series. It only gets better.

[You may read or download here (link) the original Amharic copies of the two editions of Askual newspaper quoted above.]

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Previous post: On Eskinder Nega : Setting the Record Straight

P.s.- I will respond in detail to questions and comments you raise will before concluding this series.

Daniel Berhane

Daniel Berhane