Ethiopia: The Walls of Jericho
By Ashenafi Molla
There is a Biblical narrative that tells events around a City named Jericho, and impenetrable walls surrounded the City. God tells the Israelites through Joshua (the leader) to march around the City once a day for six days, and on the seventh day they were told to march seven times and priests were to blow trumpets. On the seventh day, after marching around the city the seventh time, the priests sounded their trumpets, and the Israelites shouted loud. The walls of the city collapsed, and the Israelites were able to capture Jericho.
We know that freedom is a universal value that every individual human being desires to have – the freedom to choose, assemble, express, move, worship, and so on. As Eskinder Nega once wrote, “Freedom is partial to no race. Freedom has no religion. Freedom favors no ethnicity.” Unfortunately, there are tyrants out there bent on barricading marches towards freedom.
Ethiopia is a one party despotic state being lead by tyrant Meles Zenawi. He commands the military; corrupt police force, kangaroo court, rubber stamp parliament, devoted cadres, eavesdroppers, and himself. In a sense, these are walls erected by Meles to deny Ethiopians the right to express their pains and grievances in public; walls designed to restrict, harass, and torment – walls formed to prevent Ethiopians to never enjoy fruits of freedom, and walls built to prolong the overbearing life of the Meles regime.
In the past two decades, Ethiopians have struggled to break these walls; as a result, they have paid immense sacrifices – they have been beaten, shot dead by hundreds, harassed, jailed, tortured and killed. To date, thousands are languishing in unacceptable jail conditions across the country for simply expressing their views.
Ethiopia is a landlocked country (thanks to Meles), has no discovered oil or diamond; as such, the West doesn’t seem to have resource related interest there. However, the West does have terrorism related anxiety in East Africa – turmoil in Somalia, and to some extent in Sudan. The U.S. and Europe need the support of Meles to help them fight terrorism activities in East Africa. Therefore, the West is reluctant to criticize Meles on human rights issues; instead, they continue to subsidize the preservation of those freedom-blocking walls he built. As long as chaos in neighboring countries exists, Meles will continue to play the terrorism card, benefit from the West, and deny Ethiopians their God given right – freedom.
So, how can we bring down these walls that are blocking and dividing us? The Israelites did something unusual – they marched around the walled City of Jericho, sounded trumpets, and shouted; then the walls of Jericho came down. Don’t laugh yet.
I am not a physicist, but I know something about sound – sound is invisible, but it has the power to shake and move visible objects. An alarm sound can make you jump out of your bed. The sound of low flying jet can shake or even move objects on the ground; so does the sound of a roaring lion. The Israelites understood the power of sound, and used it in a battle to bring down enemy walls and capture a City.
What would happen if millions of people shout in one voice? Abebe Gelaw was just an individual; and he shouted at Meles saying, “Meles Zenawi is a dictator, we need freedom more than food.” Now, what happened to Meles when he heard the shout? The most stubborn Ethiopian dictator was visibly shaken – his head down, and looked like a fish out of water. That is what happens when humans raise their voice and speak out loud against dictators and their supporters.
Meles has silenced his critics back home to a greater extent by harassing, killing, or sending them to jail. His diehard supporters who live in the West have been attempting to duplicate and impose cruel policies of the regime on Ethiopians who live in the diaspora also. Just as Meles divided and dissected Ethiopia along vicious ethnic lines, these morons are trying to dived Ethiopian Churches, Mosques, Communities, and Sport Organizations here. Regime supporters have zero tolerance for criticism; they don’t want us to talk about the tyrannical nature of Meles or criticize its oppressive policies; they want us to shut up.
Don’t listen to these puppets that cry, “Stop talking about EPRDF here, go back to Ethiopia and fight them there – if you are a man.” It is a tactic they use to silence us at coffee shops, restaurants, bars, and anywhere they show up. Don’t give into that; we need to continue to make our voices heard, and let them know that we are not of those who shrink back. When we speak out against policies of Meles, his puppets fume, and their blood pressure goes up. So, if you are an oppressor, supporter of an oppressor, and extensions thereof reading this article, don’t expect an olive branch from the oppressed or us.
We will not go quietly; we shall continue to blow trumpets and shout out loud freedom, believing that one day, the walls of Jericho will crumble, and freedom shall consume Ethiopia.