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The Media on 'Meles' Zenawi's 'Sick Leave,' Death and LegacyKiflu Hussain Salem-News.com
“History is capricious and has a cynical sense of humour.” - Charles Onyango-Obbo, The East African
(UGANDA) - On July 21, I posted on Facebook, citing a source that Mr. Getachew Assefa, the security chief of the Ethiopian regime leaked information about the death of Meles Zenawi to Mr. Amare Aregawi.
Amare is a “former” propaganda chief of the ruling minority ethnic faction who postured as publisher of a private paper, The Reporter.
I also intimated that Getachew warned Amare to withhold the information until the dominant minority ethnic group in the ruling party is prepared “psychologically.” Noting the information was subject to verification, I concluded with what my hunch told me. And, therefore, I scribbled that the “guy has become no more.”
Wikileaks revelations of Zenawi’s failing health alongside his scary photograph taken during his last public appearance in Mexico were powerful pointers to draw such a conclusion. Looking back, it was typical of the minority elite to leak tidbits which otherwise can be kept secret.
That way, you not only gauge adversarial reactions but also prepare your own camp gradually to the inevitable.
Thus, using fifth columnists like The Reporter you so tactfully placed as an independent paper besides the ones you co-opted such as Addis Fortune, you officially deny the critical condition of the tyrant. Hence, deliberate conflicting claims that the “visionary leader” is enjoying his “sick leave” abroad or he’s back to recuperate at his own palace.
To those diehard independent newspapers like Feteh whose publication was banned, confiscated and burned because of the truth it contained, you throw a few lines since you pretend a fraternity in the free press.
Meanwhile, your patrons in the higher circle will buy time to vie undetected for the vacuum. Also you manipulate the gullible public to a stage managed North Korean style “grief” and mass hysteria. After all, the deceased had secured 99 percent votes though he never ventured to come closer to his “loving” voters without bullet proof glass nor without a shield from security goons. Death, the greatest equalizer changed all this and forced his pitiful remains to be exhibited to all and sundry.
Be that as it may, as Charles Onyango-Obbo observed on The East African of July 28-August 3, “History is capricious and has a cynical sense of humour.”
Consequently, the remaining power contenders who would otherwise continue hiding Zenawi’s comatose situation were cornered to admit that their boss was on “sick leave” thanks to another African president who is ironically catapulted by the sudden death of her own boss.
If Madam Joyce Banda, successor of Bingu wa Mutharika, hadn’t declared that she would arrest the Sudanese strongman Omar al-Bashir the moment he steps in Malawi, African strongmen wouldn’t have congregated in Addis Ababa where the Senegalese president, Macky Sall to the consternation of Ethiopian officials had let the cat out of the bag.
The mainstream media in the so-called international community that were quick to speculate wildly on the sickness and “death” of Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Issaias Afeworki of Eritrea were not only unenthusiastic to follow the lead on Zenawi’s disappearance. Rather, it engaged in subtle collaboration with the Ethiopian propaganda machinery to obfuscate the matter even after a compelling report about the demise of Zenawi by the Ethiopian Satellite Television(ESAT). ESAT is a network launched by exiled Ethiopians as an alternative to counter the mendacity of the Ethiopian régime.
As Mr.Abebe Gellaw, an exiled journalist stated on July 31 on www.Addisvoice.com, ESAT broke the news citing a powerful source while pointing out to an earlier press release by the newly formed Ethiopian National Transitional Council (ENTC). The Council claimed that June 14 was the exact date that the deceased enjoyed his last breath on this planet.
Unfortunately, almost all the “respectable” powerful mainstream media chose to set a diversionary narrative rather than to get to the crux of the matter. Some like the Financial Times of August 9 pretended to analyze Zenawi’s disappearance with screaming headline “Meles absence fuels regional anxieties.”
By using phrases such as “without one of east Africa’s diplomatic and security linchpins,” it made it sound like that there won’t be any life for Africa after Zenawi’s departure to eternity.
Likewise, following the belated announcement of his death, virtually all broadcast media houses such as BBC drew a grim picture not only for Ethiopia but for the entire Sub-Saharan Africa. They portrayed the deceased as a “mediator-in-chief” and a great economic reformist.
That his monopoly on power; that all the repressive draconian legislations he decreed; that all the egregious human rights violations he kept on committing throughout his rein were obstacles to build strong institutions which in turn facilitate smooth transfer of power, were mentioned as mere footnotes.
Also until the Ethiopian regime was forced to disclose the death of its master, (according to August 18 Ethiopian Review, Africom commander General Carter F. Ham, Head of the U.S African Command persuaded the ruling party to appoint the deputy PM, Hailemariam Desalegn) the western mainstream media such the FT continued to carry deception.
Accordingly, FT reported that Zenawi “had been in regular contact with Thabo Mbeki” from his sick bed over the Khartoum-Juba standoff. Wittingly or unwittingly, Sudan Tribune and Sunday Monitor of August 19 fell for this disinformation only to be told two days later that the “mediator-in-chief” is no more.
When you think that in light of these glaring inconsistencies, serious questions would be asked as to the integrity of the system that the deceased presided over for over two decades, you get more of deception.
As if Zenawi was the first grand builder of dams, roads and skyscrapers, “social researchers” like Alex De Waal who once castigated Africans for not rioting to the point of overthrowing their respective governments over ravaging scourges like AIDS in his book “AIDS AND POWER,” tells us in a piece he co-authored with Abdul Mohammed on The New York Times that “the death of Zenawi deprives Ethiopia—and Africa as a whole—of an exceptional leader.”
Since Abdul together with another apologist called Andrias Eshete denied and defended the inhuman expulsion of Ethiopians from Eritrea in 1991 on the state owned Ethiopian Television, such glorification of tyrants is expected of him. However, since Alex also seems to have stooped to promoting tyranny, one is left with no choice except encouraging him to exalt the Fascist leader, El Duce Benito Mussolini too. After all, he was the first in Ethiopian history to pioneer grand infrastructure building with the then backward technology.
Last but not least, this writer continuously referred to the deceased as “Zenawi” but not “Meles” as per the Ethiopian tradition of addressing a person by his own first name.
Reason is simple.
“Meles” was a nom de guerre chosen by the deceased from his role model named Meles Tekle. This Meles whom Zenawi admired to the extent of embracing his name bombed the Addis Ababa City Hall and Wabishebelle Hotel killing and wounding innocent civilians in November 1974 with his accomplice called Rezene Kidane.
The military regime executed him for it. This then was the man whom the West championed as an ally in the war on terror. The list can go on like this but for the moment I would pen off here promising to come back whenever is necessary to set the record straight.
An Ethiopian social and political commentator exiled in Uganda
Kiflu Hussain is an attorney based in Uganda. He says his passion for writing came from reading, and that it’s inevitable that the more one reads, the more one develops the urge to write. Kiflu has published articles in Ethiopia on the English Reporter, then a weekly newspaper along with a few Amharic articles on the defunct Addis Zena. It was after he and his family found refuge in Uganda, that he began contributing writings to the local papers and various websites such as Daily Monitor, Uganda Record, The New Vision, Ethioquestnews, Garowe Online, WardheerNews etc.
The reason for this is clear. Ethiopia, despite being a seat of the African Union had never produced a regime that allows even the minimum space for dialogue that other people in Africa enjoy so naturally. So Kiflu's ending up as a refugee in Uganda is a blessing in disguise for it accorded him with the opportunity to write. He says at the same time he learned, unfortunately, that his refugee status would be what showed how deep the hypocrisy of the “international community” goes. We at Salem-News.com are honored to carry this gentleman's work and we hope that in the process, western people may come to appreciate the struggle of refugees throughout the world.
You can write to Kiflu at this address: E-mail;firstname.lastname@example.org
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