Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ethiopia’s Black Colonialism

Map of Ethiopia highlighting the Somali Region.Image via Wikipedia

Africa has been through rough times including slavery and slave trade, European colonialism, neo-colonialism, and dictatorship. Currently it is experiencing economic slavery, African slavery of Africans, and oppression of select societies who are struggling for self-determination, religious freedom, and political involvement.

A case in point is the oil and natural resources rich Niger Delta of Nigeria inhabited by the Ogoni people who have been denied a share of the national cake. The Government of Nigeria has underdeveloped the Ogoni people by denying them their inalienable rights. This part of Nigeria has become a forgotten region yet it is where Nigeria's 'Black Gold' is extracted. Discuss in-depth with Ogonis in the Diaspora and you will be amazed by the strange stories they narrate. Followers of Nigeria’s political events will recall the hanging of the academic, writer, poet, politician, and a businessman Ken Saro Wiwa by Sani Abacha's regime on a trumped up crime in the morning of November 10, 1995. "The blood of Ken Saro Wiwa will stain the name of Shell..." was a statement given by Greenpeace on learning the death of this great man. He was a man who fought for ecological and social justice for his people. Surprisingly, there is no armed struggle in Ogoni land except a few armed groups who wish to highlight their plight to the world through abductions and blowing up of pipelines that cause adverse effects on the economy of Nigeria and other fuel-dependent nations.

Now let's come back to the beautiful Horn of Africa and have a quick look at the Western Somali region in Ethiopia. The Western Somali region or the Ogaden region predominantly occupied by Somalis was given to Ethiopia by the European colonial powers in the aftermath of the Scramble for Africa and has remained underdeveloped ever since. The region has been an issue of contention between Somalia and Ethiopia for many years yet the international community has never bothered to intervene for the sake of saving the suffering masses. The inhabitants of this region have been victims of successive Ethiopian expansionist emperors and dictators with killings and imprisonment, rape and abductions, burning of villages and towns, underdevelopment and isolation and other inhuman means of torture being the methods used by the state machinery to silence dissent.

Somalia and Ethiopia went to war over this territory several times; the most recent being the 1977-1978 war that saw Ethiopia getting material and moral support from the former USSR, Cuba, and communist Yemen while Somalia stood alone in her endeavors to reclaim it.

Ethiopia has always denied committing human rights violations against the people of this region yet satellite images taken from razed villages and towns reveal the contrary. Towns and villages that have been intact and thriving in the past have been found leveled to the ground, thanks to modern human technological advances in the space sciences. This region of Ethiopia has been intermittently experiencing the worst natural disasters including flooding of rivers and drought that devastated crops and livestock-the only means of survival for the region’s impoverished pastoralist society. The region lacks schools, hospitals, roads, and visible infrastructure. The Ethiopian Government employs stooges from the region to advance its propaganda and political constipation.

A quick search for the region on the internet search engines reveals tons of information on the cultural, historical, and political struggle of the people of this region. Some document daily atrocities and incidents as they evolve. International organizations carrying out humanitarian activities in this region have been suppressed by successive Ethiopian governments with some facing expulsions for voicing their concerns. The government is using relief supplies as a tool to garner support from its oppressed inhabitants.

The discovery of oil in this region has increased tension and competition among energy-starved powers most notably China that has a big stake in Ethiopia's oil drilling and mineral exploration. The storming of an oil installation manned by a Chinese firm by the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and the subsequent killing of many of its workers contracted to the drilling and extraction of oil a few years ago brought the world media to attention. This incident made the world aware of the prevailing inhuman conditions and the treasures in the region.

Despite the huddles of getting access to the region because of government restrictions on travel and stringent visa procedures coupled with media censorship, several media houses were able to penetrate the region's most affected parts relaying convincing information that could be used to indict those suspected of committing human rights violations and genocide. Al Jazeera television, often referred to as the 'CNN of the Middle East', in an exclusive documentary on the region, showed harrowing images of destitution and suffering that was visible on the faces of many it was able to interview.

Ironically, successive Ethiopian governments have used inhuman methods to underdevelop this region including:

1.Unequal distribution of wealth
2.Misuse of donor funds meant for the impoverished region
3.Use of Tigreyan cadres to represent the community
4.Diversion of relief aid for military use
5.High illiteracy, high unemployment, and high mortality rate
6.Amharic language forced on to the people
7.Lack of veterinary services
8.Denial of farming technology
9.Biased state media
10.Conscription of civilians in to Ethiopian army to fight foreign wars
11.Print and electronic media in Amharic
12.Censorship of Somali-speaking media

Razor-Sharp-Mouthed Globetrotting Troglodytes
From the time Meles Zenawi was declared the overall winner of the pseudo-democratic elections held in Ethiopia last May, a retinue of Tigreyan troglodytes from Ethiopia’s Somali region have been circumnavigating the globe extending an olive branch to the Ethiopian-Somali Diaspora with a message of peace and reconciliation from the headquarters of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

Delegations led by razor-sharp-mouthed representatives relaying unconventional wisdom converged on major cities in the western hemisphere with a view to selling their distorted ideologies to predominantly unsuspecting and uninformed onlookers and sightseers. Shuttling between Washington, D.C., Seattle, San Diego, and Minneapolis, and several other European cities, these uncompromising impostors driven by party zealotry unleashed well-rehearsed ideologies and revolutionary desiderata by calling on participants to grab offers of democratic values of inclusivity-perhaps referring to variants like freedom, equality, equity, cooperation, peaceful resolution of disputes, the rule of law, popular sovereignty, representative democracy, economic well-being, equality of opportunity, equality of condition, and other democratic factors-aspects that are beyond reach in “Cruel Ethiopia”.

Led by tribal-minded political neophytes with past records of corruption and freewheeling lifestyles, EPRDF party apparatchiks gave conflicting imaginary statements aimed at winning the hearts and minds of the Ethiopian-Somali Diaspora. Do these so-called representatives of the EPRDF who are in essence Somalis themselves reflect the atrocities, repression, arbitrary arrests, denial of basic services, and the host of inhuman measures inflicted on their people by the current and past regimes seated in Addis Ababa? Without an iota of doubt the regime in Addis Ababa has committed heinous crimes including genocide against Somalis of Ethiopia.

Satirically, what these subjects fail to realize is that even fascist Italy under Benito Mussolini claimed to have been a democracy one time and that the same applies to Germany under Adolf Hitler. Where on earth is the democracy they are preaching when demonstrations are suppressed and the opposition jailed or killed?

In this era of communication and globalization, it is absolutely impossible for oppressive governments to conceal deliberate inhuman acts from the glare of publicity. The election irregularities that led to the subsequent arrest and extra-judicial killings of opposition figures and university students in the streets of Addis Ababa, the capital city, in 2005, still echo in the minds of Ethiopia's bitterly enraged multi-cultural societies seeking abrupt regime change.

For now, the international community is well aware of the human rights violations being committed by Meles Zenawi's regime in Ethiopia’s Somali-inhabited region and in other parts of Ethiopia, though, to the surprise of the people of the region and their sympathizers, none among the world powers in the forefront for universal suffrage, not even the UN, the world governing body, is willing to see further fragmentation of landlocked Ethiopia since Eritrea's legal divorce in 1991.

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