Sunday, September 9, 2012

Whom to Believe?

The death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has inspired many to verbalize what was lurking in their mind. We are reading/hearing so many new adventures of Meles that we have never heard before. 
Ethiopian People Revolutionary Democratic Front /EPRDF/ in its different publications and Ethiopian Radio and Television /ERTA/ through its programs and news made known feats and activities of the Prime Minister, of which most signify his warmth to his fellow citizens especially to the farmer, his sacrifice for the nation’s public interest and how restless and visionary leader he was till his last breath.
Nevertheless, not only those who recognize Meles as a hero are voicing. There are also different shouts that rebuff his achievements. Most of the critiques I heard revolve around issues of democracy and human right- usual disappointments of the opposition but not accepted by the Meles led government.
However, these are not my points for I believe each of us have discussed it in one way or another and have taken stand. Rather my point is the interview Dr Birihanu Nega has made with Awramba Times just after the decease of the Prime Minister. He, in the interview has tried to analyze the personal behavior of Meles.
For him, due to misunderstanding of what the contemporary global situation is, Meles led the country in an authoritarian style which the previous Ethiopian leaders practiced. According to Dr Birihanu, the previous leaders could not be judged wrong for it was the fashion of the time; but Meles was not compatible with his time and consequently failure to Ethiopia.
Of course, Dr Birihanu Nega has been judge as criminal based on Ethiopian law and sentenced life imprisonment. So he has a point to hate the PM and his government. We may so categorize it as part of the hate speech. But this might be a hasty conclusion. Therefore, it is fine to weigh up his claim with respect to other onlookers. Let me take the speech made by Africa and world leaders at the funeral ceremony.
Yoweri Museveni, the President of Uganda, said, “The problem of Africa has not been resources. It has been lack of vision.” Calling Meles Zenawi a visionary leader, Museveni honored him as a man in need not only for Ethiopia but also for Africa. Then he avowed Meles fills that gap- the lack of vision. And of course the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame lamented that “we all feel the magnitude of the gap Meles has left.”
All the leaders who got the privilege to make a speech at the funeral ceremony unanimously called Meles a ‘visionary leader’. The testimony of these leaders is in total disagreement with what Dr Birihanu Nega alleged. While he is accusing Meles for lagging four or more decades behind and for not understanding the current world order, the contemporary leaders are telling us Meles is not a man of the past, but man of the present and the future.
In fact¸ Thabo Mbeki, the former President of South Africa, had gave surety that Meles knows how to play the global game of politics. He said, “He {Meles} was forever a student and better to understand not only  the challenges facing Ethiopia but also the imperatives our continent has to address, both of which we have to achieve the advance within the context of the evolving global situation within which we live and work.” All the leaders who stand in front of the corpse witnessed that Meles was fit to the purpose of the new world order plus able to predict the future.
According to the leaders, the intellect of the late Prime Minister is beyond any doubt. Goodluck Johnatan, President of Nigeria, admired him as ‘extraordinary dynamic leader’. Mbeki’s expression of Meles’s talent is also remarkable. He said, “He {Meles} carried within his heads the gift of a brilliant mind which was enriched by constant study.” Jacob Zuma also assured that Meles was repeatedly invited to groups of powerful nations such as G8 and G20 mainly due to the size of his ideas. However, not all expressions are as striking and captivating as that of Suzan Rice’s. The permanent representative of America in the United Nation described Meles as having ‘World Class Mind’.
Dr Birihanu also commented on the legacy Meles has left. For him history will record Meles as a leader unable to understand what is going around and a dated one. But what do others say? Goodluck Jonathan said history will record Meles as a man who uses his immense gift of intellect, eloquence and vision to transform Ethiopia. Jeffery Feltman, the representative of the United Nation at the occasion said, “He {Meles} will be remembered for his exceptional leadership in his advocacy of African issue within and outside this continent.”
Here it is crystal clear that the judgment of these leaders of their own nations is far unlike to our son in the “Promised Land”-America. We Ethiopians residing in Ethiopia know what is going on here- whichever it is. But we read and hear different interpretation of the same reality. So whom shall we believe to? The contemporary world leaders who had the chance to work/discuss with the late prime Minister or the man counting down his days of transfer for the effect of the life imprisonment?
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