Journalistic Assault on the Demand of the Mass – Addis Tribune Style

In its March 26, 2004, editorial titled Construction, Yes, Destruction, No!, Addis Tribune makes a callous attack on Ethiopia’s “student population” of thirty years ago and today with specific reference to what has been happening in Oromia in the past several weeks. Without solid corroboration, it labels these student movements delusion among “mindless young scholars”. Addis Tribune failed to understand or prefers not to report a critical element of the movements.

The current student movement, as well as the movement thirty years ago, reflects the demand of the mass. Back then, the students saw the tide to end feudal system coming from the mass and joined and contributed, rightly so, to the power of the tide. Consequently, the feudal system died its natural death. That much should have been understood by the writer of Addis Tribune’s editorial. An important question to ask should be what went wrong after the downfall of the feudal system.

The multiple parties involved in ending the feudal system created a political climate blowing the wind of imperialism, revolution and communism, which were all alien to most of the population and not well understood even by the students of the terms and the systems thereof. To make matters worse, what followed it is the unhealthy competition or outsmarting maneuvers between the parties involved to unilaterally fill the government vacuum at that time. When the old king is gone and multiple parties choose their leaders unilaterally to take the throne in that kind of political climate, self-inflicted damage due to intra and inter-party conflicts is what follows. In that kind of situation, it is no surprise if the party with the best firearm wins the throne, smashing everything in its way with “impunity” veiled in the code word of revolution. Worse yet, it was agitated by White Terror which it countered by the so called Red Terror. That would cost every party involved including the military junta whose members would, after thirty years, go live and ask for forgiveness from the public. This is after lording over the peoples in Ethiopia for seventeen years and loosing to the parties they fought for as many years and languishing in prison for about thirteen more years. If history is any lesson, the Tigray People's Liberation Front leaders will surely face the same fate some day.

When Addis Tribune’s editorial goes on to say in its third paragraph that “Ethiopians can now criticize their government in absolute freedom”, one can’t help questioning if we are in the same world. Self deception will not serve any purpose and is a sign of moral corruption, as it is evident in what it has to tell us about the “often impulsive government” in its fourth paragraph. It is not only true that “there was no earthly need … why the capital of Oromia should have been moved from Finfinne to Adama”, it was shameful of the TPLF tyrants to do so. It is equally shameful of Addis Tribune to keep quiet then and come out now, not before, to tell the world that “perhaps the government is more to blame for what has been happening”.

Oromos both in Oromia and around the world have been demanding the reversal of the TPLF government’s barbaric decision to evict Oromia’s institutions from Finfinne for several months now. Most of Abyssinian scholars and media, including Addis Tribune, gave deaf ear to it. Our uninvited TPLF guests from Tigray who trekked to Finfinne thirteen years ago appear to have settled comfortably in the city and started to drive out Oromos from their ancestral land. These guests have gone too far too soon. In the past, Ethiopian governments have gone to universities and arrested students, but none has armed university students from its tribe as the TPLF did, according to reports by some newspapers. TPLF's tyranny has no boundaries. Instead of telling the government’s action for what it is, the editorial appears to render some advice to the government by writing it was “foolhardy to exacerbate matters by often rushing in where angels fear to tread.” We are left with the unanswered questions of who the angels are and what is it to tread. Even if we take the statement as a positive gesture from the editorial, this is too little too late to come of Addis Tribune and certainly the movement of the “mindless young scholars” dwarfs the intelligence of Addis Tribune's editor.

Reading its March 19, 2004, editorial titled Food for Thought, one would learn some wisdom from what it quoted from the book by Professor W. Arthur Lewis published about forty years ago. To come out just one week later and write callous and conflicting statements puts to the test the interest of Addis Tribune as a newspaper. If it has any interest in the plight of all the peoples in Ethiopia, it should not shy away from saying what is right is right and what is wrong is wrong irrespective of where or when if it is an issue of this scale. That is the least it could do in its journalistic service. It should not have taken the movement of Oromo students all over Oromia for Addis Tribune to write, in its online version, about the government’s action to move Oromia’s capital from Finfinne to Adama. Or did it consider itself the angel and feared to tread on this issue? Or was it complicit with the government’s action? Or was it not newsworthy to write about this issue then but come out now and pray that “God may save the nation often wronged by its foolish leaders?”