Talks About “The Obama Factor”
What Will an Obama Win Mean to
October, 26, 2008
Welcome to everybody! It is great to be back in Oakland.
The last time I was here was almost two years ago. At
the time, I was invited by the Oakland Kinijit chapter
to talk about the human rights abuses in Ethiopia. That
was also the premiere showing of the documentary film,
produced by the Anuak Justice Council, the “Betrayal
of Democracy.” It was also the time when the opposition
leaders were in prison. A lot has changed since that
time for the worse in Ethiopia.
Before I go on to the topic I am going to speak about,
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Yilma
Bekele who put this together. Without his work, this
round table discussion would never have been possible.
Mr. Bekele was also the first person to pick me up at
the airport when I came here two years ago. He is one
of the many Ethiopians I have met through this struggle
who has become not only a friend, but someone who has
enriched my life. As I have told Ethiopians many times,
I got into this struggle because of the loved ones I
have lost, but God has brought more people into my life
as a result of this tragedy.
The second person I would like to thank is Elizabeth,
who could not be here today because she is in Washington
D.C. for her friend’s daughter’s wedding,
but she was one of the people who helped Mr. Bekele
put this event together. I also want to thank Mr. Agonifer
who also contributed to make this event possible. Without
these three great Ethiopian, it would have not have
Above all, I would like to thank the owner of the Ethiopian
Restaurant, for allowing us to use this place for our
meeting. I would also like to thank everyone who took
the opportunity to be here today. I am blessed and honored
to be here with you. I hope to learn new things from
you and I also hope you will learn something from me.
As I look around the table, I see everyone as humans
first and as Ethiopians second. I see all of us as brothers
and sisters and I want this dialogue to continue in
this spirit where brothers and sisters can disagree
but will always be there for one another. One thing
I will not concentrate on and hope we will not pay attention
to is blaming, accusing, attacking, insulting each other
or attacking political leaders or political parties.
As we know, there is so much division among our people
and we cannot afford more. I am here to represent all
Ethiopians because I do not believe in one group, but
in all groups having the right to represent their varying
interests. This is because deep in my heart, I believe
that the problems and challenges we have ahead of us
are tremendous and that the only way they can be confronted
and ultimately defeated is if we try to work together.
This is the theme I want to concentrate on today as
I talk about “The Obama Factor”. As a preface
to this, I would like to say a little bit about how
I came into this struggle.
I came to Canada as a young man, finishing high school
in Saskatoon and going on to the university there. After
graduating, I traveled back home to Gambella and was
shocked with the lack of progress during my years away.
I was struck with how much could be possible if even
small steps were taken to bring development to not just
the Anuak, but to all of the people of Gambella.
The images of suffering and hardship of the people
inspired visions and dreams of possibilities that continued
to stir in me and led me and some close friends to start
a development agency in order to do my part to bring
a better life to the people of Gambella who were thirsting
not just for clean water, but for development and the
kinds of opportunity it might provide.
We began the Gambella Development Agency and tried
to work with the current government in bringing development
to Gambella for three years before I was forced out
of it by the most horrible event of my life—the
massacre of the Anuak. The government that was supposed
to protect the Anuak and to aid in development had turned
on them like a lion devours a weakened prey. The Anuak
Years of work—not only mine, but that of others
also—was destroyed that December of 2003 and continued
to be further destroyed for many months following. The
already limited infrastructure—wells, schools,
health clinics, granaries, crops and homes—were
laid waste. Worse than that, some of the brightest and
most committed Anuak leaders were killed and Anuak society
In desperation, I called many authorities for help.
The US State Department was one of the first. The response
I received was disinterest, “Africans are always
killing other Africans.” I then called back and
said, there were American citizens there and the response
was totally different. United States troops were immediately
sent to Gambella to rescue the Anuak American citizens
caught in the slaughter.
Before I am done with this talk, you may realize why
I am telling you these details related to speaking about
“the Obama Factor.” For one, you will see
that development work, without a government that values
its people, can be destroyed in days. Secondly, investments
in educating the people ultimately can jeopardize their
very lives as these educated people know their rights
and can challenge a corrupt and repressive government.
Thirdly, we cannot depend on other governments to protect
our people. Fourthly, development and improvements to
the lives of Ethiopians will not be sustainable until
we have a government in place that values its people.
Obama and his message is resonating with Ethiopians
and I want to explore the pros and cons of this phenomenon
for us as Ethiopians. This is not a political rally
for him meant to persuade more people to vote for him.
This meeting is for both Obama and McCain supporters.
In fact, before I focus on Obama, I want to also give
credit to John McCain who has been one of those senators
who has been an advocate for human rights and democracy
when he was the Chairman of the International Republican
Institute (IRI). The International Republican Institute
was founded in 1983, after President Ronald Reagan's
1982 speech before the British Parliament in Westminster
in which he proposed a broad objective of helping countries
build the infrastructure of democracy. The IRI's stated
mission is to expand what it interprets as freedom throughout
the world. Its activities include teaching and assisting
with political party and candidate development, good
governance practices, civil society development, civic
education, women’s and youth leadership development,
electoral reform and election monitoring, and political
expression in closed societies. In June 2005, Senator
McCain was one of the signers of a resolution on behalf
of the Anuak. If Senator McCain wins, he could be an
advocate for Ethiopia and we should be prepared to work
Right now, though, many Ethiopians have rallied behind
Obama. There are Amharas for Obama, Anuak for Obama,
Oromo for Obama, Tigrayans for Obama, Sidamo for Obama,
Afar for Obama and the list goes on. Record numbers
of Ethiopian voters are expected. More Ethiopians are
involved in Obama’s campaign than we could have
ever believed possible. These Ethiopians are not from
one ethnic group, political group, religious group,
region, educational background, economic level, gender
and even include Meles supporters and those opposed
to this regime. What accounts for this?
Yes, his father was an African from Kenya. This is
a great story of a second-generation African success,
whose American mother at times used food stamps, yet
he has made it to this level of opportunity. It gives
us renewed hope in the “American Dream!”
It’s an inspiration to all immigrants.
Yes, if elected, he would be the first African American
to be President of the United States and the first African
descendent in the Western Hemisphere to gain such an
office. Was this the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr
that he envisioned fifty years ago when he spoke to
thousands in his, “I Have a Dream” speech
during the movement for Civil Rights? I think even he
might be astonished by Obama’s run for President!
Yes, Obama is calling for change and we know that
change is needed not only in the United States, but
also between the US and Ethiopia, between the US and
African as well as others. However, all of these things
add up to more—something greater than the sum
of the parts—and that is why I am calling it “the
Obama factor.” If he stands for one thing it is
hope and if there is anything we Ethiopians are lacking
right now, it is such hope!
No political figure has unified Ethiopians in America
as much as Obama has done. This does not only apply
to Ethiopian Americans, but to Ethiopians all over the
world who have also shown an extraordinary excitement
for Obama, watching this American election like none
other. They are committing time, resources and financial
support, but most of all, they are placing enormous
hope in him for Ethiopia.
Prior to this “Obama excitement” where
were we as Ethiopians?
- Disunity and divisions within all our groups
- Cronyism by political group, ethnic group, etc.
- Suspicion, lies, deceit, secretive dealings underneath
- Ethnic hatred, revenge, anger
Why? Some of these have historical roots in parts
of our culture that have been destructive, oppressive
and traumatizing, but there are three major recent disappointments
upon which I want to focus:
- Failed Ethiopian National Election of 2005
- Division of Leaders
- Disillusionment with all Ethiopian leaders and
What have these recent disappointments led to?
- Cynicism and even greater suspicion
- Hostility towards politics
- Giving up
- Opportunism—“if you can’t beat
‘em, join ‘em”(like many Ethiopians
who used to be part of Kinijit who are now making
business deals, buying land, etc)
- Disconnection with all things Ethiopian except
the superficial—marathon runners, the Ethiopian
flag, New Years celebration, sports, music, food,
etc.—all of which contribute greatly to the
joy of “Ethiopianness,” but can cover
over our real problem.
- Diverted attention to where there is more hope—Obama—this
is part of the reason the “our Obama factor”.
In the last year, it has been nearly impossible to
get Ethiopians committed to tackling the struggle within
Ethiopia because of all of these reactions.
Does this mean that Ethiopians are unwilling to sacrifice,
to work hard, to commit time, resources and financial
Does it mean that Ethiopians are all opportunists,
hopelessly divided, uncaring and uncompassionate people?
I answer you, “NO”, to all of the above!
I think the way Ethiopians have committed to helping,
working and sacrificing for the Obama campaign has shown
I think the unity Ethiopians have enjoyed in working
with people from all different groups has shown that
Ethiopians can work together regardless of diversity
of background. The reason they could not do it before
was greatly influenced by “dirty politics!”
This new-found activism shows how much Ethiopians
care about their new country, America, but also how
much they are working for or supporting Obama because
they believe he can help Ethiopia! I want to repeat
this. Ethiopians are not forgetting about Ethiopia,
but are supporting Obama because they are hoping that
Obama can help Ethiopia!
What this means to me is that Ethiopians still care
very deeply about Ethiopia! Even Ethiopians throughout
the world are hoping that Obama can help Ethiopia and
Let me tell you something else I see. Ethiopians care
about the starvation of their people. This hunger crisis,
which is affecting people all over the country, is uniting
us in ways we never could have predicted.
I regularly hear from Ethiopians who want to help the
starving regardless of ethnicity, religion, culture
or political preferences because a starving child is
a starving child and we Ethiopians care about them.
We have 58 groups of five, each now sending $100 per
month to help the poorest of the poor. We can have confidence
that this money will get to the most needy of our people
because we are sending it through our own trusted relatives
and friends. This is bringing many new people together.
This Obama factor and our hunger crisis have brought
out some of the best in Ethiopians and have brought
us together in new ways. Ethiopians have risen to the
challenge and learned something new about themselves
and their people. The best qualities of Ethiopians—strength,
compassion, integrity and commitment—have surfaced
under these challenging and difficult days and it gives
Ethiopians may have been disillusioned with the state
of Ethiopian politics, but that does not mean they do
not care. They want leaders who care about the people.
They want leaders with integrity and vision. They want
leaders who can bring about healing, reconciliation
and change. They want leaders like Obama. Ethiopians
want leaders who will see the poor as human beings worthy
of opportunity rather than to be ashamed of or to steal
from them because they are so weak.
If we had leaders who cared about the people, Ethiopia
might not be one of the most critically weak developing
countries in the world as shown by a recent index on
failing states.  Why does Ethiopia have the fifth lowest per capita income
in the world--$180 a year? Why is Ethiopia the absolute
lowest out of 141 developing countries in terms of access
to clean water? Why is the Horn one of the most failing,
impoverished, conflict-ridden regions in the entire
world despite all of the foreign aid? We know that the
Ethiopian government has a huge responsibility in all
Our country is in chaos, almost beyond repair leading
to starvation, the lack of hope, tribal hatred, HIV,
skyrocketing inflation, a deepening financial crisis
and the collapse of institutions. Due to the tightening
of controls within Ethiopia, it is nearly impossible
for those in the country to accomplish their objectives
without strong support from outside of the country.
That means all of us.
In fact, it is potentially dangerous for them to be
too closely associated (at least publicly) with groups
in the Diaspora due to the increasing repression in
the country; yet, the closure of doors to outside groups
will make it all the harder to address the growing hunger
and starvation problem, the horrific human rights abuses
all over the country and many other problems affecting
A new draft law, Charities and Societies Proclamation
is a serious threat to NGO’s working within the
country advancing human rights, the empowerment of women,
children’s rights, the rights of the disabled
and conflict resolution. What kind of government would
enact such a law? This law prospectively would include
any who receive more than 10% of their funding from
foreign sources, which is of course, all non-Ethiopian
groups as well as many Ethiopian groups. If this law
is enacted, as most believe will happen with the Ethiopian
Parliament being under the tight control of this government,
violators could receive penalties of up to 15 years
of imprisonment for such crimes as reporting on human
It is an indication of how repressive this government
has become. It is all the crazier because it also is
a threat to much of the work being done by Ethiopia’s
biggest donors—the US, the UK, the EU, individual
European countries and the UN as well as such groups
as CARE, the International Red Cross and others. It
comes as criticism from such donors as the UK, threaten
to pull back its aid to the millions of starving Ethiopian
citizens because they believe the Ethiopian government
is actively covering the extent of the starvation and
blocking humanitarian efforts to reach the people who
most greatly need the aid. Some humanitarian groups
have been kicked out of the country for reporting human
rights abuses and others have left the country due to
bureaucratic obstacles like arbitrary detentions and
The only way for us to have a future is for Ethiopians
to create their own movement like Americans are doing
today. Ethiopians must create alternatives based on
a grand strategy of how to deal with all of these things.
We need a change from the kind of leaders who have taken
advantage of us over the years and Obama has begun to
signify that kind of leader and Ethiopians have gotten
Ethiopians have shown we can rise up and contribute
to a better America. Ethiopians have shown that they
will work at all costs for American leaders who they
believe can help Ethiopia. Ethiopians Americans have
shown they want change, not only in America, but also
When we called for groups to form to support starving
Ethiopians, Ethiopians have shown they are people of
heart and generosity. They have shown unity and freedom
from prejudice. This is the Ethiopia I envision for
the future. This is the Ethiopia for which I have a
This unity and commitment we are achieving is amazing.
It is showing something about Ethiopians that I am thrilled
about, but my question is, can this energy, new life
and sacrifice be harnessed for the good of Ethiopia
so we can redirect this momentum towards deep and sustainable
change in our own country?
Amidst all of this, we must carefully assess how we
might join and capitalize on this rising wave of change
so we are not unprepared should Obama win and so we
are not set back if McCain wins. We must be ready to
work with either administration, yet, I want to focus
on this “Obama factor,” because many Ethiopians
have elevated him to a position that may be beyond what
any human being is capable of fulfilling and if he does
not fulfill our expectations in the way and as soon
as we had hoped, what will happen to us? We must be
prepared and soberly ask ourselves some questions.
Can Obama possibly meet all of our expectations? Are
our expectations realistic? What are the dangers if
they are not?
Let us review our last few years to better understand
where we have come from and how to best prepare ourselves
for the future if Obama does indeed win. If Obama does
win, he will be President of the United States, not
Prime Minister of Ethiopia. The US has huge challenges
right now with the financial crisis plaguing the economy,
the war in Iraq, the deteriorating infra-structure of
US roads, bridges and transportation systems, with unemployment,
health care and security threats in the world.
Where does Ethiopia fit in and when? Will it come up
the first day in office, the second or the hundredth
day in office or even in the third years?
What does this all mean? How can we be prepared so
we do not set ourselves up for disappointment by setting
our expectation too high or by failing to understand
how we might be preparing ahead?
One Ethiopian last night in Yilma’s house said
Obama was our only hope and another Ethiopian said,
no we are! How would you respond?
What will Obama expect from us? Do we expect him to
improve everything in Ethiopia by simply replacing Meles?
Remember, Ethiopia is a sovereign country, which we
want it to remain, even though we know the biggest donor
country to Ethiopia—the US—may influence
what happens through many non-invasive, non-violent
actions like foreign aid for starters.
However, Obama might ask what our goal is—in
other words, he might ask us, “With what or with
whom should I replace Meles?” Do we have a reasonable,
realistic and better alternative ready for him? Right
now, the US State Department and others in the international
community have made it known that the most important
issue to them in Ethiopia is its stability, taking precedence
over human rights violations, the repression of the
media, the lack of political space and the mounting
numbers of starving Ethiopians because the current authoritarian
Ethiopian regime is preferable to what they most fear—chaos
and a failed state like Somalia—meaning, it is
better to not awaken a sleeping giant unless they can
offer something better.
In other words, until Ethiopians can create a larger
and stabilizing solidarity movement of Ethiopians, united
across ethnic, religious, political and regional lines
and able to work together for the advancement of freedom,
the respect of human rights, justice, the rule of law,
equality and prosperity for all, Ethiopians cannot expect
the US and others to take as active of an intervention
role regarding human rights abuses, oppression, repression
of freedoms and humanitarian crises.
The only real antidote to our dilemma must come out
of a unified collective effort that includes and respects
all Ethiopians. The goal of this collective effort must
be carefully guarded by God-given principle of truth,
justice, human rights, freedom and civility not by certain
leaders or people so that it prepares the way for genuine
political expression. This movement is not to run the
government but to prepare the soil for good government.
This is the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia that
I have been talking about. It started as early as when
I spoke before Congress in March 2006, speaking not
only for the Anuak, but also for others oppressed and
suffering in Ethiopia. Later I talked about the virus
of disunity and tribalism that was infecting Ethiopia.
This is not a solidarity movement for a certain pre-set
government or political group, but a grass roots movement
of the people based on core values all emanating from
the most important—human beings come first and
no one will be free until we all are free. People can
join or not join based on whether or not they agree
with these principles.
Some may ask me why I did not wait for their input,
but this vision is not new. I have been calling on leaders
to unite, but most have not come forward to do it so
I and some other committed Ethiopians who share this
vision are taking the initiative because we can wait
When Kinijit divided, I called for mediation and for
coming together under a larger umbrella that could promote
peace, justice, prosperity and human rights so we could
achieve a stronger voice, but there was no response.
On November 17, 2007, I called for leaders from diverse
groups from Ethiopia to form a Solidarity Movement for
New Ethiopia, but hardly anyone came. In May of 2008
we called a World Wide March and most of the leaders
did not show up, but the average Ethiopians responded
to the call in many cities and countries throughout
the world and we thank those who participated.
On June 21 we wrote an article saying, “Meles
will Ultimately Fail, Are We Ready?” Again we
reminded people that the only way we can be ready is
On August 30, we called all Ethiopian civic organizations
to a meeting to join in solidarity, but again, many
of them did not show up. We continued anyway.
One of Obama’s statements that has touched so
many people is when he has said, “There is no
blue America, no red America, no liberal America, no
conservative America, but only the United States of
America.” In the same vein, he would not support
an Ethiopia that was only for one group rather than
as part of the united peoples of Ethiopia.
When Obama campaigns, you don’t hear him talk
about freeing the black people, but instead he campaigns
for an America where all are free. Meles’s language
cannot be understood by Obama. Whose language will shape
Ethiopia, Obama’s or Meles’s?
When Obama disagrees with Hillary Clinton or John McCain
or if Fox News is pro-McCain and criticizes him, he
has maintained his focus in what he believes. For Ethiopians,
we should do the same as it is the only way for us to
move ahead. If Ethiopians want Obama to help, the backward
way we have been doing things must change.
The goal of the Solidarity Movement is to educate Ethiopians
to value humanity and to be the voice of the people
of Ethiopia who have been screaming in silence. They
are the ones being killed and arrested, not us here
in the free world. They should be our focus. In the
meantime, joining the Solidarity Movement does not have
to stop people from continuing their agenda in their
If you don’t like this idea of a larger, non-political
solidarity movement, that is fine; however, if you believe
in it, join and contribute in any way you can. This
is why I have came Oakland and is the reason for this
campaign. We have to learn to sit together and bring
our groups together.
We have already started with a few committed people
who see and believe in this larger vision. We tried
to bring people together so everyone could agree, but
we cannot wait until everyone agrees so we are moving
ahead. Injera can be made by one person and eaten by
hundreds. If this movement starts with only a few, it
may later be enjoyed by many. This is our dream.
Moreover, even though Obama inspires me, he is not
the one to lead Ethiopia to freedom, we Ethiopians have
to do it for ourselves. If we expect a foreigner to
cook Dora Wat, it won’t be Ethiopian Dora Wat
that we get!
This means we must capitalize on the momentum and excitement
of this American election in order to be prepared to
offer a genuine alternative and that alternative is
us, but only if we are guided by these God-given principles
including coming with humility and in the spirit of
reconciliation, building laws and institutions that
set up accountability, transparency and protection for
ourselves and against ourselves because God also knows
how often we have failed to live rightly.
If we place all of our hope in Obama and don’t
discover the core of our problem, Obama cannot help
us. If this man does not reach out as we expected, we
may again be so disappointed, that Ethiopians will close
down in greater despair. To avoid this, we must create
our own movement, not the movement of Obama, but our
own Ethiopian movement so he can see the people doing
something truly remarkable and see himself able to step
in and add his part.
As one Ethiopian from Australia recently told me, this
is the message not only for Ethiopians in California,
but it is a message for all of us to hear. I will be
bringing this same message to Minnesota on November
16 and in London, UK on November 23. It is a message
Ethiopians should pass on to others from every different
group and faction. We must create an alternative to
what we have so Obama or McCain can hitch on to the
momentum we have created for our own change in Ethiopia.
Neither Obama nor McCain can do it without us.
Look at what we need to address. There is disarray
all over in the Ethiopian community. How can Obama step
in to help people in ten different parties who do not
talk to each other? Who should he talk to who represents
the collective interests of the Ethiopian people?
Our expectations of Obama are so high that I ask you,
how can they ever succeed unless we capitalize on this
newly found unity and momentum in order to create our
own movement—a movement that can be clearly seen
by those in the West that Ethiopians are ready for change,
just like so many Americans, who are coming out to vote
for the first time.
Ethiopians must do it in order for Obama and others
to see and say, “Ethiopians ready for change!”
Look at the response Obama has received when 100,000
people show up at a rally like what is happening in
the US. Why do people throughout the world stay up to
watch this guy or 200,000 people show up in Berlin?
We must do the same for Ethiopia! Others will see it
and they will have NO choice but to support it. Therefore,
it comes to us. We have to do the job.
Deep inside, Ethiopians are showing by their participation
that they still care. So many problems of Ethiopia could
improve if a mass movement of enough people pushed for
sustainable change and the right leaders who would have
to operate under such standards of accountability. If
we had such a movement, it could provide answers to
starvation, human rights abuses, lack of access to clean
water, insecurity, corruption and our failing agricultural
If one hundred thousand showed up for a rally in Washington
DC, flooding the streets, Washington would be overwhelmed!
What if 50,000 or more did the same in the UK, in Brussels
or in Ottawa, Canada? The West will not ignore such
an outpouring. This is the Solidarity Movement we need
to create now.
If Obama is elected, we will show him we are capable
of doing it in our own way like Americans are capable
of doing it in their own way. It will scare Meles to
death like the rally of 2005 when nearly two million
Ethiopians came out in Addis Ababa. Those two million
Ethiopians who came out are still there. The reason
they are not coming out is not because things are better,
because they are worse, but because there is no leader
or organization that can really guide them, especially
in that repressive environment! This is why the strength
of the movement in the Diaspora is critical to supporting
the efforts back home.
If we can do this, then opportunists Ethiopian will
know their days are numbered and join us.
We do not need to beg for our freedom. We do not have
to beg Western countries to do this for us. We Ethiopians
must free ourselves and no longer will we beg others
for our freedom!
It all comes back to us Ethiopians creating a broad-based
and genuine movement
- with true leaders who are fighting for all Ethiopians
- where no one is excluded—
- where human rights are for all of the people—
- where we can cooperate even if we don’t agree,
- where principles take precedence over politics
- where all opposition parties are invited to be
As I said, and I repeat, if Obama is elected, his administration
cannot be expected to simply tell Meles to leave because
Ethiopia is a sovereign country. If we hope for this,
we are failing, putting our whole hope in leaders, this
time, an American leader, instead of taking our own
Be reminded Ethiopians, if Obama is elected,
- He is elected for his own country—the United
- Don’t expect change to happen in Ethiopia
- His priority must be placed in his country—the
- If Ethiopia gains his attention, there must be
proven readiness on part of Ethiopians that they are
ready for democracy.
- Ethiopian cannot assume that Obama is the solution
to our Ethiopian problem or we are creating false
expectations that can never be fulfilled and we will
end up being crushed with disappointment like what
happened to us before.
- What happens in Ethiopia is ultimately in the hands
It is good that Obama has inspired us, but now, Ethiopians
must use this unifying factor—the Obama factor—where
they have learned how to work in unity of purpose.
When an American Ethiopian passes you in his car, you
might see an Obama sticker. It might be on the bumper
of an Anuak car, an Amhara car, a Tigrayan car, an Oromo
car—you name it! Go by region of Ethiopia and
it will be the same—an Afar for Obama, a Southern
Nations for Obama, a Benishangul-Gumuz for Obama, a
Harere for Obama, and so on. This is a great visualization
of what we have been saying—humanity before ethnicity
and no one is free until we all are free! This is what
we mean. This is what can mobilize Ethiopians. This
is what must now take place for Ethiopia!
Ethiopians are great people. A huge reason why they
are so cynical is because they have not had a good government
and any opportunity for many years. This is why so many
continue to risk their lives to come to a free country
and this has been going on for the last thirty years.
Why? It is to run away from destruction, oppression,
lack of opportunity and poverty. If they had had a good
government, they would never have left. Ethiopians here
would go back with knowledge and skills, but cannot
return to this kind of repressive environment.
The reason so many Ethiopians don’t want to focus
on Ethiopia is because they are so upset with politics
and politicians. We need to demand more from our politicians
and choose who we support like we might choose a pilot
to fly the plane we get on. You would not get in a plane
with a pilot who does not know how to fly or he may
be killed and so will you. Choose leaders with vision,
integrity, wisdom and a heart for the people.
When the November election is over, the Obama campaign
will end. Let that end be the beginning of the movement
of Ethiopians for Ethiopia. Let Ethiopians rise up from
wherever they are, let them do something their children
and grandchildren will be proud of—let them be
something more meaningful and bigger than themselves.
Let them be part of something the world remembers and
something that could help unshackle the slavery and
misery going on in Africa for centuries.
Ethiopians should consider themselves like responsible
farmers who know the rain is coming and that they must
start preparing the ground so when the rain comes, they
When November 4th is over, it should be the beginning.
It is time for Ethiopians to inspire Obama or McCain
so our new president says when he sees our unified action,
“Wow, I have never seen anything like this!”
It can be done. Pray for God’s help and do what
is right. Now is our time!
Here is one last image. Imagine the mall in front of
the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC where Martin Luther
King, Jr spoke. Now imagine what it would look like
if one million Ethiopians from all over the Diaspora
came out in solidarity that they flooded the mall with
a sea of Ethiopians.
Imagine seeing all the diversity of the beautiful garden
of Ethiopia there, all calling for a new and better
Ethiopia—one with freedom, with justice, with
the rule of law, with the respect for human rights,
with equality, with transparency, with civility and
No one will ignore such a strong and massive outpouring!
It would be a shock, but immensely inspiring to the
whole world! This can be done and all that is needed
is for Ethiopians to believe it is doable and to come
together in solidarity around God-given principles.
If we Ethiopians can do this, the whole world will
know that there is no justice in Ethiopia. The whole
world will know there is no freedom in Ethiopia. The
whole world will know there is no peace in Ethiopia.
The whole world will know that Ethiopians are ready
for change! The whole world will know that God has not
forgotten about Ethiopians—that is, if Ethiopians
remember that God is in charge of the nations, their
coming and going and that God created and knows every
human being and hears their individual cries for His
May God be in charge of bringing about a changed nation
of changed people who know that God made them each of
them to be not partially human but fully human and valuable.
Everyone will then know that, yes, Ethiopians are hungry
and thirsty for that kind of Ethiopia, a revived Ethiopia
that can bring life and blessings to its people and
to others in the Horn, in Africa and beyond.
This alone is something that Meles will not ignore.
He may even come to his knees.
This alone could bring back dignity to our country
and replace the image of Ethiopia from a begging, starving
nation to a nation of people, ready to take a courageous
stand for righteousness.
Would not every Ethiopian alive today want to be part
of this, including those taking opportunity to go back
and invest, including TPLF supporters who would know
they are only investing in short-term pleasure? All
you need to do now is to spread the word and to get
down to work.
May we follow God and seek His help and mercy. May
Ethiopians bring honor to His name throughout the world.
“If my people, who are called by my
name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face
and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from
heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their
land.”(II Chronicles 7:14 )
of State Weakness in the Developing World , by Susan
Rice and Stewart Patrick, published by Brooking Global
Economy and Development.
Please do not hesitate to email me
if you have comments to: Obang@solidaritymovement.org
Obang Metho, Executive Member of the Solidarity Movement
for a New Ethiopia