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The Historic Lekatit is Here, Time to Honor the Past and Look to the Future

The Historic Lekatit is Here, Time to Honor the Past and Look to the Future

(By Mulubrhan Tsehaye) 02-10-17


For many Ethiopians, Lekatit (February) is an exceptional month of the year. It is a month where we celebrate the foundation of a political movement that was founded in 1975 by only few determined youngsters in the lowlands of Tigray. Although, grossly underestimated at the beginning and even referred as a group of few village mice, the Weyane movement managed to galvanize tens of thousands of people within few years erupting into this massive public rally that scored a colossal triumph over the brutal military regime. Often times though, as one tries to recount this unbelievable episode of human history, to some, it may seem like some kind of Hollywood movie or a soccer game where one team played better, ran faster, passed or controlled the ball better and won the match by scoring more goals. Unfortunately however, it was not a game nor was it a movie. Those long and devastating 17 years of struggle were rather full of incalculable loss of human life and unimaginable devastation where the people of Tigray buried their finest sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers in the thick bushes and the rugged terrains of Tigray to register the historic victory over the then seemingly invincible military power. Those self-sacrificing heroic young Tigrean men and women faced death with unflinching determination and unheard of bravery, never hesitating to pay the ultimate price and of course, they died in masses. This kind of inconceivable determination and fearless resilience in the face of the grandiose devastation, the incalculable human suffering and the immense sacrifices of those young men and women was only driven from a profound desire to halt the unimaginable atrocities and indescribable travesty of justice committed on the people of Tigray by the successive brutal regimes for decades.

As the month of Lekatit comes along every year, for those of us who were old enough to witness the profound selflessness and daring willingness of those brave sons and daughters of Tigray to commit themselves to a very long and hard course of suffering without being able to foresee whether they will live and see victory or pay the ultimate sacrifice along the way has always been an exceptional gallantry, a mind-blowing courage and unmatchable personal valour only and only the very few exceptional human beings possess. The concept of “I am willing to die so my compatriots could live a better life” is the most extreme selfless gesture and incredible devotion of any human being in this world only few exceptional and distinctive individuals like the Weyane fighters were capable of.

The recent futile attempt of those sick Neftegna extremists to spread those malicious defamations against the people of Tigray and the covert attempt of others who seem to use every opportunity to undermine the significance of this rather astounding episode of human history are therefore nothing but a disgrace to humanity, a waste of human life and the lowest of the low in society. Let it be thus crystal clear to all of those who have been busy attempting to smear the remarkable Weyane movement and belittle the sacrifice of those extraordinary young men and women who willingly sacrificed their irreplaceable life that those fallen, wounded and surviving compatriots who answered the call of their people are first class citizens and exceptional human beings. What they deserve is the highest Medal of Honor, a heartfelt tribute, our greatest respect and the most profound and enduring gratitude of generations to come. The patriotic deeds and selfless gesture of these heroes and heroines has become eternal symbol of national pride and a badge of the highest honor that has profoundly changed the course of history of our nation. We are thus extremely proud to call these exceptional heroes and heroines our brothers and sisters and extremely privileged to belong to such unique people who are known for producing such audacious heroes and world class citizens. The flame of memory of those who martyred in the struggle will eternally burn in our hearts and our profound gratitude will always be extended to those wounded and lost limbs along the way and those survivors who are still serving or retired. We shall therefore never, ever forget the tremendous debt we owe to all the Weyane fighters for they are the finest citizens who exemplify the very best of us.

It was thus as a result of those tremendous sacrifices of those heroic young men and women who faced death with daring determination and remarkable bravery those who seemed indestructible were destroyed with a lighting speed. Since coming to power, the current government of EPRDF has demonstrated a sturdy resolve to fight the deeply rooted poverty and backwardness in the nation. As a result, while there are still massive problems that entail to be undertaken, things have been changing dramatically in the nation. Under the leadership of the ruling party, Ethiopia has been going through a tremendous political and economic transformations of immense proportion registering unprecedented near double digit economic growth.

Now, as we all know, throughout its existence, the Weyane movement was faced with numerous difficult  challenges at various stages of its life but against all adds, it has managed to thwart them all one by one successfully. However, the peril it is facing this time perhaps is the most serious of them all and it merits a stern consideration and a profound analysis. Of course, for a while now, many Ethiopians have been warning about the widespread corruption and lack of good governance across the country including in the region of Tigray. Most importantly, we all witnessed how the extremists have been conspiring to use these legitimate public grievances for their sinister political motive of victimizing the people of Tigray and destabilizing the country as a whole. Thankfully, the ruling party seems to have finally recognized that rent seeking, corruption and overall lack of good governance in the country has become a serious challenge to the fast growing economy of the nation. Accordingly, in an attempt to alleviate this debilitating menace that has become a serious threat to the very existence of the nation, the government has been busy conducting all kinds of activities including federal and regional cabinet reshuffling, widespread conferences and public consultations with federal and regional leaders at various levels. The regional governments announced that they have brought new faces to their cabinets and the member parties of the coalition have declared that they have completed their close and scrupulous evaluations of their leadership performances however, only some senior leaders of only one coalition member, namely the OPDO were replaced by new faces. For obvious reasons, the ongoing conferences and public discussions with the federal and regional leaders are constructive moves and the efforts of the governments ought to be commended and encouraged to continue those discussions even with more sincerity and vigor.    

This said however, it would be simply naďve for anyone with a common sense to assume that few public conferences and disciplining or removal of few local administrators will magically mitigate the deeply rooted rent seeking and widespread lack of good governance that have been deeply impeded in the society for such an extended period of time. It’s also true that there are skeptics who are wondering about the extent of liberty the participants of the conferences have been bestowed to air their grievances and confront their local or senior leaders without fear of any possible direct or indirect repercussions. Nevertheless, the ongoing efforts by the coalition member parties of the ruling party to tackle the serious predicament head on is a welcome move.  Considering the complexity and depth of the problem however, many observers are calling for some of the coalition parties to go even further. 

The TPLF for instance has announced that it has been conducting various public conferences encouraging the people of Tigray to actively participate in bringing forward their grievances and scrutinize their local leaders. The regional government also declared that in an attempt to deal with the widespread lack of good governance, it reshuffled its cabinet and removed some local leaders replacing them with more qualified and fresh faces. Many observers however are calling for the senior leadership of the party to seriously scrutinize its leadership at the senior level and seek a fundamental shake up including voluntary self-removal of senior long time serving leaders. If all the current efforts to bring about an effective resolution to the multidimensional and complex problem are to yield effective and wide-ranging results, TPLF must be willing to act even more swiftly and its senior party leadership ought to sacrifice themselves and step aside in the spirit of being exemplary citizens for the sake of restoring public confidence and the party’s wellbeing.

Over the course of history, Tigray has been known for producing so many gallant soldiers and world class leaders who never hesitated to stand guard against any harm directed towards their people. There is no question that the current generation is more than capable of delivering an intelligent and skillful leadership that can easily outshine any demands of the modern era, if given the opportunity. During the long and difficult years of the armed struggle, the members of TPLF including those current senior leaders have shown the world their boundless selflessness by paying all kinds of sacrifices including willingly giving their irreplaceable life for the holy purpose of liberating their people from the jaws of brutality. In the same fashion, they ought to show the world their willingness to pass the torch and give those young minds a chance to take over so this holy purpose could continue flourishing with a fresh and renewed tenacity. After all, a leadership quality of any agile leader is often manifested not only by how charismatic, devoted or ambitious that leader might be but also how visionary enough he or she is to cultivate and harvest young charismatic future leaders who are capable of not only continuing the vision but also reinvigorating it with more energized tenacity and a fresh approach.

It is quite possible that some senior leaders of the party individually, might not have been involved in any wrong doing and thus they might feel it would be unfair to include them in the ongoing process of substitution. First of all, it’s not about whether or not an individual leader has committed any wrongdoing during his or her leadership but rather the collective performance of the organization that exhibited a wide range of governing incompetence. Secondly, if replacing some of the government or party officials with fresh faces was considered as a positive move in the direction of tackling the long standing problem of lack of good governance and corruption, how can one then exclude the notion of replacing those senior leaders of the organization and at the same time expect the ongoing process of renewal to be a resounding success? Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, if it was recognized that there have been a lack of good governance and widespread rent seeking practices in the region under the leadership of those same senior leaders, regardless of their personal role in the predicament, the buck stops with them and they ought to take full responsibility for not recognizing the elephant in the room and for failing to act to mitigate the problem in timely fashion. During his administration, Harry Truman, the former president of the United States had a big sign on his desk in his white house office “The Buck Stops Here” to explicitly indicate that whatever happens in the country whether or not he was involved in it or even knew about it, as a President, the final responsibility falls squarely on him.

  During the long and testing years of the armed struggle, all the TPLF members, the fallen, the wounded and survivors who fought side by side had a big dream that the people of Tigray in particular and Ethiopians in general would one day not only be liberated from jaws of the brutality but also live in a society where elected leaders would always consult with the public, keenly listen to their grievances and honor their decisions regardless of how difficult or unfair those decisions might be. The current surviving leaders with all their shortcomings, are a special breed who have been doing a remarkable job in serving their communities and marching forward with their people towards alleviating the deeply rooted poverty and in the path of the nation’s political and economic transformation. We thus ought to be eternally grateful for their exceptional deeds and unmatchable valour. These exceptional heroes and heroines will always have a special place in the hearts of generations to come.

That said however, the time has come for the fresh minds to step in and propel the dreams and aspirations of the fallen even further to the next step with fresh and improved strategies. It ought to be the responsibility of every citizen to honor the dreams of those martyrs who sacrificed their lives in order for the next generations to have the opportunity to not only continue the tradition of serving their communities but also to propel the struggle initiated by their senior compatriots to the next step. Many are thus hoping that those current senior leaders will be exemplary citizens in opening up a new chapter in the nation’s history and show the world their selflessness and true devotion to the interest of the people. They have an amble opportunity to take the lead and become the pioneers of a groundbreaking and unprecedented practice of relinquishing power willingly and peacefully to the next generation. There is no question that young generations with their fullest potential are always better equipped to tackle and overcome any new challenges of the modern era with a new and innovative attitude. Passing the torch and allowing the young and vibrant minds to take over the leadership of the party and the government will thus unquestionably ensure the strengthening and continuity of the success in the process of broadening the ongoing democratic initiatives and intensifying the economic development endeavours in the country, the very same core principle those heroes and heroines gave their life for.  

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