Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Monday, May 30, 2005

A blog good enuf to rub on your pals face

The PES has subsided. Hurray to a massive dose of propaganda injected into us by the rusty government controlled media. I am just worried them politicians haven’t got the right amount of dose or even the right composition. Of course that means more complications.

I have boycotted the state Radio and TV! Another report on how some town showed their appreciation for the democratic and fair elections is seriously hazardous to my mental health. The news papers, oh, I am sure they can find better use for the ink and paper, like one of those funny pages in the toike that you rub on your pals face just for gags. Unfortunately, my job partly involves scanning for tenders on the state owned newspapers. I noticed today for the second time in the news papers history, they had a full color page dedicated to May 28th. The first one was the Monday after the elections, which had a color picture of a zombie from Michael Jackson’s thriller video casting its vote (I thought it was a zombie???) Today’s is even better, a rather large dove seems to be content about either crushing or making off with a ballot box. And the head line “May 28 – Historic Crown of Democracy in Ethiopia” (psst..I think they are referring to the elections) it makes no more sense if you translate it to Amharic. I mean, if they are going to go in to the trouble of making it all pretty, at least they should have someone with a sense of scale and comprehension in charge.


The private press, the one thing we got out of this mock of a democracy, are not free of this rot either. they might as well sight their sources to their local “Wukabe” (witch doctor). There is no uniformity in their reporting, its very bias to which side they are on plus rumors, lots and lots of rumors. In turn, these political tabloids have been enjoying enormous success, financial of course, in some cases getting sold out in the morning which means you have to beg or snatch it from the old lady with a rather large umbrella who takes pride of her early purchase.

I will probably get tenderized for my next comment. For a long time I was convinced PM Meles is a smart man. This is the guy that has Bush and Blair shaking their tails at him like a bitch in heat. Recently tho, I believe all this confusion is making him….hmmm..dumber? His recent interview showed his disdain for losing all the seats in Addis and for that he vowed to make life a living hell for the opposition. wait, that wasn’t the best part. after all the votes are cast, rigged, pre-marked and what not, he finally gave an explanation on how his party and his goons have so much smackers stashed up in the safe heaven of foreign banks. If you guessed “they made it during the 17 years of bitter struggle to liberate the country” then you are right. shoot, why didn’t I think of that. after all war is the most profitable business! the scamming, the fundraising, the looting…oh so many streams you can get in to. someone check on how much capital is needed to start a war. Such statement coming just before the 14th anniversary of their victory and our “liberation” is just another slap on my pretty habesha face.

May 28th 1991. As a 10 year old in grade seven at the time, the democracy I experienced was the fact they came in right before the final exams before the summer. The exams were skipped and they took first term marks and added some to it to commemorate the joyous occasion. Seven people came first from my class, sadly I wasn’t one of them. the rest of my recollections include people out in masses hugging tanks to show their gratitude for the liberation. Ethiopians sure love their guests as long as they don’t overstay. now the same people are spitting in their faces.

Thanks to the ban on public gatherings, there was no victory day parade, no fireworks, no nothing. Instead ETV aired the previous year celebrations plus the usual gory battle scenes. But the opposition, after days of pondering, has found a solution to the “no protest” ban by holding a prayer vigil at mosques and churches, perhaps a request to the almighty creator to strike down the cheater, in which case it will leave us with no leaders or future leaders. up to now, I have always enjoyed the fact the opposition did not dip their hands into religion. The ruling part picking religious institutions to observe the election - just because they have fear of god - was a sure sign to keep away from this territory. From my experience a Kes (a priest) is a person who would cosign a fake death certificate just to indulge in the gluttonous post-fake-funeral services. In fact, if I see a priest and politician in an empty alley-way I will jab my heart out with a dull object. I will add this to my list of nightmares.

Someone please pass me Addis Zemen or The Herald, my PES is acting up again!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Alternative Thursdays - Week 3 (May 19, 2005)

Revolutions per Beats: Part 2

Unlike last show, I had more guts than Attila the Hun when I came up with this weeks play list. The fact nothing but good feedbacks came had a lot to do with it.

Similar to last weeks, the songs are my response to the vibe of the week. The first dialogue was about a TV show I watched as a child, which I probably share with the non-amharic speaking folks and a disclaimer for the wrong message others got out of it.

It was the most popular if not the only children’s show for anyone in my generation. The main host of the show, Aba’ba Tesfaye, was an old but sweet man who always opened the program by pretending he can see our every move through the TV screen. For while I believed him, in a “there is rily a Santa” way. He refers to his fans, the children, as “today’s flowers tomorrow’s fruits”.

The reason I reminisced about aba’ba tesfaye was because of his habitual message about sharing our seat with the ones standing to watch the show and for the unfortunate ones who couldn’t be accommodated to bunch up together rather than standing separately. I felt this message can be a metaphor for the week we are in. I got a couple of calls condemning me for my disrespect for the old man. ofcourse, that's not what i meant.

There was also a dude who called asking for more music and less yakking. All I can say to him is - I am glad you like the music then again if you don’t like the human touch of the show you have the constitutional right to start a music only radio program ofcourse with commercial breaks. After all, Alternative Thursdays is a show with “a lot to say and plenty more to play”

Billy Ocean - When the going gets tough


  1. White stripes - Seven nation army
  2. Public Enemy - Don’t believe the hype


  1. Sam Roberts - Hard Road
  2. The Smiths - Big Mouth Strikes Again


  1. The Dears - Who are you? defenders of the universe
  2. My Morning Jacket - Low down


  1. Lauren Hill - Mr. Intentional
  2. M.I.A - Pull up the People


  1. Dezarie - Strengthen your mind


  1. Radiohead - You and who’s Army?

Friday, May 20, 2005

Post Election Syndrome (PES)

The word of the week is “Teremes” (ambiguity) and the highlight of the week was PM Meles’s press conference the evening of the election banning any kind of public gathering and putting all security forces under his command for one month. I am confused as to what his intentions are.

For something that happens every five years the election was pretty disorganized, some polling stations didn’t open till late therefore had to stay open till the morning of the next day, which was a big inconvenience for voters who already had to endure hours of lineup. oh, there were a few polling stations that run out of ballot cards. That being said, the polls went peacefully, nothing major happened besides a few arrests here there, a case of a few thousand pre-marked ballots (someone was kind enuf to help out with the voting) and missing ballot boxes. The military presence in the city has gone down since the election but I still don’t get the need for jeeps with machine guns and rocket launchers mounted on them.

Official national results won’t be released till June 7, 2005, twenty three days after the poll date. For now, stations that have finished counting are releasing their results and everyone seems to be claiming victories. The RP has up-ed the claiming-race by giving a press release the day after the election that they have secured enuf seats they need to establish a government. Officially, CUD (kinijit) has won 100% of the seats in Addis and a few other major cities where most of the cabinet ministers of the RP were running. PM Meles could have won by defacto considering he was the only candiadate for his area but the polls still went as scheduled. The one vote he casted for him self could have also been sufficient. The majority of the RP high ranking officials have lost the election. Even our most respected mayor lost despite the last minute pardon he passed out to taxi drivers with huge amounts of fines. What makes their loss more agonizing is the amount of votes they got compared to the OP candidates. A co-worker put it as “it’s like looking at a very not to bright student’s report card”, in most places they got anywhere from 10% of the votes to ZERO.

Be it EPRDF wins the election fair and square with the votes they get in rural areas, it makes me wonder how they are going to establish a government with out their “cream of the crop” when there is no potential new comers the public is aware of. Even if these people make it to the federal level because their party won just like the previous election, how are they going to cope with the public rejection? Let’s assume they have sold their shame for a lump of coal and they take their previous posts like nothing happened, would the public sit and look when their vote is put down the drain? gonna stop here, my brain hurts, must be a case of PES.

Alternative Thursdays - Week 2 ( May 12, 2005)

Revolutions per Beats: Part 1

After completing the play list on Wednesday night, I sat back and thought about the consequences of going ahead with it, the last thing the fatheads want is more agitation. There is already a list of banned songs posted in the studio; gladly the list is for Amharic songs. What’s worst than a politician is a pissed off spiteful politician.

I consulted a couple of friends about my plan, including a fellow radio show host, who assured me the sensors are not capable of deciphering such messages.

anyhu, since I am posting this after the show, it automatically implies that I am alive, not being tortured for my deeds, and still your alternative Thursday host. The best part of the evening was the few phone calls I got from people who managed to grasp the idea of the show. FIGHT FOR YOUR MIND!

1. Gil Scott Heron - the revolution will not be televised (But no one said it won’t be on the radio! dedicated to ETV)


2. Bob Marley - Rat Race

3. Bob Dylan - The times they are changing


4. Queen - Under pressure

5. Ben Harper - Fight for your mind


6. Buffalo Springfield - For what’s its worth

7. Tilahun Gessese - Tchu’heten Betsemune (if you could hear my sorrow)(I figure this would be the one song that would get me in s#$% so it’s dropped from the play list. at least for now)

8. The Constantines - Shine a light


9. Zion I - Presidential Freestyle

10. Steve Wonder - Mistra know it all


11. Antibalas - Big Man


12. Marvin Gaye - You are the man

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Pardon the dry period. my rants shall return with vengeance

the contenders, the showdown and the rally

The contenders

I should mention before any thing that Ethiopia is made up of 70 ethnic groups, each with their own culture and many with their own language but less than a handful make up for 80% of the population (Oromo, Amhara, Tigre, Sidama). Even if the greater number of ethnicities make up for a small portion of the population the over all culture is intertwined. Regardless of their individual population, the constitution allows each group to be represented by political party/parties (Article 39).

Out of the 52 contending political parties running for office this year, only three are significant enuf for a rant. These major ones are composed of national and local ethnic-based parties.

The name in brackets and in italic is the Amharic name used locally

Ethiopian People Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) (eh’adeg, weyane): Came to power after in 1990 by defeating the communist regime in a civil war that lasted 17 years. EPRDF takes credit for establishing a “Democratic” Government in Ethiopia even tho most of the high official in federal level are of the tigre group, as they are the once who started the armed struggle 31 years ago in Dedebit, Tigray. As a result, the power distribution in the current government is considered by many as Orwellian despite the fact they proclaim all ethnicities are equal.

Logo: it's a bee, i will post a pic as soon

Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) (kinijit): Formed less than six months ago by what use to be independent political parties representing the different ethnic groups. The glue that’s holding together this blend of parties is the common goal of defeating the ruling party in the coming democratic election and establishing a multiethnic central government capable of uniting the country.

United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF) (Hibret): similar aim and composition as kinijit.

The showdown

Both Kinijit and Hibret came under the spotlight recently after the parties that comprise them announced of their coalition. Before that, the individual parties have done their homework of raising political awareness with in the ethnic groups they represent, while some central figures of the parties took care of high profile tasks in the media and abroad. Their coalition I believe came in the light of the political debates that were given high media coverage as part of the RPs way of saying the election is democratic. I also believe that the RP did not anticipate their move as witnessed from the televised debates where I could day the RP officials were ‘GRILLED’.

The essence of the debates basically revolved around accusations and further accusations. The RP accuses the OP of being anti-peace & democracy and akin to “Interhamwe”. For those who need an introduction, Interhamwe is the militia that led the Rwandan Hutus in the 1994 genocide that claimed the lives of over a million Tutsis in 100 days. How you might ask? That ‘how’ is a riddle to me and to the Ethiopian public as well except for the one statement we keep hearing from the RP: “if the OP gets elected, it will lead to ethnic cleansing of the unheard of proportions”. I believe this is a serious accusation without any ground; a last minute fear campaign to divert votes to their side since they didn’t do very well on the rest of the debates not to mention their 14 year reputation. In addition, the RP holds a position where they claim they have led this country for the past fourteen years whereas the OP has ‘0’ years of experience governing a country therefore they are the most qualified.

The OP on the other hand accuses the RP of not being fair while proclaiming to the world this is an election of a kind where everything is perfect. What’s really happening in the inside is just another authoritarian with a coat of democracy. And leading the country doing “government” stuff (roads, schools, hospitals, etc…) shouldn’t be a credit; anyone can handle that. Where is the real change? As for the lack of governing experience, did any of us get tested on multiplication and division when we first went to register for pre-school? We were all judged on our overall activity and ability to grasp on to new ideas. OPs also attack the homogeneity of the current government, and plan to have an immediate “national forgiveness campaign” for the political parties as well as the people. This will help them establish a government based on individual capability rather than party affiliation.

Overall the debates lacked a solid platform on all sides. The platforms should encompass strategies to tackle the current issues of the country: population, HIV, the environment and general awareness. For now the poverty issue is common for both sides; the RP says they have done all the necessary preparations to bring not only Ethiopia but also Africa out of poverty (Meles Zenawi, the current PM takes some credit for establishing the African commission together with Bob Gedolf and Tony Blair). However, the OP insist that poverty eradication is just another ‘cow in the sky’ with the current land policy in the country, which requires all land to be under government control. The land issue has risen outside criticism since the beginning as it does not guarantee the farmer land ownership.

The state of the environment in Ethiopia is at a very high risk but I can say almost nothing is being done about it and is not part of the agenda in the current elections. A lesson we Africans learned from the developed world is that the environment is a last priority that follows economic prosperity. Considering the overall state of the planet these are not issues that can wait until we all get stinking rich. In Ethiopia, besides the obvious lack of the funds for environmental protection, there is serious lack of environmental awareness. That is why I have added general Awareness as a main agenda, just like HIV needs awareness, so does the environment. It is also a ‘DO OR DIE’ situation. In addition, I believe a general awareness campaign can also help with the insidious problems that drag the county in to the downward spiral – open mindedness, bureaucracy, and the work culture.


CUD (kinjit) and EPRDF so far have managed to hold rallies in Addis and other cities in Ethiopia. The ones held in Addis have shed some light on the public’s feeling.

The story is, CUD has been announcing their May 8th rally way in advance while EPRDF announced their rally three days in advance and ironically on May 7th, one day before the CUD rally. Plus, for people going to the EPRDF rally, city busses were stationed, for free! to bring them from Addis as well as surrounding towns. To make the deal sweet, everyone got a free t-shirt and a hat and sumthin to make the day worth a while. At the rally, which was held at Meskel square (known as Revolution square back in the communist days) there were over a million people dressed in white t-shirts. The overall atmosphere of the city was very unenthusiastic except the prime minister who took the podium in the style of the former Mengistu, screaming to the top of his lungs.

Most of my experiences for the CUD rally come first hand. Unusual for a Sunday, I was out in the wee-hours of the morning on a non-political matter. Even at that time, people had already taken up the streets chanting and dancing, and almost every vehicle on the street was driving with their headlights on, honking and holding a victory sign out the window. By noon, every street leading to Meskel square was jam packed and the Square was completely covered with people waiting for the 2:00pm CUD rally kickoff. After lunch, I parked my car at the closest possible point and headed to the rally around the kickoff time. When I got there, for your surprise, the power to the stage was out so the CUD was not able to address their supporters at their scheduled time. Hoping for the power to go back on, people waited around until the storm clouds began closing in. 45 minutes later the power went back on but the rally could not go on because their designated time had passed and it is considered an “illegal” protest if people stick around. When we left, organizers of the rally were telling people to return to their homes and so were the rain gods. By the time I got to a friend’s car, which was 5 mins away, I was drenched to the bone. I could only imagine people who had to march back to where they came from in the absence of free and convenient transportation.

The CUD rally was one of a kind, never have i seen so many people out to support a political party (estimated 2.5 – 3 million) with out any outside influence but their own conscious.
Some of the great things saw include, people dressed in the EPRDF shirt they got the day before with “te’nant le’kanatera today le’helina” (yesterday for a t-shirt today for the mind) printed on it; bread in a shape of a hand holding a victory sign and edited picture of Jesus showing the ever popular victory sign. Other very clever forms of protests were used by the supporters some of which I have taken pictures of.

In the evening, everyone was planted in front of the TV waiting for the media coverage of the rally. Unlike the EPRDF rally and despite the scale, it was given a very brief time slot somewhere at the end of the news. What a shame, but what do you expect from a government controlled media

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

I am long, I am no good, and I am boring. Who am I?

For the first and last time yours truly is going to rant briefly about the current politics in Ethiopia. I plain hate politics but I am a firm believer in change and I don’t think change is something that’s should be left to politics/politicians rather it’s up to the individual. I will start by briefly summarizing the political history of Ethiopia.

Despite the fact Ethiopia has theoretically remained a soveirn nation throughout time; the country has been under foreign influence since the first outside contact. Back when independent nations flourished, contact was mostly trade ‘I will give you my guns for your slaves’ and access to other nations. Although I won’t be getting in to it, religion (Foreign & Inside) has also been a major influence on the Ethiopian way of life.

The 20th century has been somewhat different. This time it’s was not just about trade contacts you see. Especially after the end of WW1, the world operated in terms of gangs (who call them selves allies) instead of nations. And the fate of Ethiopia rested upon the hands of the European-colonialist gang (Britain, France and Italy). Everything that happened from then on was up to those three countries, especially the British. The second Italian invasion is not the work of just the Italians, both the French and the British damn well knew what was going to happen; after all they had an agreement. At the same time every gang had their problem, benefit was the main but gang members two-timing with other gangs is also an issue. Hence, the expulsion of the Italians in 1945 was not fully the work of the Ethiopian patriots who managed a similar task once before (Battle of Adwa, 1896), there was also a great deal of British effort since Italy by then was part of the fascist gang (Germany and Italy). If it wasn’t for Ethiopia joining the allies earlier during WWII, the British would have colonized us right after they liberated us from Italy.

Now jump to the cold war, with the help of the CIA (the western gang) in 1974 the king got ousted, the monarchy fell and Ethiopia is fresh out of autoclave for more political experimentation. This also caught the eye communist Gang (USSR & Cuba), which made their move during the disconcerted transition period when the eminent border war between Ethiopia and Somalia erupted. The Somali’s with an existing help from the Russians had a major advance but the Russkies weren’t too happy with their new big catch being messed around with so they switched sides. Then came the flow of Russian made weapons, ammunitions, the MIGs, my motor bike and what not. At a snap of a finger the Somali’s were defeated. In the mean time, a new civil war including the Eritrean struggle for independence has taken another step with the help of the US. aha said the then leader Mengistu H/Mariam, so the best way to gain more victories is to stick with the Russians. in that case communism all the way.

Fast forward to the fall of the Berlin wall. Now the east is weakening so was the subordinate Ethiopian government. Even after 17years of iron fist rule and scores of military assistance from the USSR, victory was far from the their hands. In a scramble to save its regime, Mengistu seeked assistance from Israel and china but none of them could measure up to the Russians. In the meanwhile, hats off to the US, the civil war had reached every corner and the rebels were in control of a considerable amount of the country. Finally in 1990, the EPRDF, the main opposition front took control of Addis Ababa but Mengistu had fled the country just in time with the help of who else but The CIA. Since then EPRDF has been the Ruling Party (RP) and it’s been “democracy” for everyone.

Now for the third time since the fall of communism, on May 15 , 2005 Ethiopian’s are democratically going to attempt to elect the party that’s going to lead them till the end of the decade.

This time the involvement from the opposition parties (OP) is rather strong, which makes the current elections a lil’bit democratic that the previous two. But you still see that ‘power or death’ attitude in the officials of the ruling parties, which means more pushing and shoving for the public, unfair treatment of the OP members and the inevitable rigging of the election it self.

However, world politics have shifted in two major ways. One is people in the ‘post communist-mediocre democratic’ countries are starting to realize the full extent of a democratic nation. Second, there is another gang in town, the Asian Gang led by the Chinese.

The outcome of recent elections in the former Soviet Union countries, namely Ukraine Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan has been a major wakeup call for others in a similar situation. At the fall of communism, Democracy was the only available paradigm (when looked at from the advantageous perspective) to be picked up and for that very fact it’s been working haphazardly since then. In the past year alone, Oppositions in Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan took a stand against the mediocrity plus the unfair elections and mobilized the people for CHANGE. I am sure we are all aware of the outcome of the Ukrainian Orange Revolution, Rose Revolution in Georgia and Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan.

Ethiopia is more or less in the same situation, the majority had no clue what democracy was or bothered to ask at the beginning, they just had to fill that empty ideological gap, they were told “Democracy good, Everything else bad”. Once again the Ethiopian public became a Guinea Pig for politics. The one definition of democracy the RP has stood by since their advent to power in 1990 is Article 39 of the FDRE constitution that states “Every Nation, Nationality and People in Ethiopia has an unconditional right to self-determination, including the right to secession” plus the rest of the unkept promises like freedom of speech. What good is secession in a country where you can’t even own your own land? By hook or crook tho the EPRDF have managed to hold on to power up to now.

The Asian involvement in Africa so far has been purely economic, both to their own and to the Africans advantage. Africa needs fast cheap technology and the usual economic kickbacks while the soaring Asian economy needs lots’o’energy and lots’o’ resources. Where else would you look for such supplies but East Africa, where decades of instability in the region have left everything untapped? So far, it’s looking the RP has taken up the Chinese while the OP has the US backup. Here are some of the issues that led me to the previous statement.

  • The government (i.e. the RP) supported China’s anti-secession law directly contradicting their own Article 39. Mind you the US did NOT support that act.
  • The US congress acknowledged the human rights abuse in Ethiopia and insisted on an immediate change.
  • The Ethiopian government kicked out US election observers.
  • Finally, the members of the OP are composed of an Elite Diaspora group who lived/live in the US with close ties with the US.

When the smoke finally clears, we will get to see who’s behind the curtain. For now the peoples question is for Straight, untainted democracy in order to complete the experiment. or is it? Other obvious questions are; who is going to win? is it going to be a fair and square election? are we going to see another Colour Revolution? is the RP going to tolerate peaceful demonstrations? All are questions only a period of one week can answer.

If you have read this far you know the answer to my question. I AM POLITICS. As for that rule of not being political, I guess I’m going to have to break it and keep you posted on the happenings.

For more election coverage check BBC, AllAfrica, Reuters and other internet news portals and local blogs Addis Ababa Fun Rocking Zone and Ethiopundit

About Thursday’s show; the play list is almost complete and it’s going to be uplifting, revolutionary beats.

unpoliticaly yours.

Friday, May 06, 2005

extra extra the mighty tsegasaurus roams the airwaves!

As some of you know, I have been trying to make it on the airwaves on the one and only FM station in Addis. After four months of “Dej tinat” as wE call it in Ethiopia, I had my moment of glory last night from 8:00PM -9:00pm, which is going to be my regular time slot every Thursday.

For now, the show is called, ‘Alternative Thursdays’. In fact, I was asked for an explanation on why ‘Alternative’. Very simple reason for that, I play some thing out of the regular top 40. Besides, the term Alt- has been the hippest thing in the music industry for a while (Alt-rock, Alt-hiphop, Alt-country, Alt-tribalchanting)

My on air name is going to be ‘Mc. Minale’. ‘Mc’ as in ‘Mc Hammer’ but ‘minale’ is an Amharic word for ‘what did he say’ so basically my name is ‘what did the Mc say?’

I will tell you what i say in the words of Morrissey;

“Hang the blessed DJ, because the music they constantly play, it says nothing to me about my life”

Play list for the first show:

Sigur ros – Agetes Byryun (a good beginning)

KoS – Mc Murdha (make way for the new skool)

Neil Young – Tonight is the night (fo’ shizzle ma whizzle)

Asnaqeth Werku – Mengedenaw Lebe (one of my favorite Ethiopian singer-songwriter, the song has a message to dare your self and do things out of the ordinary)

Smiths – Panic (HANG the DJ)

Zion I – Fools Gold (why the DJ should be hanged)

LifeSavas – Hellohihey (ego ego ego)

Michael Franti – Everyone Deserves Music (even our enemies, the DJs that should be hanged)

Horace Andy – Do you love my music (do ya punk? do ya?)

Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven (dylio’s recommendation)

Once i get the promised broadband connection Ethiopian telecommunication has been promising us for the past little while, I will post the entire show on mp3 format.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005