Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Moment with Dr. Berhanu Nega

By Ephrem Madebo

He is a farsighted politician, an inexhaustible intellectual, a charismatic person, and a visionary leader who is entrusted to lead our nation to a new direction, ending fifty years of dancing in a political quagmire. Unlike the “My-way or no-way” politicians of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s; Dr. Berhanu is one of the few open-minded Ethiopian politicians who not only values the idea of others, but makes the most use out of it. His charisma, his love for others, his attentiveness, sense of humor, knowledge of politics, respect to dissent, and his consummate ability to deal with people of different attitude and political interest makes Dr. Berhanu Nega the most fulfilled Ethiopian politician of all time. To many who adore him without knowing him personally, he is a rock sold refuge of hope. To his close friends, he is an inspiration and a reason for optimism. To his party colleagues, he is a motivator. To the nation, he is a true vector of change with a solid, clear-cut, and steady trajectory.

For many Ethiopian politicians (past and present), the whole idea of open mindedness has been a toss-up concept which could mean many things. Dr. Berhnau is one of the few public figures that seems to clearly understand that being open-minded has nothing to do with how one treats other people, but how one treats him/herself. Our mind is autonomous from the minds of others. As social elements, we may be influenced by others, but we make our individual decision. The core idea of open mindedness is to have the capacity to admit mistakes, and gulp down our arrogance and allow ourselves to be corrected by others. If one is arrogant, proud, and hostile then he/she cannot be open-minded because they don’t have the will to accept that they are wrong.

Dr. Berhanu Nega and his party colleagues are persons distinguished by exceptional courage, nobility, and strength. To put it differently, for this generation of Ethiopians, they are heroes. After closely following Dr. Berhanu for the last 50 days and after having a close encounter with him; I was morally and intellectually forced to cherish his balanced view on the following important features that single him out from the crowd.

Vision: A vision is a clear and compelling long-term goal of strategy that sets the overall direction for a country or an organization. It is a summary statement of what a country, or an organization ultimately intends to become five, 10 or even 15 years into the future. I read Dr. Berhanu’s 22 pages of immaculately written strategic speech, I heard most of his public speeches and interviews in North America, and most importantly I had the opportunity to be inches closer to him and to his collogues in their recent Washington DC public appearances. His rich, concise, and plainly stated vision is what forced me to devote my pen for this mastermind of contemporary Ethiopian politics. His vision is to establish a nation where all citizens are equal before the law. His vision is to see a politically free nation where all things are decided by the free will of the people. His vision is to build an economically powerful nation that produces most of its needs. This is as good as it gets!

Emphasis on the future: I’ve participated in countless Washington, DC “Unification Church” meetings, I’ve met a myriad of party leaders, and I have listened to many radio interviews and participated in paltalk discussions. Everything I heard until September 16, 2007 adds up to two highly charged political groups that kept the opposition camp divided for decades. In one corner, there are power monger people who seek to grab power at the cost of the nation itself. On the other side, there are victim-minded politicians who start everything by blaming others for the past, and end their day hating everybody outside their circle. Dr. Berhanu’s emphasis on our country’s future should be a bridge that curbs the gap between these polarized groups and pulls them to the pragmatic part of Ethiopian politics. This is what Dr. Berhanu said: “My emphasis on the past does not imply that we should set aside the past. The past is where we get our lesson for the future. We don’t dwell in the past; we plan everything for the future”. The future is daunting without hope, and there is no future without the past. To conquer the future and give hope to people, we should forget the burden of the past. A society that does not forgive shall not have a good future.

Ethnic Politics: Dr. Berhanu’s stand on ethnic politics is firm and straight forward. He has no taste for ethnic based politics, but he still has no intention of denying people their right of organizing in any form they want. His major departing point from ethnic politics is summarized in the following statement: “When one changes a decaying system, he/she should never burden the process of change. If one burdens change, he/she will fall altogether. The process of changing any society should be divided in to different stages. In our case, the first stage is to separate politics form ethnicity and set the tone for the principles of liberal democracy”. In a nation where the constitution protects the individual right of all citizens, there will be no loophole for ethnic oppression. The severance of politics and ethnicity is a major point of departure between Kinjit/Berhanu and TPLF/Meles.

Self Governance: He is an ardent proponent of local governance and self- reliance. Yes, he is also a strident advocate of liberal democracy, but trust me, though he is an accomplished economist (PHD), he does not buy the whole sale concept of political liberalism. He understands and believes in the architectural role of governments in guiding the development process of third world countries. According to Dr. Berhanu, local economic, political, and social affairs of people should be left alone to local people.

Political Alliance: As long as an alliance benefits his nation positively, he is open to work with any political group. The following is what Dr. Berhanu said on working with others: The fundamental legal and democratic principles that we [Kinjit] preach are not mere campaign slogans. They are the guiding principles of every movement in our party. According to Dr. Berhanu, there is no permanent political alliance as there is no lasting political animosity. Therefore, any group that wholeheartedly works for a strong Ethiopia, consents with the fundamental principles of equality before the law, and belives in the political freedom people is our political ally.

The importance of official language: Of all the things that Dr. Berhanu’s thinking stood clearly superior to mine is, his analysis of language in the Ethiopian society. Personally, he believes that having two official languages benefits Ethiopia. Most Ethiopians will benefit by learning the language of the Oromo people, the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia. If they become the dual official languages of Ethiopia, Amharic and Afaan Oromo will definitely benefit the nation as good unifying factors. Speaking multiple languages adds a positive tone to our diversity and eliminates artificial hurdles between people.

Political Campaign: A political campaign often refers to an organized effort of parties, or individuals to influence voters. Such influences could occur through media campaigns, town hall meetings, and Internet messages. Campaign politics is a new phenomenon to Ethiopia, and unquestionably, Dr. Berhanu Nega, campaign manager of CUDP [during the 2005 election], is the pioneer of media based campaign politics in Ethiopia. It was his ability to successfully disseminate his party’s message of hope alongside the soundbites of TPLF officials that dwarfed EPRDF in nationality televised debates. In 2005, Dr Berhanu effectively used the creative ability of the youth and the limited media slots to propagate the different identities of Kinjit such as “Kinjit is Fikir” “The Spirit of Kinjit” and the hard to forget symbol of Kinjit (V).

Sense of Humor: The social aspect of most of our political leaders is detached from the daily life and experience of the common people. To these isolated leaders, going to the places of ordinary people and addressing them using their own language/slung is a taboo. Here is an excerpt from Dr. Berhanu’s “The Quest for Democracy in Ethiopia” speech: We have a matured and a politically transformed youth. Today, the creed of our youth is: “Only the “Faras” [bumpkins] shun from political activism” Dr. Berhanu has a unique ability of wrapping his messages with giggling gags to take the full attention of his audience. When he switches gear away from burning issues, many people may pass Dr. Berhanu for a comedian.

As our society faces a rapid upswing in poverty, unemployment, and an ever worsening health and land tenure problems, we need leaders who will keep unemployment down and restore accountability to our government system. In my opinion, Dr. Berhanu is that leader. His noisy opponents try to align him with EPRDF. I guess, these barefaced “Talk-show” politicians either don’t know why they oppose EPRDF, or they are not good enough to distinguish good from bad. Dr. Berhanu might not be as good a leader to others as he is to me, but his ideology and his vision to Ethiopia are diametrically opposed to that of EPRDF. To me, TPLF and Dr. Berhanu don’t even seem to be working for the same country. I am not here to shield Dr. Berhanu; he has a much better weapon to do that. I’m here to defend the truth he stands for. Through the years, we have assassinated characters, dragged down promising leaders, and poured water on our hot issues. Let’s have a change of heart, to love others. No matte how polarized our ideas are, let’s change our attitude and listen to others. Let’s change our path and do things differently. Let’s embrace our heroes and help them realize their vision. May God be with all of us!

47 comments:

Girma said...

WOW!!!!!!!! What can I say Mr. Mandebo!
I hit your site every day because of your excellent work.

Anonymous said...

He is a very simple and charismatic personality.I could say the same for all five delegates, they did show statesmen and womanship. I don't know how you could equate them with EPRDF, it's very puzzling why the so called group of Engiener Hailu try so hard to associate specially Berhanu with Woyane, i think it's so that people will not listen to his elequent sppeches and answers, in short it's pure jealousy!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hello! Ato Madebo,I always value your opinion.I heard you many times on different meetings and read your writings.I admire you.What you wrote about Dr. Berhanu make me to respect you more.Thank you!.Talking about our intellectual,charismatic,simple man of princples Berhanu Nega is the gift of God for Ethiopia.I pray to God to watch over him and the other members of Kinjit.Amen!

Anonymous said...

Dear Ephrem,
That was an excellent comment. I like your positive views. A point people in Kinijit forget about is their existence is as a result of commpliment. One complmenting the other. Dr Birhanus talent is an asset for everybody in the party and so is others. Lets not forget what Debebe Eshetu has achieved in the 2005 election campaign!! Dr Mulualem, etc.
Lets abandon hatred politics

Anonymous said...

It is not bad that you have positive view about Dr. Birhanu and I say Amen, but your repeated worship on individuals is to me sickness and tells a lot about your personality. Not long ago you were writing similar flowery things about Prof Mesfin, Engr Hailu, and others. May be even Lidetu who would probably had a bigger role, according to some people, in the democratic struggle in Ethiopia. You even were calling some of them Mandelas. I think you are not disappointed enough. Trust me, unless you start to recognize the limitation of being human, you will be at it again and again. For me, this seems to be one of the cultures that is dwarfing the progress needed to move forward in the Ethiopian political landscape. People lacking to recognize the limited role of an individual in such a huge endeavor.

Let me digress. In all fairness, I do not see how you would compare Meles with Berhanu? What is the metric here? Having a PhD? Being an orator? Leadership quality? I mean, at least Meles has clear good or bad credentials in very challenging situations. Good examples are his leadership in the successful woyane armed struggle and of course his performance as a leader of a very poor country. What do we have here for your guy? His speeches here and there? But, my point is not even that. I am unable to comprehend the logic and data that you used to make that kind of bold conclusion about an individual who you met for a few hours? You said at some point in your blog that you have been following Prof. Mesfin from cafe to cafe (I do not know what that may mean) and that was sufficient for you to label him the "holy of holies" until the time he utters a word or two about Birhanu. I would suspect that he might know much better and more about this guy than you do (at least you will agree with me on this). As a result from holy of holies he is down to what? Though I do not expect you to buy this, I might want to add that Birhanu also lies in public. One recent example, his answer to that very simple question about Andargachew Tsige's inclusion by acclamation.I can mention many more, for instance from his NPR interviews. More than anything, he will probably disappoint you more by resorting to stay in the US instead of taking the "fight/rhetoric" to where it belongs. So, the bottom line is, I would instead, atleast for the sake of my integrity, wait and see before I hastily worship individuals. Hasty makes waste... and you might also know the bible metaphor about a pig ....? Shalom.

Ephrem Madebo said...

Mr. anonymous,
Let me put first things first; I worship only the living God, the creator, not creatures! Please use a better language. I don’t think I said enough about Dr. Berhanu, if I could I would!!! I have never ever written about Eng. Hailu. I didn’t like his attitude from the get go. The only thing I liked from him is his courage to go form the US and end up in jail knowing he would. I am a product of AAU. I remember when we as a group used to go to Law School lounge and to faculty reserved cafeterias to just see Professor Mesfin and Dr. Fasil Nahom speak. In this country, I was very close to Univ. of VA (UVA). In UVA, students flow like a flock to see when political analyst Larry Sabato speaks, not because they worship him, but they see much value in him and he is a national figure too. I wanted to hear Prof. Mesfin because he was my hero, and he was a national figure just like Larry Sabato. Mr. Anonymous, I am a very careful and sensitive writer. I don’t compare Mandela to anyone in the world. Mandela is a human excellence who set the bar high for excellence. We do not have a person of his caliber. You are off on Mandela. I am a person who won the Mandela award as a 17 years old high school student. I didn’t know him in the US, I knew him as a 10 years old boy (please read my article “The better of …here on enset). All my articles are here on Enset, or ethiomedia, please bring them up and save your integrity. I want you to put your money where your mouth is. As to Lidetu, PLEASE!!!! I questioned Lidetu’s objective in 2002 and wrote an article “Meson reincarnated” on him. The now ethiomedi review editor kicked me out of a large discussion forum for speaking my mind, to see the disgraced Lidetu leave the people’s camp only three years latter. If you want a proof, I can post the article here for you.
I respect your opinion, but when you put a word in my mouth, I need a proof for that word. Please show me an article that I wrote about Lidetu, Hailu, and Professor Mesfin other than what I mentioned above. The only article I wrote about an individual is this article about Dr. Berhanu. To write about him, I watched many videos from Ethiopia, I read more than five of his academic output; I talked to many in Ethiopia about him and spent more time on his work especially after he went to jail. Finnaly, I talkd to him in person. My anonymous (may be not anonymous to me, I already knew you), I am not like you who lifts a pen and write, I do my homework. I am a product of the academia, not a talk show host! Berhanu is a hero who cleared all the rubbish stuff from the house and tried to practice what he preaches! He deserves more than an article! I will measure your civility by how good you answer the above questions, other wise, you are anonymous, and I will treat you just like your name and ignore your baggaged unscripted doodle! Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Hello Mr Madebo,

Although I am not as aggressive as the previous anonymous commenter, I do have reservation when individuals are hyped before tangible results have been achieved. In the civilised world they praise their leaders most often after great achievements. They need to be tested in real political environment. Yes Dr. Nega is a good politician. His ideas and commitments are pointing to the right direction. But it is just the beginning. I know his personal and his colleague’s contribution to the current Ethiopian political movement so far is admirable. But there is no credible weight behind your praise of Dr. Nega. What you mentioned about him are positive signs that encourage the often rainbow politics of Ethiopia. But he is not a finished article yet. Such praise will definitely lead to political arrogance. You may argue that this is not the type of person he is and your reading tells you differently. Yes, that may be is true at this moment of time. History of Ethiopian politics tells as otherwise.

We all praised Engineer Shawel for his political leadership and courage (may be you didn’t). In the 70’s and early 80’s the young generation of Ethiopia literally worshiped the EPRP leadership. And in recent years quite a few cult heroes popped-out and dwindled away with out measure achievements. So it’s not good to rush praising individuals only to be disappointed.

By the way he is not even the leader of Kinijit. Biting the drum loud about Dr. Nega may have a negative impact for Kinijit revival. This is the time where measured and wise suggestions are really important in order to be a successful political force and eventually good leadership. Its good that you wrote abut him based on the research and information from friends and individuals and from his intellectual works. Here you must be carful when you process opinions and his works to draw to conclusions. Opinions could be biased in particular in the current environment. And also 5 or so works by Dr.Nega may also doesn’t give a conclusive idea about his leadership quality, vision, and commitment. Let’s keep out feet on the ground and learn to walk before trying to sprint.

Thanks,

enset said...

Anonymous of 11/10/2007 7:30 PM,

You make good points. It is wise to have reservation about politicians, not only when they are up and coming but when they are in power as well. But that does not mean that one should shy away from writing positive things about them. Although I have not yet met Berhanu Nega (I would like to meet him before he returns to Ethiopia), I think I can confidently say that he is one of the most able leaders the opposition camp has got. What the future holds for him, I can't say, but his track record so far tells me that he is a much more open-minded Ethiopian political leader than the ones I have seen before. So, in this respect, what Ephrem wrote about him is most likely the real Berhanu. But we will find out who the real Berhanu is in the months and years ahead as he plays his part in leading the opposition against the current regime.

Anonymous of 11/08/2007 9:55 PM,

What is telling about your comment is what you said about your former (or may be current) boss, Meles. You have showered us with Meles's "good" leadership skills. Please enumerate for us Meles's "performance as a leader of a very poor country" which you seem to speak of highly of. You also charge Berhanu of lying about a specific matter for which you have no reliable information about. I do not know what the truth is on that and, quite frankly, this particular issue is very low on the priority of things that concern me. But the good thing about Berhanu, at least from what we can observe in public, is that he invites people who want to follow his leadership to make him accountable. This type of leadership is almost unheard of in Ethiopian politics and it should be encouraged. A case in point is when Tamagne Beyene made a statement at the September 16th meeting with the touring Kinijit leadership about the lack of accountability for the money that was raised for Kinijit in the past and demanded accountability, it was Berhanu who was the first from among the couple of thousand people in the audience who got up to his feet to applaud Tamagne's statement.

Anonymous said...

Berhanu likes power. He acts and talks like he is the Mayor already, when we do not know how he would be in that position.

He talks the western talk but he likes power like ethiopian polticians and he lies....

Anonymous said...

I would suggest that when they go back to their country, they should give the chairman ship to Birhanu. Because he is the person who can challenge the Melese regim intelectually and also pschologically. Moreover our country needs a person who is accountable for his action. we need to grow economically and a person who can lead us in that line is non other than Birhanu.To have ambition for leadership is a virtue provided that you also have wisdom. Praising a person for what he has achieved gives him internal force to go ahead, it becomes a source of inspiration. Optimistic attitude towards anyperson helps you grow.there is nothing wrong in speaking good about a person. what we should feel sad is when we look the down fall of others. Suppoting a hero like Birhanu is our duty.
thanks Mandebo

Anonymous said...

Berhanu Nega is a Gurague. What has this great man done for his people? Nothing!

Start by leading your impovrished seven house, then you will have a fair chance to lead others. Remember, it does not make you any less Ethiopian to be a proud Gurague. Bring your PHD home Berhanu, we need you more than anyone of them.

God bless you.

Ephrem Madebo said...

Mr. Anonymous,

As you said Dr. Brhnau is not Kinjit’s leader. Selecting able leaders for Kinjit is the sole responsibility of Kinjit it self. Kinjit can have anyone as its leader (other than Berhanu), but this does not diminish the immense leadership and political skill that we see in Berhanu. I valued and appreciated Dr. Berhanu as a wise and skillful political figure, not as a leader of Kinjit. My key point is that any one can be a leader, but some leaders have a natural gift that makes them better than good leaders. Dr. Berhanu is a gifted leader. When you are a leader, you don’t have to be a chairman; you can lead from any where you are. I appreciated Dr. Berhanu for what he did, not just for what he said. Visionary leaders must be emulated, appreciated, and encouraged. This is what I think I did. I don’t expect Dr. Berhanu to be fault less. When he makes a mistake that damages our movement, the same pen that appreciated him will criticize him. Isn’t that what life is all about? Yes, once we loved EPRP, not anymore. Today, we love and we appreciate what we have, we don’t have to wait until some imaginary date or time. Any one interested may approach Kinjit and demand Dr. Berhnau’s contribution during the 2005 campaign. You will be amazed how he took the western campaign concept and used it in the Ethiopian context. We had thousand of western educated politicians, but none of them was such a huger agent of knowledge transfer.

Yerasuguday said...

Hi Ephrem, it does not bother me at all whether Mr and Mis Anonymous oppose or support your views. I am just fusinated to read your text word by word. Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

The bigest challenge lingering in most of our mind is that we are still thinking interms of tribal mentality. we appritiate Birhanu not because he is Gurage but because he is a visionary Ethiopian. If we continue thinking in tribal line then we are not better of from the Melese regim who inculcarted tribalism and divided the country in tribal level. Let us start thinking of a person per se. a person as he is. Let us stop supporting people because he/she is from my tribe. we need to grow step forward. Let us not allow emotion to rule our reasoning.

Anonymous said...

It all goes back to our age old culture of loving the talkatives than the real people. Since the the overthrow of the fuedal king, many who grab key positions in power are people who can talk. And mistakes has been made and the people have paid dearly for it. We thought this cycle of outsmarting and outshining others by simple talk has ended at the 2005 election. But it doesn't look liked it. For me, i value more integrity, courage and love for the value one stands. based on that i don't see Dr. Berehanu on the top of my lists for a leadership positions. Many has testified his power love, evidences are available in which he lied infront of public and of most his connection with the TPLF Bereket Simon had and will definetly cost him his political life in which he was promissing Bereket to take Kinijit in a direction the TPLF leadership would like. His Education and flowery speeches will definetly help Kinijit and Ethiopia but i don't see him nowhere in the leadership are.

Truneh said...

Dear Ephrem,

What an article to read. I am a frequent visitor of your bloggs, mostly I like what you have to say in regard to our country political situation. This one is just amazing; it is very empowering statement for us, reading such positive thing about hopeful future leaders in this critical time is very encouraging. Let the critic do their destructive business, you continue to do the blessed work of hope in constructive manner. Thank you for your sincerity, and we applaud you for that…
I never meet Dr. Brehanu Nega but from what I here, he is a leader with a new mind-set, and a new political attitude; unusually open mind politician, which is very hard to be accepted in our old political culture where dogmatism, shrewdness & secrecy is appreciated like intelligence, as oppose transparency and honesty is considered foolishness. But, I can tell you this is the only way out from the usual vicious cycle of Ethiopian politics. It may sound inadequate for some, but no hard headed leader for Ethiopia any more. The new breed of leaders must be the people’s person, with great vision willing to share, ready to be corrected and to compromise if necessary.

May God bless you brother.

Ephrem Madebo said...

Mr. Anonymous;

You said:

“evidences are available in which he lied in front of public and of most his connection with the TPLF Bereket Simon had and will definitely cost him his political life in which he was promising Bereket to take Kinijit in a direction the TPLF leadership would like. His Education and flowery speeches will definitely help Kinijit and Ethiopia but I don't see him nowhere in the leadership”

How can Dr. Berhanu’s education and flowery speeches be good [you used the adverb definitely] for Kinjit and Ethiopia at large, while according to your own statement the same Dr. Berhanu is promising to Mr. Bereket to take Kinjit in the direction of TPLF? What is good for the goose is good for the gander. If Berhanu is good for Kinjit he is good for Ethiopia. Please explain the contradiction on your remark, and share us the available evidence you have about the lies and bad promises of Dr. Berhanu? Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Ato Ephrem,

It is ok to express your appreciation for someone that you like or idolize, but what I don't understand from your persistent argument is to esteem Dr Berhanu for his "immense leadership and political skill". If you haven't seen this man as a leader before, how did you measure his leadership quality to say he has immense leadership skill? Mr Madebo, it is not about you or Dr Berhanu, but it is about finding the truth. As a reader, I found it impracticable to fully grasp the revelation and the capability of a person by just spending few hours with him and listen to his speech.

Ephrem Madebo said...

Mr. Anonymous,

I did not idolize Dr. Berhanu, I don’t idolize anyone including my dad who made several important decisions to make me who I am now. To see one’s potential in leadership one should not be a national leader. Leadership skill is demonstrated at different levels. Dr. Berhanu led a very successful political campaign in our history. If you are a person that believes the opposition has won the 2005 election, then you have to appreciate the leadership skill of Dr. Behanu. He was the campaign manger of CUDP during the election. His successful media campaign was unseen in our history. His skill of belittling the TPLF gangs during the nationally televised media debates was a key factor in popularizing CUD. What else do you want to see? Or is it you just don’t want to recognize even if you see? Within a party there are many leaders including the chairman of the party, but when it comes to leadership skill, there could be many people who may have a better leadership skill than the party chairman. Berhanu is one of these people, he wasn’t chairman of the party, but in the areas of his responsibility, he demonstrated a superb leadership skill unmatched by no Ethiopian before him. Our political actors are for the most part sinners, it isn’t that difficult to see a righteous man in a lake full of sinners. That is exactly what I saw!

Anonymous said...

Ato Ephrem,

Your reasoning sounds inane in such a way that a good campain manager qualifies someone to be outsatnding leader of a country. Dr Berhanu could be regarded as a good campainer, but for someone to be valued for her/his 'immense leadership', I believe she/he has to be tested through deeep mud. Dr Berhanu might have leadership potential, but your article seems to accentuate that he has demonestrated ability.

At Ephrem, don't be too defensive. I am not trying to prove you wrong, I am only trying to express my view which unfortunately doesn't concur with yours. Don't forget you are a human being, who could be wrong at times. Don't persist on others ability (other than your own), as you may fail when actual test emerges.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Birhanu participated in the scrambling of Ethiopia (with Meles and Afeworki)in 1991! During this hard period of our history, he never said a word against (any reservations) ethnic federalism! He never protested the secession (or method of referendum ) of Eritrea. How can he be seen now as a potential visionary leader while his activities in the1990’s show the contrary?

Anonymous said...

Dear Ephrem:

Dear Ephrem:

I know I said Dr. Berehanu’s flowery speeches and Education will help or can help Kinijit and Ethiopia. And I am sure I didn’t contradict myself. I am pointing out his strength and good qualities. But my argument and many peoples argument is that he doesn’t have the leadership quality Ethiopia needs. Being successful in the campaign manager won’t make him the right candidate for the top leadership. I say that based on the available information for both me and you. He showed undemocratic nominations within the party which many have complained. Reknowned people like Prof. Mesfin and others have already distanced themselves from him. He fought for power with Lidetu then and now with the chairman Hailu. This shows his negative side. Don’t forget he is a humans and there are weaknesses in all of us. And above all, he lied about the nomination of Ato Andargachew Tsege. The audio evidence is available if you haven’t heard it yet (http://ethiolion.com/103107_Liar.html). Therefore, although I want to see him around at Kinijit leadership, his weakness we saw can cost Kinijit dearly if he become a chairman of the party.

enset said...

Anonymous of 11/16/2007 4:16 AM:

I have learned about Berhanu only since his 2001 two months detention by the Meles regime and I can't say whether your claim about him is true or false. But, let's assume, for the sake of argument, that what you said about him is true. How, then, does not being an outspoken opponent of the regime back in 1993 make Berhanu's potential to be a "visionary leader" any less credible than it would be otherwise?

Regardless of what anyone can say about what Berhanu was doing 10, 20 or 30 years ago, there is one undeniable fact about him at this moment in time which explains why a lot of Ethiopians are gravitated towards his leadership, and that is: Berhanu is the most articulate and passionate advocate of representative democracy and sustainable development in Ethiopian politics today.

Berhanu's ability to inspire and motivate Ethiopians across the ethnic and generational spectrum is a proven asset that must be taken advantage of by the opposition. Yes, it is true, it will take us more time to find out if Berhanu has got the temperament and the character to be THE leader of the opposition. But there is no denying that he has got many of the skills to be one.

Fikru

Gooch said...

No one can honestly deny that, as Fikru writes, 'Berhanu is the most articulate and passionate advocate of representative democracy and sustainable development in Ethiopian politics today.'

None of us has taken a poll, but I tell you, I've never seen anyone inspire Ethiopians like Berhanu. I've seen completely apathetic folks roused by his speeches. He's so different from the rest, they say.

His message and delivery are both top notch. And what he says, he seems to say out of real conviction. I don't think we can deny this.

At the same time, I agree with some of the commenters: he like any other human being has his weaknesses, some of which we may not yet know! He may not be a good Chairman for Kinijit. We don't know.

But this goes for anyone else, really.

Anonymous said...

Hi All:

I've read with great interest the responses to Ephrem's post on Dr. Berhanu and also his responses to some of the responses.

Ephrem's reflections on Dr. Berhanu followed much similar reflections that I've already shared elsewhere and what Ephrem said about Dr. Berhanu has also been said by others like me and I believe many others would say much similar things as the detractors would also say to the contrary.

My post was on Addis Voice here:
http://www.addisvoice.com/article/truthandc.htm

Both Ephrem and I could be wrong about some of what we've shared but then I think what I've shared like Ephrem was out of a conviction at that moment and if Dr. Berhanu fails us,at some point in the future, our mistake will just be human and that is it. The same goes to Dr. Berhanu, he's human too, if and when he fails.

Has Ephrem said that Dr. Berhanu is flawless, sinless, and will never fail us? I do not think so. Do I believe that Dr. Berhanu will remain the same, faithful and truthful at all times. No. But does it follow that we should deny what we've seen to be true of him at the moment and for sometime over the last several years, at least? I do not think what kind of reasoning should lead us to say such a thing.

Cheers,

Alethia

Anonymous said...

Hi Again:

I just wanted to add a few thoughts on what led me to believe what I believed and shared about Dr. Berhanu in my post. Ephrem's case might be similar or different; I leave that for him to say.

I've many friends, very close friends whom I know so well; I've found them to be reliable and truthful about what they share with me about any number of things. They're, in short, reliable and honest friends. About some of the things they shared with me in the past they did not have any obvious or hidden motivation to say what they said and shared with me nor did I have any reason to doubt their sincerity about what they shared with me.

The above is a perfectly acceptable way of belief formation and if the above conditions can be met one can even claim that what one has heard from such reliable friends could count as pieces of knowledge.

Testimony is one of the most common ways of acquiring beliefs and in some cases knowledge about most anything in our lives. Much of our knowledge is based on testimonies from other fellow human beings, at times the others who serve as transmitters of testimonial knowledge need not be even our friends. Much of what we learn at schools like history etc and hence much of historical knowledge is based on the testimonies of others.

The above, I hope is clear. Now to the application: mostly those consistent things that I've heard about Dr. Berhanu from my close friends for several years are more than enough pieces of evidence for a person in my position to believe what I believed about Dr. Berhanu and the belief acquisition processes that underwrite my claims about Dr. Berhanu are one and the same, perfectly acceptable forms of belief acquisition in ordinary circumstances in our lives. Under such circumstances my beliefs about Dr. Berhanu were and are prima facie justified. Beliefs formed on the above way, absent contray evidence, are prima facie justified.

The above is some reasoning about belief formation and our knowledge claims that might shed some light on what has been going on in the discussion about Dr. Berhanu.

Hope that the above is helpful.

Cheers,

Alethia

Anonymous said...

Fikru
(re: to your reply Anonymous of 11/16/2007 4:16 AMJ)

Well you should have made some bibliography before idolizing Birhanu! Dr. Birhanu was collaborator during the ethnic scarmble of Ethiopia in the early 90’s! You could have got documents and photos from Ethiopian pro- democracy web sites!

You wrote: How, then, does not being an outspoken opponent of the regime back in 1993 make Berhanu's potential to be a "visionary leader" any less credible than it would be otherwise?

What does “visionary” mean? If he was then incapable to foresee or anticipate the potential damages ethnic federalism could create on the economy and social fabric of the country, the importance of having sea outlet, etc how could he be visionary today? Remeber that he got his Ph.D. before he reterned to Ethiopia!

You wrote: at this moment in time which explains why a lot of Ethiopians are gravitated towards his leadership, and that is: Berhanu is the most articulate and passionate advocate of representative democracy and sustainable development in Ethiopian politics today

Yes, he is articulate ….etc! Meles is articulate too! In the early 1990’s Birhanu (and so many others) has said the same thing about Meles: articulate and passionate advocate of ethnic equality and democracy and sustainable development in Ethiopia!

enset said...

Hi AMJ,

Glad I do not have to address you as Anonymous. There are many areas where one can legitimately criticize my take on Berhanu Nega's leadership abilities. But saying my recognition of Berhanu's leadership skills is an idolization of him as a leader is not one of them. So, I would say that your take on my comments about Berhanu says something about a lack of honesty on your part.

Regarding one's qualification to be considered a "visionary" leader in today's Ethiopian politics, you wish to base it on the person's early on outspokenness on the issue of ethnic federalism and Eritrea's separation from Ethiopia. I think this is an erroneous assumption. I do not believe you have to be an early critic of the Woyane regime to be a "visionary" political leader today. I will even say that you can be a former card-carrying supporter of the Woyane regime and still be a "visionary" leader in today's Ethiopia.

But why limit the criteria for a leader to be a "visionary" leader to his/her being an outspoken critic of the Woyane regime? Is that because you find it convenient to making your argument? Why not extend your criteria for a "visionary" leader to being an outspoken critic of the Dergue and/or the Haile Selassie regimes if that person is old enough to be a politically conscious adult under those regimes?

Based on your comments I assume that you are a supporter of the opposition. If that is the case, then please tell me who is/are the politician(s) that you would consider to be "visionary" leader(s) in Ethiopian politics today.

Fikru

Anonymous said...

Hello, I do understand that you are using a generic comment template for your blog, but you have to recognize that writing as anonymous is an option offered by your medium. So, you should not be blaming me or others for choosing one from what you offered. You also seem to be interested in scoring points. I do not think one would need to be a scientist to understand that anonymity is relative. In the 21st century, the tools are out there either to be completely anonymous or not to be for just 20 bucks! It is not a big deal at all.

You talk about civility and I believe that applies to both sides. I never put any insults on my comment, neither do I disrespect you. To the contrary, you insulted me and you even used a scare tone “I knew you”. I think you have not graduated form the EPRP era mentality. You are writing blogs by choice and you would be expected to respect your critics for taking their time and be part of the conversation. Alas, it is that very defeating culture of the 70s Ethiopia, which you seem nostalgic about, that is dominating. I do appreciate though for the perspective on your obsession with Mandela. Congratulations for winning a medal named after Mandela.

I did not say you wrote full articles about each of those people that I mentioned, but I still stand by my word that you have drawn parallel between Mandela and these people as a group or individually in some of your blogs. And I believe I am not off on that. This exercise of glorifying what you like and demonizing what you hate is some how a common thread in the Ethiopian blog and political community. The worst part is, the glory does not wait long before reality kicks in and mud slinging becomes the norm. We have seen these on both sides of the isle and we have seen it for a long time now. We have seen it on Lidetu, Hailu, and more. The bottom line is, I would rather wait and see to judge people by their work and product. Managing campaigns could be something but I never heard of that being one of the qualities you need on your resume to be a leader. I am sure you never heard that from Larry Sabato!

The other thing that bothers me about your statements is the way you try to elevate those that you like with bold but na├»ve descriptions such as “hero” or “his successful media campaign was unseen in our history” and many more unsubstantiated statements. I can see how careful you are in the choice of your words:). You must be a genius to come to the conclusions on your blog about Dr. Birhanu by reading 5 academic works (BTW I am waiting for bibliography) and a moment with him. You might not like it, but for me these are some of the things that led me to use the word worship. Plus, you have been telling us that, because he speaks well and is humorous, and dada dada….. that he is the best that we can have to be a leader of a huge country plagued by so many ills. As to me, the best opportunity that this guy squandered is the Mayorship. That was his best shot to demonstrate to friends and foe that he is capable. Finally, I would not dare to mistake cleverness to leadership quality. Shalom.

Anonymous said...

Fikru,

While the actions of Derg & Hailesilase governments were somewhat controversial at the time, I feel that ethnic federalism and Eritrea's separation from Ethiopia were the most disastrous political upheavals in the recent history of our country! The collaboration of Dr. Birhanu in these disastrous actions is indefensible! If you want to be relevant [a visionary leader] you have to anticipate where the other world & your country are going !

Though a bit late, Dr. Yacob had tried to be in the record on Ethiopia's right for sea outletin 2002 :
http://www.ethiomedia.com/ace/border_demarcation_and_assab.html

The bottom line on Dr. Birhanu is that he is stuffed with western ideology & communication skill which practically make nothing in a country where power gravitates to the arm holder!

enset said...

Hi AMJ,

If the Dergue and Haile Selassie regimes are only "somewhat controversial" relative to the Woyane regime, then you and I are very far from one another in our analysis of what is wrong with Ethiopian politics and thus our solution (that vision thing) for Ethiopia's problems.

With respect to the ethnic problems that we are witnessing today, the root cause of the ethnic problems of today is the policy ethnic marginalization pursued by the Haile Selassie regime. I am of the opinion that the Haile Selassie and the Dergue regimes are equally to blame, if not more, for the separation of Eritrea as the people who are ruling the country today. I believe Berhanu Nega's analysis of these problems is much closer to my point of view than it would be to yours. In that case, it is understandable that you would not consider him to be "visionary" leader. So, once again, which Ethiopian politician do you consider to be "visionary" and why?

Fikru

Anonymous said...

Dear Efrem or Fikru:

It is sad and troubling for me to see an esteemed person like you judge and measure an individual with just the speech he made. I have seen almost all of the responses you made for the comment including your article and your argument on defending Dr. Berehanu is just based on the speeches he made and the vision he told you. For that you called him visionary.

Let me tell you this about the word visionary. If Dr. Berehanu is visionary as you have been saying, It can't make him the only candidate to lead us. It is now becoming a costum even in more democratic countries like the U.S in which politicians give empty promices and bags of lie only to change their promises after they took office. So Berehanu's flowery speech about democracy should not trigger such euphoria amongst us. What we should judge and measure him should be through his track record in Ethiopian politics and i am afraid, he has only 2 years of history even that is full of controvercy and distrust among his followers. Dr. Berehanu is a man who congratulates Meles and Co. when they enter addis ababa while. He among many tribalists were continiously fooled and went on to trap to be used by the cunny TPLF officials. Dr. Berehanu went to work in Addis ABABA university in place of the 40 or so acadamics who were fired by Meles Zenawi. If a question of his integrity is questioned, i say he has no integerity. He is not firm on his postion. He is ready to change his commitment and ideas for little bargains. For me, that is not the leadership quality i seek. I have posted the URL of the audio in which Dr.Berehanu get cought when he lied about the nomination of Andargache Tsege. That shows the luck of scencirty and commitment to a fair election within the party structure.

Please if you want to argue with me, lets argue based on the facts. Lets live the vision and speech aside since speeches are just words. words that may not be practiced. If you want to convince me, convince me based on the issue i raise since i am desproving your claim by pointing my issue to you.

Thanks

Anonymous said...

mr.Madebo!go back and read prof.Mesfin's writings,specially his hate for a major ethnic gruop.Read his 70s'writing.If you are sincere about issues I know you can't stand the issue of major etthnic gruop in Ethiopia. May be that is why you admire him? Then again as a member of that group what do I know.

Anonymous said...

Fikru,

Ya, We differ on many points! I am not among those who say
- “Amhara’s “ colonised other tribes
- “Amhara’s “ didn’t suffer in Derg and Hailesilasse regimes
- Derg and Hailesilasse regimes were pro- “Amhara” domination
- etc

Derg was a brutal dictator but nationalist! Hailesilasse was a feudal but nationalist! They have made grave crimes, grave errors in analysing the then Ethiopian problems and applied wrong solutions ! But they never took a deliberate act to harm the sovereignty and social fabric of the nation! With all their crimes and errors, they were jealous of their country, nation builders, Ethiopia lovers!

Concerning “visionary leader”, I want to judge them on their actions rather than on the speech they made! So, right now, I can’t give you even a single name! But I appreciate the performances and dedications of Dr. Yacob & Prof. Mesfin!

Ephrem Madebo said...

In the realm of politics practically everything is relative, what is today, shall not be tomorrow. There is no absolute Republican, or absolute Democrat. Every Republican has a drop of democratic blood in him/her and the vice versa. In fact, self denial and unnecessary standoffs blast and choke the wheel of progress when we humans forget our existence in the context of each other. I wrote many good things about Dr. Behanu’s leadership quality not because he is an absolute symbol of quality. Everytnthg I wrote is relative to many other political figures that we had and we still have. Relatively speaking, Dr. Berhanu is a rare political figure who used his western knowledge of politics to register unparallel political victory in the history of Ethiopia (this is not just speech, it is action). Is the May 2005 victory wholly credited to Dr. Berhanu? Big No! Collectively, Kinjit deserves the applaud, but it is the vision of Berhanu and his leadership skill that helped Kinjit to achieve what no other party achieved ,or even came closer. The importance of the May 2005 victory is more than its vote count. It is a victory that changed the minds of millions of Ethiopians. It is a victory that proved the vulnerability of unelected dictators, and most importantly, it is a victory that showed the power of the people as the sole source of political power. The May 2005 victory is a turning point in our history, Dr. Berhanu is the architect of this turning point. Yes, as many of you have agreed, he is a good public speaker too, but more than that, he is a visionary speaker. Visionary speeches have the power to set the tone that changes a nation. In 1961, JFK proclaimed before Congress that America would reach the Moon "before the decade is out". There isn’t much Kennedy did to land humans on the moon, in fact, he died two years after his famous visionary speech. Kennedy spelled out his vision and Americans rallied to realize his vision. Eight years latter, in July 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the moon. I’m not comparing JFK and Dr. Berhanu, I am trying to magnify the importance of visionary speeches in shaping history. Does Dr. Berhanu make mistake, yes, he has made mistakes and he will make mistakes. When compared to many of our past and present political figures, Dr. Berhanu has a distinguished ability to set a tone and rally people around him. This is the type of leadership I appreciated. My appreciation is not absolute, it is relative.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ephrem

I have tirelesly tried for you to convince me about Dr. Berehanu's leadership quality. All your answers are focused on his speeches and visionary words. I would have liked you to come out of that box and write more about integerity and other qualities that make a leader a real leader. Beleive me, in my own way, i am a good speech maker. People like it when i open my mouth and make comments which can be attributed to my command in the amaharic/English language and fair way of understanding unbaised political agendas. So, will you make me a leader if i come out and sit on the chair Dr. Berehanu sat and talk nice words about democracy? Is that the only thing one need to mention to show his leadership quality? it is a big NO. There are many other important issues beyond visions and speeches a leader need to show his followers.

I would also like to correct you about the success of the 2005 election in which you attributed mainly to Dr. Berehanu by giving him the unecessary term "Artchitect". Not only me, a lot can argue you with this. How can berehanu be called the "Architect" of the Kinijit's success while he was continiously mentored by the reknown professor Mesfin? and How can Berehanu be the key person for the succes of Kinijit while Hailu Shawel work tirelessly to rally the rural and the country side. In my opinion, credit should go to the people who deserve it in your writing. Just praising Dr. Brehanu for the things he didn't do make you look like you are one of his advocate or vice. And also it looks like you are making mistakes up on mistakes when you tried to defend your argument stounchly.

And also, i still didn't get a reply from you about the naked lie Dr. Berehanu commited infront of the media and public about the nomination of Andargachew Tsege and others undemocratically.

Thanks

Anonymous said...

mr. Madebo! Amharas have never been opressed for being who they are even today wihle others have and some people feel that there is no distinction between forms of opression, just because it does not serve their interst then they are the ones who are missing the point.I don't care what name they give it to a problem in this case colony what not, it matters to me whether there is a venue where this issue can be dealt with in a serious way and there is non so far and frankly it is a lot of hot air.

enset said...

Hi AMJ,

You said "...they [Haile Selassie and Dergue] never took a deliberate act to harm the sovereignty and social fabric of the nation!" I agree with the sovereignty part of your comment, but I strongly disagree about those two regimes not harming the fabric of the nation. In my opinion, those two regimes have at least damaged the fabric of the nation as much as the Woyane regime has and, in the case of the Haile Selassie regime, I do believe that it has harmed more than the other two. We would not have had the Dergue regime had it not been for the utter failure of the Haile Selassie regime in creating a modern state where its citizens are all equal participants in the affairs of the nation, and it had more than 50 years to get its acts together.

Even if you seem reluctant to label them "visionary", I am glad you mentioned a couple of names whom you hold in high regard. I have no problem considering both of them to be visionary leaders. Yacob is a person of tremendous experience and character and I hold him in high esteem. I appreciate Mesfin's courage to stand up for human rights and democracy at his old age and his founding and leadership of EHRCO has earned him a unique place in modern Ethiopian history. But I do not consider both of these gentlemen to be the most articulate and passionate advocates of representative democracy and sustainable development in Ethiopian politics today. That person, with out a doubt, is Berhanu. As I said in an earlier comment on this thread, we will find out if Berhanu has the temperament and character to be the leader of the opposition in the coming months and years.

Fikru

Anonymous said...

Fikru,

Thank you for your reply for my comments! I think that on some points that you raised we have totally different views! Let’s agree to disagree! Finally, I didn’t understand why you use AMJ to reply to my comments? If you thought that you know me, I think you are in the wrong!

enset said...

Anonymous person formerly known as AMJ,

Yes, you are right, I do not know you. But I could treat you as a unique commentator because I know you write from a certain university in France. I used AMJ because I saw that in one of your earlier comments. I wish all commentators signed their real name after their comments, or at least gave themselves a pseudonym so that we do not have to refer to our readers as anonymous so and so. If they did that, it would help the readers to follow the discussions better, I believe. It was nice debating with you. Take care and please come back again.

Fikru

Anonymous said...

Mr Madebo

It is sad to hear that your visionary hero (Dr. Berehanu) is going to remain here abandoning his flowery struggle. once paper tiger is always paper tiger. But you and my know well that the struggle we face is hard and daring and anyone who lines himself for it should be an enduring and iron headed person. I am glad to see the person you and many good paper tigers raised to a leader status is making your false testimony a reality for many other s to witness.

Whether you use the Oxford dictionary for your english flavor or spend weeks to write on article like this, the truth of the matter is Ethiopia would not be freed by people who write or people who speak. Ethiopians will be freed by people who do what they say. We are in the end of the Coup d'etat if you know what i am talking about. and sad for you since there is no one to praise.

Anonymous said...

I read all the posting including Mr. Madebo and the comments by others. My opinion regarding DR.Berehanu can be summerized by a one line old Ethiopian proverb. It goes like this:

"weTa weTa-na eNDe shemBeQo, tenKeBaLeLe enDe MuQeCha."

a saying for something that become visible and then dissapeare suddenly. Dr. Brehanu is a fake politician. TPLF leaders knew him he doesn't have guts. There is a story that run accross TPLF officials that says when order is made to arrest Dr. Berehanu, the soldiers who went to pick him up saw him his pants getting wet because he was so scared. All his bravado and slogans is remenesant of the EPRP and Derg politicians that doesn't hold water. it is empty slogan. Dr. Berehanu has appeal only from ethnic minorites from the south since most of them beleive they are discriminated. those small tribes support him due to their hate to the Amhara Tribe. He also managed to trick empty brained Amharas since they are donkeys and wouldn't think smart. the whole gurage is behind him. But TPLF knows him and he has no chance. He is talkative and he can be a good Edir Dagna

Dr. Ephrem Madebo is a useless man who is ready to be enslaved by any smart person including his tribal fried Professor Fikru Halebo

Anonymous said...

sorry I'm little to late to read your writting about your moment with berhanu.I hope you are not thinking in your right maind the same way when you write the comment.I'M writting asuming that you regreat what you said about this man.For your information the report from back home said he was working hard to divide KINIJIT while all the leadership are in prison including among other things,he and his group'The Group Five As We Call Them'Left a BIG scar on the struggle of the Ethiopian People for democracy.

Anonymous said...

Because, I am timely to give comment on Ephrem's " A Moment with Dr. Berhanu Nega". I make my comment short, Dr. Birhanu is 'the Man of the people, the country's politic'. And the article writer Ephrem Madebo is 'the Man of the article writers'.

Be Blessed
Yosef

Anonymous said...

Ephrem, is it possibly to read Dr. Berhanu's resume and your's as well. Resumes need to include educational background, strating from elementary. I ask because, I really want to have a clear picture about berhanu. Does it make sense>
If you could just forwar to my private email or give a link. Thanks. fekaduayele@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

Message from Meles Zenawi, prime minister of Ethiopia

Dear Ethiopians, where ever you are this is my message, read carefully
My people, people of Ethiopia young, old, fendata, arso ader, cadre, tigre, amara, oromo and opposition party leaders, Dr Berhanu nega my latest enemy. let me come to my idea why I am writing this letter. I have seen currently that in Ethiopia there is high rate of inflation and high rate of raciasm. What can I do the policy is already there. I already formed it. It is suck I can’t control inflation and raciasm. I am not lying. To be honest with you. Despite inflation the economic growth is there. what do you want? people are eating, partying, ladies are chilling on the street so what do you want? the number of people grew rapidly. Despite the raciasm unity is there. So what do you need me to do. If you are saying leave your leadership I will but my party will be there to make sure I am safe. My safety is important. Safety of my money that I have been trading in the last 18 yrs. So I don’t worry since my gangesta friends are there who come with me from the jungle! so what do you need from me??????

your dictator leader Meles Zenawi
Prime minister of Ethiopia

Anonymous said...

Ephrem madebo I read your comment about Dr. berhanu I really appreciate you, keep it up . But we don't have to forget that there are many others to say about and encourage them in their effort in their struggle for unity peace brotherhood prosperity. I am not a member of any political party. I have been phobic to politics for a long time .I did not pay attention to what was going on in my country .Since last year march,I am seriously following up current affairs about Ethiopia .I listend to every interview that DR. Berhanu Had . I listened to his speeches on different occasions. Dr. Berhanu Can make a great leader .I believe that from the bottom of my heart .God bless our country