If I stand at the center of the Marktao in Gambella, facing east, I am reminded of different natural habitat across the mountain ranges. Beyond” Kew a kiddy” there are mountain ranges naturally presumably mark as demarcated border" the Anyuak called it "Kewa Kiddy" Those Mountain Ranges are our Border. Beyond those mountain ranges there are people and empire which govern them called “Degas”, with degas sew the highlanders or the mountaineers who have been coming here before the annexation of our lands by the lord of degas. The encounter was first friendly, mutual; it was for the benefit of the two people. The two encounters exchanged goods through barter, there was no need for currency. No one was interested in them currency anyway. The society here had not known paper money before do not know the use of it, therefore it was meaningless. There was no actual monetary system of the day, if there was one introduced it was called Teresa. The problem was how can one buy a chicken, in what money under what value of money?
The Teresa money introduced by the Italian in one year of the occupation of the Gambella land was in circulation for about a year, than abandoned, it was valueless tender ready only for extinct. The native then were not familiar with currency. Frustrated with the highlanders deception and deceit ingenuousness refused be fooled in the dealings. As they say “render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar and unto god the things that are god’s” the Anyuak who were dealing with highlanders see greediness, trickery as the main objective so out frustration out of their good hearts they just gave the chickens to them for free, get the hell out of the market quickly, return home where they belong with few purchases of goods most of them essential such as salt skin, cream, sheet to cover their upper body with, that’s all.
As I said the meeting of our two people in the beginning was friendly, market oriented, it was awesome, cool. After the first encounter the news carried by those highlanders who return Degas was that Gambella was potentially rich with plenty, with abundant everywhere one's goes. the news spread like wild fire with its flame reaching beyond the mountains, attracted many to come, take a plunge in the wealth of milk and honey. Unlike previous visitors or the people in expeditions who came to hunt for buffalo’s and take home buffalos horns; this time around it was not the people in the expeditions any more who came to the land of Gambella, This time around those who came were “some tera sew” or some commoners if like to take part in the new found gold rush of Gambella. According the number of the new émigrés from highland begin to increase exponentially this times with hundreds of them occupying part of the new town called “Loa Amhara”. “Amhara territory” it was land relinquished by the Italian occupation force during World War II.
Anyway what begin as cool, friendly atmosphere turn itself into feud with” degas's sew” condescending the natives people with tricks, lies, swindling, as the saying goes around “ the stranger who slept in the Brenda for a period of times one day forcefully kicked the owner of the house out of his room, and occupying it for good”. The Anyuak called it “Jure pinycaame ki tagola” Now they own the political power. They decide who should get what and why? At moment they tell us what to think, what to say, what to love and what to dislike. If one says something different, they called one’s name out, chastised one as narrow nationalist. It is ugly word, a term that simplifies human nature to a single digit. Those who are or who were in power had in them some sort of occult personality, had shielded themselves with all political lexicons one fine to subdue the broad masses. It was by meaning a system close to autocratic run by kleptomaniacs who had the guts to putdown people thymos the “spiritedness” to fight for one’s rights, narrow nationalism as pejorative word has been used on anyone who’s the native of Gambella. It doesn’t matter what ethnic groups’ one belong to or what color one is all about. All were guilty as a whole. One had no power to fight back, the draconian rules but kowtowed to it. The power of the people of Gambella as they say in Congo Kinshasa was eaten whole.
There’s now a struggle for recognition, the thymos or the desire for recognition is burning like a wild fire. It is a desire that our people are demanding: Democracy, equality, justice and free fair election for all under the democratic system of government. It is people demand floating, surfacing at the moment; it is current it is from all corner of the territory. We understand clearly about what type of government we had at home. A semi authoritarian government with no rule of law, embedded within quasi democratic system. It is a hybrid of authoritarianism and centralism with features of command system of government. It is with no sheer shame to say what we have is illiberal system of government to borrow Freed Zacharias’s word, it is not democratic enough; it is what we in the political community call quasi authoritarian system directed by one chauvinist ethnic grouping over the rest of the majority nationals.
The whole majority, their democratic rights are at constant violation by the federal government. To understand the today’s system of government in our country one must look at structure, see who are the followers , and who are on the top or higher echelon. From looking at power structure so far Ethiopia as a country is run by Tigrean chauvinist from the north, backed by followers from the north-south west- east, and the rest. The so call representatives of the people in my view represented no one but their selfish-individual interests. It is true, that Ethiopia is an old country with a legal rational state where rule of law exist but only in the book, it is a patrimonial state, where the cult personality evade public discourse with individual being the center of everything for one to achieve something or to move ahead at something. It is a corrupt system of government where individual has to lean on someone, to become somebody at high level of its institutions or echelons. It is system in which no one punishes anyone for violating penal codes with the rule of laws.
Thus individuals who are criminal in every branch of government or in every bureaucracy had protection rendered to them by the so call federal government, they have been let go to room around freely as players in the realm of politics, economic, social schemes. To challenge these regional lords is not an easy task to do as it may seem. Several years back there have been many attempts in the political developments to correct the system of government in the region but to no veil all the attempts failed because the dynamic forces eclipsing around as centrifugal for change have not been powerful enough to upset the political balance, as a result of political vendetta by the predatory state , many were preyed upon, with some disappearing where no one knows where they went, who was behind their disappearance, more also jailed, send to prisons accused by the regional security apparatus who randomly hunted down the Gambella intelligentsia groups. And without trial by jury many of our compatriots have been languishing in jails for man-many years and no one cares about the violation of their human rights.
The 2003 massacred of the Anyuak intellectual at the daytime is a case in point. The killers had all the names listed on the papers, carried them in their hands knowing exactly where to go whose house to burn down, and who to kill. In those gloomy days, many observer of the unfolding tragedy had this to say about 2003 massacred of 400 Gambella people in broad daylight. " What happened yesterday in broad daylight was a massacred of innocent people". It was catastrophic crime committed against humanity. A shameful chapter in the history of the Gambella people.
The Ethiopian state of government did nothing to prevent the tumults, the insecurity created by havoc. The international community accuses Ethiopia for standby, for failing miserable to protect rights of its citizens from harmful megalomaniacs racist brigades who wanted nothing but destruction and lawlessness. To us in the diaspora Ethiopia was a failed state, because what happened in Gambella is the attribute of failed state which can no longer manage its state of affairs, a state without rule of law. A state that lacks true governances, with no transparency is bound for havoc and chaos. It is a sad story in the history of our country.
How a government can set, watched its other citizens wacked, and killed others, burn down houses. To date no one was locked up for killing; the culprits are still at large, free with no justice for the innocent victims, with justice still delayed. The elites in the region deserved no respect from the people of Gambella. In fact they had many things to answer for: the dereliction of duty and responsibility and accountability, they know very well that they are under public surveillance, suspected of corruption, insecurity, and working in tandem with corrupt official in the federal government, who has created the atmosphere of fear and intimidations. The people wishes them to peacefully relinquish powered but most were diehards “alemot buytegadie” who by all means cling to power at all cost, laying down minefields to complicate due process, and hang on to power.
It is not difficult to understand what choices we had to take, or we are made to think of. I guess freedom is not choice, one either is to become salve or freeman and the struggle for freedom continue as long as there are subject and lords. Why accept tutelage when one can struggle to gain freedom.
No one can fight for liberty of somebody. No one has to promised somebody gift of freedom, cannot be delivered on the silver plate. Those who live under the false pretext are only endangering themselves. Again no one should wish us one paradise on earth, it is brutish savagery out there with everyone struggling to preserve oneself in realm of dignity and integrity honor, respect and the recognition for self-worthiness. We all agree corruptions, incompetence, lack of transparency in the governing are enemy of peace and stability.
For one cannot represent the aspiration of the exploited mass through secrecy. One must understand what representation is all about, it must be democratic, open ended and must real. It is only democracy that the masses are represented fairly equally. Otherwise a system is not democratic until all the grassroots civil society is empowered and entrusted to carryon the task of mobilization, francization of the democratization process.