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A Nation At a Breaking Point and The Case of The Ethiopian Intellectual By Dr. Abeba Fekade

A Nation At a Breaking Point and The Case of The Ethiopian Intellectual


As many scholars and historians have stated and a living history that is written in our hearts testifies, Ethiopia is truly one of the best and magnificent of the ancient nations with great contribution to the wonders of the world and its civilization. No doubt for any one with clear glasses can see through the beauty and grace that feels so unique to her people and the sacred ground of her land. Though my intention here is not to speak of her historical greatness, it is rather to remind us of our great ancestors and by invoking their spirit we may connect to our true knowledge that is hidden from us. I also believe such knowledge will empower us and become a source of strength that helps us overcome any breaking point we may face in our path.


Well, many also have said much about the current political affair of Ethiopia and the crisis the nation is facing.  However, though many have identified the various factors that have lead our country to where we are now and to where we are heading, the core elements and the essential forces at work are often over looked. As a result the fundamentals of the problem are not fully understood thus, we are unable to create the necessary tools and capacities for generating effective solution. Analyzing the political economic condition, the psychosocial and cultural crisis, the endangered integrity and sovereignty of the nation has not rendered in changing the reality. Yes, all the discourse written and spoken are very important and essential tools of communication and documentation, however in the last few decades those activities seem to have lost their potency for they become the end in themselves rather than being the means to a goal. The discourses end up being a mere rhetoric and lose the capacity to make an impact and transforms reality. Either all these discourses and analysis we have been engaged in has not yet reached the threshold or is not potent enough to make a difference or we are not even dealing with what is really real. It could also be that we know the real matter of our situation but chose consciously or subconsciously to deal with only the peripheral symptoms of our problems that are within the limits of our comfort zone, rather than facing the challenge courageously.


At any rate my intention is not necessarily to add any new facts or analysis to the ongoing sociopolitical discourse and current political situation. It is rather to raise some relevant questions that might stimulate productive dialogue and help us get out of the quagmire and the impasse in which our struggle for freedom is found.  It is also to raise critical questions that helps us focus on dialogues that create thoughts and behaviors, which are truly game changers. My intention is also to stimulate discourses that allow us to make a paradigm shift in our perspectives in order to transform our thoughts into actions. Though the questions I raise are inquiries that may be addressed by all concerned and nationalist Ethiopians, I intend to direct them to the intellectual and the learned elite community at large. It is my belief that if we do not raise the right questions and address them boldly in a timely fashion not only that we may not get the right answers to our questions but also our country may slip further away, creating greater vulnerability for fragmentation, leading to prolonged oppression, subjugation and enslavement of the mass. So it is in this light that I raise a directive and crucial question, not for mere discussion but for application.


The State of Ethiopia and The Elite Intelligentsia


The nation of Ethiopia is in a state of serious crisis that may lead either to a break down or a total annihilation of its national integrity and subjugating the people to modern slavery and colonialism. We are occupied by rather unique form of colonization that is brokered and sponsored by none other than the tegere traibalist tplf and subsidized by various international forces. It is the cumulative weight of the external forces supported and facilitated by the national agents that may bring Ethiopia to her breaking point, unless urgent action is taken to reverse the course. Breaking a nation, a society or individuals is much more effective when people allow their psyche to accept and internalize an inferior position. Both the physical and psychological integrity and the cultural foundation and the social fabric that glues and keeps a nation as one people is being eroded and is now reaching at a breaking point


Ethiopians under the siege of the tplf, are showing signs of behaviors and traits that are the expressions of people who are often economically and mentally colonized. The vast majorities of Ethiopians do not just live in abject poverty but also are subjected to a second-class and inferior citizen in their own country; this is certainly a manifestation of a broken nation. Frantz Fanon, Algerian psychiatrist wrote extensively on the phenomenon of colonization and its consequences.  In his observation of the relationship between the sense of lack of self-worth created in ones psyche and potentially becoming source of problems in behaviors and thoughts is accurately applicable to Ethiopian reality today for the essences of oppressive dynamics has not changed since then. Could this be one of the reasons why we are unable to produce visionary national leaders who can stand boldly in the face of fear?


For the past two decades a force that is inherently anti Ethiopia is ruling the country not just as an occupying force but also with deeply rooted resentment and mean spirited energy towards Ethiopia and Ethiopian nationalism. The tegere tribalism not only puts it self above and competes with the Ethiopian nationalism but also works to destroy and distort it. It promotes and puts tegere in particular and ethnic tribalism in general above and beyond the interest of Ethiopia as a sovereign nation. The tplf despises Ethiopia as it is witnessed by their behaviors and thoughts expressed everyday. Their mind set appears to be uniquely anti Ethiopian, which in fact means anti ones self in its deeper sense. Their behavior reveals a streak of resentment towards Ethiopia and Ethiopian nationalism and behaves as an enemy force, which ultimately threatens the national integrity and the oneness of the people.


Historically external forces have attempted several times to control and dominate Ethiopia, thanks to the brave Ethiopians, such attempts never been fully materialized. However, today the embodiment of anti Ethiopian sprit the tplf and its associates are successfully and rapidly accomplishing this historical mission, that is destroying Ethiopia and Ethiopian nationalism. They are at a verge of completing what the Europeans and other foreign forces have attempted to do for many years. They continue to readily provide the physical and political base to breed and nurture many more anti Ethiopia elements that threatens her future national sovereignty. Some observers have in fact identified tplf's behavior of land dealing as ‘neocolonialism by invitation”. The so-called land investment is a unique example of a modern time colonization brokered by Meles Zenawe. Displacing Ethiopian farmers is subjecting them beyond simple poverty to a status of colonized people. Thus, today, the very existence of Ethiopia as a nation is seriously challenged and threatened; it is in a process of breaking apart both literally and figuratively speaking. 


A nation can be broken in many ways. During a war, military defeat can break a nations mighty defense and subjugate its people to a lower position and enslavement, manifesting in a political and economic superiority of one group over the other. Though these are some of the ways used to break down a nation and a society, there are many more war fronts that may bring a nation to its breaking point unsuspected. The cultural and the psychological warfare wedged at ones identity is in fact, much more devastating and dangerous war for it breaks the spirit and hope of people and subject them to mental slavery, that are slaves tied down by invisible chains. Ignorance is another tool use to dominant and control people. People who accept and internalize their oppressors ways of thinking and behaving lack authentic knowledge of self, which is a fundamental foundation of all knowledge. Thus nations can be broken by the use and miss use of knowledge and information. As we have witnessed for the past 20 years the tplf has wedged a war by systematically miss informing and distorting knowledge about Ethiopia and her people, to create a fragile and breakable nation for they do not know their true self.


The relationship between the state of Ethiopia and the state of the intellectual and is interesting to say the least. The state of our nation is at a breaking point because of the pressure and the weight imposed upon it. Ethiopia’s natural resources, and national wealth including her fertile ground are used to feed the world while Ethiopians are starving. The nations’ wealth including its people, the most precious of all the wealth are used and benefit other people and nations.  For the lack of Ethiopian government a nation is for sale, similarly for the absence of intellectual independence and authenticity significant number of the Ethiopian intellectuals could not serve the people that educated them. Devalued, it has put it self for sale as well.  The intellectual force could not make a decent living in their own country so they are forced to leave. They are dispersed all over the world while foreigners are in fluxing in a large number to the land of opportunity, Ethiopia for better job and life. 


The tplf is the largest human exporter and has created the situation conducive to it, today we are victims of the largest brain drain and this is done by design. More than ever, in the last two decades, millions of Ethiopians are scattered all over the world. They are leaving their country seeking basic sustenance elsewhere and at the same time unprecedented numbers of foreigners are settling in the country with land ownership and much more privileges. Some thing is not right here in this equation. Why Ethiopia is a land of wealth and a blessing to the Asians, the Arabs, the Europeans, the Americans and so on? How does the intellectual body explain such inequity and discrepancies? I ask this hoping that the intellectuals understand better than others the complex global reality and what is at stake in the long run.


Educated and learned people most often must take responsibility for the larger society and are expected to be agents of changes not just simply to promote their personal lives. However, in the case of Ethiopian intellectuals either submitting itself to a dysfunctional status within the country or fleeing from the reality to sell its labor abroad are the primary choices it has adapted. For the dysfunctional intellectuals, hence changing or creating a new reality is perceived as unattainable desire. They internalized dependency in the place of self-reliance and compliance, mediocrity, fear and inferiority in place of courage and competence. Sadly to say such traits and weaknesses are not readily recognized, they are in fact sugar coated with superficial justification such as being professional, neutral etc.  Such incompetent body of intellegensia may bring some superficial changes to society or gain some individual and professional achievement but not significant and meaningful change to society and to the current struggle for freedom. Like the rest of the nation, to a large extent intellectual body is also in a breaking point for it stands on a defeatist ground and distorted perspective.


What Must Be Done - All Roads Lead to Ethiopia


What is to be done now that we are at a cross- road and at a breaking point? Well I think we can start with internalizing courage, competence and commitment in to our actions and thoughts. They are very essential tools to do what must be done; they in deed are decisive game changers.


Well we must raise the right questions and thoughts that lead us to the right practical answers and decisive action. Many have asked why we could not change our reality?  Why we could not create courageous committed and competent intelligentsia as well as national leaders. What are the intellectuals plan of actions that would be used to liberate the Ethiopian mind from bondage. What is our national vision other than the dancing around the shallow and ineffective paradigm of tribalism and ethnic politics?


Understanding the problem is part of solving it thus we ask questions. What must have gone wrong to find our selves in such predicament? Why are we found at the bottom of the world in many measures? And how do we get out of it? What are the roles of the intellectual in accomplishing this goal? We can ask many more questions but the situation we are in does not permit such intellectual exercise. We must ask questions that are relevant and within the context of the urgent solution our nation needs. We are in time that requires action, a decisive one that impact on reality. In fact, we must ask ourselves why we continue to do the things we do if they are not giving us a different result.  Political parties, activists and the intellectual continue engaging in the same behaviors and activities that do not produce the intended change, they prove to be simply futile exercises. They fail to focus on authentic thinking and in their actions they lack honesty. For instance, the need to expose the fallacy, danger and incompatibility of foreign thoughts, values and politics to Ethiopia is imperative, and yet in practice the intellectual accepts the lies either out of fear or opportunism. They often appear to follow the trends imposed upon them by others or their enemies. I am not denying however the very few exceptions, in fact we must bring their number to a critical mass to give the movement a jump-start and a leap forward.


A deeper look in to the intellect of the educated Ethiopians is a sad reality for it has not learned either the past way, nor is it able to develop an Ethiopian centered thinking that can be used to liberate the nation. Instead the elite is bound with fear and ignorance like the rest of the population. It is also pathetic to see Ethiopian intellectuals being dependent including for their freedom on those who put them in the condition that they are in to begin with. Therefore, intellectual including the political elites must realize if they want to change or get raid of the tplf apartheid regime that they must do things differently from the ways that have not made differences. And also they must primarily depend upon themselves, self-confidence and worth are essential traits. We must stop rather spending excessive energy on appealing to the senses of irrelevant people or ideas rather we must claim full responsibility and have the courage to face reality on time (missing several opportune times has been one of the repeated failures in our struggle). It is also important that we stop displacing our frustration and anger among ourselves instead of targeting it at the actual source and resolve it in productive and constructive way.


I believe one other problem of the educated elite is internalizing values systems and perspectives that are their oppressors’ that in turn incapacitated them from effectively transforming the very reality their oppressors have created. Therefore, reawakening Ethiopia and Ethiopian centered thinking is the last frontier for the liberation of the mind, which will guarantee the liberation of our country. In order to free Ethiopia the Ethiopian intellectual must use Ethiopian perspectives and free itself from the adulterated, corrupted and defeatist mind set and boldly address issues that matter to the people.  We must speak honestly and boldly.  In order to reverse the forced migration, the brain drain and the occupation of our country our eyes must be on the jewel that is on Ethiopia. Our mind and body singularly must focus on the freedom of Ethiopia. I suggest that nationalist Ethiopians, political organizations who are based abroad need to go back home legally or illegally, and those established within the country must remain at home and fight the regime courageously by all means necessary.


It is my contention that in addition to the anti Ethiopian forces, the role-played or not played by the Ethiopian elites and intellectuals have also contributed significantly to the current national failure. The intellectuals that are not doing the right things at the right time immensely contributed to our own demise equally as those who are actively harming our people. Neutrality on the issue of the nation of Ethiopia and the people is not a choice for true intellectuals; it is rather an obligation and a privilege to stand for Ethiopia, it is certainly a noble cause. Most intellectual do understand and know enough about the condition of our country and yet, may be because of the absence of the necessary intellectual elements such as honesty and integrity, they failed to make an impact. Yes what must be done is removing the tplf from power. Courage in general and intellectual courage in particular is one of the key ingredients that is missing.


Well I think courage is the ability to elicit the inner passion that over comes fear and enable us to carry out an act despite the difficulties and obstacles we face. It is also the ability to be bold which is to express thoughts and behaviors clearly and truthfully, courage is therefore the antithesis of fear, particularly fear that is maladaptive. It is an innate trait, a tool that can allow humans to stand up to challenges and threats. Courage as it can be stunted and suppressed from it full expression, it can also be developed to its fullest if nurtured and cultivated properly. The intellectual and the learned community have a special obligation not only for showing courage but also to teach and encourage its value for the collective good.


Though I focused on the intellectuals I believe we all have equal responsibility in fighting for our own rights and freedom for our country regardless of who we are. However I am also cognizant that what is required of each of us may be in proportion to our awareness, knowledge, personal call and commitment. This is why we call upon those intellectual with integrity to meet their obligation that is to be the light for other while burning. I also believe we all are called for causes greater than ourselves; we just have to find our niche for effective expression. In doing so we will restore the glory and beauty of Ethiopia once again, hence, all roads lead to Ethiopia. For all freedom loving Ethiopians, the last frontier is in our unflinching belief that our destiny is in our hand. Yes, in essence we are people who can do. Lets roll!

All things are possible to him who believes; they are less difficult to him who hopes; they are easy to him who loves, and simple to any who do all three. (Unknown)

Long Live Ethiopia,

Dr. Abeba Fekade   

            ይሉሽን በሰማሽ ገበያ ባልወጣሽ

ዛሪ አገራችን አደጋ ላይ ነች በጠላት እጅ ከወደቀች አመታትን አሳልፋለች በእንዴት አይነት መከራና ትግል እዚህ እንደደረሰች የማናውቅ ኢትዮጲያውያን ያለን አይመስለኝም ያ ክቡር የሆነ ታሪክ የዘነጋነውም ይምስለኛል የግል ልዩነታቸውን ወደጉን አድርገው በፍቅርና በመከባበር የገነቡዋትን ህገር ትግሉን እኛ ካልመራነው የስልጣን አባዜ የሚራወጡ ጥቅመኞች ትግሉን አናንቀሳቅስ በማለት ጋሪጣ ከሆኑብን ሰንብተናል .

 ዛሪ ይህነን ላነሳ ያነሳሳኝ አቶ ሰውየው የተባሉ ጸሀፊ ባሉት ላይ ተመርኩዤ ነው ጠያቂ ሆነው ተነስተዋል ለመሆኑ ተጠያቂነት ማለት ሚስጠሩ ይጠፋቸዋል ብዪ አልልም ግን ያቀረቡት ጽሁፍ ተጠያቂነት እንደሚያመጣባቸው ላፍታም አላሰቡም አቶ ሰውዪው አንጃ በማለት ሰዎችን ሲዎርፉ አንጃነት እንዴት እንደሚመጣ ማብራሪያ ቢሰጡበት በተማርንበት ጥሩ ነበር ያ ሳይሆን ወደፊትም በልምዳቸው አንጃ እንደመኖር ድርጅቶች እንደሚከፈሉም አስቀምጠዋል ጥርጣሪ እንዲነግስና በድርጅት የተሰባሰቡን የፖለቲካ ስብስቡች መካከል መተማመን እንዳይኖር መርዝም በትነዋል እኝህ ሰው ለምን ይህን ነገር አንግበው ተነሱ የሚለውን በርካታዎቻችነን ገራ አጋብቶናል ግን ላአለም አቀፍ ሴቶች ማህበር አሳቢ ለመሆን የሮጡት እሩጫ አላስመስል ብሎአቸዋል እውን ለዚህ ከሆነ የተነሱት ሊወቅሶአችው የተነሱትን ኢትዮጲያዊ ጊዜ ወስደው የልቱነታቸውን መንሰኤ ይጠና ነበር አበጀህም በተባሉ አንድም ቅን ለእርቅና ለማግባባት ሳይደክም የልዩነት ያለህ ብለው ቤንዚናቸውን ይዘው መነሳታቸው አሳዝኖናል በእርግጥ መሰሉቻቸው አድናቆትና ሙገሳ ተችሮአቸው ይሆናል ግን ይህ የመሰሎቻቸው ሙገሳ የህን ድንገት በቅ የሚያረጉትን እሳት በቃዎት አይበታትኑን ለንላቸው ተገቢ በመሆኑ ኢትዩጲያውያን እንዲህ ያሉ ሰዎችን ተግቶ መጠበቅ ተገቢ በመሆኑ መልስ ለንመለስላቸው  ያነን መርዝ በራቸውን እንዳያነሱብን ማስጠንቀቅ እና ሰውዩውም

እግዚአብሄር በሰጣቸው እድሜ ተጠቅመው ከራሳቸው ጋር መታረቅ አለባቸው መቼም ከራሱ ጋር የተጣላ ሰው ለሰዎች መገናኘት ይደክማል የሚል የየዋህ አስተሳሰብ ስለሌለኝ አቶ ሰውየውን የምላቸው መልሰው መላልሰው ከራሳቸው ጋር መነጋገር አለባቸው ዛሬ እየበጠበጡና እያበጣበጡ ትግሉን የገደሉከራሳቸው ጋር የተጣሉ ሰዎች መብዛታቸው ነው አገር ለማዳን የግለሰብ ሰም ይዞ አደባባይ መውጣት አይደለም አገር ማዳን በሰዎች መካከል ጥርጣሬ መክተት አይደለም አገር ማዳን ሰዎችን ለመለያየት መርዝ አመንጭቶም አይደል አገር ማዳን ማለት የግል ክብርና ዝና ወደጉን አድርጎ የግል ጥቅምና ፍላጎት ትቶ እኛ ካልመራን ሳይሆን ችሎታና አቅሙ ላለው ቅን ጀግና ኢትዮጲያዊ ቦታውን ለቆ እራስን ዝቅ አድርጎ በወገን ላይ ሳይሆን በወያኔ ላይ ጥይትን አነጣትሮ ነው እንጂ ዝቅ ብሎ ነገሮችን ከማራገብ የሚሰሩ ሰዎችን በርቱ ማለት ነበር ወጉ ልዩነት የመፍታት ተፈጥሮአዊ ተሰጦአችነን ወደሰይጣናዊ ባህርይ እየቀየርን ከማግባባት የልቅ ማራራቅን እየመረጠን የሀገራችነን መከራ ማራዘማችን አልሰማ ብሎናል አቶ ሰውየውም ሆኑ ዛሬ ለሀገራችን ቆመናል የምንል ኢትዮጲያውያን  የምንቃወማቸውንና የምንደግፋቸውን ሰዎች ተክለሰውነታቸውን በማየት በቻ መሆን የለበትም ተፈጥሮአዊ ባህሪያቸውን በሚገባ ማጠናት ነው በር ላይ የቆመን ሰው ነገ ተነገወዲያ ወደቤቱ እንዳይመለስ ተመልሰው እንዳይገናኙ የልዩነት መፈክራችሁን ለማውጣት አትፍጠኑ በተለይ ዛሬ ሰማቸውን ሰውየው ያነሳቸው ሰው በተግባር ልርሀገራቸው እየደከሙ ያሉ ኢትዮጲያዊ በመሆናቸው ሰውዪውን ትዝብት ላይ ጥሎአቸዋል

ለውደፊቱ ከንዲህ ያለ ተግባራቸው ባይቆጠቡ እሳቸውም የሰው ሰም በማጥፋት በህግ እንደሚጠየቁ ሊያስቡበት የገባል እላለሁ



ኢትዮጲያ በሀቀኛ ለጆቹዋ ነጻ ትወጣለች

እግዚአብሄር ኢትዮጲያን ይጠብቅ

  ኢ ብ   ወመ

    ብ መ

2007 State Department report on human trafficking in Ethiopia


Ethiopia is a source country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. Rural children and adults are trafficked internally to urban areas for domestic servitude and, to a lesser extent, for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor, such as in street vending, traditional weaving, or agriculture. Ethiopian women are trafficked primarily to Lebanon and Saudi Arabia for domestic servitude; other destinations include Bahrain, Djibouti, Kenya, Sudan, Tanzania, the U.A.E., and Yemen. Small percentages of these women are trafficked into the sex trade after arriving at their destinations. Small numbers of men are trafficked to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States for low-skilled forced labor. Some Ethiopian women have been trafficked onward from Lebanon to Turkey and Greece.

The Government of Ethiopia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. While Ethiopia's ongoing efforts to detect cases of child trafficking within the country are notable, its weak record of prosecuting these crimes is a continued cause for concern. To further its anti-trafficking efforts, the government should improve the investigative capacity of police and enhance judicial understanding of trafficking to allow for more convictions of traffickers.

While the government's efforts to investigate trafficking cases significantly increased during the reporting period, prosecution of cases referred to the prosecutor's office remained inadequate. Ethiopia's penal code prohibits all forms of trafficking for labor and sexual exploitation; those violating these statutes face from 5 to 20 years' imprisonment, punishments that are sufficiently stringent and exceed those prescribed for other grave crimes. Proclamation 104/98, which governs the work of international employment agencies, was revised in 2006 and awaits parliamentary ratification. During the year, 925 cases of child trafficking were reported to the police, a significant increase over the previous year. Of these, 67 cases were referred to the prosecutor's office. In September, one trafficker was convicted and sentenced to 13 years in prison and a $596 fine for forcing two children into domestic servitude. Twenty-three cases are pending prosecution, and the remaining 43 were closed for lack of evidence or absconded defendants. During the year, police in Awassa and Shashemene apprehended at least 10 traffickers traveling with children intended for sale to farmers in the Oromiya region. Some local police and border control agents are believed to accept bribes to overlook trafficking.

Though the government lacks the resources to provide material assistance to trafficking victims, a joint police-NGO child victim identification and referral mechanism operates in the capital. The Child Protection Units (CPUs) in each Addis Ababa police station rescued and collected information on trafficked children that facilitated their return to their families; the CPUs referred 240 trafficked children to IOM and local NGOs for care in 2006. Local police and administrators assisted in the repatriation of trafficked children to their home regions. The government did not provide financial or other support to NGOs that cared for victims. Ethiopian officials abroad received no training on recognizing or responding to human trafficking and remain largely uninformed of the issue. Ethiopia's consulate in Beirut, for example, dispensed limited legal advice to victims and referred them to church and NGO partners for assistance. While authorities did not detain or prosecute repatriated trafficking victims, they made no effort to interview returned victims about their experiences in the Middle East.

Ethiopia's efforts to prevent international trafficking increased, but measures to increase awareness of internal trafficking were lacking. In 2006, the Ministry of Labor (MOLSA) licensed 19 additional employment agencies to send workers to the Middle East. In mid-2006, its counselors began offering a pre-departure orientation, providing 8,359 prospective migrants with information on the risks of irregular migration. MOLSA, in conjunction with the Ethiopian consulate in Lebanon, verified and approved labor contracts for 8,200 workers; some of these contracts reportedly originated from black market brokers rather than legitimate migrants independently securing employment. In late 2006 and early 2007, police apprehended several illegal "employment agents" attempting to deceive potential migrants with fraudulent job offers from the Middle East; the cases are under investigation. The inter-ministerial counter-trafficking task force met monthly during the second half of the year and, in November 2006 and January 2007, conducted two three-day training workshops in Addis Ababa and Nazareth for 105 participants, including high court judges, national labor bureau personnel, and police commissioners. It also gave three 25-minute awareness-raising interviews on national radio. National radio aired IOM's weekly anti-trafficking program and, in December, national television aired a documentary highlighting the problem of trafficking. Ethiopia has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.

Source: State Department



ST. PAUL, Minnesota: Ethiopia was not on Mark and Vera Westrum-Ostrom's list when they first visited Children's Home Society & Family Services here to explore an adoption.

Ukraine was first, because of their family heritage, until the couple discovered that the adoption system there was chaotic, with inaccurate information about orphans' health and availability. Vietnam was second, after they saw videos of well-run orphanages. But the wait would be at least a year and a half.

Then they learned about Ethiopia's model centers for orphans, run by American agencies, with an efficient adoption system that made it possible for them to file paperwork in early September and claim 2-year-old Tariku, a boy with almond eyes and a halo of ringlets, at Christmas.

From Addis Ababa, the capital, they traveled to the countryside to meet the boy's birth mother, an opportunity rare in international adoption. The process was affordable compared with adoptions in other countries, and free of bribes, which are common in some nations.

It is no wonder, given these advantages, that Ethiopia has become a hot spot for international adoption by Americans. Even before the actress Angelina Jolie put adoption in Ethiopia on the cover of People magazine in 2005, it was growing. The number of adoptions there by Americans is still small - 732 children in 2006, out of a total of 20,632 foreign adoptions. But the growth curve, up from 82 children in 1997, is the steepest that adoption officials have ever seen. Ethiopia now ranks fifth among countries for adoption by Americans, up from 16th in 2000. In the same time period, the number of American agencies licensed to operate there has grown to 22 from one.

The growing interest in Ethiopia comes at a time when the leading countries for international adoption - China, Guatemala and Russia - are, respectively, tightening eligibility requirements, under scrutiny for corruption in its adoption system, or closing the borders to American agencies.

Ethiopia's sudden popularity also comes with risks, U.S. and Ethiopian government officials say.

"I don't think we'll be able to handle it," said Haddush Halefom, an official at the Ministry of Women's Affairs, which oversees adoption. "We don't have the capacity to handle all these new agencies and we have to monitor the quality, not just the quantity."

Capping the number of agencies is one solution. And that is what some international adoption officials in the United States are now urging the Ethiopian government to do.

Late last month, the talk of the Ethiopian adoption chat rooms was Christian World Adoption, an established agency, although relatively new to Ethiopia, that gave three children to the wrong families. That case prompted inquiries by the U.S. State Department; the nonprofit Joint Council on International Children's Services in Virginia, a child welfare and advocacy organization; and the adoption agency itself, Thomas DiFilipo, president of the joint council, said.

Officials at Christian World Adoption did not reply to e-mail messages or telephone calls. But DiFilipo said the agency was reviewing its procedures and had hired immigration attorneys to reverse adoptions if the families wished to do so.

Ethiopia, with a population of 76 million, has an estimated five million orphans, according to aid organizations. Many African countries have outlawed or impeded the adoption of their children by foreigners.

Ethiopia has welcomed American and European families who are willing to provide homes for children who have lost both parents to AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis or starvation, or who come from families too destitute to feed and clothe them. Two elements distinguish Ethiopia's adoption system, according to dozens of experts. One is the existence of transitional homes for orphans, in the countryside and in the capital, that are paid for by American agencies. These provide services and staffing rare in the developing world.

Not long ago, Sandra Iverson, a nurse from the first U.S. international adoption clinic, at the University of Minnesota, visited the Ethiopian centers of the Children's Home Society. She left confident that Ethiopia's orphans enjoyed unusual care.

"You don't hear crying babies," she said. "They are picked up immediately."

The other signature of Ethiopian adoption is that adopting families are encouraged to meet birth families and visit the villages where the children were raised. Some adoption agencies provide DVDs or photographs that document the children's past. Russ and Ann Couwenhoven, in Ham Lake, Minnesota, recently showed one such video to 6-year-old Tariku, one of three children they have adopted from Ethiopia. The boy seemed proud of the uncle who had sheltered him for as long as he could


Sisters Besso, 5, left, and Hattie, 11, at home in Minnesota. Besso is one of three Ethiopian siblings who joined the family via adoption. (Ben Garvin/The New York Times)

Efficient adoptions attract U.S. couples to Ethiopia

(Page 2 of 2)

Linda Zwicky brought 2-year-old Amale home last month with a letter from her grandmother that described holding the motherless infant at her breast even though she had no milk.

Sometimes such vividness is too much. Melanie Danke and her husband, who live in Minneapolis, adopted siblings, 6-year-old twins and a 3-year-old. One of the twins "would work herself up until she was inconsolable" looking at photographs of the aunt and grandmother who raised her, Danke said. So she has tucked the photos away for now.

Some parents anguished, as did Karla Suomala of Decorah, Iowa, when she arrived in Addis Ababa to adopt 5-year-old Dawit and his 21-month-old sister, Meheret. "It's hard to know what the right thing is to do," Suomala said. "Should we just give all the money we're spending on this to the children's mother?"

Suomala and her husband, David Vasquez, had already spent time with her. "It was obvious the birth mother loved her children. She said to us, 'Thank you for sharing my burden,' " Vasquez said.

Will Connors reported from Addis Ababa.

Time to declare war on dysfunctional behaviors
By Dessalegn Asfaw | September 21, 2006

The recent controversy surrounding Kinijit supporters in the
diaspora--Kinijit USA (KUSA) and Kinijit International Leadership (KIL) -- is
the latest in a history of feuding and infighting among Ethiopian political
interest groups and parties. Indeed, over the past few decades, we have seen
countless political organizations created, only to be shortly disbanded,
abandoned, or rendered ineffective, often because of intra-group conflict --
conflict among the membership -- and an inability to resolve conflict.
I believe that these conflicts are a fundamental reason for the absence of
democracy in Ethiopia today. Indeed, it is these conflicts, magnified to a
national level, that have resulted in dictatorship after dictatorship in
Ethiopia. Endless feuding and infighting from the grassroots level on
upwards have made it difficult for Ethiopians to attain the organic
solidarity necessary to build and sustain the institutions necessary for
democracy. I think it is imperative that pro-democracy activists make
awareness of intra-group conflict a top priority in the struggle for
democracy. But before I make my case, I would like to describe the nature of
the problem in greater detail.

Here are a few interesting points. First, the intra-group conflicts we see
in Ethiopian collectives are seldom caused by differences in ideology,
organizational structure, or other substantive reasons. Nor are they
confined to organizations whose members come from a wide variety of
backgrounds and perspectives. Indeed, the most virulent conflicts occur in
apparently homogenous groups whose memberships have not only similar
ideologies, but similar frames of reference, perspectives, and interests.
The current KUSA/KIL conflict, for the most part, is an example of this.

Another interesting point is that such conflicts occur just as much in the
Ethiopian diaspora as they do in Ethiopia. This is interesting because, in
the diaspora, factors such as poverty, political oppression, lack of
education, etc., do not exist.

Finally, intra-group conflicts are not restricted to organizations of a
political nature. They are found in all types of Ethiopian collectives. We
can observe chronic feuding and infighting in families, extended families,
non-political civic organizations such as professional associations,
churches, local community organizations, charity organizations, and others.

So, why is there so much intra-group conflict, characterized by personal
feuds and infighting, in Ethiopian society? And when there is conflict, why
is conflict resolution so difficult? One explanation is that we have been
brought up in an environment where certain dysfunctional behaviours that
hamper effective communication and cause conflict are the norm. Below is a
list of some of these behaviours that I have observed. I ask readers to
reflect on whether you have seen them in yourself; in others; in meetings
and other group settings.

Personalization of issues: This is when we are unable to conceptually
distinguish between people and their ideas or thoughts. For example, if
someone objects to a suggestion I make, I see the objection as personal
attack, not as a simple difference of opinion. In response to the perceived
personal attack, I respond with a personal attack, instead of discussing the
issues. Hence, the initial disagreement over ideas turns into a personal
struggle, and because it is a personal struggle where pride and survival are
at stake, we end up unable to constructively 'agree to disagree'. Groups
whose members find it difficult to 'agree to disagree' become paralyzed by
feuding and infighting and eventually collapse.
Parochialism (weganawinet): We tend to irrationally favour those from our
own kin or wegen--family, village, team, ethnic group--no matter what the
cost. For example, if a person from my wegen has a conflict with a stranger
(be'ad), a person outside my wegen, I automatically favour my colleague, no
matter what the substance of the disagreement. Furthermore, I extend the
conflict to a dislike of the stranger and his entire wegen--his family,
friends, place of employment, ethnic group, etc. This is the root of blood
feuds (dem). Parochialism within organizations leads to ineffectiveness, as
decisions are made based on who supports the decisions, rather than on their
merit. It also leads to organizations being split into smaller and smaller
factions, and eventually collapsing. For example, an organization may split
into two main factions. Factions will develop within those factions, and
further splitting will occur, until the organization fails.
Chronic suspicion and mistrust (teretaray): We view each other first and
foremost as potential threats. With such a heightened level of
threat-awareness, any idea or thought, no matter how innocuous, is quickly
considered to have negative ulterior motives behind it. Even the most
innocent comments by the closest of friends can be misinterpreted as
sinister, resulting in the breakup of fruitful relationships. This behaviour
is a fundamental cause of conflict in a group setting. By definition, no
group can be effective without trust.
Paranoia: As we view everyone as a threat, we tend to disproportionately
develop a paranoid outlook in our interaction with others, with the 'threat'
foremost in our minds in all our interactions. This paranoia, in a group
setting, results in organizational paralysis, with everyone looking over
their shoulder and hesitant, instead of working towards the common goal.
Lack of empathy and empathetic understanding: Empathy, the ability to
identify with or understand others' situation, feelings, and actions, is
critical for effective communication and teamwork. However, in Ethiopian
society, we are not sensitized to the importance of empathy. We do not ask
questions such as 'what in his background might have caused him to react
this way', or 'what would I have done in his shoes'. This leads us to make
erroneous judgements based on incomplete understandings, which leads to
misunderstanding and conflict within groups.
Lack of suspending judgement or giving others the benefit of the doubt:
Suspending judgement is fundamental to effective communication.
Unfortunately, the combination of chronic suspicion and lack of empathetic
understanding lead to the absence of awareness about the concept of
suspending judgement and giving others the benefit of the doubt. If someone
does something we do not understand, we do not ask, 'Perhaps there is
something he knows that I don't,' or 'Let me wait and see before making a
judgement.' We judge hastily, without taking time to examine all
possibilities. This results in erroneous judgements and personal conflicts.
Character assassination (sem matfat and alubalta): Rather than addressing
conflict directly, we chronically spread rumours and innuendo about those
with whom we disagree. We engage in character assassination because we know
that it is an effective weapon in our society. Since we do not give each
other the benefit of the doubt, we tend to believe bad things about others!
A strategy of muddying someone's reputation will render them useless, as
people will simply have had their existing suspicions confirmed. Obviously,
character assassination quickly leads to infighting and paralysis in groups,
a scenario with which most of us are familiar.
Lack of openness: Openness facilitates effective communication. As
Ethiopians, we are not open and forthcoming about our thoughts and expect
the same guarded approach from others. This is related to our lack of
empathy, which makes us afraid of being judged hastily and incorrectly if we
speak openly. This fear leads us to be initially vague, unclear, and
non-committal, which inevitably leads to communication gaps and
communication breakdown, as others persistently try to interpret the hidden
meaning of what we say, and often end up interpreting negatively and
incorrectly. Lack of openness leads to misunderstanding and conflict.
Holding grudges (qim and mequeyem): We tend to chronically hold on to
personal grudges. Understanding or forgiveness of perceived affronts is seen
as weakness, as it is assumed that everyone is and remains to be a threat.
In a group setting, there are bound to be conflicts, and if people hold on
to grudges, there can be no effective teamwork.
Envy (mequegnenet): We hate it when others are better off than us in any
context, but instead of struggling to improve our own lot, we work to reduce
others'! This comes from our ingrained perception that everything in life is
a zero-sum game. If someone is rich, it is because another is poor. If
someone is happy, it is because another is sad. It is as if the world has
been alloted a fixed amount of wealth, happiness, etc., and it has been
ordained that everyone should have more or less the same amount. Failing
this, the ones with more must have committed some kind of crime to improve
their lot and the ones who have less must be cursed.
Stubbornness and lack of compromise (getterenet): Because of our zero-sum
view of the world, compromise is seen as a weakness. We do not understand
the concept of compromise as a building block for future win-win endeavours.
Instead, compromise is seen as a loss forever.
I am sure that all of us have seen first hand these behaviours manifested in
various contexts. We have also seen the resulting conflicts in our various
collectives, from families to religious groups to political organizations.

On the other hand, most of us in the diaspora have been exposed to
non-Ethiopian collectives where, generally speaking, such conflicts occur
far less often. We have also observed that these collectives are, as a
result, far more effective and efficient than Ethiopian collectives.

In order to bring Ethiopian collectives, including Ethiopian pro-democracy
and human rights organizations such as KUSA and KIL, to this level, it is
crucial that we find a way to raise awareness that intra-group conflict is a
fundamental barrier to democracy, to put an end to our dysfunctional group
behaviours, and to promote positive, constructive behaviours that reduce
conflict, increase our capacity for conflict resolution, and increase
collective consciousness and organic solidarity.

To this end, as a first step, I suggest that all organizations draft a code
of conduct document. The aim of this document should be primarily to raise
awareness about dysfunctional behaviours, the problem of intra-group
conflict, and the importance of effective communication. In addition, the
code of conduct should provide guidelines of behaviour and conduct, along
with explanations for the guidelines.

My second suggestion is that there should be a collective attempt to
stigmatize dysfunctional behaviours in our everyday lives. For example, we
must make it telek newur to attack anyone personally instead of addressing
issues. We must not only refuse to listen to character assassination, but
openly chastise and correct those who do it. In a charitable and
constructive manner, of course--we have to keep in mind that most of us
engage in such behaviour almost unknowingly, because of the culture we have
grown up in. Unless sensitized to the ramifications of such speech and
actions, we cannot become fully aware of the consequences.

I believe that these two actions alone will result in a significant
reduction in the chronic feuding and infighting in our collectives and
organizations. The resulting increase in organic solidarity and collective
consciousness will, in due course, crowd out dictatorship at all levels of
our society, including the political. The democratic culture at the
grassroots will end up being reflected at the national level.

Indeed, imagine diaspora pro-democracy groups devoid of feuding and
infighting. They would make great strides in improving the prospects for
democracy in Ethiopia. Imagine that behaviours such as suspicion and
paranoia were no longer the norm in Ethiopia. Dictatorship, which thrives on
suspicion and paranoia, would disappear shortly.

Doing away with dysfunctional behaviours and intra-group conflict is the
only way to achieve democracy. To those who believe in democracy for
Ethiopia, I say, we need an all-out campaign: Let us declare war on
dysfunctional behaviours!

The writer can be reached for comments at

Selam All,

Appeal to Ethiopian Woyzazirt.

This is very much the truth everywhere, in spite that women represent over fifty percent of the people in Diaspora. They are big money earners, they are a big number of qualified professionals and highly skilled technicians. They hold the family and society together. They maintain our traditional values and traditions.

Yet, we see very few of them participating in our politics. In our history women have played a major role Mentewab, Taytu, Shweraged and countless others. Mothers, patriots, warriors, administrators and so forth.

Gentle Ladies, please get involved even if you have to fight the 'macho' jazz of the men-folks.

Don't forget that Ethiopia our beautiful motherland is a SHE.

The following is something I wrote on the subject some time ago. 

Ketalq akbrot gar.

June 17, 2001


Does anyone know why historically Ethiopia belongs to the feminine gender? Why do we always call her ‘Inatatchin (mother) Ethiopia’?

Strangely enough most countries, France , Britain,  India, Greece, Italy, Egypt and many others are symbolized by the feminine gender. This is one of those questions that pops up suddenly in one’s mind, from the recess of an instinctively male oriented memory.

My interpretation is, that while men went gallivanting to wars and conquests, the women were the ones that assured the survival of the species. They took care of the family, they raised the children, they are the binds that keeps together the society and its values.  They are the permanent and pivotal element in a chaotic and more than often violent world.

Coming to our own Ethiopian women, whether poor or rich, whether beautiful or not,  whether educated or not, their spirit and grace has no equal.   I have known them as mothers, wives, lovers, sisters, daughters, children, colleagues, co-workers, professionals, patriots, artists, business women and in all walks of life.  I have seen them in the most difficult and most dire circumstances, in war and peace, their courage and resilience, their loyalty and compassion, their charm and savoir-faire has always been admirable. 

They, being the pillar of society, I ask why they have almost no role in our political life?  In numbers they represent over fifty percent of the people, they have skills and wealth, they share fully in all endeavors of life. Yet, their participation in the current national political scene is almost nil.  Historically, in Ethiopia women have played great roles in the body-politics of the times, how come that in this age of progress and enlightenment, women are excluded from this vital function in our national life?  In simple terms, when we talk of democracy and of one person (man!) one vote, can we do without fifty percent of the voting population?

Unfortunately, the male chauvinist dominated politics of our time has not done well, if it has not been disastrous.  I think we better go to our old Mother Ethiopia, and give their rightful place in our politics, to our beautiful, gracious and insightful ladies. 

Best regards.


Today in Ethiopia, economic, political and human rights are grossly violated across the country this means that Ethiopian women are found in most dehumanizing and oppressive conditions. Very young women and children are the primary victims of infectious diseases, poverty, prostitution and modern slavery under the current most oppressive and genocidal regime of Meles Zenawe.

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In many countries the tradition of celebrating March 8 by expressing solidarity and raising current and pertinent demands of women, has been going on ever since women first came out to defend their rights. Our organization the International Ethiopian Women’s Organization, the IEWO, calls on Ethiopian women the world over to target March 8, 2007 as a day of mobilization and express their solidarity with women in which ever way they consider to be convenient for them. Papers could be prepared on different aspects of women’s condition in Ethiopia. In our country there is a lot to be done concerning the rights of the girl child, doing away with harmful traditions like abduction, rape, sexual mutilations etc. Discussions could also be initiated and carried on questions like the need of a women’s organization, a better tomorrow for Ethiopia's children etc.

The History of March 8: International Women’s Day


The celebration of March 8 as the international women’s day is dedicated to the struggle of American women who raised their banners in 1857 in the USA. Women workers in textile industries organized the first demonstration for equal pay and the demonstration was put down harshly. In 1893 women were enabled enough to vote for the first time ever in New Zealand, in other countries women will be able to vote after many decades as the history here below shows clearly. March 1908 the suffragettes started their long struggle for the right to vote in Great Britain. March 8 1910 European women organized themselves and met in Holland to create the first ever international organization of women.  March 1911 saw the demonstration of 1 million women in Europe.


The struggle continued to obtain the right to vote and on March 8 1914 women in Germany came out to defend their rights to vote, and Russian women created clandestine organizations of women. March 1915 women in Oslo came out to demonstrate against the war.


In some countries like in France women obtained the right to vote only in 1944, when the struggles for decolonization bare its fruits in some of its colonies. 100 000 French women marched out on March 8 1948. Throughout the 60’s women’s struggle raged both in Europe and the USA. In Switzerland women obtained the right to vote only in 1971, unbelievably late for the European context.


This is how women made their history by demanding their rights, fighting for equal pay for equal work with men, and for the right to vote. Until the 70’s women’s eligibility was only theoretical or symbolical even in the most developed countries.


Finally the UN sponsored meetings on March in 1975 and officially celebrated International Women’s day in 1977. The 1st World conference on women was organized in 1975 in Mexico, the 2nd in Copenhagen, the 3rd in Nairobi, the 4th in Beijing in 1995 and the 5th in New York.


In 2005 a World wide march was organized in many countries culminating at the conference in New York.


Today, women are active within the World Social Forum which has branches in all continents and called international meetings in Porto Allegre, Brazil, in Mumbai, India and the last to date in Bamako, Mali in 2006.

Give it the above title to make people read documents on women's condition the world over
 violence against women and children

Migrant Women for a Better Europe European Social Forum

Copyright 2004 Network of Ethiopian Women (NEW) International