I am neither an employee in the core diplomatic missions of Ethiopia in America, nor am I working in the FDRE Ministry of Foreign Affairs evaluating the sanity and sanctity of USA relations with Ethiopia. I am simply a citizen with great love for Ethiopia. This comment draws from my memo of what happened in my work place and thinks that it hints at the nature of the USA relations. It is an incidental memo taken while I was working as Department Head of South Wollo Administration Zone Education Office. I contained this memo until fluctuating interests of USA in Ethiopia made it timely to share it to the public.
It has been only fortnight after EPRDF seized Addis Ababa in June 1991that America heralded to bring its consular office back to the level of an ambassador that was otherwise lowered in status during the Dergue Regime. One morning, I received a gentle man named Mr. Jey Hood with his spouse and little daughter in my office. He was a newly assigned public relation officer of the embassy, as identified by his miniature business card.
The guest had set himself out for a long itinerary stretching to Asmara, but with a to-do-list in Dessie and Mekelle. I was informed from the MoE at the eve of the guest’s departure, as it was customary to notify local authorities about travelling VIPs for safety purposes. I was half happy and half unhappy about getting the guest in my office. I knew that the deal of the USA government through Mr. Herman Cohn had facilitated for the EPRDF to occupy Addis Ababa, as the Dergue was no more capable of repelling the guerrilla fighters. The relics ofthe American contributions to Wollo through Ethiopia were still in my memory. I know of the old American Library established in the Woizero Siheen Comprehensive Secondary School furnished by the United States Information Service (USIS) that I myself had always enjoyed reading. Besides, I know the story of Peace Corps office that used to deploy volunteer schoolteachers.
After a brief introduction, I kindly asked him what I could help him. My expectation of the aim of his visit and his narration were congruent, of course leaving the kernel of the truth open to GOD’s hearing and himself. His focus was on the post war feelings of the local people and their attitude towards Ethiopia-America relations.
I located source institutions providing relevant information on legacies of the US to Wollo serving as tokens of our pat relationships. To start the visit, I assigned a fellow staff from my office to accompany the guest and take care of his safety at the destinations that took two visit days. During the third day, I escorted the guest to windup the visit with my presence in my place of choice. After lunch in Touring Hotel, I took him to a building project site under construction. The project was initiated to establish a local recording studio for launching local community radio programs for Wollo region. With this, I thought that I could stimulate the guest to take note of the ongoing project running under budget strain from a long war economy. Besides, the site offers for the unaided eye a breath taking panoramic view of a vast horizon of the low lying areas of the eastern escarpments of Wollo. See sighting over this site refreshes the bored mind.
Our main topic of discourse was the aftermaths of the long gorilla war. Mr. Jey Hood asked me if I could kindly explain the feelings of the people of Dessie on the current political scenario that I did recalling talks transpiring in the streets of the town as follows.
“There is ever no country other than USA knowing better that unity of nations builds a big nation, but paradoxically it toiled for years at dissociating Ethiopia into small states. It assisted the ousting of President Mengistu and facilitated for replacement by the EPRDF. It paved the road for Eritrea to break away from its motherland. During the UN led referendum back in the early 1960s, America had opposed to the unification of Eritrea with its mother country. Next it fueled the gorilla war in Tigre and Eritrea that the country had long waged. Hence, putting trust on America can be likened to trying to catch hold of a bank of cloud by the unaided hand. The insincere relationship of USA with Ethiopia spanned nearly over 200 years, but the response from the former side does not worth much the long history of relationships excluding the time of President Kennedy…”The guest was listening to me carefully.
Now it became my turn to listen to Mr. J Hood.He took a deep breath casting his eyes on the panoramic view of Yegof Forest reserve down the S-road curving at short distances between Dessie and Kombolcha towns like a coiling cobra. He spread his legs, stood on the ground firmly and stretched his upper limbs far apart over his head flexing the four fingers except the index fingers, which were stiffly erect. Then he replied to me “what you have reiterated to me about the local peoples’ feelings cannot be overemphasized if we view the situation soberly from their perspectives. It is their live witness, but their perception of America must be the result of the old hegemony of “American Imperialism” preached to the people by the cadres of the socialist Dergue, that can gradually be evaporated through indoctrination. America has no hesitation to respect the interests of historic Ethiopia. Now Ethiopia is embarking on a new avenue of peace, democracy and development and catching a glimpse of bright future that both countries can jointly develop in the future. To the common people it may appear that Eritrea is seceding, he said.
Moving his upper limbs again inwards rubbing the edges of the two index fingers by sliding one over the other as if he was trying to prove the equality of the length of the two index fingers, he added that Ethiopia and Eritrea would merge again like my fingers. They are sharing the same blood, common culture and history and have the same destiny. The apparent drifting away of Eritrea from Ethiopia is conditionally tentative. It is done with a view to end up the long hostility created by the warring groups and soothes the accompanying feeling of enmity that the long war has eventually brought about. This will create a scenario where everyone will feel shortly that the absence of one is a loss for the other. As it is hard for Eritrea to prosper without Ethiopia, also Ethiopia needs Eritrea to expedite its progress.
I had no major doubt not to take his worthwhile explanation as true given he officially represents the USA government, and never suspected him that he might tell me a white lie. Notwithstanding, I had some reservations not to take all what he had said for granted. Experience has taught me that political utterances can only be proven as true when they are actually translated to practical venture. When it comes to political transactions, it is only the fact on the ground that speaks the truth, not what the politicians articulate for mere propaganda. Inspired by his demonstrative explanations, I continued hoping for a reunited Ethiopia. But I was not sure how long the reunification would take if the assertion of Mr. Jey Hood were true. Thirty solid years had elapsed since I had an historical discourse with Mr. Jey Hood, an historical at least for me.
Sometimes, I get tempted to question whether Mr. Jey Hood was telling me a politician lie? or several more years may be required to meet his assertions? Meanwhile, a new political scenario is unfolding approximating my guess to the truth buried in the second question. Evidence corroborating the second assumption is coming from the America’s renewed proximity to the TPLF and its positions on GERD issues inclining towards Egypt and Sudan.
I am lacking reasonable justification substantiating the assertions of Mr. Jey Hood that America has a positive thinking for Ethiopia. While I was expecting reversal of the secession of Eritrea, America is seemingly participating in a second episode of secession to break up Tigre from Ethiopia. Should Ethiopia continue dissolving through USA-mediated secession of all its parts on ethnic grounds. Why USA, a great nation puts Ethiopia under a secret threat of regular secession while the same is enjoying the benefits of becoming a great nation through the coming together of several small states. Should I better say that putting trust on America is like catching hold of a bank of cloud with the unaided hand or shall I wait for some more time to say the truth will out? I am expecting clarification from the USA Embassy, in Addis Ababa on this burning issue. Long live Ethiopia!
The views expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Reporter.
Contributed by Hussien Adal Mohammed (PhD)