By Prof. Al Mariam
I am calling for a truce in the war of words among Ethiopian scholars, intellectuals and others over history, historicity and historicism. I am also calling for an end to the histrionics surrounding the war of words.
Truth be told, it is the people, not I, who are calling for a truce.
At a time when 100 million Ethiopians are facing a war of terror by the Thugtatroship of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (T-TPLF), the people cannot bear to witness another internecine civil war of words among patriots on the same side of the Great Ethiopian Cause.
My reasons for calling a truce are many. I believe they are shared by a vast majority of Ethiopians aware of the clash of the Ethiopian intellectual titans:
1) I am personally embarrassed to see distinguished Ethiopian scholars locked in an endless cycle of attacks and counter-attacks trying to prove their version of the “truth” about Ethiopian history.
2) I am disheartened watching distinguished Ethiopian scholars exerting enormous amounts of energy undercutting each other’s intellectual integrity and hyper-ventilating to prove their versions of the “truth” when they could devote their energies to oppose and struggle against the T-TPLF, which is committing unspeakable crimes against humanity in Ethiopia today.
3) I am disappointed and shocked by the acerbity of the vitriol the principals and their allies freely dispense in cyberspace. All of the sarcasm, the insults, testiness, cynicism, spite, bitterness, irascibility, derisiveness, scorn, abrasiveness and backhanded praise makes even a hard-boiled lawyer cringe.
4) I believe continuation of the war of words is not only counterproductive but also MAD (it will end in mutually assured destruction).
5) I believe there is going be one and only winner in the current war of words on Ethiopian history: The T-TPLF. I want to see an end to the bloodletting, better yet, the word-letting for it could benefit only the T-TPLF and serve to entertain and amuse them at our expense.
6) I would like to see vigorous debates, arguments and discussions NOT on Ethiopia’s past, the old historic Ethiopia, but on Ethiopia’s future, the New Ethiopia that is destined to be built by its patriotic citizens as the shining city upon the hill.
7) Most importantly, I am calling a truce in the war of words so that we can ALL keep our eyes on the prize: The New Ethiopia that will rise up from the ashes of the T-TPLF.
Just for the record: I enjoy intellectual discussions and debates. I also readily admit that straddling two professions whose stock in trade is bickering, nit-picking, squabbling, carping and hair-splitting, I am the wrong person to complain about verbal combat and jousting.
I believe history is a lot like the law. Both historians and lawyers have their own agendas in telling the “truth”. Historians generally present their “truths” based on “records” and “evidence” assembled by previous historians and others. They argue the facts and evidence to convince the public that their version of historical the “truth” is credible, reasonable and trustworthy.
Lawyers, like historians, present “truths” about past events based on “records” and “evidence” provided by their clients, opposing sides and sundry other sources. They argue their cause to a jury or a judge and obtain a verdict. The only difference is that the law, at least in civilized societies with a sophisticated legal culture, provides mandatory constitutional and statutory standards and axioms for the determination of “truth” such as “proof beyond reasonable doubt”, “proof by preponderance of the evidence” and “proof by clear and convincing evidence”.
I doubt there are such inexorable axioms of “truth” in history.
It is possible, indeed inevitable, to have two or more versions of historical or legal “truths” about the same set of events.
I do not take a position on which side in the war of words on Ethiopian history is telling the “truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”, and which side is not.
I draw my own conclusions about history in general guided by the sagacious observations of the late great Prof. Edward Said who cautioned:
All knowledge that is about human society, and not about the natural world, is historical knowledge, and therefore rests upon judgment and interpretation. This is not to say that facts or data are nonexistent, but that facts get their importance from what is made of them in interpretation… for interpretations depend very much on who the interpreter is, who he or she is addressing, what his or her purpose is, at what historical moment the interpretation takes place.
A truce is an agreement between opponents to stop fighting or arguing for a certain period of time.
And that is all I am asking of our scholars, intellectuals and researchers. A temporary ceasefire in the war of words against each other.
I am asking for a stop in the the war of words on Ethiopian history until Ethiopians make history by dumping the T-TPLF on the trash heap of history.
Truth be told, we need all of you, each and every one of you, in the moral struggle and in the battles to win the hearts and minds of the Ethiopian people.
If you could direct the same level of forensic firepower against the T-TPLF criminals against humanity as you do against each other, we could win the most important battle of all: the battle for the heart and minds of the Ethiopian people.
When I began my struggle against the T-TPLF tyrants and criminals against humanity, I declared, “We prove the righteousness of our cause not in battlefields soaked in blood and filled with corpses, but in the living hearts and thinking minds of men and women of goodwill.”
I have no doubts that we are victorious in winning the hearts and minds of the Ethiopian people. The T-TPLF believes it can reverse our victory by declaring a state of emergency and massacring and jailing tens of thousands of our innocent brothers and sisters. But our victory can never be reversed by the T-TPLF.
But we can reverse our victory by doing the T-TPLF’s job; by declaring a war of words on each other.
It burns me to think that we never miss an opportunity to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Isn’t the vicious T-TPLF campaign of smear, disparagement and vilification against us enough?
I have never believed anyone can win the hearts and minds of the people by talking to them in the chatter of AK-47 or muzzling them in a “state of emergency”.
A declaration of a “state of emergency” by the T-TPLF is the equivalent of admitting a massive heart attack. The odds of surviving a massive heart attack are next to nil. The T-TPLF can brag about its ridiculous and stupid “command post” to prove its stone cold heart is beating; but have no doubts the T-TPLF is on life support. It is just a matter of time before the T-TPLF goes down!
By fighting against each other in such a public way, we are breaking the hearts of the Ethiopian people and distressing their minds.
I have received dozens of messages and communications from all corners of the world asking me to call a truce, to call a stop this intellectual MADness.
You can ignore my call for a truce, but you cannot ignore the call of your people! Stop the war of words against each other!
“There is a time for everything.” There is a “time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak…”
This is the time to speak up and write against the T-TPLF and its crimes against humanity, massacres and persecutions.
This is NOT the time to wage a war of words among brothers. The is NOT the time for true patriots to vilify, discredit and demonize each other.
Let’s not argue about the past. Let’s argue about the future.
Let’s debate and discuss how we should design and build the New Ethiopia.
Let’s not go for an archaeological excavation looking for the “historic Ethiopia”.
Let’s look forward, not backwards. We cannot drive forward by looking into the rear view mirror.
I have been fighting and exposing T-TPLF crimes, lies, damned lies, statislies, disinformation, fake news (a/k/a World Bank reports), deceptions, fabrications, falsifications, mendacity, hype, fables, fairytales and tall tales for over a decade every week.
Why don’t you join me in speaking truth to the T-TPLF criminals every week (every day)?
Why don’t you join me in unmasking the ugly faces of the international poverty pimps and parasi-ticks sucking the life blood from Ethiopia’s poor?
Why don’t you join me in denuding the loaners and donors who masquerade as the saviors of Ethiopia’s poor?
In the battle for the hearts and minds of the Ethiopian people, the only effective weapons are words, written and spoken. Words are so fearsome that they drive cowards to barricade themselves behind a wall of a state of emergency.
The T-TPLF believes it can impose its rule indefinitely by speaking to the Ethiopian people in the chatter of its arsenal of AK-47s. “Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets,” fretted Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France, as he summed up the power of the word and the independent press. “Ethiopia is the second worst jailer of journalists in Africa”, because the T-TPLF criminals against humanity are deathly afraid of the word.
Let’s not underestimate the power of the word. Wrote Edward Bulwer-Lytton, “True, This! —/ Beneath the rule of men entirely great/ The pen is mightier than the sword.”
Let us not use the mighty sword of the word against each other.
Would you lend me your mighty pens to write words about our dream of the New Ethiopia?
Let’s keep our eyes on the prize: The New Ethiopia!