Thursday, September 20, 2007

Millennium Opportunities: Honoring the Past, Respecting the present and Chartering the future

Global Strategic Enterprises, Inc for Peace and Prosperity-;

Re: Marking the Millennium should be about the Honoring the past, Respecting the present and Chartering a better future.

Lauren and Kiros below are sharing their critical perspectives of the Millennium.

It appears there is a big disconnetct between the understanding of the Millennium as a calendar and landmark and between divergent perspectives of the state of affairs in modern Africa or Ethiopia.

Domestic and Regional Turmoil Color Ethiopia's
Millennium Celebration

Lauren Gelfand | Bio 20 Sep 2007

LONDON -- Pomp, pagentry and the hip-hop group Black Eyed Peas accompanied Ethiopia's celebration of its entry into the third millennium, seven years after the
rest of the world but in line with the Coptic calendar of the Horn of Africa nation.

But with the exchange of fiery rhetoric threatening to upset a fragile peace with neighbor Eritrea, new broadsides in the internal conflict raging in the Ogaden region on the country's border with Somalia, and dissatisfaction with progress toward improved social welfare, Ethiopia has entered the 21st century
much the way it wrapped up the 20th: divided and poor.

In honor of the Sept. 11 and 12 celebrations, the capital, Addis Ababa, was lit up with fireworks that cast long shadows on the expensive civic projects funded by the increasingly unpopular government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

The elite -- few and far between in the country of 70 million people that is ranked 170 of 179 on the U.N. Human Development Index -- attended lavish celebrations at five-star hotels, including the Sheraton, considered one of Africa's most luxurious.

Many among them are members of the Ethiopian diaspora, some of the more than 35,000 people who flew home from around the world, from Washington, D.C. to London.

For those diasporans who remained in their adopted cities, there were parties galore: London's Trafalgar square hosted a concert attracting some 10,000 people,
and Ethiopian restaurants around the United States advertised banquets, music and dance parties.

"People think of starving children and famine and poverty when they think of Ethiopia, when really we are a country where civilization took root and created
sophisticated arts and music and education," said one Addis native in London, an artist who refused to give her name, hunched over a plate of spicy chicken in
sauce at a south London Ethiopian restaurant.

"This millennium party is a chance for us to change the way our country is perceived. Politics should not enter into the equation, it should be about partying
and celebrating!"

'There is Nothing'

For the average Ethiopian, however, unable to shell out the equivalent of two months' salary for the extravagant parties, there seemed to be little on
offer to preserve a festive mood.

Many of the planned festivities, including the annual racing of the Great Ethiopian Run, a "Taste of Ethiopia" celebration of national cuisine and a free concert hosted by the Rastafarian community, were all cancelled by the government amid "security concerns."

Many residents of the capital spent the evening in church, following marathon prayers with meals of roasted goat and the spongy sourdough flatbread known
as injera.

But even their festive meals were bare of the berberi spices essential to the traditional "wat" sauce that flavors many dishes. Price hikes put hot peppers out
of reach for most of the population, leading many to decry the 21st century as the "pepperless millennium."

So glum were residents of the capital that a wry joke was making the rounds, both of Addis Ababa and the international media: What's Amharic for Millennium? The answer: "minnum yellum", which literally translates to "there is nothing."

Ogaden Humanitarian Crisis

Further east, in the Ogaden region on the border with Somalia, the atmosphere was anything but festive.

An untold number of refugees have flooded into makeshift camps, escaping rape, looting and murderous rampages perpetrated by Ethiopian troops and civilians
on the mostly-Muslim population living in the triangle that juts into Somalia.

The Coptic Christian regime has launched a major crackdown on the mostly ethnic Somali and Muslim population of Ogaden, fueled, according to the Meles
government, by its opposition to the independence-seeking rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).

For nearly two decades, the ONLF has fought both with force and through diplomatic efforts to end what it considers the region's systematic marginalization by
Addis Ababa.

In ramping up efforts to crack down on the ONLF, however, humanitarian organizations including Médecins Sans Frontières have warned that civilians are facing
collective punishment and being deprived of humanitarian aid -- a public pronouncement that has resulted in the organization's ouster from the region.

Three of the worst-affected areas have been decreed off limits to both MSF and the International Committee of the Red Cross, leaving an estimated 400,000 people
in a very precarious state, with limited access to food, clean water and medical care.

'There is a humanitarian crisis' . . ."There is a humanitarian crisis," said William
Robertson, the MSF head of mission, from Nairobi on
Sept. 4.

"Our teams have treated people who were forced to flee their homes and who are now battling for their survival with next-to-no assistance. They are living
in fear, the targets of armed groups or in the crossfire."

So preoccupying is the evolving humanitarian crisis in Ogaden that the United States, a staunch ally of the Meles government and major contributor of foreign aid,
has sent a senior diplomat to help resolve the issue.

Jendayi Frazer, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, called the situation in Ogaden a "humanitarian crisis" on a Sept.

8 visit to the region, putting Washington squarely at odds with a country it relies upon to bring a measure of stability to the restive Horn of Africa.

Border Tension With Eritrea

Washington is also looking warily at the resumption of combustible rhetorical exchanges between Ethiopia and perennial rival Eritrea, seven years after they signed
an agreement to end two years of bloody war.

Noting recently that Ethiopian troops were just "meters" away from their Eritrean counterparts, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin breathed new life into the intractable stalemate, a tacit warning that Addis would continue to obstruct the
implementation of a ruling that awarded the disputed town of Badme to Eritrea.

Despite the presence of U.N. troops in the border region these last six years, the two sides have continued their dispute over Badme, a dry and dusty town that has limited strategic value beyond its symbolic worth to Addis and Asmara.

"At this time there is little separation of troops from the two neighbors. . . . The armies of the two countries are only 70 or 80 meters apart," Mesfin said during a Sept. 10 news conference.

Mesfin also chided a U.N. border commission's work to reinforce the 2002 border decision ahead of its dissolution in November, criticism that was backed up
on Tuesday by Meles himself, who reiterated Ethiopia's resistance to giving Badme to Eritrea.

Analysts contend that Meles is maintaining his bluster on the border dispute in order to boost his sagging popularity and to obfuscate the ongoing domestic
travails faced by his impoverished population.

But there is real concern that the stalemate could edge into violence again, as neither Addis nor Asmara shows any signs of backing down.

More than one in 10 Ethiopians is "food vulnerable," according to development agencies, which means they have no financial security that will allow them to
regularly purchase what they need to feed their families.

"It is absolutely the case that Ethiopia faces some very serious political and security challenges, both at home domestically and in the Horn of Africa," said
Tom Porteous, the London director of Human Rights Watch, in an exclusive interview with World Politics

"Violating human rights law and international humanitarian law is not an effective way of dealing with those challenges, aside from being wrong and causing a lot of civilian suffering."

Lauren Gelfand is a freelance journalist and commentator with a special interest in African issues.


Hello Bereket: Please. post the response of Dr. Belai Habte-Jesus response in our website as a matter of fairness. To tell you the truth, I am not happy with the short note by Teodros because it is grossly oversimplified narative of a complex society. I intend towrite a full scale criticism later. For now, please post Belai's protest with caption. Take care. Tecola

Subject: Re:How dare [DEKI ALULA] THE IRRELEVANCE OF THE MILLENNIUM - by Teodros Kiros (Ph.D) desecrates my heritage?

it seems it is getting fashionable to desecrate every thing Ethiopian by the Sharlattans of the day posing as journalists (the Mitchels and Gettlemans) as charitable inistitutions when they are really covert operatives like Medicines Without Borders and Journalists Without Borders and a series of overt operatives like the Norwegian Embassy and its like.

I felt compelled to respond to this onslaught on my heritage by incompetent rather disingenous people as I have now lived and worked in four continents, Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America and still do my Saturady Meet the people tour where ever I am and visit the divergent socio-economic neighborhoods.

The Metro-Washington is such a great site as the White House is just a block away from the deprevation of the South East Ghetoes and North East Gangsta land, and then compare that with the North West Jewish Neghborhood or the Louden County suburb, you get my twist.

Ethiopia does fair better when you see these gross discrepancies and Ethiopian intellectuals do not write by comparing their respective divergent experiences but choose to behave like the incompetent covert and overt operatives that desecrate indigenous civilizatiions and the Ethiopian Millennium is a kindergarten for all these upstart covert operators.

Teodros Kiros sounds like Abe Gubegna of yest-er years who begs for abortion. He insists please my Dad do not fertilize my mother's eggs, she does not deserve to be pregnant, nor carry a pregnancy, unless she takes me to the US to be born in Washington DC, etc.

How dare he throws his melancholy on us? How dare he does not come up with a solution to the current level of poverty!

How dare he try to commit his suicide in public on our Millennium day and Year.

How dare Kiros does not come with some of his PhD lingo about a future of a nation. Let him listen to the African Union General Secretary. He will then get it what others feel about Ethiopia.

Let him listen to Rev Fontroy's speech at the DC Millennium where he talked about His Dream for Ethiopia and people of African Descent.

How dare Kiros got his PhD and never read about Ethiopian history and the bravery and genius of Ethiopian Shabaka of XXV Dynasty that united Upper and Lower Nile Basin Civilization.

How Dare that he gets a PhD with such low self esteem and suicidal education.

How ddare Deki Allula posts such a pessimistic genocidal write up and How Dar Aba Mechal Post it on EthioForum.

How dare do the likes of Kiros manage to be born in Ethiopia when they should be born and bread in America.

Why should Ethiopia carry the placenta of such geniuses who do not produce any vision nor any strategy to share their creativity except curse every one.

How dare Kiros desecrates every thing Ethiopioan?

How dare he? Tell me Aba Mechal, you know better, I trust.

Dr Belai Habte-Jesus, MD, MPH
Global Strategic Enterprises, Inc.

May Kiros review or go to Ethiopia and learn his heritage by abandoning the PhD that made him feel ashamed of his heritage.

How dare Kiros try to make my day? by converting me into a gullible critic of Diaspora intelligence where I know there are many gems scattered all over the world.

All the same, Kiros deserves a lot of How dare hes from patriotic citizens across the world.

The Irrelevance of the Millennium

By Teodros Kiros (Ph.D)

September 19, 2007

Now that the exuberance of the Millennium is over Addis wakes up to the empty tall buildings which could never hide the reality from ninety-nine percent of the Ethiopian population.

Ethiopia remains to be one of the poorest nations in the world. No skyscrapers can fool the vigilant eye from seeing the reality behind the veil of the

What is it that Ethiopia just celebrated? Celebration must have a cause. What is our cause?

Reasonable people celebrate because they have achieved a dream, realized a goal, and exacted a plan. Ethiopia has not achieved any of these, since the days of Axum and Lalibela, pillars of classical Ethiopian history.

Moreover, individuals celebrate their birthdays, if they can invite more than one person. In contemporary Ethiopia, only one percent of the population can remember when they were born.

A majority of Ethiopians are born without knowing when and they die without knowing why, how and when.

They die like cattle without a name, and without a history- anonymous and nameless; they live no traces of their existence. Here we live in an Ethiopia that cannot feed its population and that lives on handouts from the West, and yet we dared to bombard the world with the empty millennium, when millions of Ethiopians were stretching their hands for our refuses as diaspora Ethiopians and local thugs
danced away at our ugly hotels.

How dare we display our ostentatious commodities to the eyes of the hungry and the famished on our badly fixed streets in Addis, a city built to accommodate three hundred thousand Ethiopians and is now infested with millions of malnourished

How dare we display our American dollars to the hungry
that will never eat chicken until they

I ask you Ethiopians, where is your conscience and where is your political intelligence? How dare you stay put when your nation is burning in the
crucible of poverty? How dare you celebrate on the backs of your people’s backs?

Belai Habte-Jesus, MD, MPH
Global Strategic Enterprises, Inc for Peace and Proseperity (GSE4P&P)
V: 703.531.0540; C: 703.933.8737; F: 703.531.0545

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