Ethiopia’s growing band of bloggers continued to pile coals on to the heads of their political leaders as 2005 turned into 2006.
The country has been in the headlines for a number of reasons over the past few weeks with worrying signs of “pre-famine conditions” in its southern Somali region and rumblings of renewed conflict across its northern border with Eritrea. But the story that continues to dominate the Ethiopian blogosphere is the aftermath of the country's controversial May 2005 national elections. Thousands of people were arrested after crowds took to the streets in June and November claiming the poll had been fixed. At least 82 people were killed in clashes with armed police and soldiers. (See past Global Voices entries here and here.) Opposition leaders, journalists and alleged rioters are currently in jail, awaiting trial on charges that include treason and attempted genocide.
Weichegud! ET Politics led the blogging charge with an assault on Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi who, in the past, was seen as one of Africa's more cerebral leaders.
Before I go any further let me say that I hope 2006 will be the year we finally decipher why sycophants such as Jeffrey Sachs have been so smitten by the unsmoldering intellectualism of Prime Minister Meles and his entourage of solecistic courtiers. Let the choir say ‘amen’.
To hear Sachs talk, Ato Meles is nothing short of Aristotle wrapped in Adam Smith, wrapped in the irresistible cute cuddliness of that lisping four-year-old in Jerry Maguire.
I just don’t get it. When finally pushed into a corner, Ato Meles made a complete fool of himself by writing a vay-wee skittish three-part response to the EU-EOM report about the not so free and fair Ethiopian elections. Oh, that response. So giddy and illiterate in ways we cannot start counting.
Other bloggers sharpening their satirical spurs included Redeem Ethiopia, who focused on Zenawi's recent televised claim that Ethiopia “deserved aid”, and EthioPundit who quotes Tony Montana in Scarface at the head of his take on Ethiopian corruption.
AddisFerengi was among the bloggers who took on the news agencies at their own game with a running commentary on the court appearances, clashes and rumours-of-clashes. ET Blogs & Diaries was one of a number of blogs to post photos that appeared to show soldiers rounding up schoolchildren.
Others focused on the daily tension on the streets of Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa and the ever-present rumours of further protests and arrests. According to Satisfy My Soul (Ego):
Meles has taken fear to a new level…Attending public gatherings is not an option; the people could be infested with a plague that transmits through eye contact. The amount of solders stationed on his path makes the city look like the buffer zone between Ethiopia and Eritrea in times of economic crisis. For his safety, cars get rerouted to unknown destinations and pedestrians get whooshed off the street like flies at GirGiro’s butchery. In Meles’ world children can’t be trusted with flags and flowers. Those items can easily be used as fatal weapons in the hands of the right kid.
According to Carpe Diem Ethiopia
A sense of doom pervades in the city—smiles are rare and even the goofy guards at the Hilton have lost their arm-trembling salutes…
I heard the government’s charges against the detained CUDites [CUD is the main opposition coalition – Ed] and others at a café not too far from the Posta Bet area where I had ventured to buy a couple of last minute gifts. The ETV report caught me offguard but it suddenly made sense why all the chairs faced the television set. The hush that settled in the smoky joint after the charges were read spoke volumes of the stress Addis Ababans are under.
Leaving politics to one side, Things We Should Have Written Down discovered the joys of raw meat – “Can’t wait for the blog where you tell us all about ’seeing kosso’,” writes one of his commenters referring to the traditional treatment for the tapeworms that often accompany that particular dish.
And Aqumada, the blog of a diaspora Ethiopian in the US, shared the pain of being an “intellectual negro who goes to a blood-red Republican state in search of a job”. First interview question: So what do you Ethiopians think of us Americans?…