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January 25, 2021
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Damned if you do, damned if you don’t: Damned now you didn’t !

By Tsega Wiyohannes

It is really disappointing to say the least that Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America (ESFNA) has rescinded the request made by Dr Abiy Ahmed, the current prime minister of Ethiopia, to be present in its sports tournament organised yearly in July, this year to be held in Dallas, Texas. 

By rejecting Dr Abiy’s offer of olive branch, not only ESFNA has failed to make sport live up to its promise and mission of bringing hope, but also failed to make Ethiopian history in Dallas, whereby diverse Ethiopians of our generation and the next would inter mingle in peace, rejoicing the new hope and euphoric sense of freedom with those who sacrificed their lives for the betterment of others to build together the newly envisioned Ethiopia. 

What more could a sport event have achieved than making the impossible possible, by locking arms in solidarity of Bekele Gerba, Eskinder Nega, Prof, Berhanu Nega, Andargachew Tsegie, Dr Merara Gudina and Dr Abiy Ahmed in the same podium for Peace, love and hope of the New envisioned Ethiopia everyone aspires to proudly call home.

This is really a missed opportunity where Ethiopian history would have recorded the event as the one that planted the seed of reconciliation, tolerance, friendship and love for Ethiopia. Imagine how proud and ecstatic people back home would have felt to see those who have sacrificed being recognised in a faraway land by their families who have the same feeling of despair, plight, love, passion and affection as their own. For that reason and reason alone, I thought it would be inconceivable to even think and do otherwise. Incredible!

In case they were not paying attention, in less than two months since Dr Abiy, became Prime Minister, we have not only averted a possible civil war but also, we are on course to establishing a relative peace and creating a political stakeholder society. It all began with releasing of prisoners of conscience, ranging from journalists to political activists from different regions, creed and backgrounds; both from regional as well as federal penitentiaries. The closure of Me’akelawi torchere chamber and the release of Eskinder Nega, Temesgen Desalegne, Bekele Gerba, Merara Gudina, Demeke Zewdu, Seyoum Teshome, Nigist Yirga and Andualem Arage, as well as many more unsung heroes was incredible to see and ecstatic to witness. To top it all off, the release of Andargachew Tsegie together with his photo shoot with the Prime Minister was just the icing on the cake that was needed for the freedom hungry, long suffering, now jubilant and aspiring Ethiopians.

By the same token, what took most people by surprise was the fact that thousands of Ethiopian prisoners whose plight most Ethiopians were never privy to, have been incarcerated in prisons as far as The Sudan, Kenya and Saudi Arabia. In his maiden foreign trip to The Sudan, later to Kenya and finally to The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, The Prime Minister made it his top agenda to deliver his people from bondage and bring them back home to their families to the cry of joy to many millions of Ethiopians. The Prime Minister, who envisioned a vision of new Ethiopia to the young and the able bodied; delivered those who were shackled in prison far away from home as well as at home; earned him the title of ‘Moses who grew up in Pharaoh’s household’ (ፈርዖን ቤት ያደገው ሙሴ) and rightly so.

This is the kind of prime minister ESFNA has the boldness to decline the presence of with nonsensical excuses that wouldn’t even worth the paper it is printed on. Ethiopians hoped for once, ESFNA, would do the right thing and accept the prime minister’s offer, extend their invitation and face the wrath of some diasporas. That is what courageous people do as there will always be some disgruntled voices even with a unanimous decision. Unfortunately, so it seems, courage and audacity are what ESFNA lacks most. So, they know it would have been better to be damned and do the right thing, be in the right side of history than be damned while censured by history. 

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