In a memorable sonnet, Shakespeare wrote, “When to the sessions of sweet silent thought / I summon up remembrance of things past…”
Today, I summon up remembrance of “July 29, 2018 ‘PM Abiy Ahmed Ethiopia Day’ in Los Angeles.”
It was truly an amazing day.
On July 29, 2018 at 9:30 a.m., Team Abiy Ahmed- Ethiopia literally descended (in their jetliner) on the City of Angels on a special mission to deliver their message of love, forgiveness, peace, reconciliation, unity and Ethiopiawinet to the tens of thousands of Ethiopians living in Southern California and the Western United States.
As the Ethiopian Airlines jetliner rolled to the VIP gate at LAX, I had the strangest feeling.
Standing along the red-carpet reception line, I did not feel I was there to receive a head of state with his delegation.
I felt I was there to receive members of my own family, my children, my brothers and sisters or cousins.
As I saw Abiy, his wife Zinash Tayachew, Lemma Magarssa and the rest of the delegation coming down the red carpet greeting us, for the first time I felt like I was back in Ethiopia after 48 years (round it off to 50). That is one-half century.
It was an indescribable feeling of family re-union.
I felt like they knew I would never go back to Ethiopia, so they decided to bring Ethiopia to me in Los Angeles.
As PM Abiy and Zinash stopped to shake hands, I choked up. I could not speak, not even get the words “Welcome to LA” out.
The only other time I felt choked up like that was when I met my mother after a quarter of a century at the same airport.
The strangest thing was that 6 months earlier, I had no idea about Abiy Ahmed or any one in his delegation. Before he became prime minister, I “knew” Abiy Ahmed from watching 3 or 4 YouTube videos.
As I recounted recently, there was no question in my mind Abiy Ahmed was the change I had worked so hard to bring to Ethiopia.
Since 1991, Ethiopians had lived an endless nightmare under ethnic apartheid rule.
I joined the struggle for human rights in Ethiopia after the Meles Massacres.
It was 13 long years of writing uninterrupted weekly commentaries, speeches, interviews, debates, grassroots mobilization, writing letters and hoofing the halls of the U.S. Congress.
In April 2018, the TPLF vanished without a single shot fired. But in December 2017, I had announced to the world Ethiopia sat on the “horns of a creeping civil war dilemma.”
At the eleventh hour, 59th minute and 59 seconds Ethiopia was saved from a calamity.
But in July 2020, the TPLF and its henchmen murdered Haachaalu Hundessa, a young artiste and freedom fighter who walked the talk until the very end.
As the saying goes, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”
The plot hatched by the TPLF mice and their minions fizzled out but not without significant loss of life and wanton destruction of property by misguided roving gangs seeking to effect ethnic cleansing.
Time to stand up and be counted in July 2020
In July 2018, Ethiopia stood at the crossroads.
In July 2018, diaspora Ethiopians stood shoulder to shoulder with Abiy Ahmed and supported Ethiopia’s transformation from an ethnic apartheid state into a genuine federal republic.
In July 2018, diaspora Ethiopians rejected the hate, division and strife as they came out by the tens of thousands to support Pm Abiy Ahmed.
In July 2018, diaspora Ethiopians affirmed their unity in their humanity and rejected the politics of identity, ethnicity and incivility.
In July 2020, Ethiopia once again stands at the crossroads. Diaspora Ethiopians must make a choice.
In July 2020, we can choose to march forward confident in the future to a promised land of prosperity, dignity, fraternity, equality and humanity.
In July 2020, we can choose to walk back and free fall into a bottomless vortex of poverty, the shameful politics of ethnicity and live in a society marked by inhumanity, cruelty, enmity and irrationality.
In July 2020, we can choose to make a right turn and uphold human rights and undo human wrongs. We can be on the right side of history and do right by the people of Ethiopia.
In July 2020, we can choose to make a left turn and be left behind.
In July 2020, we must make a choice.
In July 2020, the choice of fence sitting, flip flopping, vacillating, equivocating and waffling is not available.
Hiding in the herd of the silent majority is not possible.
The one and ONLY choice is to stand with Ethiopia and Abiy Ahmed or to stand against Ethiopia and Abiy Ahmed.
I have often declared I am a man of principle and integrity. I do not stick my fingers in the wind and feel which way the wind is blowing. I stand my ground and never back down.
On July 29, 2020, I affirm my choice to stand with Ethiopia and Abiy Ahmed. I choose to stand on the right side of history.
I urge all diaspora Ethiopians to stand on the right side of history with Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed!
My question to diaspora Ethiopians: If not Abiy Ahmed, then who?