An open letter to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali

8 mins read
Lydia Gorfu
Lydia Gorfu
Photo by aron simeneh

Dear Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali,

As a leader of an uncolonized African nation, you have tasted the pride that is within freedom. As a fighter at Badme, you have tasted the cost of peace. Your selection from a massive pool of billions, as a symbol, is indicative of your knowledge in fostering peace and promoting noble change worthy of recognition. Yet, we are still waiting for words of wisdom, waiting to hear you will stand with black people in the fight against racism in and beyond our border. I believe that there comes a huge responsibility with the Nobel Peace Prize, and I’m afraid that you are limiting your obligations by not expanding your influence globally. I understand that there are national matters that need your undivided attention and I am not by any means lowering the magnitude of that. However, during the fight against Fascist Italy, African Americans came to fight for our freedom, a freedom that you, myself and every Ethiopian have been privileged with. When we were in the midst of our own battles, our African American brothers and sisters selflessly gave aid to our cause, despite being in the midst of their own revolutions. Undoubtedly, because they understood that in order to defend themselves against the violence and abuse of segregation and slavery, that in uplifting and supporting fellow black men/women/nations, that they were ultimately uplifting themselves.

In our freedoms in an uncolonized African nation we have come a long way but still have further ways to go. You preach an ideology Medemer, in which you talk about unity and peaceful coexistence. Such unity and peace cannot coexist in a nation that separates itself from the world by ignoring current events. Your failure to unite with our fellow black people in a war against racism and terror is one in which we cannot accept. It is not only customary to practice what one preaches, but morally required as a public servant. “Does the Medemer philosophy only apply to your service to Ethiopia?”, “Do you not see yourself as a global citizen?”, “Will you continue to ignore current events?” These are all questions that I hope that you can look in your mirror and ask yourself, because the answer is quite simple — NO. I hope your reflection sparks your call to action. Your duty to be A VOICE. Your right to SPEAK UP and speak LOUDLY, against racism but most importantly in SYMBOL of peace for a country in flames. A county where thousands of our own live.

On December 10, 2019, you accepted your Nobel Peace Prize “in the name of those who stand for peace,” so I am not only reminding you, but charging you to put action to what you have been preaching since your inauguration. This charge to act, is one that I am confident that you can and will execute. Because, I have witnessed the strength of your leadership, when you successfully united the Ethiopian Diasporas for the cause of improving the lives of our Ethiopian people. You called and we responded by creating the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund. When you needed the diaspora, the diaspora was there for your cause. We made home in a land that is foreign to us to overcome the burden of life. We are being lynched in broad daylight because of the color of our skin. Yet, our leader that some said resembles Moses, has left us astray. In the time when we need you to speak the most you have chosen to stay quiet. In a time when you need to be on the side of peace you have decided to stay neutral. The Abiy I know would have marched with us. The Abiy I know would have spoken against white supremacy. The Abiy I know would have harvested the hope in my heart.

When the whole world unites to fight against racism, you do not want to be remembered as the man that stayed SILENT. And so, I would like to leave you with a quote and words of endearment from a time in which a past leader chose the latter and spoke. This quote was established over 84 years ago, and the time is no different from when Emperor Haile Selassie addressed the League of Nations in 1936. Selassie boldly convicted, “that until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned: That until there are no longer first-class and second class citizens of any nation;” He continued his conviction to include, “That until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes; that until the basic human rights are equal guaranteed to all without regard to race;” and ended with the hope that he charged to the world, “… until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international mortality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained.” In this world, there are two things we do not choose, the day of birth and the day of death. We are not guaranteed the liberties of freedom but we have the rights to fight to attain it, OUR DAYS OF FIGHTING ARE NOT OVER. We must continue as world citizens, you must continue as a leader of a great nation, to fight against the global terrors that affect our people. It is not only your duty but the apical standard for a public servant, native to a land that has historically birthed heroes, who did not remain silent and who always stood up for equality and justice. Speak up. Speak Loudly, and be a voice for our country in support of those who are at war with racism across the globe.

Respectfully,

Lydia A. Gorfu

1 Comment

  1. Dear Lydia,
    Hours after I read your piece, I saw a video on Facebook showing Black Americans registering to go fight for Ethiopia during the Fascist Italy invasion of Ethiopia. I was emotional about it and asked myself what Ethiopians could have done to show support. I thought Ethiopians back home should have demonstrated in solidarity with the Black Americans, chanting “We remember your support to us during Fascist Italy invasion. We are with you.” To your point, PM Abiy may not be in a position to say anything due to diplomatic protocols. Our late king was able to say that famous speech in a general setting at the League of Nations.

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