Time of Rage: Re-visited
Oh, Good Days! I become happier and more contented, my political interest mushroomed, I can’t disengage myself from the Internet and the news broke here and there, the domino was amazing, the snowball becomes big and big thanks to fat dictators, it glimmers hope for many, yeah, the gravity of social networking pull me inward.
This was in the very beginning of January 2011 and the following months that, The Arab Awakening awakes me and of course swallowed me.
In those ‘good days’ my daily mantra was ‘The Power of the People is Greater than the People in Power.’ The ‘Let Freedom Ring-Let Freedom Swing’ dictum was some of the words that my keyboard let me to type. That epoch in my life was and would be one of the unforgettable.
As many friends and ‘enemies’ wishes, I do the same, to experience what Mohamed Bouazizi’s Tunisia already done, What Khaled Mohamed Said Egypt clings, What Fathi Terbil Libiya achieved and longing to see the series of dying Tsar, to witness the unstoppable ideal of Liberty flourishes , to stand before the power of We the People.
I join many Ethiopian groups and pages on facebook, I follow the very news from the Maghreb thanks to twitter, even I join alternative pages on Google, in case if facebook is blocked and disabled, simultaneously I opened in one of the tabs of my browser, that is assigned to stream of Al Jazeera news channel’s live streaming.
Conversely, within a few months time my days of Jubilation had Gone with the Wind and the old days of depression circled me again. The whole awakening becomes mockery and derides, the social networks, all the talks, views and news in Ethiopia put the tail in legs and in shyness looks in to old days.
Just reading Wael Ghonim’s Memoir, Revolution 2.0 re-ignite me to ask the question of: Why, we are not successful to flow in the path of the spring in the Arabia? Ok, we may say I don’t know. But, at least why we can’t able to manage a civil discourse on the cause and end up in an EVERY-ONE-SHOUTS-NONSENSE-IN-THE-WILDERNESS state? Why? And possible ‘answers’ pop up in my mind.
The Cause and the Bearers
Did Ethiopians have a real cause to go to the streets and to chant? Absolutely we had, particularly if we compare our situation with the Maghreb. We are not Poor rather we are the definition of poor, we are not in a mere democratic sink rather, we are the people belongs to despots, our social fabric blows and set us in a slippery slope. No need of calling to a witness (an Index or a Data) to testify these realities, because I live It. Definitely we had a cause, but, who bears the cause? is the question of determination of the success and failure of the social network driven rage.
Do peoples who propounded the cause really determinants? Or they prefer to cry from their bed room? The end result of the last two years of online engagement justifies the later. Many groups call for peaceful demonstrations in many different times but, not to mention the called, the callers was absent from the ground. The bearers of the case seems far to reach Tahrir. The calls are ill organized and per-mature with no clear goal.
Wael Ghonim was the one who prominently organize Egyptian march for freedom. Yes, he was residing in Dubai, UAE but, when Egyptians decided to knock the palace from Tahrir on January 25, 2011 Wael fly to his home country to be one of midwives of history and blindfolded and languished in jail for 10 days. Are Ethiopians who shoot from afar takes such daring move, with a determination? Unto now we witness the only online ‘patriots’ and yearning for the real friends of the people.
The other thing that hits me when I surf the different Ethiopian Social networking groups and pages is the tone of opposition and rage. Wael Ghonim explain his reason to launch a facebook page the seeks justice to an Egyptian young guy named Khaled Said he who is molested and killed by Egyptian police officers, as of the following:
“I discovered that a page had been [already] launched under the title “My Name Is Khaled Mohamed Said.” I browsed among the posts on that page. It was evident that the contributors were political activists. Their discourse was confrontational, beginning with the page’s headline: “Khaled’s murder will not go unpunished, you dogs of the regime.” From experience I knew that such language would not help in making the cause a mainstream one. I decided to create another page and to use all my marketing experience in spreading it. Out of the many options I considered for the page’s name, “Kullena Khaled Said”—“We Are All Khaled Said”
Yes, modesty and calmness worth’s. It enables us to win the heart and minds of the whole stratum of ideas from moderate to extremes. If we determine to fight injustice and equality with hate mongering, the end will ripe hate and our move blow in the midst. This is one of the main problems I test on different Ethiopian pages that call for the Arab Spring like demo. Expressions like ‹‹ሞት ለወያኔ ፤ድል ለኢትዮጵያ ሕዝብ›› – “Death to Woyane, Victory to the People of Ethiopia’ are far from the cause and near to hate that seems unbearable by the mass.
What a Regime!?
The Other main problems that chopped down the tree of social network not to ripe a fruit is the government with its amputating apparatus. Back in June 2012, according to my manual search more than 60 facebook pages and group pages was not accessible In Ethiopia. Individuals’ facebook pages and Youtube accounts are also managed to be blocked. During the Egyptian rage in January/February 2011, the Mubarak government tries to set down facebook and twitter but, that raise international condemnation. When hundreds of blogs and pages settled to go to dark, in Ethiopia, no one cares. The Ethiopian government can manage to make pages that preach peaceful demos inaccessible and the main public goes in ‘No-Info’ manner of life.
Like Mohamed Bouazizi different Ethiopians like Yenesew Gebere set themselves on fire, like Kalid Said of Egypt, in Ethiopia different reports indicate police and security apparatuses brutality but the public go in the dark. The Ethiopian government manages to answer the rage of citizens by slapping them in the face and blindfolding the public not to notice the slap.
Beyond such cyber walls the government takes a step forward to demolish any seemingly ground work of a call of rage, arresting different Journalists and opposition politicians for a crime of looking to the Arab Spring and the chilling effect cripple any positive call for justice and equality.
In his Memoir Wael Ghonim attach a post from the We are all Kalid Said’s facebook page. It is a fictitious conversation between Wael and a young guy called Abbas, he who seems disinterested on the cause that Wael and the like- minded guys raise. In their conversation Abbas told to Wael:
You guys need to wake up and smell the coffee . . . Why are you wasting your time on nonsense? . . . It’s time to focus on your own life.” You’re making me feel like you’re in Guantánamo . . . Our country is just fine, and the fact that something small happened does not mean we have problems. Anyway, this is their country . . . don’t you realize? Leave me alone, I want to watch the analysis for the Brazil-Portugal game.
And Wael answers:
No, it is not their country . . . it is our country, ours, us Egyptians.
I see so many Abbas’s in the Ethiopian cyberspace. They denounce causes for justice and liberty, even goes far to promote their passivity in a return to usurp active citizens. This makes the cyber initiatives lame and a place for nonsense tittle-tattle. Hence, our case is strange and Abbas’s are many and many that ripe fear.
We can mention so many other reasons like the low Internet penetration and the unbearable cost of accessing to the Internet as well. The bottom line is can the social networks can be a force for good, in the Ethiopian realm? Time matters.