By Alem Mamo
Totalitarianism and renaissance are fundamentally on the opposite end of sustainable social, economic and political development. The basic principle of totalitarianism is full control of economic and political power through cohersion, torture, imprisonment and extrajudicial killings. Renaissance on the other hand, is the flourishing of creativity, arts, music, literature and most of all the public’s full involvement in the economic, political, social and cultural discourse of the society. Furthermore, renaissance is the freedom to think, create and foster free flow of ideas without fear or restrictions. In a country where there is no independent media, all security structures are in place to intimidate and terrorize the public and independent judiciary is none existent, the talk of renaissance is nothing more than a cruel joke and an insult to the intelligence of the Ethiopian people.
1 The Renaissance was a cultural movement that profoundly affected European intellectual life in the early modern period. Beginning in Italy, and spreading to the rest of Europe by the 16th century, its influence was felt in literature, philosophy, art, music, politics, science, religion, and other aspects of intellectual inquiry. Renaissance scholars employed the humanist method in study, and searched for realism and human emotion in art.
TPLF/EPRDF version of renaissance as we have witnessed it over the last two decades is a renaissance of collective trauma, division and suffering of the Ethiopian people. It is an open secret that in TPLF/EPRDF’s Ethiopia where political descent equals terrorism and those who dare to think and imagine more inclusive, more just and more equitable society are considered a threat and languish in the dungeons of “Makelawi” and other prisons across the country the prospect for renaissance is nothing more than tyrannical joke.
In the infantile brains of TPLF/EPRDF ideologues renaissance is simply a few shiny buildings or some imported technologies or endless propaganda machinery that repeats the same lie over and over again. This simplistic understanding of complex social phenomenon is certainly a glance into the immature and uninformed consciousness of the ruling group. In today’s Ethiopia under TPLF/EPRDF the conditions do not exist for renaissance. All evidence shows that Ethiopia today is under a totalitarian security surveillance state.
The renaissance of Ethiopia indeed is a dream and hope of all peace loving Ethiopians who have been struggling for the realization of economically just, politically inclusive and socially cohesive country. The truth is that almost all Ethiopians know that such a dream will not be realized under the corrupt, divisive and brutal leadership of TPLF/EPRDF. The night mare that the Ethiopian people have endured for over two decades has deepened the collective trauma. A regime that killed more than 200 people on the streets of Addis Ababa, a regime that rounded up tens of thousands of innocent civilians to jail, and tortured, maimed killed thousands doesn’t have the moral ground to speak of renaissance or social change in Ethiopia.
If the building of a few bridges, roads and schools equates to social renaissance the people of Africa who suffered under the yoke of colonialism would have accepted the presence of colonial powers in their lands. The fact of the matter is they didn’t. In fact, they rejected colonialism and fought for their independence. A few roads, bridges and apartment buildings are not replacement for human dignity and freedom. The ultimate human need is freedom and justice, to respect and be respected to live life without fear of persecution. These are the non-negotiable and values of Renaissance.
In today’s Ethiopia there is no single independent media out let that provides free and balanced information. Those who dared to do so are being labeled as “terrorists” and are being locked up in jail. Let alone the free flow of ideas, any political discussion in Ethiopia is fully monitored and watched by the brutal security and surveillance agencies of TPLF/EPRDF regime.
The rebirth or renaissance of societies is deeply intertwined with the presence of institutions that safe guard and guarantee the fundamental freedoms and rights. In the absence of such institutions, social, economic, political and cultural renewal and rebirth are impossible. No society in history of human kind has collectively traded its freedom for material compensation. There might be a few who sold their soul for crumbs as it is the reality with the current TPLF/EPLF followers. In general however, vast majority of the people of Ethiopia have chosen to continue struggling for the true realization of Renaissance that guarantees freedom in its complete forms. Indeed, that day will come when we all proclaim the truth – Free at last! Free At last! Thank God Almighty we are Free At last!
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