The Discriminatory Policies I Have Endured While Working for an Abyssinian Flag Carrier
By Tulluu Madan, June 21, 2018
Can any Normal Oromo Get Addicted to Ethiopia? Part II
Part II Part I
My ambition for higher education ended the moment I have collided with the Abyssinian hardcore elites at Ethiopian Airlines. I have inadvertently made a head-on collision with the highly illicit and chauvinistic Abyssinian elites and technocrats.
As a junior employee, I have drafted a four page unpolished and amateurish letter and submitted a suggestion box that saved Ethiopian Airlines an exorbitant amount of Ethiopian Birr. Even though I managed to sell my idea to the top executive management at the Ethiopian Airlines’ board room, the Finance Division that was lead by the extremely mischievous bureaucrats and technocrats like the Chief Financial Officer of that time, Makonnen Eshetie, and Director Accounting, Fekade-sellassie Abate, took it as an offense and they have conspired against me.
Before being overthrown by their Tigrayan junior partners, the Amhara elites dominated Ethiopia and getting employment opportunity at an Abyssinian flag carrier like Ethiopian Airlines was being considered by too many people not a right but a great privilege.
The Pervasive Nepotism and Favoritism in the Abyssinian Culture
The maxim ‘sishoom yaalballaa, sishaar yiqocawaal’ is a very pervasive social ill that has been part and parcel of the Abyssinian culture. It has been stagnating the development of that empire because people are not hired and promoted based on the merits of their qualifications and performance but based on their connections and relationships to the top executives. For instance, the captain who was flying a plane that was crashed on Comoros Island was a brother of Fekade-sellassie Abate. They might also have sisters or cousins in other departments too since nepotism and favoritism was and still is the main motive of dominating the rest so that they could lead a better and lavish life style by alienating and relegating other ethnic groups like the Oromo to the sidelines of politics.
A very misinformed hijacker who didn’t even have any clue about the technical relationships between an aircraft maximum manufacturer’s flight distance specifications, aircraft refueling and payload rules and regulations, thought the flight scheduled to land in South Eastern Africa could take him to Australia. The aircraft run out of fuel and the captain, Le’ul Abate, the brother of Fekade-sellassie Abate, had to make a force-landing at Comoros Island. Many passengers have died and many of them sustained serious injuries.
I am not saying that Captain Le’ul was not a good pilot. Indeed he was a great pilot for trying his best to save the lives of many passengers. I just wanted to show the longstanding Abyssinian culture of favoritism, nepotism, family connections and dominance in both corporate and government posts. I am saying that in multi-ethnic countries like Ethiopia, two Anuak brothers or Sidama brothers or any other ethnic groups could also become either Le’ul or Fekade-sellassie had they been given same educational opportunities.
Since the General Manager of that time, Captain Mohammad Ahmed, was an Adare, there was a saying, “There are ten thousand Adares in Ethiopia. Out of ten thousand, a thousand of them are employed by Ethiopian Airlines.” People were saying that from what they were observing. It was not a fiction but a fact that you can see on the ground. The number of Adares who were working in Ethiopian Airlines at that time was not in proportion to the total number of their population.
There was only one student called Oumar from the vast Oda Bultum/Hararghe region of Oromia when I was in college. Oumar was one of the high achievers who used to score a 4.00 pint GPA during our freshman years. Our friends in the Science faculty were also telling us that there was only one Oromo student from Oda Roba/Bale region of Oromia. In contrast, my four roommates when I was a freshman were Adares, an ethnic group who are mostly living in the city of Harar. There were also two Adare girls who were Oumar’s friends. As a result of having access to college education, they also had a better opportunity for employment. That was why there were more Adares in the Finace Divison of Ethiopian Airlines than Oromos, the largest ethnic group in the Ethiopian Empire, while I was working there. I also remember that Afan Oromo, Adarinya and Guraginya were the only three languages that were being spoken by few employees out of the more than 80 languages that are spoken in Ethiopia and we were very negligible as compared to the Amharic speakers.
“Irsi Barsuu Sigaan Bakubat Xibasuu”
An Oromo scholar, Dr. Guluma Gemeda, has documented his observations about Oromo collaborators on the Journal of Oromo Studies Volume 21, Number 1, August 2014 and called it “The Glory and the Price of Serving Empire: The Oromo Elite and the Ethiopian State.” He wonderfully highlights the roles of Oromo collaborators at a macro level on The Journal of Oromo Studies in the history of the Ethiopian Empire’s state formation. Unlike in the past, there are now abundant literature about the Oromo people and other marginalized nations and nationalities thanks to the Oromo Studies Association (OSA.)
The illicit works of Abyssinian elites in using the Oromo against another Oromo is really very pervasive even at a micro levelTop of Form
. Since they have learned from their long experiences of dominating the Oromo people through collaborators which they could buy with very cheap money, such as a very weak and low-life personalities like Zelalem Ayana, who could be used for their illicit purposes for as low as 300 Ethiopian Birr, about $10.80 (Ten U.S. Dollars and Eighty Cents), at the current exchange rate. I have also been critically observing that most Habesha people prefer the word ‘megzaat’ to ‘maastadaadar’ because of such longstanding traditions that they have been using for too many decades. I think that is the main reason why everyone of them always preferred ‘megzaat’ instead of ‘maastadaadar’ in their daily vocabularies. They always choose weak personalities who cannot either say no to the illicit actions of the cynics or who cannot stand for anything right.
It is hard to comprehend how Zelalem Ayana really feels when he realizes how cheap $10.80 is! The moral of this story is that one of the darkest moments in all of history is the betrayal of Jesus Christ by one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot. According to Google, “Judas Iscariot was a Disciple and one of the original Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ. According to all four canonical gospels, Judas betrayed Jesus to the Sanhedrin in the Garden of Gethsemane by kissing him and addressing him as “Rabbi” to reveal his identity to the crowd who had come to arrest him. In the New Testament, he was named as one of the 12 apostles originally chosen by Jesus, and served as the group’s treasurer. In return for 30 pieces of silver, Judas agreed to assist the chief priests in arresting Jesus and his name is always associated with betrayal and treason.” As a result, starting from ancient times, people have always shown great resentment and hatred against a stooge. That is the main point I am trying to make here.
Inflation and Judas Iscariot
Inflation is defined as “a general increase in prices and fall in the purchasing value of money.” I don’t know why they have chosen 300 Ethiopian Birr as a suggestion award though. Even at that time, in the mid 1980s, 300.00 Ethiopian Birr was only 144.93 U.S. Dollars at the exchange rate of the time, @2.07, and as a young man I was not really tempted to accept their cheap offer that violated the company’s policies and procedures. I was rather giving much value to justice and fair treatment than the money they were offering me. I have tried my best to confront the obstruction of justice that I have observed by facing high profile lawyers such as Ato Abebe Werke, one of the top Attorneys in the Abyssinian dominated justice system. Since those elites dine and wine together, it was not that hard to guess their business as usual conspiracies when they get together. As a result, I have abandoned pursuing the legal case I have started and started confronting them in other forms of struggle in a clandestine form – using Ethiopian Airlines’ high tech facilities to distribute publications that had political contents which were then highly risky due to the very strict restrictions on free speech in general and the dissemination of knowledge about the Oromo people in particular.
Ethiopan Airlines’ bureaucrats and technocrats bought a very weak personality, Zelalem Ayana, as a stooge. He must be a Gabaro who speaks only Afan Oromo. A Gabaro is an Oromo who has either lost his Gadaa values or those who do not have legal rights to be elected in the Gada system of governance.
It is not fair to categorically blame people based on their ethnicity, regional and religious affiliations since there were too many weak personalities in our own society and very reasonable people who were taking sides in fighting for justice. For instance, Getiye Nigussie was too upset by the illicit actions of Ethiopian Airlines’ management and that of my own close friend, Zelalem Ayana. He has severely beaten up Zelalem Ayana in the company’s Dining and Commissary bath room while we used it as a temporary office until the finance office was renovated. He was the first person who told me, “Jooroo labaalabeetuu baadaa nawu. Yammaatrabaa; yeraasihin gadaay gu’aaddanyaa alleny bileh abreh tihedaalleh?” It is like saying, “An ear is alien to its owner. You don’t know what people are talking behind you. You thought you have a good friend and still hang out with a guy who has betrayed you.” I was not totally aware about what people were talking about me prior to that moment. It was a very shocking and unbelievable moment for me.
Our own friends like Abebe Aberra and Mathewos Kassa have also talked to both of us near Ethiopian Airlines’ soccer field. They were telling Obbo Zelalem that the technocrats and bureaucrats were only using him and they would never give him the supervisory post they have promised to a junior employee like him. They boldly told him that it was only a hollow promise to seduce him into doing their illicit collaborative action. Both Abebe and Mathewos were telling him how he was duped and being used to do something very dirty and immoral. They call using the Oromo against another Oromo,“Irsi barsuu, sigaan bakubat xibasuu” which is like saying use the cattle dung to make a barbeque which implies using a cattle against itself. They have succeeded in doing this for more than a century and we are saying enough is enough!
I also remember when Obbo Tesfa Guma quoted a French General on his presentation on the Oromo Studies Association’s Conference: “A French General once said, we have met the enemy, it is us.” It is really very relevant to the Oromo people too. I talked to him in private to understand why he said that and he was absolutely right. It was a usual sticks and carrots tactics of divide and conquer that has been in place ever since Oromia was conquered by Abyssinia.
We used various tactics to humiliate Zelalem Ayana including pinching and punching him on several occasions. He couldn’t withstand the severe backlash from his own colleagues – humiliation. Everybody was cursing the guy, “Ya Cerneenqoon qan yisxih!” We used to tease at the short reign of the leader of our former indirect rulers, Konstantin Chernanko, of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), who was a President only from February 13, 1984 to March 10, 1985. It was our code phrase to remind Obbo Zelalem the moment Getiye Nigusie was punching him very hard in the Dinning and Commissary bathroom saying, “Ya Cerneenqoon qan yisxih!” It is like sayig, may He (the Creator) give you Chernanko’s life (due to the unusually very short reign that was not so common in the totalitarian Communist world.) As non-party members, we had relative freedom to say He or the Creator because communist party members were prohibited to believe in Creation during the Marxist-Leninist regime of the Dergue military junta.
Zelalem Ayana was too ostracized due to that humiliation and started coming to work with hangovers. He was trying to hide his own shame and humiliation under alcohol. Finally, he fled the country not actually because of the persecution of the Dergue regime but because of his own opportunistic behavior. Even though it is very difficult to know such creepy individuals, as far as I have known him, none of us were either members or supporters of the communist party, the Workers Party of Ethiopia (WPE).
Gospel preachers and sympathizers who were observing what they were doing to me were encouraging me to be strong because they were also seeing what was happening to the cynics. The guy who spearheaded using an Oromo against another Oromo, Habtom Tewelde, was dying in front of us almost every day because that tall and handsome man was getting extremely skinnier. The employees were saying “he died from HIV/AIDS infection” and it was at the moment when the stigma of the disease was at its very peak. Looking at people like Mr. Habtom while they were under that terrible health condition was very haunting because HIV/AIDS was not too common during the mid 1980s.
When Mekonnen Eshetie died, there were also rumors that his body was cut into pieces due to poisoning by the incoming Tigrayan political appointees who wanted to take over his position. Eliminating each other was a norm and a very pervasive culture in Abyssinian politics.
At that moment, the Tigrayan elites have replaced the Amhara elites and continued the works of their senior partners in its worst form. They have forced us into exile and took over our country and our careers. Hopefully, we are almost getting there to change their dominance for good too.