I would first have to say that I have received the warmest welcome from Ethiopians everywhere I have visited. Ethiopia is a country that is quite near and dear to my heart, and I am always grateful that the people are appreciative of my advocacy. It is something that I do not take for granted. However, I am always cautious not to appear as though I am speaking for the Ethiopian People because I know that the time will come when this costly war will be over and there will be peace.

This will be a time for people like me to keep quiet so Ethiopians will have to decide how to move forward. I generally avoid passing value judgment about the intraregional politics of Ethiopia. I feel that my role is clear. For this reason, I am conscious of the proper limits of my advocacy and I take this opportunity to encourage Ethiopia’s youth to be active participants in this process; I say pick up the baton and continue to fight on because the battle is not easily won. The fight for autonomy and self-determination will undoubtedly spread to other African countries passing through similar struggles against the West, among others.

African officials and experts are often denied visas to attend international conferences. Yet, instigators, in the guise of journalists, go to war fronts and produce highly partisan propaganda. There is an embedded sense of entitlement in the west, Europe, and the UN, that Africans are having to fight off. For example, in most mainstream reporting for Ethiopia’s conflict, there is often a small reference to how “TPLF brutally administered the country” without ever relating it to the conflict or the current sentiment of the Ethiopian people towards the TPLF; which amounts to, at the very least, omission. As someone who has researched Ethiopia for nearly a decade, it is clear to me that the reports pushed out by the mainstream media lack the contextual backing and nuance that history books offer.

My visit to TPLF occupied towns has confirmed my fears about the scale and extent of the
destruction. I have had discussions with heads of espionage operations, gang members, and members of organized crime groups, and I can say that the level of brutality and sociopathic brilliance I have witnessed from TPLF victims is unmatched -but with the TPLF it looks as though their sole approach seems to be getting others killed until they get what they want.

TPLF, in its heyday, ran Afar’s entire salt mining industry through heavy exploitation of the local population. We see the same pattern in the way they administered the nation’s tourism industry from Mekelle. It is quite unfortunate that the plight of the Afar people continues in the form of overt violence today.

We are told that Ethiopia received 30 Billion dollars in aid during its stay in power, yet there is little to show for it besides the fact that children and relatives of TPLF members live lavishly in North America and Europe, and attend exclusive universities. The TPLF has plundered Ethiopia’s wealth into foreign real estate investments, and heafty international shareholdings, among other things.

It should come as no surprise that they are not willing to give power easily. Is this not why we witness piles of weapons stashed in four-star hotels here in Addis Ababa? It is important to mention the instance of Dessie to contextualize the kind of urban battle the TPLF is fighting. It was only a few weeks ago that both local and international media outlets were reporting that TPLF is close to Debre-Sina; the lesson that has to be learned is that the enemy is already here.

In my heartbreaking conversation with Dessie residents, locals told me that as soon as news of TPLFs advances were heard, local sympathizers carried out attacks against their fellow residents. I have also heard accounts of rebels rounding up locals and forcing them to loot local establishments on camera. I am not sure what end this harassment and humiliation serves, besides covering up for TPLFs destruction. Nearly every main hotel is destroyed. The same goes for hospitals; ward-after-ward of the Dessie Hospital has been looted. There is no ultrasound or any other medical equipment at the Dessie hospital,

As someone who has researched Ethiopia for nearly a decade, it is clear to me that the reports pushed out by the mainstream media lack the contextual backing and nuance that history books offer.

and the emergency room is completely out of use. This is the reality in nearly all the TPLF occupied towns I have visited. The TPLF even stole an entire Covid-lab at Wollo University, taking all the computers and hard drives. They, however, did not take the books from the university. That tells me that we are dealing with an enemy we can beat.

Because, ultimately, one does not win against terrorists with sheer gunpower; the ultimate weapon against a terrorism is education. This fact is made all the more evident in the way Ethiopia’s entire history being relitigated, and the overall narrative of this war is being debated over the twitter space. Ethiopians are deeply interconnected people and there is a great need to mend deep wounds amongst its people. Overall, I am hopeful that Ethiopia will emerge from this victorious, with a renewed spirit to rebuild better.