The novel Dead Souls is Nikolai Googol’s reflection on the suffering of the early nineteenth century Russian serfs. In this novel , Chichikov, the villain protagonist traded on dead souls to make a living. Like the dead souls of the 19th century Russian serfs, the dead souls of the 21st century Ethiopian martyrs are victims of us-the greed and opportunist citizens.
Tens of thousands of Ethiopians were massacred like enemy forces and tortured like sinners in the Hell because they demanded the barbaric rulers to return their God given rights. Thousands of People were subjected to ethnic cleansing in Wolkait, Gambella, Harar, Gura Ferda, Metekel, Ogaden and many other regions because those in power considered them as “settlers”, and they wanted to rob their resources.
To resist these kinds of heinous crimes, millions protested within the last three years. In support of this protest, many citizens, mass media, political and non- political organizations blew their horns, beat their drums and raised their voices. As a result, the resistance inundated the different regions even when the country was under barbaric marshal laws. As usual, the rulers slaughtered thousands of innocent citizens including children and pregnant women. They imprisoned, tortured, and displaced hundreds of thousands of people.
Although the criminal rulers massacred innocents and carried out ethnic cleansing for half a century, a good proportion of us are now rallying behind the members of the ruling mafia responsible for the massacres and ethnic cleansings.
Our rally behind the criminals tests our value for human life and justice. Our support to members of the criminal mafia shreds our promise and commitment to the martyrs slaughtered for our fundamental rights. What kinds of good citizens rally behind criminals instead of requesting justice for their martyrs? What types of prudent organizations sit with criminals to share power instead of requesting justice for their members massacred while promoting the missions of their organizations?
The Martyrs in heaven are crying for justice. The people in slavery and dangerous environments are waiting for the 21st century Mosses that would command the kinds of exoduses the Pharos Legesse Zenawi and Shiferaw Shigute instigated in Gura Ferda.
Keeping the murderers and the exodus instigating pharoses in power, the mafia group is quelling the public resistance with the toys of Mosses and Eyasu. Despite the half century lies of the pharoses and their supporters, many of us are trapped by their phony propaganda and accepted the “chosen” junior pharoses as people liberators. However, the track records of these junior pharoses show that they were ranking officials in the military command, spy agency and regional government posts during the massacres and ethnic cleansings.
Intentionally denying the participation of the junior pharoses in these massacres and ethnic cleansings, some of us started to praise these criminals with the same tongue that we cursed them when they massacred the deed souls. To justify our tongue twist and our praise to the criminals as well as to hide our opportunistic behaviors, we started to talk about nice words such as reconciliation and forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a blessed act, and a blessed act should be as clean as distilled water. To be clean, forgiveness should follow justice for all dead souls and sincere repentance from the criminals. Forgiveness without justice and sincere repentance does not exist. In the absence of sincere repentance and justice, who has the right to forgive and reconcile on behalf of the dead souls? What organization has the right to forgive on behalf of the dead souls? Which citizens have taken consents from the dead souls to forgive their murderers?
Behind the certain of forgiveness, it appears that some of us are building our lives and baking our bread. Using forgiveness as a cosmetic, it appears that some of us are trying to seduce the dead souls’ killers in order to get the opportunity to ascend to power and make profits. Wrapping forgiveness as a gift, it appears that some of us trying to make our future brighter, hiding in the grave flowers of the dead souls.
If we are rallying behind the criminals to make our future brighter at the expense of dead souls, we are more sadistic traders on dead souls than Gogol’s protagonist -Chichikov: More sadistic traders than Chichikov because we are offering forgiveness as a bribe to the murderers without any moral authority and consent of dead souls.
The dead souls could have kept their lives on earth like we do in one or another way. However, the dead souls preferred death over slavery and they flushed the streets of tyranny with their blood to clean the avenue of freedom in Amba Giorgis, Gondar, Deberetabor, Bahir-Dar, Dangila, Bure, Woldia, Magete, Ambo, Nekemte, Denbi Dollo, Woliso, Debrezeit, Jimma, Shashemene, Kofle, Harrar, Moyale, konso and other places.
Having witnessed the dead souls ‘blood flooding the streets of cities and rural areas, what moral or legal ground do we have to offer forgiveness as a bribe to their murderers and walk on the avenues of freedom the dead souls cleaned with their blood? If we do not deliver justice to the dead souls, what legal and moral authority do we have to walk on the bridges made out of the bones of dead souls? Do not we feel ashamed when we feast and make trade deals with dead souls’ murderers, standing at the graves of the dead souls?
Trading on dead souls is stabbing the dead souls with spears again and again. If we continue stabbing the dead souls with spears, how are we going to be different from their murderers? If we are striving to make our lives better at the expense of dead souls, how are we going to be different from a scavenger that feeds on carcasses? If we forget dead souls and feast with their killers instead of forcing them face justice, how are we going to be morally different from their murderers?
Feasting and trading with all time murderers brings neither justice nor lasting peace. Even if we assume it may bring provisional peace out of desperation, we must keep our commitment to deliver justice to the dead souls if we consider ourselves as humans. If we are unwilling to deliver justice to the dead souls, we should, at least, stop feeding upon them like scavengers. We shall never feed or trade on dead souls.
As the Amaric adage goes, “Yemoten Atirssa!” Never forget the dead! Thank you.
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