Today was the “coronation” of Abiy Ahmed. Three things have defined it: the famine and the raging war, Abiy’s lavish but undignified coronation event, and the befitting images and messages that EBC shared.
1. The famine and the raging war
The genocidal war that Ethiopia, Eritrea and Amhara, using ethnic militias from other Ethiopian states, soldiers from Somalia and drones from UAE, waged on Tigray has resulted in multi-faceted crisis in Ethiopia. Abiy has fallen from his underserved grace, inflation has skyrocketed, millions have been displaced, hundreds of thousands have been killed, war is still raging and Ethiopia is accused of genocide and engineering famine in Tigray and of ethnic cleansing in Western Tigray. In the weeks leading to Abiy’s coronation, images of ethnic cleansing and famine have been circulating.
Images of Ethnic Cleansing from Western Tigray
Images of Famine
Famine in Qola Temben
Famine in Bora Selewa
Famine in Temben
Famine in the district of Gehralta
Famine in Inda Mekhoni
Famine in Wukro
Famine in an IDP center in Mekelle
Famine in Lekatit School IDP center
Famine in Mekelle
Death of Children due to famine and lack of medication in Adigrat Hospital
Death of Children due to famine and lack of medication in Ayder Hospital
Famine in Hawzien
The above are some of the images that show the reality within which Abiy’s coronation takes place. Note that Tigray is under a total communications blackout which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to get images from the ground.
2. Abiy’s coronation event was an undignified event
Despite the ugly reality shown above, Abiy tried to create a lavish and perfect coronation, untarnished by the ugly reality he himself created. But it was impossible. His speech was jingoistic, as usual, and permeated by bitterness towards the international community whom he accused of betrayal and towards Tigray. He tried, as usual, to act as if Tigray doesn’t exist and matter, but it was in almost every sentence. Even when he invoked Bible and Quranic verses to speak about “glorious Ethiopia’s past”, he was speaking about Tigray. This coronation, like the war on Tigray itself, tried to erase Tigrayans and appropriate their history and legacy.
I say coronation because Abiy considers himself the seventh king of Ethiopia. Don’t ask me how becomes the seventh king, but I am sure the counting starts from King Menelik of Shewa. Either Eyasu or Zewditu or Hailemariam Desalegn are not counted. How does then a 120 year-old country with only seven kings end up having a 3000 year old history at the same time? Another reason to call it coronation is the attempt made to imitate Emperor Haileselassie’s anniversaries. Alex Dewaal has put the coronation into context, comparing it to Haileselassie’ lavish anniversary party while hiding the famine in Wollo, and Mengistu’s anniversary while blocking humanitarian aid to Tigray and Wollo.
Abiy would have loved to rub shoulders with great wold leaders, but they shunned him because no respectable leader wants to be associated with a genocide. Abiy was therefore forced to spend his undignified coronation with ignoble men from some failed states and with some long-time dictators. AU’s ‘neutral’ envoy to the Horn of Africa was also there.
3. EBC’s messages and images befitting to Abiy’s coronation
The main state media, EBC, was today engaged in sharing some messages and images that I found to be befitting to Abiy’s coronation. First EBC, posted, on its Facebook page, the following two interesting messages.
The first one says Abiy Ahmed said the atrocities and suffering inflicted upon the people of Tigray have brought us shame”. The second one says the House of Federation called for Eritrean troops to leave Ethiopia and for Ethiopian problems to be solved according to Ethiopia’s conflict resolution tradition. The messages were immediately deleted and EBC said its account has been hacked. But I just find the truth of the first message, and the rightness of the second message great and their timing can’t be better.
But EBC went further to decorate Abiy’s coronation with befitting images too. On its Facebook page, it started sharing images of killed Amhara and Ethiopian soldiers. Some of them have been captured by activists.
Others have been recorded and shared on FB. See here: https://www.facebook.com/100005351987862/videos/290076429332451
Think about where Abiy Ahmed was just two years ago and the pariah he is now, put his coronation in the context of the ugly and stubborn reality of ethnic cleansing, carnage, famine and genocide, and bring the state media EBC’s messages and images on a day when it is supposed to be busy glorifying the king. It couldn’t have been a more ignoble coronation, could it?