By Yilma Bekele
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Ethiopia: Waldeba in my heart
By Yilma Bekele
Truth be told I was not aware of Waldeba Monastery until quite recently. Today I live Waldeba, I breathe Waldeba, and I believe Waldeba has taken over my soul. Mind you I am not protesting rather I am being thankful for this ancient place for bringing focus into my life. Waldeba has managed to gather all the scattered pieces of information residing in my brain and managed to sort them out in an orderly fashion and place them all in one location for easy access and safekeeping.
Even the name Waldeba evokes positive feelings and the story when told brings a sense of pride and dignity. Waldeba is the history of our ancient land, the perseverance of our ancient people and the uniqueness of our history all rolled in one. When I say Waldeba defines us all, I doubt anyone of you will disagree after I tell you about this remote location that is but a jewel of our glorious past. My friend Asrat always says ‘Egziabher saydeges aytalam’ this time I believe he is onto something. For it was no other than our Woyane bad doers that brought Waldeba into our consciousness. We are always grateful for this human bulls let loose in a China store.
Waldeba was in the mind and heart of millions of Ethiopians this last Monday. They prayed in Ethiopia in their own silent ways while their children marched World Wide to speak for them. We marched in Washington DC, we danced in the streets of New York, we sang in Los Angles, we celebrated in Toronto, we colored the streets of London green, yellow and red while we adorned South Africa with our indomitable spirit and we prayed in Melbourne Australia. We let the world know in no uncertain terms Waldeba is Ethiopia. The battle has just began!
Why are we so incensed about Waldeba is a valid and good question. Why does Waldeba matter is not an idle inquiry. When we ask about our past it helps us see the present in a better light and determines our response on how we answer questions about the future. That is why we fill detailed forms at the doctor’s office about our health and parents condition. Our past gives the caregiver clue about our future. That is why regimes redefine the past to construct a new reality. Please notice Meles Zenawi’s obsession regarding our ancient history and his trash talk every chance he gets. Waldeba is another stop in his quest to redefine our past. Destruction of Waldeba erases a critical building block of who we are and where we came from. He wants to redefine us in his own distorted image.
Waldeba is not another location. Waldba monastery is one of the oldest and holiest religious enclaves in Ethiopia. It was founded around 490 AD and is located in one of the most remote regions of north Ethiopia protected by the mighty Semen Mountain range. Waldeba is surrounded by four rivers Semo in the north Tekeze in the east Zewereg in the in the west and Zewa in the south. This modern assault by the TPLF regime is not the first on Waldeba or our church. It has withstood Yodit’s wrath around the 10th century two hundred seventy eight years after its founding. The forces of Ahmed Gragn attacked around 1531 and plundered churches and monasteries including Waldeba and Debre Libanos. Today’s incursion is a continuation of further attempt to undermine our heritage. It is but another test of our perseverance.
Waldeba’s contribution to our culture will take a whole encyclopedia to recite. It is part of our rich history in consort with our Tewahedo Church that produced such significant items as our alphabet, our calendar and a desirable place for scholars. It is a training ground for our priests and deacons and many Abunes have graduated from its sanctuary to serve their people. Waldeba is a cherished treasure for all Ethiopians regardless of religious affiliation.
Waldeba has been a protected enclave thru out history. No one has dared to take away from Waldeba that has been willed by God. Successive Ethiopian rulers has shown reverence for Waldeba and what it stands for and went out of their way to protect, enhance and cherish this holy site. Today the TPLF regime under Meles Zenawi is in the process of invading Waldeba. The excuse given is to grow sugarcane and establish a processing plant. They have moved heavy machinery to build a dam for irrigation and pave highways for transporting product and people.
As usual their plan of attack is for the Woyane regime to take the high road of development while defining the opposition as anti progress. Why would anyone in his right mind oppose such a noble cause of building industry and creating employment becomes the question asked by the average observer. They are expert at this sort of thing. They have orchestrated massacre of their own citizens at Hawzen in cold blood and video taped the atrocity for propaganda purpose. Interhawme was their charge in 2005 in their callous attempt to play with fire regardless of the consequences. The current drama of building a dam on Abbay is another attempt to stand for progress and portray the rest as nay Sayers.
Today they are using their monopoly on state media to confuse and misinform. They are trotting out one dead brain TPLF official one after another to explain why their war on our heritage is misunderstood. They are interviewing cadres dressed as monks, cadres pretending to be local citizens and hired engineers and thugs to give testimony on how the project is benign to the Waldeba and its environment. It looks like we are all hysterical and unreasonable while TPLF officials are defending their responsibility to govern.
TPLF always have a strange notion of how to govern. Their style seems to be they decide behind closed doors and we accept their version at face value. Asking question raising valid points for discussion is frowned upon. It is labeled the work of ‘neftegna, dergist, monarchist, counter revolutionary or useless Diaspora.’ We have seen all this before. We are familiar with TPLF motto of ‘my way or the highway.’ It has been the practice for over twenty years.
Erecting a sugar plantation on a holy site is wrong. Pushing it down the throats of local citizens is unacceptable. Undermining our heritage and disturbing the peace and tranquility of our monks is a crime by any standard of civilized behavior. Attacking the weak and humble monks and priests that work day and night praying for our country, our children and our safety is not the work of a responsible government but that of a coward and fascist tug using the power of the state for nefarious purpose.
Thus we drove down to Los Angles to make our views known to the world. We drove in peace to exercise our right to petition the government in power to cease and desist from this wrong policy of substituting heritage for money and power. It was a joyous trip on behalf of our fathers and mothers that are denied their god given right to live in peace. The enthusiasm of the young Ethiopians in exile still filled with love for their country and culture was intoxicating. Their boundless energy, determination and unsurpassed hope for the future was infectious to all around them. To see that our future is in good hands with my young friends is priceless. We sang and marched in peace, we carried our flag high and danced in the streets of Los Angles for all to see that Ethiopia is not alone that her children are awake and alert and her heritage is not something to trifle with.
Waldeba has faced danger before. It has existed for thousands of years. Waldeba will exist for thousands more, no question about that. Waldeba is Gods country. We the children of Waldeba were helping our own way with the little insignificant voice we can muster to help bring peace to this holy place. Those that attack or undermine Waldeba would have to answer to a higher authority. May God help them see the light, we have tried our best.
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