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Thursday, 18 June 2009

President Obama can empower Africans

Tedla Asfaw

Professor George Ayittey of American University, President of Free African Foundation on his recent research on African leaders on Straight Talk Africa on June 17, 2009 he told us that  since independence out of  208 African leaders only twenty nine can be considered as "good leaders".

Ethiopia's king Haile Selasse, Jomo Kenyata, Anwar Sadat are among the twenty nine good leaders Professor Ayittey found out on his research. I haven't read his book but from his brief remark he came to his conclusion based on what these leaders did to their people while they were on power.

The likes of Museveni of Uganda, Isaias of Eritrea and Meles of Ethiopia did not make the cut while Nelson Mandela of South Africa is one of such leaders according to Professor Ayittey a Ghanaian by birth. He also hoped other African leaders to learn from recent Ghanaian  election and called  Obama to make a significant difference on democratization of Africa when he visited his birth country Ghana next month by endorsing free press and media as a foundation for democratization of Africa.

Professor Ayittey said that Ghanaians success is a result of vibrant media. "The independent media is a vanguard for democratization and if Obama follows on that and help independent media to flourish in Africa that is much worth than the billions of dollars USA spent to establish a rule of law and accountable government in Africa".

The mercenary media which is now promoted in the name of  free media in Ethiopia by TPLF is a non starter. The free press and the few hours of television debate before  May 2005 election helped our people vote overwhelmingly for Kinijit. TPLF has learned from opening the media for its opponents and we are now ruled not only by "dark media" but also by dark nights even in the capital.

The rulers in Ethiopia by denying their people the right to listen to different views are spending much of their time in talking  to foreign medias. Meles Zenawi may be the first one among  current African rulers for giving many interviews. He even lobby African leaders to speak on their behalf on the recent G20 meeting in London.

A man who would like to speak for himself and other Africans is scared of giving its opponents free air time since he was defeated badly four years ago. In fact Ethiopia's Melese  is one of the worst jailers of journalists and if anyone would like to do research I will assume Meles Zenawi will also be on top for making himself available for foreign medias who have bought to the "development miracle" in Ethiopia since Meles came to power in 1991.

We saw the power of free media recently when TPLF warlord Sebhat Nega appeared on VOA Amharic which is dubbed as "TimKehetenoche Berete" by TPLF. VOA Amharic and Afan Oromo was jammed many times for doing its job, informing the public.For many of us Ato Sebehat Nega's interview with Addissu Abebe  did more in exposing the regime in thirty minutes than what has been written about TPLF for the last eighteen years.

The masses in Ethiopia who have no information to who Sebehat Nega is except the propaganda by TPLF media learned that this person and other TPLF clique are here to stay until they are forced out of office by popular uprising, "Yehezebe Kuta". Ethiopians who are not allowed to gather to express their views has been seen by Sebhat Nega as people who endorse the regime, "Yaltekota Hizeb".

We know all along that in a free media, press and  assembly  TPLF will not stay one night let alone rule for eighteen years. Whatever help we get from Obama to empower our people is welcome . A call for independent media and press in Africa is a gift to Africa from Ghanaians and Obama.