“I Have a Dream”
The Ethiopian Version Dedicated to EskinderNega
I am happy to write you today in what will go down in history as the greatest message for freedom in the history of our nation.
Hundred score years ago, a great Ethiopia, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, won the war against colonization. This momentous victory came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of African slaves who had been blinded by the merciless ghost of colony. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the thought of being a slave forever.
But one hundred years later, we Ethiopians still are not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Ethiopian’s is still sadly crippled by the iron fist of leadership that exist in three administrations that were in power and that are still leading. One hundred years later, Ethiopians lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of natural resources. One hundred years later, Ethiopia is still languished in the corners of African society and finds them an exile in his own land. And so am writing this today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense am writing this to our nation’s leaders to give us our freedom share. When the founding fathers of our nation fought the magnificent war of Adwa to halt the threat of fascist colony, they were signing a promissory note in their blood to which every Ethiopian was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, Ethiopian men and woman, would be guaranteed the ‘unalienable Rights’ of ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’ It is obvious today that Ethiopia has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens at power are concerned. Instead of honouring this sacred obligation, our leaders has given the Ethiopia people a bad check, a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.’
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, am sending this letter to the government to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
Am also writing this to remind Ethiopia of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of oppression to the sunlit path of equal justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksand’s of poverty to the solid rock of prosperity. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of Ethiopian children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Ethiopian legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Two thousand five election hopes is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Ethiopians needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither peace nor justice in Ethiopia until the Ethiopian is granted his democratic rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by suffocating those who dare to speak about our rights. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
The marvellous new censorship which has engulfed the Ethiopian community must not lead us to a distrust of all our community.