I am not sure the exact day I start speaking what is on my mind, but I am sure it was not the day I first created my Facebook account. But let me tell you when all my activism started, and it dates back in 2010 while I was a student at Mekelle University. During that time I had the opportunity to be appointed as a student representative for Engineering Students by a former German director.
The day I become a student representative was the day I become very concerned about other individual status and wellbeing. My first confrontation with people who were in academic power started in a room where the administration guys were discouraging the idea of having eLearning program in the engineering department stating resource as a limitation. That time I raised my hand and passionately spoke about how students can share their laptops as long as the eLearning system was setup. During that class two of my teachers were presented, and after the class in that very semester, I was academically dismissed getting D and F from both teachers. I am not blaming them for my failure, but I felt like I was pushed hard to work as A student to get C while I was a C student. Wait I forgot to tell you this too, it was during that semester the first time I traveled on a plane, and the purpose of the trip was to attend academic conference evaluation. Among the participant, there were eight university presidents along with people from GIZ. During that conference, I had the chance to present about student situation. I mocked the university presidents about their low cafeteria budgeting with the following line
“Why do you think university students are skinny is it because the academic stress or the 8 birr/day café budget you allocate for them.”
That line was my first courageous statement toward powerful people. What follows then was simple I got academically dismissed, and with that frustration, I founded freedombloggers at a time where the word blog was not that popular even with the government which confuses it with the word bomb. Then I become very critical of my school administration I didn’t stop there but I upgraded my critics to the government where I was so inspired by Malcom X reading. During my early blogging days instead of the usual way of sharing my blog on Facebook in which internet was a leisure I started printing my blog and give it to my friends. I even sent it with post office for my first digital crush.
My aspiration for freedom of speech remained intact after I was readmitted in the campus. Then a major crackdown on bloggers and journalists was taking place, but I didn’t shy away rather I made one of the jailed journalist Reeyot Alemu as my profile picture for four straight years till she got released. Some confuse her thinking she is my sister some thought she was my girlfriend while only few realized she was a journalist. Those days were the days I was told consistently by friends, relatives, and families to stop writing on facebook and blog. But that led to blocking my father on facebook and confronting the status quo as it was till I left the country few weeks before the command post. By the way when I say I left the country doesn’t mean I am not coming back I am coming back next year May 2018.
Then in August 2016, I came to America and people were excited for me because they thought I arrived at the terminal of freedom of speech. They also thought they would not be advising me to ease with my facebook posts. Unfortunately, few months after my stay when the man got elected for loving the wall more than people soul I start to write what I feel about him. Boom people start to get worried about what I write and start reactivating the advice button. Not only that some become concerned for my critical posts toward US based Ethiopian opposition groups but they were my least concern as I am not an artist to be boycotted.
Finally, what I want to make it clear to everyone is that I will be speaking my mind from DC to Addis. For your information, the featured photo was taken in 2011 after I was given a warning letter by Student Council who were mainly politically appointed and which by the way I used to call them Student Cancer. I don’t know where they are now, but I know where I am.