We will work hard and make our country great Girma Tafese


Girma Taffese is an international football referee who lives in the USA. He worked as a FIFA designated international referee for many years here in Ethiopia. After he was exiled due to a political problem about three decades ago, he started to live in the USA where he continued to work as an international referee alongside his regular jobs.

But more than being a referee he did more favour to his country and compatriots through struggling in the political arena. By joining a group of the Ethiopian diaspora who organized themselves under a team called DC Task Force he has been contributing a lot in overthrowing the tyrant EPRDF regime.

Now, along with a team of Ethiopians in the diaspora, he has returned home to pay a visit to ongoing political and development affairs at home. Ethiopian Press Agency has interviewed Girma on his participation in the political struggle as well as contribution to the nation and compatriots after the downfall of the TPLF led regime in Ethiopia. Enjoy reading

Could you tell us how you became an international referee?

At first, I got a chance to travel to Assab to work as a porter in the maritime and transit office. I worked there for eight years. Alongside my work, I used to play football for the institution. I was actually employed to play football as the porter’s job takes place only in the evening. At the end of the eight years, there happened to be a regime change. There was havoc. So I returned to Addis Ababa. I started to work in the maritime and transit office. Then I was assigned a post office branch and Airport branch where I worked for most of my career.

When I was in Assab I had attend a course on football referee. I was also trained to be a coach. But when I evaluated myself I found out that I can do better as a referee. A year later I passed to the position of the first referee. Then I attended a course for the international referee. I managed to become a FIFA referee. S for a long time I worked as a referee.

In objection to the flag which we believed doesn’t represent Ethiopia we staged an objection. But no one heard us. So entered the embassy of Ethiopia and pulled down the flag from where it was hoisted.

After leaving Ethiopia I have continued to work as an international referee. In addition to that, I have been struggling along with many Ethiopians as the leadership of an opposition group called the DC Task Force. As a member of the task force, we used to denounce the change of our country’s national flag. Even if we told them nobody wanted to respond to us. So intruded inside the embassy and pulled down the flag.

When you were abroad what were your feelings about the plight of Ethiopians at home?

They [TPLF] started their work of disintegrating Ethiopia ever since they captured Addis Ababa and took power. There was no difference between ethnic groups. Amhara, Tigre, Oromo, Somali ….all of us were united. But for the last 27 years, they worked to destroy this.

They have exposed us to the misery that we are witnessing now. Maybe God is telling us to unite. I have done my best to fight against them at the cost of the time that I have to spend to take care of my family. I feel like the current leader is God sent. When he came to the Embassy, I have also given him my words that I will die before him for all that he did. I have never heard any other leader calling the name of Ethiopia the way he does. So I advise my compatriots to love each other. If we do so no one can disperse us. If we work on our resources we will be able to entertain refugees from other countries. But because we did not work  hard in the past we were divided into ethnic and religious lines.

As a diaspora what have you done to ameliorate ethnic schism among the community members?

Members of the DC Task Force still gather but do not affiliate with any political party. Political party members also can work for their party. But under the framework of our Ethiopianness. We have mobilized the world against the problems that our countries face. Recently when (congress was convening to pass division against our country we stayed on the door gate overnight and forced them to reverse their decision even after 11 meetings. This is because there is no difference between us. It is difficult to brush off the feeling of division created in the last 27 years overnight. People have to learn through time. God has forgiven us and is helping us.

TPLF has a network of diplomats and other foreigners. How much do you think this has harmed the country so far?

They have done a lot in the past. For instance, the ambassadors and all embassy staff were one ethnic group. All the officials that enter Ethiopia are salaried by the government. If they do not support the then government they were not likely to stay in their position. But now very capable diplomats are trained and assigned like in the US and UK. This is good. Intellectuals are also collaborating. It is the work of the intellectuals that are rescuing the nation. From now on the US has no right to give us orders. We are not going to lose anything from them. The only way we can sustain our relations is through mutual respect.

What do you think is the main desire of the west from us?

If Ethiopia becomes self-reliant they would fear that it will deviate from dependence and stop abiding by their orders. They want to snatch our choices and opportunities to develop ourselves. They fear that if Ethiopia does this all of Africa would slip from our hands. They believe that other African countries could follow Ethiopia’s example and stop bowing to them. I believe that whatever they try they would not succeed as long as we cooperate.

How do you see the attempt of other countries and international organizations to meddling in the internal affairs of our country with the pretext of humanitarian sevices?

With the pretext of aid, they have given them a weapon, communication radio … etc. Is this not a crime? What we can do is we have to cultivate people from the lower level. Whether the conflict stopped or not there would be nothing that they can do. Ethiopia heeded their call and stopped the war. But what it resulted in was only aggravating the attack from the other side. They have tried to cause havoc among us in a different place. But it does not work.

Some Ethiopian scholars have sat idle abroad. They are now returning home. They have solutions for our problems. We are waging a massive campaign. The youth in Saudi are also struggling to save their nation. In South Africa, Djibouti also is doing the same. The scholars are doing their best by now. God has blessed us and awakened us.

What do you think is expected from the diaspora to support compatriots at home?

Diaspora should think about what they have to do to their country. By now we have managed to win the commitment of the diaspora who pledge their monthly or even five months of salary to their country. Ethiopians are collaborating to rescue their nation and compatriots. They now pay a visit to projects like GERD. Not only visit but they contribute thousands of USD. This is to help the displaced. We would not stop here. We will work hard and make our country great.

Thank you very much

You are welcome

The Ethiopian Herald October 16/2021

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