The Scotsman, James Bruce was a free mason, who traveled to Ethiopia perhaps desirous of taking away the Ark of the Covenant from Ethiopia .  Instead, he took away other artifacts including the original copy of the kebra Negast, but left us with interesting stories and insights into the years of a murderous Ethiopian from Adwa, Ras Mikael Seuhl, who was a viceroy in Gondar, and was also responsible for the downfall of the Gondarine Dynasty, which resulted in the impoverishment of Ethiopian emperors and the advent of a period identified by some as the Era of Princes (Zemane Mesafint).  During the Era of Princes, Lord Ansely along with his helper, Henry Salt, traveled from India and landed in Massawa. In 1805 and 1810, Mr. Salt visited Ras Wolde Selassie at Antalo, the seat of the prince who governed Hamasen and coastal territories.  Mr. Salt was a liar not only because he visited England to inform the foreign office that he had messages from the Emperor of Ethiopia, though he never went to Gondar to visit the emperor, but also because he fabricated requests made of Britain by an Ethiopian emperor. He later became British ambassador to Cairo. Since the lies of Salt, Britain was set on a track, which to this day works against the just interests of the people of Ethiopia. At the end of the 20th century, we find contributions of yet another British subject, David Mercer, to tyrants of Ethiopia.  Unlike his predecessors, Mercer informs us that his service to the TPLF leaders was established by accident. Students of Ethiopian history will view Mercer's report as a significant contribution to understanding the TPLF tyrants.


Dr. David Steuart Mercer’s efforts in Ethiopia:  He was born in 1940, near Liverpool, England and retired in 2003. He received his PhD from Leeds University two weeks after his retirement in 2003. His first degree in Physics and Electrical Engineering was from Imperial College and was received in 1962.  He also received the BA in Social Sciences in 1985 from Open University. After receiving his first degree, he participated in revolutionary causes and in the sixties he informs us that he was among those who helped expel South Africa from the Commonwealth. Then he became a CEO to a successful company before he joined IBM. Subsequently, he became a lecturer at the Open University (OU), from where he interacted with the TPLF leaders, not only by fashioning an MBA program for TPLF officialdom, but also by serving as an advisor to Mr. Zenawi, the TPLF tyrant.


David Mercer’s career is quite interesting in that he has charted a strange but quite fascinating path for physics graduates to pursue. David Mercer wrongly wrote that the Italians incorporated Eritrea to Ethiopia, perhaps as his way of grasping why the Eritreans would seek liberation from Ethiopia. If we don’t view his rendition of Ethiopian history empathically, David Mercer would be a liar. However, if we viewed it empathically, by considering a person who does not know the history of Ethiopia and would revert to logical construction of issues in order to grasp them, then David Mercer’s renditions could be viewed as an “honest mistake”.  Regardless of the errors in his rendition of Ethiopian history, his report of what happened at a dinner is quite fantastic. Presumably, the TPLF brass was alerted that David Mercer is some body high in the British ways of doing things.  Accordingly, David Mercer was invited to a dinner by Seeye, the defense minister, shortly after his arrival in Addis.  The following is part of what Mercer reported happened at that dinner.


At the time Ethiopia included Eritrea; but with Eritrea wanting to go its own way - that is seceding.  Seeye made it clear that the Ethiopian government supported this, since Eritrea had been their partners in the civil war.  The problem was that, in recent years, no country had ever seceded from another in Africa.  He was therefore negotiating, in effect, British government support for this. The ambassador was being asked for Eritrea to be recognised almost before it seceded.  There was a lot of banter about this, with James Glaze ducking and weaving as ambassadors are supposed to do in such a situation. 

: As a dinner ended, my contact in the government -- Dr Fassil -- took me aside and told me that I would be meeting the Minister of Defence again face-to-face in the morning.  He also discreetly said "Could you please tell the ambassador that we are perfectly serious about the secession of Eritrea and suggest that he clears this with his government" (http://futureobservatory.dyndns.org/9149.htm).


At the introduction of his life’s work, David Mercer gave a summary of his interaction with Ethiopia, which I quote below.


Above all, though, I managed two especially important projects which were quite different to anything I had previously undertaken, and very different to the work of other academics. The first of these, which came about almost accidentally, was helping the new government of Ethiopia move that nation – with a population of 60 million - from Marxism to social democracy. This started as an educational project, teaching – on behalf of the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) – the three man junta (President, Prime Minister and Minister of Defence) who, following their military success in the civil war, ran the country. I, and my team of senior OU academics, taught them and their colleagues the management skills needed for their new roles in peace-time government. For me it grew into an even more important role when, almost as a double agent, I became the main link between the three man junta and the western governments. In a space of two years this saw me setting up their top level new diplomatic structures, linking the government to the outside world, negotiating a $1 billion loan from the World Bank, which the IMF considered to be the most successful ever, and successfully negotiating a resolution of the renewed civil war, which had seen more than 100,00 soldiers deployed in the field.

To say it was an exciting time would be to grossly underestimate the stresses of working, as some would see, as a double agent. I reported to the SIS (Secret Intelligence Services) in the UK, but I am still not certain whether this was to the FCO’s own SIS or MI6; since my handlers in Ethiopia were the FCO but those in the UK were MI6! On the other side of the double agent equation, my main contact was the Ethiopian Minister of Defence, the outstanding – but largely unknown - general who had brilliantly led the rebel army to it’s the greatest military successes in the 1980s.

Although I was the teacher, I learnt as much from the experience as my students. Moreover, these lessons were not just about Ethiopia, or even about the dilemmas facing third world nations, but just as much about the cultural blind spots to be found in our own western ‘democracies’. Bringing a new nation across from Marxism to social democracy clearly exposed the anomalies inherent in the market economies which we take for granted.  It also highlighted how narrow was the western, US, vision of what democracy should be about.

In the process I made some very good friends, amongst the senior members of government, though, with several thousand miles between us, I have once more not been able to maintain these friendships! Such is the price I, and my peers, have paid for our roving careers!”

By his own admission, David Mercer was a revolutionary young person in the 60’s. That revolutionary zeal probably had prepared him to connect with the TPLF line of viewing issues.  Moreover, the TPLF or the Foreign Office of Great Britain, or more likely both working in tandem  must have  handled David Mercer so thoroughly that he did not see nor was he ineterested in the interests of the Ethiopian people, as he was singe-mindedly pro-TPLF leaders.  It is astonishing how he would describe the murder squad, the TPLF army, as though it were an army of democrats.  Those who know how votes are taken in the TPLF parliament can easily appreciate the votes that the TPLF army takes when it storms its enemies.  At any rate, I quote David Mercer’s website to show how the TPLF army is described by him. I have also included other quotes on issues including David Mercer’s recounting of the OLF and its army.


 'They were an unusual army, though. Discipline was self-imposed. The troops didn’t even have uniforms, and foot drill was unheard of. More amazing still, for those many who think that obeying orders without question is a life and death necessity in an army, the cadres of troops chose what to do themselves. If they ever needed to storm a position, knowing that many would die, they took a vote on the decision; and then, without fail, stormed the position. They ended up, without it being imposed, as the best army in Africa, and one of the best in the world."


====== Regarding secessionist Eritrea---

“Some 30 years before my coming out to Ethiopia, the Eritreans, who had been incorporated into Ethiopia by the Italians, had demanded their independence; and, when this wasn’t granted, they had started a guerrilla war against the centre -- which was still ruled by Haile Selassie.”


======Regarding the OLF-------

“--In theory at least, there was also another faction opposing the Derg. This was the OLF: the Orrumo Liberation Front. However, they chose not to fight the war themselves but to withdraw to America -- where they spent 20 years lobbying American governments, and living in some comfort if not in luxury.”


“As I have explained elsewhere, the Orrumo Liberation Front (OLF) had not participated in the Ethiopian civil war. However, it still confidently expected to take over the post-war government; since they thought they represented the largest tribe, in a tribal nation.”

 “I was called by James Glaze into the embassy. His brief was that, having been in contact with the other ambassadors, they recognised that the OLF had no grounds for fighting inside government and certainly not for taking their troops out to fight military battles.”


“Thus the major decision that the western ambassadors, as a group, put to me was that they simply wouldn't tell their governments what was going on; but would hope that the Ethiopian government was able to suppress the rebels before anyone noticed.”


“The gist of my instructions was that the ambassadors would allow the governments to round up the OLF and end the new war.”


“I explained the position to Seeye exactly as it had been told to me, in effect setting down rules of engagement for the new Civil War.”


“Over the next two to three weeks those of my students who were in the army disappeared, to fight the war against the OLF.”


Seeye came to see me. .. and his words were memorable: "We didn't use helicopter gunships. We didn't even use heavy weapons or armoured vehicles. All we did was go out into the jungle with our Kalashnikovs. They [the OLF] had been in the jungle for 17 days. We had been there for 17 years. Guess who won!"


“There were something like 100,000 troops fighting in the jungle, yet nobody in the west has heard about it..”


“Remembering that a large proportion of OLF fighters were recruited from the Derg forces, these deserted in their thousands - to collect their pension.”


“..even though more than 100,000 troops were involved, only a few hundred of them had been killed.”


David Mercer’s report provides more evidence to what we had been saying all along about the role taken by the British government in denying Ethiopians to get their votes respected. Such inferences may be gleaned from URLs: http://aboutethiopia.com/a1-denqem-azagn.htm, and http://aboutethiopia.com/a3-LegitimizeTyranny.htm.


HG: 7/8/06