Ethiopia: a nation in the right direction

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Gorse Ismail (11 une 2014)

This week, as I went through surfing Ethiopian web site, I ran into an interesting article. This article, entitled Ethiopia: a nation at a crossroads and written By Shimelis Amare, is timely because many of the oppositions in the camp of unitary state (those who used to rule the time of Derg and Haile) are entertaining the idea that organizing along ethnic group is curse.

The irony of this interpretation is that they, themselves, are organizing along the line of their ethnic groups; however, they are so blind with power thirsty and past history that they do not see properly the reality on the ground and respect other nations and nationalities. A case in point is ESAT, Media painting Ethiopia dark picture on all its programs, will be daily beaming distorted information about current Ethiopia and making the old Ethiopia the best one. The funniest part of these propaganda is that they define Ethiopian to be the one who endorses their way of thinking, speak their language Amharic, dressing in their fashion, have taking the name of Haile ( force ) , Asfawoyesen ( the one who pioneering to expand its frontier aka Western wild style), Mengestu ( government ) and the list will go on and on. Once they run into Gemecha, Aba Jefersa, Roble, Ahmed and Mursi, their eyes brow will raising up and questioned them whether they are Ethiopian in their myopic definition of Ethiopia.

Further, Shimelis wrote that hope or despair, a bright future or a looming darkness, a prosperous united Ethiopia or a fragmented tribal land—these are the choices Ethiopia and the Ethiopian people are currently facing. As clear as these choices are, depending on the path we take, as a people, we will rise or we will go down. At this critical political juncture, the question is, therefore, what is to be done?

This term of tribal land is not different how the colonial officers dubbed African people to be primitive and put themselves on the ivory tower that they came to Africa to civilize them. Our brothers and sisters from old regimes who lost power do not have any solution that will include all Ethiopian on an equal footing, but to curse the current government EPRDF as if Ethiopia will dismantle and will cease to exist.

Shimelis added ethnic based federal system established by EPRDF government has created a fertile ground for a narrow-minded thinking to take root, and it is coming home to roost. Indeed, Ethiopia is at a crossroads. Unless we try to undo some of the mistakes, what was achieved will be lost, this nation will became a fragmented tribal land, and its people will be exposed to a devastating civil war. Before it is too late, it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to engage in a responsible and constructive conversation. Instead of pointing finger, this is the time to pause and reflect on the journey we took so far.

Shimelis has to look into mirror and goes through soul-searching to find that unitary state did not help to unify Ethiopia; on the contrary, Ethiopia used to be the land of war, famine, drought, and exile. The mushrooming of liberation fronts did not raise up out of the blue , but the reality that the regimes based upon centralized state had forced people not to allow to exercise their rights in terms of their language, culture , history , economy and politics. They took arm and fought to gain their rights and aspirations.

For example, the opposition in the camp of unitary state cursed and demonized Meles Zenawi as if he was one of the worse leaders in Ethiopia, but the reality on ground have indicated differently that Meles zenawi created an Ethiopia celebrated as one of the fastest economy in the world, land of peace and tranquility, and liberation fronts substituted regional states (kilil). Alex testified that World leaders have lauded Meles' economic achievements. He described that Meles was a voracious consumer of information and analysis, and a tireless questioner.



Having convinced Marxist-Leninist, and pragmatic, Meles had a vision that the way of life of the Ethiopian peasants had to change or die. Additionally, Meles understood the republic that Machiavelli defined and followed its core ideas as follows: liberty or sovereignty of the people/the citizens in a polity; non-domination and rejection of the claim of leaders to a “natural right” to rule (because of divine election or will, class position, or superior insight); no use of state power for personal gain or profit; and a recognition of the pluralism of the public cause, the discussion of which is to be open to the people, because from them ultimately power is derived.

Lastly, Shimeles argues that the question we need to answer is that, after twenty years experiment of ethnic based federalism, is there a lesson learned? Did this arrangement cause identity crises or help us to know who we are as a people? Is this arrangement becoming a continuous treat which will eventually lead us to civil war or is it helping us to co-exist as one nation, and as one people? Is this arrangement helping the developmental state policy to succeed or is it becoming a bottleneck? How can we defuse this narrow minded thinking so that we can move forward? Regardless of our political views and affiliations, the current political climate in the country urges us to evaluate the consequences of ethnic based federalism.

Shimeles and the Abebes have to acknowledge that Ethiopia is going in the right direction, empowering its people, the nations and nationalities and striving to be one of the middle income class countries in the world. On the contrary, Shimeles’ point view, the majority of Ethiopian people are accepting that Ethiopia is a diverse country where its entire people should be respected and nobody will be forced to be assimilated as the geographical constitution inflicted on our brother s and sisters of African American in America. The current Ethiopian federal system integrates nations and nationalities on an equal footing. This is the first time in Ethiopian history, Somalis, Afar, Gambelas, Oromo and other nations are expressing their identity of Ethiopian nationalism without force and willingly to die for it.