The bizarre tale of ‘Mahibere Kidusan’
10 sugar factories will be built in Ethiopia, as part of the growth and transformation plan, along the north-south stretch of the nation; and Wolkayit Sugar Development Project, which is located in Tigray region, took the northern share which holds one sugar factory to be built with a capacity of 12,000 tcd.
Fully aware of the proximity of this project to the historic Monastery of Waldba, the Ethiopian government has taken all the necessary precautions not to muddle up its monastic life. As a matter of fact socio-economic study and environmental impact assessment have also been undertaken besides consultations with the local people, the local administration and members of the monastic community.
However, the recent hearsay spread by either those who do not properly understand the real benefit the project can bring to the people, or by those who are trying to manipulate the situation creates excitement among the public and continued to be a cause for the spread of fictitious information to Ethiopians in Diaspora and foreigners.
In an effort to do away with such misunderstanding, series of consultation forums have been organized by government in which all stakeholders participated and consensus has been reached on the alleged damage the construction of the dam would cause to the monastery.
But in spite of all these consultations the spread of false messages by opponents of the project continued to scare the local community.
In the mean time, Mahibere Kidusan, which is one of the units in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Sunday School Department, get involved in the issue and conducted a survey on the overall situation and produced a report, which after a while spread it to the media.
But after the team has witnessed the fact that no harm will be done on the monastery due to the project, it preferred to tell a double-edged and bizarre tale which completely contradict to its findings.
The study team was told that due to the overflow of water from the dam to the surrounding areas and farm lands three churches located around this area might get rid of. These churches are belongings of the monastery but located out of the main historical monastic site, and they are still used by monks as a resting place when they get sick.
However, regarding the removal of these churches and as to the remedial measures that should be in place, a series of consultations have been made with the leaders of the monastery. And the consultation resulted in an agreement to provide compensations by the government to the incurred lose.
The study team of Mahibere Kidusan also knew that consensus has been reached and every thing is settled, but didn’t want to articulate it in its report as it should be. Rather it preferred to report that the problem still persisted.
The other allegation made against the project is that the dam will take 16.6 hectares of land from the monastery’s holdings. But this was demonstrated to the study team and they proved the allegation is false. But still they didn’t want to include it in their study report. They rather tried to confirm that the construction will take part of the monastery’s land.
The report also claims that prior consultations were not undertaken with members of the monastery, which is an outright lie. Rather the truth is a couple of discussions have been made with the local administrative bodies, the local community, religious leaders, elders, and leaders of the monastery and also a visit program of the project site has been arranged so that they can witness the overall undertaking by themselves. The visit enabled them to prove no harm will be done to the monastery due to the construction of the dam. But, Mahibere Kidusan preferred to tell only the half truth.
Essentially the development undertaking around Wolkayit is a blessing to the locality and the monastery as well. Wolkayit is a remote and underdeveloped area like many other places in Ethiopia. The people live in backwardness fighting with a very hostile environment, with no infrastructure and social service facilities in place.
But now, with the advent of the development undertaking they are going to be beneficiary out of the development the project will bring. People already understood that schools, health centers, water lines, electricity, telephone lines, roads etc are going to be built. They already know vast job opportunities are going to be created during and after the construction of the factory. Members of the monastery also dully understood the advantage of the lake to be a protection for the monastery against intruders. Besides they know the advantage of the lake for fishery development. Moreover, it is evident that the dam and irrigation will create a suitable ecosystem to the environment.
With all these in mind, it is also known that the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has always been making great contributions in the nation’s development endeavors. The church has never tried to impede such an undertaking. But since trouble-makers always dwell in disguise among do-gooders, those with a hidden agenda of deterring the development effort try to create trouble by promoting their false concern about the monastery.
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