Ethiopia is a country renowned for being the land of origins, ancient civilizations, a rich history as well as numerous nations and nationalities which have diverse languages, beliefs and traditions. Furthermore, it is endowed with abundant natural resources, vast arable land, varied flora and fauna, a climate conducive to both living and farming and a plethora of natural attractions. But above all it is the motherland of a brave and proud people who, despite living for centuries under the yoke of oppression at the hand of tyrants, have demonstrated unrivalled heroism and patriotism in defending its sovereignty with their flesh and blood. The epoch-making victory they registered in 1896 at Adwa in which they humiliatingly crushed the colonial army of Italy is a feat that became a rallying cause for anti-colonialism struggles; the victory is an embodiment of a greatness that will be remembered for posterity.
Ethiopia was a great civilization for a long period. Sadly historical events that saw it tear apart itself in internecine conflicts and end up in abject poverty conspired to rob of its greatness. The scars left by these historical turns continue to manifest themselves in the poverty and backwardness which characterize the country to this day. Several reasons are given to explain such questions as: Why weren’t the Kingdom of Aksum and its civilization able to survive? What became of the technology behind the Aksum steles that still stand today? Why weren’t the amazing architectural wonders that the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela are replicated in other parts of Ethiopia? The division of Ethiopia into several regions with no effective central authority during the Zemene Mesafint (Era of the Princes) was a singularly dark chapter in its history. Many opportunities were squandered during this period until Emperor Tewodros II came to control all of Ethiopia and began to lay the foundation for a central government. Though there have been signs of revival here and then from then on, they have never been satisfactory. Ethiopianness survived all this up and down thanks to the perseverance of great and far-seeing people of Ethiopia in the face of unimaginable ordeal.
Although the people of Ethiopia have long been disenfranchised in their own country, unlike their leaders they have managed to forge a strong solidarity, mutual respect and a mosaic of differences through intermarriage. They have stood together in good times and bad times to maintain the unity of this pluralistic nation. And they have not let ethnic, language, religious and cultural differences to weaken their bond. The legacy a great people who have preserved the territorial and social integrity of their great nation should never be forgotten. In particular compatriots who paid selflessly served their country in various fields and accomplished exploits that earned Ethiopia reputation on the global stage have paid the ultimate price to make Ethiopia great. This generation owes them a debt of gratitude and as such has the obligation to celebrate and honor the sacrifices they paid. After all there is no greater pride than making one’s country great.
Coming to the present efforts at restoring Ethiopia’s greatness through a deeper pluralism are facing stiff challenges. Though the citizens of Ethiopia living in all corners of the country have a similar psyche, elements bent on sowing rifts and undermining unity have reared their heads. In spite of being the product of a society that values diversity, they are anathema to the concept of the peaceful accommodation of political differences and leave no stones unturned to inflame tension in defiance of the will of the public. Essentially undemocratic by nature they harp on ethnic and religious distinctions with the endgame of breaking up the nation. The hate propaganda and incitement to violence spewed by pseudo-intellectuals using social media is especially revolting and entirely unbefitting for this great country and people.
Akin to the family—the basic unit of society—a nation is bound to undergo a grave crisis that leads to disintegration when its people are unable to resolve differences and co-exist in a manner which is peaceful, democratic and compatible with traditional values. Such a horrible specter is primarily attributable to giving precedence to political power over the national interest in complete disregard of the fact that power truly belongs to the people. It’s madness to preach division and animosity at a time the world is becoming a single village thanks to technological advances. History shall judge harshly anyone who pursues a narrow ethnic agenda aimed at collapsing a nation instead of striving to ensure that its citizens enjoy lasting peace, democracy and prosperity. It is treasonous to evince enmity for fellow countrymen and betray one’s country to foreign adversaries. A rational mind would not condone the destruction of the reputation of a great country which came to be the pride of Africans as a result of the inimitable Adwa Victory over a colonial power. Thinking of fragmenting a nation which is the seat of the African Union and various U.N. agencies rather than making it even greater is the height of treachery and a disservice to its people.
It should be underscored here that the human and democratic rights of individual and groups enshrined n the constitution need to be protected so that social justice prevails. Naturally this makes it imperative to put the public interest front and center, which precludes such acts the public has always rejected as stoking ethnic hostility. Democracy can never take root through deeds that are in essence anti-democratic and in no way fulfills the aspirations of the masses. What this country desperately needs is to reclaim its glory days. If its people are to be extricated from the clutches of poverty and freely exercise basic rights and freedoms citizens both at home and abroad must not hesitate to contribute their due share. Ethiopia should not re-experience internal strife. This makes it incumbent on its children must join hands and accommodate their differences in a civilized manner. Then it will become a genuinely democratic, pluralistic and prosperous nation; it will be restored to its former greatness!