The philosophy, family values, knowledge and faith of Abiy Ahmed (PhD) in a united Ethiopia to create and promote a democratic and a more inclusive society –as articulated in his inaugural speech – is not only touching but also gives hope for building a new and united Ethiopia where all Ethiopians are respected and respectful of their brothers and sisters, writes Alem Asres.
First, let me express upfront, my undying gratitude to former Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn for opining a new chapter in the political history of Ethiopia by recognizing the urgent needs of the country as well as for promoting and actively participating in the peaceful transfer of power. In doing so, Hailemariam took a historic step to make Ethiopia a role model for those who are seeking a road to peaceful changes and for building durable and democratic institutions in their respective countries.
Throughout the political history of post-colonial Africa, political power is taken by force and violence but never handed over peacefully. I’m convinced that what Hailemariam did, on April 2, 2018, will go on the annals of post-colonial African political history as a commendable act that took place in Sub-Saharan Africa. What is both surprising and pleasing is seeing the outgoing prime minister handing over the national flag and the constitution to the incoming Prime Minister with smile and brotherly embrace. Peaceful transfer of power, without death and destruction is something all Ethiopians at home and abroad have been hoping for and dreaming about. On April 2, 2018, the world witnessed that, even in a nation faced with social, economic and political crises, accompanied by ethnic and regional violence, peaceful transfer of power is possible.
Second, I want to take this opportunity to extend my most sincere, yet somehow belated, congratulations and best wishes to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD). The philosophy, family values, knowledge and faith of Abiy in a united Ethiopia to create and promote a democratic and a more inclusive society –
as articulated in his inaugural speech – is not only touching but also gives hope for building a new and united Ethiopia where all Ethiopians are respected and respectful of their brothers and sisters. As Abiy noted, no matter in which region of Ethiopia we were born in, and with which ethnicity we identify ourselves with, we are Ethiopians tied not only by land but also by kinship. For us, there is no other homeland, but Ethiopia.
That being said, I would also like to call upon all Ethiopians both at home and abroad to give him the time and a helping hand so that he may succeed in creating a truly democratic and peace loving Ethiopia. Like most Ethiopians, I’m painful aware of the difficulty that the new prime minister may be facing in creating a new and democratic Ethiopia with justice for all. I am also aware that the detractors, the loan-sharks, drug-pushers, as well as merchants of chaos and wars, may be launching political and personal attacks on the new prime minister from home and abroad, if they have not started already. Understanding what Abiy may be faced with, I appeal to all my fellow Ethiopians both at home and abroad, not to expect positive and tangible changes overnight, but to give him time and our unwavering support. Time and genuine support are the two ingredients that the new PM needs the most to accomplish what he promised the world and the Ethiopian people. The wind of change finally reached Ethiopia and left the window of opportunity for socio-economic and political change wide open. Let us stand behind Abiy to keep the window of change remain open. And most of all, let us give our motherland all we have got to make her secure, free, prosperous and democratic.
Ethiopia is a multiethnic, multicultural and multilingual nation with growing population of more than one hundred million people, speaking over 80 different languages with various dialects. It is also a nation composed of many ethnicities characterized by mass poverty, illiteracy, disease, and by unemployed and disempowered youth. The growing number of corrupt officials and loan-sharks have been pushing skilled and semi-skilled Ethiopian youth to leave their homes and families in search of peace and economic security outside Ethiopia. It is a well-known fact that, for decades, Ethiopia has been losing, professionals trained in various fields of science and technology. To that end, I like to direct the reader, to read my articles carried by The Reporter, titled: “The impact of brain drain on Sub-Saharan Africa”, published on December 10, 2016, and “United we stand, divided we fall” on September 30, 2017.
Having said that, I am convinced that the men and women of Oromo, Amhara Ethiopian Somali, Tigray, Sidama, Gurage, Wolayta, Hadiya, Afar, Gamo, Slite, and Kefficho, and others not listed here, gave their precious life to keep Ethiopia free from colonial rule. This time, I hope to see all Ethiopians rally behind Abiy and help him overcome all obstacles he may be facing in his efforts to create a new and progressive Ethiopia. Languages and cultural differences did not stop Ethiopians from uniting to defeat colonialists at the Battle of Adwa. The entire world remembers that their victory at Adwa made Ethiopia the first African nation to defeat a well-organized and well-armed European army.
To avoid misquoting Abiy, I like to paraphrase what he said during his acceptance remark. “When we live we are Ethiopians, and when we die we become Ethiopia”. He added: “You can take Ethiopians out of Ethiopia, but you can’t take Ethiopia out of Ethiopians…Ethiopia is the only country we have.” Realizing the task ahead of him, the new PM noted: “A fair justice system works only when human rights are respected.” He reminded all of us that, no matter where we reside, we carry Ethiopia with us. As Ethiopians we dream of a socially, economically, and politically secure Ethiopia where we can raise our children and watch them grow old. As sons and daughters of Ethiopia, with high hope for our motherland, it is our duty to defend her sovereignty both from foreign and home grown enemies of social change and progress. History have taught us the fact that foreign and national elements, ‘with an axe to grind’, will leave no stone unturned to advance their selfish interest, contrary to the interest of Ethiopians. They may actively try to downgrade and sabotage the efforts of the new prime minister from day one, so that they may replace him with another prime minister who will do their bidding. Understanding the socio-economic and political minefields that Abiy might face – minefields placed by his pseudo-friends and enemies alike – I hope and pray that he will not give-up or give-in.
It was Martin Luther King Jr. who said, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” As Ethiopians, Abiy said, “living together is not a matter of choice but it is a must.” Let the political oppressions – implicit or explicit – cultural stereotyping that each of us have experienced in the past, and experiencing even to this day, not stop us from living together and building a free and democratic Ethiopia – a country that we may hand over to the next generation with pride and with our heads held high as our parents did. It has been said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men [and women] to do nothing.” When called upon to defend their birthplace and support just and common causes, Ethiopians have never resorted to doing nothing. For example, Ethiopians of all ethnicities from north to south and from east to west stood up as one indivisible nation to deny the evils of colonialism and fascism and triumphed not only once but twice. They faced the incoming bullets and suffered the horrors of mustard gas to defend their homeland and to leave our generation with an undivided and independent Ethiopia.
It is the duty of our generation to leave the next generation with a socially, economically and politically secure Ethiopia where freedom of speech and respect for human rights are fully realized and practiced. Like most Ethiopians everywhere, I am more than glad to witness, in my lifetime, the transfer of power from one leader to another without bloodshed and mass destruction of people’s property. With that being said, I would like to wish Abiy, all the luck in the world in advancing his stated vision of creating a safe, secure and prosperous Ethiopia. May Ethiopia live long and prosper.
Ed.’s Note: Alem Asres (PhD), (former Alemayehu Wondemagegnehu) earned his Doctor of Philosophy in Social Foundations of Education with emphasis on Comparative and Multicultural Education from the University of Maryland, College Park. He received his MA degree in Urban Sociology and Urban Planning from Howard University, Washington DC, and his BA in Political Science with emphasis in International Relations, from the University of Maryland, College Park. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Reporter. He can be reached at [email protected].