Ethiopia is undergoing a sea change which holds promises and poses perilous threats. From citizens concerned by the fate of their country to internationally renowned analysts these promises and threats have been analyzed from different perspectives. While some emphasize that Ethiopia has the capacity to resolve its internal divisions and unite Eastern Africa, others fear it risks the specter of Balkanization as Yugoslavia did. A keen observer of contemporary Ethiopian reality knows well that the nation stands at a crossroads. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility to exert overcome the threats facing the country and steer it to greatness through the concerted effort of all stakeholders. If everyone invested in Ethiopia’s future were to set out to settle their differences in good faith and join hands for a common cause they can do miracles. The important thing is not to lose sight of the imperative to bridge differences in a constructive manner with a view to lay the cornerstone for the long-term survival of the nation. If Ethiopians are found wanting in cherishing diversity and building an inclusive nation it’s very easy to go down the road to destruction and land the country in a deep hole. Such disconcerting prospect befits neither Ethiopia nor its people. Enough of living a life of fear and uncertainty!
The public needs to put on notice the forces bent on hindering Ethiopia make use of the opportunities before it with intent to turn it into a conflict zone. This Tuesday the Union of Oromo Aba Gaddas (Oromo political leaders) organized a reconciliation conference for political parties operating in the Oromia regional state. It called on the Oromo Democratic Party (ODP), the region’s ruling party, and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), which returned home after decades of exile, to cease hostilities and settle their differences through dialogue. The parties agreed to settle their difference – at least on paper – following an impassioned plea by the Aba Gadaas, who insisted that they would not go back to their homes unless the parties accepted their appeal. Underscoring the value of peace the chair of the Union said, “We are the protectors of our country. The country’s affairs are of concern not only to politicians but to us as well. All of us have a stake in the nation’s peace. Peace comes before anything. Our people want to live in peace.” He further said that the public was tired of living in the midst of threats. His remarks highlight the need to root out the threats confronting Ethiopia lest the hopes the future holds for it are dashed.
As political powerultimately resides in the people it would ill-advised for one to tell them he/she knows what’s best for them when they assert that no one has a greater say than them about the direction the nation is taking. Just as Gamo elders used the force of their moral authority to avert a potentially deadly attack by Gamo youths against Oromos in retaliation for the killing of scores of Gamos in the Oromia region in September 2018, Oromo elders and intellectuals have no choice but to play an active role in settling amicably the dispute between political parties that has turned sections of the region into war zones.Elders and religious leaders in other parts of the country should emulate the example set by their Gamo peers. Though it’s the responsibility of elders to admonish a wrongdoer and persuade the aggrieved to open their hearts to forgiveness, the youth are equally duty-bound to act rationally towards peacebuilding. Allowing oneself to be incited to violence with baseless rumors or commit atrocities against compatriots is a manifestation of backwardness. At a time the world is becoming a globalized village it’s irrational to walloneself off. Falling for the alluring rhetoric of pseudo politicians salivating to assume power via a shortcut and doing their bidding to destabilize Ethiopia undermines the national interest. And subjecting the public to a life of perpetual fear by instigating internecine skirmishes in a country which has limitless opportunities is an exercise in futility bound to result in a permanent rift with the public.
Each and every Ethiopian citizen owes the obligation to contribute their share to the building of a stable political system and thereby ensure the prevalence of freedom, justice and equality throughout Ethiopia. Any individual or grouping advocating for these ideals are expected to know have a thorough knowledge of the rules of the gameas they pertain to democracy. Joining the playing field without knowing these rulesis a surefire way to lose the public’s vote. In this day and age no one can hold the public hostage at gun point and do as he pleases. Attempting to do so in the belief that it had worked in the past only serves to incur the wrath of the public. Ethiopians treasure peace above anything else. Successive generations have paid with their blood to defend this historic country against aggressors and expansionists. Elements which would do anything to engendera state collapse when they are unable to wield absolute power are destined to fail because the public abhors their agenda. Resorting to bankrupt and ultimately fatal strategies instead of making preparations for peaceful and democratic elections that helprealize the aspirations and needs of the people is a recipe for public disgrace. The masses are tired of carrying the burden of constant apprehension; theyjust want to lead a life of freedom.
Finding a solution to the grave challenges that may well imperil Ethiopia’s future primarily requiresfair-mindedness. Fair-mindednessis essentially about demonstrating wisdom and being a man of principle while not letting oneself be dictated to by others. As power mongers do everything they can to elicit a descent into chaos gullible individuals are going along with them out of naïveté. It’s absolutely wrong to equate such weakness with fair-mindedness. Given Ethiopia is blessed with sons and daughters possessing the capacity and willingness tochart a course accommodative of divergent views, threats will give way to hope when they discharge the responsibilities entrusted to them in a spirit of fair-mindedness.If the sinister intention of connivers to dash the hopes of the nation is to be defeated it’s of the essence that the youth wise up to the ploys of opportunists lest they are deceived into participating in conflicts which disproportionately harm children, the elderly and other vulnerable sections of society and be clear-eyed about the fact that they have the obligation to preserve the peace and survival of the nation. As citizens of a nation which has a rosy future Ethiopians must say in no uncertain terms that they will no longer tolerate the specter of constant threat hang over their head.