Ethiopians, have never negotiated on their country’s sovereignty, at any place or at any time. Even though they have points of difference, and even if the issues have led them to conflicts, Ethiopians have never been separated when it comes down to its sovereignty and hastily stand together against foreign enemies. They are known in history through their deep love of country. As history attests, when the crucial time to stand together arrives, Ethiopians quickly reconcile their differences to stand together, putting aside temporary skirmishes.
The message is clear as day, when Ethiopians say we don’t joke about the sovereignty of our country. For Ethiopians, sovereignty means respect, freedom, national benefit, security, and rights. No one can interfere or decided on Ethiopia’s sovereignty. What Ethiopian’s have learned from the heroic Adwa victory, is to defend sovereignty by standing together.
The message conveyed during this year’s 124th Adwa Victory holiday showed that there will be no negotiations on Ethiopia’s sovereignty. Especially, when the US government recently released a statement concerning the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) that encroaches on our sovereignty, it has angered a lot of Ethiopians, and furthermore, has aligned compatriots with different political views, into one.
Ethiopians have made their stand clear, in that, the persistent interference on the renaissance dam, which Ethiopians have built with their own effort and money, and with no aid; will not be tolerated and negotiated upon. They said there will be no messing around with sovereignty.
Pulling on the strings of history, it is necessary to connect the old Ethiopian movement with this generation. In the 17th century, it is beneficial to remember James Bruce’s testimonial, a Scottish explorer, who came to Ethiopia wanting to find out where the Abbay River starts. Staying in Ethiopia from 1769-1774, Bruce wrote what he has observed saying, “Even though Ethiopian’s fight with each other during peace, they will stand alongside one another and defend themselves.”
Like Bruce, many historians have reported on this history. Plenty of proof can be provided to attest to the continuation of the heroics of Ethiopians, before or after the great Adwa battle. Ethiopians have repeatedly fended off aggressors and expansionists on different fronts, successfully; and is the only nation in Africa that has not been under foreign rule during the colonial period. This is a truth known by the World. The Battle of Adwa shows Ethiopians will not bow to anyone’s pressure or hand twisting and will not negotiate on or compromise Ethiopia’s sovereignty. There is hope that this glowing fight will continue well into the future.
The support shown by the US towards Egypt on the negotiations of the renaissance dam can only be made ineffective, if Ethiopians stop the in-fighting and display there unity. The competition or struggle to obtain political power should be beneath the sovereignty of Ethiopia. At this crucial point in history, it is necessary to show our national unity through discipline and patience, by following the examples set by our forefathers during the Adwa battle.
The renaissance dam, since it is an example of unity and a common wealth for Ethiopians; we cannot shy away from this common project due to pressure from foreign forces. Through division, we expose ourselves to the enemy. Ethiopia, contributing 86 percent of the water to the Abbay River, has repeatedly said it would respect equitable use and wishes not to harm anyone. Nevertheless, when Ethiopia decided to build a dam to produce electricity, to benefit from the water riches it has; it has faced repeated blockades from Egypt which continues to test the patience and resolve of the country.
Ethiopians will not be patient while others fulfill their own ulterior motives. It is necessary to tell both, the US and Egypt, to refrain from these despicable acts, and show Ethiopians will not retreat, have dignity and does not appreciate anyone’s interference. In this crucial time, Ethiopia needs to turn her face towards her African brothers and sisters. Instead of relying on the military mite of the US, to help in the negotiations, for only Egypt to try and turn it into a battle filed; but has to rather arrive at a consensus through the African Union, which is led by the South African president. The AU needs to show its strength by coming out of its neutral position on this issue. For this to happen, Ethiopia is expected to exert pressure.
The AU should not be a distant observer, while Egypt, which was given the opportunity to take part in the negotiations in which the dam Ethiopia was building; only for it to commit transgressions. In addition to the union, the downstream countries, to which it directly concerns, need to be encouraged to speak out.
We cannot allow for Egypt to become superior, by invoking an agreement entered during a colonial period; when only Ethiopia said, let us use the water equitably and make it a shared wealth between neighboring countries. It will become a must to either meet this upheaval in peace or in the spirit of patriotism. This is not a call to war but rather a warning, to respect sovereignty. Even now, we will welcome those who come in peace, and speak to those threats, in the language they understand. If there is no choice, this is the only way sovereignty is respected.
It is the responsibility of the Ethiopian government to involve the international community, to avoid war over water, in Africa, created by the bent foreign policy of the US. Ethiopians both out or in the country, are expected to work day and night, to avert the dangerous policies followed by the US.
Since the renaissance dam is the primary national interest of Ethiopians, it cannot be provided as a sacrificial lamb for the benefit of appeasing other forces.
It is necessary to show that Ethiopians will not bow to pressure or intimidation by the powerful and show that the struggles of Adwa and the sense of patriotism are still alive. There is no joking with Ethiopia’s sovereignty.