Ethiopian politics continues to be a shouting match between the vocal minority that are adept at drowning out the silent majority. From the leaders of government and political parties to social media activists a handful of individuals are engaged in a deathly struggle to assume or consolidate power totally oblivious to the notion that the very the voiceless masses they hold in contempt. Consequently, the public has been sidelined from having a say in determining the fate of the country as though this is the exclusive province of the few and in the process subjected to endless ordeal. This has immeasurably harmed the democratization process and perpetuated abject poverty in Ethiopia.
Ever the since of modern politics in Ethiopia a succession of tyrants have used the nation and its people as lab rats on which they experimented such ideologies as Marxism and Revolutionary Democracy that have set the country back decades. Though they could have instituted an indigenous system of governance truly reflective of the will of the people, they chose to foist on the people ideologies lacking social basis that were imported wholesale without adapting them to the nation’s unique conditions. Moreover, peddling false and unsubstantiated narratives that, inter alia, erode the shared values Ethiopians have developed over centuries and helped them co-exist harmoniously; sow division rather than promote pluralism; and defeat nation-building endeavors have become their pastime. To make matters worse it’s virtually the political elite alone that are participating in dialogues which play a critical role in shaping the future of the people. These exclusionary dialogues are not only an exercise in futility, but also disenfranchise the masses.
The destiny of the Ethiopian public must neither be put up for negotiation nor decided by politicians or the elite for they only have their interest at heart and do not care an iota about the welfare of the people and have no qualms over using the youth, who ought to be raised to become responsible citizens, as cannon fodders that do their bidding. While the privileged few abuse their power and wealth to live a life of luxury and enroll their kids to the best schools, the majority poor lead a miserable life and have no choice but to send their children to mediocre schools. It’s the lives and properties of the wretched masses which are destroyed in the intercommunal conflicts they stoke, not theirs. That’s why the vocal minority must not be allowed to decide the destiny of the silent majority.
One of the imperatives necessitating an end to the entrenched habit of rendering the masses voiceless is the turning of Ethiopian politics into the battleground of implacably opposed forces bent on crushing each other regardless of the collateral damage. For instance, efforts to lay the democratization process on a firm foundation, which got underway following the seismic political change over two years now, have been impeded by political actors that were unhappy with the reforms that have been introduced since then. Although the return of a number of exiled politicians and activists was expected to contribute to broadening the political space, the country was rocked by an unprecedented level of ethnic and religious conflicts. The radical ethno-nationalists among them are particularly to blame for a spate of violence that led to the death and injury of thousands of innocent civilians, the displacement of millions more from their homes as well as the destruction of both public and hard-earned private property. To rub salt into the wound many of the architects and perpetrators of the violence were not held to account for their misdeeds. When the powerful few trample on the voiceless majority mayhem and destruction are bound to ensue. This is precisely what has been happening in Ethiopia.
A select few people that managed to grab the reins of power without public consent have robbed the country blind and perpetrated countless other crimes. Individuals and groups related by marriage or belonging to network sharing financial or other interests have carried out atrocities in the name of the public. Aside from committing egregious human rights violations they have gamed the system to enrich themselves and their ilk to the tune of billions. They and their partners-in-crime have incited and continue to incite conflicts through various mainstream media outlets and social media cadres they control in order to cover up their sins, derail the ongoing reform and engineer a return to the “throne”. The masses have been sacrificed on the altar of the power for the few. This travesty has got to stop.
The hopes of citizens to see an Ethiopia where they live in peace, freedom, equality and justice have been dashed by a few bad apples intent on remaking the nation in their own image. Plots to inflame sectarian violence with intent to tear apart a people that have gone together through the good times and the bad times and defended their nation against aggression are exacting a heavy toll. Devoid of a vision for a better Ethiopia the masterminds behind this destructive agenda are disseminating patently false narratives that instigate tensions and detract from development efforts. If the nation’s elites truly have its interest at heart they should be the voice of the voiceless masses instead of acting as the echo chamber of the few. They would do well to appreciate that the people’s claim to sovereign power finds practical expression in their ability to be heard. It’s also incumbent on them to seek an antidote for the vitriolic narratives inciting the youth to violence and inspire them to focus their energy on education and voluntary service. Let’s close together the chapter where the few do whatever they please at the expense of the masses; let’s say no to the vocal minority silencing the majority!