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A speech of hope

Many of us have been touched by the speech made by our newly appointed prime minister, Abiy Ahmed (PhD) in his address to the members of the parliament and to the millions of Ethiopians these represent. Many of us have felt hope that maybe the time for a real and positive change has come to our nation. For many, his speech was one that bridged the racial divide that we have been increasingly witnessing the past few years. His speech was a great reminder that Ethiopia is a nation that has been preserved through the bloods and bones of every race and nationality that made its diversity. In his speech, our prime minister made one statement that truly touched by heart. He stated that ‘When we live, we are Ethiopians, and when we die we become Ethiopia’. Whether we have lived here or abroad, whether we have died fighting for this nation or from natural causes, for most us, our bodies get buried in Ethiopian soil. As our flesh decomposes, we become the Ethiopian soil and thus Ethiopia. For me, it is a reminder that each and every one of us, alive or dead, defines the nation we call Ethiopia.

One of the things that I was happy that the prime minister brought up is the issue of opposition. Even in banal social interactions or discussions, bringing up arguments that strongly oppose the other party in the discussion is not something that is welcome among many. The minister mentioned in his speech that unity is not the same as being similar. Or in Amharic ‘Andenet malet and mehon aydelem’. In a team setting for instance, partners may confront each other with diverse ideas that may conflict with one another. I believe that diverse ideas within a team is something that is needed to bring out the best of all ideas that helps achieve the common goal of team members. And as a nation, we are a team with a common goal. All of our political ideas and inclinations, as diverse as they may be, should be welcomed since all ideas are (and should be) targeted at the common goal of creating a democratic and economically strong nation. Therefore, we need not be the same to be unified! For me, unity is difficult to achieve if we lack a common goal - because a common goal inevitably leads to compromise!

In another speech the prime minister made before his appointment, he mentions the importance of always trying to understanding others’ perspectives and points of views. Each of us are different. Each of us has a different cultural exposure, history, education level (and inherited genes) which make up who we are today as individuals. Sometimes, it may be difficult to understand how someone or a group of individuals came to have a certain perspective on things. But if we try to understand where one is coming from, I believe we can become more tolerant of his or her point of views and try to arrive to a common understanding on things.

Although the speech of Abiy is one that gave tremendous hope to many of us, at the end of the day, I believe it is good to remember that what he gave us is only a speech. Much time and patience may be needed before we see actual results. But for this to happen, I believe that letting go of our emotions and giving way to our rational and informed judgment is needed. Because if emotions prevail over rationality, we will have a perfect recipe for disaster!

Contributed by Tsion Taye
Contributed by Tsion Taye