Ethiopia: The nation that fights itself
Qana Zegelila 7-15-19
The recent tragedy that took place in Bahir Dar and Addis Ababa is fresh in our minds and compelled many to raise so many questions with no easy answers. Many found it very difficult what can possibly explain the killing of comrades serving in the same party and administration and sharing same vision, according to media reports. Similarly, how can a soldier assigned to protect the Chief of Staff turn the gun at the very person he was supposed to protect from others? Indeed very puzzling. Political killing is not new to Ethiopia. In the sixties and seventies, young, brilliant, brave and bright generation of Ethiopians was butchered by the red terroir. It was a public declared fight and the country was washed by blood bath. The recent killing unlike in the past was among people in the same system. The families of the victims, friends and indeed the whole nation are traumatized. The incident further damaged the public trust. Loss of trust is one collateral damage to the already sick political system that some even said that it is at ICU. To regain the trust back, a series of confidence building measures must be taken by those in the corridors of power.
As we look for answers, no adequate and convincing explanation was provided so far. Nor the characterization of the incident as coup by the government was taken seriously. Every incident has a message and a lesson to learn. But what would the lesson and message of this senseless killing be? All sorts of questions for which no response was found are being raised and responses are still awaited by the public from their government. Government has a duty to provide the findings of its investigation. The longer the investigation takes, the more skeptical will the public be. It, therefore, is a matter of urgency to quench the thirsty of the public for the answers.
Rule of Law, Again and Again, Rule of Law
The cry for rule of law by the public was not heeded to by the government, who came with a different philosophy on the concept of rule of law. The difference in approach to the rule of law was neither well understood nor it made a common sense. Once again, the nation is learning it hard way. This is too much and costly. Whether the killing of the high profile leadership convinced the government that the public outcry should have been considered seriously is yet to be seen. The seriousness will be tested in the actions to be followed by the government. The first action logically expected would be to undertake a thorough investigation by an independent body and disclose the truth as to what was behind this unholy assassination. The second action expected will be whether the government learnt enough lesson and take its primary responsibility of protecting the citizens with utmost seriousness and with the urgency the matter deserved. In doing so, will the government also take actions on the illegitimate bodies in various parties of the country who behave and act as de facto administration in their respective area with impunity? It is sad to watch many illegal groups taking over the role of the government and behave without any regard to law. The hopelessness and tight lipped silence of the government organs at all levels, in the eyes the self-proclaimed groups action without any sort and manner of accountability is mesmerizing! Sadly, lessons in our country do not come easy way.
Eroded values: weakened love of the nation
As we Ethiopians take great pride, in the eyes of the outsiders, in our long history, ancient civilization and sense of patriotism, the current challenge that we are confronted with does not go well with our values, nor with our proud history. Many African brothers looked up on us as a symbol of independence and freedom, however, regrettably, today we are looked down by many friends and foes in what we are doing to ourselves. The killing of each other, displacing of fellow Ethiopians for political motive and lack of respect and recognition are evil and criminal acts no amount of explanation would justify such inhuman action against fellow human being. The polarization of politics is tearing down the nation and the social fabrics of our society. The bond of link is broken. Damage has been done to our social fabric. As a nation, we failed ourselves and failed our friends miserably. We also failed our fathers and forefathers who paid an ultimate price to maintain the unity and sovereignty of this great nation that others held with high esteem. We also failed the future generation and our children by not leaving behind a legacy that they can proudly celebrate. We apparently lacked self-esteem and respect. The current situation we found ourselves in is unexplainable. Wisdom has become scarce commodity. Our cultural, religious and societal values have over the years been degenerated and moral and ethics decay rampantly eroded our social values. Gone are the days when parents were listened to and commended respected? Gone are the days when elders, community and religious leaders were taken seriously and generated honor and seen as guardian and shepherd of their respective followers. Gone are the days when the rule of law was fully respected and citizens swore in the name of law. Today all those cultural, religious and legal values that we held with high esteem are vanished. What kind of society we have become, why we have reached to this low and how we extricate ourselves out of this mess are questions we are confronted with. We should genuinely address them head on by stopping apportioning blame. I am afraid blame shifting will be a nonstarter. No one else could render solutions to our own problems. We are part of the problem, we have to be part of the solution. Now how can we be part of the solution is a again another million dollar question that requires an honest answer from one and all. All of us talk about peace but expect someone else to make peace and keep it. Those who love peace should make peace and keep peace with oneself, in the family and in the neighborhood. We need to stop talking the talk and start walking our talk.
The Golden Rule, is the way out!
The Golden Rule is a universally accepted principle that is also shared by all religious teachings. It is simple rule that says do not do anything to others that you do not want to be done to you. It is as simple as that. Now one wants to be killed so do not kill others. Everyone wants to be respected and recognized, so respect and recognize others. That is not only logical but it also is fair and just. To expect respect from others without respecting others is selfish and unacceptable. To want accommodated with accommodating others is unworkable. Any society can only be a just one if it treats all its members equally and recognizes them. Francis Fukuyama in an article about identity politics stated how identity politics is played out today in globalized world. A sensitive issue like identity requires very careful management. We have forces who just want to deny the reality that we are a nation of different nations and nationalities. The attempt to deny nor the effort to suppress it will work. Such an attitude will take us nowhere but, if anything, only backward. On the one hand, those who also want to undermine individual rights and just promote only their group identity should understand that such an approach is also a nonstarter. Both sides must understand that both can coexist provided that we do not hide in our shells. There is a middle ground and both are not mutually exclusive. Such extreme ideas are the source of challenges we are confronted with. The political market space must be open enough so that all can sell their ideas without any hindrance or limit in a free, peaceful and democratic environment. Let the public buy the idea of its choice in a free, open and competitive election. That is a civilized way that can save the nation that fights itself.
The mood in the country is depressing and we should pull ourselves from the well we dug and buried ourselves. The nation cannot continue with the old culture of political killing just because someone has different opinion. We have reached to such a low level where we cannot listen to each other, live with one another because we hold different points of view. This madness must come to an end. The madness cannot come to an end because we condemned it. It will come to an end only if each and every one of us can walk the talk and apply the Golden Rule. Can we be our brothers and our sister’s keepers? May peace prevail in the world, May peace prevail in Ethiopia.