Congratulations Ethiopia!


By Shashu Habtu – April 14, 2010

It is such an incredible win and an amazing era for us to witness the open and fast gain of Ethiopia’s democracy these past eighteen years.  Never in the history of Ethiopia have we witnessed such an open dialogue.   A free expression of ideas among different parties is what we are witnessing for the fourth democratic election.  It is so heartwarming and encouraging for those of us that live outside Ethiopia to have the privilege of being eyewitnesses to the myriad developments that is going on in the country. Thanks to humanity’s elevation of technology we are privy to follow the events of the country on a daily basis.

On the flip side there is constant complaint by those who call themselves opposition.   Their complaint is like a hurricane, a raging storm that will never stop its denial of progress in the country.  I would consider non-EPRDF parties to call themselves “alternative” rather than opposition.  What is there to oppose in a country that just gave birth to a new way of governing and laid a foundation to a democratic form of government?  What is there to oppose when collaboration is required in nation building?

Today Ethiopia doesn’t deserve opposition it actually deserves collaboration.  It is a collaborative action that is required in a country that just eighteen years ago erected a democratic constitution.  To ensure long term gain it is imperative that the democratic culture be enriched, democratic institutions and capacity building continue to be established.  What is there to oppose other than jointly strive to build and nurture what already begun?  Would it not be a time to calm the raging storm of opposition and stir one’s energy in building a nation that is already showing an incredible transformation in every sector of the country? 

It sort of seems like those who have emulated the culture of other societies are trapped in an epidemic state of being prisoners of the past.  It is time to break the chains of the past and accept reality and move forward with the current empowering situation where each citizen’s contribution is highly valuable in nation building.  Fretting and complaining without providing an alternative is a typical character of victim oriented individuals that have a stagnant way of thinking. 

It is an irony too that some opposition think they could seek refugee outside of Ethiopia to conspire and bring down the gains of the people and the country.  To disagree with the ruling party is one thing but to deny the undisputable development of the country is but mere ignorance.  It is expending futile energy to try and bring back the old style of government or attempt to arrest the progress of the country. 

Democracy as we know is a process.  It is still a work in progress even in nations that have the oldest democracies.  Ethiopia at such a young age has demonstrated an incredible progress in these short years.  In a new phenomenon there is always a process of development and the scenario in Ethiopia is no different.

Ethiopia conceived and birthed democracy of its own free will by its own homegrown people.  It was with anticipation that majority of us looked forward to see a country that would be the beneficiary of the great values of democracy.  Hence, with eagerness and enthusiasm we all laid eyes on what was happening in Ethiopia.  Ethiopians both in the country and outside had some form of vision for the country and the people.  The majority anticipated an end to the era of poverty and looked forward to see a transformed Ethiopia.  The few diehards could not see past their old orientation.  Those of us that saw the change coming envisioned a country that would sustain itself and follow the path towards development.  Each one of us that saw a bright future talked, discussed and dialogued. 

It was a time of leaving the old and charting the new. The anxious and the restless wanted to see the exercise of democracy without taking the creation of democratic institutions into consideration.  From day one they called themselves opposition.  It was interesting to see individuals from Western nations that lived under a democratic system pushing an overnight establishment of democracy.  They failed to be cognizant of the fact that building a democratic nation was not an overnight work but a process that required laying the foundation and starting the process.  The restless and the anxious raised hell because they did not see a democratic nation overnight. 

Nature as well as life teaches us that there is conception, birth and developmental process for anything to come to fruition.  Why would nations and countries that have reached a fairly comfortable stage of development anticipate and pressure a country like Ethiopia to deliver a readymade democracy?  Why were we denied the natural progression of a process and coerced and pressured to prematurely create something that is bound to fail? 

There are several reasons that come to mind.  The first one is that as Africans we are undermined and looked at as incapable of achieving what other countries achieved.  Thus we were relegated as ignorant.  It was assumed that none of the home grown groups or parties knew anything about democracy.

 The second is that the rich and powerful found a good opportunity to exploit our resources.  Therefore what better form of discouraging us other than giving us a paternalistic attitude and evaluate Ethiopia from their vantage point of view.  It never occurred to them that Ethiopia’s context deserved to create its own blue print that would first and foremost address the interest of the great majority of the country. 

 The third is to make us only the recipients of aid and be trampled on.  It somewhat seemed like aid was their only solution to countries like Ethiopia.  Transfer of knowledge or equal trade never crossed their mind because their lens prevented them from seeing a new reality.  Who anointed the West to be the judge and the jury to everything that goes on in countries like Ethiopia?  Couldn’t Ethiopia be one of the pioneers to once and for all show that black Africans do have the capacity and the knowhow to alleviate themselves from the ills of poverty?  Who said Ethiopia will not move an inch unless the West blesses every move it takes?

The fourth is to convince us that we are not born to be creators of a workable system and thus should give up trying since we are doomed to fail and doomed to live a life of dependency.  Little did they know that there is no one and nothing that will stop a people that are determined to free themselves from the bondage of poverty? 

The fifth is that of an attitude of complacency by the developed nations totally blinded by their own success, arrogantly undermined Ethiopia.  They never could come to terms that Ethiopians are independent minded.

And last but not least the developed nations feel it is their place to dictate a country like us which is categorized as a ‘developing nation’.  Therefore they feel entitled to always be critical and want to rub on the negative.  They cannot fathom anyone else from being capable of coming up with an original process of development unless it accepts their dictation.  So, they groom one of our kinds and have their agendas expressed by those that have sold their souls.

There are also individuals of Ethiopian origin that are citizens of developed countries that want to prescribe the path of the West.  They refer to the histories of the West with complete disregard to the contextual difference of our time, place and history. 

From day one after the Derg was ousted there has been undermining of the government of Ethiopia and its people by the very few.  Past history of poverty has somehow made the shallow minded conclude that Ethiopians as a people don’t have the right attributes to bring about fundamental change. 

Nonetheless, courageous Ethiopians have vowed to bring a new chapter to the country.  They designed a way and objectively defined the route that Ethiopia should follow.  They accepted the aid and loan but never surrendered to the bully and the intimidation of the developed nations.  The Ethiopian government and people are venturing out into new territories that past regimes never had the stamina or the guts to address.   Congratulations Ethiopia!

For the first time in the history of Ethiopia a new paradigm came into being.  To open minded and progressive Ethiopians it was quite visible what was happening in the country.  Although it seemed like chaos to the eye, actually an invisible wave of a new order was emerging.  In the past five years the wave became visible.   Just recently Ethiopia was named the fifth fastest growing nation in the world. 

It is still interpreted as if the transformation was an overnight thing. However, the seed that was planted eighteen years ago is now bearing fruit.  Those blinded by their old lens could not see because they negated the fact that for a tree to be visible the seed had to be planted.  They expected to see an overnight growth of the tree but the law of nature dictates there is an incubation period before the tree becomes visible.

Those with their old paradigms project the old to the dynamics of the new.  For the first time in our history an all inclusive form of government came into being where nations and nationalities collectively came together.  Again those with the old paradigm only expressed their fear and only saw disintegration but the result has been to the contrary.  We are seeing a people that have their rights respected collaborating and collectively spending their time and energy to be free from the bondage of poverty.

A new idea has been born, emerged, got conceived, was disseminated and has now gained the support of the critical mass.  This new idea that is based on the actual context of the country is in motion to achieve numerous developmental successes. Without the support of the majority of the people nothing can materialize.  The roads, schools, health centers, transportation, the dams etc are extraordinary examples that visibly show a shift has indeed taken place in our country.  The seed of making poverty history has been planted in the minds and hearts of the majority of Ethiopians.

Great people and great nations always rise against all odds.  What is the fabric of their tenacity and vigilance one may ask?  The answer is simple.  One is true to one’s self, leaving one’s ego behind, building a character to primarily stand for the common good.  This is the litmus test for unwavering commitment of responsible citizens.  The common good in Ethiopia is to first and foremost follow a course to meet the needs of its citizens that live in every sector of the country.  It is to develop the human capacity and align itself to the principles and ideas of the new diverse Ethiopia. 

To achieve success it requires having a nation of people that make nation building the primary focus.  In nation building the major priority is to have communication, health, infrastructure, transportation, schools and higher education, capacity building etc.   The immature and inexperienced are restless since they don’t have an understanding of what it takes to conceive, give birth, nurture and develop anything.  Thus they skip the process and only want to see unrealistic results without being part of the process.  They equate nation building with fast food processing and as you know fast food is not healthy but detrimental to ones well being. 

This kind of attitude emanates from being detached from the day to day life of the people.  And when one sees the world from the wrong premises then one fails to even acknowledge the gains made in the past eighteen years.  The negative and ill wishers, instead of being exhilarated at the fast pace of development are actually busy denouncing and propagating against the most favorable progress the country has ever made and is still making.

If one is really motivated to make a difference in nation building then one would examine the shortcomings and take the initiative to change them. Only dependent individuals and those with lack of vision beg developed nations to bail them out.  It has been quite a scene to see a handful Ethiopians plead to the American government to decide on the future of Ethiopia.  No nation has the right to interfere in the internal affairs of a country.  For those who think the US or any other developed nation could do that have their priorities mixed up. 

What Ethiopia is seeking today are authentic individuals that have the common good of its people and country at heart.  It is change agents that are willing to commit themselves to be part of the nation building.  No amount of demonstrating in front of the White House or any other developed nation is going to make an iota of a difference.  Ethiopia as a sovereign country is busy building a nation to make itself self sufficient. It will accept equal partnership but will in no way tolerate to be bullied or intimidated by anyone.  History has proven and will continue to prove that there are staunch citizens of Ethiopia that will not allow an iota of sabotage or derailment. 

What is expected of Ethiopians outside and inside is to point out the deficiencies and be part of the resolution.   

The country has caring citizens who are genuinely concerned to take part and help in the nation building.  What the nation and people need to see is progress.  It is a time for all Ethiopians both at home and abroad to stand vigilant and contribute towards filling the gap.  Nothing gets created overnight.  For those who are denying the positive change that is taking place in Ethiopia are only going to be frustrated since there is no turning back.  It is time that Ethiopians abroad take the knowhow and share it with their people.   Today is the time to really show solidarity to one’s country or one’s place of birth.  Let us be pioneers to stand with our people and be innovative and resourceful to contribute in the grandest way towards the development of our country.  It is time for action and enough of the bickering.