NES COMMENTARY. 33. (Special Message for the Conference April 9-April 11, Washington DC, USA) – Network of Ethiopian Scholars (NES)
“Horn of Africa has become a world of its own: intertwined with a brutish and fragile logic of survival. In the region people and nature face harsh conditions. The very reality of facing similar constraints and conditions paradoxically compels the region to become a single community of fate. Shaping the region’s united future is tied with the destiny of preserving and strengthening the African world’s inspiring ancient nation: Ethiopia. The ancient nation remains the central core whose peace and stability serves evidently the security for the whole region. No back pedalling to ethnic homes, the time demands that the region expands citizenship up to the African level and beyond to humanity and build institutions that create the conditions for free citizens to self-govern. This is the call; and this is the central challenge of the time for the region as a whole” NES
“…it would be pathetic if the young social scientists in the under-developed countries got caught in the predilections of the thinking in the advanced countries, which are hampering the scholars there in their efforts to be rational but would be almost deadening to the intellectual strivings of those in the under-developed countries. I would instead wish them to have the courage to throw away large structures of meaningless, irrelevant and sometimes blatantly inadequate doctrines and theoretical approaches and to start out on fresh thinking right from their needs and their problems. This would then take them far beyond the realm of both out-moded western liberal economics and Marxism.”
Gunnar Myrdal, Nobel Laureate in Economics, in Development and Underdevelopment, Cairo, 1956, taken from Reinert, International Trade and the Mechanism of Underdevelopment, 1980
NES would like to congratulate the organising team for making this conference happen in spite of the various distractions on the way. We hope the deliberations and the resolutions will have lasting impact in helping shape the future of Ethiopia by undertaking closer scrutiny of where Ethiopia was and where it is now in order to appreciate the road that has not yet been taken to go forward. Ethiopia must not stay where it is now- fractured ethnically, defined vernacularly, and politicising its difference rather than celebrating its diversity to forge its enduring unity. Let the politics that wishes to cash in, by clashing the past and the present with the risk of losing Ethiopia’s future, end. Let the politics that appreciates the achievements of Ethiopia’s heroic past- as the lone African country that remained undefeated, un-enslaved and un-colonised- be privileged as the historical data to dent the present ethnic turn in order to shape a united Ethiopian future that will forge ahead and progress. Let the politics of division end. Let the politics that unites the people, the country and the nation reign supreme.
II. Forward with the politics of unity
1. Governments that create fear, that pass death sentences on those who oppose them, that incarcerate using false legal texts by violating what they agreed by using traditional mediation, end. Such Governments that rule by spreading fear are a burden to Ethiopia and Ethiopians as a whole. Let us vow to work for creating Governments that govern by promoting and facilitating people’s self-Government: accountable, transparent, and incorruptible and both people serving and fearing. Public service not private gain, public ethics not private vice must guide Government conduct. Let those who seek and enjoy public service enter politics and not those who seek rent and wish to enrich themselves at the expense of impoverishing their people. Let any Government in Ethiopia remain in power for no more than a decade. Let all learn that after ten years, if they wish to go on, it shows they have not done their job properly in the first ten years they had been in power.
2. Today opposition parties cannot be serious, if they play the ethnic speculative card, and if they have no moral revulsion against the degradation of Ethiopian politics to the ‘zer’ or ethnic and vernacular level. Serious opposition to the current ethnic degradation of Ethiopia emerges when the core value, priority, identity and principle is ‘Ethiopiawinet’- and ‘Africawinet’. No opposition is now worthy of support until a pro-Ethiopian uniting opposition not infected or contaminated with the virus of ‘zer’ is promoted as the primary vehicle to liberate Ethiopia from the current malaise. ‘Ethiopiawinet’ is ‘Africawinet’ pure and simple. Those who do not understand this concept and who dabble in politics are a danger to both Ethiopia and wider Africa. Emperor Haile Selassie understood this and little did we know he held a clear understanding of Ethiopia as Africa more than any one of us in the current generation.
3. Let us not forget Ethiopia has been holding the primary place for Africa’s overall liberation, independence and resistance imagination over 500 years. Fifteen African countries and people in the historic Diaspora wave the Ethiopian Green, Yellow and Red tricolour flag as liberation, defiant and resistance flag. It is a real shame that people born in Ethiopia’s own soil fight to degrade this Ethiopia and this flag of resistance. They do not know how much this goes against the yet completely unsettled African quest for full freedom and unity. Fighting to degrade Ethiopia ethnically is tantamount to fight Africa as a whole. The message of divide and rule echoes the 125 years of Scramble for Africa again in our time that has not left threatening Africa to date. The most recent case is Eritrea’s split from Ethiopia.
4. The 1991 infamous settlement to split Eritrea and vernacularise and ethnicise Ethiopia is a historic wrong committed against both Eritrea and Ethiopia. The Indian Ocean used to be called the Ethiopian Ocean, until the British gave it the name Indian. Ethiopian kings, who resisted since the 15th century on the whole to preserve Ethiopian independence, must be commended and not condemned for linking Ethiopia’s security and independence with guarding the sea, and having a presence on the sea. Now Ethiopia has been exposed to perpetual danger for the Sea is now under the control of forces that do not wish Ethiopia well.
5. The only way Ethiopia can escape ethnicity and unite in diversity is if Eritrea and Ethiopia also unite. It is when Eritrea split asunder from Ethiopia, the rest of Ethiopia degraded into vernacularity and ethnicity. When Eritrea and Ethiopia unite, the politics of ethnicity first, entertained both by the current rulers and those who oppose them from the same ethnic logic, will be challenged in Ethiopia. When the unity of Eritrea with Ethiopia happens, there will be a big blow to the current vernacular turn as Eritrea’s split from Ethiopia can be fixed only by re-forging their unity once more. Political movements that unite Eritrea with Ethiopia in Eritrea and an Ethiopian united opposition that refuses to concede to the current ethnic politics must create together a united front so as to speed up and clean all these dirty, ugly, tasteless and degrading ethnic politics that all the ‘zer’ infected elements from those that rule now and to those who oppose them with the same ethnically cast politics have sown across this ancient and God fearing nation. To endure, the unity should be realised through a peaceful, deliberative dialogue and communication. It must involve the people and the actual final shape should emerge from the choices, votes, legitimacy and understanding of the people.
6. The most important outcome from your deliberation is the degree to which together you all can contribute to the real work to forge a strong Ethiopian united opposition without any concession to all the current splitists, ‘zeregna’, vernacular and ethnic politics that is also mirrored in many of the opposition politics, not just in the ruling groups.
III. And finally
7. We wish you success and hope the conference becomes a catalysing factor for a new and unifying ideal based on ‘Ethiopiawinet’ as also ‘Africawinet’ to change the current messy opposition politics into a clear, principled and non-ethnic unifying non-degradable Ethiopian future. Let us hope an opposition that is united and without any doubt based and rooted in a uniting Ethiopia will emerge and bring the people, the nation and the country together and restore Ethiopia’s pride of place in Africa and the world.
History fears time
Time fears Ethiopia
Ethiopia is Africa
Putting Ethiopia ahead is to put Africa forward
Condemn not Ethiopia’s past
Appreciate Ethiopia’s Past to inform the Present
And shape Ethiopia’s enduring and time- fearing Future!
To continue Ethiopia as a beacon of Africa’s liberation imagination!
Presented by Mammo Muchie: www.nesglobal.org and www.ajstid.com