Revolution “Ena” Reformation By: Natnael F. Alemayehu
For those who hope to see a thriving and united Ethiopia, I say to you: “If home is where the heart is, and the heart is more powerful than the mind”. If we have Ethiopia in our hearts, and no fear in our minds, it is the enemy who should fear us; for the power of “we” is more influential than the logic of “I”. Change is coming! The question is, what are we prepared to do with and for the new and free Ethiopia?
Revolution and reformation? It is always easier to begin an article with a critique of the past because it helps to comfort one’s soul and mind in the face of the coming unknown, after questioning the status quo. In the evolution of mankind, the majority always wanted change when they were robbed, oppressed and stripped of their dignity by a powerful few. In the end, the power of the people and the unity of the oppressed ignited the flame of change, starting a new chapter. Today, we find ourselves at the end of a chapter in Ethiopia’s lustrous history. So, how should we begin the new chapter? What comes after the revolution? How do we reform our country to actually become a nation of the people?
We must first revolutionize our thinking and reform our attitudes towards one another as Ethiopians. Before we question social issues, economical flaws, and lack of law, we must question the “single person’s” understanding of democracy and freedom. Without law, there could be no freedom, and without freedom, there is no democracy. Our plan must not be to create a utopian society, but rather an Ethiopia where the people, first and foremost, are free—free to express their individual identity, free to speak, free to respect, free disagree, free to debate, free to share, free to change, free to exchange, free to remain as they are, free to argue and free to free their minds. The poor of the country must be the beginning and the end of the next chapter for Ethiopia.
We must believe in constructing a government that is by the people, for the people, and we must become a people who understand and believe in that government. Our government and system of governance must also begin with the people. We cannot invite the people to be part of the development and growth of the nation, if they were never included in the constructing plans. Respect and appreciation of the individual must also become part of communal social interaction. Simply, we must view every individual and tribe as part of the “we” of tomorrow.
Our reformation must not be about erasing the past, rewriting what has been done but rather by learn from the past to build a prosperous future. Let us not forget, it took the current administration fifteen years to destroy what previous governments had put in place and five years to destroy what little normalcy was left in their method of governance. As a result, by their own admission, we are fifteen years behind in the transformation development plan, which took them twenty years to manifest.
Most of all, the people must influence political, financial, and economic development, as well as social policy. For too long, the leaders of most African countries have neglected the people of their nations for their own personal short-term, money-driven agendas. The people have to be the nations driving force. A nation is nothing without a strong economy, and an economy is ineffectual without a contributing workforce. Innovators, thinkers, idealists, builders, farmers, laborers, shop owners, merchants are some of the contributors to a strong economy. People should be free to work and financially flourish without direct involvement from the government, but government must continuously monitor the system.
The elected representatives of the people must believe in the separation of government and military along with the separation of government and economics. Political leaders must not be intimidated by educated leaders of the community; rather, they should embrace them, to listen to the people through them, and build a cooperative solution to the troubles of the nation. Government must not be above the uneducated, the educated, or the majority. Government must be of the people and for the people. Politics and politicians must not be above social servants and/or intellectuals, but rather be supporters of innovation and internal social evolution. They must strengthen the country’s economy and development by providing the necessary tools for those individuals and groups to flourish.
Rule of Law and Political Process …
Without rule of law and political process for all citizens, we will go back to the same past we have struggled through. All citizens must be subject to rules; no individual, group, or tribe can be excluded. Instituting a governing law and a transparent political system will allow for the public sector to flourish under new inventions, creations, and a variety of new businesses. It is not inventors or thinkers that Ethiopia lacks. The issue is lack of opportunity and freedom of expression. Under a new process, the wealthy and the politicians must be subjected to the laws of the nation to the same extent as everyone else.
Ideological Reform and Social Reform
In order to reform our thinking for the new chapter, we must analyze four elements of the current system that I feel are critical to opening up dialogue and encouraging action-backed change. We must first ask what democracy is and what it means to have a transparent government. What is a government for the people? What is the role of government? What must government do for the average person? And how must it all relate to, influence and be well understood by the people of Ethiopia to be effective.
The next chapter of Ethiopian politics has to begin with the people. The growth and development must be intertwined in culture, religion, economy, social and political institutions. Elected government officials should not have direct personal influence on the economics of the nation. As long as we continue to have elected officials control political policy and financial regulations, it is only to their best interest, not the countries economy and people, that these policies and regulations will be geared towards. Government has to leave businesses in the hands of the owners to succeed or fail. Government must regulate according to market conditions, but must not control the economy.
Democracy: Understanding Democracy
The basic element of democracy is OPPOSITION, from which is expected a united and improved outcome. Democracy is the “rule of the people”, not “to be ruled by a few”. The result of a revolution must be social equality for all Ethiopians. The widespread people of the country must be a political force in each and every election. Elected representatives must govern the people, under a system in which multi-party ideology can flourish with the interests of Ethiopia at the fore. Democracy, in relation to political representation, is a government vested in the people, to change periodically at the choosing of the people through elections.
In a parliament, championed by individuals who only pretend to represent the people, if one individual preaches to the converted, it is not political or social democracy, it is as simple as that. This type of system does not have a democratic foundation, and cannot claim to practice the theories of democracy because quite simply, the people are not actually represented by the representatives. We have become accustomed to witnessing one leader in every political system to be tried in our country; we must begin a system of governance reliant on collective ideas and participation.
Transparency: Government and the People; Law of the Land
There are two synonymous questions asked after the departure of almost every African leader “How much money did they take?” and “How many people did they kill before fleeing the country?” Corrupt individuals, their families, and selfish human hyenas who listen to them have robbed us for far too long. We must take our Ethiopia back! In order to do so we must begin to respect one another, listen to one other, and help our weakened and psychologically wounded brothers and sisters in Ethiopia.
The flaw in the current African model of governance (which is backed by the West) is “rule with an iron fist, and the people will love you in time.” NO THEY WON’T! That is a lie. As evidenced by Africa’s bloody history students will revolt, people will become angry and in some cases civil war will ensue. If you educate people, give them the freedom to ask questions and be heard by the system, they will be part of Africa’s solution going forward. It is easier to convince the uneducated and the poor to resort to violence and extremism because they are unable to ask questions and convene intellectually. An educated society will use democratic means to take back their freedom. Look no farther than Egypt. The outcome of the revolution again must remain in the hands of the people.
Government must take the lead and give every citizen the opportunity to participate, either conceptually or physically, in the development process through trade and education in social, infrastructural, and financial policies. We must construct a social and political system respectful of people, human rights and values. The future of the world depends on the sovereignty of the individual state, and we must begin constructing Ethiopia as one nation of many groups. Our difference in subculture and religion will bring us together and strengthen us in a united Ethiopia.
Role of Government
The old question of “who will police the police?” is as African as our dark skin. The quote also applies to the continent’s individual state leaders. They believe that by dividing the country through various existing social differences, they will rule longer, most of all become stronger. That’s where they fail, and where we will succeed. People are the strength of a government. That’s why when the majorities rise up and ask questions, leaders flee the country. They never had support!
Protecting the rights of the people and installing constitutional mandates is not enough. The people must understand and know who their representatives are and what they are doing. We must endorse an action-backed, result-oriented system. Merely sitting people in a big room to discuss issues of a political nature does not make a democracy. In a true democracy, it is the needs of the people, and their ability to elect and remove whomever they choose at any given time, that is the foundation and the effect of a national rule of law.
Ideology: Understanding Ethiopia, Ethiopians/Ourselves
Change must ignite within each and every one of us before we can have social change.
The political state of our nation is not the focus of the next chapter in Ethiopia, but rather the social change result of the individual change we must ask of all Ethiopians. What are the everyday needs of the average individual? From their wants and needs, can we construct a system able to grow concurrently with the minds of the educated and a productive workforce?
Yes, this will take time and effort, but we do not lack the resources or the minds to create an adoptable social and political structure designed for Ethiopia. To date, all forms of Western-shaped governance have led Ethiopia into an oligarchy (a structure of power where a few people control everything). Western political ideals will never work in Ethiopia, unless altered to work for Ethiopia. All political and social structures must be constructed according to the current social conditions of the nation. The ideals must also allow for adaptability, for progress and change, which will certainly come with future generations.
Our People Must Understand…
We must teach ourselves that our politicians are elected officials, representatives of the people in a place of liberty and freedom for all under the same constitution. The role and responsibilities of elected officials are to those of the people whom elected them. The majority has to be part of the movement and change. Every individual’s contribution must be recognized and respected regardless of tribe; religion or any other divisive means that other use to divide us. Our diversity will become the foundation of our strength to unite Ethiopia!
Most of all, we must protect the country from outside influence. The new political system must be mandated and implemented with full Ethiopian interests, so that the rights of all Ethiopians will be protected and defended from both domestic and foreign forces who stand to destroy the sovereignty of Ethiopia.
If history ever forgives us for what we have done to this country, God will not!