My Reflections on Imru Zeleke’s The Deconstruction of Ethiopia By Elon Samson
I am 38, therefore I am entitled to reflect my views on Ambassador Imru Zeleke’s letter addressed to the people of tomorrow. The People of Tomorrow , according to the Ambassador, includes those in the 20s and 30s. After reading the letter, I asked myself why the Ambassador chose to speak to the people of tomorrow only while the issues raised in the letter are serious ones and should concern every one of us regardless of time. The Ambassador may have been disappointed by or lost hope with the people of yesterday and today. I have similar frustration and disappointment with the people of the past and present, however, I feel that the people of the future can hardly do anything by itself without the support of the people of yesterday and today. The wellbeing of our country should not be left only for the people of tomorrow because first of all the people of tomorrow are the products of the people of yesterday and today, and shouldn’t be expected to make things different from their predecessors. The past is the base for future action. Second, once the damage is irreparably done by the people of yesterday and today, the people of tomorrow can’t do anything to exercise the damage. That is why the call should be for everyone regardless of age. If need be, the call should be made for the people of today because it them who are in a better position to look back and decide to the future.
Anyhow, whether we like it or not, everyone is responsible for the survival or demise of that great nation. One big lesson we learn from the Ambassador’s letter is that our history shouldn’t be a cause for division rather it should be a cause for unification and strength . I fully concur with the view of the Ambassador because, history is about the past; we can neither change nor modify it for our own consumption. We can’t invent the same Adowa or resurrect Emperor Menelik and Empress Tsehaitu . We are only capable of or entitled to seize the present not the past. It is meaningless, therefore , to fight against each other based on history that has no direct impact on our own daily life. History doesn’t bake our bread in the first place. The only thing we can do about the past is to learn from it, i.e. to replicate the strengths, but to make sure that we can’t repeat the wrongs. If we learn wrongs from history we end up being wrongs.
However, appreciating ones’ history and learning from the positives, could contribute for our strength and powerful. Countries which are now in the helm of political and economic success are those that have learned a good lesson from history. Europe was not a good student of history until the Second World War broke. However, the Continent learned a painful lesson from its war history and decided to go forward. Today Europe is more peaceful and developed than ever. The United States is a good student of history and is able to keep its power for over two centuries.
We Ethiopians are bad students of history. Because we are bad, we are busy with the deconstruction of our own history rather than constructing it. We are obsessed with the weaknesses of our history . As a result we are at a precipice for total collapse and mayhem because of the abusing of history.
What is surprising about Ethiopia is that the deconstruction of history is made by politicians and not historians. Politicians tell us that Ethiopia has this and that history; the people of such group massacred the people of that group; the people of that group colonized the people of this group. When we ask politicians where they got the facts and what methodology they used, they have no precise answer.
I am not saying that it is only the habit of Ethiopian politicians who use history for the sake of controlling power. It is common in any country that are under dictatorship. It seems that politicians who abuse history for the sake of power are doomed to be a dictator. Milosevic of Serbia abused history for power, and ended up being an absolute dictator. Isayas Afewerki of Eritrea, Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia , Mugabe of Zimbabwe etc did abuse history for power , and ended up being Africa’s worst dictators. On the other hand, those who refused to abuse history for power, like Nelson Mandela, ended up being revered democrats. I will not be too assertive if I conclude that those who abuse history for the sake of political power are cursed to end up as absolute dictators.
As a final remark, we should accept that Ethiopia is at a precipice because of its own history. It is the responsibility of the people of yesterday, today and tomorrow to save this great nation from falling apart.