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Circular Paths of Human History – How to influence their trajectories?

By Said Osman

While as human beings we often resist the idea of making changes in what we do and what is done around us, change is the most CONSTANT fact inside and around us! I am already a few seconds older than when I started writing this piece! Moods change, Day changes, climate changes, etc. The path of the changes tend to be circular, thus tending to repeat itself – morning, afternoon, evening, night, then morning…..etc. In human lives, depending on what we do, the changes may take a perfect circular path (monotonous repetitions) or the path while maintaining a circular trajectory, may actually be spiral! The spiral path may be positive when it goes forward (progress) or backward (regress) depending on our inclinations!

When it comes to the trajectory Ethiopia takes at these difficult times, so many factors are at play and, while times have changed, most of these factors are very familiar because of the repetitions. Examples include inter-ethnic clashes, inter-faith clashes, famine, undemocratic governance, … etc. Our appreciation of these factors and appropriate handling will help us take charge and determine our future – a strong progressive spiral! Failure to understand or ignoring these factors will lead us to either keep on repeating our mistakes, i.e., creating of perfect, non-progressive circles or, worse, make a regressive spiral and go backward!

The following are the factors that determine the trajectory we take in the fate of our Motherland:

  1. Nature of Governance: Is it truly democratic, i.e., is it the public who determines how they are governed or is it autocratic, divisive and corrupt?
  2. Does the government have the resources needed to maintain proper governance and stability, i.e., support of the population, enforcement the rule of law, and financial/other resources to provide those legitimate and necessary services such as maintenance of law and order? The lack of these elements quickly leads to failed governance and uncertainty of the nation’s future!
  3. What is the integrity of the government? Does it allow free expression of views by the public and the media, is there bias in how the government treat people based on their ethnicity or religion, does the government represent unbiased national interest, or is the government under the control of external forces which interfere with Ethiopian internal affairs for their own benefit?
  4. General Population: What are the facts about the Ethiopia’s population which have impact on the path of the Country’s future?
    1. Between 1992 and 2022, Ethiopia’s population shot up 140% from 51.2 million to 123.4 million, reducing per capita land availability from 1.9 hectares to 0.81 hectares in the 30 years. So, by 2022 there was less than 50% of land available per person!
    2. The Oromo population grew from 17.8 million in 1992 to 42.8 million in 2022, with reduction of land available per person from 1.9 hectares to 0.83 hectares. Thus, there was less than 50% of land available per person in Oromia over 30 years. The population is even bigger today and will continue to grow in Oromia with less and less land available per person as years go by! By the way, even the 0.83 hectares per person available in 2022 is not fully usable! Some of the lands are mountains, valleys, dry land, lakes, etc. This means less land is actually useable! Sooner or later there will be no land for the families to farm and look after themselves, that is how today’s inter-ethnic clashes will morph into intra-ethnic clashes where the powerful Oromos turn against the less privileged and grab their lands, etc. I am sure these kinds of problems already exist!
    3. The Amhara population grew from 13.8 million to 33.2 million between 1992 and 2022. The land available per capita during that period reduced from 1.1 to 0.5 hectare. So, for the Amhara and Oromia, regions less and less land will be available for them to support themselves and their families leading to intra-ethnic cleansing as described above!
    4. In 2022 land available per person in Afar region was 4.5 hectares, and 4.3 hectares per person in Somali region. So Afar has land 6 times bigger than Oromia and more than 9 times land available in Amhara, per person. Somali region has 5 and 8 times more land per person, respectively. Granted Afar and Somali regions are drier than Oromia and Amhara, but we have no reason to expect intra-tribal wars in the two regions because of lack of land! If Ethiopia functions as one country with citizens having freedom to move and settle wherever they want, Oromos and Amaras will have no problem moving into these regions and developing them for the benefit of all. Somali and Afar regions are not as fertile or get rains as most of Amhara and Oromia regions, but they have other resources which they can use to prosper!
    5. In 2022 the per capita income for Ethiopia was estimated at $1,020. Ethiopia’s per capita GDP is 7% of the world average per World Bank’s data! Kenya’s figure for the same year was $2,099.
    6. Only 49.1% of Ethiopia’s adults are educated (Kenya is 83% educated). In today’s world the ability to read and write helps people make better choices in their lives and help contribute to progress in the country.
  5. The Elites: With the massive increase in Ethiopia’s population, there is also a large number of highly educated people in the country. Unfortunately, not many of these elites will be able to get the jobs they deserve simply because of lack of resources. Yet there are others who may be just as qualified or even less qualified than the those lacking employment or adequate income. The discontent resulting from such frustrated sector of the educated population often leads to clashes with the government and instability. Such outcomes are not unknown to Ethiopia and, in today’s ethnocentric environment this can be a very serious problem.
  6. Nature: There are adverse natural factors which we do not have much control over, including climate change, disease and other disasters, but there are also natural resources such as water, minerals and human resources which if not harnessed in intelligent and fair manner can bring about a lot of discord and unraveling of the country.

So, lack of appreciation of the dynamics which determine the health of a nation, and its citizens is what leads to chaos and failure of Nations, and there a few in the neighborhood of Ethiopia! PREVENTION is better and less costly than any CURE, so I advise all who care about our Motherland to avoid incendiary rhetoric and focus on positive and helpful contribution for the benefit of all. I-win-you-lose strategy ALWAYS FAILS even if one gets the impression that he/she has won soon after the conflict! To make any progress in whatever we do it has to be a WIN-WIN strategy!

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