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ESFNA is at a Crossroads- Should it allow Dr. Abiy address the Diaspora or not?

by Assegid Habtewold (Dr.)


One’s leadership is tested when confronted with tough decisions. ESFNA’s leadership is at a crossroads. The decision in front of them makes or breaks the organization. It is going to leave a positive or negative scar in the history of the organization.

The decision? They have to make a quick decision, by tomorrow, whether to allow the newly named Prime Minister of Ethiopia- Dr. Abiy Ahmed, to address the Diaspora community at this year’s annual event in TX.

By the way, if the info I got is correct, it wasn’t ESFNA that initiated the invite. The PM himself took the initiative. He deserves appreciation for taking this historic and bold gesture!

Past leaders despised the Diaspora because of its firm stand about Ethiopians unity and its fight against repression and lack of democracy back home in Ethiopia. Unlike his predecessors, however, Abiy chose to reach out. This by itself regardless of the final decision ESFNA reaches is a massive milestone in Ethiopian politics!

That being said, here are a couple of facts. Though I don’t have the accurate statistics, from what I’ve read on social media in the past couple of days, Ethiopians in the US are divided on the issue. Some are advocating for his invitation while others oppose it. Both parties have strong positions and arguing based on the higher purpose of the organization and one of its internal regulations, respectively.

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Ethiopians who are quoting the mission of ESFNA are saying that since the organization’s purpose is “Bringing Ethiopians together” and Dr. Abiy promotes Ethiopians unity, love, tolerance, and forgiveness among Ethiopians, he should be allowed to address the gathering when he visits the US. On the other hand, those who oppose the idea are quoting one of the internal regulations that prevent inviting politicians as guests. The latter argue that he is the chairman of the ruling party that ESFNA should be nonpartisan and refrain from showing favoritism to any political party. Of course, others counter-argue about the last statement by saying that though Abiy is the chairman of EPRDF, he is appearing at the event as the leader of the Ethiopian state, in his Prime Minister office.

There are many other forceful arguments from both sides, which I’m not covering for the sake of space limitation.
For your info, one of the themes I covered in my third book entitled “Soft Skills That Make or Break Your Success” was problem-solving and making tough decisions. From my experience as a workshop facilitator for some government agencies, major corporations, and community organizations on the same theme, I shared some insights, models, and approaches in the book on how to tackle problems like the one ESFNA leadership is facing. By the way, when I coach leaders, I don’t tell them what they should decide. My job is helping them gain clarity to make the right decision. It’s not my place, as a coach, to suggest what I think personally is right.
One of the most common challenges leaders face is making choices between two rights- Right Vs. Right. It’s easy to choose right from wrong. What would you do when you have two seemingly right choices like ESFNA is confronted with?

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I encourage ESFNA’s leadership to do their homework and also take away emotion. You should be rational. Use your value as a barometer to make the right decision. For that to happen, nonetheless, you should avoid making a hasty decision. ESFNA’s leadership should first gather enough data to fully understand the issue, employ critical analysis, consult key stakeholders, sit down and brainstorm, and finally, make the RIGHT decision you and the coming generation leaders won’t regret.

At the end of the day, the question is whether the leadership should side with its purpose (mission) or the internal regulation. Which one should override? Is it the mission or the internal regulation that should take precedence? Which value (s) of ESFNA should dictate the final decision?

Of course, the decision should not be binary- Yes or No. During the brainstorming session, some of the leaders should come up with alternative options (middle grounds) that may satisfy both sides.

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If you were one of the leaders of ESFNA, what would be your decision? Why?

Dr. Assegid Habtewold is an organizational and leadership expert and author, and the founder of PRO Leadership Global (www.proleadership.org). Assegid can be reached at ahabtewold@yahoo.com


  1. They should respectfully invite this young PM who has opened the slammed shut door for dialogue with every organized group be it sports or political. It would be tantamount to being so immature and downright rude not accept the request. It be would be a shame.

  2. ዶክተር አብይ ለሀያ ሰባት አመት በወያኔ ውስጥ ቆይታው ግዜና ወያኔ ግዙፍና የሚደፈር ሀይል በሚመስልበት ጊዜ ያ ሁሉ የኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ ሲታሰርና ሲገደል ምንም ሳይናገር ወይም ድምጽ ሳያሰማ ለምን ዛሬ የወያኔ አገዛዝ አደጋ ላይ በሚወድቅበት ግዜና ንብረቶቹ በሚወድሙበት ጊዜ እኛ መስማት የምንፈልገውን መናገር ጀመረ፧ ወያኔን ለማዳን ወይንስ ኢትዮጵያን ለማዳን፧ ይህ ጊዜ የሚመልሰው ጥያቄ ነው። ስለዚህ አብይ ስለ ኢትዮጵያ አንድነት ተናገረ ብለን ሀያ ሰባት ምን አደረገ ብለን የምንጠረጥረውን ሰው የሰሜን አሜሪካው የስፖርት ፌዴሬሽን በአሁኑ ሰአት መጋበዝ የለበትም። ወደፊት ግን አይቶ መጋበዝ ወይም አለመጋበዝ ይቻላል። እስከዚያ ለዶክተር አብይ እግዚአብሄር ጤናና እድሜ ይስጠው።

  3. Thanks Dr Asegid for your timely and valued advice. Dr Abiy is the Prime Minister of Ethiopia and also the Chairman of EPRDF but his visit should be regarded as someone representing a country not a party. Obama’s visit to Ethiopia was not as a Democratic party member but as head of state and President of USA.Denying his request means denying the country which contradicts the whole idea of saying “Ethiopian sports and cultural event”. In addition to that a survey in the country showed that over 90% of the population has a favorite outlook or supports what the PM is doing currently. Taking a stand contrary to the Ethiopian peoples view is a grave mistake and creates a big divide between diaspora and people back home.
    ESFNA leadership if you want to go down in history go and say nay if not accept the request and welcome him warmly.

  4. I suggest that ESFNA should consider this request as a good gesture and respectfully give him a floor. I for sure believe that denying him of his request could divide us more and ultimately put ESFNA in jeopardy. Don’t forget the civil rights organization NAACP invites both the republican and democratic presidential candidates on its popular annual conference in Baltimore: although NAACP is more inclined to the democratic party candidate. Luckily I have attended to one of such conferences where participants listened to both candidate respectfully.

    Within the short time Dr. Abiy is in power we have seen so many good and encouraging things. I am so astonished by some individuals who try to tarnish him for the speeches he made considering it to be “Wore Bicha”. Such people deny that political leadership comes from a barrel of oratory. Good speeches specially with a promise of unifying people under the umbrella of Ethiopianism is so good to tone down the ethnic divisiveness TPLF implanted. This for me is the basis for any change. And also we have heard him say at several of his speeches that the load of hate and divisiveness instilled for a long time can’t be overturned by one or two simple decrees. He also said that the basis of real change should first come within people’s mindset which was affected by ethnic dissension for more than a quarter of a century.
    We should also realize that any abrupt action that some of us propagate could lead to political adventurism, and ultimately to downfall. I don’t think any rational mind would want that. I also have an issue about folks who say “let us wait and see what he does”. This looks like these folks are waiting to see when he makes mistakes to condemn him. No! we need to help him at least by showing solidarity so he can get strength to do what he promised and gradually dismantle TPLF.
    I wonder why some of think that TPLF, using Dr. Abiy, is trying to use ESFNA to divide us. Why would we be divided if we are strong enough on the truth side? What are we afraid of if he comes and gives speech to Ethiopians in the diaspora? Why on earth would we think that he is coming to divide us? It assumes that some have fear that he is good enough to convince people and take them to his side.

  5. His coming will amplify their mission. The rationale for Obama’s winning the Nobel Peace prize could help them draw some lessons on how to strike the balance. Leadership is tested at challenging times like this ones and should not be confronted with ordinary tick box excercise. Major soul searching is required here….

  6. BIG YES and warm welcome! one can not miss or play with this historical gesture. We Ethiopians are known by our hospitality, tolerance and love for our country men and leaders. This is the beginning of a new chapter, path for reconciliation and renaisance of a big nation.

  7. BIG YES and warm welcome! one can not miss or play with this historical gesture. We Ethiopians are known by our hospitality, tolerance and love for our country men and leaders. This is the beginning of a new chapter, path for reconciliation and renaissance of a big nation.

  8. ውሳኔያችሁን በ poll ላይ መሰረት ማድረጉ አግባብ እይመስለኝም። pollአሰባሰብ የሚደረገው ደጋፊና ተቃዋሚ ወገኖች ሃስባቸውን ካንሸራሸሩና ለድምጽ ሰጪው አካል ካስተላላእፉ በኋላ ነው።ያ ሲሆን ነው ከስሜታዊነት የጸዳና ትክክለኛ የድምጽ አሰጣጥ ሊሆን የሚችለው። ይህ ጉዳይ እንኳን ለዚህ ሊበቃ ዜናውም የተለቀቀው በዚህ ሁለት ቀን ውስጥ ነው።ለ poll facebook መመረጡም ተገቢ አይመስለኝም።ይህ ጉዳይ ጊዜ ተሰጥቶት ወይይት የሚፈልግ እንጂ poll አይደለም የሚል እምነት አለኝ።

    ወሳኔአችሁ በጊዜያዊ ደስታ ላይ ተመስርቶ ሳይሁን ከስሜታዊነት የጸዳና፤ተቋማዊና በኢትዮጵያ በመካሄድ ላይ ያለውን ለውጥ በስርነቀልነቱ ላይ ተመስርታችሁ እንድትወስኑ ፈጣሪ ይርዳችሁ።

    የተጣለባችሁ ሃላፊነት የውሳኔአችሁም ወጤት ቀላል ስልማይሆን በጥንቃቄ ወስኑ።

  9. I returned from Ethiopia yesterday.PM Abiy has big support there.I saw his picture on Taxi and trucks windshields .All over i went the excitement is high.Poor,young,old every body i talked to has hope that this man will deliver.Please stop the old politics and give him a chance.

  10. As ABIYI is a real trusted TPLF agent, the agenda designers is TPLF to destroy not only ESFNA but the diaspora force to keep the Tigre regime.

  11. Dr. Abiy as an INDIVIDUAL and as any Ethiopian can make a speech, however, he should not/MUST not represent the political party he belongs to and preach what his party is or is not planning to do. Due to the by-laws of the federation, the absence of ANY political parties MUST be respected and as this day represents the togetherness, peace, love and happiness, Ethiopians should not allow for ANYONE to dilute this Beautiful and Incredible Event.

    Best regards,

  12. He should be invited as honoree gusset next year. I appreciate so much what he has done so far. But just like every year esfna invite an honored guest , he has to be invited with honor next year. We have so much in finished business

  13. እንዴ ESFNA ማለት የስልጣን አወቃቀሩ የብአዴን ማእከላዊ ኮሚቴን አይደል እንዴ የሚመስለዉ፡፡ የብአዴን ማእከላዊ ኮሚቴ ኤርትራዊ፤ ትግሬ እና ደቡብ እንዲሁም ኦሮሞ ይበዛል ከአማራዉ ይልቅ፡፡ እስኪ ይሄን ጉድ እንየዉ፡፡

    እስኪ የESFNA ቦርድ አባላት የብሄር ስብጥር እንምታዉ!
    1. ትግሬ 10
    2. ደቡብ 8 (ጉራጌ የተወከለ አይመስለኝም)
    3. ኦሮሞ 5
    4. አማራ 3፡ These are sell outs. They don’t even allow the legendary Amhara artist, Fasil Demoz, to Appear on stage
    5. የኤርትራ ዝርያ ያለበት 3
    6. ሶማሌ 1
    7. ቅልቅል 1

    ይሄ እንግዲህ ከብአዴን ማእከላዊ ኮሚቴ ወይም ከመከላከያ ሰራዊት የስልጣን መዋቅር ጋር ተመሳሳይ ነዉ፡፡ ሕወሃት ይሄን ስለምታዉቅ እንግዲህ ወይ ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትሩን ወይ ይሄን ESFNA የሚባል ግሩፕ in awkward position ማስቀመጥ ፈልጋ ያዉ ለዘመዶቿ ደዋዉላ እንደዛ አድርጋለች፡፡ Both ESFNA and Abiy lost but TPLF won.

  14. Please sign this petition asking ESFNA to reverse its decision on Dr. Abiy’s request to come to Dallas. He is starting to make real difference in our homeland. Let’s encourage him by showing our support. Please sign.

  15. If They want to know the truth about his administration they should invite hime with honor and have special meeting for question and answer. I like his speech he should be given a chance. instead of tarnishing the excitement and the hope our people enjoy after 28 years of brutal administration who divided the Nation lest be patient and ask him About Ethiopian Airlines and other state owned buisness . China is not the only country Ethiopia should do buisness with . They are the most corrupt Nation. They were in bed with the former government that is why every buisness in Ethiopia handed to them. We do not need their influence in administrating our country and their way of doing buisness. They killed Ethiopians who worked for them in their own country . They should be held responsible and forced to leave our country. Anything they build was built cheep and never last . We do not want our Symbol Ethiopian Airliens to be given to them as a share.They can’t even fly their own Airplanes they keep having accident. We do not want our symbols to be tarnished. I also heard that he is going to pardon Mengistu . How about our families who slaughtered by the evil . Is their any justices in Ethiopia? no wonder they were killing left and right by millions who opposed them and walk free. Every one who was ruling the country ,who was responsible for killing and corruption shouldn’t benefit from his administration. If ESFNA is serious and concerned about our country , they should invite him and have open discussion.

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