Zelalem Eshete, Ph.D.
Ethiopia is at a crossroad at a very critical time. Our challenge today is to become a symbol of unity on the face of the earth. Someone declares, “I am an Oromo first”. Then comes the other one charging, “I am an Ethiopian first”. I say both are wrong as long as we are talking about how the New Ethiopia would live together in harmony. I argue by not refuting the presence of their valid arguments for such a stand, but by highlighting the absence of the spirit of love that makes us rise up from our own domain.
It reminds me the Biblical account of being divided: “Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.” (1 Cor. 1:12 KJV) All are dismissed for they missed the big picture of being united.
It is tragic that racism had marginalized people in political, social and economic terms. The damage that had been done in the past is grave and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Since we lived with racism for so long, the way out of it is not going to be painless. Yes, healing doesn’t come easily.
However, we have a chance to discover and embrace our identity that has a greater power to unite us all as never before. We are called to stretch our hands to God (Psalm 68:31) so that we can outgrow being of a particular race and being of a particular nation of Ethiopia or even being just a human being. But we progress to becoming known as a godly people. Reaching to the original intent of creation: shine the likeness of God in us.
Therefore, we cannot afford to be divided considering the God factor. Racism ruled our land for God knows how long. In order to put an end to the legacy of racism, let us stretch our hands and usher in a new definition of our identity. Only God can heal our wounds. With stretched hands, love can work out in us to create a unity that is typified by One Family under God.
There is no need for us to be handicapped by an identity crisis. Our true identity is rooted in higher cause that calls us to be at peace with one another and relate to each other in love. Our long journey to our destiny begins by repenting; that is, changing our thinking. It doesn’t matter whether or not we personally discriminated one another. We take full responsibility for all past generations. We stand in the gap to break the power of racism, discrimination, hatred and bigotry.