March 07, 2013
1) As an introduction
Let me start by saying that as numerous researches conducted by many psychologists, sociologists, and other social scientist have shown , there is no any human or social interaction that is absolutely free from paradoxical attitudes and behaviors . Hearing and watching people making contradiction between what they say and what they actually do is not uncommon. And I do not have any illusion to make the case of the people of Ethiopia an exception to this very general fact of human attitude and behavior.
There is no doubt that with all unfortunately ugly sides of history, the people of Ethiopia have a very great place in the history of mankind. The kings/emperors, empresses, princes, great patriotic forefathers and mothers again with all challenges they had and mistakes they made, they had made a great history in the passing over of the country as we know it from generation to generation. They had to pay ultimate sacrifices which emanated from a deeply powerful conviction of selflessness. They had paid priceless sacrifices because they truly believed that preserving a homeland that is independent and sovereign could be unthinkable let alone possible without making aspirations and actions the two inseparable and indispensable factors of living with freedom and dignity as well as being the beneficiaries of all natural resources. Needless to say that our forefathers and mothers had selflessly paid huge sacrifices with a great belief that preserving the homeland was their glorious mission not only for few generations but for all generations to come.
When it comes to the role of religious institutions and their leaders, with all the problems they had, they not only preached/and taught about the values of national pride and human dignity but they also had paid their sacred and ultimate sacrifices. Although the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church by virtue of being the exercised earlier and being favored by most of the rulers, Muslim Ethiopians and all Ethiopians who belong to other domains of Christianity had a great role as far as preserving our homeland we call it Ethiopia is concerned. I am not here disregarding some terrible events that took place in the course of our political history. One way or another or gravely serious or less serious, it has to be admitted that mistakes had been made and those mistakes have to be put in the right perspective of history and taken as teachable lessons.
Let me add one more perspective of our recent political discourse. Yes, with all the ugly faces of our engagement in the struggle for better political life and socio-economic justice, hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians particularly the youth have paid another ultimate sacrifice. This part of our political chapter is characterized by the coming into being of opposition political parties in a real sense of modern politics. I am talking specifically about political activities since the 1960s.
2) Some encouraging moves despite being in the midst of a serious paradox
•Before I proceed to the next and main points of view of mine, I want to say that there is a need to recognize and encourage those genuinely citizens or Ethiopian –origin who are trying the best they can for the struggle to succeed.
•Moreover, the very movements by our Muslim compatriots, opposition political parties such as the walking of Medrek to move a step forward (front) and efforts of coming and acting together by the 33 opposition groups are remarkably encouraging.
•Another front of the struggle is the efforts being made by media outlets such as radio shows, publications, web sites, and above all ESAT /Radio is remarkably encouraging. Although they cannot substitute /replace the necessity of freedom of expression back home, they are doing their best to be the voices of the voiceless.
3) Should we be still concerned about our serious paradox?
Needless to say that bringing the very question of why, we as a people of proud country are still suffering from an endless and incomprehensible paradox is a very legitimate question that has to be encountered and dealt with. Instead of making my points of view with long and detail argument, I want to just jot down in the form of question and answer style as follows:
a) Is it not terribly paradoxical to recite (empty rhetoric) the great works of our patriotic forefathers/mothers and pretend that we are still proud people while we (as a people) are in a state of incredible state of fear, moral degradation, selfishness, dysfunctional or severe shortcomings of unity of purpose, and serious lack of thinking and acting in a real sense of farsightedness, and etc.? Is that the way we nurture and teach our children? I do not know how a parent who claims to be patriotic Ethiopian can convince his or her children leave alone his or her fellow Ethiopians while he or she stays away from showing by doing. I do not know how we really convince ourselves let alone others simply by talking and reciting the glorious victory of Adwa and other great chapters of history just by paying attributes to the symbols of great works (statues) every year? And how about just simply telling others that we are proud of the historical objects ( obelisks ) and all other historical and sacred places ,not showing practically that we are the real products of our patriotic forefathers/mothers ? And above all, we decry about the anti- national history and pride agenda and behavior of the incumbent tyrannical regime and vehemently condemn it, but we are not working on the question of how to change the danger we are talking about. Is not a very worrisome paradox?
b) Yes, there is no doubt that so many attempts to make opposition forces to be the allied forces of the struggle for genuine democratic change have repeatedly and terribly failed . We had come across so many naming of togetherness such as Congress of Alternative Forces, Union of Ethiopian Democratic Forces, Fronts, Coalitions, Alliances , and so on and so forth which most of them either ineffective or in total failure. But, on the other hand, we (as people) need to admit that any leading force is doomed to fail without active participation and engagement by the followers and ultimate beneficiaries of the genuine change. It is here that another gravely serious political paradox comes into the picture. What is really becoming much more paradoxical is the culture of forming/breeding “new” small and ineffective circles and calling for the formation of coalition or council or alliance and going back to square one and talking the same thing but not doing the something thing practical. And this is terribly non-sense especially for countries such as Ethiopia which cannot afford to maintain this kind of an endless trend of breeding groups after groups which talk about the same /similar issues but are not interested in doing things together.
c) Another frustrating paradox is in the area of making media outlets effective that should be serving the people of Ethiopia whose voices are being silenced by the tyrannical ruling circle as relatively alternative instruments of making their voices heard. Yes, it is terribly paradoxical to complain the total absence of freedom of expression back home on the one hand, and not to support and make those alternative media outlets powerful fronts for the change we desperately aspire. I have to recognize and admire the genuinely concerned Ethiopians in the diaspora, especially in Europe, Australia and even in South Africa for their remarkable efforts they have shown! I believe that is the way we have to break the very harmful attitude and behavior of being paradoxical.
d) I do not want sum up my comment without expressing my concern about the continuation of another terrifying paradox within our religious creeds and values of the Orthodox Christian Church. Well, the leaders back home have already fell under the dirty mix of politics and religion, and they are not either courageous enough to challenge that ugly game or sacrifice their earthly voracious self-interests for the sake of their heavenly mission. And the leaders in exile do not seem in a position to discourage those who seem not interested to operate under their supervision with a positive and influential persuasion. Consequently, this has a very adverse impact not only on the teachings of religious principles and values but also on the very need of paying as coordinating centers of the struggle for the realization of freedom and human dignity in our country.
I hope we will be honest enough with ourselves and deal with the very deep –rooted paradox we are suffering from.