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 The Visionary Leadership which won the 1896 Battle of Adwa is needed today to prevent Disintegration of Ethiopia!


By Said G Osman

Today, March 2nd, 2024, Ethiopia and indeed the Continent of Africa, is celebrating the battle of Adwa which took place 128 years ago. The Battle was supposed to be like the fight between David and Goliath! But, to the surprise of all who watched it unfold, Ethiopian armed forces under the leadership of Emperor Menelik II, won the battle decisively in a short time. As Dr. Tsegaye Tegenu, PhD. described in his posting on The Zehabesha portal, the Italians relied on strategy laid down by Commander Baratieri which largely relied on the planned battlefield strategy and their firepower! On the other hand, the Ethiopians who had no firepower comparable to those of their adversary had come together from multiple regions under the leadership of the Emperor Menelik II and the regional Princes and used their knowledge of the topography to encircle and attack the Italian force; explored the obvious weaknesses of the enemy; and even used guerrilla tactics to defeat the Italians!

In that war, Ethiopians overcame their differences, came together from different regions under the Emperor’s leadership, used their God-given intelligence and resources to beat one of the most powerful forces in the world! Today, 128-years we are celebrating that victory. Ethiopia has Adwa Museum to remind us of what took place all those years ago. But what have we learned from that war and Ethiopia’s victory! In my opinion, sadly very little! If anything, Ethiopia today is hellbent on destroying that powerful historic legacy which has guided the entire Continent of Africa to free itself from the York of colonialism!

As I mentioned above, the Adwa victory happened because of dedicated leadership which brought the entire country together to repulse a powerful invader. In my view, what is lacking today is unifying leadership in Ethiopia. Today there are multiple challenges which serious leaders should recognize and bring the nation together to solve. They include, but not limited to, natural disasters like drought and famine, inter-ethnic conflicts, determination by some regions to be independent of Ethiopia (thanks of the TPLF policy of divide and rule), and more recently inclination to cause regional instability in the Horn of Africa.

The Battle of Adwa: When Ethiopia crushed Italy!
The Battle of Adwa: When Ethiopia crushed Italy!

Why is Ethiopia’s leadership viewed as such a disastrous failure today? A lot of it has to do with personality traits. We all have strengths and weaknesses, but when it comes to national security, the entire nation has to come together and make sure the elected leaders are held accountable for their actions, or lack thereof. Leaders may be genuinely trying their best to serve the nation, but what they consider best for the country may actually produce the opposite effect. In that kind of scenario, there should be checks-and-balances in place where the officials in the administration, politicians and ordinary people could be able to act and guide the leader(s) in the right direction.

Based on Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator, there are 4 pairs of personality characteristics: opposite ways to direct and receive energy through Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I); take in information with Sensing (S) or Intuition (N); come to conclusions using Thinking (T) or Feeling (F); and approach the outside world through Judging (J) or Perceiving (P). Combining these characteristics gives 16 personality traits, and most leaders fall in one of these traits.

These traits are qualities we are born with. The environment in which we grow, family and community values in which we grow, education we receive as we grow, political environment, system of governance in which we grow, all these will then influence how we express those genetic traits we are born with. The less informed the communities in which we grow the less sophisticated would be the expression of our personality characteristics, thus leading to extremes of their expressions which can harm innocent people. Whereas in advanced environments we grow, these expressions are modified to fit in with the environments we live in, thereby by minimizing (not eliminating) risks to innocent people.

The Prime Minister, Abyi Ahmed Ali’s character trait is classified as ENTP (Extraverted, Intuitive, Thinking and Perceiving). These features make him quick to act, ingenious, alert, outspoken, resourceful in solving problems, adept at generating conceptual possibilities and analyzing them strategically. Good at reading over people, bored by routine stuff, seldom does same thing same way, and turns from one interest to another in rapid succession.

While armed with all these great traits, the background in which he grew up and worked did very little to modify his approach to the challenges which he is facing now. The qualities described above show the PM as visionary, and that was definitely one of the traits that led him to make peace with Eritrea. But, as one would expect, he hoped that would change Isayas Afewerki and open up the border, give Ethiopia access to the Red Sea, etc. Impatience with Afewerki may have led to souring of relationship and his hinting to gaining access to the Red Sea even if that meant resorting to war, that was shocking, coming from a guy you just recently won a Nobel Price for creating peace with the neighbor! Apt to turn to a new interest of MoU with Somaliland, to gain access to the sea and establish naval base, totally ignoring the fundamental international law by making a deal with an illegitimate secessionist Somaliland, thus fracturing peaceful co-existence with Somalia, and for the first time getting the entire world condemn Ethiopia for such action! This is not what one would have expected from a national leader!

Another problem of the MP is acknowledging failure. Celebrating success and sharing it with the world is in his DNA, but failure is not accepted – if it happened it is most probably because of someone else fault! Today, there are estimated 20 million people who are starving, there are wars going on in Amhara, Oromia, and other places. Religious leaders are being killed in their churches or Mosques, but one hardly ever hears a word from PM Abyi acknowledging these disasters, it is in his DNA to reject failure! But he would travel to farms to show massive wheat growth and harvests, visits to tourist resorts, etc. The best qualities of national leaders are their readiness to stand with the victims of war, famine, and other natural disasters to share their pain!

I do not blame the PM entirely for these failures because, as I mentioned, this is in the DNA. Lack of the appreciation of these factors which influence people’s behavior, by the rest of the population contributed what has placed Ethiopia on this catastrophic path. But all is not lost! While the victory of the Battle of Adwa is being celebrated, Ethiopians need to come together to chart a new path for the country. Once he appreciates the weaker side of his character, PM Abyi can play a positive role in Ethiopia’s future. But like I said before it is time for him to step aside and let Ethiopia set up a unifying Administration of National Unity and solve its problems.

I would also like to appeal to the Ethiopian elites in the country and in the Diaspora to look at themselves and ask if they are contribution anything meaningfully for the future of our Motherland, Ethiopia. It does not help spewing nasty rhetoric on the media day in and day out and expecting a positive outcome!



ልዩ ምሽት በአዲስ አበባ -1930ዎች



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