Saturday, November 13, 2010

Ethiopia - Alternate View of Governance and public engagement!

The one thing a visitor observes when visiting the US house of representative and the Independence Hall (where the fore-fathers signed the declaration of independence) is a phrase “...we the people...” It is reminder of a couple of essential facts; first the real leader of the nation is the citizens of the country and second the leaders are elected to serve the people. These two facts are the very core foundations to a real democracy.

Our nation Ethiopia has its fair share of political upheaval that has left us a sour taste in the mouth at the mention politics. It is understandable why our society has a confused perception of politics. Our political exposure is either biased or at best delusional. Some are scared of politics recall a saying with sarcasm, “... politics and electric is from distance...” Others think it has to be “...their way or the highway...” and they randomly paint any individual with different view than theirs with the paint of animosity.

The significant numbers of our citizen are political nomads and passive participants. Their concern doesn’t surpass from a simple and idle chatter over coffee. And the depth of the conversation is as deep as he say, she say current affair. It is equally pertinent that the government needs to create conducive environment that the majority of the people it claims to serve. All inclusive governance has transparency and accountability written all over its front page. Hence, the government’s primary responsibility should include educating and explaining what it is doing to benefit, protect, and empower the public. In return the public have a responsibility to work with the government for the betterment of the country’s overall health.

Accountability and responsibility is a two way transaction. We Ethiopians should abandon our passive observant political position and work towards building the confidence of the statement “we the people”. Yes, many have given up hope and some even contemplated if it is ever possible to have a governance that closely emulates the western political reality. Call me naïve, but I strongly believe it is quite possible.

To be continued...!


Wednesday, September 01, 2010

I love Ethiopia!...? – Part II

I love Ethiopia! … Really? – Part II

“The men who followed Him were unique in their generation. They turned the world upside down because their hearts had been turned right side up. The world has never been the same. “Billy Graham

In part I of the I love Ethiopia series I attempted to inquire the exact texture of the love we claim we have for our country. We have the type of patriotism that boils our blood in the notion of protecting the mother land. Our tear bags broke loose when we watch the Teddy Afro’s Anbessa Youtube Clip . We are full of enlivened when we refer to our new year or the idea of ‘hager alegn’ slogan. It is all good!

If this burning passion of our upbringing, our communal identity, our protectiveness of the historical heritage we inherited; if this deep sense of ‘love for Ethiopia’ can’t compelled us to strive to make our Ethiopia the best and the greatest, then it is an illusion of a passive love that has no real impact aside from the ‘move-screen’ display it is being played. I used the quote “He loves his country best who strives to make it best” to make a point that our sense of love is measured by how much engaged we are in making Ethiopia the best.
Our Communal identity, in my opinion, is both our blessing and our curse. Our attachment enables us to dine together, to celebrate together, and to cry together; but it seems to lack to enable us to work together, to strive together or to envision together. It is sad but true that at times I have seen our “Ethiopian” people joining hands with our enemies in an attempt to ‘destroy’ the ruling governance. Little they know they are carelessly destroying the nation and its resource that can lift up their livelihood. An inquiry mind wants to know who has stolen their sense of right and wrong. I have no intention in supporting or denouncing governance but rather I question the motives that drive us to destroy our nation that we claim we love; I question the sincerity of bringing about pseudo-change that is not founded on collaboration or mutual growth.
Unless our heart, our mind and our world turned to “the right side up”, it will be a wishful thinking of having a love relationship with the idea of ‘our beloved Ethiopia’. When we have the right motive, we are like well equipped warriors who are determined to never stop until the beloved nation is transformed. We are willing to collaborate and pour our sweat for the betterment of our people. We are so determined not to leave behind a scrambled and a dead nation held by a thin thread of survival. We are happy about our brother’s success that we abstain putting a trap underneath his feet.
When we go beyond the “passive love of coffee shop conversation”, when we surpass the pseudo ‘die for country’ slogan that fuels corruption and separation, when we look in to the eye of our neighbor and are willing to accept him/her for who they are but not their tribal identity, when Ethiopia is tattooed in our heart beyond the three color of our flag, when our unity is more than the causes that separate us – then we can boldly say “I’m the new generation who has so much love and passion for my nation Ethiopia”!

So, do you really love Ethiopia?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I love Ethiopia! … Really? – Part I

I love Ethiopia! … Really?

“He loves his country best who strives to make it best” | Robert Green Ingersoll

Love is many things, at times it replaces feelings otherwise can’t be explained adequately. Recently, I read a Facebook page that has a description “I will die for Ethiopia”. And it became an inspiration to the many series of articles I would like to discuss about.

To die for a country is beyond the shallow definition of love! At the same time it is in order to mention that I have no intention to dissect and bisect the very raw definition of the word “love” – unless I find it relevant.

So, here it is. Do you love Ethiopia? When we say "we love Ethiopia" what do we try to communicate? Do we mean we love the people? Do we mean we love the land, the green-yellow-red flag? Do we like the positioning of our country in the face of the world? or is it about our historical heritage?

Many Ethiopians have a deep sense of patriotism that is mostly rooted on the foundational pillars build by our history. Yes we are proud that it is the only nation that had never been colonized! Yes we are a nation with thousands years of historical heritage! Yes we are a nation with an old and unique scripted language. Yes, we are … ! Yes, we are …! ….

Where is the love? Where is your love? I will end this introductory article with the quote I began from Robert Green “… He who strives to make his country best, he loves his country best …” do you really love Ethiopia?

to be continued.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Whose Nile?

I am the first Earth Mother of all fertility
I am the Source I am the Nile I am the African I am the beginning
O Arabia, how could you so conveniently have forgotten
While your breath still hangs upon the threads of my springs
O Egypt, you prodigal daughter born from my first love
I am your Queen of the endless fresh waters
Who rested my head upon the arms of Narmer Ka Menes
When we joined in one our Upper and Lower Lands to create you
bosom of my being
How could you so conveniently count down
In miserable billions of petty cubic yards
The eternal drops of my life giving Nile to you
Beginning long before the earth fell from the eye ball of heaven,
O Nile, that gush out from my breath of life
Upon the throats of the billions of the Earth's thirsty multitudes,
O World, how could you so conveniently have forgotten
That I, your first fountain, I your ever Ethiopia
I your first life still survive for you?
I rise like the sun from the deepest core of the globe … “
Laureate Tsegaye Gebre-Medhin

For my generation, that grew up in the dergu regime, Blue Nile ( ‘Abay’) was like a famous uncle we never met who lives in a far far land. We sang songs about it, along with Luci, Axum, Lalibella - it was our pride moment. But, Abay has always been mysterious to me. The relationship it has to my beloved land and its people is a strange one. We love Abay, but it takes the richness of our land away to un-friendly neighbors - who pray for our dismay. We marvel its magnificence, but it gushes to beautify the desert resorts of Egypt and Sudan.

Tourist’s camera clinks to capture its sacred smokes of water, but its youthful strength leaves our arid land behind and flows hurrying to the luxury of estranged places. An inquiry mind asked and curiosity has reached its cap. Now we want to redefine our relationship to our water, which takes our resources, our rich soil, and our rich heritage to an uncharted territory. And we are being threatened not to dare? Just because the Brits, in a colonial mindset, has an agreement with Egypt and Sudan how the water was supposed to be utilized; because they had made pacts over our resource with other nations, excluding us – the source of it all.

It is so ironic to blatantly tell us not a single drop can be touched of Nile. It is a new era, a new generation – so get a new paradigm neighbors. It is true that we Ethiopians are profound guest receptors; we are the good mannered people who love to share what they have with whoever is lacking. Yes, despite the famine, despite the poverty. Yes, we love to share! That being said, we don’t like others to take advantage of us our generosity. We don’t like to be taken as ignorant fools. We never gave in to colonization. We don’t like to be ridden as damn donkeys!

So, we will allow you to use our resource, our soil, our Nile – only at our terms and conditions. So, let’s negotiate! That is a civil way resolving the Nile issue.