Ethiopia: A nation at a breaking point

By Abeba Fekade

As many scholars and historians have stated and a living history that is written in our hearts testifies, Ethiopia is truly one of the best and magnificent of the ancient nations with great contribution to the wonders of the world and its civilization. No doubt for any one with clear glasses can see through the beauty and grace that feels so unique to her people and the sacred ground of her land. Though my intention here is not to speak of her historical greatness, it is rather to remind us of our great ancestors and by invoking their spirit we may connect to our true knowledge that is hidden from us. I also believe such knowledge will empower us and become a source of strength that helps us overcome any breaking point we may face in our path.

Well, many also have said much about the current political affair of Ethiopia and the crisis the nation is facing. However, though many have identified the various factors that have lead our country to where we are now and to where we are heading, the core elements and the essential forces at work are often over looked. As a result the fundamentals of the problem are not fully understood thus, we are unable to create the necessary tools and capacities for generating effective solution. Analyzing the political economic condition, the psychosocial and cultural crisis, the endangered integrity and sovereignty of the nation has not rendered in changing the reality. Yes, all the discourse written and spoken are very important and essential tools of communication and documentation, however in the last few decades those activities seem to have lost their potency for they become the end in themselves rather than being the means to a goal. The discourses end up being a mere rhetoric and lose the capacity to make an impact and transforms reality. Either all these discourses and analysis we have been engaged in has not yet reached the threshold or is not potent enough to make a difference or we are not even dealing with what is really real. It could also be that we know the real matter of our situation but chose consciously or subconsciously to deal with only the peripheral symptoms of our problems that are within the limits of our comfort zone, rather than facing the challenge courageously.

At any rate my intention is not necessarily to add any new facts or analysis to the ongoing sociopolitical discourse and current political situation. It is rather to raise some relevant questions that might stimulate productive dialogue and help us get out of the quagmire and the impasse in which our struggle for freedom is found. It is also to raise critical questions that helps us focus on dialogues that create thoughts and behaviors, which are truly game changers. My intention is also to stimulate discourses that allow us to make a paradigm shift in our perspectives in order to transform our thoughts into actions. Though the questions I raise are inquiries that may be addressed by all concerned and nationalist Ethiopians, I intend to direct them to the intellectual and the learned elite community at large. It is my belief that if we do not raise the right questions and address them boldly in a timely fashion not only that we may not get the right answers to our questions but also our country may slip further away, creating greater vulnerability for fragmentation, leading to prolonged oppression, subjugation and enslavement of the mass. So it is in this light that I raise a directive and crucial question, not for mere discussion but for application.

The State of Ethiopia and The Elite Intelligentsia

The nation of Ethiopia is in a state of serious crisis that may lead either to a break down or a total annihilation of its national integrity and subjugating the people to modern slavery and colonialism. We are occupied by rather unique form of colonization that is brokered and sponsored by none other than the tegere traibalist tplf and subsidized by various international forces. It is the cumulative weight of the external forces supported and facilitated by the national agents that may bring Ethiopia to her breaking point, unless urgent action is taken to reverse the course. Breaking a nation, a society or individuals is much more effective when people allow their psyche to accept and internalize an inferior position. Both the physical and psychological integrity and the cultural foundation and the social fabric that glues and keeps a nation as one people is being eroded and is now reaching at a breaking point

Ethiopians under the siege of the tplf, are showing signs of behaviors and traits that are the expressions of people who are often economically and mentally colonized. The vast majorities of Ethiopians do not just live in abject poverty but also are subjected to a second-class and inferior citizen in their own country; this is certainly a manifestation of a broken nation. Frantz Fanon, Algerian psychiatrist wrote extensively on the phenomenon of colonization and its consequences. In his observation of the relationship between the sense of lack of self-worth created in ones psyche and potentially becoming source of problems in behaviors and thoughts is accurately applicable to Ethiopian reality today for the essences of oppressive dynamics has not changed since then. Could this be one of the reasons why we are unable to produce visionary national leaders who can stand boldly in the face of fear?

For the past two decades a force that is inherently anti Ethiopia is ruling the country not just as an occupying force but also with deeply rooted resentment and mean spirited energy towards Ethiopia and Ethiopian nationalism. The tegere tribalism not only puts it self above and competes with the Ethiopian nationalism but also works to destroy and distort it. It promotes and puts tegere in particular and ethnic tribalism in general above and beyond the interest of Ethiopia as a sovereign nation. The tplf despises Ethiopia as it is witnessed by their behaviors and thoughts expressed everyday. Their mind set appears to be uniquely anti Ethiopian, which in fact means anti ones self in its deeper sense. Their behavior reveals a streak of resentment towards Ethiopia and Ethiopian nationalism and behaves as an enemy force, which ultimately threatens the national integrity and the oneness of the people.

Historically external forces have attempted several times to control and dominate Ethiopia, thanks to the brave Ethiopians, such attempts never been fully materialized. However, today the embodiment of anti Ethiopian sprit the tplf and its associates are successfully and rapidly accomplishing this historical mission, that is destroying Ethiopia and Ethiopian nationalism. They are at a verge of completing what the Europeans and other foreign forces have attempted to do for many years. They continue to readily provide the physical and political base to breed and nurture many more anti Ethiopia elements that threatens her future national sovereignty. Some observers have in fact identified tplf’s behavior of land dealing as ‘neocolonialism by invitation”. The so-called land investment is a unique example of a modern time colonization brokered by Meles Zenawe. Displacing Ethiopian farmers is subjecting them beyond simple poverty to a status of colonized people. Thus, today, the very existence of Ethiopia as a nation is seriously challenged and threatened; it is in a process of breaking apart both literally and figuratively speaking.

A nation can be broken in many ways. During a war, military defeat can break a nations mighty defense and subjugate its people to a lower position and enslavement, manifesting in a political and economic superiority of one group over the other. Though these are some of the ways used to break down a nation and a society, there are many more war fronts that may bring a nation to its breaking point unsuspected. The cultural and the psychological warfare wedged at ones identity is in fact, much more devastating and dangerous war for it breaks the spirit and hope of people and subject them to mental slavery, that are slaves tied down by invisible chains. Ignorance is another tool use to dominant and control people. People who accept and internalize their oppressors ways of thinking and behaving lack authentic knowledge of self, which is a fundamental foundation of all knowledge. Thus nations can be broken by the use and miss use of knowledge and information. As we have witnessed for the past 20 years the tplf has wedged a war by systematically miss informing and distorting knowledge about Ethiopia and her people, to create a fragile and breakable nation for they do not know their true self.

The relationship between the state of Ethiopia and the state of the intellectual and is interesting to say the least. The state of our nation is at a breaking point because of the pressure and the weight imposed upon it. Ethiopia’s natural resources, and national wealth including her fertile ground are used to feed the world while Ethiopians are starving. The nations’ wealth including its people, the most precious of all the wealth are used and benefit other people and nations. For the lack of Ethiopian government a nation is for sale, similarly for the absence of intellectual independence and authenticity significant number of the Ethiopian intellectuals could not serve the people that educated them. Devalued, it has put it self for sale as well. The intellectual force could not make a decent living in their own country so they are forced to leave. They are dispersed all over the world while foreigners are in fluxing in a large number to the land of opportunity, Ethiopia for better job and life.

The tplf is the largest human exporter and has created the situation conducive to it, today we are victims of the largest brain drain and this is done by design. More than ever, in the last two decades, millions of Ethiopians are scattered all over the world. They are leaving their country seeking basic sustenance elsewhere and at the same time unprecedented numbers of foreigners are settling in the country with land ownership and much more privileges. Some thing is not right here in this equation. Why Ethiopia is a land of wealth and a blessing to the Asians, the Arabs, the Europeans, the Americans and so on? How does the intellectual body explain such inequity and discrepancies? I ask this hoping that the intellectuals understand better than others the complex global reality and what is at stake in the long run.

Educated and learned people most often must take responsibility for the larger society and are expected to be agents of changes not just simply to promote their personal lives. However, in the case of Ethiopian intellectuals either submitting itself to a dysfunctional status within the country or fleeing from the reality to sell its labor abroad are the primary choices it has adapted. For the dysfunctional intellectuals, hence changing or creating a new reality is perceived as unattainable desire. They internalized dependency in the place of self-reliance and compliance, mediocrity, fear and inferiority in place of courage and competence. Sadly to say such traits and weaknesses are not readily recognized, they are in fact sugar coated with superficial justification such as being professional, neutral etc. Such incompetent body of intellegensia may bring some superficial changes to society or gain some individual and professional achievement but not significant and meaningful change to society and to the current struggle for freedom. Like the rest of the nation, to a large extent intellectual body is also in a breaking point for it stands on a defeatist ground and distorted perspective.

What Must Be Done – All Roads Lead to Ethiopia

What is to be done now that we are at a cross- road and at a breaking point? Well I think we can start with internalizing courage, competence and commitment in to our actions and thoughts. They are very essential tools to do what must be done; they in deed are decisive game changers.

Well we must raise the right questions and thoughts that lead us to the right practical answers and decisive action. Many have asked why we could not change our reality? Why we could not create courageous committed and competent intelligentsia as well as national leaders. What are the intellectuals plan of actions that would be used to liberate the Ethiopian mind from bondage. What is our national vision other than the dancing around the shallow and ineffective paradigm of tribalism and ethnic politics?

Understanding the problem is part of solving it thus we ask questions. What must have gone wrong to find our selves in such predicament? Why are we found at the bottom of the world in many measures? And how do we get out of it? What are the roles of the intellectual in accomplishing this goal? We can ask many more questions but the situation we are in does not permit such intellectual exercise. We must ask questions that are relevant and within the context of the urgent solution our nation needs. We are in time that requires action, a decisive one that impact on reality. In fact, we must ask ourselves why we continue to do the things we do if they are not giving us a different result. Political parties, activists and the intellectual continue engaging in the same behaviors and activities that do not produce the intended change, they prove to be simply futile exercises. They fail to focus on authentic thinking and in their actions they lack honesty. For instance, the need to expose the fallacy, danger and incompatibility of foreign thoughts, values and politics to Ethiopia is imperative, and yet in practice the intellectual accepts the lies either out of fear or opportunism. They often appear to follow the trends imposed upon them by others or their enemies. I am not denying however the very few exceptions, in fact we must bring their number to a critical mass to give the movement a jump-start and a leap forward.

A deeper look in to the intellect of the educated Ethiopians is a sad reality for it has not learned either the past way, nor is it able to develop an Ethiopian centered thinking that can be used to liberate the nation. Instead the elite is bound with fear and ignorance like the rest of the population. It is also pathetic to see Ethiopian intellectuals being dependent including for their freedom on those who put them in the condition that they are in to begin with. Therefore, intellectual including the political elites must realize if they want to change or get raid of the tplf apartheid regime that they must do things differently from the ways that have not made differences. And also they must primarily depend upon themselves, self-confidence and worth are essential traits. We must stop rather spending excessive energy on appealing to the senses of irrelevant people or ideas rather we must claim full responsibility and have the courage to face reality on time (missing several opportune times has been one of the repeated failures in our struggle). It is also important that we stop displacing our frustration and anger among ourselves instead of targeting it at the actual source and resolve it in productive and constructive way.

I believe one other problem of the educated elite is internalizing values systems and perspectives that are their oppressors’ that in turn incapacitated them from effectively transforming the very reality their oppressors have created. Therefore, reawakening Ethiopia and Ethiopian centered thinking is the last frontier for the liberation of the mind, which will guarantee the liberation of our country. In order to free Ethiopia the Ethiopian intellectual must use Ethiopian perspectives and free itself from the adulterated, corrupted and defeatist mind set and boldly address issues that matter to the people. We must speak honestly and boldly. In order to reverse the forced migration, the brain drain and the occupation of our country our eyes must be on the jewel that is on Ethiopia. Our mind and body singularly must focus on the freedom of Ethiopia. I suggest that nationalist Ethiopians, political organizations who are based abroad need to go back home legally or illegally, and those established within the country must remain at home and fight the regime courageously by all means necessary.

It is my contention that in addition to the anti Ethiopian forces, the role-played or not played by the Ethiopian elites and intellectuals have also contributed significantly to the current national failure. The intellectuals that are not doing the right things at the right time immensely contributed to our own demise equally as those who are actively harming our people. Neutrality on the issue of the nation of Ethiopia and the people is not a choice for true intellectuals; it is rather an obligation and a privilege to stand for Ethiopia, it is certainly a noble cause. Most intellectual do understand and know enough about the condition of our country and yet, may be because of the absence of the necessary intellectual elements such as honesty and integrity, they failed to make an impact. Yes what must be done is removing the tplf from power. Courage in general and intellectual courage in particular is one of the key ingredients that is missing.

Well I think courage is the ability to elicit the inner passion that over comes fear and enable us to carry out an act despite the difficulties and obstacles we face. It is also the ability to be bold which is to express thoughts and behaviors clearly and truthfully, courage is therefore the antithesis of fear, particularly fear that is maladaptive. It is an innate trait, a tool that can allow humans to stand up to challenges and threats. Courage as it can be stunted and suppressed from it full expression, it can also be developed to its fullest if nurtured and cultivated properly. The intellectual and the learned community have a special obligation not only for showing courage but also to teach and encourage its value for the collective good.

Though I focused on the intellectuals I believe we all have equal responsibility in fighting for our own rights and freedom for our country regardless of who we are. However I am also cognizant that what is required of each of us may be in proportion to our awareness, knowledge, personal call and commitment. This is why we call upon those intellectual with integrity to meet their obligation that is to be the light for other while burning. I also believe we all are called for causes greater than ourselves; we just have to find our niche for effective expression. In doing so we will restore the glory and beauty of Ethiopia once again, hence, all roads lead to Ethiopia. For all freedom loving Ethiopians, the last frontier is in our unflinching belief that our destiny is in our hand. Yes, in essence we are people who can do. Lets roll!

All things are possible to him who believes; they are less difficult to him who hopes; they are easy to him who loves, and simple to any who do all three. (Unknown)

(Abeba Fekade, Ph.D., can be reached at [email protected])