Zelalem Eshete, Ph.D.
Ethiopia is extremely diverse but intertwined. We think we have only two choices: either to stress unity at the expense of diversity or major on diversity neglecting unity. But we have a third way: Foster diversity on the foundation of building unity. This short article is about how this nation building can be realized. In the process, it makes a case for the rebirth timing of Ethiopia in three phases. The efforts undertaken by the PM Dr. Abiy to meet the 2020 election deadline is admirable. But building institutions that ensures fair and true elections is only a necessary condition, but not sufficient condition. There is more at stake.
Initial Condition – the Power of Choice – rebirth of a People anew
Where to begin? We can start implementing the indigenous world view coined by PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed: “በፍቅር ተደምረን በይቅርታ እንሻገር”. This demand resorting to the power of choice, motivated by proactively envisioning the Ethiopia we all aspire to have become. To this end, we need to articulate and formulate this world view in a way that invades our everyday lives. It requires focused efforts by the Ethiopian elites to expound this idea and lay out the foundation for its realization. Then implementation of its mandate with utmost excellence follows. This work can be the bedrock of the unity-foundation by initiating the healing process and bringing out our inherent unity to the light. This need TIME.
Consensus Building – the Power of Democracy – rebirth of a Nation anew
We build consensus by the help of democracy that enhances the progress of nation building. We need to accomplish two main prerequisites for the success of nation building under the auspices of democracy.
First, imagine three or four political parties based on IDEAS providing alternative platforms for the people. Then the people can find clarity in the choices available for the direction Ethiopia needs to take. We have an opportunity for real practice of democracy in our land, and this first step is what makes democracy work. This need TIME.
Second, we need informed citizens to make democracy grow. The media and the system need to be fair and equitable for all competing parties including the government. More than just having the means in place though, once the three or four parties are formed, they need to get their ideas out to the people and provide a forum for creating evolving ideas. This need TIME.
National Election – the Power of We the People – rebirth of a State anew
The state formation through the next national election is unlike any in the history of Ethiopia. It is unique, in that it is going to be the first ever state formation through democracy to highlight the government by the people and for the people. Therefore, it is very sacred. It cannot be rushed. It cannot be compromised. More than anything, it has to be done right. To do it right, the first two tasks mentioned above needs to be realized. This first state formation cannot happen in a vacuum. The people have to vote with their heart for Ethiopia first to lay the background for unity-foundation through the power of choice stated earlier under the umbrella of “በፍቅር ተደምረን በይቅርታ እንሻገር”. Then the people need to have real choices to cast the ballots, that necessitate three or four parties. And the people need to be informed and take part in shaping the ideas proposed by these parties. All these to say, this next election is special, and more is involved than just making sure the election is true and fair.
In light of having a Prime Minister who is devoted to democracy and has the approval of the people of Ethiopia, why on earth one rushes election only to abort the miracle-chance bestowed on us from the heaven to spotlight the other face of Ethiopia: To Be Known As We Truly Are, a beacon of hope for the world, and a sign of African pride?
The writer can be reached via email at: z@myEthiopia.com