By Tatek Gebreyesus
Dear Dr. Abiy
Thank you for being reachable to the masses through social media and other venues. I hope this note finds you well. First off I would like to acknowledge that the view I have is that of a standard citizen and not as a person responsible for leading a country pulled in different directions by the myriad of conflicts and tied up by powerful interests. So my comments and wishes may seem naive to you. But at the same time realize that most citizens of Ethiopia are in my situation and thus closer to my persuasion
Like most if not all Ethiopians, I love my country Ethiopia. When I was in my teenage years, I would pray and talk to God in my mind, ask him to take my life in exchange for scoring the winning goal in a world cup playing for my country Ethiopia. Like you may surmise, I love soccer too. If a soccer club that I liked is playing, I still can’t see a live match, I feel very apprehensive and disturbed because I am very passionate about my teams. Likewise, I have chosen so far to not see your live speeches fearing something may happen to you. Your words of love and unity have been like oil on a parched soul. Your politics seemed like a paradigm shift in how it approached the brotherhood and sisterhood of the people. Forgiveness and peace were reigning. Everyone was lauding your guidance and heading your call. Although it was not my luck to be there, from the media communication that I followed, I have never seen such Jubilation in my life.
You kept on spiking our hope from one thing to another and at one point we dared to dream that we may be on a path to our old country that stood proud for thousands of years, that you and your team and all the legislative body would move to removing Ethnic Federalism. That you would abolish Article 39 and put individual rights above all rights. Your excellency, I do not think that there are many people who want to slide back on the gains made in ethnic equality. In fact we need to go further in guaranteeing that different ethnicities enjoy the same privileges that the larger ethnic groups enjoy.But is ethnic federalism the solution for that? I think not.
In one of your recent lucid commentaries on what it means to be an Ethiopian, you said “We are Ethiopians when we are living and Ethiopia when we die”*. So if we all are Ethiopians when we live and die, why don't we all have the same rights on every inch of Ethiopia? On a recent discussion, Dr. Lema mentioned that the central question of conflict in Ethiopia is Land and on another the honorable Dr. Girma Biru, who you now retired, put it more generically as resource, Land being one of them. So the question becomes, how can you address this question so that the spirit of being an Ethiopian you mention above is maintained? Although the poetry you coined of being an Ethiopian is unique, the answer has been exercised in many nations for many decades. The main points among others being
If Ethnic federalism is maintained and strengthened, Our future generations growing up will have friends, classmates, culture, speech, idioms, etc... from the same ethnicity. This would increase the sense of separateness of people. Political and resource opportunists can easily mobilize vulnerable groups against each other and fragmentation of the country may occur. You and your wise leadership will not be there forever. So I implore you not to leave us in vulnerable position for disintegration. Me and my friends always talk about ethnic federalism as a cancer in Ethiopia brought on by EPRDF by the leadership of TPLF. Your ascension into power and the speeches you have been making were like pain killers for the peoples of Ethiopia. I implore you to go further and be the cure for this cancer. Remove Ethnic Federalism
Your type of leadership is not the norm, it is an anomaly even among world leaders. You have the support of the people and a lot of political capital. Your words of reconciliation akin to Nelson Mandela’s has also been instrumental in initially lowering the tension in the country, but now we are thirsty for a change of vision in your party and new policies. In a recent question and answer, an individual asked you about land for the Gurague and your answer was unexpected. You answered that the Gurague do not need a separate Kilil (local) for tomorrow they will be opening shop in Mogadishu. I was expecting that the answer would be that we all should forget about the notion of a separate “Kilil” and we all should follow the make up of SNNPR and not seek Ethnic based Kilil. Frankly your excellency, we all are still waiting for that
Ethnic federalism in Ethiopia, and in South Sudan (The way your party currently devised the latest reconciliation solution for them) is a cancer for East Africa and a dream come true for Egypt. Be the Moses that takes us out of Egypt’s grasp. You have the support of Ethiopians.
God Bless Ethiopia and God Bless you