By Prof. Alemayehu G. Mariam
Author’s Note: For the past couple of weeks, I have read and heard unjustified and irresponsible criticism of PM Abiy. Many of his critics are Hippos (older generation) like me, who still cling to the faded political ideals of their youth in the 1970s and stubbornly remain sticks-in-the mud.
A few of these old war horses have counselled me to take it easy with my “gung ho support” for PM Abiy. They say I am wasting my hard-earned credibility and taking a big risk with my readers who have followed me for years by my unreserved endorsement of PM Abiy.
The allegations are becoming too familiar. PM Abiy is said to be a “TPLF front man, a puppet”. He is the TPLF’s secret weapon to cling to power. He is just warming the seat and buying time for the TPLF until they can come back stronger, meaner and leaner. One person even used the word the phrase “TPLF comprador” (agent of exploitation) to describe him, a word I had not heard in decades. They say he is a silver-tongued imposter.
When I ask for the evidence to support these assertions, none is forthcoming. I am told categorically, “You just don’t know how cunning and clever the woyanes are. They are evil.”
My views on the TPLF are well known, but with the positive and uplifting messages of PM Abiy and Obbo Lemma Megerssa, I have changed my mind even about the TPLF. We are all capable of good and evil. Dr. Martin Luther King rightly noted, “There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”
The “sins” of PM Abiy are all “guilt by association”. The fact that he served in a military and civilian capacity in the regime consigns him to eternal damnation for political service. That his cabinet includes current regime members is flagged as fatal sign of his doomed failure.
He is challenged with a moving goal post. He should lift the state of emergency, but if he does that would be nothing more than symbolic window dressing. When he talks about the next election to be free, fair and competitive, a cloud of distrust is cast upon him as a trick. When he speaks with eloquence about the future, he is accused of not walking the talk even as he is taking baby steps in the first few weeks of his adminstration.
He is put in a no-win predicament. He is damned if he does and damned if he does not.
But what is his individual culpability for any wrong doing? What has he done wrong in his official capacity in the regime?
Are there not many in the opposition today who have worked closely with the regime or benefitted significantly from their association? Should they be disqualified too? How many holier-than-thous are there prepared to throw the first stone at PM Abiy?
The fact of the matter is that “politics makes strange bedfellows”. Mandela had to work with deKlerk to usher in democracy in South Africa.
I realize that PM Abiy is not going to make everybody happy or meet everyone’s expectations. He is the accidental prime minister, in my view. He is just a young man — one of the best and brightest Ethiopia has produced — thrust into a historic role by historic forces. No doubt, he will fail and fall short on many things, like any other human being. Mandela said, “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. You may succeed in delaying, but never in preventing the transition of South Africa to a democracy.”
I believe PM Abiy will fall many times and rise every time and transition Ethiopia to a democracy.
But how should we deal with him?
With condemnation and criticism for every mistake he makes or understanding, compassion and instruction?
Do we hold him accountable to a standard of divine perfection?
Or do we give him all the chances he needs to succeed and triumph in our cause.
There is no question that PM Abiy has wide support, particularly among the younger generation which represents 75 percent of the population. His town hall meetings have been resounding successes.
PM Abiy and Lemma Megerssa have awakened and unleashed the deeply repressed sense of Ethiopiawinet that is in our DNA. PM Abiy and Lemma say we rise together or fall together. Our destinies are intertwined. No one will be left behind. That is all Ethiopiawinet is about!
In this “Memorandum”, I remind and plead with my fellow Hippos who are taking an increasingly negative attitude towards PM Abiy Ahmed to turn their cynicism, pessimism, defeatism and negativism into positive activism; to turn their alarmism and egocentrism into altruism and volunteerism; to turn their antagonism and jingoism into true patriotism; to turn their dogmatism, emotionalism and subjectivism into intellectualism, progressivism and rationalism and to turn their factionalism and ethnic federalism into Ethiopiawinet humanitarianism, idealism and pragmatism.
The task at hand is how to move Ethiopia forward and stay ahead of the curve. We need to move in one direction for a common purpose, walk on the road to freedom, democracy and human rights.
Just so I am not misunderstood. I do not think PM Abiy is the “savior” of Ethiopia or some messianic figure. He is just a young man. Many of us have sons his age. Like any young person he has a lot to learn. I dare say that there are many of us in our golden years who have a whole lot to learn, especially about truth and reconciliation.
The obvious point is that we do not live in a perfect world. That is why we should engage in creative thinking, not carping criticism, and come up with innovative solutions.
With PM Abiy, Ethiopia is moving in the right direction and is on the right track as the preliminary evidence shows. We should line up behind PM Abiy and keep on pushing to make sure Ethiopia remains on the right track and moves even faster. I see PM Abiy as a good- hearted, well-intentioned and passionate young leader with a demonstrated ability to mobilize Ethiopia’s youth and get the country moving forward with peace, unity and reconciliation.
To my superannuated (old) brother and sister Hippos, I want to tell them the freedom train has left the station but they can still catch up at the next station if they wish.
In my youth, there was a song I liked very much. It was called “elem ale baburu, wetat yizo bemulu, (“the express train has left the station filled with young people)”.
All Hippos aboard! Choo, choo… Abiy Ahmed is at the controls!
Before I get to my main topic, I would like to comment on a couple of newsworthy items from last week.
The healing power of “I am sorry…”: A teachable moment for the young PM and us
My respect for PM Abiy increased exponentially when I learned that he had apologizedfor being misunderstood for a remark he had made in response to a question which had caused considerable dismay among some Ethiopians.
Last week, social media was abuzz with allegations that that the PM showed great disrespect by describing the long contentious issue of Wolkait as a simple problem of “development” involving the building of infrastructure and services.
In an amazing and unprecedented break with (a bad) tradition of Ethiopian leaders, PM Abiy came out and not only apologized but also explained the context of his answers. He subsequently met with the leadership of the Welkait Amhara Identity Committee and dozens of community leaders who gave him an earful. He was humbled by the outpouring of deep passions about the issue and learned much from the experience.
In a poignant moment at the town hall meeting, PM Abiy said he was told not to go to Gonder because the people there were so disappointed in him for what he said about Wolkait. But he decided to go to Gonder because he believed that if he had made a mistake the people of Gonder would give him a little qunticha (the mild equivalent of being taken to the woodshed) and teach him. In other words, what he meant was that he is young and can make mistakes or be misunderstood. But he is the son of the people of Gonder. If he has done or said something wrong, they will treat him like their own and straighten him out.
Such humility from a national leader of any country is unheard of. A leader who humbly accepts responsibility for his actions needs high commendation not condemnation. That is why I say we should give PM Abiy constructive and positive criticism. He will accept it, learn from it and grow through the experience to become a more dynamic and effective leader.
I know of no situation in which an Ethiopian leader ever apologized for official acts and agreed to work with those aggrieved to resolve problems.
I knew PM Abiy was a rare bird, a special guy, when I heard him apologize in his inaugural speech for the numerous deaths and injuries inflicted on civilian peaceful protesters by security forces. That meant a lot to me because extrajudicial killings of innocent Ethiopians were the reasons that impelled me to join the human rights struggle in the first place.
A leader who has the courage and integrity to apologize is a humble leader; a leader who is open-minded and open-hearted and a leader who has self-confidence. Such a leader affirms to us power is to be used only in the service of the people. He tells us, “I am human and make mistakes like everybody else. There is nothing special about me except that I have the blessing (burden) of being the people’s servant.”
PM Abiy is teaching by example about the healing value of atonement and reconciliation with the people.
In my June 2010 commentary, I wrote about the power of atonement to reconnect leaders with the people. Those in power and in the opposition must learn to say to the Ethiopian people, “We messed up. We are sorry. We will learn from our mistakes and never repeat it.” Unfortunately, many of us do something wrong and fall into the trap of insisting wrong is right.
The power to apologize is the power to ask forgiveness and to forgive. A sincere apology is magical. It dissolves anger and hate. It promotes love, understanding and reconciliation.
Gandhi said, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
I would add, “The weak can never apologize. Apology is the attribute of the strong.”
PM Abiy taught me a great lesson because, in as much as I hate to admit it, I have a big apology deficit myself. But I am working on it.
It’s never too old to learn from the younger generation. I am just speaking truth to myself!
I salute PM Abiy for his good nature, graciousness, humility and empathy for those who felt wounded by his words. Words have the power to heal and to destroy. PM Abiy used his heartfelt words to heal many people whose hearts were broken by words he said that were misunderstood out of context.
Trying to make Ethiopian hero Eskinder Nega a wedge issue?
The Good Book says, “For they cannot rest until they do evil; they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble.” In other words, evil never sleeps.
A couple of days ago, it was reported that Ethiopian patriot and hero and internationally celebrated journalist Eskinder Nega was prevented from flying to the Netherlands to attend the Golden Jubilee celebrations of Amnesty International. “His passport was confiscated at immigration check in Bole Airport and informed of his [travel] ban.”
As they confiscated his passport, Eskinder told the immigration officials to check with higher authorities because he did not want unnecessary criticism to be directed at PM Abiy’s administration. He was told the order to take away his passport came from the “highest authorities”. Fortunately, within hours, it was reported he is free to go.
Eskinder was released from prison in February 2018 and re-arrested with other recently-released political prisoners late last month for displaying the traditional Ethiopian flag at an event in a private home.
When I first heard the news that the “highest authorities” had ordered his travel ban, the obvious question that came to mind was, “Why would PM Abiy prevent Eskinder from leaving the country to attend a human rights celebration event?” After all, he released him from jail barely two weeks ago.
A fleeting thought crossed my mind. Will Ethiopia once again be the “skunk of the world” by preventing Eskinder from leaving to be a guest of honor at Amnesty International’s Golden Jubilee?
PM Abiy has no quarrel with Eskinder Nega. PM Abiy’s predecessor said Eskinder and so many others were indeed “political prisoners”.
Of course, it did not take me long to figure it out.
I knew exactly what game was being played and by whom. I have seen it played previously.
In May 2016, “they” pulled the same trick on the Zone 9 bloggers.
They took the passports of Zelalem Kibret and 5 other members of Zone 9 Bloggers at the airport. Zelalem was expected to attend Obama’s “Young African Leaders Initiative” in June 2016.
At the time, the Minister of Communication Getachew Redda explained, “the action could have been taken by “judges and immigration officials (who) could zealously overstep their bounds. They could even make mistakes that would take months or years to correct.”
Is that what happened with Eskinder? An action by a judge or zealous immigration official?
We know that game. A few reactionary individuals in power who despise Eskinder and seek to embarrass PM Abiy had their own hidden agenda.
With the simple act of denying exit to Eskinder, they intended to:
embarrass and undermine the legitimacy and prestige of PM Abiy.
drive a wedge between PM Abiy and Diaspora Ethiopians.
humiliate the great Eskinder Nega in his moment of glory.
send a message that “they” are still in power and can do whatever they want.
provoke and distract Diaspora Ethiopians into recriminations.
take us back to the Dark Side.
But we won’t go the Dark Side because the Force is with us!
Ethiopians at home and in the Diaspora are not playing that old, tired game.
For years, I have warned and written about the teachable moments about the games played by those in power in Ethiopia on the Ethiopian Diaspora just to get them to react reflexively, emotionally and angrily. Back in the day, they played us like a cheap country fiddle. They would intentionally say something outrageous to create a distraction and the Ethiopian Diaspora would be bent out of shape reacting to them until they change the subject and start the whole thing again.
Now, they should know that the jig is up. Game over.
We’re moving on to rebuild the new Ethiopia with love, truth and reconciliation.
I have a simple message for them.
KNOW YE WHO DO SUCH EVIL THAT YOUR TIME HAS PASSED. THE ERA OF DARKNESS IS GONE AND THE AGE OF CIVILITY, UNDERSTANDING AND RECONCILIATION IS HERE. YOUR GAME WILL ULTIMATELY PROVE TO BE CLAPPING WITH ONE HAND IN THE WILDERNESS. YOU CAN SPEND SLEEPLESS NIGHTS MANUFACTURING TRICKS TO CREATE CONFLICT AND STRIFE BETWEEN PEOPLE. BUT WE HAVE MOVED ON. WE ARE INOCULATED AGAINST YOUR VIRUS BY A MEDICINE CALLED ETHIOPIAWINET. TRY AS YOU LIKE, YOU WILL NOT SUCCEED IN DIVIDING AND RULING US. NEVER AGAIN!
Speaking about my brother Eskinder and…
In his inaugural speech, PM Abiy said, “Ethiopians living abroad and Ethiopians living here, we need to forgive each other from the bottom of our hearts.” He said he would welcome us all “with open arms” to bring their knowledge, resources and experiences and help develop the country.
I appreciate his welcoming statements wholeheartedly.
My dream is that before PM Abiy embraces with open arms any Diaspora Ethiopians, I would like to see him embrace Ethiopia’s heroic native sons and daughters who stayed behind and fought the good fight, did the time even though they did not do the crime and tell them to their faces:
“Ethiopians living here in Ethiopia, we need to forgive each other from the bottom of our hearts.”
I would love to be a fly on the wall watching the faces of Eskinder Nega, Andualem Aragie, Prof. Bekele Gerba, Woubshe Taye, Prof. Merara Gudina, Abebe Qesto, Olbana Lelisa, Emawayish Alemu, Zelalem Workagegnehu, Mahlet Fantahun, Zone 9 bloggers, Ahmedin Jebel, Nigist Yirga, Emawayish Alemu, Abubakar Ahmed, Okello Akway Ochalla, Col. Demeke Zewdu, Dr. Fikru Maru, Natnael Mekonnen, Mamushet Amare… as they hear the words, “Ethiopians living here in Ethiopia, we need to forgive each other from the bottom of our hearts.”
What a precious moment that would be!
My readers know my respect and admiration for all the young people who stayed home and fought the good fight. A month before the Nazi blitzkrieg of Britain, Winston Churchill praised the outgunned British pilots: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
Never in the history of the struggle for human rights in Ethiopia was so much owed by so many to so few.
Reconciling with these heroes who suffered so much for simply standing for democracy, freedom and human rights is the ultimate test of the earnest beginning of truth and reconciliation in Ethiopia.
I do not doubt it will happen. Just a matter of time.
Speaking truth to good leaders who listen
I pride myself in speaking truth to power. That slogan adorns my website. “Defend human rights. Speak truth to power.”
When I first started preaching on Ethiopian human rights back in April 2006, I borrowed Gandhi’s words to make my motto: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
For the past 13 years, I have been speaking and preaching truth to power who have turned a deaf ear, blind eyes and laughing at me.
Of course, my weekly “sermons” in truth to power were personal acts of civil disobedience in the classic Gandhian sense.
Gandhi taught about a “truth force” which confronts tyranny through nonviolence, passive civil resistance, noncooperation with oppressors and mass protest the State. Gandhi’s “truth force” seeks to convince oppressors that the hate in their hearts and minds will destroy them and their only salvation is love of self, community and nation.
I guess I could say I have been speaking truth to power in Ethiopia from the beginning quietly. But I held my peace until 2006.
In a June 10, 1991 op-ed piece in Ethiopian Review, the premier monthly magazine on Ethiopia at the time, I offered an analysis of the end of the Derg era and concluded with a prophetic observation that all sides should not miss the opportunity to open a new chapter of peace and prosperity in Ethiopia or they will risk plunging that desperate nation into misery through wrong choices and miscalculations.
In my July 1, 1991 op-ed piece, I analyzed the challenges the “EPRDF” faced after seizing power and urged inclusiveness, authenticity and unity. I warned that without genuine democracy the choice will be hello to arms and a farewell to Ethiopia.
Those words have proved to be prophetic and came alive in April 2018 in the words of the amazing “speaker of truth to power” Aba Geda Beyene Senbeto who declared publicly the unvarnished truth:
LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING. LATELY THERE WAS THIS THING ABOUT SELECTING THE PRIME MINISTER. THE TRANSITION TO THE PRIME MINISTER HAD NOT HAPPENED, LET ME SPEAK THE TRUTH, LET THE WHOLE COUNTRY HEAR IT, THIS COUNTRY WOULD HAVE BEEN IN A WHOLE LOT OF HURT. GOD IS MY WITNESS. EVERYBODY WAS READY WITH THEIR SHARP KNIVES. THEY WERE ALL SAYING, ‘WE’LL SEE WHAT WILL HAPPEN?’ BUT GOD PROTECTS ETHIOPIA. AND THE GOVERNMENT BODIES DID THE RIGHT THING AND WERE SAVED FROM DEEP ANXIETY [ABOUT OMINOUS THINGS]. IF THAT HAD NOT HAPPENED, YOU THINK A THOUSAND COMMAND POST SOLDIERS CAN SUPPRESS ONE HUNDRED MILLION PEOPLE? NO, THEY CAN’T…
Aba Geda Beyene is right. God protects Ethiopia. We dodge the bullet and the knife this time.
Some 8 years ago, I wrote a series in the Huffington Post under the title “Speaking Truth to…”.
In the series, I spoke truth to strangers (international donors and loaners), the truth seekers (Ethiopian intellectuals) and on behalf of Ethiopia’s youth and Ethiopian women. I even spoke truth to those who talk trash. I have also spoken truth to the powerless.
Let’s challenge PM Abiy: Let’s Give him the Ethiopian Diaspora Agenda(s)
In his inaugural speech PM Abiy said, “For those of you who want to bring your knowledge and experiences and return to our country and develop your country, we will welcome you with open arms.”
In November 2017, Lemma Megerssa similarly urged, “To be educated and to be in service of country does not mean just to produce academic research papers. It also means to save your country, to contribute by finding ways of saving our country, coming up with creative ideas, to spread such ideas around. That is something expected more from our intellectuals than anyone else. That is what I think.”
Both PM Abiy and Lemma are challenging us.
I take their message personally. They are saying to me, “Put up or shut up!”
That’s is why I quickly accepted the challenge in November and now. I am going to put up.
My Diaspora agenda which I hope others share
The Ethiopian Diaspora is not monolithic. It does not march to the beat of a single drummer. It is richly diverse. I hope a diverse agenda reflecting the range of concerns and interest will be presented to PM Abiy.
My agenda of youth issues and human rights is well-known as I preach it every week.
I have long believed the problem of 21st century Ethiopia is quintessentially the problem of Ethiopia’s youth. I have written about it extensively with extreme concern. I have also argued and advocated improvements in human rights in Ethiopia.
I am sure there are many in the Diaspora who share my concerns about the youth and human rights. So, I say, let us draft at least one version of the “Ethiopian Diaspora Youth and Human Rights Agenda” and send it to PM Abiy.
The situation with our youth is frightening.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in about three decades Ethiopia’s population will more than triple to 278 million, placing it in the top 10 most populous countries in the world.
Ethiopia’s population growth has been spiraling upwards for decades. In 1967, the population was 23.5 million. It increased to 51 million in 1990; and by 2003, it had reached 68 million. In 2008, that number increased to 80 million. In 2013, Ethiopia’s population was estimated to be over 94 million. Today, an estimated 70 percent of Ethiopia’s population is under 35 years old (66 million). Since 1995, the average annual rate of population growth has remained at over 3 percent.
As of 2014, “45 percent of the Ethiopian population is under age 15 and 71 percent under age 30.” In 2018, it is not unreasonable to estimate that cohort in the population exceeds 75 percent.
Various studies have documented the plight of Ethiopian youth. According to a 2012 USAID study, “Ethiopia has one of the highest urban youth unemployment rates at 50 percent and there is a high rate of youth underemployment in rural areas, where nearly 85 percent of the population resides.” Another 2012 study of youth unemployment by the International Growth Center reported that the Growth and Transformation Plan for 2010-2015 does not directly address the issue of youth unemployment…”
In 2012, Ethiopia had the world’s third-largest out-of-school population.
There is a substantial segment of the Ethiopian youth population that is not only unemployed but also unemployable because they lack basic skills. Youth access to public sector jobs requiring training and skills depends not so much on merit or competition but political and social connections and party membership. Every young person in Ethiopia knows that a card verifying membership in the ruling party is more important than an honestly earned university diploma. Moreover, rural youth landlessness has contributed significantly to the chaotic and ever-increasing pattern of youth urban migration, joblessness and hopelessness.
In October 2017, President Mulatu Teshome said, there has been an “investment of US$400 million in a revolving fund to be made available to budding young entrepreneurs and is building industrial parks to employ the hundreds of thousands of fresh graduates annually and other “assistance given to the private sector to help ease youth employment.”
Manifestly, the investment has not paid off because the youth rose up in resolute civil disobedience and we are where we are now.
In 2004, the ruling regime in Ethiopia issued its “National Youth Policy” and asserted that “44% of the population is below the absolute poverty line. Under this situation of poverty, the youth is the hardest hit segment of society”. Indeed, that policy proved to be a blueprint for the recruitment of youth to become supporters of the regime and the ruling party.
Beginning in 2006, I have tried to organize Ethiopian lawyers and set up a legal defense fund, without much success.
In 2011, I called for and volunteered to help in the establishment of an informal public policy “think tank”.
I have made numerous public requests for such an effort over the years to no avail. I have even offered the idea to established “opposition” groups who turned deaf ears.
I have attempted a variety of collaborative efforts, but I have found no serious takers. It would take too long to list the reasons why my efforts have failed. Suffice it to say that making a long-term commitment and making the human rights struggle as part of one’s personal life may not be the right choice for everyone.
There are many things that can be done to improve human rights in Ethiopia. Developing a comprehensive Diaspora human rights agenda should not pose any extraordinary challenges.
What should be the rules of engagement with PM Abiy moving forward?
How should Diaspora Ethiopians deal with PM Abiy going forward? How should he deal with us?
I wrote about certain “rules of engagement” in June 2010, which I believe are relevant in the present circumstances.
I believe we can develop and sustain a productive and respectful relationship if we agree on a few basic rules of engagement:
Let us learn to use evidence-based thinking and unlearn speculation-based thinking
In my observations, many people who raise concerns and hold a negative attitude towards PM Abiy tend to rely on speculation-based thinking. They criticize without much evidence. They make inferences on factoids (unfounded assumption and speculations that are repeated so often they become accepted as fact) instead of a body of evidence and systematic research. They seem unwilling to reexamine their assumptions and avoid seeking out new information that contradicts their biases. They tend to like formulaic thinking and have a mindset in which they believe there is one way of doing things.
As the old saying goes, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”
We should base our views and opinions on facts gathered from diverse sources and critically evaluate them. We should be aware of our biases. We should be willing to maintain an open mind and be willing to receive information inconsistent with our long-held views and assumptions.
Let us be the change we want to see in the world
The old saying is that when we point an index finger at someone, three fingers are pointing at us. But change begins with the person. George Bernard Shaw said, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
Many of us want to change the world but not ourselves. Sadly, we are often not aware of the manifest contradiction.
We must change the way we think before we can change the world.
Gandhi taught, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” But that change comes from the mind and the heart. He said, “Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.”
I don’t aim to preach or pretend to be a motivational speaker. But it is the obvious that most of us forget.
Learn from past mistakes: In my view learning from mistakes is the second part of the problem. The first part is simply recognizing we have made mistakes. Those in power in Ethiopia and their opposition have a problem acknowledging mistakes. I am not sure why is difficult for many of us to admit mistakes. But making mistakes necessitates apologizing, a topic I have addressed above extensively.
Let us develop Diaspora agendas in support of issues and causes special to us: In my view, the core issues democracy, freedom, human rights, the rule of law and the unity of the people and the physical integrity of the Ethiopian nation. We should be able to build collective agenda to advance and support these issues.
Let us agree to disagree without being disagreeable: PM Abiy will never be able to make everyone happy at all times. He will make mistakes. He may disagree with Diasporans on some things. But we must abandon the destructive principle, “If you do not agree with me 100 percent, you are my enemy.” There is nothing wrong with reasonable minds disagreeing. Dissent and disagreement are essential conditions of democracy.
Let us always act in good faith: Those in power and opposition leaders must always strive to act in good faith and be forthright and direct in their personal and organizational relationships. We must mean what we say and say what we mean. That is how PM Abiy does his business. Games of one-upmanship will keep us all stranded on an island of irrelevance. Let us not assume bad faith without proof. Let us “Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.”
Let us think generationally; act presently: The struggle is not about who is in power. The struggle is about establishing democracy, protecting human rights and institutionalizing accountability and the rule of law in Ethiopia. It is not about us. It is about the younger generation and future generations to come.
Let us give young people a chance to lead: We Hippos (over 55) in power and out of power need to learn to get out of the way. Let’s give the younger generation a chance to lead. After all, it is their future. We can be most useful if we help them learn from our mistakes and guide them to greater heights. If there is one thing universally true about young people, it is that they love freedom more than anything else. Let Hippos be water carriers for Cheetahs.
Let us think like winners, not victims: Victory is not what it seems for the victors, and defeat is not what it feels for the vanquished. There is defeat in victory and victory in defeat. Both victory and defeat are first and foremost states of mind. Winners think and act as winners, likewise for losers. Let us not indulge in victimology, self pity and useless griping.
Let us never give up: Sir Winston Churchill was right when he said: “Never give in—never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
Dreams of an Ethiopia at peace with itself
I am inspired by dreams. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream of an America at peace with itself and the world. Nelson Mandela said, “I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself.” I, too, have a dream of an Ethiopia at peace.
Let us all move forward with Positive Vibration
We have a new day. We have a new day to rebuild and reinvent Ethiopia. Let us hold hands and sing the great Bob Marley’s song, “Positive vibration. Make way for a positive day”.
LIVE IF YOU WANT TO LIVE
(RASTAMAN VIBRATION, YEAH, POSITIVE)
THAT’S WHAT WE GOT TO GIVE
(I’N’I VIBRATION YEAH, POSITIVE)
GOT TO HAVE A GOOD VIBE
(IYAMAN IRATION, YEAH, IRIE ITES)
(POSITIVE VIBRATION, YEAH, POSITIVE)
IF YOU GET DOWN AND YOU QUARREL EVERYDAY
YOU’RE SAYING PRAYERS TO THE DEVILS, I SAY, WOOH
WHY NOT HELP ONE ANOTHER ON THE WAY?
MAKE IT MUCH EASIER (JUST A LITTLE BIT EASIER)
SAY YOU JUST CAN’T LIVE THAT NEGATIVE WAY
IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN
MAKE WAY FOR THE POSITIVE DAY
‘CAUSE IT’S NEWS (NEW DAY) NEWS AND DAYS
NEW TIME (NEW TIME), AND IF IT’S A NEW FEELIN’ (NEW FEELIN’), YEAH
SAID IT’S A NEW SIGN (NEW SIGN)
OH, WHAT A NEW DAY
ARE YOU PICKIN’ UP NOW?
JAH LOVE, JAH LOVE (PROTECT US)
JAH LOVE, JAH LOVE (PROTECT US)
Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam teaches political science at California State University, San Bernardino. His teaching areas include American constitutional law, civil rights law, judicial process, American and California state governments, and African politics. He has published two volumes on American constitutional law, including American Constitutional Law: Structures and Process (1994) and American Constitutional Law: Civil Liberties and Civil Rights (1998). He is the Senior Editor of the International Journal of Ethiopian Studies, a leading scholarly journal on Ethiopia. For the last several years, Prof. Mariam has written weekly web commentaries on Ethiopian human rights and African issues that are widely read online. He blogged on the Huffington post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alemayehu-g-mariam/ and later on open.salon until that blogsite shut down in March 2015.