By Johannes Jo
Unless insanity, there is no possible way of understanding a change by cursing history and doing the same thing over and over again. I know, it is often easier said than done. But until we invent time travel, there’s no way we can regain whatever it was we’re reaching out for in the past. Dwelling in the past and forgetting the reality is the greatest mistake we can do. The brutal reality is that the past is no more, all we can do is to learn how to use the best out of it.
Though Ethiopia have abundance natural resource, beautiful climatic condition, and astonishing freedom history, it is still one of the least developing countries in the world. There could be lots of explanations and reasons, but for me the most important one is lack of education. The less we know the more we prefer to live in the past, the more we know the more we learn from the past and strive for the better future. I don’t want to sound like historian or a politician because I am not one. However, I believe there are certain things that are too obvious for any layman to observe. Lately I came across many shady articles about the late Ethiopian Emperor Menelik II and the Ethiopian nationalism history in general. What makes it even more annoying is that all the articles are written by the so called pseudo Ethiopian scholars. For Almighty God! What good comes by defaming your own history and undermining the values you have unless you are the leftover of fascist? What good is singing an old hate song by the time we need to sing a new forgiveness and love one?
For anyone who has a clear conscious; isn’t it really saddening to go hundred years back and curse the dead’s by the time there is much to be done to change our image? Isn’t it sickening to whine about the past while our brothers and sisters organs are harvested everywhere in the borders? Isn’t it heartbreaking to give deaf ears and blind eyes for our citizens who are being tortured, imprisoned,killed and displaced from their native lands? What degree of madness and hostility to butcher the remarkable history what our fathers kept us? Who will be benefited by vilifying and rewriting our own history? Is this the way how we repay our forefathers who sacrificed their lives for us to breathe the freedom air? Is it fair to demonize our patriot leaders by just only picking their shortcomings? What does it worth to point fingers on the past and blame others by the time we all need to do something else? “Is it necessary to focus on our differences and become fragmented and weak, fighting each other? Or, is it not better to try to accept our mutual differences and then build together a strong united economic and peaceful front that will benefit each and every Ethiopian whatever his/her background?”
Though no matter what haters write, freedom will remain being the mantra of all Ethiopians and Ethiopia will continue to be the symbol of hope. No matter how long you pick Menelik II shortcomings, he will stay being the gem of the entire black race and the symbol of victory who had the ability to bring all the people together and kept the sovereignty of Ethiopia. No matter how deep you butcher the sense of nationalism and play it out of context, you profoundly know it is the spirit of nationalism and unity that saved us from serving eggs to the Europeans. Despite the various approaches and interpretations,ethnicity remains a theoretical challenge and an empirical nuisance. It is often associated with conflict, instability and killings. Is not current Ethiopian nationalist and populist developmental regime based on ethnocentric? Aren’t we seeing each other as we are different though the fact says we are one? For those identity crisis hit you hard on the face and have already betrayed your nationality while are still holding your Ethiopian passport, I have nothing to say but just come to your senses.
Why is it so hard to glorify the great-deeds of our forefathers and put the negative aside? There is no harm in telling a story which brings hope, love and togetherness. But there is always a price tag in celebrating the hate. I always remember a remarkable speech made by the late PM Meles at Togo Lomi against the relocation of the African Union seat from Addis Ababa. Though Meles quoted Haile Selassie’s domestic policy limitation, he celebrated Haile Selassie’s role in training Mandela who is one of the most famous freedom fighter icon in the world. Yet Meles likewise indicated Mengistu’s brutality, he glorified how Mengistu reached out for Zimbabweans in the course of their freedom struggle against Rhodesia. Meles also underscored Ethiopia’s undeniable commitment for African independence irrespective of who ruled Ethiopia. This speech always remain the best top ten in my list. By just simply signifying a number of positive facts from the past, Meles was able to stop the relocation of the African Union seat. Had it not been to the former leaders legacy I wonder what Meles could have possibly said. Yeah, probably nothing! It is not also a rocket science to imagine what could have happened if Meles overstated their shortcomings. Hence, unlike the living zombies who are now celebrating and glorifying Meles’s shortcomings,let’s celebrate Meles’s and other leaders’ great-deeds, let’s celebrate love, unity, togetherness and all the positives but not the negatives.
I always think of a conversation I had with my father when I was a kid about drinking. I asked him one morning why he got drunk the other night. He looked at me with a faint smile and said; “I wish I could have asked my father the same thing. Rather I used to curse him for being a drunk a lot. Yet, here I am doing the same exact thing. It is a good habit to ask and understand before cursing and judging. I may be too late to figure why my father was drinking but I always wished I could have asked him before cursing him. There is no one good reason for being a drunkard, but cursing it will bring it fast to your doorsteps. Don’t ever curse anyone what so ever, you will never know how you end up in the curly way of their life. My son, only comedians curse their fathers and get away with it because they don’t mean it. Don’t ever curse any one if you mean it, if you do, you will end up doing the same thing. But it is always good to be wise and learn from everyone mistakes.” Yes my father is right, there is no good comes out of cursing. Derg cursed Haile Selassie and he inherited the wind. EPRDF is still cursing Mengistu, Haile Selassie and even Menelik II and they are also inheriting the wind. When do we stop this nonsense cursing of the past?
Mandela said “If they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” But keeping Mandela’s name close to our lips and the hate close to our heart don’t change anything. Hence if we really think our forefathers left us with hate, now is a good time for us to spread the love. If we certainly believe our fathers left us with broken heart, there won’t be any other better time like now for us to fill it with joy. If we are considering that our ancestors left us with nothing, now is a perfect time for us to shine and build something for the future. If we are convinced that we inherited a shameful history, for sure cursing the dead’s doesn’t make that go away, but it just makes us one part of the story. No leader can be as perfect as an angel, but he MUST NOT do others mistake all over again. If we really need perfection, we should go to heaven I guess. Let’s no be the unluckiest when we are the luckiest just because we are unable to cherish the value we have.
Our hope is not in the hands of haters but in the hands of GOD/Allah!
By Johannes Jo