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Stand on the side line and we all go under (By Kebour Ghenna)

By Kebour Ghenna
April 15,2019

Today, we turn our attention to those people that sit silently in protest as others speak out. I mean the so called ‘Silent Majority’.

These people don’t express their opinions publicly. They do not join in any demonstrations against anything, nor belong to any movement, political party, or any counterculture. They don’t participate in public debates, don’t engage with each other to decide collectively upon their future. This group is overwhelmed and eclipsed by every vocal minority. Many are discontent, but they never speak up or defend publicly the vocal minority who defend their rights and liberty. As they say ‘when the silent majority opens its mouth, it’s usually to yawn!’

The silent majority is alive and well in Ethiopia. Its members are ordinary people but overwhelmingly those with wealth and education. We don’t know about you, but just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you. If you (the silent majority) don’t urgently reconsider your ‘laissez faire’ attitude, a systemic crisis awaits us all.

In the past couple of years, two distinct policies have struggled for primacy in the debate over the country’s political future: Oromo separatism striving for an independent state, and TPLF’s federal centralism striving to preserve the common Ethiopian state under its dominion. Recent political developments suggest the Oromo movement heading towards Oromo dominated federalism and TPLF nationalism swinging between separatist and oppositional politics.

Too complicated! Welcome to Ethiopian politics.

So where does that leave us? Can we really afford to ignore our duty and not take an active part in the rebuilding of the nation? Remember, he who controls government in 2020 has control for years.

I don’t mean to sound arrogant but right off the bat I say Ethiopia’s silent majority today is defined by the broad consensus that has emerged in the country around the building of a multi ethnic nation. This consensus needs to be clearly stated. At present, it’s obscured by the oft-repeated idea that the nation is deeply polarized, as if Ethiopians are torn between support for a union of nine or more republics on one side, and secession seekers on the other. They aren’t. On the political battlefield, secessionists have been routed….at least for now. I submit we are in a period of profound transition – to what?… we do not know!

Yet, the root of Ethiopia’s current crisis is economic. The big exporters all report slowing sales. And the logistic companies too, say there is less traffic on the ports used by Ethiopia. Economic slowdown is not the end of the world. It’s a challenge! It creates opportunities if Ethiopia enables the private sector to drive economic growth, toughens security, combats corruption, further decentralizes power from the center outward, , and guarantees human rights. All of these may not fix the problems, but at least they will set the stage for a thriving economy. A topic we will explore next.

As I pointed out earlier, the silent majority needs to wake up and seize the moment in setting the political agenda. It needs to define what it really wants and realize that the current crisis can take the country through a downward spiral of collapsing expectations: from it being unthinkable that the union of regional states would break up, to it seeming inevitable that it would; from living an everyday working life to seeing your standard of living and the whole economy collapse beyond repair; from moving normally around your town, to fearing for your safety on the streets, based on what others read as your ethnicity. In a nutshell the silent majority have to step up ASAP and support financially or engage with all progressive forces that work to maintain Ethiopia from breaking up! Starting with postponement of the 2020 election!

Indeed, my guess is the silent majority would overwhelmingly support postponing the 2020 election if AA proposes the idea. The context of this scenario is that the election would be bad for Ethiopia and bad for democracy not only because all the institutions of democracy are still visibly frail but also because the country faces existential crisis. Furthermore political parties – still the key players in our political space – are in disarray – including the ruling party, which made itself dysfunctional, should pull itself together even more firmly. If all these cannot be addressed within the normal political process, AA has a strong legal argument to mobilize partisan support in parliament to invoke national emergency and make sure proper elections are taking place. He can then call a national conference of the regional governments to sort out the relative position of the federal and regional governments, agree on the items requiring constitutional changes, proceed with the dismantling of regional militia forces, decide on what should be the country’s shared priorities and the agenda for further negotiations.

Should AA and the ruling party fail to consider such a scheme, it will mean that we don’t want to learn from history… that we greatly overerestimated the man in Menilik Gibi… and, in short, that we don’t know shi!t about government.

Yes dear reader, there is indeed an emergency. And emergency powers are just that – for emergencies, and I believe if used in good faith the national emergency can address the genuine tribulations Ethiopia currently faces.

Get involved! Get organized!! Let’s make a future together.

Editor’s Note : This article appeared first on Kebour Ghenna’s Facebook page

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  1. Subject: “Stand on the side line and we all go under” By Kebour Ghenna, April 15,2019

    Sad Commentary with request for forgiveness, 15 April 2019

    Here I go: Needless to say, it is an interesting article by Kebour because it addresses a subject matter that is as old as humanity itself i.e. about the ” ‘Silent Majority’.” of Society. It is Universal, though the characteristic intensity varies from one society to another. Take our beloved Africa. Our “Silent majority”, [please include me therein] for all practical purposes, is almost the entire population of the “Dark” [not my terminology] Continent. One or two are the guiding force and the population will simply follow — for all practical purposes. And if a daring dictator challenges the first dictator, the docile “Silent Majority” will follow the wind and act accordingly. It goes on, and on, and on , and on, ……….. for unspecified period of time and the hope of changing it is, for all practical purposes, ZERO. [ It reminds me of the Ethiopian song entitled “anchim zero; eniem zero” some thing like that.

    What happened to the Educated Elites who read and memorized world history to get their doctor of philosophy paper degrees? Good question but, I am afraid, the answer is disheartening and will keep on being so for undetermined time period. Why? Nobody knows. It may be in our Genes. Nobody knows. And I wouldn’t dare accusing the All Mighty Benevolent God as the Holy DISCRIMINATOR. We only know for sure that we EXIST [not LIVING] and die. THE END

    By Kebour Ghenna
    April 15,2019

    Today, we turn our attention to those people that sit silently in protest as others speak out. I mean the so called ‘Silent Majority’.

  2. Standing for one’s cause and declaring it publicly would have been rewarding, had it not been for the uninformed (ill-informed) majority which could tear you apart at the first opportunity because of your ethnicity. When our elites are drunk with the self-destructive ethnic politics (racism) where can you stand and air your opinion? Before the silent majority tries to speak out, ethnic politics should die or get prohibited legally first. Unless such a time comes, the silent majority would be more silent!! May the Creator save this impoverished, illiterate, backward country!!

  3. The silent majority = everyone complaining online (only online) about the evils of ethnic politics.

    If these people get organized somehow and had started a fight for power, the country would definitely go in the right direction. Unfortunately they are mostly living a cozy life with better income like the writer mentioned.

  4. The danger, at least in the case of PM, Dr. Abiye is followership, not leadership. If and when an error is committed we interpret it as an intentional act of malice and deception, when we see a molehill we view it as a mountain, and when we look at a glass half full, and say it is half-empty, instead of half-full, then we failed to be humans, as we’ve lost our sense of reason,patience and wisdom.

    We’ve to learn to follow a leader, especially with a distinct quality like Dr.Abiye. All the chatter, gossip, misinterpretation, undue attention to chatters and acts of ignorance will lead us nowhere but destruction. By our participation in these forms of conduct…we are sabotaging the very effort designed to propel us forward and become proud Ethiopians. And then, like what happened in the 80’s, we will be starving and become a burden on others and prompt actions like, ‘ We’re the world…’. BE CAREFUL.


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