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HomeOpinionEthiopia: What is this election for? (By Kebour Ghenna)

Ethiopia: What is this election for? (By Kebour Ghenna)

Kebour Ghenna Desta _Ethiopia _ Land reforms
Kebour Ghenna Desta Source: Social Media

By Kebour Ghenna
October 6, 2019

Yes, what is this election for if it does not answer the relevant and serious political, societal and economic questions of Ethiopia, or help us pursue common interests and aspirations, or make the country easier to govern… What good is it? For people to vote but nothing is really resolved or reconciled

What the 2020 voting will do is nation-deconstruction, not nation-building, national disunity, not national unity, disintegration, not integration. In these conditions, whatever democracy we claim to exercise devolves into a zero-sum competition, one in which the ugliest us-versus-them instincts takes precedence. Ethiopians today view their fellow neighbors not as fellow Ethiopians, but as enemies to be vanquished. The simple truth is that Ethiopia is losing its sense of mission or purpose as a country.

The upcoming election would be different, radically, clearly and manifestly from those of years past. For a start it will be the most consequential in our lifetimes; survival of the country, as we know it today, may depend on it. And yet our discourses are just limited to speculating whether ELECTIONS WILL TAKE PLACE OR NOT! Surely there’s a big storm out there somewhere…No?

The government is creating the illusion that everything will be sorted out with this election and that individuals must give their total support for its success. Yet what kind of success is the government referring to, if any, is not clear.

This is the first time, in our history, that we’ll vote mostly along ethnic divide…. We’ll choose between an ethnic identity and multiculturalism. I take no joy in this assertion. This is not an election about issues, not about innovation and productivity, not about fighting violence, famines, disease, misery, depression, inflation, living in peace, traffic, price of onions…This is not about Egypt, debt, climate change, privatization, or rural financing. This is about ourselves, about our willingness and readiness to live together. Can we… do we… want to live together. WHAT DO WE WANT?

This will be an election where our chronic lack of shared vision as a country will be clearly manifested. Without a shared vision, the tendency is for citizens to devalue one another as they glorify themselves and their ethnic identity, believing that they are the best thing to have happened to their country. Such selfish greed hardly allows for time to think of Ethiopia in real terms as a collective treasure to be valued and protected by its inhabitant.

No surprise there!

The country’s constitution for the past 25 years or so served to accelerate this division, turning the people against one another. This was a constitution specifically designed to divide and split the hell out of us, and to a remarkable extent, it has succeeded in doing just that. Funny enough many still want to keep this constitution with all its faults than fight for another that keeps Ethiopia together.

This is an election devoid of ideas in dealing with the rise of ethnic hatreds. Prime Minister Abye knows it, his government has yet to define Ethiopia’s national purpose, reflect on whether centralism or decentralism will be the governing political strand of the country, develop a sound architecture of political institutions and rules, agree on the way decisions are made, including consensus with each regional state having a veto power on critical decisions.

We’re in an “Election -or-Die” trap. No politicians seem willing to consider postponing this election, until the country stabilizes.
And when you’re in an Election-or-Die trap, leaders will want to get out of it in the worst possible way. That is, they will choose the worst way forward – ignore the problem, more entertainment, and more feeble and divisive policies. The politics of strife and conflict and the struggle for power will be tactfully relegated to the regions, while the leaders (federal and regional), like master juggler, play quietly the regional or ethnic elites against one another.

So why insist in holding the election next year? Why not sort out the reasons and grievances that brought about the rise of ethnic politics first? Why not find a way to call this generation of Ethiopians to a constitutional convention to shape Ethiopia’s future and to prevent a national unity crisis. Such mega constitutional politics is not something new. The US, Canada, most East European countries, South Africa passed through such mega constitutional upheavals. Surely this requires leadership to set the direction, and I still believe Abye, together with the regional presidents and other leaders, is the one who’s well placed to conduct this reform.

Will such initiative help us build a united, forward looking, progressive Ethiopia?

You decide.

Editor’s note: this article appeared first on the personal facebook page of Kebour Ghenna.

Article by the same author: Privatizing Ethio-Telecom now should not be an urgent economic imperative

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  1. Dear Ato Kebour
    You are right the election will put in power the old EPRDF if we are lucky or establish conditions like Somalia. The poletical atmosphere in our country is just like the one I personally observed in Somalia just before the fall of seiad Barre

  2. Eerie!? As I read z article, I wondered ‘how did he read my mind?’. I am with you Gashe Kibour Ghenna… Thank you for voicing my inner most feeling.

  3. Thank you for the article, it does sum up the concerns that most of us have for Ethiopia.
    We need to have more dialog on understanding what it takes to build a nation. Collaboration and respect. No one will be a winner in this atmosphere of hatred in the name of TRIBALISM.
    The world has advanced and left behind ETHNIC identity long ago. I want to show gratitude to life for existence, I am not any tribe I am a human living being that wants to FOCUS my short life to leave behind goodness not division and hatred. No one will have long and sustained happiness based on what is happening today…

  4. What is said is true in all its essence, but if most believe in unity there is still a chance that ‘unity with equality and justice for all’ striving party might possibly win or alternatively the current rform driven government get vote of confidence threby gaining more support and legitimacy to enhance its reform agenda of unity in diversity and accelerated development in all walks of life of all sectors of Ethiopian society. May God guide us towards the right way!

  5. Subject: “Ethiopia: What is this election for? By Kebour Ghenna October 6, 2019”

    1. Preamble
    To: Editor, Dear Sir, If you find the following commentary to be too harsh for publication you are – needless to say – absolutely free to ignore it. I have a positive and respectful attitude towards And I am very grateful for the accommodation to provide me with a space to express my opinion on any subject matter. In that respect is unique than those who arbitrarily modify or reject Readers’ Contribution without consent!!! So, here I go with my commentary on the subject matter

    2. Commentary, 18 Oct. 201
    The Article by Mr.Kebour is excellent, penetrating, and catalysts to so many questions that WE AFRICANS should have raised a long, long, long time ago. Instead, we were immersed in memorizations and became slaves to getting passing numbers of fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty, ninety per cents and dreaming for one hundred. At the end, we are completely satisfied and proud of our passing grades, oblivious of the fact that we were actually tuned to be mimickers and memorizers of the things that was drilled into our heads by falsely named “education” system that was NEVER meant to EDUCATE AFRICANS, but to ENSLAVE AFRICANS!!! And THAT includes individuals who claimed to be representative of the Almighty God somewhere up – up – up there in Heaven.

    Go Back and analyze the curriculum of the so-called education system that an AFRICAN CHILD was immersed into. It would not be difficult to see the brain-washing system by which the AFRICAN CHILD was taught about alien history and NEVER about his/her own history and background. NEVER. The resultant phenomenon is obvious: The AFRICAN CHILD became a perfect mimicker with the UTMOST INFERIORITY COMPLEX inculcated in his/her brain that made him/her ashamed of himself/herself. The result is what we see TODAY – in every sector of endeavour, up to the top most dictatorial rulers with ‘Doctor of Philosophy Degrees’ and milking Africa to its bone. Example: the recently deceased African Leader, with his trunk of billions of Yankee Dollars — at the expense of the people, of course!!!
    Describing the situation in our beloved Africa is very depressing. Hence, In short, we are what we are TODAY as a result of being manipulated by colonial powers and their local enablers. The African CHILED wound-up being dedicated REPEATER – and failure as such. Indeed, a classical Tragedy.

    3. Election of Representative of People by the people
    The concept of election is NOT – needless to say — a new phenomenon to Africa. Africans used it in their own environment and needs for time immemorial. To repeat: It is NOT new to Africans. At the risk of repetition let me say this: selecting ONE or multiple of representative in Africa by Africans is NOT a new thing to Africa, in order to manage their own affairs in any endeavour. What is wrong in Africa is this: MIMICKING OTHERS without analysing the applicability and end result that was intended for their own affairs, business, etc AND MODIFIED AS NECESSRY without being blind ‘paparazzo’.

    Let us clarify one cardinal and basic issue. Africans are NOT against acquiring new knowledge in any endeavour to ameliorate their Life. And, we know, any society progressively improves with the knowledge acquired in its environment and beyond. What is NOT tolerable is the outright mimicking of ‘civilization’ without a trace of indigenous analysis [call it considerations] which leads to’ unconscious voluntary’ of way of Life that destroys the Life of the victim for the benefit of the hidden enemy – as the saying goes — ‘without a single shot’. This is what is happening in Africa. We have seen the occupation and consequential destruction of African identity and personality by European marauders . It is not a secrete. And what do we see TODAY? Of course, the Mighty Eastern Force in Technology and Population: CHINA, ready to engulf the entire Continent of Africa. Already there are Chinese schools in Africa, using Chinese language, of course. What do you think Africa would be in the next one hundred years? Your guess is as good as mine.

    4. Addressing the specific commentary of Mr. Kebour Ghenna
    The writer discusses and suggests invaluable steps for consideration. And I love his ending >>> QUOTE: “Will such initiative help us build a united, forward looking, progressive Ethiopia? You decide.” UNQUOTE
    PERFECT Ending, giving the opportunity to Ethiopia to prove its ability and worth to elevate itself to the level of its own choice. As the Ethiopian saying goes: “here is the horse; and here is the field” THE END


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