Tragedy Struck Ethiopia, Again: Collective Intelligence versus Collective Stupidity

Ethiopia _ Girma Birhanu
Girma Birhanu

Girma Birhanu
July 13, 2020


Ethiopia is in a dangerous crossroad. Slow moving atrocities massacre and pogrom have become all too common. The overall situation is critical. The country has newly been engulfed by tragic bloodshed. The Washington Post just reported (July 8 at 5:51 AM) that at least 239 people have been killed and 3,500 arrested in more than a week of unrest in Ethiopia that poses the biggest challenge yet to its Nobel Peace Prize-winning prime minister. The 3,500 arrests have included that of a well-known Oromo activist, Jawar Mohammed, and more than 30 supporters. It is not clear what charges they might face. Local reports have said that in some places ethnic Oromo have attacked ethnic Amhara, and in Shashamane town some people were going home to home checking identity cards and targeting Amhara residents. The death toll from demonstrations and targeted attacks on non-Oromo persons living in Oromia region following the murder of a popular singer from the Oromo ethnic group is estimated in several hundreds.

A disheartened friend of mine just wrote to me:

“I’m puzzled and perplexed by what is happening at home in Ethiopia. The Oromo youth is simply pilling down the onion of Oromo civility. Pumped with empty bravado and false pretext history for decades since the days of the Derg regime, the youth has turned out to be wild, partial, ethnocentric, and without any humane empathy in them. To this youth Ethiopia is synonymous to Amhara. Even some close friends have cut connections with me because of my stand on united Ethiopia. I’m not sure how to cure and rekindle sense of unity in the minds of this furious and fiery Oromo youth.”

I am dismayed! “Simmering ethnic tensions in the country of more than 100 million people have posed a major challenge to Abiy Ahmed, whose efforts to loosen the straps of iron-fisted rule and opening-up the democratic space have led to increased jockeying for power and influence”[1].

“A genocide begins with the killing of one man – not for what he has done, but because of who he is. A campaign of ‘ethnic cleansing’ begins with one neighbor turning on another. Poverty begins when even one child is denied his or her fundamental right to education. What begins with the failure to uphold the dignity of one life, all too often ends with a calamity for entire nations…“~ Kofi Annan. If we understand that genocide begins with the killing of one man, we are in a position not only to understand the true nature of genocide but also to act against it. This is the difference between “information” and “knowledge” or “understanding” which Holocaust survivors talked about. You and I both know that the Holocaust involved the murder of six million individuals, or that the Rwandan genocide claimed some eight hundred thousand…

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