By Wubalem / Tariku
Having frustrated [at least in the short-run] Woyane’s determined effort to undo Ethiopia, we seem to be in a legitimate celebratory mood now that the united forces are chasing them out of the areas they had invaded. But then, the question is: should we? Instead, would not our past experience caution us to be perpetually anxious, even in victory? And how do we define victory anyway, when gullible young Tigray Ethiopians are used either as cannon fodder or as hateful beasts by their evil demagogue leaders seeking a shortcut back to the lucrative power they lost?
It seems that our memory is short when it comes to bloody wars – maybe a default human psychological defense mechanism to repress appalling atrocities? How else would we explain the recurring wars, and when we contemplate, preoccupied with the prolonged celebration of our victories of the past, how we squandered all our heroic victories?
Think of the following monumental Victories of Ethiopia:
∙ The psychological victory of Tewodros’ heroism after the quick, scared evacuation of the British from Maqdala in the 1860s
∙ Post-Ras Alula’s victories over invading Italians and Egyptian incursions in the 1870s, 1880s
∙ The significant Victory of Adowa over the Italian Massive Invasion in 1896 ∙ The successful resistance and eventual defeat of Italy and liberation of Ethiopia in 1945
∙ The 1952 and 1978 victory over the Somali Invasion
∙ The recent victory against the Eritrean invasion of Badme in 2000
What is common to all of the above victories is that they were all followed by gloating, indulgence, and consequently, self-inflicted defeats!! We never succeeded to leverage our victories to strengthen ourselves or to learn from them and be better prepared for the next! After the defeat of Adowa, for example, Italy undertook a four-decade economic, military and diplomatic preparation and attacked us again in 1936, while we waited for them with our business-as-usual internal bickering and attrition. We failed to build strategically on our victorious national unity. Similarly, after we defeated Somalia in 1952 in its first aggrandizement effort, we allowed it to rebuild itself and attack us in 1978 (while we were undertaking “revolution”)!! The Egyptians never stopped working to undo Ethiopia since their Alula humiliation while we laid content in our defensive success in repelling them. We can go on and on. It is therefore worth asking: why do we Ethiopians consistently fail to leverage our military victories using the momentum to build enduring power i.e. a sustainable and resilient economic base, modern, versatile institutions, firm unity and societal transformation, and overall economic, technological- military-diplomatic capabilities on a strategic base? We have seen other countries turn not only their victories but even their defeats, into opportunities for rising from the ashes, as did Germany and Japan.
Now that we have repulsed the Woyane (actually, Woyane is only a proxy) effort to undo Ethiopia, we need to make sure that this victory will not remain ephemeral, a mere spurious event. Those forces behind Woyane, now licking their wounds, cannot be expected to give up on their long-term strategies only because one of their horses has expired. We need to prepare ourselves for even tougher wars – physical, economic, psychological, and cultural wars the defeated enemy will relaunch with ferocity. We should consider the Woyane defeat not as the end, but the beginning of a long, long struggle ahead. Also, we should never lose sight of the opportunity this victory is offering to redeem ourselves, to re-think and recalibrate and prioritize our actions. We need to build consensus on how and what got us here in the first place. This, above all, should start with questioning our values in introspection, how we think as individuals and as a collective, and how we discourse. Some say it is the culture that should be under scrutiny, others argue it is a poverty syndrome, but scrutinize we must!
Wittingly or otherwise, we have caught the “beast” by the tail! We have no choice but to bring the whole thing to a successful conclusion; there is no choice of going back. And a successful conclusion would mean, for example, the tedious and protracted work against the ignorance that demagogues manipulate to install tribal hatred in malleable, emotion-dominated young minds, and to be able to develop in our society the ethics of transcendence above individual greed in favor of collective security through collaborative intelligence.
As all the above suggestions need a good deal of creative strategy thinking by leaders, one will be forced to ask: Do we have such leaders? Has the educational system of the last fifty years or so produced such leaders? It is high time we surveyed the arena.
Let’s discuss collaborative intelligence.
Ethiopians in Ethiopia and even from the diaspora are on the battlefield for unity and sovereignty against the enemies of our country. They have become comrades in arms, putting their lives in each other’s hands, despite their otherwise distinct and sometimes even contradictory philosophies.
The war is getting momentum now that it is well-coordinated with unity of purpose. The Ethiopian diaspora in all parts of the globe is doing a great job, actively involved in many fields.
Since this war is engaged on many levels, nationally and internationally, we thought the different organizations could learn from each other and even coordinate efforts to reap the shared benefits of collaboration, both quality-wise and through the impact of our sheer numbers.
Many complex challenges are in front of us; incumbent sanctions from the West – self sufficiency as well as reconstruction are factors that demand strategic planning and collaborative intelligence, often through the joined efforts of visionaries and operational pragmatists.
The concept of collaborating with different independent diaspora organizations by itself needs a strategy. It is creating a new organizational culture from diverse established cultures, even if the purpose of the organizations coincides. The one thing that will be a springboard in the endeavor is our shared love for our country and the mutual trust thereof. Besides, there are specialists in the field willing to help us on our journey, for example, Destiny Ethiopia.
Not to leave the idea floating only as a postulate, here are practical suggestions articulating priority action areas to embark upon as a matter of urgency to start building a post- tribalism (Post-Woyane) Ethiopia that endures.
ORGANIZATION: How to create a formidable global pan-Ethiopianism (diaspora) force that can act in synchrony toward a shared goal, similar to the Jewish, Armenian, or Irish lobbies. Not necessarily operated from one center but operating from one, overarching shared goal, toward a unified direction. An umbrella entity, if you wish.
MONEY/RESOURCES: Money and resource mobilization to mitigate likely Western sanctions can be linked to the idea of self-reliance. In the short run how to encourage Ethiopians to remit thru the formal, national bank of Ethiopia as a national duty. In the long run, attractive and accountable resource allocation is needed. how to promote investment, creativity, skills transfer, self-sufficiency in food, developing internal market and flow of labor, investment and goods across the Kilils relegating their divisive role into the ashes of history.
There are many professionals who have provided excellent suggestions.
YOUTH: How to nurture a defiant, patriotic youth able to shoulder an Ethiopia that is arising from the ashes bequeathed to them. A revolutionary generation has to be nurtured. We can help, drawing lessons of experience from our dismal performance (we revolutionaries of the 60s, 70s got domesticated and remained serving the very entities we designated enemies of the people). We can help craft the agenda. (Btw, National service in the army?) An intellectual movement that abhors narrow nationalism, theft, corruption and upholds a public sense of duty, patriotism, etc. Our youth building a common future…
COMMUNICATION, PR, TRACK II/CITIZEN DIPLOMACY: Provided we do it smartly and organized it is possible to turn everyone into a diplomat speaking for the country’s interests even though their governments may act in a contrarian manner. The recent VA Election is an example. Not only like other communities do it, but we can also craft simple talking points to convey a consistent message through ordinary folks and sophisticated ones alike. Target: every American/European citizen we run across. Many other communities have focused a concerted effort and succeeded.
RECONCILIATION, PEACE-BUILDING : Once the war is over, there will be so many fissures to mend and scars to heal. This will take a long time. But then we have to craft a way to be able not to get stuck in the trauma but to move forward. We need justice but not necessarily retributive justice but that which restores our humanity and the best of our Habesha magnanimity. All the same, we have to build on hope and stability, not vengeance.
RECONSTRUCTION : Resource mobilization for post-conflict reconstruction is an endeavor we should be engaged in a large scale with a marshal plan for intensive work needed to rebuild after the massive destruction of farms, infrastructure, health care, educational systems on all levels in Affar and Amhara regions, with goals of building these dilapidated regions to a level much higher than the miserable state they were in even before the invasion. This demands not only resources but even effective coordination of the diaspora on an international level, including friends of Ethiopia.
REGIONAL INTEGRATION (HOA): Building an immediate safe neighborhood involving Eritrea, Djibouti, Sudan, Kenya, South Sudan. We need to turn this region into a zone of peace and development, and not an area of proxy war (as has been the case for over a century now). This is the only guarantee for Ethiopia to thrive in the long run. We need to take the lead in pan-Africanism and the diaspora can play key roles here. Economic integration through trade, for example, GERD will be instrumental to tie Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, and Eritrea through the East African Power Pool. The same goes for road and transport which can grow into a large market. We can think of linking it to other initiatives the Chinese might be interested in this (Road and Belt). The Gulf States, Turkey, and even Russia and other friends of Ethiopia could be leveraged.
In conclusion: What next?
Ethiopians, within the country and without (the diaspora), from all corners of the world, have rallied and acted in unison when all sensed the mortal danger the Woyane invasion posed for the very existence of our country. The mobilization was spontaneous, genuine and overwhelming – and took the enemy by surprise. We have succeeded to repulse the immediate threat. This said, though, our success has much to be desired for. Our responses were less deliberative and more spontaneous; less planned, less coordinated. Given the immediacy of the Woyane threat and the mortal danger the country was facing, and the need for urgent response, there was no time to think, deliberate and plan. We had to act urgently from wherever we were using our disparate responses and creativity. The response was appropriate to the situation. Yet, going forward, we need to be more deliberative, strategic and planned, if we are NOT to squander this victory once again. Ethiopia has only gotten over a short-run immediate threat such as the Woyane invasion was. Long-term, strategic threats are still looming over Ethiopia. Such threats cannot be addressed adequately with spontaneous patriotic response of citizenry – zeal, courage and commitment notwithstanding. The adrenalin response is for short burst responses, and not for sustained response to persistent stress with detrimental consequences.
Long-term, strategic threats require commensurate strategic thinking, planning, organizing and sustainable action. The foregoing are but only prompts to initiate conversation toward collaborative thinking and action.
Editor’s note : The article was first shared on P2P Ethiopian forum on December 11, 2021
To publish article on borkena, please send submission to firstname.lastname@example.org
Join the conversation. Follow us on Twitter @zborkena to get the latest Ethiopian News updates regularly.Like borkena on Facebook as well. To share information or for submission, send e-mail to email@example.com