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Have We Converged or Diverged?

Ethiopia _ politics _ converge or diverge
From the formation of the ruling in Ethiopia “Prosperity Party” was announced in 2019 (Photo : file/PD)

By Samuel Estefanous

Makes me wonder, honest to God, it does. It has been six solid years and it is time to do the reckoning in good earnest.  I don’t want to single out any one entity as the guilty party. As someone has said around the time the incumbent had assumed power-we are all into this together.  

Let us randomly sample a couple of instances for consideration.  

Here we are waging multiple wars on extensive fronts. The central government is at loggerheads with armed groups in the three sizable regions + with a combined population close to three quarters of the total National census. Taking advantage of this preoccupation, officials of the remaining regions are gnawing at the Sovereign wealth of the Nation like a pack of ravenous mice with impunity. 

As a result by the government’s own admission we are thrown back four or five years back in terms of the overall economic development. Instead of vainly trying to bridge purely ideological  political differences, the National Dialogue Commission should work to establish common understanding of terms like Prosperity; the necessity of war that has one more time made  Ethiopia look like a cranky old machine running on the blood of its children etc. (by the by, was it me or did the Premier make a gaffe characterizing the Commissioners as dead men walking by way of serving no private interest of their own as old folks in twilight hours of their lives? )   

 A significant segment of the society has become fatalistic, cynical, mean, and in some cases downright a disgrace to the human race.  Considering the horror the youth is subjected to in the social media, the mere idea that no PGA threshold is set makes parents ‘copter’ guardians but to no meaningful avail except further antagonizing and pushing the kids to the fathomless abyss. Those irresponsible maniacs posting toxic contents aren’t within the mark of the tolerable handful with whom all society at any given time is fated to live with while fighting them tooth and tooth. They are invasive and out of control like the lethal እንቦጭ  አረም፡፡ 

Instead of being consoled and comforted by the traditional ‘support system’, a bereaved young mother mourning the death of her first born is besieged by a pack of possessed bloodhounds with bloodshot eyes, bared fangs and open claws soaked in blood- straight out of a diabolical horror movie.

I mean this is a society where the worst curse one would cast against another would be to debar him from the mourning rite after he/she has passed on- ‘may you not join the hearse of my funeral!’, it is said.  This is a society that accords respect to a family in mourning on the scale reserved to royalty if not more. But we have come to this. I don’t want to undermine the symptoms as isolated instances. 

Kidnapping kids has become rampant- ironically in the otherwise traditional Bible belt section of the country and allegedly the ransom money is financing ‘liberation fronts’. Monks in cassocks are preaching anarchy and death- inciting a brother to rise against a brother. Pastors have become highly ‘viewed’ standup comedians with millions of devoted followers- sadly all for the wrong reasons. Remembering how we used to sneak in to Mekane Yesus Church mass service unnoticed by our parents and how the decency and elegance of the parishioners (not to mention that of the pastors) used to elevate our spirit, we are made to wonder- do both belong to the same faith Order? No wonder folks are flocking back to the Mother Church.   

Hooked on easy blood money,  some ‘pundits’ in the west have quit their low paying menial jobs and have become full time merchants of chaos trading in the blood of their fellow compatriots back home. They have no qualms of conscience to shift allegiance from the government side to the opposition, from the opposition back to the incumbent, from one opposition group to another as long as trending dissatisfaction back home warrants it.  

In the halls of the august body of the ultimate power custodian House, reports are being heard to the effect that civil servants and their families are starving- not figuratively speaking- but literally starving. In contrast the benefits-monetary and otherwise- reserved to high ranking government officials make one involuntarily draw the parallel to the times of the feudal lords and their respective peasants in lasting indenture to them. I don’t even want to talk about the illicit gains. The figures the rumor mills churn out could drive one insane. 

I hate to say this but in living memory we haven’t been drifting apart by this wide berth. 

I am sure, any law student in the country has read Dean Paul’s ‘Ethiopian Constitutional Development’- on top of the more recent Feteh sponsored’ book publications. (I understand the meritorious perpetual   title ‘Dean’ is bestowed on the founding Dean affectionately by the community of lawyers past and present).

One of the philosophical treatises Dean Paul had sampled for fresh law students to study was Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan. Hobbes’ idea of the inherent nature of man as being basically egoistic, insatiable and incapable of benevolence confuses any aspirant lawyer with naïve trust in the ‘inherent goodness’ human beings.  

To curb this human tendency and insure the wellbeing of the society, Hobbes’ recommendation is to entrust power to an “unaccountable” Sovereign who exercises absolute power over its subjects. And law students are encouraged not to concur with this pessimistic conclusion but to make a valuable inference that the barest minimum a government could do is ‘keeping the peace and maintaining order’. In reality, however, in close proximity to Addis families are paying ‘protection money’ to armed gangs. Increasingly the state of anarchy is getting closer and closer, and the pain is being felt more and more on a personal level. The center has become a periphery.

At the cost of being ejected from the circle of friends, some of us had strongly advocated for a reformed EPRDF to assume power for exactly this reason-EPRDF had isolated and humiliated some but it has kept the peace of the multitude and was invariably able to keep the order. We had hoped PP would bank on that gain (by way of መደመር) and keep the Nation in one piece and insure the safety of its citizens.     

But what have we got in return?  Schizophrenic, delusional PP cadres are blaming us for the sins of EPRDF. Back then we were at the opposite bank of the river, they were the EPRDF! We had hoped PP would raise a bridge and help us cross over to their side of the river but instead we are being kept further at bay. Bottom-line?  THE IVORYTOWER SYNDROM is repeating itself.  While the government is chasing its own private dream at full speed, the multitude has become a disinterested idle onlooker.     

We badly want to see light at the end of the tunnel.  

God Bless 

Samuel Estefanous can be reached via email :  estefanoussamuel@yahoo.com 

Editor’s note : Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of borkena.com

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