Friday, July 12, 2024
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ETHIOPIA, A BEACON FOR AFRICA AND THE DIASPORA

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As Ethiopia, Africa and the Diaspora celebrate the Victory of Adwa, the opening of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is fast becoming another significant symbol of Pan Africanism and African sovereignty. In the late 1800’s to early 1900’s Ethiopianism fueled the Pan African Movement, giving such icons as George Padmore, Edward Bliden and subsequently Marcus Mosiah Garvey and W.E.B DuBois, amongst others, proof positive of Africans’ abilities to self-govern. This history is now documented at Addis Ababa University Institute of Ethiopian Studies Pan African Wing, set to be open soon. The permanent exhibition consists of four stately rooms in the former Leul Genet Palace at Sidist Kilo filled with rare documents, photos and ephemera on Ethiopia’s role in the past, present and future of Pan Africanism. A copy of the Wuchale agreement, which triggered the dispute over control of Ethiopia with Italy are also on display, as are rare objects used on the battlefield in Adwa.
The triumph of Ethiopia over foreign will to dominate is once again thwarted with GERD. Lives and livelihoods will be transformed, creating a generation of exponentially educated and exposed youth and empowered women amongst all Ethiopians and citizens of the riparian countries. This would not have been the case had Ethiopia buckled under international pressure prompted by Sister African nation, Egypt, which has stood on its own laurels and a 1929 treaty by then colonial power, England. Ethiopia chose the best interest of her over 110 million citizens, while cognizant of her responsibility as the seat of the African Union, diplomatic capital of Africa, to ensure harmony in the Horn of Africa. As with politics, nothing is easy however, Ethiopia’s decision to move forward with GERD is galvanizing the Black world, once again, in an example of self-determination.
It doesn’t stop at GERD. Ethiopia’s immense progress amidst the mayhem, loss of lives, destruction of property and robbing of innocence is of deep concern and chagrin. Many are amazed as to how the two can co-exist. Well, this is Ethiopia the land of miracles, where indeed anything is possible. The resilience, fortitude and desire to bloom are an unstoppable force to be reckoned with by internal and external forces. And while most of the efforts for development seem to be centered on the capital of Addis Abeba, the Ethiopian Diaspora communities are taking up the challenge to strengthen efforts to re-build hospital and schools in areas affected by war with the government. This act of solidarity has become an example for other African nations rallying their Diaspora in their quest to protect their dignity and integrity. There has also been an increase in historic Diaspora, namely those taken away during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, headed home to Africa. The African Union declared the Togo led “Decade of African Roots and the African Diaspora” – 2021 to 2031. According to AU CIDO Ag. Director for Diaspora Affairs, Ms. Angela Odai, there are several programs planned to help strengthen the engagement of Africa and her Diaspora. The Diaspora Division of AU CIDO is the focal point for the implementation of the African Union’s decision to engage the African Diaspora, also known as the 6th Region, to participate in the building and development of the African continent. According to CIDO, “Its main task therefore, is to serve as a catalyst for rebuilding the global African Family in the service of the development and integration agenda of the continent.” Diaspora groups in Europe and the Americas are also currently planning to host a major roundtable event in Addis Abeba in May commemorating 10 years of the AU’s Global African Diaspora Summit.
Ethiopia remains a beacon of hope for Africans and Ethiopia is responding in kind. Addis Ababa University will now offer Swahili, the Pan African Wing will provide a space for programming and the successful Great Ethiopian Homecoming saw not only sons and daughters of the soil return, but lovers of Ethiopia from around the world continue to visit the land of origins. The ball is now in Ethiopia’s court and as the saying goes, “To whom much is given, much is required…”. That said, we still have a long road ahead but Ethiopians are capable of healing ourselves and each other, realizing there are several ways to bring about justice and peace. We have to stay focused and not be sidetracked by smoke and mirrors, media misinformation, bullies, belligerence and sheer hatred and horror, as we have seen over the past year plus. Just as Africa and the Diaspora are motivated by Ethiopia’s story of strength, so too should Ethiopians look deep within and be driven by our power, potential and deep spirituality which should allow us to recognize the humanity, integrity and possibility of all.

Dr. Desta Meghoo is a Jamaican born
Creative Consultant, Curator and cultural promoter based in Ethiopia since 2005. She also serves as Liaison to the AU for the Ghana based, Diaspora African Forum.

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