This is intended for Ethiopian millennials.
In what follows, I will continue with my opinion on the incredible opportunities for progress that are coming to Ethiopia from outside. As a reminder what I call externally created opportunities are: Globalization and Movement of People; the Internet (social media); the Peace with Eritrea; other outside forces and events; and along the way, my remarks on the good and the bad which is unfolding in our planet. Last time under internally created opportunities, I have discussed Globalization and Movement of People. How it is facilitating the exchange of ideas and exposing people to different cultures and how these can lead to significant changes in worldview.
Globalization requires countries to produce high-quality products and services at a low price. High-quality and low price are decisive to get a competing chance in the global market. It seems countries like Ethiopia have lost long before the game even started. In short, every aspect of globalization seems to be deliberately designed to help rich countries keep the advantages that they have long been enjoying.
Globalization created an international economic system that facilitates the movement of capital. This system gives developed countries and their multinational corporations both the chance to write the rules of the game and play in it. For example, technologically advanced countries usually excel in the global financial market. Political globalization, on the other hand, requires secularity, democracy, and free trade. Social globalization facilitated the destruction of local culture, history, and identity. And with little consideration to historically disadvantaged countries, it calls for cultural assimilation. Besides, some developed countries still waver to take full responsibility for their role in the destruction of the ecosystem.
So where do globalization driven development opportunities and possibilities arise for Ethiopia?
Here is the fun, there are at least four elements that indicate the possibility of development in a given country: Human resources, Natural resources, Capital formation, and Technology.
Now think about Human capital and Natural resources in your country. And ask yourself: why did Africa fail to use its human capital and natural resource for the development of its people? Why did Ethiopians fail to use their natural resource to generate capital? Where do you think the essential apparatuses for modern technology come from? Why do you think about paying a gratuitously high price for a product just because it is imported from some specific country? How come an Ethiopian in Addis Ababa is happy to pay that much for a cup of coffee, which was planted by an Ethiopian farmer in Kaffa processed in the Emirates, and then imported back to Ethiopia? Why is Anbessa Shoe so uncomfortable at the same time affordable and why pay more when the same leather takes a trip and comes back with a tag Made in somewhere? What do you think about countries like China? Why do you think your leaders kept shaming their citizens virtually at every stage? When did some of us turn to actual werewolves? And what can be done about the unimaginable crimes committed in the country?
Dear Ethiopian millennials, a country looks just like its people. The answer to those questions can only be found within each person. While you try to fully understand your country, remember, for each one of those million issues, together Ethiopians can come up with millions of possible solutions.
It is said that millennials are a social media generation. But how can Ethiopians use that to their advantage, as opposed to their destruction? The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) recently published its Investigative Report on the Violence & Human Rights Violations following Musician Hachalu Hundessa’s Assassination. In this report, EHRC has a recommendation to the media and millennials:
To media and activists/social media influencers. To recognize there is an increasing vulnerability to atrocity crimes and taking into consideration the current complex ethnic, religious and political tensions in the country, to avoid sharing/producing content that, directly or indirectly, promotes discrimination, suspicion and hatred thereby aggravating the risk for violent conflicts (EHRC, 2020).
Despite non of the hijackers in the September 11 attacks were from Afghanistan or Iraq, the USA together with the UK started airstrikes in Afghanistan. In March 2003, 41 other countries joined forces to invade Iraq: War on Terror. In 2009 President Obama received a Nobel Peace Prize. According to the Nobel Committee: ”for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” In his new book A Promised Land the president talks about the paradox between getting a peace prize and expanding war that HE DID NOT START:
I couldn’t help but think about the daily fighting that continued to consume Iraq and Afghanistan and all the cruelty and suffering and injustice that my administration had barely even begun to deal with. The idea that I, or any one person, could bring order to such chaos seemed laughable (Obama, 2020, p. 499).
A decade later, the current Prime Minister of the FDRE received a Nobel Peace Prize. According to the Nobel Committee: “for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.” Got that? For resolving the border conflict with neighboring Eritrea!
In his lecture, PM Ahmed underscored the role of African millennials in peacebuilding:
(I)t is estimated that some 70 percent of Africa’s population is under the age of 30. Our young men and women are crying out for social and economic justice. They demand equality of opportunity and an end to organized corruption. The youth insist on good governance based on accountability and transparency. If we deny our youth justice, they will reject peace. Standing on this world stage today, I would like to call upon all my fellow Ethiopians to join hands and help build a country that offers equal justice, equal rights, and equal opportunities for all its citizens (Ahmed, 2019).
Mindful that the majority of his fellow citizens were beside him, PM Ahmed extended his arms to the international community to join Ethiopia’s efforts of building enduring peace and prosperity in the Horn of Africa.
The renowned Egyptian scientist Farouk El-Baz, whom NASA named an asteroid after his name said this in an interview:
It is a matter of ignorance on our part because Ethiopia is the place where the rain falls and comes through Sudan to us. It is the source of the Nile River. Our grandfathers and grandmothers learned about this and made good relationships with Ethiopia and Sudan. We have forgotten that, especially in the last fifty years. We forgot that we are a partner of African countries (Farouk El-Baz, 2019).
Finally, ‘‘Populism’’ and ‘‘Trumpism’’. Populism is anti-establishment irrespective of any particular political ideas. My opinion, here, however, focuses on ‘far-right Populism’ that we have been observing in Europe and the USA in recent years. I believe race and religion or simply racism is at the core of today’s far-right populism. Injustice and bigotry are at the foundation of most Western democracies. Incidents like the slaying of George Floyd have alarmingly been everyday occurring. The wrongs of racism, slavery, colonialism will not go away just because we don’t talk about them or try hiding or even altering facts. Today’s rage and hatred are no original to the Donalds. Far-right populists thrive by deceiving ordinary people: the establishment is broken, and only I can fix it; all the bad, is the doing of ‘the others’-the blacks; the immigrants, the Muslims, the Moroccans, the Mexicans, etc…
In migration studies, for example, concepts like social capital and social network assisted by (social media) are seen as enablers of migration. Social networks, through providing information and other kinds of assistance facilitated further migration. However new studies prove the changing role of social networks in migration. A study in The Netherlands indicated more and more migrants are taking the role of get-kippers. A Moroccan migrant in the Netherlands, today, more likely to discourage a friend or family member from moving to Europe. By doing so, they try to shield their loved ones from the far-right rhetorics.
I will settle with a quote from Hillary Clinton:
You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic – you name it. And unfortunately, there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people -now how 11 million. The other half feel that the government has let them down and desperate for change. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well (Clinton, 2016).