9 December 2012

Ethiopia: Noble Unity-No Nation Without Free Individuals


Nation building is not as simple as subjugating the people of a given country and trying to rule them under one yoke by force. Such actions are possible only for a given period of time.

Ruling classes can only impose their will, language, ideals and thoughts temporarily. It is the law of nature that all living things need a land to live and reproduce themselves.

This natural resource, essential for life, is also cause for the incessant conflict of interests. Therefore, families, clans or tribes organise themselves to fight with others to expand their occupation.

The afflicted might either fight back, if they can, or surrender, if they have no choice. Of course, they could leave their lands and move away somewhere else if they want to.

This is just a daring effort to simplify the complexity of nation building down to its nuts and bolts. In whatever way nations may be built and geographical boundaries marked, genuine unison cannot be achieved unless the establishment fully respects the rights of the people within the national boundary to rule themselves.

This involves the right to democratically elected representatives, the use of their mother tongue for communication, respect for their traditions and culture, enjoyment of equal rights for employment and sharing the country's resources equally or in accordance with their needs. The ideals of federalism could boil down to such basics for the sake of brevity.

The seventh annual celebration of all nations and nationalities living inEthiopia, to be colorfully celebrated at Bahr Dar, on the shores ofLake Tana, is nothing but a concrete manifestation of the universal truth. Unlike the unfounded apprehension of many people who postulated that the country will disintegrate into ethnic groups and smaller tribes, the opposite is what we seeing taking shape on the ground.

Messeret Ayle, my adopted child from Arsi, is a 10 year old girl attending St. Mary's School in Grade 3. Last year, she was being teased by her classmates because of her accented Amharic.

She was even mocked and laughed at because her grandfather's name was Tulu. My readers may extend their imaginations and consider what a laughing stock the name "Tulu" could be in a class where most of the girls go by European or Western names, as in the likes of Betty or Susan.

Meseret endured that much embarrassment at her age. She stood her ground firm and fought back hard at those who tried to assault her physically and came home triumphantly. The next day, the school celebrated the sixth Nations and Nationalities Day ceremoniously.

I, then, wrote an article on the subject explaining the rights of ethnicity beyond names and its importance in the light of the future relationships they ought to have.

Meseret read the article loud and clear on the media outlet at the school. That incident earned her applause and admiration. A year later, she has not only improved her Amharic accent but has made it to the honor ranks in her studies in that reputable school.

Modern politicians talk about the household phrase 'good governance', as an essential pillar in the process of nation building. There are as many people who knowingly or unknowingly take good governance to mean the idea of running a government office efficiently and effectively with clean hands free from any germ of corruption.

But good governance is more comprehensive than that. It involves the respect of equal rights of citizens to have a fair share in the equal distribution of wealth, the right to own property, the right to express one's thoughts freely, to vote freely and to be represented equally.

There are more tangible and practical objectives through which good governance may be translated. Shows, songs and cultural displays and massive parades and processions can help a great deal in bringing different ethnic groups closer and closer.

People have different traditional practices. But they have also similarities on a wide range of common wants and aspirations. People can iron out their petty differences while working on their similarities and respecting their differences,

The vital idea and essence of life is to make everything possible for people to live a happy and dignified life, harmoniously. This is roughly how we should perceive good governance to be.

Accessing people in the hinterland and remote areas through availing roads is also another important element in bringing people closer together. And it should be taken as an important dimension of good governance.

In an age when unity is becoming a primary objective on a continental level, aspiring to consolidate the national unity ofEthiopiaby all possible means cannot be a myth. The noble idea of strengthening the solidarity of the people of the country we bequeathed must be instilled and inculcated in the mind of every school child all over the country.

Freedom of thought is a human right. After all, we are all transient. ButEthiopia, with its freedom and people's unity, is here to stay.

Let us express our thoughts freely to make that noble aspiration come true.

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