17 August 2017

Ethiopia: Keep Walking - an Exemplary Leadership


There were times where all the men and women of the world were stuck between the choices of weather to follow or oppose certain ideologies, that resulted in loss of millions of lives. This still exists and the consequences can be said the foot prints of good or bad leadership. To me leadership is a matter of giving one's own self to the people and vision we stand for. In this case the best father/mother of a family could be the best leader than that of a certain political leader.

It all starts from understanding the situation that the people are standing on. Once I remember the famous Ethiopian writer and Deacon Daniel Kibret was delivering a motivational speech for the students of Debremarkos University during its fifth annual National Symposium. He shared a story about women who had access to clean drinking water and wasn't satisfied.

According to Daniel the leaders of that particular rural district wanted the best for their women and tried to solve one of their painful problems, which was traveling a long way to fetch water from a river. So they came up with a project idea to bring the water closer to their homes and save them from the exhausting travel and they practically made it.

But the women are still traveling to that river and fetching water and the leaders got confused. Therefore they gathered the ladies and asked them several questions.

"Is the water not clean?" they would ask and the women would reply "No it's very clean."

"Doesn't it shorten your travel?"

"Yes it does."

"Then why are you still traveling a long way to the river?"

At this point the women told their leaders that they have never thought of it while they came up with the idea in the first place. The women said "We used to freely [free from men's' dominance] discuss our socioeconomic issues and our family affairs when we were walking that long way to the river and back to our homes. That was our chance of freedom. You can't take that away from us. The nearby access to clean water is one of the greatest things you did for us. But we will never have enough time to discuss our problems if we can fetch water here next to our doors."

well, I hope that story makes clear that leaders need to understand what's best for their people and also listen to what's in their minds first before implementing something even if its necessity is undeniable.

These days the culture of democracy is growing well but leaders listening to their citizens and citizens demonstrating their problems in a democratic manner are crucial and that is what Deacon Daniel was trying to emphasize in his motivational speech.

However, when leadership is embraced with a clear vision, it would result undying legacy which generations could strive hard for its continuity. This kind of vision for the people would be born while the leader once was just a college student. Such kind of vision that one carries for his/her people has resulted a bold decision to dropout college, fight against dictators and dedicate his own life for the well being of others. It also requires commitment to learn and broaden one's wisdom in different ideologies.

In this case, the late Prime Minister of Ethiopia Meles Zenawi could be an example. He was well known for his innovative developmental policies and strategies. He was also known for his wise diplomatic approaches with different leaders and countries. He was becoming one of the world's influential leaders.

Harry Verhoeven, an African politics teacher once wrote, "Meles rapidly became an international statesman: He was hailed by Bill Clinton as the prime exponent of "Africa's new generation of leaders" in 1998; he sat on Tony Blair's Commission for Africa in 2004-2005; and represented the African Union in climate change negotiations since 2009. Boosted by relative political stability and spectacular - if deeply uneven - economic growth at home, the former guerrilla leader from Tigray transformed Ethiopia from an object of international pity into a powerful actor that has commended increasing global attention."


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