GERD, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, is bound to be the biggest hydroelectric dam in Africa with a capacity to generate more than 6,000 megawatt of electric power. It is the flagship project of Ethiopians who have raised all the money that is needed, on their own, to complete it when they were denied any form of foreign loans. Hence, GERD is just like a child that parents give to, nurture and care for until they become adults and independent. In the case of GERD the project can be said to be finished, and mission accomplished only when first the material construction on the ground is completed with hundred per cent of the buildup, but also after the filling of the dam with water is complete and power being generated from it! Clearly, this is a very long process even under ideal circumstances such as if all material needed is availed and provided on a timely basis, and if all engineering and electromechanical works are completed successfully, and there are no shortages of any type, such as inputs, personnel and most of all, finance! Ethiopia has been struggling to fulfill these conditions for the last ten years!
But what is more challenging and even troubling is the geopolitical condition in which Ethiopia hardly finds the collaboration of neighbours in this project. On the contrary there has been continuous hostility and opposition to this project from various corners, particularly consistently from Egyptian leaders. We know from history that Ethiopia had to face the challenges of its neighbours both near and distant but this has not prevented it from continuing as a sovereign and independent state! It has in fact become the symbol of resistance to injustice and any colonial ventures. It remains to be the only African country to resist the stiffest of attacks on its sovereignty during the colonial period when practically all of Africa was governed by colonial masters who came from Europe.
Ethiopia became identified as the symbol of independence and resilience and in the end inspired the rest of Africa to reject any form of injustice and colonialism. Ethiopians believe that may be the general 'imperialist community' has always seen Ethiopia with disappointment if not disgrace as they showed to the world at large that there are no forces that are indomitable. It has also shown to the entire world that injustice can never triumph over justice, that arrogance can never beat or destroy the dignity and integrity of a nation.
It is more than 125 years ago that this exploit has taken place in Ethiopia but its resonance still shines in one form or another. Its message is still very much timely! Forces that are trying to fiddle with the sovereign rights of Ethiopians have still not learned from history. Ethiopians will never stop repeating mentioning this glorious chapter in their history because it is a victory of justice and fairness over aggression and oppression! It is a victory of right over wrong, and a victory of good over evil! If that battle was not won by Ethiopians, not only the history of Ethiopia would have completely changed, but even that of Africa would have changed. This is because it would have completely helped to subdue every effort to liberate themselves from the yoke of colonialism and every form of oppression. In this sense Adwa was vital for all peoples potentially under the threat of imperialism and dominion by aliens.
The history of mankind is full of such episodes when those who consider themselves unassailable or indomitable attack the most vulnerable, but not always have we seen them succeed in their aggression. In a few occasions, they have encountered something they never thought possible because they were blinded by their arrogance and ignorance!
No one forgets the biblical history of David and Goliath! The neglected and degraded could register an unexpected triumph when least expected. We also remember our childhood tales regarding the race between the hare and the tortoise! In 1896, Ethiopia was dragged into a war she never wanted when the colonial masters were busy trying to divide portions of the continent at their will. At the epoch, she had other national priorities and internal issues when there occurred the provocation of the imperial powers. And so she had to defend her territorial integrity and sovereignty. And so she did. And justice triumphed over aggression, and over arrogance; justice triumphed over crude and naked force!
Today, 125years since that epic moment, that epic day, Ethiopians are being called again to stand together and defend their independence and sovereign rights! The GERD is nothing else but the most concrete and tangible expression of their dignity and independence. The GERD is the child of each and every Ethiopian national for which they are ready and willing to die! And yet the GERD is meant to stand as a symbol of cooperation and regional integration, both economically as well as politically. The Nile is the common property of all the basin countries and peoples but there are forces who try to selfishly appropriate this natural treasure alone. They try hard to politicize it!
We have seen from history that the spirit of Adwa lives in every Ethiopian but it has also crossed the boundaries of Ethiopia and extended to all black people of the planet. It is this spirit that we see disturbing every potential imperialist or colonialist or in any manner any aspiring force trying to flex their muscles when they make wild and unacceptable declarations of war and dangerous rhetoric that serves little purpose in the context of the sharing of the waters of the Nile River.
Under similar circumstances, there cannot be winners in a confrontation for water. There is no manner of utilizing the waters of a river peacefully following any form of military attacks. There are no weak and strong nations in this scenario. There is only who is right and who is wrong! The only solution to any form of dispute or controversy on the sharing of water resources is a negotiated agreement based on international law and practice. This is something that every riparian country in the Nile basin needs to take into serious consideration.
This is not a political or military game but one of reasoned and principled discussion between peoples that need to live in peace, and not try to live on the burial ground of the other! In this sense Ethiopians view the recent declarations from Egyptian and Sudanese political leaders as disappointing and not called for. More reasoning and less emotion must be the game plan.
Undoubtedly, the GERD is a new expression of that spirit of a nation not ready to be subdued by neither force nor intimidation. It is the rightful expression of sovereignty that no power could deprive to Ethiopia! The resilience Ethiopians experienced in the 1890s and even in earlier battles when Ethiopia was invaded repeatedly by expeditions coming from Sudan, Egypt and other directions are there written in history books. We do not need to re-live those years! The attempts to control the sources of the mighty Nile by force have never succeeded and there is no reason to believe that they will today. The idea, the desire and the dream may be the same, but the result is also bound to be the same! Ethiopians will never accept foreign interference in their internal affairs and sovereign rights! No one will ever manage to strip Ethiopia of its sovereign rights over the Nile and any other natural resource for that matter as no other nation as well would ever accept similar interference, similar deprivation.The GERD is but just one manner of underpinning such sacred and untouchable sovereignty. No one can condemn Ethiopians to live in eternal darkness when they can easily harness energy from their own resource!
That is why we say it is dangerous to note that even countries who have little interest in the Nile waters are seen blatantly siding with Egypt in the current 'invented controversy' over the project without having the full picture of the case, without having the full information, without bothering to see both sides of the case! Ethiopians believe that if the GERD was a project that was initiated by some western power or even any other country for that matter, but not Ethiopia, it would most probably have immediately secured an emphatic and decisive endorsement by many! We remember how the Aswan Dam was planned and constructed in Egypt and we know who aided it to carry out the super ambitious project when Egypt could not harness all the necessary resources to build it. No one bothered to obstruct Egypt for going ahead with the project even realizing that the long term implications of this project could affect Ethiopia's potential decision to utilize the resource!
Ethiopia was never consulted, let alone invited to comment on the dam. And yet it is an ascertained fact that practically all the water that is conserved in the artificially created Lake Nasser comes from the highlands of Ethiopia! Egyptian politicians have succeeded in creating a fantasy world that attributes the Nile water to Egypt and very disturbingly millions of Egyptians still believe that the Nile is their personal property they can use the way they feel like! This of course is against the spirit of any form of cooperation in the current world! Of course Ethiopians can only laugh amused when they hear this fairytale told and retold using all the vast propaganda machine Egypt has carefully and vigourously built up across the years! Ethiopia never felt to brag about the Nile. It has not invested millions of dollars to hire lobbyists and diplomats and media outlets to disseminate fabricated stories over the Nile. The reality on the ground however can never change because it has been there for millennia and it will continue as it is. No one can change the minds of millions of Egyptians on this account because it is something that has been inherited from one generation to the others alleging that 'the gods gave Egypt the Nile' that 'nature gifted the Nile to Egyptians' etc. The question is why then was it not made to spring from the sands of Egypt!? Why did it have to be born in the Ethiopian highlands and cross all those miles to reach Egypt and satisfy their needs?!
Successive generations of Egyptians have been made to believe that nothing under the sun would deprive them even from 'a drop of the water of the Nile'! This is a very emotional subject for all Egyptians but such emotion has apparently blinded them from bothering to see the other side of the issue; they never cared to see the Ethiopian side of the issue! This is not fair by any standards!
This is a huge 'vacuum' in their psyche, a clear negation of the reality on the ground! Obviously, this can not only prepare them for confrontation because the basic starting point is completely flawed but also because Ethiopia cannot accept to be colonized in the 21st century! Ethiopia did vanquish colonialists 125 years ago, they pray and
hope they do not need to repeat it today. In 1896 Ethiopia was a small country divided on various intestinal issues. And it had to face one of the mightiest militaries of the then world! Today, Ethiopians are not only bigger and better organized but they are also better armed with the consciousness of their rights, their powers and what would be the alternative they face!
All those who believe that Ethiopia will forfeit its natural rights on the Nile just to satisfy the fantasy of Egyptian politicians must have a very wrong picture of Ethiopians and their resolve for independence! That could be the red line for every Ethiopian!
It should be underlined however that Ethiopia is not so arrogant or ignorant to claim that it has an exclusive right over any transboundary river. In the context of the logic that 'might is right' and if Ethiopia was the greatest power on earth, it could have dictated all the conditions on the river seeing that it originates in its bosom. But that is not the case! Ethiopia recognizes that the only solution to this issue of sharing the water resource of the Nile is the application or implementation of the principle of fair and equitable share!
In the case of Adwa the alternative was being colonized and dominated, changing one's identity sacrificing one's personality in favour of the one imposed from abroad, by alien forces. Today the choice is between being enslaved in a world which has already condemned and banned slavery and freedom on the other hand
! It is destined to be eradicated from the face of the earth and this is what Egyptian politicians have been trying to do twenty four hours a day for the last thousands of years since they came to know that they would never be able to control the origins of the Nile!
The strategy of every Egyptian politician is to do all they can to prevent Ethiopians from using any drop of the Nile! Well, this cannot succeed anymore because there are no conditions on the ground that could realize such dream! The one and basic problems with Egyptian politicians is that they struggle to recognize the existence of a sovereign country called Ethiopia which give rise to the river they dream to own alone! Well the only probable solution for their dream could be attempting to materially exterminate 120 million people if they can!! Only then can they fully own and control the Nile and use it alone imposing every condition they dream of on Ethiopians!