Much like the Israelites wandered the desert for forty years after escaping the brutalities of the pharaoh, Ethiopians have been stranded in the wilderness of torment for close to a half century. Unlike the Hebrews, we were not freed from bondage but thrown into the shackles of lawlessness and despotism by wolves pretending to be Moses. In the span of forty-five years, we have gone from greatness to sedet (exodus)—Ethiopia now stand at the precipice of disintegration.
Yet, despite the precarious state of our nation and the strife that is being unleashed in our homeland, I am comforted by this one truth: there is a greater God watching over Ethiopia than any weapon that is formed to harm us. Though the challenges are many and the difficulties multiply on a yearly basis, I know that it’s a matter of time before we turn the corner and return to the love of country and the kindness towards one another that has always been the hallmark of our identity.
Tribulations are a blessing in this way; when we stray away from our character and chase the ways of this world at the cost of our collective wellness, hardships come to remind us of the greater good and to guide us towards God’s chosen path for his people. This is not to blame the victim and overlook the horrific scars we all bear in our hearts; four decades of atrocities traumatized us as a nation and left us moored on islands of adversity and solitude.
Elders who once guarded the essence of Ethiopiawinet were targeted and savagely eradicated; in their place stood demagogues who peddled the snake oil of grievance and hatred for others based on our differences. Antipathy and indifference towards one another replaced the shared outlook and the unselfish disposition that were a core element of being Ethiopian. Millions fled Ethiopia only to be embraced by the sadness of missing our homes and those who remained became renters in their own country. Once a popular song, Tizita became our national anthem.
Though there are countless extenuating circumstances that have led many to choose self-preservation over solidarity, we also must take a look in the mirror and ask some hard questions if we are to heal and move forward. The scourge of pride, secrecy and resentment that is spreading live a virus will do nothing to mend the brokenness that is gashing at too many of us. We must find a way to talk to one another without dismissing each other and it is an imperative to lead with a heart of forgiveness instead of trying to bash one another.
What is being manifested in Ethiopia, the passions that are being stoked and the emotions that are being incited, is not taking place in a vacuum. Violence is a byproduct of hopelessness and fury is the end result of marginalization, we cannot hope to solve these symptoms by adding fuel to the fire. We must at long last admit that we are hurting, putting on a smile for the sake of company only to cry silent tears on our own has landed us in the spot we are at now. There is no freedom in this world that is as great as being honest, when we start having conversations from a place of truth instead of being vengeful, we can finally start to restore a modicum of sanity in the public discourse.
My prayer for my birth land and for all her children back home and scattered throughout the world is for us to pivot away from antagonism and turn back to love in order for us to move forward. I am reminded of one of my favorite verses in the bible, Psalm 68:31, which reads “Ethiopia shall quickly turn back her hand to God”. More of us should really reflect on this sentence before shouting obscenities at each other, before we wage wars with out tongues, we must ponder if our actions honor Egziabher. The problem in Ethiopia and beyond is not the lack of democracy or the scarcity of money, what we need desperately is reconnection to spirituality.
We have been separated from our very foundation; proximity to secular pursuits and chasing validation from the world has turned a biblical land into a wasteland of poverty. A land of milk and honey has morphed into mud and hunger, the more we covet greed the more we encounter famines. Like the parable of the servant who hid his coin for fear of losing it only to end up impoverished, we too are becoming destitute through gluttony. We must stop fearing scarcity and instead have faith in the riches that come with compassion and grace towards our fellow Ethiopians and fellow humans.
The love of God has no boundaries, in that same way we must not let the boundaries of ethnicity, the barriers of dialect nor the walls of zeregnenet (tribalism) isolate us from one another. What is true of Ethiopia is true of humanity, our greatest challenge going forward is not to find success on our own but to understand that prosperity is only possible through togetherness. Andinet, not the political type but that of spirituality, is what we need if we are to stop walking in the desert for another 45 years.
For the sake of our children and for the future of Ethiopia, I hope that we abandon the energy of grievance that is overtaking our communities and seeping into the psyche of too many Ethiopians. Let us not return antipathy with animosity but drive out the darkness of contempt with patience and forbearance that our faiths teaches us. As we enter a new year, let us be kind to one another and just as important be kind to ourselves.We have tried to change the course of the world through rage and wars for too long; in 2012, let us give love a chance. #Ethiopia #Enkutatash Click To Tweet
The Mayans once predicted that the world would end in 2012, perhaps what they were anticipating was not an implosion of our planet but a transformation of our mindset. As the Ethiopian calendar flips the page to a new year, may we likewise flip the page on separatism and instead return to Ethiopiawinet. E pluribus unum has it backwards; we are many who came from one, let us remember that and quickly turn our hands back to our love so that we can make it to the promised land that has always been there for us—Ethiopia.
Pay attention to the message contained in this video from beginning to end, there is a narrative that is being told about our past and the way forward. Zelalem tinu enatachin Ethiopia.
Lij Teodrose Fikremariam is the Chair of Ethiopians for Constitutional Monarchy. He is the direct descendant of Atse Tewodros II, the once Emperor of Ethiopia who united a fractured nation during Zemene Mesafint (age of princes) and imbued Ethiopia with a sense of togetherness that enabled them to eventually defeat Italy at the battle of Adwa. Lij Teodrose was born in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia but grew up in America. He has a Bachelor of Arts from George Mason University and an Masters of Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. Lij Teodrose believes in one Ethiopia and that a nation can only be judged by the wellness of the least among us.