The past few months have been full of ups and downs for fellow Ethiopians. We have been full of hope and optimism following the rise into power of Dr. Abiy and his team. Lots of promising achievements in a short period of time. The release of political opponents and critics of the government was a big step forward. Engagement with stakeholders around the country and the world was among the commendable acts of the new Prime Minister. Restoration of peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea was among the major achievements. The return of exiled opponents, activists and leaders was a remarkable achievement. The work to restore freedom of expression and media is also to be applauded. Hence lots to celebrate and remain hopeful.
Dr. Abiy’s government has not been without challenges. The killing of Engineer Simegnew; the killings and displacements of fellow Ethiopians in different parts of the country is heart-breaking and worrisome. Ethnic based conflicts and tensions remain the major challenge for Dr. Abiy’s government. The incarnation of fellow Ethiopians from Addis and other parts of the country was among the setbacks. Hence despite a very promising start, there have been challenges that need addressing. One thing for sure Ethiopia will not be the same again. The change engineered by Dr. Abiy and team needs to go on and we should give it our 100% support. It is now or never. For sure, it should be now.
We don’t need to be political giants to influence change. All it needs is our goodwill and concern for Ethiopia that is for all and do our bits. We will encounter challenges through the process, but we need to stick to our ideals, principles and the bigger picture that is Ethiopia for Ethiopians.
Hence my call is simple.
1. Give your support to Dr. Abiy and team as they go through challenging time. Don’t expect them to do everything themselves. Rather tell them what you are doing to make the change they are leading a success and long lasting.
2. Be cautious of allegations and counter allegations - We are in the 21st century where ideas are judged based on their merits. Let us debate on the ideas and come to a consensus.
3. Avoid triumphalism or defence mechanism - no single individual, activist or party is a winner through the change making progress. We are all winners; and if we lose, we lose together. As a country we cannot afford to lose!
4. Character assassination doesn’t help - it rather adds fuel to the fire. It is not bad to challenge individuals or groups, but the challenge should be geared towards their ideas and opinions. We need to back ourselves with facts, realities and logic.
5. Working for peace and reconciliation - this is for all of us to do. Yes, we need Peace and Reconciliation Commission organised by the senior leadership of the country. But this doesn’t stop us from working for peace, reconciliation and tolerance locally. After all it is customary for Ethiopian elders to do this. That is the Ethiopia I know.
6. Civic and political engagement- whether we like it or not politics affects our lives. Hence, we need to be political, not necessarily politicians. We need to be politically active and help the change. We should at the same time strengthen our civic institutions such as ‘Equb, Edir, Mahber, etc’. They are our foundations for civic and political engagements.
7. Responsible journalism and social media usage – In this day of social media and public journalism, we need to be very cautious and work more on what unites us than divides us. Our media needs to be independent, robust, investigative and above all that can engage most if not all. This doesn’t mean some media outlets will not be mouthpieces of individuals, groups or political parties. Rather we should work to have strong, professional, ethical and independent media.
All the above could happen if we continue to give our unwavering support to Dr. Abiy and his team. Together we can make tomorrow a better day.