After reading my recent articles, a colleague thought that writing about the leadership gaps and accusing of our culture as the root cause for our major troubles at this very critical moment is a distraction from the main thing. For him, the main thing is removing TPLF by all means with a sense of urgency. After a thorough discussion, we finally reached a common understanding. We agreed that these articles aren’t diversions but rather alarms and necessities if our desire is to quicken our struggle in bringing a regime change, and most importantly to enjoy a lasting peace, democracy, and the rule of law in post TPLF Ethiopia. Yet, it occurred to me that many other readers might have felt the same. So, I decided to write a couple of articles to clarify the need to reform our culture, and develop the capacity of our contemporary & future leaders before releasing my articles on bridging the leadership gaps, which I promised at the end of my last article. We all may agree that, while TPLF is in power and continuing to implement its faulty policies, it’s unlikely to bring true democracy and freedom in Ethiopia. Thus, in principle, I concurred with my critic that removing TPLF must be the first priority. But, it’s possible that we can carryout multiple synergistic efforts simultaneously toward the main thing. While some of us engage in fighting at the political battlefronts, the rest of us should participate in the change process in the areas of our passion and using our talents and experiences at multiple other fronts. When we engage in such a coordinated manner, that is when TPLFis unable to stand the pressures, and then give way to the change whose time has long overdue. Hence, we don’t necessarily need to abandon everything else and put all of our eggs in one basket, especially knowing that TPLF has been working hard day and night in changing our centuries old culture in order to divide and conquer, overcome resistance against its ethnic-apartheid style rule, corrupt our productive citizens, and effectively promote its own other sinister agendas.
TPLF has been waging wars at multiple fronts since its jungle days. Once it took power, it has been using state machineries such as the police, military, security apparatuses, economy, media, and the education system to maintain its dominance at every front. It invests hundreds of millions of dollars per year toward lobbying so as to silence international pressures. It wholesales not only our lands but also give away our national interests to appease, and in turn put neighboring countries in its pocket. It squashes its opponents mercilessly using every available means, and also do so many additional ugly things while busy reforming our culture to make it susceptible, and then, unable to withstand its menacing plots against Ethiopia and its people. Why then should we disregard all other facades and focus on one front? This approach is faulty at many levels. For one, it has been tried for decades and didn’t bring satisfactory results, and why then should we do it again and again and expect a different result?As Albert Einstein put it beautifully,“Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome is insanity”. Second, TPLF continues to have a field day since it could easily squash our ‘one basket filled with multitudes of eggs’. Third, the problems we face are deep and multifaceted that requires manifold synergetic moves.
Thus, we should discontinue our insanity, self-examine, evaluate our past, learn some lessons, drop those things that haven’t delivered, and come up with new ones that could bring lasting transformation. The latter, however, cannot happen without reforming our culture. Culture is the god of its inhabitants. The ways we think, behave, communicate, decide, act, and interact are molded by our culture. So far, these couldn’t help us get ride of tyranny, bring lasting peace, stability, cooperation, economic and technology advancements. We continue to experience conflict, further disintegration, chronic famine,and corruption. We’re known worldwide as one of the poorest countries in the world regardless of our abundant natural resources, great people, and rich history and so many golden cultural attributes. Unfortunately, we keep doing the same things again and again that failed us overcome these dire situations. Shouldn’t we stop and ask ourselves why these vicious circles continue to exist regardless of our continuous efforts to change them?
Let me share with you one of the vicious circles that I shared with my colleague. Many patriotic Ethiopians in the Diaspora have done their best to contribute their share in bringing democracy in Ethiopia since the late 60’s. Some of them sacrificed so many things toward this cause and died without witnessing the realization of their dream. Many others are still fighting one regime after another in the past several years without any meaningful outcomes- one tyranny replaces another, and the struggle continues against the latest and worst tyrant. These patriots fought the feudal regime boldly hoping that its downfall would bring a lasting change including going back to their native country. Their dream cut short when Derg took power. They didn’t have any choice except to continue fighting. Their frustration turned into a nightmare when a racist and divisive- a more repressive junta- substituted the military regime. The fight is still on with a sense of urgency; more of our people are leaving the motherland and going to very volatile places, let alone those of us who are already in exile to return.The question is: what has been missing? Rather, first, what has been the constant? Fighting one dictatorial regime after another with laser-focused attention has been there but without any significant outcome. What has been missing was the ability to invest our talent, time, and resources to carryout other background things at multiple fronts so that dictatorship wouldn’t have any room after a regime change.
It shouldn’t be our destiny to continue fighting one tyrannical government after another throughout our life. We need to reform our culture so that it repels, starves, and punishes tyrants. The present-day matured democracies inherited a stable culture that doesn’t entertain dictatorship because they had configured their culture by adopting the right constitution and designing a governing system that has checks and balances at various levels. They made sure their education system nurtures the culture; their arts, music, and media promote those values that are pillars to their culture such as individual liberty, freedom of expression, and the rule of law. They formulated their legal system to protect these values. They also built their armies and law enforcement bodies in such a way that their loyalty is to the constitution, which is the embodiment of these values.We may not need to copy and paste everything from them but one thing we must learn, if our desire is to enjoy the freedom, liberty, and democracy they have been enjoying is to reform our culture one step at a time the way it fits our objective conditions on the ground. But, culture cannot easily be reformed overnight. It takes years, sometimes decades. The right place to begin the reform is raising leaders (rather, change agents), at all levels, in different industries (politics, business, NGO, religion, academics, art, media, etc.). We should raise, promote, encourage, and reward those that detest dictatorship; those who won’t be tempted to promote the domination of one group over the others; and those whose preoccupation is serving, not becoming parasites.
That is why, as much as the political front is important and urgent, so is working on our culture and leadership capacity building. Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Bridging the leadership gaps, reforming our culture, and other background works are like sharpening the axe, and are critical to chop down the bad tree- TPLF, and some elements in our culture that allow tyrants to flourish. After TPLF, we should make sure that another generation wouldn’t go to the jungle to bring regime change, migrate to save their lives, and pursue their freedom somewhere on foreign lands. This vicious circle must stop in this generation. As intelligent, hardworking, and God fearing people, we must reflect, learn from our past, take some lessons, continue to implement those approaches that worked and change those that failed us, and project into the future and make sure that the next change won’t be the same. While fighting at the political battlefronts, we must raise the capacity of, first, our leaders, and then our people. We need capable, empowered, and extraordinary change agents to lead the cultural reform. It’s possible but it takes humility, open heart, ready minds, and committed souls. Are you one of them?
We must stop doing things haphazardly (BeZemecha). Let’s also stop acting like a fire brigade J. We’re good at coming out to tackle a problem once it reaches a tipping point. Once the threat subsides, we go back to our routine, and hibernate until another emergency situation awakens us. We need to wage deliberate, calculated, effective battles at multiple fronts, and measure our progress frequently and if necessary make amends quickly. Let’s have continuous, civilized, and inclusive discussions to have a shared vision, and a culture that is conducive to realize this vision. Let’s continue to engage in informative, participatory, and productive debates to shape the future of Ethiopia NOW. Let’s be open and entertain diverse ideas about the kinds of constitution, federal system, and development policies we need so that the shared vision may come to fruition. These and many other activities at multiple fronts should begin NOW. We don’t need to wait until TPLF is gone to do these things. Lastly, as Albert Einstein said, we must know that“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Whatever thinking, approaches, and systems we have had in the past brought us here. If we don’t like where we are NOW, we must change the former. If our genuine desire is to experience different kinds of results than what we have had so far, let’s stop doing the same things again and again. Most importantly, let’s stop the restlessness, and begin anew. Some of the activities that are running in the Diaspora are genuine. But, many of these are limited in scope while the rest are without wide array of support. Still others are staged and for the purpose of creating sound bites. What we need is broader, coordinated, and unscripted approaches led by change agents from various industries. That is when we begin to experience lasting transformation through cultural reform and leadership development. As promised, I’ll continue to write articles on these themes. My articles are aimed at provoking our thoughts, and igniting further debates (not to distract). My hope is that our community organizations may take these two things (reforming our culture, and raising change agents) seriously, establish institutions, design programs, recruit and train the trainers, arrange conferences, workshops, mentoring programs, and organize practical volunteer opportunities, and so on. Stay tuned!
Dr. Assegid Habtewold is a leadership expert at Success Pathways, LLC. He can be reached at email@example.com
Dear dr. Assegid, insane captivity
I share majority of your rather accurate accounts. But it is also good to figure out why are we insane in the perspective of your theme?
To me, it is not insanity but captivity. As Ethiopians, we have never been colonized whence enjoy sovereign mindset. However if we scrutinize why our country followed some kind of governance routes. Governance of our own land has never been without the direct and indirect influence rather intervention of the Westerns. We could of course enumerate numerous insults of our past national leadership which were total wrong doings of our own leaders.
I want to focus on our era of TPLF: the disguised neocolonial era of Ethiopia. I think we all know how TPLF brought to power and sustained its holding so long? TPLF mindset from East was a prime criteria to partner with the Westerns in the post cold war era. In simple words ‘TPLF mindset’ is traitorship. Why TPLF would like to conspire its own nation is a question which every Ethiopian can answer.
Thus, the prime candidate for a post cold war partnership was procured, trained and eventually installed in power with full fledged support.
In spite of our sustained voices rather cries against TPLF, USA, UK and others continue providing lip services to our cries while maintaining their full fledged tacit supports to TPLF.
Yes, Ethiopians in Ethiopia and else where have been peacefully expressing their grievances and discontents both in group and individually for more than two decades. Yet, the lip servicing and full fledged support to TPLF CONTINUED. I only wonder what they USA, UK, etc) want us to do? They have continued lip servicing to our grievances and fully tacit supports to TPLF!?
Thus, I want to use this opportunity to ask specifically USA/UK state powers and their security machineries ‘ what do you want us to do?’
You: the security and state authorities of USA/UK, humanity and societies around the world are in dismay due to your arrogant yet charity censored wars and crimes against the weak and against sovereignty of the Southern nations. If there is terrorist in our times you are the root and the principals. Look back to your records in the post cold war era? Paradoxically, aid, democracy, human rights, peace, development and environment are your shields. You are the cause for the miseries in Arabia, in Africa and beyond. Please refrain from the Bush-Blaire inhuman formula. Their courses caused despair/unrest to humanity. We are less safer now than before their political paradigms. You need to criticize evil inspirations of Bush/Blaire and judge their crimes and correct the ills before it is too late. Stop with your Bush-Blaire bluffs and undertakings, now!?
The lives and great treasures/identities of the Iraq’s are completely bulldozed due to the Bush-Blaire formula. My own birth nation and identity (Ethiopia) too are blown up with this neocolonial formula. UK and USA procured a junta group of traitors and installed it as state power in Ethiopia. This traitor junta has been further guided and fully supported rather lionized by USA, UK and so called international organizations. By doing so, you:USA, UK and your tactical int. organizations have accomplished the
following and more crimes against Ethiopia:
– Ethiopia is unjustly landlocked
– Decades long built national defense, air force and other structures are demolished
– National treasures, monuments and historical records are destroyed and/or deserted
– The people of Ethiopia are divided in numerous ethnic lines and made enemy to each other
– The authentic Ethiopian cultures/values and traditions are systematically cleansed
– systematic genocide against varies population groups are committed
– Sovereign lands of Ethiopia are given away to neighboring states and multinationals
– The long term security and benefits of Ethiopians in relation to the Nile are compromised
– Ethiopians are imprisoned, killed and/or agonizing/anguishing.
Yes, Ethiopians are outraged, they are engulfed with alight thoughts and ablaze consciences. We have peacefully expressed our displeasure’s, grieves and discontents in you and in your delegates. We are all over the world with all these devastations rather anger. What do you want us to do further?
We are descendants of the just and heroic people. We can’t compromise with our sovereignty, cultural/national prides though we tolerate due to our heritages of just/love values/learning. We have endured all your masked and vivid crimes against us. What do you think that we are thinking? How do you want us to
Please, stop with your oratory and arrogance in due time and resort to your human senses/values!?
Ethiopia shall regain its greatness and also once again spark liberty to humanity! We shall avert the neocolonial paradigm systematically enshrined in the philosophy/policies of globalization/new world order!