A LESSON OR TWO FROM GENBOT 20

By Yohannes Gebresellasie (Ph.d)  Addis Ababa: Ethiopia celebrated “Genbot 20” and it was an exuberant day and the main agenda was to colorfully celebrate the 26thth anniversary of the downfall of the former brutal military regime the (DERG) and the replacement of that brutal system through massive sacrifice. Colossal sacrifice was paid and tens of thousands of young Ethiopians gave their precious lives fighting the Derg regime in order to bring peace, democracy and justice to this country. As a result and after seventeen years of fighting, EPRDF made history by defeating and eliminating that notorious regime once and for all. Therefore, “Genbot 20” is a symbol of peace, democracy and justice. This celebration is thus to commemorate this fact.

This celebration further signifies unity among the Ethiopian people from every corner of the country and abroad. It also demonstrates and gives a clear message to enemies from within and abroad that the Ethiopian people are as always united and strong. It shows that Ethiopians  want peace, democracy and stability and are working hard to put this country forward through investment and development and they do not want anarchy and violence to distract them from their number one agenda i.e. working hard for poverty alleviation and for sustainable development. The celebration also shows that the new generation has to take a lesson or two from this truly peoples holiday:  “Genbot 20”.

The multi-faceted developmental endeavors currently undertaken by the government are good examples on the strategies that must be undertaken for future struggle by the new generation. The new battle is now on investment and on development and not using arms but instead, using skills, knowledge, resource both material as well as financial in order to win. The battle is against poverty, disease and under-development.

Further, the battle is against these fierce enemies of the Ethiopian people and this new generation must learn a lesson or two from “Genbot 20” of winning war and making history. Like “Genbot 20”, this new generation has to be strong, willing and committed to fight those enemies of the people and win this time around not with weapons but with education, investment, development and commitment and make history of their own once and for all . This is what the current government is focusing and this is what the people of Ethiopia from within and the Diaspora should do: concentrate on investment and development in order to put this country forward. This is what “Genbot20” wants us all to do and more importantly, this is what that immense sacrifice is all about.

Since the downfall of the former dictatorial military regime and despite internal as well as external provocations and conspiracies, Ethiopia continues to maintain peace, stability and embark on civilized norms and values of democratization, good governance and sustainable development. From the very outset, the Ethiopian government formulated a constitution that guarantees equality of all Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of the country. The constitution guarantees freedom of speech, expression in all aspects, ways and means. There are different independent newspapers with variety of views within the country expressing different social, economic and political views and addressing different issues. Also, there are different political parties operating with different political agendas in the country.

Generally, the Ethiopian people have been enjoying peace, stability and the fruits of democratic values and norms since this current government came to power. It is to be recalled that these fundamental rights of citizens were absent during the former regimes. Past elections where over thirty million Ethiopians cast their votes to the parties they wished was but one demonstration where the Ethiopian people exercised their democratic rights and responsibilities for the fifth time. During those elections, many international observers including the renowned Carter Center and over thirty-five thousand domestic observers declared that those elections were free, fair and democratic; all that is a result of “Genbot 20”

The Ethiopian people have been denied of their fundamental human rights including the right to elect or to be elected for generations. It was only during this current government that the Ethiopian people got the chance to cast their votes for the candidates of their choice for the fifth time now. This fundamental right was violated during the previous regimes. It is obvious therefore, that democratization, good governance and the rule of law are for the first time flourishing in Ethiopia, thanks to “Genbot 20”; however, everything is not simply nice and dandy. There are challenges coupled with man-made as well as environmental cataclysms. The gap in good governance, rent seeking and corruption here and there remains to be one of the greatest challenges in this country and more work, commitment and determination is needed both from the government and the public at large to overcome the challenge and the process is put in place to do so. The other big challenge seems to be coming from successive environmental cataclysms such as drought, flooding and unconditional rain or the lack of it. Such unforeseen conditions negatively affect agricultural productivity and the livelihoods of the people in some parts of the nation. This challenge has to be tackled and a system of early warning has to be put in place in order to predict climatic conditions and in order to prepare for such unforeseen disaster created by environmental cataclysms way in advance before it happened. Another big challenge is the perception and reality of the way we as people think and do vis-à-vis work, tolerance, responsibility, governance, nationalism and the love and respect of our nation, voluntarism and provision of services towards the vulnerable part of our society, understanding democratic values and norms, respect for the rule of law etc. are some of the mind issues that need more work because without a positive mind set and change of mentality for the better, a nation cannot achieve the needed and required development. Building infrastructure is one thing and good and must continue; however building human mind and mind set with positive mentality has to take place on equal footage or more in order to reach full developmental endeavor. The sacrifice, perseverance, responsibility and love for the nation and people are some of the lessons that we all can take from “Genbot 20”

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