By Alemayehu G, Mariam
Writer’s Notice: As we speak, September 11 (12), 2019 is Meskerem1, Ethiopian New Yr’s Day (Enqutatash “present of jewels”).
I wish all Ethiopians a HAPPY, PEACEFUL AND PROSPEROUS MEDEMER NEW YEAR.
Ethiopia makes use of the Julian calendar consisting of 12 months of 30 days with a 5 or 6 day “13th month” (intercalary year, this yr). The Ethiopian calendar is 7 years and 8 months behind the Gregorian calendar which is utilized in most elements of the world.
On this commentary, I share my greatest needs for peace, understanding and prosperity in Ethiopia, Eritrea and the Horn region.
“Those who love peace should study to arrange as effectively as those who love conflict.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
9/11/2001—A date that shall stay in infamy in American history
September 11 is a paradoxical date for me. It is a unhappy and a cheerful day.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, a gang of 19 terrorists managed to coordinate 4 heinous assaults that resulted in the deaths of almost 3 thousand individuals and damage to more than 6 thousand. Many lots of died from 9/11 associated sicknesses. Injury to property exceeded $10 billion. The legal mastermind of the fear assaults was killed in Might 2010. The U.S. launched a “international struggle on terrorism” which continues to be waged right now. Untold hundreds of thousands of innocents all through the world proceed to endure the results of that vicious act of terror.
Only the survivors of that heinous crime can tell the horror of that day.
On 9/11/2001, I watched the Twin Towers crumbling on television in surprised disbelief.
In denial, I tried to reassure myself I have to be watching a sequel to the Towering Inferno.
Alas! The Twin Towers have been the actual towering inferno!
The genie that came out of the bottle on 9/11 haunts hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world each single day.
9/11 modified America as did 12/7/1941 (the attack on Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entry in WW II).
We will keep in mind the harmless victims of the terrorist attacks within the U.S. on September 11, 2001.
We shall keep in mind all the innocents all through the world who turned collateral injury in the years following the 9/11 terror attacks.
9/11/2018 – A date that shall stay in glory in Ethiopian- Eritrean history
Between 1998-2000, Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a struggle that resulted in the deaths of an estimated 50,000-100,000 individuals and displacement of almost million.
The Ethio-Eritrean conflict inflicted “substantial injury to the financial progress and improvement of Ethiopia and Eritrea and has led to humanitarian struggling on each side of the border.”
On September 11, 2018 (Meskerem 1, 2010 E.C.), Ethiopia and Eritrea opened their borders for the first time after a 20-year no-war, no-peace stalemate.
On the middle of the prolonged conflict was a dispute over the implementation of the Ethio-Eritrean border arbitration commission determination which sought to “delimit and demarcate the colonial treaty border based mostly on pertinent colonial treaties (1900, 1902 and 1908) and applicable worldwide regulation.”
On September 11, 2018, I was privileged to accompany H.E. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, H.E. Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen, H.E. President Isaias Afeworki and other government officials through the opening of the borders between Ethiopia and Eritrea within the town of Zalambessa and an area referred to as Bure.
It was an incredibly poignant second for me.
After an absence of 48 years from Ethiopia and Africa, I had the opportunity of a lifetime to witness reside and in individual the official opening of the borders between the two nations.
For 20 years, leaders of the 2 nations exchanged salvos of bitter and acrimonious phrases. Their soldiers sometimes exchanged volleys of mortar and artillery rounds.
Because the African saying goes, “When elephants struggle, it’s the grass that suffers.”
When the leaders of the two nations locked horns for 20 years, the individuals suffered in unimaginable ways.
Households on each side of the border suffered enforced separation. They have been prevented from even attending funerals. All they might do was watch from a distance in unhappiness and despair.
There were mass expulsions and deportations of ethnic Eritreans from Ethiopia in flagrant violation of worldwide human rights conventions.
Ethiopia might not access the ports of Assab and Massawa and had to search much less favorable options.
Eritrea couldn’t entry Ethiopian markets and imports.
The U.S. put Eritrea on the listing of countries not cooperating with its anti-terrorism efforts followed by U.N. sanctions.
The Ethio-Eritrea border turned a theater of no-war and no-peace, and certainly a theater of the absurd.
Worry and loathing characterised the connection between the 2 nations for twenty years.
All that changed in June 2018.
PM Abiy made a shock game-changing announcement.
He declared Ethiopia will accept a 2000 peace agreement with Eritrea over their disputed borders.
In July 2018, he made a historic official state visit to Eritrea and eventually broke the ice.
He acquired a reception match for a rock star in Asmara.
After his three-day assembly with President Isaias, PM Abiy announced [auth. translation]:
We have now agreed to have our airways and ports to start out working, our individuals to change [freely]our embassies to open and for us to return to Asmara with our households on the weekends and luxuriate in ourselves. Eritreans can come and visit their households in Ethiopia. The remainder of the little gadgets on the agenda we’ll clear up by tearing down the border wall and building bridges. We’ve got torn down the wall on the border and are constructing a bridge over it.
He stated his core message to the individuals of Eritrea is
Medemer” (synergistically come together as drive multipliers for one another). If we [engage in] medemer, we might surmount all [our challenges]. We’ve a broad range opportunities in Northeast Africa. We have now superb people who find themselves brothers. What we’d like is to abandon hatred and come collectively in love in medemer.
Following PM Abiy’s visit, President Isaias traveled to Addis Ababa where the individuals gave him a reception fit for a rock star.
In his Millennium Corridor speech, President Isaias stated [auth. translation]:
I want to categorical the happiness I really feel as I deliver the greetings, love and good wishes of the Eritrean individuals to you. I wish to congratulate you on the historic change you’ve gotten achieved. Inside the framework of our conventional and historic mutually useful relationship, we have now defeated the conspiracy of those that sought to foster hatred and revenge among us. We are absolutely decided to now give attention to improvement, prosperity and stability and march forward together in all fields of endeavor. Who, who will dare to spoil our love, sow discord and instability amongst us, injury us or thwart and destroy our improvement and progress? We won’t permit anybody to [get in our way]. Collectively, we’ll get well our losses, work exhausting together and obtain victory. We’ll attempt for a greater future. I am certain of it.
In just some conferences, the two leaders managed to dissolve the hardened enmity that had stored their nations apart for 20 years.
On September 11, 2018, PM Abiy and President Isaias made historical past.
They busted down the border wall of hate, dying and destruction that had separated them for 20 years.
I was a witness in the meanwhile the 20-year previous wall was torn down and a new bridge built to reconnect the two peoples for ages to return.
The historic moment occurred at Bure, a desolate arid panorama with little vegetation on the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea and Zalambessa, a city situated in Tigray area on the Ethio-Eritrean border.
In the early morning hours of September 11, 2018, we flew from Addis Ababa to Assab where we met up with President Isaias and other authorities officers. From Assab to Bure was a short helicopter flight. Ethiopian and Eritrean troops lined the dusty street in Bure. We walked a couple of kilometers to succeed in the ceremonial website the place a jubilant crowd of a whole lot awaited with great expectation.
As we walked by, I tried to read the faces of the troopers who stood at consideration. They greeted us with welcoming smiles. Some waved their palms. There was not a hint of pressure. PM Abiy and President Isaias walked at fairly good clips as the remainder of us tried to keep up with them. Ladies ululated joyously. We shared conventional bread and water beneath the canopy as the border opening ceremony was carried out.
Following the Bure ceremony, we flew to Asmara and then to Zalambessa.
The turnout in Zalambessa was unimaginable.
In my estimation, there have been at the least ten thousand individuals and probably extra. Ladies have been out in their greatest traditional clothes ululating, crying, wiping tears from their faces, singing and waving their arms and the flags of the two nations. The gang shouted out the names of the two leaders. Throngs of younger individuals followed the automobiles carrying the VIPs to the ceremonial website.
It was really a joyous occasion.
For me, it was absolute sensory overload.
It was an awesome experience of which I’ll in all probability write at size in the future.
The border opening occasion was also a moment of sober reflection and nice expectation for me.
If ever somebody had advised me I might be present on the opening of the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea, I might have had that individual involuntarily dedicated for psychiatric remark.
There have been many poignant moments that gave me pause for reflection.
As I saw PM Abiy and President Isaias walking aspect by aspect on the dusty street in Bure to bury the hatchet at the border, I came to know the futility and absurdity of struggle.
Is struggle ever essential?
I remembered the strains from Robert Graves: “To you who’d read my songs of Conflict/ And only hear of blood and fame,/ I’ll say (you’ve heard it stated before)/ “Warfare’s Hell!”
It should have been hell in Bure in February 1999. Nobody knows for positive how many died in that parched wasteland.
What number of have been buried or left abandoned in the trackless sand and turned to mud?
Bure is a surreal place. It reminded me of the sun-scorched Demise Valley desert in Japanese California.
I tried to think about the hundreds from each side who died in that desolate desert and their surviving families and loved ones.
What was gained for all the lives lost, for the damaged bones and mangled and maimed bodies?
I paused to search for proof of enmity between the individuals of Ethiopia and Eritrea within the rocks and sands of Bure.
Lifeless men converse never. But if solely the rocks might converse. What horrors they might have related.
The sands of time converse only within the hourglass and rocks are stone deaf.
Thomas Hobbes opined the rule of human existence in the state of nature was “the struggle of all towards all.”
In two nations that have been one for eons, with their civilization that goes back for hundreds of years, the rule must be “the peace of all for all.”
Once I returned to Ethiopia after almost five many years, the only greeting I heard in all places was “Selam neh?” (Are you at peace?) “Selam hun” (keep in peace).
No one ever asked me, “Are you at warfare?” Nor wished me, “Struggle be upon you.”
It is all the time “Peace be upon you.”
In my youth, the greeting “Selam Neh” did not exist. For us, it was “Tadias?” (What’s occurring?) The response was “Alena!” (the equal of “hanging in there”).
I keep in mind a particular second once we have been all strolling to the ceremonial occasion venue in Zalambessa.
As I appeared again, hundreds of individuals have been following them at a distance.
I paused for a second and asked myself, “Who is actually leading this march for peace? Are the individuals main the leaders from behind or the leaders leading the individuals from the entrance?”
There was no question in my mind that the individuals have been main the leaders to peace from behind, hundreds robust. The two leaders and their officials have been being shepherded by the individuals.
I lapsed poetic. “How lovely to see the sheep lastly herding their shepherds!”
If the two leaders for any cause had needed to vary their minds that day and decided to not undergo with it, might they’ve finished so?
I had agonized over the Ethio-Eritrean conflict for a very long time as a result of I’ve all the time believed the 2 individuals are one and the identical.
Kings, princes, presidents, prime ministers and even colonial powers had causes to divide the 2 peoples.
I agonized because untold numbers of Ethiopians have died defending Eritrea and untold number of Eritreans have died defending Ethiopia.
If solely the lifeless might converse.
I all the time hoped (to some extent of conviction) peace will reign between Ethiopia and Eritrea within the not too distant future.
But typically, my hopes for peace have been dashed.
In a 2016 commentary, I vented the leaders of both nations weren’t having a conflict, simply enjoying warfare video games of mass distraction.
But I never imagined I might reside to see, feel and experience my own prophesy for myself.
In my June 10, 2018 commentary entitled, “Blessed Are the Peacemakers”, I wrote of my deepest wishes for peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia:
The guns silenced, the struggling individuals of Ethiopia and Eritrea might now converse, shout out, that the 2 nations hereafter “shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not carry up sword towards nation, neither shall they study struggle anymore.” Witnessing swords crushed into plowshares is a supply of nice pleasure for me.
On September 11, 2018, virtually precisely four months to the day I wrote that commentary, I used to be blessed to experience the good pleasure I yearned as I witnessed the leaders of the two nations officially open their borders, bury their hatchets and take a vow earlier than the world that they may beat their swords into ploughshares and grow to be a beacon of peace for the Horn and the remainder of Africa.
All I can say is, “my cup runneth over”.
Struggle and peace
It is stated “warfare is hell”.
I say, “To hell with struggle.”
What I saw in Bure and Zalambessa on September 11, 2018 was that conflict can destroy the human body and crush bones, annihilate and lay waste to the landscape, however it could do nothing to the human spirit to outlive and thrive in peace.
What was the reason for the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea that resulted in so many deaths?
Was it actually about resetting of the colonial border?
Peace shouldn’t be about leaders and what they do or do not.
In history, kings, queens, presidents, prime ministers and generals have started wars but there’s nary an instance in history where the individuals rose up on their own and demanded to go to warfare.
History additionally exhibits that those who have began wars are not often the ones to complete it.
For my part, peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea was inevitable.
I want to think of the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea as a family feud that typically gets approach out of hand.
Desmond Tutu stated, “You don’t select your loved ones. They are God’s present to you, as you’re to them.”
That I consider is the case within the Ethiopian-Eritrean families.
Ethiopians and Eritreans are God’s present to one another.
They need to come together in a means of atonement, healing and reconciliation.
Ending the no-war, no-peace state of affairs might have taken longer, nevertheless it was destined to happen.
That is because the flip aspect of the peace coin is brotherhood and sisterhood.
Peace shouldn’t be simply the absence of conflict. Is the Middle East in the present day at peace or at struggle?
Peace isn’t an choice for the individuals of Ethiopia and Eritrea, certainly for the whole Horn area. It is the solely thing.
Within the phrases of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the individuals in the Horn of Africa “should study to stay collectively as brothers or perish collectively as fools.”
Whatever the propaganda of the conflict and hatemongers, the individuals of Ethiopian and Eritrea are brothers and sisters who’ve been manipulated into turning into enemies of one another.
They’re a part of a single garment of future.
To paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Ethiopians and Eritreans are caught in an inescapable community of mutuality, tied in a single garment of future. Whatever impacts one immediately, affects all not directly.”
Put simply, Ethiopians and Eritreans will swim or sink collectively.
I shall prophesy in a number of years Ethiopia and Eritrea will neither swim nor sink.
They shall unfold their wings and soar over the borderless African skies to the amazement of all.
The naysayers, the prophets of doom and gloom, the cynics, defeatist, skeptics, pessimists, losers, bellyachers, grumblers, dogmatists, fanatics, bigots and the haters will soon be consigned to the dustbin of historical past.
Ethiopians and Eritreans shouldn’t have a separate racial or ethnic id or even nationality. Such classifications are “social constructs”, artificial establishments created by societies.
Their natural and irrevocable id is their humanity.
But their natural id is contaminated by the lethal man-made illnesses of ethnocentrism, sectarianism, tribalism, nationalism, authoritarianism, chauvinism, dogmatism, egotism, fanaticism, and so on.
We must help peace, reconciliation and good relations between the individuals of Ethiopia and Eritrea not due to their leaders however despite them.
Our help for peace must not be based mostly on our perception of the actions or inactions of the leaders.
Leaders come and go, however the individuals stay, and as new generations come, the prospect for peace will increase.
At the elementary degree, peace to me is an existential condition by which individuals resolve their differences without violence but by means of dialogue, discussion, negotiation and compromise.
In America, there’s a widespread slogan of dissent, “No justice, no peace.”
In different phrases, if there isn’t a justice, there will probably be violence.
If justice and peace are associated, then the rule of regulation should reign supreme to protect the rights of people.
There have to be accountability and political, social, legal and gender equality. The individuals have a pure proper to non-public security and equal alternative to satisfy their primary needs.
Over the previous yr, I have mulled over the teachable moments in the Ethio-Eritrean warfare.
As elementary and apparent the lessons are, they have profound significance for me.
Ethiopians and Eritreans are usually not enemies. They are brothers and sisters. They have household feuds, but what household doesn’t?
Ethiopians and Eritreans are one individuals divided by misunderstanding, misinformation, miscommunication and miscalculation.
Both peoples have deadly widespread enemies referred to as poverty, ignorance, disease, bigotry, gender inequality, youth unemployment, and so on.
The borders between the 2 nations exist within the minds of people that need to maintain the 2 peoples separate and at one another’s throats. The physical borders are mere reflections of the slender borders of the minds of those who need to hold the two peoples in a state of worry and loathing. What is the point of having open borders however closed minds? I’m drastically inspired by the agency dedication of the 2 leaders to tear down the mental wall of hate, distrust, suspicion and doubt separating them and build bridges of love, friendship, good will and good religion.
Lesson # 3:
The warfare of bullets and words should now be replaced by a battle for hearts and minds of the individuals. Leaders should attain out to the individuals and have interaction them in shaping the destines of their nations. The alternative will depart the individuals in perpetual poverty.
Karl Marx within the 19th century warned, “A specter is haunting Europe—the specter of Communism.”
At present, I might say, “A specter is haunting the world – the specter of globalization.”
Within the 19th century, it was the “scramble for Africa”. Within the 21st, it is a scramble for the globalization of Africa.
International inequality is accelerating at breakneck tempo. In Africa, tens of millions of individuals continue to endure from restricted entry to schooling and primary well being care providers. Africa carries crushing overseas debt, and without some large debt forgiveness program, I can see only the darkness of poverty and privation at the finish of the infinite tunnel.
Leaders must create channels for the individuals to communicate with them. They need to take heed to the individuals and have interaction them in give and take. Leaders not solely lead but in addition train. The easiest way to show the individuals is by exemplary leadership.
Lesson #4: The longer term belongs to the youth. The best challenge for all leaders within the Horn and all through Africa is to win the hearts and minds of their youth. Whereas Africa has the youngest inhabitants on the earth, youth unemployment remains high and the prospect for youth financial improvement is dismal. Leaders must depart an enduring legacy for the subsequent era. They need to put the interests of the brand new era in front of the last. John Donne wrote, “the dust of nice individuals’ graves is speechless.” Solely the changed and improved lives of the youth will converse of the greatness of their leaders. Nations don’t die from wars nor stay due to peace. They die when their youth lose hope and confidence of their future and stay when their youth have religion, optimism and conviction that tomorrow will probably be better than at this time and next yr better than this yr.
Lesson # 5: The one method for Ethiopians and Eritreans to outlive and thrive is through Medemer. They will grow to be drive multipliers for one another in the event that they work collectively for mutual profit. PM Abiy has spoken about his concepts of “Medemer”.
As I explained in my current commentary, “‘Medemer’” is the street map out of the wilderness of the Valley of Fools in the Horn of Africa.
In that commentary, I speculatively defined how PM Abiy and President Isaias did the inconceivable.
I concluded as follows:
As goes the Horn of Africa, so goes the rest of Africa.
The Horn is the laboratory, the proving grounds, for all of Africa.
Will there be infinite wars and conflicts that may bury the continent in the abyss of poverty?
Are we on the cusp of a new era of collective prosperity and progress that may ensure Africa’s rightful place on the worldwide stage?
If the Horn nations can come together (Medemer), make peace and build the inspiration for peaceful and affluent relations, the rest of Africa will comply with of their footsteps.
Wishing all Ethiopians and Eritreans a Joyful Affluent Medemer 2012!
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