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The Real Universities Outside the Ivory Tower: PM Abiy’s Commencement Speech at Addis Ababa University

The Real Universities Outside the Ivory Tower: PM Abiy’s Commencement Speech at Addis Ababa University

By Alemayehu G. Mariam

Graduation speeches given by political leaders typically are typically partisan, contentious and controversial. The politician will typically seek to use the chance to defend or promote coverage, reply to critics or announce an initiative.

After President Barack Obama and I parted methods again in July 2015, there were few issues we agreed on.

But I definitely agree together with his recommendation in his 2016 Howard graduation speech: “Pay attention, interact. If the other aspect has some extent, study from them. In the event that they’re flawed, rebut them, train them, beat them on the battlefield of ideas.”

Battle of concepts! Conflict of concepts!

If these metaphors sound combative, we will call it competitors within the market of ideas.

That was the central message of my weekly commentary this past Monday. Allow us to talk about, debate and dialogue over concepts to make Ethiopia better, stronger and prosperous.

In different phrases, let’s share concepts that may make Ethiopia the jewel within the African crown.

After PM Abiy Ahmed delivered his speech at Addis Ababa University on July 13, I was hoping those who mindlessly and hysterically criticize him would take the chance to problem him.

They might have on his proposal for a worldwide mobilization of Diaspora Ethiopian funding. They might have challenged him on his 4 billion tree planting campaign or the civic virtues he recommended to the freshly minted graduates.

While I don’t anticipate reasoned evaluation or critique from the cacophonous braying social media ignorati and lunatic fringe, I did anticipate a response from the Ethiopian literati and mental group, at the very least from those that might handle to register a pulse and brainwaves.  

That was not to be. I think they’ve more necessary things to do corresponding to beating the lifeless horse of id and ethnic politics.

Whereas PM Abiy’s critics are prepared to leap on a word or phrase spoken or allegedly spoken by him, they’re manifestly unwilling, unable or incapable of responding to him on substantive concepts.

I don’t know if the problem is a deficit of mental candlepower. I have yet to see anybody prepared to interact PM Abiy in a battle of concepts.

What a pity and disgrace to see “intellectuals” engaged in mudslinging and identify calling however are afraid of jousting in a battlefield of concepts.

“Hope springs eternal within the human breast.”

I hope Ethiopian intellectuals value their salt will muster the braveness, saddle up and have interaction PM Abiy within the battlefield of ideas.


Moaning, groaning, whining, griping, yapping and barking about victimology has no place within the battle of ideas.

I regard the silence of the intellectuals to hitch the battle of concepts the equivalent of raising a white flag.

Nice graduation speech by PM Abiy*

Having spent my whole professional life in the college classroom and a superb a part of it in the courtroom, I have heard great commencement and shutting argument speeches. I have also heard bland and forgettable ones. I have watched numerous graduation speeches on YouTube.

PM Abiy delivered a fantastic graduation speech at Addis Ababa University (AAU) on July 13.

However what makes a commencement speech great?

I consider many components go into the making of great commencement speech.

The message have to be inspiring, uplifting, motivating, hopeful, insightful, attention-grabbing, intimate and private, colorful with visual imagery, honor the graduates and households, defend core rules and draw approving applause.

I consider PM Abiy’s speech accommodates all of these parts.

PM Abiy was fast to point out to the 9,700 AAU graduates their university work was not finished but just beginning.

He informed them there were different far tougher universities awaiting them outdoors the AAU ivory tower.

In the “Marriage University”, they need to work onerous to cross the challenges of holy matrimony.

Within the “Work University”, their success will depend on their potential to move the exams of working with individuals of numerous demographic backgrounds and experiences.

In the ultimate “University of Life” (which I’ve often known as the varsity of onerous knocks), they should master new expertise and skills to face ever altering challenges.

PM Abiy argued the whole concept of a university signifies a process of creating something entire.

Drawing on the  Latin roots of the word, he stated there are lots of issues that make a person entire.

Mere guide studying does not make a person entire.

The one that has achieved “wholeness” is a important thinker, a person who retains an open thoughts and is prepared to reexamine his/her assumptions and change. Such a person is balanced and truthful in views and views.

PM Abiy drew an insightful distinction within the concept of graduation within the Western and Ethiopian contexts.

To graduate in the Western custom means to be elevated or rise up (from the Latin gradus “step up” ) while the Amharic equal “memereq” means to be blessed.

Information is power and if that proposition is true, what’s the motivating pressure to realize information?

PM Abiy drew on the works of Nietzsche, Bentham and Darwin, amongst others, to elucidate the elemental drive for studying and information.

Bentham believed the desire to pleasure was the driving pressure (“hedonic” or felicific calculus) and man rationally calculates to maximise pleasure and reduce ache.

Charles Darwin argued the desire to survive was central because the fittest survives by learning to adapt.

Nietzsche believed the desire to energy is the existential pressure in human action, the desire to be better, stronger and dominant.  (“I’ll do, turn out to be…” as a principle of self-affirmation.)

But the extra persuasive view, he instructed, is the conception that people study to reside a lifetime of which means.

That which means comes from forgiveness, love, service, compassion and goodness.

PM Abiy spoke about his signature four billion tree planting campaign.

With poetic eloquence he affirmed, “If we are Ethiopians once we are alive and turn into Ethiopia (soil) once we die, we should always at the least be buried underneath a shade tree.”

He talked about refurbishing tons of of faculties and hospitals and providing hundreds of thousands of notebooks, writing pens and tons of of hundreds of uniforms to high school youngsters.

He was reassuring. “If all of you 9,700 graduates determine with me and consider in your coronary heart [a better  future]I can inform you with certainty Ethiopia might be one (united) and we’ll bask in the mild. There can be no going again (to darkness). However every certainly one of us must determine for ourselves.”

His message on Ethiopian unity was unconditional. “Many have tried to interrupt up Ethiopia. Ethiopia has been robbed and ripped off. Ethiopia has suffered sorrow. Many have misplaced their lives. But there’s one thing that will not happen. Nobody will achieve breaking apart Ethiopia.”

PM Abiy reminded the graduates, “Seventy years in the past our individuals farmed with plough pulled by oxen. Seventy years later at present individuals are farming the identical approach. What’s the difference for the era? What is the worth of holding levels in such a state of affairs?”

PM Abiy advised the graduates to apply certain universal virtues in building the new Ethiopia. These embrace respect for others, excellence in work and studying, politeness, love, service, hospitality, willpower, unity and lifelong schooling.

PM Abiy delivered an inspiring speech. For me, his message resonated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. statement: “Life’s most persistent and pressing question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’“

What is going to the 2019 graduates of AAU do for the individuals of Ethiopia?

Maybe probably the most applicable question for me to ask is, “What has (is) my era, notably in the diaspora, carried out for Ethiopia?

Let every Diaspora Ethiopian of my era reply that question within the privateness of his/her conscience.

However I might commend to them Horace Mann’s admonition: “Be ashamed to die till you’ve got gained some victory for humanity.” 

I say, “Be ashamed to die until you have got gained some victory for Ethiopia!”

Diaspora Challenge: Do you might have the desire to take a position in your nation?

In his speech, PM Abiy made a direct challenge to Diaspora Ethiopians to “spend money on their nation”.

“If each diaspora Ethiopian invested USD$5,000 yearly, $2,500 each six months, $700 each three months, we will establish a standard investment fund (not present) and generate billions to assist build Ethiopia. In a couple of years, we will be a part of the ranks of African nations that have achieved financial prosperity. As an alternative of retaining our money in Dubai, London and China the place they bring about it again to spend money on Ethiopia (at high value), we will use our cash and do it ourselves.”

That is the second time PM Abiy has referred to as for assist from Diaspora Ethiopians.

His first call was for a dollar a day, final yr to the month, taken from our day by day coffee price range.

The query for me is, “Do Diaspora Ethiopians have the desire to spend money on the future of Ethiopia?

In the New Ethiopia?!

I do know PM Abiy has boundless faith in the Ethiopian Diaspora. He all the time talks about them as Ethiopia secret weapon. He is all the time talking concerning the Ethiopian diaspora doing so many nice issues.

I can’t say I’ve PM Abiy’s religion and confidence in the Ethiopian Diaspora. Simply speaking my fact to the Diaspora.

I have evidence.

PM Abiy believes the estimated 1-3 million Diaspora Ethiopians can spare one dollar a day from their every day coffee finances and help their individuals.

I know for a reality solely 20, 990 Diaspora Ethiopians globally have stepped up to deliver a dollar a day. One million because of each one of the 20,990 donors!

That does not say a lot concerning the Ethiopia Diaspora usually.

However there’s a massive distinction between me and PM Abiy.

It’s partly generational and partly a query of perspective.

He’s a man of vision. He can see great potential in Diaspora Ethiopians.

He isn’t as jaded and cynical as I’m.

I come from a era whose members have eyes but can’t see, ears however can’t hear and mouths however can’t converse.

In other words, I’m a member of a era of Ethiopians that has by no means missed a chance to miss a chance to help Ethiopia.

Whether the question is the desire to energy, the desire to survive, the desire to which means or the desire to spend money on Ethiopia, the widespread denominator is the desire.

“Will” as in free will.

“Will” as in “If there is a will, there is a method.”

I respect PM Abiy’s abiding faith within the will to power funding of Diaspora Ethiopians. I don’t doubt Diaspora Ethiopians can drive financial progress and improvement in Ethiopia.

PM Abiy didn’t difficulty his funding problem out of idealism.

In his speech, he spoke concerning the hardship of diasporic life and the disparity within the life of Diaspora Ethiopians.

He knows, to paraphrase Dr. King, there are numerous Ethiopians who reside on “a lonely island of poverty in the midst of an enormous ocean of material prosperity” in the Diaspora.

But the activity and ethical obligation of mobilizing diaspora funding properly belongs to those Diaspora Ethiopians who cruise on their yachts on the huge ocean of material prosperity.

I keep in mind when the TPLF came to the U.S. to conduct its illegal “Renaissance Dam” bond scam.

Diaspora Ethiopians have been informed to take a position by shopping for “bonds”. It was all an elaborate TPLF con recreation which  resulted in a levy of a $6.5 million fantastic on Ethiopia by the U.S. Securities and Trade Commission.

For many it could possibly be , “Caveat emptor.” (Purchaser beware.) “Once burned, twice shy.”

But, the place there is a will, there’s a approach!

Where there’s the desire to take a position, there are lots of ways to take a position.

PM Abiy is presenting Diaspora Ethiopians a fantastic concept and alternative.

He is telling Diaspora Ethiopians make investments a number of thousand dollars in your country and reap large return. Make boatloads of cash whereas creating jobs and opportunities in your individuals. It is in your personal rational self-interest.

What PM Abiy is speaking about is a practical and doable concept. Others have finished it.

There’s a substantial body of proof which helps PM Abiy’s proposals and ideas.

There’s clear evidence displaying a link between migration and improvement.

Diaspora Ethiopians have substantial financial belongings and wealth that may be mobilized to assist their motherland.

They’ve savings, retirement accounts, fairness and borrowing capacity which could possibly be mobilized for such investment, properly beyond the $5 thousand a yr PM Abiy is asking.

Certainly, there are packages that help diaspora buyers who are U.S. citizens to spend money on Ethiopia.

The Calvert Basis in Maryland has a program designed to help Indian People spend money on personal businesses and social enterprises in India. It really works in a partnership between the Calvert Foundation, USAID, and a number of other personal financial institutions in India.

Why not have an identical fund for Ethiopians in the U.S.?

Diaspora Ethiopians have a single question to answer: Do they have the desire to take a position?

Nigerians had the desire to take a position and have achieved it.

In  2019, “Nigeria expects $3 billion in investment funding from residents dwelling mainly in the U.S. to help the agriculture, energy, mining and transportation sectors.”

In 2015, “Nigeria’s diaspora inhabitants sent residence $21 billion in remittances.”

If Diaspora Nigerians can increase $3B to take a position their nation, why can’t Diaspora Ethiopians increase no less than $1B?

What’s it that Diaspora Nigerians acquired that we ain’t received?

The desire to take a position?

To spend money on Ethiopia or not to spend money on Ethiopia. That is the query.

So, Shakespeare’s Hamlet laments:

The undiscovere’d nation, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the desire,
And makes us somewhat bear those ills we have now
Than fly to others that we all know not of?

It puzzles the desire. Is Ethiopia the undiscovered country to which no Diaspora Ethiopian is prepared to return to take a position?

My problem to Diaspora Ethiopians with the means and will to take a position:

Speak is reasonable. Can you set your cash where your mouth is and spend money on Ethiopia?

For all the chattering and jabbering Ethiopian intellectuals:

Do you’ve gotten a better concept to promote Diaspora Ethiopian investments in Ethiopia?


“Pay attention, interact. If the opposite aspect has some extent, study from them. If they’re mistaken, rebut them, train them, beat them on the battlefield of ideas.”