“WE WANT PROSPERITY. WE WANT DEMOCRACY. WE WANT PEOPLE TO BE EQUAL.”
These were the chants of most Ethiopians in Canada and the USA, where they had gathered in their thousands to celebrate the end of authoritarian style leadership and a war with its neighbour, Eritrea.
The country had: been at war with Eritrea for approximately 20 years, seen a clamp down on opposition in the country, barricades put up from the rest of the world by having state-owned enterprises as well as maintaining sole dominance over the nation’s telecommunications industry. This led to over 40,000 people to seek asylum elsewhere. In 2016 alone, over 37,000 people had applied for refugee status in the European and American jurisdictions.
Now, things have changed. The borders have been broken down and peace has been restored. The current Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, began making some giant moves after he took office in April. He has brought peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea, ending the 20 year war. There have also been policy changes such as: the release of political prisoners, opening of phone lines to the outside world, and the biggest of all being the partial privatisation of all state owned companies including Ethiopian airlines and Ethio Telecoms.
Ethiopians in diaspora are now willing to return home and help build the country under the new administration.
Pictured: Abiy Ahmed, the current Prime Minister of Ethiopia
After years of communist style rulership, dictatorial leadership and gross abuse of human rights in the country, the Ethiopian government (under a new regime) has begun changing the narrative for Ethiopia. This is a welcome development as a whole for the African continent. It shows that Africa still has the desire to ensure that leaders are an adequate representation of the will and desire of their people. It shows African leaders aim to ensure the world see their commitment towards human rights protection and economic development.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed recently challenged Saudi Arabia to teach Ethiopians Arabic, so that they can learn Islam and in turn re-educate the Arabic community. This was made in reference to the fact that modern day Islam has been adulterated and embraced human rights abuse, actions which the Saudi Arabia is evidently guilty of.
In totality, Ethiopia has taken a turn for the good. It is not possible to say how long this will last for, but it is a welcome development which should change the face of leadership in Africa.
Finally, Africans are becoming more aggressive in their demand for the respect of the rule of law by democratically elected leaders. As we go deeper into the 21st century, most African nations dread the thought of being last on the pecking order of developmental and economic change on the continent.