We can be angry and frustrated because we had expected better, but we cannot submit to the view where Ethiopia is not the beginning and the end.

My neighbour was in a drunken state when he proclaimed “miracles” about Ethiopia that bordered on the non-sensical.

“Ethiopia is the beginning and the end,” he repeated at the end of his ramblings, a sentiment that is as pervasive among the sober as it is with the intoxicated.

Ethiopia is in a state today that I would not have predicted years ago. Even my naivety would not allow me to claim that things were perfect, but I saw hope in the country. Nonetheless, as more than 35,000 students are driven from their campuses out of fear of violence and as churches and mosques are burned down to the ground, it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

This impending sense of doom has become a regular feature of conversations. I try to be honest about how nervous I feel, especially after having invested all my savings in a dream project here in Addis Abeba.

“I know it might not be the right time, but how long can we wait to hold our breath,” I had told myself as I decided to set up a project at a time of deep political uncertainty.

Unlike me, a great many of my friends are far more pragmatic. They regularly share with me their plans to leave the country to persue better lives. It is their choice to make, and I completely respect that, but it is unfortunate that many with great potentials are intending to leave the country.

They are tired of it all. We have entered uncharted territory. Our country that has always been riddled with problems seems to be heading toward destruction, and they do not plan to disintegrate with it. Their's is a survival instinct.

And yet some of those who had lived through political upheavals claim that they do not see anything new. In fact, although there are differences, what we have on our hands is nothing close to what they had to endure.

“Every once in a while, something ignites only to fade away,” says my landlord.

There has been a cascading avalanche of bad news in the last year in Ethiopia. The sentiment of many people is negative. We had assumed that we would inherit a country from our fathers that was somewhat better than what their fathers left them. From where we are standing, this seems not to be true.

Taking it all in objectively, though, perhaps we do not have it that bad. We have the resources and the potential and yet it will be hard to appreciate unless we put it to use. More crucially, many have opted to stand by, lamenting the political challenges in between sips of coffee.

And yet we do not intend to do anything about our situation. We do not even go through the inconvenience of informing ourselves, as most of our views are full of inaccuracies and exaggerations. We somehow believe that the work of building a country is someone else’s responsibility.

We do not even discuss properly any more. On a popular radio show recently, two hosts talked about the current sociopolitical issues.

“As journalists, there are things that we know that we are not going to share, because it is inappropriate,” one of the male hosts said.

This is the type of half information that leads listeners to fill in the blanks. We do not even trust our fellow citizens with crucial information anymore.

Those that have the knowledge and resources should use their voices to call out and stand up to the powers that be. This is a role that cannot be taken lightly. To the credit of some of our elites, they have had the courage in their convictions to speak out. But the few that have risen above partisan agendas are too few compared to those that have chosen to chase their own political ambitions.

While the rest of the world assumes that Ethiopia is on a path of prosperity, and those with deep pockets plan their next country of residence, for those who reside in Ethiopia and have no other alternatives, Ethiopia is the beginning and the end.

But what good is a home whose residents have all but lost hope?

Hope is a choice of being able to see the bright light in what seems like complete darkness. It is not having to cross our hands and waiting for the good things to happen. We can be angry and frustrated because we had expected better, but we cannot submit to the view where Ethiopia is not the beginning and the end.

PUBLISHED ON Feb 01,2020 [ VOL 20 , NO 1031]

Hanna Haile is the founder of Zellan Creative & Cultural Center. She can be reached at (hannahaile212@gmail.com).

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