Radar | Aug 31,2019
November 27 , 2018
Clichés may be, well, clichés, but not without reason.
The saying that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” has become more famous than the philosopher, George Santayana, who coined it, because in recording history more accurately, we have come to notice that he has hit the nail on the head.
Historical recurrences are not wholly identical, but the similarities are astonishing. Even more surprising is that for all humanity’s advancement in making information widely accessible, history keeps repeating itself.
This is all the more true in Ethiopia. It should not be that hard to make a connection between the tectonic political changes taking place today and in the early 1990s and mid-1970s. But while few are able to take stock of the similarities and call for sobriety and a reorientation of focus and priorities, the overwhelming majority continues to indulge in the nationalistic fervours that trickle from the top.
It is of course hard to scold the public for such behaviour. It is not that they are bad students of history; it is only that history has been dictated by politicians. Everyone has a group, an agenda and a motive. The past is marked either as a time of complete darkness or as an utter utopia. Hindsight only goes as far as singling out the worst or the best in the past for condemnation or praise without a need for appraisals.
Of course, politicians will do this. It may be unethical, but there is no law against misstating, misinterpreting or falsifying the past. It is all part of the grand game of constituent politics and one of the unintended consequences of freedom of speech.
Instead, the responsibility of understanding history lays in the hands of the media, the first recorders of history,and the scholars of history. The latter is a group that is rare in Ethiopia. It is undeniable that there are many with that label, but there are few, especially of Ethiopian nationality or origins, who are objective, analytic and reflective.
The large amounts of literature on Ethiopian history can scant be swallowed with a grain of salt. It may offer a measure of the psychology of the time, but it is often regrettably narrowly defined. Most are written not to inform but with the specific objective of persuading. But facts are facts, historians’ primary job is to shed light on the past and persuasion should not reach beyond having to prove that a historical event did take place.
The last element is of special importance, for the behaviour patterns of societies and citizens are much more complicated than events. Today, in the developed world, there are surveys taken to measure matters as diverse as people’s happiness or political party and policy preferences. Even then, with all of the bulk data available, it is not uncommon to find errors.
In Ethiopia, comprehensive surveys are rare. Population numbers are debated, let alone measures of the policy or the ideological preferences of the public at large. Many try to measure the majority’s perspective of events based on social media posts and likes, and this may offer a glimpse into the wishes and behaviour of citizens. But even this is bound to come with a large margin of error given that not everyone is human on social media or that some people run multiple accounts. Additionally, urbanites are over represented compared to the much larger rural population of Ethiopia.
The social history of Ethiopia is faintly understood, much as its political history is. While theories and commentaries are always welcome, there representation as fact has done a great disservice to the current generation’s understanding of the past.
Reconstructing the past will be a mighty job, and while this is indispensable, recording the present should be done with care too. Economic history is relatively straightforward as transactions in money or the value of goods can be measured. On the contrary, political decisions and behaviour patterns of societies, which play a great part in shaping history, need an immense amount of information to responsibly account for.
PUBLISHED ON Nov 27,2018 [ VOL 19 , NO 970]
Radar | Aug 31,2019
Radar | Oct 16,2021
Viewpoints | Feb 01,2020
Fortune News | May 16,2020
Radar | Apr 13,2019
Radar | Jan 26,2019
Fortune News | May 24,2021
Letter To Editor | Feb 29,2020
Radar | Aug 06,2022
My Opinion | Apr 16,2022
Photo Gallery | 54291 Views | May 06,2019
Fortune News | 46870 Views | Jul 18,2020
Photo Gallery | 46104 Views | Apr 26,2019
Fortune News | 45857 Views | Sep 01,2021
Commentaries | Aug 06,2022
Life Matters | Aug 06,2022
My Opinion | Aug 06,2022
Sunday with Eden | Aug 06,2022
Agenda | Aug 06,2022
Editorial | Aug 06,2022
July 2 , 2022 . By RUTH TAYE
On a rainy afternoon last week, a coffee processing facility in the capital's Akaki-Qality District was abuzz with activ...
November 27 , 2021
Against my will, I have witnessed the most terrible defeat of reason and the most sa...
November 13 , 2021
Plans and reality do not always gel. They rarely do in a fast-moving world. Every act...
October 16 , 2021 . By HAWI DADHI
Residing in a country with no capital market, an organised marketplace for trading se...
Leaders of the National Election Board are in a charm offensive mood, of a sort. Last week, they organised a rare tour for members of the me...
When the country’s most senior diplomats and envoys return back to their posts after two-week debriefings, they leave behind a point or tw...
August 6 , 2022
Few initiatives by the administration of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) have been pu...
July 30 , 2022
Ethiopia’s banking industry is not merely underdeveloped. It has historically regre...
July 23 , 2022
The flip side of a government spending plan is financing. Behind the campaign promise...
July 17 , 2022
Messrs Ahmed Shide and Eyob Tekalegn (PhD), minister and state minister for Finance,...
PM Abiy Ahmed (PhD) at a Gala Dinner Called for the Awarding of the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize
May 6 , 2019
As the rainy season gets wetter, accompanied by heavier rain showers, it is not unusual to see folks with umbrellas. Little do they know tha...
August 6 , 2022
Champagne popped and poured; and a cake was cut to celebrate another milestone for Ethio telecom, still the only active operator in the coun...
August 6 , 2022 . By RAHEL BOGALE
The hospitality industry has entered the list of economic sectors that enjoy tax exemptions and incentive...
August 6 , 2022 . By RAHEL BOGALE
Federal authorities are contemplating the reversal of a decade-long ban on maize export. A team of expert...
August 6 , 2022 . By RUTH TAYE
Yodahe Zemichael seems determined to push the national ID project past the pilot stage, onboarding up to...
Or see contact page