When the Going Gets Tough, Flee

Oct 16 , 2021
By Eden Sahle

It is getting to a time when we start to consider conflict, death, displacement, homelessness, and hunger as normal aspects of being Ethiopian. These situations reflect the massive degradation we are sliding into as human beings.

Sustainable development of the nation has much to do with development-focused activities that strive to enhance and promote economic and socio-political welfare. But conflicts kill people. They destroy property, hamper economic activities, and deflect resources away from development and health care. The endless nationwide problems are stressing us beyond description. As a result, some are taking drastic measures to flee the nation for good.

One of my college friends is among the many people putting their hopes in another country. He graduated with distinction and did not dream of living anywhere but in Ethiopia. When we were at the university, we promised ourselves to continue living in the country and contribute to society, improving the lives and livelihoods of our fellow citizens.

We did not see the coming of all the sadness and deprivation that was to follow. Our dreams, it turns out, were nothing but illusions. It did not take us long to realise that resources would be wasted, services undelivered and citizens, particularly the poor, denied legal, economic, and social protection.

Citizens such as my friend are thus discouraged. He paid close to two million Birr in a scheme to a woman that has an American passport so that they can marry and he can fly to the United States. It was devastating to those of us who knew him and his dream for his country that he left the country in such an illegal and undignified manner. He aims to get away and hopefully start over in a place where he can hear little to nothing about his beloved country.

Many others take it personally when their country is in a quagmire. They prefer to flee at any cost instead of witnessing tragic realities daily. Those of us who remained in the country need a bigger heart and certainly a belief in miracles.

My friend gave up on his dream of staying to contribute to his society in search of his mental sanity. He cried for the life he knew, for leaving his country and the people who understood him in a way that nobody else would. But he needs to make sure that he does not lose his mind living in a country that seems hopeless.

Leaving a country always involves loss, even when it is under personal free will. It is catastrophic to those who are departing the nation without their wish, fleeing war and poverty. Nothing is of their choosing, including the destination. In that case, the loss is bound to be all the more awful as people quickly lose their sense of self and hope.

All countries and societies have their moments of hardship, and a time when it seems like the current crisis is just one of those periods that will come and go. It looks like we are wrong. Like previous generations, the young are now worried about their offspring’s future, slowly giving up on their own. Sadly, peace and development remain just an elusive idea that exists in our minds as we continue to grapple with instabilities.

It is saddening that all generations in Ethiopia have in common war and the need to leave the nation by whatever means. Both the educated and uneducated do it primarily for lack of better options.

Let us expect things to get better anyhow. Hope is a great thing, even if what one is hoping for may never come. This is not to say those who leave or those of us who stay do not pay the price one way or the other. But we do not hold out, there is nothing else anyway.

PUBLISHED ON Oct 16,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1120]

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at edensah2000@gmail.com.

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