Young Peacemakers Assemble as the Elderly Fail Their Communities

Oct 9 , 2021
By Eden Sahle

Ethiopia is experiencing a nationwide social crisis unlike any other the young generation has seen before in their lives. It is escalating people's suffering and upending communities. People are deeply divided, and the social fabric is being torn apart. We see this in our daily lives.

I have witnessed this calamity play out in a couple from different ethnic backgrounds married for several decades. They are close to my family. The wife left Ethiopia for various reasons a while back and decided to stay abroad due to the identity-based fallout she had with her husband. In a phone call, she told her family that she was not coming to Ethiopia because she no longer wanted to be associated with her husband's ethnicity. Their decades-long marriage and their children were suddenly narrowed down to an ethnic phenomenon.

Then their mother suddenly showed up from abroad, deciding to move back to Ethiopia. The family was thrilled to have her join the family. Her husband was ecstatic to have his wife back. My family and the community who knows them celebrated what we assumed would be their subsequent union.

Unfortunately, nothing was as anticipated. The wife came back with her resentment to her husband’s ethnic group in overdrive. The day she arrived in Addis Abeba, and we welcomed her with her family, she gave her children an ultimatum to choose between their father or her if they wanted to have a mother.

After a long, tiring conversation, we managed to get the wife to come to their house and solve matters behind closed doors. It was all for nought. She told everybody that she regretted marrying their father and having children with him. His crime is belonging to a particular lingo-cultural group. Right there, we knew the awful family ordeal was just starting.

The husband and the children are cut off from social engagements now. The neighbours they knew, who shared the wife’s ethnicity, now see them as adversaries. They are prevented from fully interacting with the community. It was traumatising for me and my family, who have known both sides of the story, to see the family go through the incredible hardship for something they have not done.

It is a terrifying time that we live in, where family members turn on one another due to identity politics, something that used to be hard to comprehend. Making things worse was how the community the family belonged to exacerbated the problem by taking sides in the fallout instead of reconciliation. They fuelled the separation and breakup of the family.

The husband is the enemy just because he happens to be born from a tribe that his wife’s family and friends do not like anymore. Many are not interested to hear his and his children's side of the story. The place he comes from prevented him and his offspring from being given the benefit of the doubt. They are not allowed to defend themselves.

It is tragic that those who are doing this to them are elderly people that should know better.

Do we not grow up hearing that elders are peacemakers? Where are those who go all the way to save a marriage and keep families together? Where are the elders who care about family and the short- and long-term consequences of a broken family? Where are the elders who believe people are dignified irrespective of where they come from in life?

What happened to the family mentioned is rooted in our current circumstances. People are hurting one another, bringing into personal lives political issues that individuals have nothing to do with under any circumstance. The communities and their relatives who added fuel to the flame have destroyed a family's peace and wellbeing. If our elders have become immature and irresponsible for their actions, perhaps it is time to shift to those peacemakers, young or old, that understand people's value and dignity has nothing to do with the colour of their faces or the area where they came from years or decades ago.

PUBLISHED ON Oct 09,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1119]

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

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