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There is hope in Ethiopia. But where we are is nowhere in the realm of where we ought to be.

The amount of resources that are available have been wasted for such a long time that Ethiopia finds itself at a loss today. This is evident in human capital, where even the students that graduate from higher learning institutions every year have little to offer the nation.

Surprisingly enough, they have become part of the problem in having outnumbered the demand for labour but not the solution. The universities they have gone to are not intellectual grounds but places where students band together in lingo-cultural groups and learn to memorise what they have been assigned.

It is indeed easy to point out all the mistakes in Ethiopia without mentioning the continuing progress – say in access to education – we see every day. Nonetheless, it is hard not to disregard the fact that nothing seems to be running as smoothly as it should. We give excuses to every problem and turn a blind eye to the solutions that could have gotten us out of the quagmire we are in currently.

We are a nation that would construct and reconstruct the same poorly planned institutions and infrastructure over and over again. We are starved for capital, yet we keep miscalculating and wasting more resources.

As I embark on a very personal journey ahead, I am overcoming a lot of guilt that somehow my presence in Ethiopia means something more than it should. I know many other young Ethiopians who feel the same way for living the life they felt was right for them. They feel guilty for their happiness and setting personal goals instead of forsaking all for the sake of our nation.

Yet on the other spectrum, too many feel nothing as they misuse and take advantage of our nation. They constantly scheme for their benefit, whether that benefit is grand in scale or small.

The resources of our nation have not been recognised for what they are and utilised in a manner that can help the nation progress. This includes those educated who would like to stay in Ethiopia yet find it too difficult to do as such. The difficulty lies in there being too many people who cannot see the big picture of a growing nation.

In so many ways we await the validation of the West to help us appreciate what has been ours.

All over Africa, there are art scenes that continue to tell the stories of our nation, but many of them are being sponsored by the French, the Italians or the British.

Why it is that the African Union is not able to commit the resources to do the same on a similar scale?

Young people and stories of today need the support. The fact that it is cultural centres of European nations that provide these resources hinders our creativity and is always on their agenda and their turf. We need to be more present in our Africa.

Ethiopians are happy to tell us how proud they are of their nation and the many achievements of the past. Yet we all ought to embody what it shows us and not just tell it. When we promote Western-style buildings and discard our traditional ways, when our nation chooses to look more like Dubai rather than exploring what contemporary Ethiopia could look like on its own, we keep falling short.

We feel inadequate because our nation is not its own. We are mimicking others without knowing why, because we have not explored the depth of who we are and continue to be. We are wasting time and resources our nation desperately needs.

But there is abundant hope in Ethiopia and a uniqueness that demands to be seen. In moving forward, the honesty we bring to our profession and our personal lives is what will bring development and change to our home.


By Hanna Haile
Hanna Haile ( is an Ethiopian writer and social worker. She is one of the organizers of Poetic Saturdays at Fendika Cultural Centre in Addis Abeba and at Terara Bar & Kitchen in Hawassa, where a stage is open to those who celebrate art through performances on the first and second Saturday of each month.

Published on Jan 12,2019 [ Vol 19 ,No 976]



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