Ethiopia Hits Puberty

The Ethiopian New Year will be celebrated in a few days, and the nation will exit one of the most unique years in the its existence.

The rate of significant socio-political reforms have gained the year comparison with two notorious junctures in modern Ethiopian history, 1974 and 1991. Attitudes, impressions, knowledge and understanding of culture, history and politics have been modified. If Ethiopia was a human being, the past year would have been its puberty.

Indeed, how revolutionary the Ethiopian year, 2010, has been compared to the other years can be debated. There was no regime change, the flag remains the same, administrative demarcations are intact, international allies have not been conspicuously altered and nor is there a significant ideological shift. At least, not yet.

But there are elements that make the current unraveling unique. Both in 1974 and 1991, the changes could not have been forthcoming or significantly delayed if it were not for the military clique in the former case or the armed struggles in the latter.

It had been groups or organisations with a specific agenda that took over the cause of revolution. It is not so this time around. There are individuals who wish to take credit, but it was disorganised movements by masses of citizens that brought about the unravelling. They were sustained, widespread and influential enough to persuade the EPRDFites to finally walk the talk on their promises to begin a path toward meaningful reforms.

Society seems to have significant sway in decision-making at long last, and as the most critical part of a nation-state, its decisions will be longer lasting than that dictated by members of the ruling elite in times past.

But the road ahead seems scary much as adulthood is. All of us as children have dreams. Nonetheless, we never realise how impractical and distant they are until we have finally been given space to determine our own way forward.

To begin with, there is no one from here on to blame for mistakes made. It is also frightening to think that wrong steps can result in irreparable damage. It is one thing to be caught cheating in class, quite another to be called out for plagiarism. The stakes are suddenly higher.

Even worse, it is a moment in time that we are starting to understand that nothing ever really happens without a reason. There is no such thing as inherently good or bad, only good or bad decisions. And these can be made not out of wanting to hurt anyone but for being human and not knowing better.

This can be seen in our almost hopelessly contradictory and vague assumption of what character the nation should take. We have largely rejected the systems and institutions that the Imperial regime, the Dergueand the EPRDF have put forward only to end up with the realisation that we have no clue.

The nation is too complicated. There are too many interests, all of them wanting to have their time in the sun. They are so intricate it has become impossible to make a speech without being relentlessly nit-picked, wrongfully interpreted, taken out of context and needlessly blown out of proportion. We have just realised that it is a jungle out there and that our sense of direction is askew.

But it is not completely hopeless. It is crucial to know that no one gets to avoid adolescence. It is going to be embarrassing, at times disgusting and mostly puzzling. No nation-state has ever graduated to stability, democracy and economic prosperity from the get-go. The adage that Rome was not built in a day still holds true.

Indeed, it does not mean that we have to like what is hoped are momentary inconveniences, and neither should they get us down. We have to be able to look beyond the darkness. It is better to take it easy, visit social media sites less, watch movies or entertaining events such as politics in the United States.

We also have to get used to making mistakes. Whatever we are looking for, we will not find it soon. And in the meantime, the destination is bound to be wrought with errors. Some will be tragic, and others will be innocuous. We have to try to avoid them as much as possible, but it would be naive to assume that they will not continue to occur.

The trick is to learn from our mistakes, recognise them for what they are and move on. This would take a lot of patience and compromise but in time, we will grow up and our worries about the nation today would be replaced by less existential woes such as lack of minimum wages, high tariffs on vehicles or expensive domestic flights.


By Christian Tesfaye (
Christian Tesfaye ( is Fortune’sOp-Ed Editor whose interests run amok in the directions of both print and audiovisual storytelling.

Published on Sep 08,2018 [ Vol 19 ,No 958]



With a reformist administration in charge of the executive, there has b...


The new electricity tariffs that became effective on December 1, 2018,...


Who it is that midwifed the rapprochement between E...


Ethiopia’s economy is at a crossroads. The same old advice will not s...


A recent photo between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) and George Soros...


The future is bleak. Millennials and younger generations who will inher...

View From Arada

There is heated debate on the propriety, decency and morality of breast...

Business Indicators


Editors Pick