It was with dismay that we read todayalarming reports that warn of catastrophic food insufficiency in Ethiopia. The grim picture shows that Ethiopia will need an extra $230 million from donors to secure aid for 4.5 million people this year alone. How come this is possible must be a very big mystery as Ethiopia is considered to be one of the fastest growing economies of Africa.
To be fair to Ethiopia, the nation has been badly hit by failed seasonal rains. On the other hand, the whole region is suffering from the same phenomenon as weather conditions and other such ‘Acts of God’ neither know nor distinguish between nations; weather neither recognizes nor respects territorial boundaries.
Is it then not about time that the question gets raised why Ethiopia is the only country in the region which is too busy spending its resources on building up military might to terrorize neighbours, occupy sovereign foreign territories and be a general menace both at home and around the neighbourhood while her own people are constantly faced by drought, hunger and famine.
It is exactly thirty years and twenty-five days ago since the artist Bob Geldoff organized the Live Aid concert which was watched by an estimated 1.5 billion worldwide, featuring 16 hours of live music and raising about £50 million on the day, and about £150 million in the decades since the event from merchandise sales. The event which was held live and simultaneously at Wembley Stadium in London and JFK Stadium in Philadelphia on July 13, 1985 featured some of the biggest and most prominent artists of the day. This big charity event was to give aid to the starving millions of Africa as result of failing rains and droughts. Ethiopia was one of the major targets and beneficiary of that heroic effort.
At that time, Eritrea was illegally occupied by Ethiopia and was frenetically fighting for independence. Today, three decades later, Eritrea is a thriving independent nation. Eritrea is as badly hit by failing seasonal rains as Ethiopia, but these adverse effects of ill planning, ill management and poor governance making Ethiopia to go on begging spree year after year are a thing Eritrea left behind her the moment she won her independence.
So, what is Eritrea doing right and Ethiopia doing very wrong? President Obama has partly answered that question when he once said that what Africa needed was strong institutions and not strong men.
Do the Ethiopian leaders not read the holy scriptures? Even pharaoh had the common sense to plan when he dreamt about seven lean cattle devoured seven fat ones. Joseph deciphered the dream as a need to gather and save food during seven years of bounty to cater for seven years of drought and famine. The nation of Egypt thrived and survived those seven lean years without having to beg. Even ants save for a rainy day!
Eritrea is constantly yearning and working for sustainable peace between her and her giant neighbour. Ethiopia would have been more sensible to maintain a more peaceful and amicable co-existence with Eritrea and cooperate in the many sectors in which Eritrea has a proven track record of success such as agriculture despite failing seasonal rains.