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News and Current Events / Peace in Eritrea and Democracy in Ethiopia
« Last post by staff3 on July 07, 2018, 08:24:53 PM »
Peace in Eritrea and Democracy in Ethiopia: EPRP’s slogan
By Obo Arada Aba Shawl alias Wolde Tewolde
July 7, 2018

The purpose of the Ethiopian Revolution was to bring Peace in Eritrea and Democracy in Ethiopia. However, because of the concept of Revolution and Democracy was understood thoroughly by few hundred dedicated Ethiopians, it took four decades for most Eritreans and Ethiopians to catch up with these concepts, theories and applications.

For most Ethiopians, unity precedes peace whereas for Eritrean majority, democracy have been associated with slavery or bondage. So herein lies the Ethio-Eritrean root causes of the problem. The Ethiopian proverb which says, “አለ ባለበቱ አይነድም ኧሳቱ” is relevant in this case. For forty-four years, a lot of Ethiopians and Eritreans were enamored with Revolutionary path without understanding the relationship of peace & war for Eritrean peace; between liberty & freedom for Ethiopian democracy. It is a case of tragedy and comedy. The leaders of all liberation fronts and organizations were copycat of one sort or another.
As if the above scenarios were not enough, the digital age have led Ethiopians and Eritreans to depend on copy & paste of materials to acquire knowledge. The community and society of these nations and nationalities have become more depressed than ever before. A confusion between Creation and Evolution is imminent.

Without the true owners of the Ethiopian Revolution, there was fascism by the DERG and personal dictatorial leadership following the fall of the DERG. The true Ethiopian and Eritrean Revolution have yet to be consummated as designed and implemented by Wallelign of Wollo and Tedros of Gonder.
So, what is the way out of this dilemma? Let us go back to the original sin of the EPRP.
E is E
P is P
R is C (change) and
P is political.
as deciphered from the above, EPRP = EPCP. There was and still there is no problem with the above values as presented and developed by EPRP Revolutionary collective leadership and party members.

Nowadays, according to the PM of Ethiopia or EPRDF, the slogan is love instead of peace and according to leader of Eritrea or EPDJ, the slogan is unity instead if separation. So, are we in the same position where we were forty-four years ago, or have we learnt something concerning PEACE in Eritrea & DEMOCRACIA in Ethiopia? I leave this to the readers of this article.
On the one hand, those Revolutionary leaders from both Ethiopia and Eritrea have known what peace meant in Eritrea and what democracy means in Ethiopia. Those leaders of both countries have read and re-read about War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy, Insurrection by Soviet Russia, Mao’s guerrilla warfare, the French as well as the American Civil Wars.

While on the other hand, the members of EPRP have consumed the literature of the Ethiopian as well as the James version of the Bible; the wisdom of the Pentateuch; the victory of the Romans and above all the knowledge of the Greeks. Armed with peace and democracy, the EPRP Revolutionary leaders have lived and role modeled to the tune of all Ethiopians and Eritreans alike.
Where is the beef? Readers might ask. It is a legitimate question and needs a legitimate answer if not at least a plausible argument. Here is the answer; -
The popular man colonel Aby has recognized Eritrea and peace seems eminent
Again, Dr. Aby has talked and displayed the elements of democracy in Ethiopia by releasing prisoners

historically peace in Eritrea and democracy in Ethiopia is the fruits or beef brought by EPRP’ s leadership, members and supporters in both Ethiopia and Eritrea. There should not be any doubt in this assertion as all facts and figures are documented. The current situation in both Eritrea and Ethiopia is the outcome of EPRP’s slogan of peace in Eritrea and Democracies in Ethiopia.
EPRP’s followers and supporters had gathered at Meskel Square in 1997 and now they are gathering at the HEART OF ETHIOPIA, the Blue Nile.

EPRP’s slogan as explained above is peace in Eritrea and democracy in Ethiopia.

EPRP’s symbolic values are the CROSS and GOD-JAM

Finally, peace among Eritreans and ዸሞክራሲያ among Ethiopians can be achieved by politics and policy respectively. It is unachievable by love - ፍቅር - and addition - መደመር - alone.

Philosopher Aby has already talked about subtraction by his slogan of “የቀን ጅቦች” This has many implications and ramifications. I have no clue what it means.

Dictator Isaias has also talked about “game over”. I don’t know what it means but I can sense that there is a lot of implications and ramifications as well.

Confused DebreTsion of Tigrai must stop and think for a moment about his name and its historical roots with its implications and ramifications.

All in all, the AID leaders i.e. Aby-Isaias-Debretsion must stop being paranoid of Amhara and Orthodox. Amhara is neither አማርኛ nor Orthodox is መደመር። አማርኛ is a language መደመር is a unified concept, theory and an application and is known as Orthodox - ተዋህዶ። we should not rock the true Eway Ethiopian Revolution which was and is “peace in Eritrea and Democracia in Ethiopia.”
አብር ለፍቅር
አብር ለብር
አብር ለትብብር (ተስፋ፤ሰላም፤ፍቅር ወዘተርፈ)might work

For comments and questions

News Release
2 July 2018

eLearning Africa: Could ICTs be the Key to Ending Hunger in Africa?

Education and technology can play an important role in ending hunger and malnutrition in Africa once and for all.

That is the view of leading experts in communications technology and food security, who will be attending a special session on malnutrition at this year’s eLearning Africa conference in Kigali, Rwanda from 26 – 28 September.

Current estimates show that around 14.5 per cent of people living in Africa’s poorest regions are hungry or malnourished. The most obvious victims are often children and, according to the World Health Organisation, hunger and malnutrition are still the biggest causes of child mortality in developing countries.

However, that could all be about to change.

Speakers from Ghana, Rwanda and Zambia will show how imaginative initiatives in the education sector in several African countries are already helping to combat malnutrition. They are convinced that ICTs, which are increasingly being used to improve African agricultural output, together with a new focus on providing the right people with the necessary skills, could be the key to ending hunger permanently.

One of the speakers at the eLA session will be Kofi Barimah of Ghana Technology University College (GTUC), who will explain how GTUC has used eLearning to enhance its nutrition programme. He points out that malnutrition is still a serious problem in parts of Ghana.

“’Kwashiorkor’, which has found its way into the English dictionary, was derived from ‘Ga’, a native Ghanaian language,” he says. “‘Kwashiorkor’ is a term reserved for severely malnourished children and infants resulting from a deficiency in dietary protein. The mere fact that the English name for a malnourished child comes from a Ghanaian language may help elucidate the seriousness of this problem in Ghana and Africa as a whole.”

With the aid of a small grant from the Catholic University College of Ghana and  in partnership with the University of Southampton and the International Malnutrition Task Force, GTUC has integrated an online course on “caring for infants and children with malnutrition” into its degree programme on Public Health.

The eLearning course, which has successfully integrated new learning and teaching materials, gives students and faculty members access to best practices for maternal and child nutrition, using both CDs and online learning.

“The project has been very much successful, with students applauding the IMTF and the UoS for such a wonderful intervention,” says Barimah. “The team has been able to roll out the integration of the first batch of students with promising results. Over one thousand students have been trained during the first year of the introduction of the modules and others are yet to benefit.”

Mudukula Mukubi of the Ndola Nutrition Organisation in Zambia will present evidence of the positive effects of ICTs on the delivery of key skills to households headed by women or children. The research is part of a project, funded by SPIDER, on self-help programmes for the households.

“The project seeks to address the lack of entrepreneur and livelihood skills faced by poverty-stricken women and child-headed households in the rural parts of Luanshya, Masaiti and Ndola districts of Zambia,” he explains. “The project provides skills training in poultry and soybean production... using ICT tools, including smart phones to access and exchange information on social media.”

Rwanda’s experience in implementing a World Health Organisation (WHO) programme on the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (ICMI) will be the focus of a presentation by Jean de Dieu Gatete of the Maternal and Child Survival Programme (MCSP). The programme, which is part of the WHO’s strategy to reduce mortality and morbidity in children by improving the management of common illnesses, was adopted by Rwanda in 2006 and is currently practised in public health centres across the country.

However, in spite of national clinical guidelines for the treatment of all children under the age of 5, only 65 per cent receive the recommended care. Fewer than 40 per cent of practitioners in Rwandan health centres have received ICMI training. The MCSP programme, which has surveyed 148 Rwandan health centres in 12 districts, has been exploring options for introducing alternative, sustainable and low-cost approaches for the delivery of ICMI training to a larger number of providers.

“The project established that computer-assisted learning provided a real opportunity for training health care professionals at low cost (around $178 per participant) compared to the standard classroom based training ($472 per participant),” says Gatete.

With the aid of online learning as part of the MCSP programme, over 600 health care providers in 148 health centres have now already been successfully given on-the-job ICMI training.

“The completion of this computer-aided training programme (has) helped to increase the rate of ICMI trained providers from 40 per cent to 79 per cent in 6 months.”

Rebecca Stromeyer, the founder and organiser of eLearning Africa, said:

“The full programme for this year’s conference is now online and I am very pleased that it includes an in-depth focus on how ICTs can help to tackle the persistent problem of malnutrition in Africa. It is shocking that, in the twenty-first century, so many people still go hungry. I am sure, however, that ICTs can make a major contribution to solving the problem and to ensuring that children and mothers get the care they need.”

The eLearning Africa conference is accompanied by an exhibition of new products, services and solutions. It also hosts the annual eLearning Africa Ministerial Round Table, at which education and ICT ministers discuss the latest developments in education and technology.

For more information about eLearning Africa, please visit the conference website at or contact the eLearning Africa press office at

eLearning Africa is the key networking event for ICT supported education, training and skills development in Africa and brings together high-level policy makers, decision makers and practitioners from education, business and government. Over 12 consecutive years, eLearning Africa has hosted 16,228 participants from 100+ different countries around the world, with over 85% coming from the African continent. More than 3,300 speakers have addressed the conference about every aspect of technology enhanced education and skills development.

eLearning Africa 2018 - 13th International Conference on ICT for Education, Training and Skills Development
September 26 – 28, 2018
Kigali Convention Centre, Kigali, Rwanda
Organised by ICWE GmbH, Leibnizstrasse 32, 10625 Berlin, Germany,
Hosted by the Rwandan Ministry of Education and the Rwanda Convention Bureau
Contact: Rebecca Stromeyer,,,
Tel: +49 (0)30 310 18 18-0, Fax: +49 (0)30 324 98 3

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Events and Announcements / First Hijra Foundations 30th Annivarsary Event -Update
« Last post by staff3 on June 27, 2018, 11:20:02 AM »
First Hijra Foundations 30th Annivarsary

(JULY 14 AND JULY 15th) 2018   Metro Washington DC in Alexandria, Virginia ...

Image Link's_30th_Anniversary_July14&15th_2018.jpg

Latest Guest List update via YouTube Link below

Please share to via Your Contacts and Social Media...

Ethiopia needs to end the persecution of a key ethnic group to achieve real reform
Yohannes Gedamu, Georgia Gwinnett College June 21, 2018
A man and a boy load a donkey with jerrycans of water collected from a stream outside the village of Tsemera in Ethiopia's northern Amhara region
A man and a boy load a donkey with jerrycans of water collected from a stream outside the village of Tsemera in Ethiopia's northern Amhara region, (Reuters/Katy Migiro)
The political upheaval that Ethiopians have become accustomed to seems to be a thing of the past—for now. Many have praised the new prime minister Abiy Ahmed, who took office in April 2018, for restoring calm to much of the country. Some have even dubbed his reform agenda a massive turn around for Ethiopia.

There has been progress on his watch. Ahmed has overseen the release of political prisoners, as was promised by former premier Hailemariam Desalegn. Most recently he lifted the state of emergency that was imposed after Desalegn unexpectedly resigned in February 2018 after five years in power.

Ahmed has also promised to privatize state owned enterprises, and declared his readiness to stabilize Ethiopia’s tumultuous relations with neighbor Eritrea.

But it hasn’t all been rosy—especially when it comes to the ongoing eviction of ethnic groups in various regions in the country. The targeted eviction of ethnic Amharas in the regional states of Benishangul Gumuz and Oromia is especially worrying. Thousands of Amharas have been evicted, killed and tortured. Although cases of evictions have recently increased, the problem started in 2012 when thousands of Amharas were evicted from the Southern Region.

The Amharas are one of Ethiopia’s two largest ethnic groups; the other is the Oromo. Together the groups account for about 60% of Ethiopia’s population.

Mistreatment of Amharas has drawn the attention of several human rights organizations, including Amnesty International which has called out the pattern of ethnically motivated attacks and displacement.

To end such ethnic attacks and unfortunate instances of targeted evictions, Ahmed’s new administration must consider institutional reforms. My research shows that Ethiopia’s regional states and their constitutions have been designed in a way that bestows ownership of regions on certain ethnic groups. So, for Ahmed’s reform agenda to take full effect such laws need to be amended.

Why target Amharas?
The Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, which is one of the constituent parties of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, has always considered ethnic Amharas an enemy. It has used their perceived historical dominance as the basis for forming a coalition of minorities to oppose their push for a united Ethiopia.

Take for instance the the regional constitution of Benishangul Gumuz. It states that “although all peoples who live in the region are recognized, the ownership of the region belongs to ethnic groups such as Berta, Gumuz, Shinasha, Mao, and Komo”. This means that residents from other ethnic groups are considered settlers or outsiders. Other regional constitutions contain similar provisions, which have historical roots.

When Ethiopia’s military regime was overthrown in 1991, the country’s unitary state structure crumbled and a new federal arrangement was introduced. The federal system was based on ethnicity, language and geographic considerations. Amharas, who are considered advocates of Ethiopian nationalism, were unhappy with the new arrangement.

They believed that it would put the national unity of the Ethiopian state in a precarious position. They also felt that a federal state would leave them vulnerable since millions of Amharas live in all parts of the nation.

They were right. As a result of the federal system, Amharas in various regional states are now considered settlers in their own country. For years, they have been subject to evictions, property destruction, and killings. Just recently documented orders (in Amhraric) that called for such evictions were made public. The orders were given by regional officers.

It’s unfortunate that there has been no sign of this stopping under Ahmed’s rule. Targeted evictions persist; the most recent happened in April 2018 when Amharas were thrown out of Oromia.

Prime Minister Ahmed has addressed the latest Amhara and other minority evictions calling them unfortunate events that do not represent the values held by the majority of Ethiopians. In a live address to the nation, he promised that government will address the issue as soon as possible.

So far, however, the new administration has been unable to control the regional forces that are behind the forceful evictions of Amharas from their lands. If the evictions continue unabated it will endanger the whole nation’s peace and security.

Ahmed’s reform agenda could also easily be derailed by the disenfranchisement of ethnic Amharas, who recently formed a new political party to represent their interests and those of other minorities such as the Wolayta and Gedio.

Solving the crisis
Ahmed’s new administration must quickly address this humanitarian catastrophe. Oromia Regional state has started to address it, but a lot remains to be done. One way to manage the situation is through a constitutional amendment to ensure that every Ethiopian can live anywhere in the republic. It’s only then the evictions of Oromos, Amharas and other minorities can become a thing of the past.

Constitutional amendments will require a consensus between the four parties within the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, through a parliamentary process.

Finally, Ahmed must entrench the ideals of Ethiopiawinet (an Amharic word for “Ethiopian-ness”): tolerance, peaceful coexistence, mutual care, and the advocacy of values that bind all Ethiopians together. The fact that the premier has admitted past failures that entrenched ethnic violence and evictions is welcome progress.

The ConversationNow is the time to invite scholars, elders, religious leaders and all stakeholders to come together and forge a new alliance to ease ethnic tensions.

Yohannes Gedamu, Lecturer of Political Science, Georgia Gwinnett College

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
News and Current Events / Ethiopia: must listen Eskender Nega full speech
« Last post by staff3 on June 11, 2018, 04:35:25 PM »
Ethiopia: must listen Eskender Nega full speech in Metro Washington DC Eskender and his wife Serkalem ceremony of recognition...

Science, Technology & Education / Surveillance Self-Defense
« Last post by staff3 on May 31, 2018, 06:27:35 PM »
Surveillance      Self-Defense

Tips, Tools and How-tos for Safer Online Communications
A Project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation

We’re the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an independent non-profit working to protect online privacy for nearly thirty years. This is Surveillance Self-Defense : our expert guide to protecting you and your friends from online spying.

Read the BASICS to find out how online surveillance works. Dive into our TOOL GUIDES for instructions to installing our pick of the best, most secure applications. We have more detailed information in our FURTHER LEARNING sections. If you’d like a guided tour, look for our list of common SECURITY SCENARIOS.

New to Security?

All of our Starter Resources in One Place
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Cautionary lessons for Ethiopia from Egypt's short-lived revolution

Africa’s biggest rivals, Ethiopia and Egypt, recently held leadership contests. On 29 March, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt claimed 97% in his second uncontested presidential election. In Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, a former lieutenant-colonel in the military, assumed chairmanship of the long-ruling Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and was sworn in as prime minister on 2 April. He replaces Hailemariam Desalegn, who resigned in February after six tumultuous years in office. The two countries, regimes, and popular revolutions are as alike as they are different. A closer look at Egypt’s treacherous post-Arab Spring transition offers a cautionary tale for the prospects of reform in Ethiopia.

Siamese twins?
To begin with, both Egyptians and Ethiopians languish under martial law: Egypt since its aborted 2011 revolution which toppled Hosni Mubarak, and Ethiopia since February 2018 — its second in two years. Prime Minister Abiy’s ascension is meant to halt years of relentless anti-government protests. In Egypt, al-Sisi provoked civil war by deposing the country’s first popularly elected president, Mohamed Morsi, followed by a bloody crackdown on dissent.

Second, both countries are characterised by a deep state within the governing structure whereby the top brass of the military, intelligence and security wield real power. Third, the two are client states of the United States and serve as its proxies in their troubled neighbourhood. Fourth, leaders of the shadowy deep state and their cronies own and operate huge business empires guarded at gunpoint. Finally, in both countries tyranny has historically enjoyed a measure of respectability: Egyptian Pharaohs and Ethiopian Atses mirror Russian Czars.

Different societies, regimes

Home to over 80 ethnic groups, diversity is Ethiopia’s challenge. Conversely, Egypt’s Arab identity supersedes all others. While Ethiopia is still 80% rural,  43% of Egyptians are urban, with only two metropolises, Cairo and Alexandria, accounting for close to a fourth of the country’s population of 99 million. Egypt is said to be 90% Muslim, but Ethiopia is split by the two major Abrahamic religions with a smattering of indigenous holdovers.
The two leaders are preoccupied with different priorities. Abiy, catapulted to power by popular protests and a rebellion by a previously marginal group within the governing EPRDF coalition, aims to overhaul the system without alienating entrenched Tigrean power (Tigray accounts for about 6 percent of the country’s 106 million population). Meanwhile, al-Sisi, the ultimate deep state persona, labours to make tyranny palatable after revolution-induced chaos while keeping his mortal enemy, the Muslim Brotherhood, at bay.

These differences inform how youth- and social media-driven revolutions in the two countries, both provoked by the deep state's excesses, panned out. Egypt’s was concentrated in a central public place, the iconic Tahrir Square, and lasted merely 15-18 days while Ethiopia’s slow-moving revolution has rolled out over the vast Oromo and Amhara territories since April 2014. These differences offer lessons for democracy advocates in Ethiopia.

Reforming Ethiopia

The substance of the reforms Ethiopians desire is familiar, even if details are not. Opening the political space —democratisation — is on everyone’s lips. Among the bottlenecks are three draconian legislations enacted in 2008/2009: media and civil society proclamations, and a sweeping anti-terrorism law, which together make treason out of routine exercises of constitutionally guaranteed rights. To the protesters, security sector reform — refocusing the deep state’s mandate and making its leadership reflect the country’s diversity — tops the agenda. None of this would matter unless and until the judiciary becomes independent. And no reform would be complete without meaningful dialogue with the opposition. 
The main problem is not the what of reform but the how. In Egypt, the deep state adopted a wait-and-see approach. First, it allowed the revolution and elections to take place. When the youth soured on a flawed transition leader, Mohamed Morsi, they launched a counter-revolution. Can Abiy escape Morsi’s fate? Although Abiy hails from within the EPRDF, he is resented by the establishment. As with Egypt, the youth protesters in Oromia, Abiy’s constituent state, who catapulted him to power, could as easily torpedo his train if reform falters.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed delivers a speech during his rally in Ambo on 11 April 2018. (Image: Zacharias Abubeker/AFP/Getty Images)

However, Abiy has an external advantage that Morsi lacked: Whereas both the Pentagon (US military) and Langley (the CIA) were suspicious of Morsi given his close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, his outreach to both Hamas and Iran and general misgivings by western powers towards Islamist groups in the aftermath of their combined victory against the former Soviet Union in Afghanistan in 1989, Abiy provokes no such contempt. As a Protestant in a predominantly Orthodox Christian and Muslim country, he could, in fact, count on their largesse.
In fact, the US has extended its support to advocates of democratic freedoms in Ethiopia, which includes the new prime minister, in the form of a resolution by the House of Representatives that passed on 10 April. Among other things, Resolution 128 calls for lifting the state of emergency, initiating dialogue with the opposition and instituting badly needed reforms, all of which are central planks in the new prime minister’s agenda.
Secondly, Egypt is a unitary state as opposed to Ethiopia, a multinational federation, albeit one choked by lack of democracy. The presence of layers of jurisdiction and parallel security organs with dual loyalty does not necessarily eliminate the threat of military takeovers in federations, but it does significantly diminish their chances of success.
Third, the Egyptian army is a revered national institution unlike Ethiopia’s, which is dominated by the Tigrean minority. Fourth, the increasing assertiveness of two of one-time docile EPRDF member parties — the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation (OPDO) and the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) —  and their warming alliance offer Abiy a buffer. He can still count, at least in the short term, on the support of young activists (Qeerroo), who drove the mass protests and strikes that ultimately resulted in Desalegn’s fall.

Fifth, with a hopeful and unifying inaugural speech and further outreach to the public, his appeal has transcended the EPRDF and his Oromo constituency, further insulating him against being dealt the same hand as Morsi by the country’s military, police and security services when they ousted him in 2013.

Is reform inevitable?

Although reform is hazardous even under the best of circumstances, Ethiopia’s angry deep state, whose omnipotence is exaggerated, can only delay it. The key question is: how much time will the populace, especially the Oromo youth, give Abiy to deliver? In a clear and dire warning to the prime minister, a Qeerroo was quoted as saying: "It does not mean that we have now gained freedom, just because he is an Oromo. We young people want a fundamental change, and if that does not happen we Qeerroo will rise up again."
Will Abiy’s OPDO maintain its newly gained public support against the resurgent Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), whose leaders, just released from prison, enjoy star-like adoration? Two things are certain: Ethiopia won’t be a Jeffersonian democracy anytime soon and a level playing field will develop rather slowly. A working agreement between the OPDO and the OFC could help avert a showdown.

The EPRDF is both a dominant vanguard party and a liberation movement but it has never been universally loved except in Tigray, the home state of the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front, the founder and king-maker in the ruling coalition. Ethiopia holds its next elections in 2020. Although the EPRDF desires to rule indefinitely, it would struggle to hold on, even with reform. Can Abiy himself maintain his popular support if he leaves ill-gotten wealth in the hands of the nouveau riche and fails to hold perpetrators of gross human rights violations and other high crimes accountable? If he moves too fast, he risks an Egypt-like coup d’état. If he moves too slow? A sea of enraged youth on the streets could await.

A narrow path

Abiy’s only path to success remains reform. The path is steep, but Abiy has options to ease the way, such as rallying support from regional groups such as the ANDM and the OPDO as well as youth revolutionaries. Unlike the relatively centralised Egyptian revolution, Ethiopia’s Qeerroo-led movement is decentralised. By lifting the state of emergency, Abiy can allow anonymous Qeerroo leaders to emerge from the shadows.
Whoever wins over this powerful bloc unaffiliated with any established political party is bound to shape Ethiopia’s future. And none is better placed than Abiy. To do so, he will have to rely on his main benefactor, Lemma Megersa, president of the Oromia Regional State, and Lemma’s counterpart in the Amhara state, Gedu Andargachew. He could prod them to initiate reforms of their own, and the Southern Peoples Democratic Movement to renew itself.

The upcoming EPRDF congress in August provides Abiy with the perfect opportunity to wipe the slate clean. Finally, he has to insist that donor communities — especially the U.S. and Europe — make good on their statements of concern about Ethiopia by throwing their weight behind the new leader’s reform agenda.
Clearly, Ethiopia’s path to reform is uncertain. Abiy faces enormous challenges. Will he pack his Cabinet with reformists or hardliners? Will the powerful heads of intelligence and defence forces stay or go? And who would replace them? These early moves will offer clues as to whether Abiy will be a "placeholder" like his predecessor or an assertive leader capable of moving Ethiopia forward.
(Main image: People protest against the Ethiopian government during Irreecha, the annual Oromo festival to celebrates the end of the rainy season, in Bishoftu on 1 October 2017. An Ethiopian religious festival transformed into a rare moment of open defiance to the government one year after a stampede started by police killed dozens at the gathering. — Zacharias Abubeker/AFP/Getty Images)
How nations stay together

Nations come with a vast array of peoples, languages and histories, but the strong ones share three simple things
Bamangwato chief Seretse Khama addresses a tribal council meeting in March 1950. Under his leadership, between 1966 and 1980 Botswana had the fastest-growing economy in the world. Photo by Margarte Bourke-White/Time Life/Getty

Andreas Wimmer

is the Lieber professor of sociology and political philosophy at Columbia University. For Princeton University Press, he edits the book series Studies in Global and Comparative Sociology. His latest book is Nation Building: Why Some Countries Come Together While Others Fall Apart (2018).

Edited by Sam Haselby
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Why do some countries fall apart, often along their ethnic fault lines, while others have held together over decades and centuries, despite governing a diverse population as well? Why is it, in other words, that nation-building succeeded in some places while it failed in others? The current tragedy in Syria illustrates the possibly murderous consequences of failed nation-building. Outside of the media spotlight, South Sudan and the Central African Republic went through similar experiences in recent years. In some rich and democratic countries in western Europe, such as Spain, Belgium and the United Kingdom, longstanding secessionist movements have regained momentum. Within our lifetimes, they might well succeed in breaking apart these states. On the other hand, there is no secessionist movement among the Cantonese speakers of southern China or among the Tamils of India. And why has no serious politician ever questioned national unity in such diverse countries as Switzerland or Burkina Faso?

Before answering these questions, it is necessary to define nation-building more precisely. It goes beyond the mere existence of an independent country with a flag, an anthem and an army. Some old countries (such as Belgium) haven’t come together as a nation, while other more recently founded states (such as India) have done so. There are two sides to the nation-building coin: the extension of political alliances across the terrain of a country, and the identification with and loyalty to the institutions of the state, independent of who currently governs. The former is the political-integration aspect, the latter the political-identity aspect of nation-building. To foster both, political ties between citizens and the state should reach across ethnic divides.

Such ties of alliance connect national governments with individual citizens, sometimes through intermediary political organisations such as voluntary associations, parties, professional groups, etc. Ideally, these ties link all citizens into networks of alliances centred on the state. In such countries, all citizens see themselves represented at the centre of power, even if their preferred party or political patron is not currently occupying one of the seats of government. Intellectuals, political elites, as well as the average individual will eventually see all citizens, irrespective of their racial or ethnic background, as equal members of the national community.

Effective nation-building brings important and positive consequences. Alliances that cut across the entire territory of a country depoliticise ethnic divisions. Politics is not perceived as a zero-sum game in which ethnic groups struggle for control of the state. Instead, more substantial policy issues concerning what the state should actually do come to the foreground of the debate. Inclusive political coalitions also foster a sense of ownership of the state and promote the ideal of a collective purpose beyond one’s family, village, clan or profession. Conformingly, citizens who identify with their nation are less resistant to paying taxes, more likely to support welfare policies, and are governed by more effective states. We also know that inclusive coalitions comprising ethnic minorities and majorities alike greatly reduce the risk of civil war and promote economic growth.

In the United States, most foreign-policy makers equate nation-building with democratisation. They believe that democracy is the best tool to achieve political cohesion in the global South. The argument goes like this: democratic elections draw diverse ethnic constituencies towards the political centre and encourage politicians to build broad coalitions beyond the pool of voters who share their own ethnic background. And it is true that most states that failed at nation-building and are governed by the elites of a small minority, such as the Alawi of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad, are autocratic. Conversely, democratic countries are on average more likely to include minority representatives in their ruling coalitions.

However, ruling coalitions do not necessarily become more inclusionary over time after a country has transitioned to democracy. In many recently democratised countries, ethnic majorities sweep to power only to take revenge on hitherto dominant elites and their ethnic communities. Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein showed this clearly: much of Al-Qaeda’s and later ISIS’s domestic support came from the former Baath elites and from disaffected Sunni tribes who resented their loss of power. The US maintained slavery during the first 70 years of its democratic existence, and for another century after emancipation denied African Americans any meaningful form of political representation. The association between democracy and inclusion comes about because countries that are already governed by a more inclusive coalition will democratise earlier and easier than exclusionary regimes that fight democracy tooth and nail. In other words: democracy doesn’t build nations, but nations that are already built are more likely to transition to democracy.

Rather than free and competitive elections, I want to highlight three other factors that develop more slowly – over generations – but are most effective in building political ties across ethnic lines. The first factor refers to how such ties are organised. It is easiest to establish political alliances across ethnic divides if they can build on already existing voluntary organisations, such as reading circles, trade unions, political clubs and so forth. Voluntary organisations often enter into horizontal alliances with each other – such as a coalition of local nursing associations in California. By contrast, in hierarchical patronage systems, ties proliferate vertically between patrons and clients who in turn become the patrons of other clients further down the pyramid of power and influence. Alliance networks built on voluntary organisations can therefore proliferate across the territory and reach across ethnic divides more easily than patronage systems. For example, a nationwide umbrella organisation of all nursing associations is relatively easy to establish. This umbrella organisation can then seek an alliance with the ministry of health or a national political party.

How far such voluntary organisations have already developed matters especially in the early years of a country’s modern existence, that is, after an absolutist monarchy is overthrown (in much of Europe) or a former colony becomes independent (in much of the rest of the world). If a dense web of such organisations already exists, the new power-holders will rely on these networks to mobilise supporters and to recruit political leaders. Under these circumstances, the political exclusion of ethnic minorities or even majorities becomes less likely: voluntary organisations have already developed branches in different parts of the country inhabited by different ethnic communities. When the new leaders rely on these organisations to gain political support, this leadership is more likely to be recruited from diverse ethnic communities as well.

A comparison between Switzerland and Belgium, two countries of similar size, with a similar linguistic composition of the population, and comparable levels of economic development, provides an example. In Switzerland, civil society organisations – such as shooting clubs, reading circles and choral societies – developed throughout the territory during the late 18th and first half of the 19th century. They spread evenly throughout the country because modern industries emerged across all the major regions, and because Switzerland’s city-states lacked both the capacity and the motivation to suppress them. In Belgium, by contrast, Napoleon, as well as the Dutch king who succeeded him, recognised the revolutionary potential of such voluntary associations, and suppressed them. Even more importantly, the associations that did exist in Belgium were confined to the more economically developed and more educated French-speaking regions and segments of the population.

In 1831, when Belgium became independent of the kingdom of the Netherlands, most of the new rulers of the country had long been members of these French-speaking associational networks. Without giving it much thought, they declared French the official language of the administration, army and judiciary. Despite forming a slight demographic majority, those who spoke only Flemish were not part of these networks, and were therefore excluded from the central government. Until the end of the 19th century, the Flemish were ruled as an internal colony of Francophone Belgium. Early nation-building failed, the language divide became heavily politicised during the 20th century, and the country is now close to breaking apart.

In Switzerland, the transition to the nation-state occurred after a brief civil war in 1848. The liberal elites who won the war and dominated the country for generations relied on the cross-regional, multi-ethnic networks of civil society organisations to recruit followers and leaders. The emerging power structure therefore included majorities and minorities alike. From the beginning, each language group was represented at the highest level of government as well as the federal administration, roughly according to the size of its population. Again without giving it much thought, French, German and Italian all became official languages of the state. During most of the subsequent political history of Switzerland, and to this day, language diversity remained a political non-issue.

There is little evidence that bureaucrats favoured ethnic kin when allocating resources

The second factor concerns the resources that citizens exchange with the state. Citizens are more likely to politically support a government that provides public goods in exchange for taxing them. If taxes are exchanged for public goods, the nature of the relationship between government and citizens changes. It is then no longer based on extraction under the threat of force – as was typically the case with the more coercive regimes that preceded the nation-state, such as an absolutist kingdom, an imperial governor or a colonial administration. The more a government is capable of providing public goods across all regions of a country, the more attractive it will be as an exchange partner, and the more citizens will want to establish an alliance with it. The ruling coalition will reflect such encompassing alliance structures and thus the ethnic diversity of the population.

A comparison between Somalia and Botswana offers an illustration. They are both arid countries with similar economic foundations, based on the export of cattle, and comparable colonial histories. When Botswana became an independent country in 1966, its government efficiently created and managed export opportunities for cattle breeders, massively expanded transportation infrastructure, schools and health facilities, and created emergency programmes for the periods of drought that periodically devastated the cattle economy. These public goods benefitted all regions equally. There is little evidence that bureaucrats favoured their ethnic kin when allocating these resources to villages or districts. Correspondingly, the ruling party gained support across regions and ethnic constituencies, which in turn translated into a parliament and cabinet in which ethnic majorities and minorities were roughly represented according to their population size. This inclusionary power configuration then produced, over time, a strong identification with the state and the Tswana majority. More and more minority citizens assimilated into and identified with the Tswana majority.

In Somalia, conditions for nation-building through public goods provision were much less favourable. After the formerly British and Italian colonies were unified into an independent Somalia, the state enjoyed very little capacity to provide public goods to the population. Foreign aid – rather than taxes or customs – nourished the rapidly expanding bureaucracy. When it came to distributing government projects, bureaucrats favoured those who could afford the highest bribe or members of their own clan and lineage. Mohamed Siad Barre’s 1969 military coup only temporarily changed this state of affairs. Given the lack of institutional capacity, Barre’s regime tried to provide public goods through short-lasting, military-style campaigns, such as teaching the nomad population how to read and write or the delivery of relief to drought victims. No durable political alliances centred on the central government could be built in this way. Instead, Barre increasingly based his rule on loyal followers from his own clan coalition as well as that of his mother. Those excluded from the inner circles of power soon took up arms. Pitting changing alliances of clans and warlords against each other, decades of civil war broke the country into pieces.

The third aspect of the alliance relationships between citizens and the state refers to how they communicate with each other. Establishing ties across regions and ethnic divides is easier if individuals can converse in a shared language. This decreases ‘transaction costs’, meaning the effort needed to understand each other’s intentions, to solve disagreements and to negotiate compromise, all of which are crucial for building durable relationships based on trust. Therefore, linguistic divides slow down the spread of political networks across the territory of a country.

The past two centuries of history in China and Russia illustrate how a shared means of communication facilitates nation-building. At the beginning of the 19th century, both China and Russia looked back on generations of absolutist rule by imperial dynasties, comprised enormous and diverse populations, and had never been subject to foreign rule. China’s population speaks many different tongues, which should make nation-building more difficult. However, letters, newspapers and books are written in a uniform script. This script is not closer to any of the various spoken languages, and thus allows individuals from different corners of the vast country to understand each other effortlessly. Scriptural homogeneity also enabled the state, throughout the imperial period, to recruit bureaucrats, through a system of written examinations, from all corners of the country. As a result, China’s bureaucratic elite was as polyglot as the population at large.

When totalitarian rule started to melt, the country fractured along linguistic fault lines

The same held true for the political factions that formed among this bureaucratic elite, as men who wouldn’t be able to understand each other when speaking could correspond in writing to exchange ideas and form an alliance. The same held true for the anti-imperial, republican associations that emerged in late 19th-century China. They were joined by individuals who spoke different tongues and came from all over China. In 1911, these groups rose to power under the Kuomintang and overthrew the imperial dynasty. The Kuomintang leadership therefore was as linguistically diverse as had been the ruling elites under the Qing dynasty. The Communist Party that took power in 1949 also had recruited leaders from all over China who spoke different mother tongues. Given the inclusive, multilingual nature of the ruling coalitions, from the Qing through to the Kuomintang regime all the way to contemporary Communist China, the non-Mandarin-speaking linguistic minorities among the Han Chinese had no reason to secede from China and seek a state under their own control. Generations of political ties across linguistic divides allowed nationalist intellectuals and politicians to imagine the Han nation as multilingual, but ethnically homogenous. The dogs of linguistic nationalism never barked among China’s Han majority.

In the Russian empire, language difference played a very different role. The empire twice fell apart along ethno-linguistic lines: after the Bolshevik revolution in October 1917 and again in the thaw of reforms by the Soviet Union’s leader Mikhail Gorbachev around 1989. Russian and Soviet nation-builders faced a much greater challenge because the various languages – from Finnish to German, from Russian to Turkic, from Korean to Romanian – were not only from entirely different linguistic stock, but also written in different scripts, including Cyrillic, Latin, Arabic, and Mongolian. When the age of mass politics set in in late 19th-century Russia, alliance networks clustered along linguistic divides. Then as now, reaching a literate public through propaganda and newspapers demands a shared script and language. The popular parties that emerged during the last decade of the 19th and the first decades of the 20th centuries therefore catered exclusively to specific linguistic communities (Armenians, Georgians, Finns, Poles, etc). Or they resembled a patchwork of linguistically confined alliance networks, as did the Menshevik. National consciousness took shape in dozens of separate, linguistically defined moulds – rather than in an overarching identity comparable to that of the Han Chinese.

The Soviet nationalities policy after the revolution of 1917 cemented this state of affairs by teaching minorities how to read and write, and educating them, up to the 1950s, in their own language. Under tight supervision of Moscow, minority elites were allowed to rule the new, linguistically defined provinces and districts of the Soviet Union. As a consequence, the newly emerging clientelist alliance networks formed within separate ethnic compartments. Non-Russian minorities were heavily underrepresented in the party leadership, the highest ranks of the bureaucracy, and the army, all of which were dominated by Russians. It is not surprising, then, that the leaders of the USSR were not able to forge an integrated ‘Soviet people’ when, under Nikita Khrushchev some 40 years after the revolution, they tried to shift to a more assimilationist policy. Politically, the Soviet Union continued to resemble a patchwork of ethnic alliance networks. When the ice of totalitarian rule started to melt under Gorbachev, the country fractured along these linguistic fault lines into the independent states of Latvia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and so on.

Looking further back into history, one might wonder why some countries developed a uniform language or script while others didn’t, and why some governments were able to provide public goods across the territory while others didn’t. Both linguistic diversity and the capacity to provide public goods are deeply shaped by the legacies of centralised states already built before the age of mass politics set in in the late 19th century. In the global South, this refers to the period before these countries were colonised by the Western (and Japanese) empires during the last quarter of the 19th century. Where highly centralised polities had developed in previous centuries, bureaucratic administrations emerged that learned how to organisationally integrate and politically control the various regions of the state.

The governments both of colonial states and of the newly formed nation-states that succeeded them could rely on this knowhow and bureaucratic infrastructure to provide public goods equitably across regions. Over the long run, such highly centralised states also encouraged peripheral elites and their followers to adopt the language (or in the Chinese case: the script) of the central elites. Learning the language of the ruling circles in the capital was an effective way to promote their careers and interests, and – for the average subject – it also proved advantageous to speak the language of the bureaucrats interfering in daily life.

For example, in pre-colonial Botswana, a series of centralised and tightly integrated kingdoms had emerged from the 17th century onwards. They were all ruled by Tswana-speaking noblemen. The independent, post-colonial government integrated these kingdoms into its administrative system by reducing the power of the kings, all the while making them and their small bureaucracies part of the governing structure. In this way, the kingdoms provided the new government with the legitimacy to rule (the country’s new president was himself a royal) and encouraged citizens to comply with the rulings of the modern state. Both greatly facilitated public goods provision by the post-colonial governments. The kingdoms also promoted, from the pre-colonial period all the way to the present day, the assimilation of non-Tswana populations, which had still formed a demographic majority in most kingdoms in the 19th century, into the dominant Tswana culture and language, which now represents a solid majority.

An established political infrastructure and a uniform language make nation-building easier

In Somalia’s history, no state capable of governing over the country’s nomad majority ever emerged. This represented a notable impediment to post-colonial public goods provision. The independent Somali government had to rule over a population never accustomed to statehood, and it could not rely on a class of administrators that had learned to serve the public good, rather than their own families.

In China, an extraordinarily high level of political centralisation over millennia provided the background for the emergence and empire-wide adoption of the unified script. It also encouraged a wide variety of political elites, from all over China, to adopt the neo-Confucian canons of the empire. Centuries of highly centralised, bureaucratic administration also left a legacy of organisational infrastructure that the Communist government could use to provide the population with public goods after the Second World War. Centralised indigenous states, on which colonial rule often rested, thus facilitate nation-building in the contemporary period. The dual legacy of an established bureaucratic-political infrastructure, and a uniform language or script, does not in and of itself guarantee political integration across ethnic divides. But they make the task of modern nation-builders much easier.

The examples I’ve singled out don’t account for how voluntary associations, public goods provision, and communication interact with each other or substitute for each other. Somalians, for example, all speak the same language, while Switzerland is linguistically more diverse – and yet the two histories of nation-building diverge in opposite directions. There are also additional factors that could hinder or foster nation-building. Many historians would argue that the colonial experience makes a difference. Somalia and Botswana both suffered from the divide-and-rule policies of colonial powers, which should make the task of national political integration more difficult once the colonial powers leave. Neither Russia nor Switzerland were ever under foreign rule during the past centuries.

Economists might argue that nation-building is mainly a matter of economic development. Would Switzerland look more like Somalia had its export industry not been as successful, or had it not become a highly profitable global centre for banking and insurance? It also might be easier to build nations in countries such as Switzerland, where religious differences and language boundaries do not overlap and reinforce each other. In Romanov Russia, by contrast, most linguistic minorities also adhered to a different religion than the Russian-speaking and Russian Orthodox majority.

Finally, we might take a more sober perspective and consider that nation-building succeeds where countries have fought many wars with other countries, binding their populations together through shared sacrifice. Similarly, it could be that European governments could build their nations more easily because centuries of boundary adjustments and ethnic cleansings led to more homogenous populations, easier to integrate into a national polity.

These are empirical questions. To answer them, we can analyse datasets with information on countries from around the world. This helps to determine whether any of these four alternative factors might be crucial for understanding where nation-building succeeded and where it failed – or if voluntary organisations, public goods provision and linguistic homogeneity fostered inclusive ruling coalitions in countries beyond Switzerland, Belgium, Somalia, Botswana, China and Russia. For such a quantitative analysis, we need a figure that indicates how far nation-building has succeeded for each country. To that end, I measure the population share of the ethnic communities not represented at the highest level of government. This data is available from 1946 to 2005 and for 155 countries.

Ethnopolitical exclusion, measured in this way, is less pronounced where voluntary associations have proliferated, where the state provides public goods effectively, and where the linguistic landscape is more uniform. A comparison between three sets of countries helps to illustrate the results of this analysis. To measure public goods provision, I use literacy rates, because literacy is strongly influenced by public education. The global mean for the 155 countries is 65 per cent literates among the adult population; if 80 per cent of the population in a country can read and write, then the share of the population excluded from national government will be roughly 30 per cent lower than in a country in which only half the population is literate.

Countries are not more likely to fail at nation-building if they were subjected to colonial rule

To measure linguistic diversity, we can calculate the chances that two randomly chosen citizens speak the same language. If it is 52 per cent (14 per cent above the mean rate of 38 per cent), the share of the excluded population will again be about 30 per cent lower than in a country where the likelihood is only 25 per cent (14 per cent below the mean). The share of the excluded population is also reduced by roughly 30 per cent if we add one more voluntary association per each five individuals.

There is not much support for the alternative explanations of nation-building briefly discussed above, such as a history of colonial rule, or a country’s wealth. According to further statistical analysis, countries are not more likely to fail at nation-building if they were subjected to colonial rule for a very long time or if that rule had assumed a specific form (such as settler colonialism or indirect rule such as in British colonies). If their economies are underdeveloped; if they fought few interstate wars or ethno-nationalist conflicts; or if religious and linguistic cleavages overlap the same holds true: the data don’t show a significant influence on nation-building.

Finally, where highly centralised states had emerged before the colonial interlude and before the transition to the modern nation-state, contemporary governments provide more public goods and the population speaks fewer tongues. To show this, I use two different measures of the previous history of state formation. The first is available for 74 countries of Asia and Africa whose pre-colonial political structures were documented by social anthropologists. The second data, collected by economists, covers 141 countries and measures how far an indigenous state controlled the territory of a current country during the second half of the 19th century.

Quite obviously, the past cannot be engineered retrospectively to create a centralised state in the 19th century that would favour nation-building during the 20th. Nor can a state’s capacity to provide public goods be improved in a couple of years. A population needs at least two generations to become fluent in a new language of communication. Voluntary organisations around which political alliances coalesce will not take root in a society over the short run either. For these three crucial factors that facilitate nation-building, time is measured in generations, not years. Fixing failed states or building nations therefore cannot be done within the time span of a US presidency or two.

Over at least two decades or so, global institutions such as the World Bank have focused on strengthening the capacity of developing countries to provide public goods. The steady emphasis on institutional development and good governance represents a welcome corrective to the more erratic foreign policies that elected governments of Western countries often pursue. A consistent and long-term commitment to strengthening government institutions and making them more efficient at public goods delivery represents the most promising international policy to help nation-building around the world.

Public goods are best provided by national and local governments. Private companies, foreign NGOs or intervening armies might sometimes be more economically efficient. But public goods provisioning by outside forces does little to enhance the legitimacy of the national government. This is shown by the Survey of the Afghan People, conducted annually by the Asia Foundation from 2006 to 2015. Public goods projects carried out by foreigners made Afghans less satisfied with their national government, compared with projects implemented by government agencies. Foreign projects were also not nearly as effective in motivating citizens to turn to government institutions to solve their local disputes, rather than to traditional authorities or warlords. Even more disheartening, the survey reveals that Afghans are more likely to justify the violence committed by the Taliban if they live in districts where foreigners have sponsored public goods projects. In other words, foreign public goods projects might have lost the ‘hearts and minds’ of Afghans, rather than winning them.

To build nations from the outside is next to impossible if local conditions are not conducive

A unified national school system is another long-term strategy for effective nation-building. Around the world, countries have come a long way in schooling their populations and teaching them to speak a common language. Continued support for national school systems in the face of budgetary pressures goes a long way not only to achieving sustained economic growth and gender equity, but also to helping to establish political ties across ethnic divides.

Supporting civil society organisations can lead to backlash against foreign influence and political interference. The recent crackdown on foreign-funded NGOs in many eastern European countries is just one example of the risks run by a strategy of cultivating civil society organisations from outside. In the long run, however, such organisations help to provide a political infrastructure to establish ties across ethnic divides and move toward national political integration. A consistent and long-term strategy, such as that pursued by Germany’s political foundations or the Soros foundation, might still be the best way to help citizens connect with each other based on a shared cause, rather than shared ethnicity.

Few observers today would harbour the illusion that helping nation-building in faraway places is an easy task. The difficulties of forcing feuding political factions into shared government are well-illustrated by the case of Iraq, and perhaps even more dramatically in the case of Bosnia, which would have long fallen apart if left to its own prospects. Policy-makers should therefore reject the idea that it is legitimate and feasible to ‘teach other people to govern themselves’, as Francis Fukuyama put it in an article for The Atlantic in January 2004, at the height of the nation-building enthusiasm of the George W Bush era. To build nations from the outside is next to impossible if local conditions are not conducive to putting minorities and majorities on an equal political footing and establishing inclusive governing coalitions. Nation-building needs to be accomplished by the citizens and politicians of each individual country.
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