By Alemayehu G. Mariam
In his last will and testament, Alfred Nobel provided for an award to be given to “champions of peace to be selected by a committee of five persons in the Norwegian Storting”.
I wish to congratulate the “2019 Nobel Champion of Peace”, H.E. Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia. He will be accepting his prize on December 10, 2019 in Oslo, Norway.
Nobel declared in his will, “It is my express wish that when awarding the prizes, no consideration be given to nationality, but that the prize be awarded to the worthiest person, whether or not they are Scandinavian.”
PM Abiy Ahmed is the “worthiest person” (in my book, the hardest working man in peace business) working in the cause of peace to be awarded the 2019 prize.
I am so proud of PM Abiy that “my cup runneth over”.
It is written, “Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, [and] see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.”
The Scriptural prophesy has come to pass.
Our son, our brother Abiy Ahmed has seen visions of an Ethiopia at peace, a Horn of Africa at peace and an Africa at peace.
And we, the old men, are blessed to see our dreams come true.
Ethiopia’s Cheetah Generation (young people) will raise Ethiopia from the pit of despair to the heights of hope; from a bottomless poverty to boundless prosperity.
“Weeping may endure for a 27 year-long night but joy cometh in the morning.”
Ethiopia’s best days are yet to come and its dark days are over.
So, I congratulate all Ethiopians for producing a world class leader that will lead them into a new era, indeed a new age, of prosperity, progress, productivity and probity.
In its award citation, the Nobel Committee listed PM Abiy’s cumulative accomplishments that earned him the position of “Champion of Peace” including his:
decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighboring Eritrea.
initiation of important reforms that give many citizens hope for a better life and a brighter future.
lifting of the country’s state of emergency.
granting amnesty to thousands of political prisoners.
discontinuing media censorship.
legalization of outlawed opposition groups.
dismissal of military and civilian leaders who were suspected of corruption.
increase of the influence of women in Ethiopian political and community life.
pledge to strengthen democracy by holding free and fair elections.
active contribution to the normalization of diplomatic relations between Eritrea.
efforts to mediate between Kenya and Somalia in their protracted conflict over rights to a disputed marine area; and
key role in the Sudan conflict by bringing to the negotiating table the military regime and the opposition.
The Committee expressed its
hopes that the Nobel Peace Prize will strengthen Prime Minister Abiy in his important work for peace and reconciliation. Ethiopia is Africa’s second most populous country and has East Africa’s largest economy. A peaceful, stable and successful Ethiopia will have many positive side-effects, and will help to strengthen fraternity among nations and peoples in the region.
But I would like to add to the list Abiy Ahmed’s other monumental contributions to the cause of peace, understanding and reconciliation in Ethiopia.
I commend Abiy Ahmed for
Liberating our minds from the mental slavery of ethnic politics (though there are many of us who are perfectly comfortable living in that mental slavery).
Teaching us there is no Oromo Ethiopia, Amhara Ethiopia, Tigray Ethiopia… There is Ethiopiawinet. There is Medemer, or all Ethiopians working together to make Ethiopia a shining city upon a hill.
Reminding us the eternal truth, “When we are alive, we are Ethiopians. When we die (and turn to dust) we become the land that is Ethiopia.”
Not only talking peace, he also walking the talk of peace.
Proving to us power does NOT come out of the barrel of the gun but from good ideas formed in intelligent and reasonable minds.
Instructing us that killing to remain in or to grab power is the politics of losers. Real winners do not kill, they heal.
Proving to us we have only one country and the only way we can solve our problems is through dialogue without mouths, not through the barrel of an AK-47.
Making us feel proud to be Ethiopians after 27 years of carrying Ethiopiawinet as a criminal conviction and a badge of blame and shame. Today, we wear our Ethiopiawinet as a badge of fame, as a medallion of our pride in a country that had preserved its independence for over three thousand years.
Ending a 27 year-long nightmare of fear, terror, loathing and sleeplessness.
Opening up the political space so we could realize our dream of a free democratic society under the rule of law.
Teaching us to love because it is the only way to live. Dying and hating isn’t much of a living.
Preaching love is not something we learn. It is in our DNA. It is the essence of being human and the ultimate proof of being alive.
Preaching Ethiopia will rise up as a nation only when the power of love overcomes the love of power of those in power and those hungry and thirsty for power.
Teaching us we cannot make progress unless we learn and practice to forgive and reconcile.
Showing us there is a better way than hate and conflict.
Reaching out and touching everyone with a message of forgiveness, reconciliation and love.
Proving to us he is man of the people. He went into the countryside, the hamlets and towns to talk to the people. He listened to them and answered their questions truthfully.
Scouring the Horn of Africa and the Middle East looking for our exiled brothers and sisters forgotten in the jails and prisons, finding them and bringing them home.
Travelling ten thousand miles to America to bring home the banished, the exiled, the defiant, the indefatigable and unconquerable. He even managed to bring home one native son who was presumed lost for 48 years.
Lifting every voice in our nation as our choirmaster and leading us in harmony.
Showing us a new way to do our politics. Medemer.
Showing us how to win hearts and minds. With ideas, love and understanding.
Showed us the right way to deal with women. With equality. He appointed women to half of the country’s ministerial positions.
Showed us the power of telling the truth when it is more convenient to lie. Abiy Ahmed tells it like it is. He says what he means and means what he says.
Professionalizing the military, police and security forces.
Upholding the rule of law and due process when they urged him to act on impulse and violate the law.
Banning extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and detentions.
Stabilizing the economy after it had been looted and ransacked by crooks and swindlers.
His extraordinary efforts to establish an open, accountable and transparent government.
His extraordinary efforts to bring harmony and understanding among factions of the two great religions in Ethiopia.
There are still threats to peace
PM Abiy has a long road ahead of him. The Peace Road never ends. There are many forks in the road.
As the African saying goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
We can go fast and far if we walk on Peace Avenue with Abiy Ahmed.
Do we really deserve Abiy Ahmed?
I have often found myself asking this question: Do we really deserve Abiy Ahmed?
It has been said, “Every nation gets the government it deserves.”
That is to say, the people must defend and promote their government or they will end up where they do not want to be.
So few people in Ethiopia today remember how miserable their lives were only 20 months ago.
Today, they complain about too much freedom that has led to lawlessness and instability.
If Ethiopians do not count their blessings in the leadership of Abiy Ahmed, they may get their wish.
They will have “stability” and “security” in a police state, just like they did over the past 5 decades.
“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
On December 10, 2019, let all Ethiopians set aside their differences for one day, lift our voices and rejoice in the fact that our son, our brother Abiy Ahmed is being honored by the world as a peacemaker.
Let us cast asunder the poverty of spirit that afflicts so many of us because of jealousy and our own inadequacies.
Let us not be like those who suffer from the bankruptcy of soul because they have lost the capacity to experience joy.
Let us be mindful that it is unlikely there will be another Ethiopian who will win a Nobel Peace Prize in the next 50 years. Since 1901, only 100 awards have been made.
Abiy Ahmed is the 100th recipient!
This is Ethiopia’s moment in the sun. Let us bask in it!
On December 10, 2019, I ask all Ethiopians to come together, or if they are alone to take a moment of silence, to lift our voices and salute our son, our brother Abiy Ahmed:
“Hail to the 2019 Champion of Peace!”