By Yaye Abebe
The ongoing discussion on inviting Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to speak at the 35th ESFNA sport and cultural festival in Dallas, Texas is in need of seeing the bigger picture.
Abiy came to power through the young generation’s sacrifice. In the past three years, the youth of Oromia, Amara and Konso paid with their lives to resist the EPRDF’s government with their blood and sweat. It is the youth that gave Ethiopia a glimmer of hope against a sustained, brutal crackdown and years of political repression by the regime.
The new Prime Minister so far has walked the talk by releasing prominent political prisoners such as Eskinder Nega, Andualem Arage, Dr Merera Gudina, Bekele Gerba, Ustaz Ahmedin Jebel, Nigist Yirga, Chaltu Takele, Andargachew Tsige and the tens of thousands of political prisoners who were languashing in federal and regional prisons.
Abiy has given Ethiopians a fresh hope with a message of peace, reconciliation and consensus building. His message of forgiveness is what Ethiopians for the past 27 years, or may be for the past 40 years, has been waiting to hear. The Prime Minister’s message is about the renewal and revival of the heart and soul of our country.
The way forward for the diaspora community is to empower and embrace the message of Prime Minister Abiy while sustaining the pressure demanding for the legitimate rights and interests of the Ethiopian people. We in the diaspora must walk the talk of unity and togetherness instead of fomenting the outdated narratives of us-against-them.
Today Ethiopia is on the early steps of healing the deep political wounds of the past 40 years that have mutated into generational, regional, religious and ethnic conflicts.
The ESFNA board needs to transcend the façade of political-free festival while in reality the tone and atmosphere of the diaspora community has been that of politicization, division and animosity. Churches are divided, communities are tense, generations are at odds: we are all suffering from disharmony.
Dear ESFNA, invite Prime Minister Abiy, not as a political party leader, but as a symbol of honoring the sacrifices paid by the youth for a transformative change in Ethiopia.
Inviting Abiy is a noble and historically appropriate move that will prevent unnecessary and unforeseen divisions within the diaspora.
Say Yes to Abiy! See you in Dallas!