I enjoyed reading your cover story assessing the political landscape in Ethiopia one year after the death of Meles Zenawi (Ethiopia: a year after Meles, Aug. 2013). However, I found it hard to comprehend or share your general point about the country having seen no change or little change in the past one year owing to the death of Meles. For starters, what do we mean by “a change?” and what justifies our argument in whether there should be a “change” or not? What happened in August last year is a sudden death of a man who is, without doubt, credited to the political shape and geographical size of this country. But these are not found on mere papers locked in a vault in his office where no one can access them to rewrite them. The changes this country has gone through for the last two decades are institutional: miscarriage of justice is institutional, as is corruption; abuse of power is institutional as is nepotism; gagging dissent is institutional as is arbitrary detention of hundreds of innocent civilians…the list can go on. So here is a question for you and your team of writers: was expecting anything different in just a year legitimate?
Prof. Be’edilu Chernet G/Meskel
I am appalled to learn that the ruling EPRDF “has built a massive network of party loyalists in whom it relies today as the ‘main vanguards” of the system.” (Ethiopia: a year after Meles, Aug. 2013). We all know that the ruling party has inflated its membership from a few thousands in 2005 to over six million today. Adding on more loyalists who are ‘prestigious’ enough to be considered as “vanguards” can show how deeply entrenched the politics of the ruling EPRDF is. After reading your story I am now contemplating whether to kiss my hopes of an Ethiopia ruled by a different political party good bye.
Your cover story assessing the country’s political dynamics since the death of Meles (Ethiopia: a year after Meles, Aug. 2013) deserves appreciation. However, I was truly disappointed to see that your otherwise long article has afforded a rather tiny part to deal with the issues that burns us all to the core: the continuous status quo of quashing dissent, silencing freedom of expression, depriving political alternative voices, arbitrary detention of citizens and the ongoing crackdown against Muslim protestors throughout the country need a serious reflection than the tiny paragraphs you managed to put on your article. I hope to read on your magazine a thorough analysis on these issues in the future.
Your columnist has tried, in a rather very simple and understandable manner, to explain why authoritarianism is a persistent way of life in Ethiopia (Understanding Ethiopia’s vicious cycle of authoritarianism, Aug. 2013). My interest is to add further on the element of “the school environment”, which your columnist solely attributed to the teaching-learning process within the teacher-student relationship. In this regard in becomes very important to focus on why a teacher is considered to be the “alpha and omega of knowledge who deposits some ‘fixed’ ideas and principles in the ‘empty’ heads of the passive student”. Consecutive curriculums in the past and present Ethiopia dictate the teacher to patrol and pass on knowledge to his students which is only stipulated within a given syllabus, hence depriving the teacher of the right to add on extra-curricular elements to his students. As a typical civil servant who depends on the state to win his bread, a teacher is bound by rules of regulations provided by the state, in this case education curricula designed, codified and distributed by the state without due regards of mass participation by the larger society. So far, the various regimes that reigned over Ethiopia showed no interest in creating critical citizens as that would mean subjecting the rule of law to a wider public scrutiny.
Your magazine has compiled some of the fascinating facts about Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facts (Aug. 2013). The most interesting part is the part in which you mentioned access to an improved source of drinking water among the urban households (75%). My question is does this coverage take into account the number of weeks when urban water pipes run dry owing partly to the ongoing constructions in Addis Ababa city, and partly to outdating, overburdened water pipes installed when the city was home to a couple of thousands of inhabitants?