News of sluggish economic performance in the euro zone and across the Atlantic in the wake of the 2007 financial crisis and its destabilizing impact for the world was steadily offset – thanks largely to manufacturing growth in China and commodity riders of the Middle East and Latin America. As the Asian powerhouses demanded more energy, food and metals and had no problem paying for it, suppliers of Brazilian ore and their counterparts in the Gulf and Africa kept investment and growth going. This much is true about the recession in the west and the emergence of growth centers elsewhere, which became a narrative that left the story of a more important growth trajectory taking shape, albeit quietly, in Africa.
Kamilat Mehdi, a young Ethiopian from Addis Abeba, was acid burned by her ex-boyfriend; and Betel Addisu, a resident in Wollega, in western Ethiopia, was also acid burned by a man who had had an intimate relationship with her. Both attacks left the victims’ delicate faces disfigured beyond recognition, forever. And Aberash Hailay, a flight attendant at the national carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, was left blinded by her ex-husband, who took both her eyes out with a knife because she wanted to leave him after years of troubled relationship. These are but few stories of violence against women that made it to the headlines in the last few years only.
Arguably, Ethiopia’s nation building course is far from over. Many agree it is in fact far from being on the right track. But inarguably Ethiopia is a state – a state that has its own constitution with a clearly marked distinction between the executive, the judiciary and the legislative; a state that is playing international and regional roles of its own creed and capacity; a state that is signatory to numerous international conventions ranging from protecting individual liberty to its environment.
But if one goes by the country’s recent crackdown against journalists, bloggers, opposition party members and Muslim protestors, it is compellingly easy (and tempting) to question whether the country’s security apparatus is acting as if this is a failed state and getting along with it.