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Ethiopian in the United States marching against the Ethiopian government. Photo : file/dots

Selome Esayas

From our perch overseas, we watch with heavy hearts as the land of our birth descends into turmoil. After decades of oppression, Ethiopians dared to hope for openness and reform. But this optimism has soured into acrimony and bloodshed.

The nation stands at a dangerous crossroads. The future looks precarious. Violence and starvation stalk the land. Age-old divisions have resurfaced to poison the political discourse. And the most vulnerable suffer most amidst the upheaval.

Many of us departed Ethiopia seeking better opportunities and freedoms denied to us at home. We scattered across the globe, planting roots in foreign soil. And yet our connection to the motherland remains unbroken. Ethiopia yet pulses in our hearts and still flows through our veins.

We may reside abroad, but we are the products of Ethiopia. Our character and worldview bear the imprint of an ancient culture and rugged land. We remain stakeholders in Ethiopia’s future. And at this critical juncture, our homeland needs us once again.

Those remaining in Ethiopia look to us in the diaspora with longing and expectation. And rightfully so. We who have prospered in freer lands have so much to offer – knowledge, resources, global connections. The defeatism ingrained from decades of tyranny does not restrain us. We know Ethiopia’s potential because we have fulfilled our own.

And so the clarion call goes out, echoing across continents and generations: If not us, who? If not now, when? Destiny has afforded us who have journeyed far the opportunity to help guide our homeland through its most perilous passage in generations. This is our purpose now.

We must put aside differences sown through the decades and embrace our shared heritage as Ethiopians. We must yield old grudges to stand together, infused with renewed empathy and understanding. We must summon the best of Ethiopia – perseverance, courage, faith – to lead it out of the valley of shadows.

The world is too rife with division. We who inherited Ethiopia’s independent spirit must light the path towards reconciliation. By lifting each other up, not keeping each other down, we can commence the true work of nation-building.

For too long, ethnicity has been intentionally weaponized for political gain in Ethiopia, creating an atmosphere of distrust and resentment. We in the diaspora, negotiating multiple cultures daily, know there is a better way. A nation thrives not by highlighting differences but promoting shared goals, shared identity.

Our diversity should be a wellspring of richness, not a source of rancor. The various faiths, traditions, and languages within Ethiopia’s borders represent strands waiting to be woven together into a national tapestry, alive with color and beauty. But this requires patience, empathy and good faith from all Ethiopians.

The world awaits the reemergence of a strong, united Ethiopia. One that can assume a leadership role in Africa and serve as a model for uplifting marginalized communities globally. We have seen what Ethiopians can accomplish around the world when opportunity allows. It is time to bring that energy and ingenuity home.

The crisis engulfing Ethiopia – war, hunger, unrest – feels overpowering at the moment. But they need not define the country’s trajectory. We know Ethiopia and Ethiopians to be resilient. Proud. Innovative. That is the character we must revive and channel creatively towards national renewal.

Positive change relies on ordinary citizens standing up and demanding better from their leaders and from each other. If we commit to elevating human dignity above all else, much that seems impossible today will fall within reach. We need only have faith – in our nation and in our shared humanity.

Our charge is to guide Ethiopia towards a more just, equitable and inclusive society. The rotten old order has collapsed under its own weight. In its place, we can raise up new structures aligned to meet the needs of all Ethiopians, not just the privileged few.

Many times before Ethiopia has faced invading armies,internal unrest, powerful adversaries. Always it has always endured. But surviving a crisis and stagnation is not enough. Survival must give way to revival. And a revived Ethiopia in this modern era will respect human rights, empower women and youth, encourage entrepreneurship, and welcome diversity.

These values already live within the fabric of Ethiopian culture. But now they must be made cornerstones in building a new society. The inspirations for a better Ethiopia are all around, waiting to be sculpted into reality with engaged civic participation.

We in the diaspora cannot drive this change alone. But we can and must lend our voices, resources, experience and optimism to the grassroots movement already growing within Ethiopia. The connective power of technology offers new channels for cooperative engagement across borders and oceans.

There will be setbacks along the path to progress. Entrenched powers will scheme to protect their privileges. Backward elements will try exploiting old resentments. Further conflict could erupt, or famine spread. But we cannot allow short-term gloom to deter us from pursuing the long-term dream.

During this long national night, we must focus on lighting candles rather than cursing the darkness. One candle at a time, progress will come.

The young generation now coming of age in Ethiopia will shape the nation’s future. We must guide their passions and channel their energy towards civic engagement, entrepreneurship, and bridge-building across cultures. They deserve the chance to see Ethiopia rise again.

So let us unite, diaspora and citizens, as heirs to Ethiopia’s proud history. Let our varied faiths strengthen our sense of shared destiny. Let our heartbreak at Ethiopia’s suffering now pour itself into determined action to aid its recovery.

We stand today where two paths diverge. Down one lies disintegration and ruin. But down the other path blooms renewal. Now is the time for Ethiopians across the world to join hands and walk the path of light and hope into a new era for our homeland.

The challenges are monumental, but so is the potential. By reaching across divisions, embracing our diversity, and standing up for human dignity, we can yet see Ethiopia prosper.

The sleeping giant has awoken. The descendants of rulers and revolutionaries now heed the call once more. Let us go forward into uncertain times not with fear or rancor, but with deep love for our homeland in our hearts. Let us be the light Ethiopia needs in its darkest hour.


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