The ideal Ethiopian leader |
By Teklu Abate (Ph.D.) | August 11, 2012
What qualities should the ideal Ethiopian leader possess? Commonsense has it that leaders, be they presidents or prime ministers, must be patriotic, selfless, wise, popular, ambitious, social, orator, charismatic, intelligent, and unifying. These qualities seem to transcend socio-economic and cultural boundaries; these are the qualities sought from a potential leader regardless of time and place. The qualities, one way or another, reflect leaders' state of mind, social skills and emotional intelligence. Election campaigns aim at, albeit much done implicitly, assuring potential voters that leaders really possess the expected qualities. One can however ask whether other qualities are worth mentioning as well. In this post, I like to raise the important demographic characteristics a 21st Century Ethiopian leader should possess.
My major point is that, in addition to leaders' emotional and intellectual maturity, their demographic characteristics must be discussed about. This is particularly relevant to Ethiopia, as the last three decades saw the vivid significance of these factors at national and individual levels. In a way, Ethiopia really needs a significant change and that change must begin from the characteristics/background of her leader. The following are some of the issues that I found worth to raise.
President vs Prime Minister
My personal take is that the president should assume the highest office of the nation. Ethiopia cannot afford to hire a lame president who is busy cutting cakes and greeting incoming and outgoing ambassadors. The president should preside on virtually every major issue of the country. It just feels great to be represented at the international arena by a president than by a minister.
Elected vs Appointed
The president must be democratically elected by the people rather than by the parliament or the governing party. If the later appoints the president, manipulation might be put at work, we have seen it several times. Appointment will be an obstacle for the president to exercise real power freely. My vote must hire the president.
Female vs Male
We have been ruled by gentlemen for centuries and centuries. Although gender in its own right could not be a determinant factor for success or otherwise, it feels great to have a woman president. This is something we never tried before. If we do it now, we will have a completely different dynamics and that would be used as a model for the entire female population who seems passive in decision making and politics. Women for sure have several qualities that outsmart men's.
Senior vs Young
During the last three decades, we have been ruled by men aged in their 30s. And presidency is the highest position of a nation that needs the highest level of maturity. Unfortunately, our previous leaders governed us much by their emotions and arms than by their intellect and judgment. So I will not vote for a president who is not say over 50. But am not saying that age is by itself a satisfactory condition; maturity correlates with age.
Muslim vs Christian
The other factor is religious background of the president. Should our next leader be a Muslim or a Christian? There is some indication that people from both religions try to run for the highest office. It is commendable if it is intended for the service of national interest. The ugly thing will be if they see power as a means to make any form of favor to respective religions. This is one of the most evil things one could do to Ethiopia. And we have to condemn this bogusness by the harshest terms available. My take is that my president could be a Muslim or a Christian but she must keep her religion at bay. She is as free to practice her religion as ordinary citizens but should make sure she treats all religions squarely.
Highly Educated vs Educated
I do not expect my president to hold a doctorate degree. Nor I do accept a minimally educated one. Nor I tolerate one that is close-minded. The president must be well aware of socio/economic and political developments at the global and national levels; she must have a matured emotional intelligence and excellent analytic and problem solving skills. To me, being educated is being responsible, accountable, open-minded, tolerant, compassionate, decisive, insightful, considerate, ambitious, realistic, and perseverant.
Ethiopia is one of the most mosaic nations in the world, mothering over 80 different ethnic groups. I do not mind if my president is from dominant (e.g. Oromo, Amhara) or minority nationalities as long as she demonstrates the qualities am talking about. Indeed, I will be extra glad if the president comes from the tiniest ethnicities. That should be celebrated as it is one powerful way of ensuring social equity and justice.
Diaspora vs Local
Should an Ethiopian Diaspora become a president? There are at least two issues here. One, due mainly to political and social injustices back home, well educated and respected citizens are leaving the nation in exodus. North American and European and lately African organizations and institutions are their employers now. So one could easily find a potentially competent president from abroad. Two, Ethiopians residing in Ethiopia are the ones who vividly know and understand all the conditions strangling Ethiopia. They could better manage issues if they run and win the presidency. If I have to make a choice, it would be edifying to see a local Ethiopian taking the noblest office. That will leave an important message- the concept of self rule and the limitless of human potential even amidst harsh environments. Am not saying the Diaspora are foreigners or alien to Ethiopian reality. Am just acknowledging and rewarding those people who keep on pushing the boundaries under very trying circumstances. The Diaspora could be better off if they engage in technical, scientific, and business fronts.
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