Hard lessons from Uganda and Bolivia to Ethiopia
Also friends and acquaintances who happen to know how fate forced this writer to seek sanctuary in Uganda may suspect that something experienced here is worth noting for Ethiopia. Indeed, it is.
For what has transpired in Uganda right after the post-election violence in Kenya can also be a jolt to Ethiopia provided there still are many Ethiopians capable of feeling such a shock. Of course, those whose source of information does not go beyond tourist handbook may only recall about both countries being exporter of coffee and source of different Niles that intertwine in Sudan, hence rendering them unable to imagine what lesson can there be for Ethiopia.
Those who read or listen only to the Headlines may liken the two countries with respect to their pseudo-democracy. They may even cite the ruler’s readiness to be at beck and call for Washington and London by pointing to the entanglement they faced in Somalia. In the mind of rumourmongers too would pop a salacious gossip about the two rulers extraction of foreign ancestry; a Tigrean origin affiliated with Eritrea and a Tutsi with Rwanda. To the best of this writer’s knowledge, however, the Ugandan ruler, save for dictatorial inclinations, has never been accused of compromising the national interest of his country like his counterpart in Ethiopia.
Speaking of the similarities of these African nations brings us back to Bolivia. Because of the vast distance and historical disparity, Bolivia obviously sounds far-fetched to be of any lesson to Ethiopia.Yet, if the reader bears with the writer, one will be amazed to find out the not so open historical parallel. According to the world factbook, as of 2007, there are 43 landlocked countries in the world. Among these are Bolivia and Uganda and of course our beloved but bedevilled Ethiopia. This is how Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia describes what it means to be landlocked.
“Losing access to the sea is often a great blow to nations. The creation of the new states of Eritrea and Montenegro, brought about by successful separatist movements have caused Ethiopia and Serbia respectively to become land- locked.”
What Wikipedia didn’t reveal is that Ethiopia shouldn’t necessarily have lost her access to the sea, had it not been for the Trojan horse in the person of Meles Zenawi & Company. Many of us haven’t understood to the letter what kind of a blow TPLF has rendered to the very existence of Ethiopia by handing over the Red Sea Port of Assab as dowry to its erstwhile comrade-in-arms, EPLF.
We’re still lulled and befuddled by Woyanne propaganda that says “where there’s money, there’s port; so leave EPLF alone to lead its camels to the Red sea.” Some of us even thought it as an idle academic exercise when Dr Yakob Hailemariam sought to make a case for Ethiopia’s right to reclaim Assab during the 1998-2000 Ethiopia-Eritrean War.
But for one who follows events around the world, it’s easy to demonstrate that it’s not an abstract problem for a nation without any port of its own to suffer a serious threat to its existence by pointing out the recent experience of Uganda that’s totally dependent upon Mombassa. The moment Kenya sneezed, Uganda convulsed automatically and uncontrollably. Escalating fuel shortage compounded by hoarding and triggered by sensational speculation have more than doubled the price of petrol overnight as black marketers pocketed staggering profits in roadside sales. Merely one day after the violence in Kenya the price of petrol per litre shot up from Shs 2,460/1.44USD to Shs 4000/2.35USD spiralling upwards up to Shs 10,000/5.88USD.As a result Museveni’s government was grilled for not thinking ahead to have enough reserve and for failing to pursue a plan to stretch oil pipeline.
The moral of the story; it shows as usual how hollow and irresponsible Meles Zenawi’s assertion is whereby he said “where there’s money, there’s port.” In a region where bigoted personalities like him manage to get on top, let alone to buy port like a simple commodity, even simple commodities like flour become scarce due to instability.Therefore,pinning Ethiopia’s hope on a tiny dry coast like Djibouti which is more of a pastime to the French than being a real nation on its own with its unresolved relations between its two ethnic group, the Issa of Somali origin and the Afar of Ethiopian origin is an outright treason we have to deal with sooner than later. After all, if Kenya implodes like this, it’s just a matter of time that Djibouti will follow suit.So, if that happens, God forbid, where to run? Already, Meles has pitted and embroiled Ethiopia in unnecessary conflicts in the region.
This leaves us with the historical parallel I promised to draw between Ethiopia and Bolivia. Bolivia like Ethiopia was not always landlocked. It lost its coastline to Chile in a battle recorded as “the war of the Pacific.”Unlike, Ethiopia, however, Bolivians are obsessed with their loss and still hope to recover their access to the Pacific Ocean.Consequently, it’s the only nation to have a naval force without a coastline. In fact, this is how their aspiration has been described;
“Every nation has its historic grievances. The one that rankles most bitterly for citizens of landlocked Bolivia is the loss of the Litoral, their nation’s coastal province to Chile in the Saltpetre war of 1879-84. Rememberance of that loss has become a national obsession. Radical President Evo Morales appears at public events flanked by sailors in white dress and gives news conferences in front of an antique map showing Bolivia with its coastline intact. March 23 is observed as day of the sea, and the Miss Bolivia beauty pageant includes a contestant, Senorita Litoral, from the lost province.”
Whereas in Ethiopia in place of a nationalist like Emperor Yohannes who demanded for Ethiopian control of the port of Massawa when his assistance was sorely needed by the Brits in the early 1880s to rescue Egyptian garrisons and Europeans cut off in Sudan as a result of the Mahdist revolution or like Ras Alula who vowed to retake Massawa from the Egyptians and never to turn back his horse until it has drunk from the Red sea, we have,today,a traitor who doles out the territorial sovereignty of Ethiopia like a cake to west and east.And,the reason this is happening to us is because all of us failed to heed the Gondere’s ballad that forewarned;
“A nation has got legs
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