Just a few weeks ago, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed released his new book, ‘Medemer’ ‘summing up’/ synergy. Containing 280 pages and sixteen chapters in four major sections, it dwells on a range of issues from history to economics and politics to philosophy. The English version will be available shortly but a record million copies have been printed in two local languages the sale of which will be used for schools. This is just a taste of the essence of the book.
Ethiopia has never experienced its leaders writing an important policy-focused book in this manner. We are living in unprecedented times many say and the country, while undergoing some sort of change may be in need of such guidance.
The book reflects on the trajectory of the country, dwells on the past, analyses it and proceeds to build up its case for the present and future. Indeed the writer turned politician has shown his talent with least two other books under his belt that people are familiar with. But this one is written in his capacity as premier and no pseudonym is used.
An ardent believer in Ethiopian unity and admirer of the history of his country, Abiy Ahmed has rekindled the patriotic sentiments of millions abandoning narrow minded ethnic views. One might say ‘medemer’ is a synthesis of all his beliefs.
Medemer analyses the strong points and weaknesses of all the factors that have contributed to the formation of the state of Ethiopia and tries to figure out why its society has not prospered.
It attempts to identify the miscalculations and suggests solutions. Medemer is well explained and described extensively so that people understand its nature and essence. The writer hopes to convince not only Ethiopians but also other Africans. Medemer is a combination of analysis of problems and projection of solutions using both indigenous thoughts and alien experiences.
Not dwelling too much on past errors, the book focuses rather on solutions and distances itself from useless diatribes on past events and past errors. It argues that we learn from the past but we project our ideas and conviction with an eye on the present and future.
Medemer means we capitalize on what is positive from the past and add up to the current enlightenment. We appreciate indigenous know how and add modern ideas to it. We use traditional methods of resolving our disputes and differences supplementing with contemporary techniques.
Medemer argues that it is only by working together with similar ideas that we can achieve our long term objectives of living in a well-developed and civilized, free country, with happy citizens.
The essence of this concept is hammering out differences and paying more attention to common and selected objectives. Our enemy is poverty and we can beat it only through concerted efforts.
Medemer believes it has two major obstacles: theoretical and practical: Attitude and behaviour.
Our mentality is something we need to work on persistently until it is changed. Polarization is one aspect. Adopting extremist and irreconcilable positions, closing the doors to dialogue are all unacceptable for medemer.
Labeling people or ideas is counterproductive and does not help us move an inch in our efforts to attain our goals. Compromise and negotiation is imperative.
The way we view time is important. We cannot live talking only about the past, nor only the present. We also need to consider the future. We need a balanced view in the time frame.
Consolidation on what we have, gathering or collecting positive items that eventually help us form our ‘startup capital’: the more the better.
Medemer abhors unilateralism, self-service or acting in solitude. It deals with the idea of ‘cooperation’ and ‘rivalry’ or ‘competition’ in what we engage in. Healthy competition helps us sharpen our motivation to work harder and never settle for less. Cooperation allows us overcome huge obstacles in unison. The right balance between the two is useful.
Crucial values stated in medemer are National Unity: a matter of survival for the country, and the pride and dignity of citizens. The attempt by the Prime Minister to go out to countries and help free detained nationals from foreign prisons is symptomatic.
Medemer aims towards prosperity, stating people must enjoy a decent and happy life. Growing towards consolidation of wealth and guaranteeing the future is a major objective.
Medemer also has enemies: for instance simplifying or demeaning ideas and works, looking at things from one perspective only forgetting that today is a result of a variety of factors that interacted for years. Our view hence must be multifaceted. For medemer, attributing our current predicament to one factor alone, such as political leaders, intellectuals and so on is a mistake. Medemer shuns simplistic approaches.
Idealism is another obstacle. Dreaming high may be good but it must be achievable, measurable and time bound. Medemer is not utopia.
Downgrading professions has retarded Ethiopia’s progress towards prosperity. Appreciating art, stigmatising the artist, denigrating manual labour or craft is common. This has prohibited our journey towards industrialisation.
Resistance to change, mocking initiatives of leaders is another enemy of medemer. New ideas are often considered crazy. Emperors Tewodros and Menelik were frustrated by such resistance in their endeavours.
Opportunism is an obstacle to Medemer. Sycophants are enemies of the people because they encourage populism and emotional appeals. This is an obstacle to our democratic trajectory. Rationality and reasoning along with education are sacrificed.
Medemer has outlined corrupt intent and practice as red lines; this includes awards and promotion without merit, and the attitude of indolence. Medemer argues many people tend to associate theft or dishonesty with the disadvantaged, yet it is the well-to-do who are organised and engage in these malpractices.
Medemer argues the tradition of abuse and plundering of public property must stop. For the author, Medemer is a general way of life. There are no boundaries in its application including major policy areas such as foreign policy, economic policy and how to entertain neighbours and partners, among others.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of 7Dnews.