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Everything is revolving around this year’s election. You open your TV, radio, newspaper or magazine, it is all about election. Of course, elections are a big deal, choosing a leader for the next half a decade is not something that should be taken lightly.
Elections arrest the attention of people in every corner of the world, although the intensity defers from country to country. Africa does not really have a long history of elections due to colonization and succeeding monarchial system. But what history has shown is choosing a leader is no simple task.
African leaders are notorious for out staying their term. They usually do not live by the principle of an entrusted servant with fixed term. Nobody can deny that there is a huge governance problem on the continent with those in power engulfed with total control and greed, rarely do they try to shy out of their selfish world and try to live up to citizen’s expectations. This is actually a common problem in developing countries, rather than an African predicament. Irresponsible leaders are in abundance; it is a miracle how the world has not degenerated into a totalitarian rule.
Coming back to our country, I have been around to see a couple of elections, with a good memory of some. The first one I remember was the 2007 election, when things went a little out of hand. I remember people getting enraged and the youth, blinded by heightened emotion, and the federal police being mean (they are much nicer now). I remember things being very scary.
I would get into discussing who was responsible for the turbulence as it is completely pointless. I really believe everybody, the ruling party, opposition parties and other involved groups, has learned something from that election. Whether they had kept the lesson in mind is something of interest for enquiry.
People have also taken their share of lessons. I hope I am not blindsided by present emotions. Personally, I have learned to look at things carefully and I understand that democracy actually has very little to do with the things we associate it with, like freedom of expression.
When the current election season kicked off, there was a large circulation of bad press putting under question the sort of democracy and leadership in Ethiopia. Some did have a point; I cannot say that the government has got some issues wrong. One the other hand, reading the bad press, for people who come from different corners of the world, it seemed very unfair to what the country has achieved so far and I honestly believe it has achieved a lot.
In my opinion, leading a country is the hardest job in the world. Governance is not just black and white; it has many shades of gray. The gray can be exploited to be cause for transgression. We need to negotiate about those gray areas, and praise the black and white.
Let us make this election season exciting, it should be a time for debates and discussions, explore for ways of improvement, and agree on what needs to be uphold. It should open the door to brilliant ideas and concepts that could contribute to national growth.
Most importantly, we should accept the final decisions, whatever they maybe. Election is won by majority vote, the operative word being ‘majority’.