Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Addis at the beginning of 2009 looks dramatically different than the Addis of just a few years ago. A rail system cuts across the city, Bole has big buildings and hotels with nightlife that give it a cosmopolitan feel and new modern suburbs feature housing developments that look like the exurbs of western nations. It was a prosperous year for some to be sure as Ethiopia’s stunning economic growth continued to churn, but for many 2008 reflected W.B. Yeat’s poem written a century ago –the imputes for Chinua Achebe’s novel, ‘Things Fall Apart’.
Considered to be an essential novel on African nationalism, it focuses on the consequences to the rest of humanity, when a belligerent culture, takes it upon itself to invade another culture. Achebe’s writing about African society, from an African point of view the story of the colonization of the Igbo by arrogant, western culture which insisted that African culture needed a leader and repressed the Igbo language at the end of the novel which in the end destroys their culture.
Whether or not the catalyst is ‘outside anti peace forces’ as the government claims or ethnocentric repression and totalitarianism, the fact remains that there were citizens of our country dissatisfied enough with their current situation to publically voice their dissent and that dissent as usual was not tolerated. Rather, it was met with deadly force which had led to more ill will in the form of ethnocentric name calling and intimidation, destruction of property and loss of life. At the end of 2009 will we as a nation be able to tell our children that we have learned the lessons of Rwanda, the Arab Spring, South Sudan and other attempts to change systems which started out with idealism but ended in inhumane slaughter. Will the best lack all conviction, while the worst remain full of passionate intensity or will we work together to resolve our issues through positive communication and diplomacy.