Following today’s announcement of the death of Meles Zenawi, and in response to the many requests I have received to comment about what might happen in Ethiopia, this is a good time to repost an article I wrote a few years ago:
Why do you want your analysis of Ethiopian politics to be intermediated by a European? Isn’t that a little bit, well, racist?
Ethiopians have a sophisticated political culture. They are justly proud of their long and deep social and religious traditions. Here in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia gather in coffee shops or bars and talk endlessly about politics, culture and society. They consume a vast array of newspapers, some of which are openly critical of the government, with their machiatos. There is a lively debate online, both among resident Ethiopians and the diaspora. …
People who want to know what western observers think are not giving enough weight to the views of Ethiopians themselves. I think that is unconscious racism. Just because I’m a white guy with a laptop should not privilege my opinion over that of Ethiopians themselves.
In the meantime, we are thinking of all our friends in Ethiopia, and the beautiful country which I have been privileged to visit often since I first went there thirty years ago.