Ethiopian prime minister Abiy is a beacon of hope for Africa

Sunday October 20 2019

Harold Acemah

Harold Acemah 

By Harold Acemah

On October 11, the chairperson of the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced to great jubilation that Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed had won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. Abiy is the 12th African to win the peace prize and follows in the footsteps of the likes of Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan, Anwar Sadat, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Ms Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and chief Albert Luthuli.

According to the chairperson of the Nobel Committee, Abiy was awarded the prize for “his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation”.
The young and dynamic Ethiopian prime minister is a genuine new breed of African leader, not the fraudulent types former US president Bill Clinton mistakenly and prematurely anointed during the 1990s. Those types are waiting to be consigned into the dustbin of history where they belong.

At a personal level, I feel vindicated by the comments I made on Abiy in my Sunday Monitor opinion of April 7 titled, “On Ethiopian premier Abiy Ahmed’s first anniversary” which attracted plenty of feedback from readers, mostly positive, which I appreciate. It’s perhaps worth reiterating the concluding remarks of that piece:
“Why is Abiy, who is 42 years old, successful as a national leader when many older and allegedly more experienced African leaders are dismal and miserable failures?

First, Abiy is a patriot and committed servant of the people of Ethiopia. His actions speak eloquently about his patriotism, unlike some African leaders who claim to be patriotic, but brag openly that they are not servants of anybody.
Second, Abiy is a true pan-Africanist, which explains why he was able to reconcile with Eritrea and mediate effectively in bilateral disputes between member states of Igad.

Third, Abiy is confident and intellectually sound, not a fraud or a mediocre like many African leaders who make lots of empty noise using dishonest and misleading language to deceive and hoodwink wananchi.
He prefers to use the power of ideas and reason to win support, not threats and force to impose himself on Ethiopians. Abiy has been mentioned as a future recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and in my opinion he deserves the honour.”

The prediction I made barely six months ago has come to pass. Congratulations to the prime minister, government and gallant people of Ethiopia for the honour which has been accorded to Africa, as Abiy told the Nobel Committee.
A friend who is a regular reader of Sunday Monitor sent me feedback in April to say that much as he concurs with my argument, it’s perhaps too early to make a definitive judgment on Abiy.


He reminded me of comrade Robert Mugabe (RIP) in the 1980s and some leaders in our region who were given high accolades when they seized power, but are today comparable to the likes of Mobutu, Omar al-Bashir, Siad Barre, Idi Amin and Jean-Bedel Bokasa. I am afraid the facts speak loudly for themselves.
In a continent where there is a glaring lack of good, competent, selfless leaders, Abiy Ahmed is an exception and he has done Africa, especially Africa’s youth proud. He is indeed a rare breed among African leaders who tend to treat the countries they lead as personal estates.

Good role model
Abiy is an excellent role model and a beacon of hope for Africa. His outstanding record and legacy will inspire Africa’s youth long after he is gone.
I am not alone in feeling encouraged, elated and hopeful about the future of Africa, especially the future of basket cases on the continent, such as, Somalia, South Sudan, Zimbabwe and others where there appears to be no hope. One can now cautiously express hope for a better tomorrow despite dark clouds hanging over Africa.

Truth be told, Abiy Ahmed has achieved in one year what some African leaders have failed to achieve in 30 years and they want more time! One wonders to do what? Could it be to plunder and accumulate more material resources for self-aggrandizement? What a disgrace!
The ongoing struggle to rid Africa of tyranny, impunity, corruption, tribalism, nepotism cronyism, ignorance, poverty and disease has just got a shot in the arm. Let us keep hope alive!

Mr Acemah is a political scientist and retired career diplomat.