What’s happening in Ethiopia? – and do you care?

Two important books which I’ve read recently – “Enlightenment Now” [my review here] and “Factfulness” [my review here] – both make the fundamental point that most of the progress which is being made by humankind is not reported by the media  because it is gradual and undramatic and therefore unnewsworthy.  This is especially true of developments in Africa and Asia which seem to be of little interest to many people in Europe and America.

It appears to me that a good example of this is the advances being made in Ethiopia – a country you’ve never visited and you hardly ever read about.

I visited Ethiopia three years ago and the conclusion of my account noted:

“… for the tourist who wants something different and is prepared for some challenges, Ethiopia is a great destination. The exotic names of places we visited were themselves magical: Addis Ababa, Axum, Lalibela … But the history was so rich and fascinating, whether it was the skeleton of Lucy, the stelae of Axum, the rock churches of Lalibela, or the castles of Gondar and the terrain was awesome whether it was the mountains of the Simien National Park or the waters of Lake Tana. In fact, four of the locations we viewed are World Heritage Sites.”

In recent months, some significant political developments have been occurring in Ethiopia. As this article explains:

“Abiy Ahmed, the prime minister of Ethiopia, has accelerated a radical reform programme that is overturning politics in the vast, strategically significant African country.Since coming to power as prime minister in April, Abiy has electrified Ethiopia with his informal style, charisma and energy, earning comparisons to Nelson Mandela, Justin Trudeau, Barack Obama and Mikhail Gorbachev.

The 42-year-old – who took power following the surprise resignation of his predecessor, Haile Mmariam Dessalegn – has so far reshuffled his cabinet, fired a series of controversial and hitherto untouchable civil servants, reached out to hostile neighbours and rivals, lifted bans on websites and other media, freed thousands of political prisoners, ordered the partial privatisation of massive state-owned companies and ended a state of emergency imposed to quell widespread unrest.”

Ethiopia still has huge problems but there are reasons to be cheerful including a new accord between Ethiopia and Eritrea.


  • Janet

    The situation you describe in Ethiopia is most encouraging. It is so good to get positive news from somewhere for so long it has been negative.

    However,in contrast, I give below some extracts from the most recent newsletter I have received from a friend in NICARAGUA, another of your past holiday destinations:
    “There is no clear way forward and the unrest continues. All overseas development aid is on hold, and we fear for the safety of our friends.
    The country is facing two situations; one is the political unrest with killings etc. The other is the economic situation with people running out of money and no jobs.People are being very careful on the streets as there are many armed police with their faces covered. The government are giving guns to the Sandinista Youth who are mostly criminals.
    It seems the world press is not interested, for the present, and fragmented social media reportage is (as we would expect) unhelpful.”

  • Roger Darlington

    The developments in Nicaragua are every troubling, Janet. Progress is not always continuous and we have to hope that the longer-term trends are encouraging.


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