Downs and Ups for Ethiopia

10 Jul

Some have asked, “Why does Ethiopia have so much poverty?”  Here is a mini history lesson along with some current events.  I graduated from high school forty-one years ago in 1970.  In my adult lifetime, assuming I was one when I graduated, Ethiopia has been through quite a time of struggle.  Haile Selassie was by many accounts, a dictatorial emperor then.  He was ousted by a Communist overthrow in 1974.  Ethiopia had struggled through many famines, including the one that was occurring just before the time of Selassie’s overthrow.  Ethiopia also was in the middle of a thirty year civil war for the independence of Eritrea which started in 1961 and lasted until the Communists were swept from power in 1991.  Eritrea became a country in 1994 but from 1998-2000 another round of the civil war had devastating consequences economically and with great loss of lives on both sides.  Eritrea retained its independence and Ethiopia retained its landlocked status.  Beside the famine in 1973 there was also a major famine in 1985.  Famine struck again in 2002, oh, and again in 2008.

The first case of HIV/AIDS was reported in 1984 in Ethiopia.  Official statistics for African countries are less than reliable because of the stigma attached to being positive.  Usually studies are done only with consenting adults.  Those who might be suspicious of themselves refuse testing and would rather not know.  Officially, in some countries it is as high as one out of four.  Unofficially, estimates for some countries are devastatingly higher than that.

Those are the downs over which Ethiopian citizens have little control.

There are some ups for the future.  The African Union is coming to town.  There is a hydro-electric project planned for northern Ethiopia that will be the largest power generating facility in all of Africa.  Ethiopia is making progress in its quest to strengthen a middle class and making progress on creating jobs.  They also can boast of an expanding GDP.

As I reflect on the dates above in my own life and what was happening beyond my control which would have impacted my own slide into poverty I can come with…aahh…nothing.  We did have gas rationing in the  early 1970’s once.  One summer, maybe 1984, it did not rain as usual and we had a 50 percent lower harvest.  I don’t remember not eating.

Have you ever heard the opinion that they are just receiving God’s judgement?  I hope that you will not be quick to agree with that assessment.  Even if that would be an accurate point of view, smacking of incredible smugness, there would follow a notable unasked question…

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