Ethiopians have been using various art forms throughout the ages to vent their frustration over our inability to put the river Nile to meaningful use.
The fact that we have been under the yoke of poverty for so long while nature has endowed us with a precious gift like the Nile has always infuriated and made us ashamed in equal measures. All this sadness and frustration however, is now giving way to determination and optimism with the laying of the cornerstone of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) some three years ago.
The current generation of Ethiopians is staking its claim to history by displaying the determination to undertake a monumental project that many had thought we would not dream of let alone embark on. Currently the construction of the GERD is a third of the way through.
The entire process–including the design, funding and execution of the project– is owned and driven by the people and government of Ethiopia. The GERD is a harbinger of a new era for a country whose people are striving to make history by making poverty, a source of national embarrassment for far too long, a thing of the past. It heralds a bright future for a country that aspires not only to rid itself of poverty but also to be a land of democracy and justice. It was not an easy thing for Ethiopia when it set out to build the dam three years ago.
The country knew it could not obtain a loan or a grant from overseas to finance the construction. Meanwhile, ever since the project was announced, foreign enemies and a handful of internal elements opposed to the Ethiopian government have been hard at work to discredit the project. However, the people of Ethiopia have set their political differences aside and managed to overcome these daunting challenges to allow the construction to reach the critical stage it has reached now.
The GERD cannot be a cannon fodder that forces with sinister motive use to sow discord between the people of Ethiopia for it is a monument being erected by them with a shared vision. Any attempt to use the dam for political consumption is bound to steer one on a collision course with the Ethiopian people and is akin to stirring a hornet’s nest.
The historic and humiliating victory that Ethiopia inflicted on the invading Italian army at Adowa in 1896, in which all black people take pride, was a result of the heavy sacrifice paid by all Ethiopians. Just as no one can deny to whom the victory belongs, it is the same thing with the dam. It also belongs to the Ethiopian people.