Spotlight on Ethiopia

The Black Spotlight
5 min readMay 21, 2020

Founded in 980 BC, Ethiopia is Africa’s oldest independent nation

Photo by Lenny Miles on Unsplash

As the second most populated country in Africa, it is no mystery as to why Ethiopia is rich in its history and diverse in its culture. The East African nation has its borders stretched across 1,104,300 km2. The landscape of grasslands and woodlands is home to a diverse array of animals ranging from the gelada baboon residing in the mountains of Ethiopia to the smooth fur color changing golden jackal roaming the savannah. With a population size of 108,000,000 people , making it the second most populated African country, the primarily agrarian society has over 80% of the population lives in a rural areas. The highest density of people can be found in the north and central parts of the country. The average fertility rate of 5 children per woman has created a scenario in which more than 40% of the population is below the age of 15. The United Nations have predicted Ethiopia to have a population of 120 million people by 2025. Ethiopia’s people are mostly comprised of the Oromo, Amhara, and Somali ethnic groups. These three are also the main official languages of the country. The separation of church and state and the granted right to religious freedom under the constitution has culminated in the majority of spiritual believers being Ethiopian Orthodox, Muslim and Protestant. In total there are nine ethnically based regional states.

As one of the oldest countries in Africa, being an established conglomerate for at least 2,000 years, the centuries of rich Ethiopian history incases some of the biggest global conquests to the harshest political climates across all of Africa. Ethiopia is one of the only two African countries never to have been under colonial rule. Modern Ethiopia can be dated back to 1930 when Ras Tafari became Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia after the death of the previous Emperor Menilik. A 1974 coup shifted the political landscape to the eventual creation of a constitution in 1987, transforming Ethiopia into a socialist country. The new Workers Party of the People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, had Mengistu Haile Mariam as its President, having supreme powers. From 1974 to 1991, considered one of the most power hungry men in Africa, he enforced executions of intellectuals that seemed to go against his regime. A food crisis across Africa in 1984 started a feminine in Ethiopia which the country could not withstand due to the state ownership of the land and the degradation of agricultural practices under the regime. In 1991, Mengistu fled to Zimbabwe after three rebel factions invaded to end the Menilik regime. A transitional government was quickly established in Addis Ababa and the first multiparty elections of the federal democratic state were held in 1995. The first Ethiopian president, Negasso Gidada Solo, carefully selected his Council of Ministers to create national stability to complete his term in office until 2001. Taking office in 2018, the Prime Minister is ABIY Ahmed and President is Sahle-Work Zewde.

Photo by Clay Knight on Unsplash

STATE OF AFFAIRS

Ethiopia’s level of diversity or number of political reformations does not mean it is absolved of its problems during its periods of abundance. Since 2016 the nation has invested in its infrastructure in addition to growing its GDP through agriculture and the service sectors. The state owns all of the land which they lease to the populous. The biggest source of earnings is in its service sectors such as its airline and exports in commodities such as coffee, gold, and sesame. Billions of dollars’ worth of investments have come from foreign banking, insurance, telecommunications, and credit agencies. Due to mismanagement amongst a host of other issues, the country has one of the lowest income inequality levels in the world based on the Gini coefficient. Ethiopia remains as one of the poorest countries in Africa; much of its state can be attributed to a deleterious drought in 2015 which created food instability for its rapidly growing population. About a third of the country lives below the poverty line and while the government has spent 4.5% of its $200 billion yearly GDP on its education, the country still has an illiteracy rate of 39%. Steps are continued to be being taken to raise the quality of education remaining. Internationally, there have been border disputes between Eritrea and Ethiopia for decades. Sudanese protests has also made it difficult to demarcate the borders. The international disputes have displaced millions of people having Ethiopia receive hundreds of thousands of refugees from Eritrea, South Sudan, Somalia and Sudan. There are active terrorist groups such as al-Shabaab that aims to punish Ethiopia for its willingness to aid the African Union’s mission in Somalia. The terrorist acts have pushed Ethiopia to withdraw its troops.

CALL TO ACTION

The population increases have contributed to less land resources, increased food shortages, and environmental issues such as deforestation, overgrazing, water shortages because of farming. A shift in focus to building up the nations’ infrastructure has also increased the rate of industrial pollution. In its political matters, laws are not strongly enforced, and the government is often said to lack transparency. The systemic issues that are plaguing the nation can be resolved requires a combined effort across multiple fronts to address the nation's most pressing dilemma. Organizations such as Doctors Without Borders and Childspring International continue to put various efforts to transform and uplift communities all across Ethiopia. Assistance does not have to be in a monetary form as you could sign a petition, volunteer with an organization, or donate supplies. You can get involved by reaching out to representatives at the United Nations to create effective programs for the dilemmas plaguing the country.

For more information as to how you can assist those in Ethiopia please visit:

ProjectWorldImpact.com

HumanRightsWatch.org

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The Black Spotlight

Celebrating Africa and the Diaspora while shedding light on the topics and issues affecting them. A proud student of Africana Studies. Email: harrynof@gmail