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Fortune Vol. 21 No. 1070 Nov. 1, 2020                                                                                                                                       Page 21

             Sunday with EdenBy Eden Sahle -
The Poor Image of Africa: Partly Racist, Partly Leaders' Fault
Many Ethiopians were vexed
            with the statement United   We hear daily about the continent’s                                                   a blow, although most observers state         to lengthen their hold on power, the
            States President Donald     depressing situation. Forget the                                                      that this likelihood is very low. There       world would surely begin to have
            Trump made about the        economy, but the politics of Africa and                                               simply is not the view that Africans          a more nuanced and deferential
                                        the state of human and democratic                                                     have the political maturity to address        understanding of our circumstances.
Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam rights has created a highly negative                                                          differences of opinions and negotiate in
(GERD). It is utterly understandable. image of the continent that, over half                                                  good faith to allocate resources fairly.      If we need to be infuriated, let us be
                                                                                                                                                                            outraged at our fellow African leaders
I read some of his motivating books, a century since decolonisation, it                                                       African leaders are not known for             who come to power through force and
and I met his daughter, Ivanka Trump, remains the perception of the outside                                                   standing up to what is right and just.        stay there by making use of similar
in person. She is a brilliant orator who world.                                                                               They have made a name for themselves          tools. Leaders of respective countries
                                                                                                                              disregarding the interests and needs of       should also engage with one another
praises her famous father endlessly. This is demonstrable with the                                                            their own people. They have remained          in goodwill.
                                                                                                                              tight mouthed, for the most part,
From what I read from his books and     negotiations around the GERD.                 In fact, on many                        when citizens of their neighbouring           Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt must be
heard about him from his daughter, I    Ironically, African heads of state meet      of the challenges –                      country are maltreated by their own           focused on how they can mutually
have come to regard him highly. His     every year under the African Union in      economic or political                      government.                                   benefit each other and negotiate
statement on the GERD was thus not up   Addis Abeba. They promise to solve          – that the continent                                                                    amicably. A fair and workable
to the expectations I have of him from  African problems and provide African       is faced with, the AU                      They come to power using violence,            agreement, if all the sides are willing
his extensive leadership experience in  solutions. But it was only during the        is a latecomer, if it                    and later they get driven out of office by    to compromise, is possible.
business and now in politics.           last leg of the negotiations that the                                                 yet another bout of confrontation that is
                                        matter of the GERD was even taken                comes at all.                        often destructive to the lives of citizens.   Each country manages its situation
The statement is displeasing yet        to the AU. In fact, on many of the                                                                                                  based on unique reasons such as
portending of good. It is unfortunate,  challenges – economic or political –       assumption that it would inevitably        True, racism is real. Few outside Africa      political makeup, geography, and
because it was a reminder of how the    that the continent is faced with, AU is a  lead to Egypt blowing up the Dam. It is    attempt to look under the surface and         development goals of the nation.
continent is perceived globally. In     latecomer, if it comes at all.             right to wonder if such remarks would      take a peek at the communities and            Developmental policies that apply to
the same token, it inspired a deeply                                               have been made about countries in any      individuals that make the continent rich      Egypt and Sudan probably may not
politically divided people to come African leaders are a major part of             other continent. It is just as important   with diversity. But that is not where all of  make sense in Ethiopia and vice-versa.
together to condemn his words in no the crisis that afflicts the continent.        to question how much racism but            the problem lies. Our leaders, in their       It is inevitable that the three nations
                                        From poor development planning to          also the willful actions of our leaders    exercise of power, have contributed to        have a complex matter to address.
uncertain terms.                                                                   contributes to this view.                  this image. Addressing the issue thus
                                        artificially created droughts to periodic  Personally, it is not surprising to learn  starts with cleaning house.                   If it comes then, it will be a deal that
Ethiopia is rightfully saddened by      civil wars and abuse of democratic and     that many outside of Africa do believe                                                   can portray their maturity, commitment
the President's televised phone         human rights, their actions have left a    that the two countries would come to       Africa deserves leaders that live up to       to fairness and determination to peace.
conversation, mostly because it denied  traumatic impact on the continent’s                                                   their promises and are accountable
the credit to Ethiopia’s justifiable    citizens.                                                                             instead of pointing fingers at everyone        Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of
effort to strike a mutually beneficial                                                                                        else except themselves. When leaders          Yada Technology Plc. She has studied
water usage agreement. But the fact We should then not be shocked when                                                        focus their energies and time on              law with a focus on international
that the President could make such a a man, President Trump, that probably                                                    representing the people and their             economic law. She can be reached at
comment that lacks wisdom portends gets a large chunk of his information                                                      interests rather than crafting strategies

the unsettling reality of being an African about Africa from American cable

country.                                TV makes such a comment, with the

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