THE NEW ERA OF TRANSFORMATION IN ETHIOPIA AND THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

Addis Abeba, September 05/2018 – We live in and through a story whether we know it or not. If it is in someone else’sstory, we probably get a marginal part and that may not be to our liking. Or perhaps we might not have the faintest idea about the story we are in, and as a consequence of that we might be living in a malevolent tragedy unconsciously. There is also another sense of being in a story; it relates to the myth and folklore that our predecessors have labored to produce and preserve. These are archetypal stories that transcend history and as such must be understood as abstractions from the underlying substrate of the human experience. As such they serve as metaphors informing us that some of the chaos underlying our human condition can be set right by adopting responsibility and subsequently set our house in order.

In this piece I will explore our current socio-political situation using, as a magnifying glass, the familiar ancient story of the Book of Exodus in which the Bible recounts the story of the Jews who wandered in the desert for forty years after breaking free from the horrors of slavery at the hands of the Pharaoh. But I have to say from the get go that I have no interest in prophesy; nor do I profess competence in the theological interpretation of religious texts; I leave that to proper religious scholars to grapple with.

My interest in the story, therefore, relates to its symbolic significance for the interpretation of our current political reality. One of the things that makes the story of Exodus compelling is that it describes an experiential journey rather than a geographical one, that it connects particular human experiences otherwise separated by centuries and as a consequence commits moments to eternity. The entire narrative is an allegory to the experiential process of social transformation. It depicts a heroic journey with a penetrating narrative structure (unmatched by any other, perhaps with the exception of Goethe’s Proust or Dante’s Inferno). It tells us that every transformation, social or personal, is punctuated by intermittent deserts, a period of corruption and lost direction until the people found their way back through the adoption of a proper mode of being. Read more...

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