BY SOLOMON DIBABA
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has launched the #GreatEthiopianHomeComing Challenge which is aimed to bring 1 million compatriots home ahead of the upcoming Christmas holiday. This historic homecoming event is the first of its kind only seconded by the home coming event that was conducted during the Ethiopian Millennium celebrations.
The Ethiopian diaspora is a post-1970s phenomenon. Ethiopian government sources have it that there are more than 3 million Ethiopians scattered throughout the world: From America to Australia, from Norway to South Africa.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Demeke Mekonnen said that the preparations to welcome Ethiopian diaspora and friends of Ethiopia home has completed.
Demeke, who is the chair of the national committee to welcome the diaspora, commended the diaspora for the positive response they have showed to the request made to them by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
Over the week, Prime Minister Office Press Secretary Billene Seyoum also called upon the Ethiopian Diasporas living in the U.S., Europe, Middle East, Asia, and Australia to spend the grand Christmas holiday in their homeland together with their family and friends.
“Ethiopia is inviting one million Ethiopian Diasporas to come home and celebrate Ethiopian Christmas on 07/01/2022. The great homecoming challenge targets to demonstrate that Ethiopia prevails; its citizens deserve peace and send a message of unity to the international community. In addition, the homecoming challenge commends the country’s longstanding supporters’ contribution and unreserved support at this time of need.”
What is the significance of this homecoming challenge? This trip to home by millions of Ethiopians is not an ordinary coming home. The challenge takes place amidst the struggle that is being conducted by heroic Ethiopians and foreign nationals of Ethiopian origin here and in the diaspora as well as by the National Defence Forces (ENDF) and Amhara Security Forces, and by the entire Ethiopians against the terrorist TPLF.
Terrorist TPLF, with the support of some western countries, the US included, have been emboldened to wage the most inhuman crime against humanity ever recorded in the history of Ethiopia and Africa. The #Great Ethiopian Homecoming Challenge is a national and international response to the conspiracy staged by the US to isolate Ethiopia and demonize its leaders.
The advice issued to a number of foreign nationals and diplomatic staff to take leave of Ethiopia urgently was based on the false assumption that a civil strife will overtake Addis Ababa as the terrorist TPLF forces and Shene have approached the city and that they should take regular airlines services to avoid crisis.
The warnings to the foreign nationals were in fact not about their safety but was meant to be used as a political pressure on the government of Ethiopia to submit to the one sided recommendations of some western powers who were working from different angles to restore terrorist TPLF back to power under the shadow of a transition government that would exclude Prosperity. This plan was forwarded in utter disrespect for the people of Ethiopia and the government they have elected.
The Great Ethiopian Home Coming Challenge is organized to also show that wherever they may be, Ethiopians are united both in good times and periods of challenges like the current situation in the country.
The event will also provide an excellent opportunity for all concerned Ethiopians here and abroad to discuss on various issues related to their common interests pertaining to the development of their country.
Moreover, Ethiopians and foreign nationals of Ethiopian origin will have the opportunity to clearly understand the political and economic situation in the country and chart out their future role in the multi-faceted socio-economic and cultural development in the country. In short, it is going to be an occasion for deeper learning about their country.
Many of the participants who have already arrived have brought very useful medical consignments that are to be used to equip the hospitals and other health service providing institutions across Afar and Amhara. Such gifts to the health service providers are very critical because the terrorist forces have destroyed thousands of health service providing hospitals putting the lives of millions of citizens in both regions at risk.
The homecoming program will foster further and deeper relations between the government and those in the diaspora to engage in a meaningful cooperation on various issues including the promotion of the rights of Ethiopian citizens residing and working in foreign countries.
The issue of quality education both in the secondary and in institutions of higher learning in the country and experience sharing and participation in this respect can be an excellent area of cooperation in capacity building at all levels.
The home coming agenda needs to be effectively institutionalized through pertinent governmental and civil society organizations established by Ethiopians and foreign nationals of Ethiopian origin.
In addition, the visitors can organize a sort of regular voluntary services in all government institutions and public universities through a network of exchange programs that could be launched between foreign based and national research institutions.
Tourism and programs related to introducing Ethiopia to the rest of the world is one important area in which the diaspora and the Ministry of Culture and tourism can cooperate in a more meaningful and sustainable manner.
Ethiopians and foreign nationals of Ethiopian origin can render greater contributions in promoting Pan Africanism in cooperation with Africans in the diaspora by establishing joint agencies that could draw millions of Africans towards promoting the lofty goals of African unity, cooperation, self-reliance and joint researches on African indigenous knowledge and culture.
In addition, the diaspora could be instrumental in further transfer of modern sector oriented technologies that could be replicated to Ethiopia with proper consideration of technological domestication.
Ethiopians and foreign nationals of Ethiopian origin are engaged in commendable contributions to fighting against misinformation campaigns on Ethiopia. This must continue in a more organized manner and quality. It would be good to compile the experiences gained in this respect so far and devise more efficient and combative online war against those who labor from dawn to dusk to tarnish the image of this country for their own egoistic political interests.
The Ethiopian diaspora has proved itself to be trusted gap fillers in the challenges that the country is facing. For instance the contributions that have so far been made by Ethiopians and foreign nationals of Ethiopian origin on financing GERD through gifts and purchase of bonds are extremely conspicuous.
The Great Ethiopia Home Coming Challenge even should be properly documented as it could be used as a resource material for such events. The organizers are hopefully expected to prepare promotional booklets, brochures and other promotional materials to help the participants remember their stay in their country.
The Ethiopian Diaspora Agency needs to upscale its activities particularly in the area of digital technology to reach out to the millions of citizens and foreign nationals of Ethiopia origin scattered across the world.
The 30% discount on tickets offered by the Ethiopian Airlines and Group is commendable as it attracts thousands of Ethiopians not only to participate on the event but also to use the occasion in discharging their social obligations to their kith and kin in the context of an eventful family reunion.
Ethiopia is already welcoming her children from abroad in the midst of untold challenge the country is facing but such a huge homecoming event demonstrates a national optimism that Ethiopia will one more emerge from these challenges and proceed towards its development and prosperity.