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Ethiopia deserves to be compensated for colonial ills Print E-mail
Written by Prof Mammo Muchie   
Friday, 05 September 2008
Mamo Muchie It is not enough for slave-masters and colonialists to apologise for barbaric greed. The former colonial powers must pay compensation for the wreckage, debris and havoc they left behind which still influences the ability of those who had been colonized to emerge with freedom to pursue structural transformation.
Like Libya, Ethiopia had been under Italy’s pernicious influence ever since the European Scramble for Africa. It fought back this colonial encounter with heavy sacrifice including the loss of Eritrea to Italian colonial control for 60 years.

Divide and conquer

It is Italy that first used the ethno-linguistic scheme to divide and rearrange the Ethiopian people.

Sadly, this same scheme has been used by current politicians who tell us that the only way Ethiopia can survive is by imitating the divisions that Italy used to pursue its agenda.

We believe that any monetary compensation cannot be commensurate to the violation of Ethiopia’s dignity, but such an offer might make the apology a bit more realistic as opposed to an empty rhetorical one.

Ex-colonial powers should apologise to Ethiopia, including all those who fought Ethiopia since the 15th century; Portugal, Turkey, Anglo-Egyptians, Italy, Britain and France. We hope the precedent of others paying for their crime may deter future crimes.

Due to the Anglo-Egyptian unequal treaty on the control and use of the River Nile, Ethiopia has for instance been contributing nearly 86 per cent of the waters of the Blue Nile to Egypt.

Nile treaty

We believe Ethiopia should continue to let Egypt share the waters of the Nile, but if Egypt is fair - minded, it should be the first to  offer some compensation to Ethiopia for the free water it has been enjoying.

The treaty was signed at a time when right was might and might was right. In the 21st century we should move to justice and fairness in the equitable distribution of scarce resources gained through unequal treaties.

It would be a shame to continue with business as usual when there can be an honest way of settling differences with fairness, justice and genuine fraternity.

We would say Ethiopia, being generous should remain generous; but those who take without compensation should refrain from undermining this virtue and start learning how to give what they can in return.

Prof Muchie is the co-ordinator of DIIPER Research Centre in Denmark.

Read article from Business Daily Africa 

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