Why What’s Happening in Ethiopia Matters to Everyone Now

(No, this is not a pitch to send money, food aid nor to join a celebrity sing-along)

B. Lorraine Smith
6 min readOct 20, 2016


People going about their days in Addis Ababa’s Piazza neighbourhood, April 2016 (photo by: Lorraine Smith)

You might have picked up fragments of troubling news coming out of Ethiopia recently. Perhaps you saw the crossed arms of Olympic silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa in the men’s marathon and his gesture of solidarity with protesters back home. Maybe you heard about a slew of people (52 is the “official” count) dying in a stampede at a religious ceremony.

But with news about global hotspots like Syria and Iraq crowding the wires, along with whatever other local dramas are playing out near you, from the “Trumpkin” and pipeline protests, to extreme weather warnings along our journey to climate catastrophe, who has time to tune into another foreign country and make sense of what’s going on there?

Well, we need to make the time, for at least two reasons. First, despite current headlines, Ethiopia has a lot to tell us about what it looks like for people of huge diversity to thrive together — something Syria, Iraq and frankly the whole world could use a refresher course on right about now.

Secondly, if we don’t make the time and effort to pay attention, it will be easy to miss an epic tragedy playing out, making it even harder to stop it before it’s too late. And then we’ll wring our hands at the atrocities and wonder why we didn’t pay attention sooner.

It will be easy to miss because part of this mess includes a newly declared state of emergency in Ethiopia where among other unhelpful actions such as sweeping arrests and shooting unarmed protestors, the government has basically switched off the internet.

No Facebook. No Twitter. No WhatsApp. Very limited email and internet. Just imagine that for a moment.

In other words, if we don’t make a concerted effort to find out what’s happening, serious human rights abuses in Ethiopia will continue unchecked and virtually unnoticed, doing a huge injustice to the country’s richly diverse and deserving population of 90 million people. Worse: it is entirely avoidable, as this country has already proven that it is more than capable of living increasingly well and in relative harmony, facts that placed it high on…



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B. Lorraine Smith

Recovering ESG "expert"; yarn spinner; distance runner; magical realist. Sensing a path to an economy serving life. also at https://blorrainesmith.substack.com/