Freweini Mebrahtu was chosen as CNN Hero of the Year


A coat of pride engulfs Ethiopia once again, as two international awards shine their lights on the country. Freweini Mebrahtu was chosen as CNN Hero of the Year and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) accepted his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. It helps me remember there is much to celebrate everyday within our nation. This week we stop to see that the world acknowledges Ethiopians.

For me, the magnitude of Freweini Mebrahtu’s win is understated. To peg someone from Ethiopia on an online voting system is a huge challenge, with as little as 18.6pc of our population having access to the internet.

In agitation, a university friend of mine shared on social media his disappointment that many Ethiopians had not voted for Freweini’s nomination for the award yet were quick to celebrate her success. As the award was designed to be done through public online voting, many had petitioned for her inclusion and the remarkable work that she does. She was the ultimate underdog who managed to take the prize home.


Aziz Ahmed is among those people that have tirelessly worked for years in Ethiopian wildlife and park conservation as a photographer.


My friends’ observation made me pause, as the Ethiopian mentality has been lately to celebrate those who have already reached the peak of success and little to support the dreamers and doers among us. There have been many times when those who should be receiving the support necessary within their country, do not get it.

Ethiopia continues to fight the single narrative of poverty. It seems on many levels the biggest interest has been in making sure that we work on the image of our nation, as the long journey of sustainable development sits on the back burner. There are many that are on the journey of contributing to our country, working hard not to be discouraged. While many have opted for life elsewhere, Ethiopians in Ethiopia continue to find life difficult.


There are many that care for this nation and its development, many that not only wish for positive change but work hard each and every day to make it so. Yet in our midst, how many find support?


Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) accepted his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo




Many still have hope that progress can be made possible. But as our educated continue to choose life elsewhere, we have to stop and think how this country can begin to retain them. Even though statistically, unemployment is one of the major issues facing Ethiopia, we have also to understand that there are young entrepreneurs and those underemployed who also need support and want their voices heard.

Aziz Ahmed is among those people that have tirelessly worked for years in Ethiopian wildlife and park conservation as a photographer. This self-taught wildlife photographer has made sacrifices his whole adult life in order to continue working in this field. While he should be pioneering an army of youth in his field of work, he struggles to make his own journey succeed. His work is timeless; it serves its nation on an unimaginable scale. The support Aziz receives has yet to be sustainable.

Aziz is not alone. He is one of many young people in Ethiopia that are working out of pocket for their passion for seeing a brighter future for their country. Young people are highly educated with interest to work in the various sectors yet with no infrastructure or an open mind to help them attain their goals. While the educated and privileged in our nation might not need any more leg-ups, we need them. This is a tedious journey they face alone.


Ethiopia might not provide the most attractive salary schemes, yet it can offer those with a purpose a helping hand so they can help the thousands that will follow. As more and more doctors would rather pay the hefty government fine and leave to serve other countries that are making an effort to poach and celebrate their innovation, we lose thousands. While the government works to make an effort toward attracting the Ethiopian diaspora, some Ethiopians are leaving just to get the diaspora privileges for when they come back to Ethiopia.

As demonstrated this past week on the world stage and more quietly every day, Ethiopia has heroes everywhere. Each one is simply awaiting an opportunity. As a nation, we need to do more to acknowledge, support, lend an ear and advise those around us working on small tasks that may lead to great things. Greatness is all around us.



PUBLISHED ON Dec 14,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1024]




Hanna Haile is an Ethiopian writer and social worker. She is one of the organizers of Poetic Saturdays at Fendika Cultural Centre in Addis Abeba and at Terara Bar & Kitchen in Hawassa, where a stage is open to those who celebrate art through performances on the first and second Saturday of each month. She can be reached at ([email protected]).






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