The Horn Of Africa States: Unlocking The Gates Of Success – OpEd


A guest once arrived to stay with a friend, and he was given a key to his room. Unfortunately, the key that was given was the wrong key that was replaced earlier and when he went to his room, he could not open it. He tried and tried but the key would not open the door and he got vexed at the lock and noted that, “the lock must be defective.” He kept working on trying to open the door, but it would not budge, and he turned his anger at the host whom he said, “he must be a fool to have given me this defective lock.” He turned his wrath against the lock-making industry and lamented, “what kind of locks they make nowadays.”   He kept arguing with himself about the industry and everything possibly bad about it and concluded that, “they were only after making money and did not care about the troubles people went into with bad locks.”  He was about to break the lock with a hammer, when his host arrived and apologized for giving him the wrong key and then produced the right key, which easily opened the door and the anger of the guest ended to naught. The host apologized that, “he quite forgot to provide the new key as the lock was changed earlier.” The guest’s ire and anger at the key and lock and industry was, indeed, misplaced and wrong. He just exhausted himself through an unnecessary anger.

Could one say the Horn of Africa States region must be going through an unnecessary anger and fantasies of access to seas, which do not belong to some? Or where authorities for opening the gates for access to a sea lie somewhere else? Or should one not just simply say, the region could have handled itself differently over the past three decades and more by working together instead of working against each other? Could the regional countries not have created a grouping of their own working together already, which could have transformed the region into a cohesive, cooperating and collaborating one? There are many so many suppositions, one could have made of the region, but alas! None has worked so far, and the region remains as always at each other’s throats. This is the only thing the politicians of the region know; it would appear and especially when they reach their wits end in managing their populations and countries.

They all appear to have the wrong keys to the wrong locks, and of course none the doors and gateways to success ever opens for the region. They say crabs pull each other into the basket whenever one tries to get out and the countries f the Horn of Africa States appear to have adopted the nature of crabs. None of them would ever succeed as long as they keep pulling each other much like crabs into the basket of the fisherman, who would prepare them as meals for those who live on the region’s wealth.

In a previous article entitled “The Horn of Africa States, The Journey Continues” and dated  October 31st, 2022, I wrote, “The Horn of Africa States region has suffered much in these past hundred and fifty years through either participating in foreign wars that had nothing to do with the region or wars with the foreigners who came to the region (the colonial Europeans) or wars within the region itself – the Ethio-Somali wars, the Ethio-Eritrean wars, the Eritrean-Djibouti wars and the continuing civil wars in all four SEED countries. The region needs a respite, and this can be achieved through common approaches to the problems and crisis afflicting the region. This is to be provided by the Horn of Africa States, a regional block to be built on the general framework of the European Union, with a Horn African flavor.” The region did not build such a grouping but only kept swerving away from anything closer to it. They are almost at war all over the place with Ethiopia now burning within itself through the Tigray/Amhara wars, the Tigray Ethiopian/Government wars, the Amhara/Ethiopian Government wars and the wars of the Oromo against all including the Ethiopian Government. There are also wars between the Ethiopian Government and the Benishangul and other nationalities in the country.

The Somali internal wars are no different with the Government fighting the terror groups and just shying away from wars with its federal member states. Eritrea has its own opposition and so has Djibouti and most of the four countries appear to be not at ease with each other. Sudan on the northern side is undergoing its own problems with RSF and the Government fighting over the control of the country.

The Horn of Africa States is, indeed, a sorry region but its politicians in power all avoid taking the right path and the right locks and keys. They all have the wrong keys opening the wrong locks. Ethnicity, which they all appear to be deploying, will never solve the problems of the region and it is high time the quarrelsome politicians stopped using it as a means to reach power and exploit it to rule unwilling populations. Self-aggrandizement will not help either. Many have failed in history in this respect after killing so many people. 

There is no Mongol Empire today although they controlled most of the known world at one time, killing millions in the process. The Portuguese and the Spaniards once divided the world among themselves into East and West and the Romans once controlled the Mediterranean and European world. We studied at school about the history of the British Empire, which we were told, where the sun never set, once upon a time. I doubt those nations dream of such glories today. I read somewhere that the Ethiopian prime minister dreams of those glory days of Abyssinia’s Menelik II, who laid the foundation of the current Ethiopian state. But he is forgetting that those days are gone forever. Ethiopia and Ethiopians want to live with their brethren outside the artificial boundaries in the Horn of Africa in peace and tranquility as do the other Horn Africans. It is as simple as that!

This is the key to the gates of success in the region. Can the leaders of the region unlock those gates of success?

Dr. Suleiman Walhad

Dr. Suleiman Walhad writes on the Horn of Africa economies and politics. He can be reached at [email protected].

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