UPDATED ON AUGUST 11, 2022
I was present at the Grand Renaissance Ethiopian Dam (GERD) on February 20, 2022 when the first turbine (#10) kicked into action.
No words can express my feeling of pride, joy, honor and dignity in Ethiopia that day when the GERD produced 375MW of electricity and delivered it to the grid!
On August 11, 2022, the second turbine (#9) kicked into action!
Sitting ten thousands of miles away, I still feel the same pride, joy, honor and dignity in Ethiopia.
I thank the Almighty for this day and for blessing Ethiopia with the River Ghion Abai (“Nile”).
I thank the people of Ethiopia for every penny they paid to make GERD a reality. When the world turned against us, we turned ourselves to the Almighty and to ourselves and made it happen.
I thank the engineers, technicians, laborers and all others who toiled to build the GERD over the past decade.
I thank the Ethiopian National Defense Force and regional militia for their service beyond and above the call of duty.
I thank our GERD negotiators who performed their diplomatic and technical duties with professionalism, skill and ethics.
I thank H.E. Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed (Abiy “Aybegere” Ahmed) for is steadfast leadership, meticulous oversight and guidance, insistence on accountability, and innovation; and ultimately for his decisiveness, determination and dedication to the completion of the GERD!
Above all, I thank PM Abiy for being a man of his word.
On June 11, 2018, PM Abiy assured Egyptian President Abdel Fettah Al-Sisi, “Ethiopia has no, no intention whatsoever to harm our brothers and sisters in Egypt over the use of the Abai (“Nile”) waters.”
Today, the GERD protects Sudan and Egypt from destructive floods and neither country has suffered “substantial harm” (legal language), indeed no perceptible harm to their share of Nile waters.
Congratulations to all of us. እንክዋን ደስ አለን !
GERD: One big step for prosperity in Ethiopia, one gigantic leap for African progress!
ETHIOPIA INVICTUS! ETHIOPIA UNCONQERABLE!
ኢትዮጵያ አይበገሬ !
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Author’s Note: I wrote my first Ode to Abai River (celebratory poem) on July 12, 2020 on the occasion of the second filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Abai (a/k/a “Nile”, “Blue Nile” to non-Ethiopians) is the River Ghion mentioned in Genesis 2:13 (“The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire Land of Cush.” The Land of Cush is present day Ethiopia.
Unfortunately, neither the Biblical people of the Land of Cush nor their descendants today have been able to use the waters of Abai to sustain themselves and flourish as a great civilization. So, the mighty, mighty waters of the River Ghion kept rolling on for millennia carrying rich silt and sediment downstream as Ethiopians watched in misery.
Just like the great African American Paul Robeson sang it for Ol’ man Mississippi River rolling, I always told myself brokenheartedly,
Ol’ man Abai river. That ol’ man Abai river. He don’t say nothin’ But he must know somethin’ Cause he just keeps rollin’ straight outta Tana Lake. He keeps rollin’ along. Rollin’ along the valleys, canyons and deserts. He don’t plant teff, corn, wheat, or cotton in Ethiopia. Them that plants ’em is soon forgotten. But ol’ man Abai river He keeps rollin’ along. And you and me Ethiopians united We sweat and we strain. Our bodies all achin’ And wracked with poverty and pain. That ol’ man Abai river, he just kept rolling on… outta Ethiopia.
On February 19, 2022, the mighty River Ghion, for the first time since time immemorial, stopped rolling and looked at Ethiopia for just a fleeting, flickering moment.
“Behold!”, exclaimed Ol man Abai river. “What beautiful land! What beautiful people! I must shine eternal light upon them!”
So, ol’ man Abai river shone its bright light on Ethiopia over the GERD on February 19, 2022, a date that shall live in glory in Ethiopian history.
Indeed, February 19, 2022, marked the coming to pass of Biblical prophecy.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, let there be light: and there was light. (Genesis 1-3.)
Darkness had been on the face of Ethiopia since time immemorial and now light shines upon her from the eternal waters of the River Ghion.
For it is divinely declared, “Let there be light on Ethiopia: and there was light” bursting from the GERD.
That light will also shine on Ethiopia’s neighbors and all of Africa until kingdom come.
I am proud to be present at the GERD when Ethiopia ushered in the Age of Light, a new age of prosperity driven by electricity.
As I listened to H.E. Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed making his speech announcing the opening of the GERD, Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29 flashed through my mind.
There were many times over the past decades I had “troubled deaf heaven with my bootless cries” desiring this or that for Ethiopia.
There was even a time I wished I was Ghanaian. There was a time I asked myself, “Why Can’t Ethiopia Become Like Ghana?”
But as I stood tall gazing in ecstasy at the GERD on February 19, I was filled with pride and joy and “scorned to change my state with kings.”
I would not have traded my pride in the GERD for anything in the world!
I join H.E. Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed in recognizing and thanking Ethiopia’s leaders, the great people of Ethiopia who paid for the GERD with their blood, sweat, tears and money, and especially the Almighty who made it all possible despite the dirty tricks and conspiracies of nations great and small to thwart and even physically destroy the GERD and keep Ethiopia in eternal darkness.
But the Forces of Darkness no longer have power over Ethiopia in the Age of Light. They have been defeated by the Forces of Light.
It was all foretold by one of Africa’s post-colonial founding fathers, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, who poetically declared, Ethiopia shall rise and shine like a diamond in the African skies.
Ethiopia, Africa’s bright gem/ Set high among the verdant hills/
That gave birth to the unfailing/ Waters of the Nile
Ethiopia shall rise/Ethiopia, land of the wise;
Ethiopia, bold cradle of Africa’s ancient rule/ And fertile school
Of our African culture; Ethiopia, the wise Shall rise…
Ethiopia Shall Rise and Shine- Second Ode to Abai River (የህዳሴ ዉዳሴ!)
At the dawn of creation were the words
“Let there be light!” (Gen. 1:3)
In a big bang moment the universe became bright
And the River Ghion/Abai (“Nile”) became Ethiopia’s birthright. (Gen. 2:13)
There was no light in the millennia-long Ethiopian night
Then turned the turbine on the River Ghion with might
February 19, 2022, brought all Ethiopians joy and delight
To enjoy Ghion’s bounty with our neighbors without a fight.
It is our Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
Built with our own blood, sweat, and tears
We toiled ceaselessly for years and years
Today, we stand proud having fulfilled our forebears’ dreams.
I walked down Entoto hill
Saw women loaded like beasts of burden
I cried out, “This a crime, it must be forbidden!”
Said they to me calmly, “When GERD comes alive, we will all be unladen.”
Gazing over the GERD, I saw a land of milk and honey
The utopia I dreamt for Ethiopia
No more war, no more dystopia
Only the mighty, mighty United Ethiopia.
It is a new day in Ethiopia
Let the mighty Ghion wash the sins of our fathers
Let’s not make hate and war our earthly leftovers
Let’s seek peace as the source of all our answers.
Let Aba-I be Aba-I for one and all
A source of life for nations great and small
Let our hopes overcome our fears
There is no more need to shed river of tears.
[G]reat is the month of February in Ethiopia
[E]nergy to produce as regional cornucopia
[R]ise and salute in fall, winter, spring, and summer
[D]amn! Behold the GERD, the beautiful tower of our power!
Let us gather around Aba-I and sing
Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan form a ring
Lets us lift every voice and shout, “I am Aba-I.”
“I am Aba-I Ethiopia!
I am Aba-I Egypt!
I am Aba-I Sudan!
I am Aba-I.”
Ethiopia on the move!
Back in the day, we used to sing “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize”, the unofficial anthem of the American civil rights movement.
The prize was (and despite the absence of a civil rights movement today) and remains equal rights.
Today, I keep singing the same song except the Prize I shall keep my eyes on is Ethiopia.
I spent the last seven weeks in Ethiopia.
It was a wonderful time of discovery for me. I (like many Ethiopians in the country and in the diaspora), know very little about the real Ethiopia.
But I soon discovered Ethiopia is the richest poor country in the world.
We have land that could make us the breadbasket of Africa but suffer the scourge of drought.
We have mighty rivers which roll out as we beg for Western handouts.
We have minerals and precious stones hidden in plain sight under our feet begging to be plucked.
I just don’t understand why we remain poor!
Over seven weeks, I discovered and experienced firsthand the love, generosity, and appreciation of the Ethiopian people wherever I travelled, near and far.
I got big hugs and kisses from complete strangers (damned be Covid!) for what they say I have done for Ethiopia. It brought tears to my eyes.
I am so humbled by the love and appreciation of shoeshine boys, waitresses, soldiers (high and low rank), storekeepers, students, journalists, construction workers, religious and civic leaders, businessmen and women, farmers, cab/ride drivers, pilots and air crew, teachers and academics, grandmothers, politicians (across the political spectrum), civil servants and so many others I met travelling throughout Ethiopia.
For seven weeks in Ethiopia, “my cup runneth over.”
I thank all the “strangers”, really my dear friends I never knew, for their love and kindness. I could expect no greater reward.
As I moved around Ethiopia, I discovered Ethiopia is on the move.
Ethiopia is moving away from poverty to prosperity fast.
Indeed, there are daily challenges. But as GERD powers our prosperity, we shall forever abandon the darkness of poverty.
Ethiopia is also moving from disunity to community.
From enmity to fraternity and amity. From calamity to pacificity.
From ethnocentricity to nationality. From exclusivity to inclusivity.
From barbarity to humanity. From brutality to civility.
From illegality to accountability. From hostility to commonality in our diversity.
From Western indignity to Ethiopian national unity in our sovereignty.
When our “friends” called their citizens to move out of Ethiopia, Ethiopians the world over moved into Ethiopia by the hundreds of thousands.
Because Ethiopia is on the move. Rolling on to prosperity in dignity, unity and sovereignty on our Abai river.
Ethiopia is moving and rising higher and higher.
If you don’t believe me, go, and see for yourselves Ethiopia on the move. On the roll.
No point in sitting in the diaspora and moping around and feeling funky.
I say, “Let’s get a move on!”
You don’t want to be left behind when Ethiopia moves on, moves forward and keeps on moving.
Let’s keep moving and grooving with Ethiopia.
I just gotta say it straight up: