Ethiopia is heading in the avenue of socioeconomic pickup. Today’s Ethiopia is entirely different. The country is heading in the right direction. It is being changed over and over again.
Today’s guest is Manfred Set. He had served in Ethiopia for years as a volunteer at some stage in the Emperor Haile Selassie's regime. Above and beyond, he had played a major role in training the Ethiopian farmers living in the rural areas for the most part in Majet found in Northern Shewa. He had played a quite a role in letting the lives of quite a lot of farmers experience a turnaround and familiarizing them with modern Agricultural Science and Poultry Farming. More to the point, he had taught the farmers a lot about the secret of farming and poultry at the time when modern farming and other related aspects were not introduced across the country.
Above and beyond, Manfred used to bring into play a variety of best chicken breeds from Israel with a view to improving the lives of farmers. At that point, the farmers did not have the faintest idea about modern farming technique, which could make them harvest the fruit of success in the shortest time possible. To the surprise of many, Manfred is on familiar terms with the nuts and bolts of Ethiopia’s cultures, history, norms, its people and what have you. He considers Ethiopia as home away from home.
The Ethiopian Herald had a short stay with Manfred, who fell in love with Ethiopia, with the purpose of familiarizing his personal and professional life with our readers. He had touched upon a number of mesmerizing issues revolving around the inside out of Ethiopia, the country he loves with all his heart and considers as his second home. Excerpts:
Brief us about your contribution to Ethiopia?
At some point in the emperor regime, when I came for the first time to Ethiopia, a blessed country, as a volunteer I was assigned to partake in a project known as “Ministry of Community Development”. Without exaggeration, I feel affection for the people of Ethiopia for the reason that they are remarkable, honorable and respectful. The instant I came to Ethiopia, I was assigned in a poultry project found in Majet, North Shewa. I was bringing a range of best chicken breeds from Israel with the intention of changing the lives of the farmers at that specific juncture.
In the same way, I jump-started hatching chicken eggs making use of incubator machines and giving out for farmers living in a range of localities of the area. Apart from teaching farmers about the secret of agricultural farming, I was also putting up for sale eggs and hens. In doing so, I was satisfied a lot with what I had done for Ethiopia. The project which had been supported by the German government had won the attention of the Emperor and thus our success story had enjoyed full coverage of the Daily Addis Zemen Newspaper.
What was the next move?
As the political situation of the country was falling from the frying pan into the fire, the project was made to move to another part of the country. After that, I started working in Health Affairs and Vocational Center found in Hollota Town. As I was a volunteer, I was not made to go back to my country when the first project, where I used to work, was closed down. From time to time, I was acquainting myself with the inside outs of Ethiopians’ cultures. In due course, I was transferred to other African countries. For me, it was easier said than done to reach into a conclusion to leave the country where I lived for years. The decision was bordering on a bitter pill to swallow. It was really difficult to distance myself from Ethiopia.
In due course, as I did not have other options, I headed straight to Togo and began working at GTZ for four years before I moved to Ivory Coast. After that, I headed straight to Congo and served there for seventeen years. I was as well in Sudan and Rwanda from 1992 to 1994. At the time when Tutsi and Hutu were in civil war, I was providing aids for the two countries working hand-in-glove with the government of German. I had closely witnessed the main cause of the genocide in Rwanda and its consequences at that specific juncture.
How do you describe the civil war in Rwanda at that point like?
For me, talking about the genocide which took place between Hutu and Tutsi is bordering on licking a wound. At that moment, the situation was heartbreaking. I would say, it was a time that I witnessed the evilness of a human being. Quite a lot of people had lost their lives on account of the civil war. Moreover, I would say, it is the time that most people had witnessed the outcome of civil war. I have the nerve to say people themselves were not the cause of the civil war.
To the best of my knowledge, the major reason of the civil war was language and political ideology. There was misunderstanding between francophone and Anglophone language speakers at that specific point. Moreover, except living in harmony there was no grudge between Hutu and Tutsi peoples. To be honest, I personally had witnessed the interference of Europeans in Africa for the most part in Rwanda. Even worse, the hand of some countries had played a major role in developing grudge and hatred between Hutu and Tutsi.
Tell us about the image Ethiopia had during the Emperor regime.
During the Emperor regime, the population of Ethiopia was about 17,000,000. The people were God-fearing and considerate. From top to bottom, they were indescribable. Every so often, the whole thing concerning Ethiopia comes in and out of my mind predominantly the gentleness and greatness of Ethiopians, Ethiopia’s culture, norm and what not. They are unique ones and unparallel. The invasion of Italy had hindered Ethiopia from moving to a new chapter of success almost immediately. Therefore, it was the time that the Emperor was struggling day in and day out to take Ethiopia to the pinnacle of development.
In the past, I was excellent at Amharic language but because of my advanced age, I fail to remember the language to some extent. To be honest, I am still familiar with some Amharic phrases used in greetings. By the way, I adore Ethiopians’ smile and kindness.
What is your reflection on the current Ethiopia?
It is entirely difficult to compare Ethiopia with other countries’ culture, religion and history by any means. It is incomparable as Ethiopia has a long history of culture, norm and what have you. The other thing is the country’s cultures and other related aspects are ancient ones. Those who live around the countryside have a great respect for others and themselves. Ethiopia is heading in the avenue of socioeconomic pickup. Today’s Ethiopia is entirely different. The country is heading in the right direction. It is being changed over and over again. The population of Ethiopia has increased at this point. To my mind, even though the country is heading in the right direction, we cannot conclude the change is to the required level. If Ethiopia and other African countries would like to grow fast and catch up with the affluent nations, they have to work hand-in-glove. A bit remains in the picture Ethiopia cuts at the present time in the global arena as everything changes fast worldwide.
As far as I am concerned, it is impossible to continue without suffering cultural pollution. Ethiopia that I knew in the past and now is incomparable. I have not find Ethiopia in the place where it was decades ago. Some of the cultures are subject to cultural pollution. Without a shadow of doubt, the whole lot changes in the world. Unless proper care is taken, cultures will be subject to cultural pollution with no trouble. The bottleneck which drags Ethiopia and other African countries is neo-colonialism.
What piece of advice would you give to a person who would like to be as hard working as you?
As I understand the value of work, I work day in and day out. I always work with passion with the aim of changing the lives of others and materialize their dreams. We should give due weight and attention to hard work. Unless we work hard, we cannot achieve the desired goal. While we are in the subject, as I have lived in Africa for fifty years, I have realized the value of peace more than anything under the sun. The reason why Africa stays behind civilization is because of its leaders and their followers who do not understand the value of this reality. In my opinion, if it possible to make stronger unity by parry external influences, it is possible to reach to a new level of success in the shortest time possible.
At the moment, I live in a small village found in Rwanda. I do the whole thing which I think can transform the mental capacity of people. After I get retired, I do not want to get myself involved in my own business. I have worked all my born days. Everyone should have the same feelings, ideas and thoughts on the subject of work. My age is advancing at the present time. I would like to live ten to fifteen years before I go to meet my maker. I would like to spend the rest of my life in Africa.
Why did you put on a cap bearing the picture of Emperor Haile Selassie?
As I have tried to mention so far, I have a strong love for Ethiopia. I cherish for Ethiopia with all my heart. Ethiopia is unique in terms of culture, norms and patriotism. At some stage in my stay in Ethiopia, I had once the opportunity to meet the Emperor. I bumped into him in a certain agricultural exhibition which was organized by our project. He was charismatic and considerate. He loved his people very much. He was a big king. The emperor loved talking about his country. At the time when he had visited German, he was welcomed by several people, next to Queen Elisabeth. More to the point, he had struggled a lot to let Ethiopia embark on a new journey of success in terms of infrastructural facilities and education. I believe he had done a great job for his motherland.
BY ADDISALEM MULAT