Limping Through Time av K R Solomonsson
This book is neither a history book nor an economics text book. It is an attempt to identify important historical events that led to Ethiopia’s underdevelopment. It makes note of the history of Ethiopia, and information based on oral tradition, as supportive evidences. It stipulates that widespread poverty, high unemployment, low labor productivity and high population growth rates, are features of Ethiopia’s underdevelopment rather than the cause. In this respect this book rejects the most dominant and self-serving theories of underdevelopment, which are often based on theories that are not anchored to reality.
Ethiopia avoided the transatlantic slave trade and colonialism by defending its territory and severing trade and cultural ties with the rest of the world. After approximately five hundred years of isolation that brought economic and social decay, its nineteenth century rulers showed genuine interest to modernize the country. They believed that international trade would allow them to import modern technology, without being fully aware that European powers were interested in colonizing Ethiopia rather than trading with it.
There were variations among the nineteenth century feudal rulers of Ethiopia with Menelik being the most modernistic and liberal emperor of them all. However, what this book will focus is on Haile Selassie’s reign to show how the combined effect of his domestic politics and international relations had hampered the economy from growing. After forty years of autocratic rule, all that Haile Selassie left behind was a patchwork of what appeared to be development. At the time of his death, Ethiopia’s GDP per head was a mere US$100, at par with the Republic of Somali whose people are largely nomadic herdsmen.
This book also stipulates that Western powers have not changed their old habits. They continue to look at Africa as their cheap source of raw materials, and have succeeded in dominating the continent by way of corrupting its rulers, dictating to their governments to write policies that favored their economies or by triggering ethnic conflicts, and assisting ethnic dictators to emerge. When everything else fails their strategy of choice is to invade in the hope of replacing the disobedient ruler with a compliant one.
Most African leaders have abandoned their people in favor of an alliance with Western powers. They do not fight any longer for their countries’ sovereignty – the right to determine their own way of life, preserve their own customs, and decide their own future.