Yesterday, Ethiopia, in a story written by Jeffrey Gettleman, made the top story in the NYTimes. It is always a troubling thing when Africa is in the American news, because the focus is always on war, AIDS, or famine. Ethiopia in particular has a branding problem because of the ubiquity of the images of the famine in the 1980s and the latest series of wars with Eritrea and now with Somalia.
This story was interesting for several reasons:
- It criticised current American foreign policy, which is militarily supporting the Ethiopian government against alleged terrorists and Islamist groups in Somalia and the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, which borders Somalia.
- It gave a balanced perspective of Ethiopia's history as a Moslem, Christian, and other nation. It also presented the claims and counter claims to the Ogaden region.
- It both praised the diplomatic savvy of Ethiopia's leaders, while attesting to their internal oppression and the human rights abuses of the government's soldiers.
While I wish that it could have been about a positive develop in Ethiopia, perhaps, journalism is getting better at representing the contextual depth of political situations.