If the Only Tool you Have is a Hammer, you Tend to See Every Problem as a Nail


A Storm in a Teacup

“I am not worried that the Egyptians will suddenly invade Ethiopia. Nobody who has tried that has lived to tell the story. I don’t think the Egyptians will be any different and I think they know that.” — The late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi

“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” Says Abraham Maslow. And this is exactly the case behind the ongoing fuss of Egyptian leaders with regard to the construction of grand renaissance dam. The dam which is already blessed by 10-member panel of experts from Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia and other countries, and earned unwavering support of Sudanese government.

For the last two centuries Egyptian ruling classes have tried to curb Ethiopia’s undeniable right on Nile through one and only known to them tool – violence. In various formats and combinations they have been exercising violence throughout our history including intimidation, aggression and destabilization of the peace and security of the country using their “bargaining chips”. Egypt has always resorted to violence as first and last option to thwart Ethiopia’s legitimate right to utilize its God given resource on its own land.

Since Egypt’s invasion in 1883, which was brought to a halt by its disastrous defeats at Gura and Gundet, up to the latest televised bravados of Egypt’s politicians, in political discourse of Egypt there has never been even the slightest will to acknowledge and consider Ethiopia’s legitimate right on Nile share. In contrary, denial and undermining Ethiopian interest has been the holy grail of Egypt’s politics for centuries.

Hence violence has become a logical extension of this politics.

The threats and sable rattling that we are hearing in these days from Egypt’s politicians are neither new nor rare incident to generations of Ethiopians. It is a continuation of unabated hostility against Ethiopia triggered inside a fearful mind which is doomed to live with the fact that Egypt is the gift of Nile and Ethiopia is the giver. Generations of our forefathers used not only to give a deaf ear to these kinds of Egyptian’s brags but also they had effectively managed to bust it whenever it dares to materialize.

The reason what drives politician in Egypt to hyperbole and outright dump reaction to the dam’s construction is not really a tangible concern of Egypt’s interest that might be imperiled by the construction of the dam. If that was the case the study of the panel would have been a legitimate
platform to address the issue quietly intellectually and respectfully. The mere reason behind the insanity and ignorance spewed by Egypt’s leaders is the animation of century old colonial mindset which is failed to cope up with the new time and new geopolitical realm of the day. Obviously the mindset which is incapable of discriminating myth from reality has little chance to deal with with science and reason. And the mindset which is entangled inside the abyss of the past probably never get enlighten without therapy. Colonial powers are gone long ago but the mindset of colonizers still there upon colonized minds. This mindset claims the sole ownership of Nile and preaches the myth of “historical” right what so ever it meant. Mursi yesterday said “We cannot let even one drop of Nile water be affected”. Ooh, … really?

Ethiopians are calm and determined as never before to end poverty from their beloved country. The grand renaissance dam is exclusively vital part of this process and nothing can stop them to build it. Definitely not the storm in a tea cup whirled by bearded politicians of Egypt. The Grand renaissance dam will be erected as it planned by the will and resource of ninety millions heroic people. It is and will be the emblem of the rise of the new emerging power of Africa.

God bless Ethiopia
Befekadu Wolde Gabriel (b.menda@utah.edu)
University of Utah