Lack of role models to look up to is
one of the very important things missing in the life
of the Facebook and Twitter generation of our fair
nation. On the one hand, the heroes of the past
generation have lost relevance with change in
technology and economic structure. On the other
hand, the supply of rising stars within the new
context is so limited that their representativeness
could not extend to the level of symbolism.
So confused as the generation
remained, it has developed its own way of life. For
conservatives, that life is ill-guided that it lacks
essential elements of knowledge, nationalism,
discipline, and self-respect. It does not possess
crucial traits of competitiveness and analytical
capacity, progressives might claim.
However, being part of the
generation reveals that the missing element is lack
of role models. In all aspects of life from politics
to child care, the generation has to start things
from scratch with no relevant guardianship. It
needed to sail through all the ups and downs in its
own unique way.
The death of Christopher Hitchens,
the renowned British born American public
intellectual and literary critic, was one such event
revealing the scarcity of role models in the era of
globalization. Respected for his articulation and
critical analysis, Hitchens was a hero of reasoned
dissent. For the global Facebook generation, which
stays wired but says nothing for lack of in-depth
knowledge, he was a typical role model to look up to
less his deadly alcohol addiction.
Even if idols like Hitchens win over
the hearts and minds of youth living in different
continents, they could not transcend the boundaries
of nationalism. Role models are equally identified
with their passports as they are by their capacity.
Thus, every gathering of the Twitter generation
living under a given jurisdiction looks for its own
hero. Sadly, Ethiopians twitterites are deprived of
No wonder that excessively masculine
fathers that beat their wives could not be models
for gender sensitive sons. Neither could mothers who
settled for the socially constructed limitations of
inferiority be models for competitive daughters. It
works analogously for nepotistic bosses,
undemocratic politicians, poorly informed teachers
and conservative religious leaders. All have their
failings that hinder them from serving as role
It is as if the future is deserted
that no one cares about the next generation. No one
dares to have the self-discipline to serve as cross-sectoral
idol. In best case scenario, the generation could
only aggregate the traits of different individuals
to create a dream team of partial role models.
It would have been undeserving to
think about heroism, at all, had success been a
mechanical phenomenon. Sadly, though, it is
complicated than that and hence the need to evolve
traits along tested lines of achievement. It is in
the process of identifying the fault lines of
enlightened achievement that symbolism plays its
Fast-forward in time, the
necessities will completely be changed. No
territorial boundary will delimit competition.
Globalization will even contract the sphere so much
so that isolated existence will become impossible.
Acquired traits will be the lone
sources of competitive advantage. As it is happening
in the virtual worlds of social networks, only
highly rated individuals could have followers with
significant influence over the way of things.
Collective objectives could be obsolete and cultural
identity would lose meaning.
In such a world of global
interdependence, heroism will be about critical
thinking and adaptation. It will be about
innovation, effective communication and objective
deliberation. That is where the Ethiopian propeller
could go out of gas.
Its highly-rated politicians,
singers, authors, educationalists, entrepreneurs and
technologists have no self-discipline to serve as
idols. Most are hostages of their own experiences.
They luck the inquisitive mind to question the
status quo and fight against it.
Tied with their selfish interests,
they lack the courage to stand for just causes. More
often than not, their symbolism fall victim for
sectarianism. Hence, they could only serve as
Long-term costs of lack of idols are
unimaginable. It spoils the future of the nation and
its society for it would expose individuals for
identity crisis. It would leave a hole in their day
lives so much so that they could be taken away by
any coming wind of cultural infringement, domination
That would have not been a problem
if the world had to evolve into one nation under a
central government. But, it is not going to happen,
at least in the short-term, which would eventually
demand Ethiopians to bring their own competitive
advantage into the play.
Left unattended is the very way that
they could have developed that essential competitive
advantage. In not having role models, the generation
is exposed for potential future loss in the fast
globalizing competitive environment.
If at all the generation of 1960s
dominating the public and private sector is worried
about the future of the nation, let alone its
prosperity, it had to live its remaining ages with
example. It has to leave footprints of identity for
the Facebook generation so that it could build its
identity on. That would not about politicians only;
it must be the assignment of all fathers, mothers,
bosses, educationalists, technologists,
entrepreneurs, and other members of the elite.
It would not enough to complain;
live it and show us. If only then that we could
learn your true commitment for the bright future of