This book sets out with the question why Ethiopia – a country with one of the oldest still existing state-formations in the world and a farming population that has domesticated a number of indigenous food products, including coffee, oilseeds and Eragrostis teff - remains one of the poorest in the world. To answer this question the authors review the history of Ethiopia from the earliest centuries A.D. until the 21st century dispelling a number of prevalent myths in the process. The book covers topics such as ethnicity (a hot issue in today's Ethiopian politics), international relations with especially Britain and Italy, and the country's lack of technical and economic progress. A survey of the current situation in Ethiopia sets the scene for comparisons with other countries. An examination of the history of "the West" illustrates how the "autonomy of intellectual inquiry" could promote a spiral of knowledge, pave the way for the Industrial Revolution and allow western countries to attain the highest standard of living in the world. A review of some East Asian countries (Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan) exemplifies how they could "catch-up" with the West. Against the backdrop of these studies, the authors find the basic causes for Ethiopia's poverty to be "missed" or "messed-up" opportunities to adopt available scientific knowledge and technology. Premising that a "decent" living standard, a "catch-up", should be the only reasonable goal also for Ethiopian citizens, the authors propose that the country must emphasize promotion of a) knowledge and information (rather than focusing numbers of school children and schools) and of b) entrepreneurship in all economic sectors. To boost these requirements successfully, the authors argue that all involved in the present development agenda need to think "outside the box" and reassess at least two common assumptions about Ethiopia's future namely, that only heavy-handed state "guidance" can bring about rapid development and that peasants and pastoralists are ignorant and must be told what to do.
Eva Poluha is Senior Associate Professor from the Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University and has spent over 40 years researching people-state relations, gender, ethnicity, children's acquisition of culture as well as political change in Ethiopia. Her focus has been on the exercise of power and its various interpretations and on requirements for development to take place in Ethiopia. Poluha's main approach has been participant observation, watching and talking to the people she has studied. Poluha's publications include Central Planning and Local Reality – The Case of a Producers Cooperative in Ethiopia (1989), The Power of Continuity - Ethiopia Through the Eyes of Its Children (2004), "Contesting ‘Good' Governance – Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Representation, Accountability and Public Space" (ed. 2002) and "The World of Girls and Boys in Rural and Urban Ethiopia" (ed. 2007). Elehu Feleke is a Medical Doctor who has specialized in cardiology. Elehu has worked in his profession in both Ethiopia and Sweden. He was born in a peasant community in Ethiopia but grew up in Addis Ababa as one of the earlier batches of "Haile Selassie's students". While studying medicine in Sweden, Elehu was an active member of the Ethiopian Student Union in Europe. He has continued his commitment to the country's social and economic destiny through research in his spare time about Ethiopia's history and current events in relation to the international scene. To get a better understanding about economic, political and social change Elehu has also reviewed the histories of especially the "West", Japan, China and South Korea. Eva and Elehu have been married for over 40 years and the book is a synthesis of their experiences and perspectives.