A few weeks ago, the then Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, took everyone by surprise when he abruptly stepped down without giving any reasons. Unrest had rocked the country for some time, alarmingly taking on ethnic overtones.
The new leader, Abiy Ahmed’s first announcement was that he was embarking on an immediate charm offensive to reconcile the country. He went even a step further and offered an olive branch to their neighbour, Eritrea.
The two have been at it ever since their separation after their combined force ousted Mengistu Haile Mariam and then went separate ways. Now there is renewed hope that calm will reign in the Horn, if only Somalia could be tamed.
Closer to our borders, in Kenya, a “golden handshake” between two political families that have been involved in a love-hate relationship since independence brought a welcome truce. But it also caused confusion in the opposition ranks.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga must have realised that their frequent heated public feuding risked throwing the country back from the frying pan into the fire, with devastating consequences. It is every East African’s hope that the truce will last longer than the alliances that are always being patched up.
Back home, the word “reconciliation” has changed its prominence in the lexicon. For the last few years several reconciliation efforts between Genocide survivors and the killers have been bearing fruit, especially right now as we approach the mourning period in a few days.
It is heartening, therefore, that another round of reconciliation and forgiveness has ended successfully in Huye District in Southern Province, where former Genocide convicts were forgiven by families of their victims.
It needs a lot of courage, but sometimes it is a necessary evil to bury the hatchet between the bitterest of foes in the interests of wider considerations.