There is sanctity in labor

Published on Capital, Editorial, November 2007.

A nation can be assured of developmental success only when each of its citizens can raise levels of individual productivity. The richest nations and also those that are rapidly marching to join them, naturally have high rates of labor productivity per man hour, while the poorer a country is, the lower the productivity of the population.

Would the issue at hand were a rally cry to raise labor productivity rates in our country. Unfortunately, that might be a luxury at this point in time due to the more pressing issue of clearing up the role of work or meaningful occupation in our cultural fabric, which after all was formed under feudalism.

The darkness of feudalism was dismantled over 33 years ago and is long gone and Ethiopians of the new Millennium may think they are no longer affected by the anti-work ethos of the feudal era.

Unfortunately, we remain scarred by that primitive philosophy and still experience severe aftershocks and flashbacks if you will, of the feudal aversion to hard work and the obsession with manufacturing many unnecessary holidays as excuses to avoid work. Be that as it may, it is not exactly the many off-days that contribute to the low productivity of the average Ethiopian but actually, the issue of not working at full capacity on dedicated work days.

Another feudal hangover is the hostile attitude many of us display toward those who do work diligently and show us up for the laggards we are. Yet another footprint of feudalism is the hypocritical snobbishness of our society which demeans low paying jobs and considers the workers of such jobs as somehow beneath a particular social standard … (full text).

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