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Humanity before Ethnicity

How to Start an SMNE Chapter

We invite you to join this movement and to become an agent of change. If you believe in the principles of the SMNE, and you agree with the unity statement, the first step is to informally share your interest with others in your area who might be interested in joining you. It might start with family or friends, but the intention is to broaden it to include diverse Ethiopians and non-Ethiopian friends who might be sympathetic to this cause and who support the principles, values and goals of the SMNE.

As you approach other Ethiopians, ask them if they are tired of the way so many Ethiopians of different backgrounds will not associate with each other and ask them whether they agree that we have more in common than we are different. When you find some like-minded people, join as partners and call a meeting to get the word out in your community so Ethiopians and others can come together in support of common goals and to value one another, putting “humanity before ethnicity.” Now you have a support group and can proceed to create a chapter.

The primary role of the chapters is to raise awareness in your community or region regarding what is going on in Ethiopia—the lack of freedom, the widespread violations of human rights, the absence of free and fair elections, the political prisoners, the lack of justice in the courts, the lack of political space, the repression of the media, the corruption, the frequent manmade humanitarian crises like in the Ogaden and the overall lack of good governance in Ethiopia.

Present these issues to groups who care about social justice like your elected officials, the media, business leaders, community leaders, churches, mosques, schools, universities, academic associations, student groups, women’s groups, civic organizations or community groups and ask for help. Invite a guest speaker to your meetings, organize forums, advocate with local elected officials, write letters, rally, build partnerships and find other ways to bring positive change to Ethiopia. Raise funds to support your group’s efforts or those efforts of the SMNE organization that would enable the work to continue and expand. Host events, sell merchandise, hold auctions, find donors willing to contribute and be creative. Be sure to check your local laws whenever you raise funds to make sure you are in compliance with any regulations.

Reaching out to others creates new relationships and breaks down barriers that have kept us apart in the past. If you see an Ethiopian at a restaurant or shopping, say hello and have coffee and start talking about the goals and concepts of the SMNE. You do not have to hold the same political views to have such discussions. Bring new, diverse people together and talk about how to build a healthier society. Once greater acceptance and solidarity is nurtured, everything else will become easier.

Much of the work needed to accomplish our goals will be initiated and done at the local level, but the organization of the chapters throughout the world will empower those at the grassroots to become organized in their efforts and to pool their talents and resources to build and strengthen the entire Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia as they are connected together.

We in the SMNE are available to provide direction, vision, consultation and coordination. We also want to listen to your ideas and draw on your expertise. We already have groups forming in Oakland, Minneapolis, London, Boston, New York, Washington D.C., Toronto, Vancouver, Seattle, San Jose, Denver, Ottawa, Windsor, Ontario, Virginia Beach, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Columbus, Chicago, Los Angeles, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Stockholm, Oslo, Brussels, Geneva, Frankfurt, Munich, Johannesburg, Tel Aviv, Kampala, Uganda. In all of these cities there are already individuals who are working to develop a local SMNE chapter. If you want to become part of these groups, please contact us by email at smne@solidaritymovement.org .

For more information, please contact Obang Metho at obang@solidaritymovement.org .