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Democracy and Demography

Democracy and Demography

By Mitiku Adisu
“Ethiopian Muslim critics reject national census for ‘missing millions’” goes a headline of few nights ago. Of course Muslims are not the only group crying foul. Leaders of the Orthodox Church complain decrease in their number is due to evangelistic activities of Christians outside the fold and not to institutional failure to preach Christ in terms the new generation could comprehend. Even those Christian communities who experienced growth complain they are undercounted. Few others take ethnic and/or political angle in discussing the issue. This is understandable in that numbers do translate into budget size, employment and political power.

Some want to cast the issue as Western- versus Gulf States-financed missionization. In fact, the cited article lets us in on a piece of information that in Jimma [west of Addis] “the growth of Muslim development and aid organizations financed by the Gulf States have effectively checked the Protestant Christian influences financed by the West.” [italics added]

We would argue that presenting Christianity and the West in the same sentence could be misleading. This is not to deny there are Christians in Western countries but that the policies of their governments remotely fall within the bounds of the gospel of Christ; instances are that Western policies continue to negatively impact Christians in regions where they are the minority. The same could not be said about policies of the Gulf States.

In grappling with the technicalities of the 2007 Population and Housing Census there are items that need clarification. First, few of us understand what goes into the process of conducting a census. Ms. Samia Zekaria [Director of the Census Bureau and a Muslim] probably put it best: “there is a difference between those making guesses and the work CSA does on the ground by going door to door.” Second, those critics are just what they are: critics; they are few and would like to realize numerical strength for their respective camps.
The real issue is, in the end, that you cannot build strength on lies. To do so would be not only unattainable but also counterproductive. Third, old habits die hard. Each has lived in a world of make-believe for so long that accepting facts to the contrary becomes unpalatable. Fourth, the present report, interestingly, is not much different from the one based on the 1994 census in terms of projections. In other words, there isn't much new information that was not already there. Fifth, we would have to admit that some missionary groups are loud and often draw attention to themsleves. Part of the reason for that is that they come out of a market-oriented society where quiet involvement isn't necessarily a virtue [the assertion also holds true for some Ethiopians.] Sixth, we would have to point out that there seems to be a crisis of confidence in the manner the Ethiopian government put out the census report. Hence, every measure must be taken not to politicize the report or let it fester.
Seventh, we would caution tendencies that have developed over the past decade and a half that democracy guarantees equal portions. That is to say a 50 percent Christian population must be matched by the same percentage for Muslims or else some esoteric 'equality' is not realized; that if once persecuted they must now persecute; that if there are Christian missionaries there must therefore be missionaries from Arab countries, etc. This latter point will have to inquire if Arab nations would grant freedom to Christians as do Western nations to Muslims.
In the end, if we say we are for tolerance [as all sides seem to agree] then that tolerance must be based on common sense and long held traditions and not necessarily on Western model of democracy. [see also previous posts here here and here.]