“I’m 52 years old now. It’s time for me to go’

ABN _ The optimistic buzz in the air at Harar restaurant continued right up until it closed for the night.

Michael Daniel, a mechanical engineer, currently working as a taxi driver, was sitting with a large group of Ethiopians young and old, all crowded around one table. They drank and chatted animatedly in Amharic.

Away from the group, he told CNN about why he and his extended family are planning to return to Ethiopia in the coming months.

“There are so many places to visit there which I never saw when I was young,” Daniel said, eyes wide. “I’m 52 years old now. I think it’s time for me to go and see what’s going on.”

He left the country for political reasons when he was 30. “For the last 27 years we have been ruled by one government and one tribe,” Daniel told CNN. “If you’re their tribe or their supporters, you can do what you like. But if you say something against them, there will be consequences.”

But for Daniel — and many other members of the diaspora — that sort of mentality has no place in what they see as their new, united Ethiopia. Asked what ethnic group he belongs to, his answer is pointed.

“I am Amhara, but I don’t believe in that. I am Ethiopian.”

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