Archive for March, 2008
By the way the articles run over by: nazret . com, mahder . com, Abbaymedia, and etc., regarding the release of Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demissie from prison last Friday, you’d start to wonder (unless you are the un-wondering type who just buy into every junk handed to you) why the government arrested them [then]?!
Perhaps, being young and all, they made the honest mistake of confusing “good governance” (which, sure enough, is one of the areas of work ActionAid hopes to make a difference in) with “government” and got down, dirty and poltical?!
Or if their long year association with Dr. Taye Woldesemayat and that other angry professor guy who throws journalists against the wall every time they tried to enter the many “Human Rights” meetings he chairs, displeased it?! (No doubt it’s debatable, the fact that Jouranlists can be considered “human” enough to have human rights. Still.. makes you wish Ethiopia’s “shimagles”, especially those involved in politics, could be less “finData”s than Ethiopian youth are. Doesn’t it?).
Or if, being the evil, illogical and inhuman entity that we all know it to be, “yaYnachew Qelem” sileDeBerew?!
Love it or hate it, the first time you lay your eyes on your fresh-out-of-the-oven photograph, time stands still. A space of a second, yet an impression that would end with either a heart-breaking disappointment or ecstasy. For a split of a second there, you have become a stranger to yourself! A spectator to yourself! An outsider!
You ofcourse get used to it, this new version of “you”, and can recognize it next time (without a doubt, not even a second glance) that it is/was “you”. But it definitely takes getting used to! That’s why, if you haven’t torn it to pieces the minute you saw it (and spend the whole day re-running it like an old mistake or mystery you can neither undo nor figure the head or tail of in your head) you look back at it time and again; trying to figure out where it all went wrong; why it all went wrong; why the effort never pays of, or why it did this time. Every time you look at your fresh-out-of-the-oven photo, you end up being something you never saw coming!
The disappointment doesn’t necessarily has to do with the desire to look good, or atleast that’s what you tell yourself or whoever came with you (and witnessed your shame, your embarrassment as if they haven’t known you for years and their opinions suddenly matters). It’s a desire to appear on the glossy piece of paper (to the camera man, the person who did the developing, the girl who handed it to you in a neat little pocket) the way you “feel” yourself to look like! Was that so hard? Making you look like what you “really” look like, what you feel you look like, every day and especially that day?!
The question follows: “what” do you look like?
A scary thought, isn’t it? Not knowing who you appear “as” to the outside world? Because the outside world has moods too, that changes. Attitudes, that are biased-by-association. Pasts. Presents. Futures. Just as the eye of a camera isn’t all needed to record a picture and as it takes all kinds of lighting, chemicals, angles, etc., people don’t only “see” you because they get eyes to see you with. You don’t come out “the way you feel you appear” in those eyes! The processor affects it just like bad lighting, wrong angle and faulty chemical combination would mess (or even burn) your photo. Which is why the way you appear to one person can never be the same with the way you appear to a different person. Infact, the way you appear to one person can change within the space of time, as can be witnessed by the change of countenance when people who hasn’t thus far bothered to give you the time of day find out that you aren’t as poor, or lowly, or “uncool” as you appear. You see yourself completely transformed in their eyes: almost a changed person ). So much influences a focus, camera or human’s. Thus “Mamo Lela, Metaweqiayw Lela” .
You need neither psychiatrists nor a lover squeezing your hands affectiontely to tell you u can never see yourself the way you are, clear as a sky on a bright morning! But then again, even the sky isn’t what it appears to be, is it?. It is a combination of colors too indescernible for our limited senses, a mere trick of the eye!. Every one of them agree are never unbiased or untouched about yourself. You are never impersonal! But the knowledge that you go about life, your day, based on only assumptions of your “appearance” gathered along the way, like a blind man feels his way through life hoping this is the bed and that the lamp, can be jarring!
It would have been a good thing, won’t it, if we can get one chance in a life time, a single day, when we can leave our body and watch ourselves from the outside? Follow ourselves around and know what we look like in given situations?! What a relief that would have been! All the disappointments, lacks or over confidences it would have spared us!!.
Perhaps you are one of those people who say they do not care what they look like because they know who they are, bla bla (although I’ve yet to meet a person, man or woman, who said that yet didn’t obsess about something in their bodies: a height, a pot belly, a receding hair). But, even then, can you really “know” who you are on the inside?
Oh I have no doubt you have some “idea” as to how you’d react in a situation. And if you are <25 (physically or mentally), you may even claim to “know” how you’d react in a situation! But people would tell you that’s what growing up teaches you. That you’ll take yourself by surprise when you are in them situations, time and again, until finally you give up like me and, like Jeremiah, say “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it? (17:9).
Dare I suggest that we are people who can even take God by surprise? Can even *he* see us the way we, on some monochrome planet where emotions and assocations and loves and hates don’t exist, “are”?!
Ofcourse you’d like to know what you look like! And why not?! There is only one you out of six billion, you’ve been with you all your life, you are your most intimate friend! Most importantly, or maybe not, you’d like to identify yourself in a line up (yeSetan joro ayismawna) without murmuring under your breath that person looks like you, but you are not really certain. You’d like to see yourself in the mirror, for once, and not be affected by the light, the angle, the expectation, the disappointment (all these human made stumbling-blocks that forbid you from really knowing what you really look like). And, for once, you’d like to pocket a glossy paper on which your real “look” is printed, something more solid and definite than a “feeling” and an impression!
Is that ever possible? What do you really look like? The “you” reflected in the eyes of those that love you? Those who hate you? Those who are indifferent to you?! The person you see in the mirror? The person that appears on a glossy piece of paper?! Or the “you” that you feel you look like?
Or are you all those impressions (“you”s) put together. And more? Like with the seven blind men and the elephant?! Or are you those impressions put together and refined.. into something you would… like?!
Chewatan chewata yanesawal newwna, Sistu’s mention of Gigi’s song: “Enen YerAbegn” (otherwise known, to this sister atleast, as the Amharic version of John Lennon‘s “Love is all we need”) reminded me something that’s been bugging me whenever I came across *it* and Tilahun Gessese’s “Migbma Moltoal”.
I don’t have the least interest in debating if love is indeed all we need (however true the statement would feel on lonely, but otherwise “full to the brim”, Saturday evenings when every one of your friends seem to be out and about enjoying themselves)! “Unlike the folks at Hallmark would have you believe” Zadie Smith argues (not her exact words) “Love is not all we need. ‘Clean Water’ is what we need. Electricity! Education”!. All those mundane, unromantic things that would probably not make a cute song!
The following is going to sound unpatriotic, but it’s no mystery to any of us Ethiopians (and the rest of the world, unfortunately) that we’ve never had food surplus since ….. ever! Sure, “Michael dabo” used to be sold for 10 cents a piece two decades ago. But that’s also the time in which my father and mother’s income put together barely comes to 400 birr a month and they had to chip in for the keeping of both their extended families.
That’s why our holidays & festivities have too much food (and “qUntan”) in them. Did you know? I didn’t! until an older colleague from Tigrai told me (when he heard me complaining how our holidays were fun-less and “all about food”) how that was a tradition brought about by necessity. Back when draught was hitting our country over and over again, and people didn’t have “gotera mulu ehil” “to burn” and “meda mulu keBt” to “refrain from slaying” on a fasting day! How they took “difo dabo beTikesha” and “tela beQimchana” as a gift to family and friends’ house since holidays were the only times in which they could afford to partake-of these luxuries! Tebabro mesrat, tebabro meblat! “That’s how it went for centuries”, he said, “nothing to do with having no fun-bone in our bodies or lack of imagination in our soul as you young’uns seem to think nowadays!”
What a lesson that was! And what a surprise! One of those rare moments that reminded me the thing I love & took pride in about being Ethiopian the most!: the fact that we can always spare something from the little we have, and be there for those we don’t even like when they need a helping hand, or a shoulder to cry on. (more…)
I’m not a huge fan of commotion. I’m more of a turning-back-on-and-leaving-place-with-sturdy-feet kindda girl. Which is why you won’t find me around when disaster strikes. Whether a car accident, a fire accident, or pick-pocket accident (although, in the first two incidents I may call 991 before hitting the exit button), I cover my bag with my hand and head for the horizon.
It’s not like I do not enjoy witnessing disaster as well as the next person. I do! But I would rather do it from a safe distance, where no harm could befall on my person. What can I say? I’m selfish. And it comes with a price. Because of my fear of standing-by as a witness for disaster, I’ve missed out on most of the huge happenings Addis sponsored in my adult life: the long anticipated & graceless entrance of EPRDF’s soldiers in Addis in 1987, all “great Ethiopian run”s and, regrettable of all, the new year eve celebration at the turn of the millennium! It’s lucky that I ain’t planning on having kids and living long enough to tell what the millennium was like to their children. I’d have been one old woman who lies out of her ass.
This is why it’s my firm belief that if I heard somebody screaming “Look! The Kingdom of Heaven!”, I’d go back to sleep grumbling how some of us has to go to work in the morning. Needless to say, therefore, the fate of a falling star (human or a ‘small solid body known as a meteoroid that enters a planet’s atmosphere from outer space and is raised to incandescence by the friction resulting from its rapid motion.’) would be the same. I don’t like seeing disaster because I don’t get a kick out of seeing people suffer, in any form. Must have something to do with my childhood, and the traumas in it. Always from bullies, young and old. On things I had no control over.
Now, I like Teddy Afro. Always have. That doesn’t mean I like everything about him. I don’t like his artificial, and rather patronizing.. for me atleast.. “Oh I’m too sweet and shy” smile (which has started reminding me of another celebrity whose smile I intensely dislike – Rachel Ray). I don’t find his ears adorable. And I get furious every time I heard his “Single Black Male” adverts.
But I like him. For the same reason, I think, all of Addis run behind “Kinjit” 3 years ago. Because he seems to embody the “Ethiopian” vision (in a reasonably cute way) that we all grew up having drilled into us!. Yet, unlike most of his fans, I knew what Teddy Afro represents was bigger than Teddy Afro the man (who loves, simply adores, referring to his young age on every occasion J). Just like what “Kinjit” represented was bigger than every one of it’s “central committee members” put together (who, I know nobody wants me reminding them, came to a huge self-evidencing mess).
So, even when he seems to be making all the wrong moves these past two years (once costing me a good 25 bucks for a non-CD he non-released), I stood by him (in my own insignificant way) claiming that he’s just a young lad we should cut a slack for. That if given time, he’d come back to his [true?] self and make us all sing hand-in-hand … again!. (Isn’t that what we wanted him for anyway? Just the way a wife looks out the door eagerly waiting for the elders to appear, take and reconcile her to her husband? With an elderly admonition of “Antem Tew, Anchim Tey”?! I think so!). After all, how many Teddy Afro’s do we have anyway?. Not many! There is Gigi, ofcourse. But she’s been off the scene for more than three years now (after she got married and bore children *wink* *wink*), and releasing an album that used an Amharic phrase translated literally for a title (a bad idea!) and a song that actually confused the name “Ethiopia” with “Utopia” (very bad idea). I respect her for backing out while she was still ahead. And have bigger hopes for her when she reappears, after dropping off her kids at school, or attending their graduation therefrom.
I do that because I am huge on second chances. On growing new leaves. On reincarnations (“rebirth”, “recreation” and re-embodiment. Of an idea?!). Teddy Afro has become an a-hole, sure, but who hasn’t been victim of the celebrity status?. You don’t kick a guy out and throw the remains, as Bertie Wooster would say, just because he made a mistake or two. Because, when you kick-out an idol, you are also kicking-out a vision, an idea, a dream bigger than his own ‘young’ person. You are atleast losing the unique gift you can get from him (yes, it’s a co-dependent relationship folks! We ‘scratch his back’, he scratch ours. Look where our blind devotions or unconditional loves got us? Does Mengistu Hailemariam ring a bell? Solomon Teka? Kinjit?!). Not because that gift has been endowed to him “before the beginning of the world” as the bible would have you believe, but because none of us went through what he went through; saw what he saw; been to where he’s been. And when we kick him out, we kick out a whole lot of another world we could have discovered through him. As all works of art should be, and as every other human being in the planet!
Yep, I’m a very practical fan! Takes more than little to offend me. But offended I would be when my “celebs” demand that I worship them without condition, or murmur. And when they get indignant at somebody that dared mention they have no right to treat me (and us) that way. THAT is the straw that would break this sister’s back. I draw the line and demand “I beg your pardon..?”. You don’t want to see me when I’m on my “IBYP” + mood. My ex boyfriend and my husband don’t refer to me as “Zinabwa” for nothing! J
Teddy Afro has made more than one mistake, and I’m not referring to them music videos I mentioned in 2006 (http://www.google.com.et/search?hl=am&q=abesheet+teddy+afro), which sounds pretty trifle right now. First mistake, he copied some music notes and passed them off as his own (as the folks at “Addis Neger” mentioned) ‘without giving credit to whom credit is due’. So what?!, you’d say, everybody does it! Second mistake, when Seifu Fantahun discovered and aired the theft, he got indignant and said he’d take him to court and sue him for defamation. THAT isn’t something everybody does! If he had had the humility to apologize, or atleast, give Seifu Fantahun the deaf ear and let it slide, no one would have given the theft a 2nd thought. But having probably started to see himself with the burning mirror of love and devotion (and borderline worship) his fans see him with (and would continue seeing him with “an’d sewna an’d be’er eskiqer’; that of Teddy’s no doubt J), he kept on being indignant. In a pretty much “the wrath of God” way, I would like to think, making one amusedly wonder what damages our beloved icon would have done if equipped with a thunder storm, or two! Perhaps then Meles Zenawi wouldn’t look so bad? J (Yes, I exaggerate)
So ..Teddy Afro lied!. Tried to cover it up!. This being neither the times in which the gods roamed the earth looking for mortals to do mischief on, or “Zemene Derg” where an attempt to get a few more bucks can have you shot there and then, some people decided to look into the matter and re-affirmed the theft. Then, ofcourse, things flamed up. The flame didn’t stop by threatening to eat Seifu Fantahun’s good reputation, or Addis Neger and their budding reputation, but anybody’s who dared associate Teddy Afro’s name with stealing. Now, I don’t know the exact process by which shooting stars fall (or if our Prime Minister would give a “reportage” at the parliament and a news conference at the news conference room about the development on “the Teddy Afro front” one of these days. Their opinion would no doubt be on the “good riddance” side J). But this certainly feels like the beginning of a falling of one.
Like I said repeatedly, I don’t like witnessing stars fall! I love my sleep;. I hate the feeling of loss when the dust finally clears; And it’s heart-breaking, seeing another hope dashed for my fellow Addis Ababaians (even if we don’t always see eye-to-eye on them hopes). But I’ve always enjoyed seeing somebody decide to teach a bully a lesson. So the bully could come down to earth, realize there were bigger powers than him, leave the weak little boy alone, go home, cry his eyes out making the ugliest of indignant bully noises and promise to try and be good from now on.
Viva Seifu Fantahun!
Viva “Addis Neger”!.
Beware Teddy Afro!. First rule they teach you at Celebrity 101: Bullying people ain’t cool! Or *shaking index finger threateningly* no more bra-throwing, tit-for-autograph-baring chics for you!
Most of the “smart” sayings in the above post were taken from books I read. English isn’t my first language.
I’ve always found my fellow countrymen’s [sometimes indignant] support for Obama fascinating, as my previous post entitled Kentiba Barrack Obama bears witness for. Because I can make neither head nor tail to it! Can it be the “Netsa awchi sinelibona”, the prime minister accused my generation as having (sometimes in the absence of one to be redeemed)!? Or the “black” and “white” thing? You know, like football spectators do! Rooting for whoever is playing against Italy on World Cup, because “these bastards” tried to colonize us. And favoring a West African national team over a North African one, because “they” “said” they represent the Arab world, and not Africa, zillions of years ago. Or simply because we do not have better things to do with our time & money for our own, “poorest of the poor” I might add, country?!
Whichever the case maybe, Ethiopians have been rallying after Obama and I ofcourse wanted to know why. Having most of my offline questions answered with threats or judgmental looks, I was confident “here an answer would be” when I saw an advertisement on Fortune’s Sunday issue (Vol. 8, # 412) of a website for those Ethiopians interested in supporting Obama (ethiopiansforobama.com).
The website doesn’t seem to be working, however! So I decided to google-search it and actually managed to find another, an actually unblocked one , with the words “Ethiopian American” and “Obama” on it.
It’s description, posted on 25 March 2008, was encouraging. It read “My listing of sites about Ethiopians and barack obama: Particulary I like the first site but other sites are informative as well, so if you have interest in Ethiopians and barack obama you should check all those links. I hope you’ll like them.”
Following the suggested link, however, automatically took me NOT to finding my “key to Rebecca” (so to say) but to an adult friendfinder (but you know what type of “friend” they are talking about ) with a pretty gross picture on the right side of the bar that turned my stomach. The realization that the photo was nothing more hedious than a woman’s tongue sporting a bar of ice came a little too late. After taking my lunch, and my hopes of ever understanding the “Ethiopians for Obama” mystery, with it. So if there is one Ethiopian out there who can enlighten me on the matter, I’d be grateful. If not, you can kiss this sister’s donation goodbye … sucker!
Ever wondered what happened to the cat? The one that got slain by it’s own curiosity? I wonder what sort of cat it became after shaking off the dust of death from it’s back and returned to the land of the living for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th or … 9th time. I wonder what it started doing when curious (old habits die hard). If it turns on the tv, grab it’s bag and go out window/shoe shopping, get stonned or spend all night partying. Or if it refuse to cave in, got curious and died another death.
Don’t you think, perhaps, that a cat who isn’t curious would resemble this generation? A generation so unmotivated, so bored that it would go to great length for a bit of excitement? To perverse or self destructive lengths, most of the time?!
That’s what i feel whenever I see my little brother (14) going in and out of the house, “as if there is a pin on his behind”, whenever a film he’s seen before or a talk-show he doesn’t like comes on tv. A curiously uncurious generation scared to be left alone with it’s thought!
I’m not saying, although decades older, I am any better. I have none of the wide eyed interest and the feverish excitement of my teens when hearing about something I’m not familiar with. No more reading everything that fall in my lap. Or trying to hook up with a follower of every strange religion I heard about. No Bob Marley, no UB40, No Don Williams! But I get curious from time to time. Like yesterday evening, for example. I got curious about boxing. If it’s a sport, or a bad day? Why the word “the ancient Greeks started it” seems to encourage things that should be condemned. And if curiosity killed the cat, lack of curiosity won’t kill us all dead?