What’s Goin On?

May 12, 2008 at 1:52 pm 17 comments

“Have I even been living in this country?”

That’s the question which hits me everytime I come across a news piece that everybody seems to have known, and worked with, for weeks before I do! 9/11 was such a surprise! No kidding! It was “EnQutatash” and I was on leave: busy watching movies and flipping through books I would be unable to process more than 5 lines of. It must have been on the 4th day! Our minibus was parked under the traffic light infront of St. Joseph School when the voice of the newscaster on Ethiopia Radio became all too vivid. He was talking about how the recent American death toll has hit an all time high of 5,000 (or something like that..can’t remember the exact words or don’t know the English expression for them!).

I almost laughed out at the sheer incredulity of the news. Imagine America losing more than 50 of its citizens to a man-made disaster and not bombing the rest of the world!! In the un-reasonability of being fogged, I must have thought it was one of those fake-newses they used to make those days: regarding, for example, how “duQetina wuha tetaltew wenz endeworedu..”, in poor taste. Until, that is, grave look came to the faces of my fellow travelers and a silence, only broken by a “mTs” flying hither and tither, filled the minibus!

Needless to say, I was astounded! Beyond limit, if you like! Could simply not process it! In my panic, I turned to the person sitting next to me and asked what the radio was on about. The man looked confused, then shocked; told me all about 9/11, his “giMit”s and suspicions; and concluded his admonishing by explaining how a friend of his lost 200 birr during the “birr” change and how I should pay more attention to what goes on outside my window.

I ofcourse sent SOS to my ex-boyfriend who, along with his expert-on-American-affairs MD friend, gave me the dirty work [at a “kitfo bet” around Wollo Sefer; with the sister paying!!] on:

  • the love affair between Osama & C.I.A.
  • the war between Russia and Afghanistan
  • how poor Yugoslavia played the part of the grass between two NATO and WARSOW super powers unwillingly
  • about Gadaffi and the 1986 Libya bombing
  • regarding Castro and how he and his buds came to power 
  • Americans’ ignorance of World Politics and their blind trust on their government
  • and, finally, how their government used & abused that trust & has been lording it over the world [with no referee or “abett baay”] since the young nation’s birth

Stuff, in short, that made me realize how I need to pay more attention to world events if, for nothing else, sew fit siQerbu laLemafer! So.. wherever me and my friends infest either Ethiopia Hotel or some such place, I drag my chair close to where the “tenagari satin” is located and try to catch up with as much news item as my mind could dicipher, and friend allowed. A tendency, I’m glad to add, that proved helpful when it came to the 2005 election!

After the dirty work there, ofcourse, I (along with every other Ethiopian household I knoww, including those who threw their ballots infavor of the rulling party – like the sister!) gave politics up and went back to ‘dish mastekel’ and ‘film mekerayet’. But I still have huge respect for the news (not much improvement when it comes to Sports, though! Wasn’t even aware Ethiopia was staging it’s first major international athletics event until our minibus found itself in the middle of thousands of spectators who, while leaving the Stadium & demanding for the release of Teddy Afro in hushed tones, gave our respective windows an “enka Qimes” or two) and try to atleast have my “alem endet senebetech” question answered by scanning the news column pages of either Addis Admass or Addis Neger every weekend!

Which is why I found the latest name changes to some of our well-known cities rather weird. I mean, I was, ofcourse, aware that “Nazareth” has become “Adama” & “Debre Zeit” was promoted to “Bishoftu” for more than a decade now. And that “Ambo” has refused to become “Hagere Hiwot”, and how “Assebe Teferi” was considering going back to the old name it used to go by before somebody loyal to his majesty decided to change it (“Aman Teferri”? “Asebe Aman”? “Chiso”??) . Good, if it suits them!! With my blessing, even!. However, don’t you think somebody should have bothered to tell us when name changes occur with, atleast, major cities like “Awassa” and “Alemaya” (“Hawassa” and “Haromaya” respectively, btw)?! And explain, while they are at it, why the letter ‘h’ in particular?! For, although I am no expert when it comes to world affairs, I know it takes two to tango!!

Or, [when it comes to Politics] does it?!

Entry filed under: Latest Posts.

His Crime, my Punishment! (‘A Roskolnikov Complex’, or just mine?!) Speaking of history..

17 Comments Add your own

  • 1. abyssinia  |  May 12, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    This sister is ye’were quate. I get up in the morning and first thing I do is turn on the news. At work, I read the news online or listen to the radio. During my lunch break, I grab the newspaper. I get home from work and check the bbc world news. Honestly, this is my daily routine.

    Beza lay I’m into sports. I watch whatever game is on if I have time or check the highlights.

    Now that I think of it, I may be an addict and need some sort of intervention. Andande programmed robot yehonkugn new yemimeslegn. Seriously!

    btw, what’s up with the name changes? I really don’t care that they change the names [to whatever] but at least they should make it official so that we all know and recognize it. I think!

  • 2. abesheet  |  May 13, 2008 at 7:22 am

    Wow! How lucky you are, abby. That’s like my ideal morning! Reading a newspaper in a room filled with the morning light, wearing a carless robe and a steaming hot coffee in a mug infront of you, with BBC news (or CNN) in the background! What else does a girl want?

    Problem here is, I live in a studio apartment (or “condominiom” as we call them) where a satellite dish “tekela” created all kinds of problems resulting with it being forbidden. Internet is, ofcourse, out of the question due to all the bad experiences landladies of addis had with our Somali brothers and direct telephone lines. So i either have to go to my parents’ to watch BBC news or manage to find a cafe I can spend an evening in (which the sister can’t afford due to her evening classes) whose “dembegnoch” are neither a “Manche” or “Arse” supporters. So.. yeah.. it’s a no-win situation! Except the office, ofcourse. Where I always find myself either too busy or too lazy to read the news.

  • 3. sira salata  |  May 13, 2008 at 11:34 am

    Yahhh yichi sim yemekeyayer neger…..I have been discussing it with a friend who has so huge Oromooma…and he explained me that Adama, Bishoftu….were having ‘ ye tarik bedel….to be named as Nazreth and Debrezeit……well me, myself, I don’t have a problem if they intend to call it as they need. Sometimes this generation, of guys like my freind, are blaming ‘ Abatochachinin’ for ye tarik Qimiya….or Yetaric Difteta….okay, as I can understand it, waht they are thus doing is a kind of Yetarik Edisat or something related to it….Well it is good but am really afraid that the coming generation will change some other names( or will accuse our freinds for bad edsat)….who knows….these days we dono from where some histories are fabricated….or from where they arise…
    But as for my personal test, I missed my freinds saying” Nazy candle night” or ‘ Deze trip ‘ instead I don’t know how can
    the new names get ‘ maqolameting’….tooo hard to maqolamet, Adama and Bishoftu. As for Addis, I won’t even think the name…FinFine…hah I hate it……
    I beg any one not to relate my comment with race related talks (I don’t like it)…Yet, it is eveyone’s right to hate any thing.

  • 4. sewit  |  May 13, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Sira Salata, I so so so disagree (no, really) The ‘new’ names (btw, are they new or just reverting to old names?) are so exotic and much more suited to maqolameT-ing. wouldn’t you rather picnic in bisho than debrezeit? (hope i’m not mixing them up – that is debrezeit right?…)

    lemanignawim, with hawassa and haromaya, it seems to me (and i’m tots guessing here) that it is just pronouncing it properly instead of the way we the non-oromigna-speakers mabelashet-ed the words. In the same strain that the Indians have started ‘correcting’ the names of their major cities Culcutta is now Kolkota, Bombay is now Mumbai. Not much wrong in correcting the way the Brits pronounced the words, non?

    finfine though…just reminds me of that smelly river. I need to get used to that one.

  • 5. denbara  |  May 13, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    I heared that the H’s in “Hawassa” and “Haromaya” are added because that is the correct way of pronouncing the words. But ppl still use the old names .

    ditto on maqolamet-ing Deze, i don’t think i can say bisho’ with a straight face….y’q’rta 🙂

  • 6. Dr. Ethiopia  |  May 13, 2008 at 6:15 pm


    I am astounded to learn that you didn’t know the history behind all of the cities you mentioned. These cities has been accurately named by those who populize them. For example, Alemaya? What the heck is that? That’s like the Amrigna pronunciation of what the Oromos call “Haramaya” or “Haromaya”.

    So it’s like the Americans pronunciating an Ethiopian name in such a weird way it almost sounds like a nick-name you were given by these folks.

    Yene Inat, i think you are mistaken to think, for as long as you did, that these cities were called what you assumed or frequently heard.

    But i definitely understand the underlying point on how we all pick up on what we hear discussed or said frequently.

    I am not a historian or a politician, but i enjoy both subjects immensely and as a result try to cheap in my $0.02, every time i get a chance.

    abesheet – Glad to hear you say you picking up on the news and politics and all that good stuff. The biggest mistake we all make is avoiding politics and the issues that affect us directly or indirectly.

    To make a difference or bring about change, you have to know how things and people in a position-of-decisoin work and go about their every day businees.

    I hate how my friends in Ethiopia used to say “i hate politics because it is too dirty”. And in the same token, they wonder why things are the way they are.

    I believe world-affairs are important to keep up with, it is part of educating one’s self.

    Politics is not dirty, politicians are.

  • 7. sira salata  |  May 13, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    Sewit, is that really possible to relate…Britains + Indians VS Ethiopians+Ethiopians….on the change of names the formers used to call the places?……..hah, for me, it would have been easy, had Debrezeit was posted by, say, Itallians than ‘ yegnaw sewoch’. Strictly talking I can’t accept any history renewal….In no case can history gets Edisat. Well, there might be some ‘ yetarik difteta ‘ but even the ‘ difteta ‘ , after once occured, is the part of the history of the places. For me, it would have been better the oromo histrians tell us about Bishoftu when they intend to talk of debrezeit….But changing the names is not that sensfull 4 me. Neither is bisho more enjoyable than Deze!!!!. Look for Eg, does it give sense if they change piazza by some local word…..it may be tought of a kind of zeal to ur culture or identity to use strictly local words. However, those foreign or local, like the non oromo words, are part of the history of those places which shouldn’t be renewed, as for me.

    Dr. Ethiopia, is that fair to hate the way ur freinds say ” Ethiopian politics is dirty, I hate it ”? OMG, I agree that a citizen should play with politics, though it is tooo dirty. However, the Ethiopians’ case is toooo different from this……it is not simply dirty, bro it is more than that….hah don’t judge it at all if u are out of Ethiopia. The diaspora or the International Ethiopian community want to talk and talk and talk while the people in Ethiopia are dying…..hah yichi nat chewata ale sewyew!!!!….I wouldn’t even comment on the silence politcs our people, in Ethiopia, follow. u will get lost when u really sense the real politics there in Ethiopia…that is why Dr Berhanu gets the sense of being a patriotic political symbol really needs so much more and hence resides @the top of the mountains to think..lol
    So can I give my ears to the talks such ppl, being in Us or Europe, spread about getting closer to politics…..hah they give the talks, we gonna die here…hah that is damn unfair. bro, I better keep silent with politics….’ feri Lenatu lije egna mot enji yemindebekibet terara or fellowship yelenim ‘ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 8. sewit  |  May 13, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    ende gashe/emebete Sira,.. the indians & brits vs ethiopians &ethiopians comments was to highlight that the brits did not know how to pronounce hindi words, as other ethiopians did not know how to pronounce words in languages they didn’t speak.

    If the names were bishoftu before it became debrezeit and if your whole argument is if ethiopians changed the name then, it was ok, why wouldn’t it be kosher now if a new generation of ethiopians change it now. lemanignawim, i don’t feel too passionate about the issue (i know, betam yasazinal) but debreziet or any of the other places were just names on a map or places you would whizz by on your way somewhere else to me. to my non oromigna hearing ears, the new ones sound more exotic and fun. gin i’m sure it may annoy me if they wanted to change a place like, say, arat kilo to 8.8lbs.

    ej neshichalehu.

  • 9. Dr. Ethiopia  |  May 14, 2008 at 1:18 am

    sira Salata – I would like to think i am different from the diaspora you mention.

    My friend, Dr Birhanu in my eyes is a classic example of what a politician is. I don’t look up to an idiot like him who is an opportunist and a poster boy for what a politician is.

    The whole Kinijit thing is a big joke and unfortunately the joke was on ethiopians and few had to payy the price with their life. He had others die to further his political ambition.

    A person like him and his agenda and fluffy message is obviously an insult to all people who ‘think’.

    Sure, i still believe that my friends are wrong when they give up and say politics is too dirty. I don’t think that is the solution. We need folks like Ghandi of India, MLK of America & Mandela of South Africa.

    These are folks who are willing to die for their cause and have a tunnel like vision for things to come. You certainly don’t find that in Dr. Birhanu and the Co., unless you are a big fan of his bad rhetorics.

    I don’t consider myself the type to die for any cause, at least not yet, but that does not mean i should stay muffled like so many choose to do.

    The least i can do is ‘vomit my anguish’, if you will. So when you say it is easy for me and the likes of me in diaspora to “talk talk and talk” as you put it, i disagree with you strongly.

    What would you rather see me do? “hush, hush, and hush”?

    My friend let me say what i say, because i can’t win for losing sometimes. What we do here is not talk, it is called discusssion.

    But abesha people and the word “talk” seems to go hand in hand, doesn’t it? Why do we skip the worrd discussion, initial step to solution and so forth?

    I might not pick up a gun to bring about change, but i certainly can pick up a pen, and i see nothing wrong with it.

    Besides, “A human voice is much more stronger than any gun shot, even when it’s a whisper”.

  • 10. abesheet  |  May 14, 2008 at 6:17 am

    Yep, that’s me Doc! Ignorant to the core :-)! Especially when it comes to my history lessons. And especially when wikipedia doesn’t seem to have them! But, trust me, I am better than most of my foreign friends, and definitely my younger kins who, if told about Ras Kassa, would assume you were referring to the rap artist about whom I made a post a few weeks ago.

    However, and this is important, indignant about things I don’t know shit about is something this sister ain’t!! My “qireta” was, not in the name changes, but as to why nobody bothered to tell us they were changed. Is it because, as has been proved to us time and again by those above, that our opinions doesn’t matter (for we aren’t “of” this land, and have no grievance to associate with it)? Or is there some other agenda we have yet to discover when something goes wrong and some more lives get lost (the “Finfine capital of Oromia” crises comes to mind).

    How about all the confusion it would create?! I have a friend who works with the Human resource department in her organization and she been telling me how she hardly recognizes some of the universities applicants from outside Addis mention going to anymore. It really isn’t something you ‘meGfat’ your shoulder over and say ‘no biggie’ about. It’s a big deal! Even changing your company’s name takes all kinds of preparation! All the headed paper you need to have printed, the envelopes. All the legal stuff you have to go through! It shouldn’t be something you do impulsively-even for our government (whose silly impulsiveness has been a cause of embarassment to this sister on more than one occassion), or atleast if you are planning to cut cost as much as you can. Not to mention how planning to go to “Haromaya” doesn’t feel the same as going to “Alemaya”. Apparently, there is more to a name than mere.. “mAntelteya”.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying they should tailor their cities’ name according to our taste[although i feel for the bways who mourned the loss of simpler, cuter names that make “maQolameting” easier]. I’m a huge fan of keeping it real! Have even made a post about that!! But giving us a little time to get used to it feels in order. It’s not like any of us would go anywhere! I’m just saying!

    Mentioned the ‘h’ thing to make my exist line sweeter. I do that sometimes :-).

    Speaking of history:
    Did you know Gragn Ahmed (Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi) is nick named “Gurey” in Somali?! Found that fascinating as I didn’t have a clue they knew the fella, or even Somalia existed as a nation at his time.

    P.S. I really think politics is dirty. Can’t really explain why though because i can see you have a point too 🙂

  • 11. Dr. Ethiopia  |  May 14, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    Abesheet – I am telling you and i want you to trust me when i tell you “politics isn’t dirty”, it is the politicians that make it a dirty game.

    Politics is the core that makes everything run (government, and so many other entities), and to turn a blind eye, would amount to electricuting one’s self. It is the engine behind everything, and it is the foundation of the rule of law, in any land.

  • 12. abesheet  |  May 14, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    You are right, Dr. Ethiopia, we shouldn’t turn the blind eye to politics. It would come knocking one day, whether we like it or not. Literally, in my case :-).

    However, explain this to me: how can we not call politics “dirty” when we witness it dirtying even the best intentioned people?!. My father is a good example of how politics “anQiro” “metfats” you if you don’t play by the rules. It’s dirty rules!!

  • 13. RasX  |  May 19, 2008 at 7:23 am

    Where have I been? Afraid to even know how much “out of the loop” I am on certain issues in the World. I can barely take care of my wife and family. Even through all that, I still try to keep in touch with what’s going on. The after effects of Bush’s administration on a worldwide scale is appalling. A book on that subject alone would sell for millions in America I bet. It’s not that American people are blind. Its that they are trying to work and take care of the family so much, that they wouldn’t know ‘World Politics’ if it sat on their lap and called them ‘Mama’. America is fast paced. They don’t stop to think about anything. Until something disastrous happens. Like the ‘energy crisis’ for example. Could go on forever about that. America is not the land of the free as much as people think. The only thing that American people have as a weapon to control the government (for the people, by the people: my FOOT) is a vote. A mere vote. Yes, its true, if you get enough votes, you can do anything. That’s the trick. America is so broken up into sections, its like asking 330 million people where they want eat. Believe it or not. America is ripe for a good book to help them unite. Hatred for this administration (BUSH) is just the thing. Actually its just one in a whole series now that I think of it. Not that your interested in such a thing. I’m just saying.

  • 14. abesheet  |  May 19, 2008 at 7:52 am

    Hey Ras. Welcome back! How is the family? The wife? The kids?!

    Anywho, I completely agree with you. I remember reading an article on americans a few years ago. How they cook dinners they’d never eat together. How they have libraries, filled with books they would never read. Etcetra. There is even a saying, if not ‘beTinat yetAgeze’ that CNN is watched more in African than america. King Dollar seems to be the only thing americans are interested in. And.. they should! Especially with the present economy and all. So perhaps they need more than a book to change the evil ways of their government that’s causing all sorts of social, humanitarian and economical disaster around the world. My husband used to say Jon Stewart should be elected president coz the guy knows what he’s talking about! But the problem with tv programs, as has been seen repeatedly with documentaries, is people laugh/cry say “oh how terrible” and go their way completely unchanged. Isn’t that what happened in the cases of Rwanda, Somalia and Da’arfur?!

  • 15. RasX  |  May 20, 2008 at 5:23 am

    I’m always interested in this topic: ” What’s the perfect society to have?” I think that is what we are ultimately talking about here. Correct me if I am wrong. Therefore the challenge remains, “How do we get everyone involved in policies, activism, and basically to agree on something.” In every person their remains an ‘Amber'(if you will) left that only needs a little wind to spark itself up. Division is the problem. Communication that’s healthy is non-existent. Not exactly an expert on the subject, just know a solution or even suggestions are way over due. Something along the lines of a worldwide think tank. All these crappy reality show producers would make themselves useful by making something worth our attention like addressing these issues in a tactful way. I’m only saying. My thing is technology. Its going to play a part in the big picture. So I’m not just all talk believe it or not. It starts with an IDEA. One that cannot be corrupted even by todays terrible standards that passes for journalism. Reminds me to mention, that I feel the real culprit is the journalism. Your husband is probably right. That is the whole point Jon Stewart is trying to make. That journalism is actually doing more harm than good. By furthering the divisions that are so many. In a time that needs journalism to ON ITS JOB like no other time before. For anyone out there trying to do any sort of journalism. Your duty is not to sit up there and look handsome or pretty, its to heal social divides. Be an expert on the topic at hand. Its not that hard. At least strive to be thorough.

  • 16. abyssinia  |  May 20, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    I completely agree with you both. In my view, its not that the people don’t pay attention to the current issues, what’s happening at home, or abroad. The reality is that they are so consumed by their work and are struggling to raise their family. They have no choice but to focus and work hard to put food on their table than what Bush is up to.

    It is obvious that the cost of living has doubled, the price of gas is skyrocketing, and even food price is going up everyday. Just yesterday, the price of coffee went up by 21¢. If you are like me and love your morning coffee, you have no choice but to accept the fact and move on…the thing is where do you go and make complaint. You have no voice!

    I also agree the media can do more to bring awareness and be the voice of the people. Look what Al Gore is doing! Now all of the sudden, everyone is worried about our planet, the environment, and conservation of wilderness lands. Correct me if I’m wrong but it seems now they care more for the environment than the people. Or it’s just me?

  • 17. abesheet  |  May 21, 2008 at 5:20 am

    “Take care of the environment and the environment will take care of you”, i think that’s the whole point abbye. I just wish this “environmental” frenzy started 50, or even 20, years ago. Have you seen how bad the weather is changing?! Time has come, I’m afraid, the death of one tree will affect us more than the death of a bunch of person. Feels too damn late!

    Speaking of death, wow.. the China incident was terrible!! I just came across it yesterday morning. Can you believe it?! I was busy editing my first novel-to-wanna-be and i didn’t pay much attention to neither the news nor my blog. Twitching all over the place coz i finally let a writer (and published) friend take a look at it. Talk about cold-feet! I had a bit of time to breath and reboot yesterday and decided to check on world events. That’s when i read the China thing. Man! It’s like they lost a whole city of people. Can you believe it? Almost old-testmental in it’s quality. Or maybe “simentegnaw shih”. So sad!

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The blogger tries to think outside the box, or wonder why she sometimes can't.

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"I will speak for you, Father. I speak for all mediocrities in the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint." - Antonio Salieri, from the movie "Amadeus"

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