The lonliest hunters

September 24, 2008 at 10:39 am 8 comments

(Looks delish, doesn’t it?! The food, not the tongue)

Anywho…

The above photo reminded me of an observation on abesha men I’ve been wanting to share that my posts of late intensified.

Abesha men are the most “social” of all social animals. Which you can tell by the way they look around for approval after voicing an [any] opinion or by the cold silence they treat you with in the absence of one. True! That is the reality with abesha women too! But theirs goes further.

There are things abesha men do and don’t do. I’m not talking about the well documented tendency and/or necessity of a “wend lij” “[only] crying in the privacy of his room”. No! Other things! Like hunting together, for example. They don’t hunt alone because the fun is not in the kill but the killing — together. Be it a discussion about politics or football, you’d learn they are more there to bask in the warmth of each other’s company, each other’s one-ness, instead of a belief in their ability of make a difference.

A girlfriend who approves of, and warms the house for, their buddies who come to chew “chaat” every Saturday afternoon is the Holy Grail for abesha men. Sometimes when they don’t even like “chaat”! But that’s not something they’d confess to before making sure all coasts are clear. It’s as unmanly as complimenting a dude about his looks or having your “tirre siga” cooked.

I knew a guy whose idea of a life-fulfilled was: having a bar in his living room, and dating/marrying a girl his friends (whose opinion he normally doesn’t respect but never passes up a chance of starting some highly “masculine” venture with that always comes to nothing. “Betej yijemeral yemayzelQ mahber” endil “YeneJhonny Enat” getaami!) would refer to as “Nebrwa” (the tigress). A spitfire of a woman who would take his salary and give him a transportation allowance every month, keep a cold beer in the fridge at all times as well as sit next to him every evening drinking coke while he and his friends “baand Egir maQom” the bar with their “kirir” (which is never about anything worthy. Alas, does that matter?) to take the bottle out of his hand and drive him home when he starts being incoherent. Don’t even start with how contradictory it all sounds. But they were things he was passionate about. It made him feel “macho” I believe, almost as macho as wearing a field jacket in all weathers, camping and going to DuKem every other weekend to have a loud “tirre siga” with his friends seemed to.

Now, I’m not saying I myself would be comfortable around an Ethiopian man claiming to be a Vegetarian. It’s as odd as seeing “Qeleb Tirfe”, your good-for-nothing cat, chew “Qitel” on a daily basis. No! A vegetarian abesha male is as bad as an abesha male who shaves his mustache. Or this neighbor I once had who rolled the “ejige” of his neat Commercial Bank “shemiz” so he could chop onions (Qutit bilo, people, of all positions) outside his door every evening. I don’t know if he was trying to impress or scare us single black females. Such tendencies, however sophisticated, make you wonder if there wasn’t something wrong with the dude that claims/does them! Still, a man who would sacrifice his health to appear manly to his raw-meat-gobbling friends, that man is bound to make me raise an eye-brow (disapproving like)!

Am I the one talking in paradox here, or are they?

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To my favorite clown LeMin ayiNaaGer….

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Totit  |  September 24, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    I am so freaking hungry right now…and looking at that food…goodness woman…U had to choose that pic, ayedel…
    Ere anchi…mene kortoshe…Paradox…Leave that to the experts…like ur friend…It looks like his entire desire defines Paradox…:)..

  • 2. Lilye  |  September 24, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    NOT a good idea Habesheet !!! I am freakn hungry too……. it just looks YUMMILICIOUS!

  • 3. Lilye  |  September 24, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    I think I can tell that this is home…. meaning Canada ( the beer & traditional coffee shop behind).

  • 4. Mazzi  |  September 24, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    Lol @ the caption for the posted picture :-). Very funny!

    I could not help but smile at the image of your former neighbor squatting and chopping onions outside his door with rolled up sleeves! I even imagined him having teary eyes and runny nose from the onions that he wiped with his upper arm. I find men who are great cooks very intriguing, but this particular image made me laugh. If only he knew you single gals were not quite impressed if that was his intention. I once dated a man (African at that! But not Ethiopian) who put my cooking skills and passion for cooking to shame. Other more traditional African women friends watched in horror when I shamelessly enjoyed his cooking skills and delicious dishes without having to ‘feed’ him the way they faithfully ‘fed’ their husbands.

    Your friend who desires a ‘tigress’ of a woman/wife who, among other things, would sit by him in bars while he got drunk, take the bottle away when he has had enough, and drive his drunken self back home was also a funny (but sad) one. Where is HER life in all of this? But that is beside the point.

    I laughed at this story because it rang a little bell. Many many years ago, when my poor much younger college student self was terribly eager to learn how to drive but did not have the money to pay for driving classes, I made a deal with one African male classmate who was lucky enough to own car (be it old student car) at the time.

    Imagine a campus with very little minority black student population, and even fewer African and Caribbean students. The white and black students mostly socialized ‘with their own kind’ with the exception of ‘international’ or ‘intercultural’ programs designed to bring students from both camps together. The African men on campus often wanted to invite their African women friends to various ‘African parties’ at near by colleges or bars/clubs within certain miles radius. They often were the sole drivers (none of the African women owned cars at the time for some reason) but after such parties, the men would get wasted (MOST were heavy drinkers!) and either drive back on the highway drunk (God forbid!) or spend the night ‘somewhere’ and drive back once they sober up.

    You can imagine what that meant to the women who might have taken a ride with them to the events. So the women folk knew better not to accept invitations to ‘away’ parties because we could not guarantee our safe return due to the men’s drunkenness.

    So this one particular friend lamented how it was not fun partying with mostly men, and how he wished some of his female friends own a driver’s license. He said he would not mind lending his car for a sober woman to drive back to campus. So I made a deal with him that he teaches me how to drive for free, and I would be the designated driver after such trips. He taught me how to drive; I got my license some time later, and became the designated driver. The funny thing was, my friends took drinking at liberty knowing they did not have to drive, and after such parties, it was murder trying to collect a couple of drunken friends and convince them to get into the car and stay in the car! It was pretty frustrating most times! I did that long enough to live up to my end of the bargain as I got tired of the ‘tired’ parties that I enjoyed less and less over time. So I can’t possibly imagine doing this for a husband indefinitely! No thank you :-).

    “…hunting together, for example. They don’t hunt alone because the fun is not in the kill but the killing — together. Be it a discussion about politics or football, you’d learn they are more there to bask in the warmth of each other’s company, each other’s one-ness, instead of a belief in their ability of make a difference.”

    Your above observation is very much true to many of my male African friends I have met over the years in school. So I guess it must stem from the conservative and ‘male oriented’ cultures we all grew up in. I still wonder, very often, what my life would have been like if I were born a man though. You don’t know how much I envy my brothers, and what their gender affords them in our Ethiopian culture. I am sure our male folks have just as much to say about us, the women, if only they would share :-).

    P.S. Food looks delicious, and I too love my kitfo “Tirre”….. Does that make me a ‘man’? :-).

  • 5. abesheet  |  September 25, 2008 at 6:09 am

    I know what you mean, ladies, I was transfixed for a whole minute or so the first time i laid eyes on that dish. The sad truth is, it’s become the same to the both of us. The day before yesterday, i went into a “Siga bet” to buy half a kilo of meat. Guess what i paid? 22 birr! And this isn’t even the type of “Siga Bet” you have no “teter metaya” on Saturdays and Sundays. Ten years ago, 12 birr for a kilo of Siga used to piss people off. They’d go all the way to the Kebele Siga bet to save the extra two birr. Now, we’ve all turned into a “NeBere” teraki before we hit 35. It’s sad.

    Lol Totit. Very true. If a tongue could speak, that one does.

    Lilye: So you are from Canada? My husband absolutely adores it. He’s always telling me how the Canadians can get free health services, how they don’t even lock their doors and how a cat hanging from a tree maybe what makes the 6 o’clock news. Highly exaggerated, i fear. But that’s what he wants to do when he can afford to. Go to Canada and live there happily ever after.

    Regarding the pic, I wouldn’t know. I just saw it on a friend’s facebook profile and requested the owner to allow me use it (promising to keep it clean). He was like: go for it. I’m thinking he must be the one on the left 😉 .

    Mazziye, I had the same dillema when i once dated a guy who worked as a cook for a travel agency. He proudly announces that he was a “Wot Serri” when he meets people, even after he became a tour operator. If i remember though, the only thing he made me was an “Avocado” salad. I hated avocado, which always reminds me of hair, and said as much. So once he decided to show me just how good an avocado tastes. After that, I was the one begging him to make me one. The funny thing was, he simply loved my spaghetti beTuna. He used to tell his friends not even Hilton could make such a delicious spaghetti beTuna. And he was a regular there! Anywho.. he was very masculine, which make his loud claims of being a “wot serri” funny and unacceptable to those who don’t know him, so i don’t think anybody would have taken him for a sissy had he been seen chopping onions. What’s more, he does it the professional way. In a proper kitchen, standing, more neatly than i could ever do. I don’t think i’d let him go near the “guaDa” had i seen him chop onions “beQutit” 8) .

    Your friend who desires a ‘tigress’ of a woman/wife who, among other things, would sit by him in bars while he got drunk, take the bottle away when he has had enough, and drive his drunken self back home was also a funny (but sad) one. Where is HER life in all of this?

    That’s the point, Mazziye. A woman’s “tiDar” is “her life”. Where else do you think the saying: “Sergina Mot Andd new” came from. And all that tear on your wedding day ? 🙂 It’s a girl crying for what she’s losing and about to go into.

    “Ene Sidar AleQsalehu
    Serge mote new meQabire..
    (minamin minamin minamin)
    Kemalfelgew menore..”

    A poem i wrote about ten years ago, have forgotten half of it. Anywho.. I’m afraid that’s how it’s always been. And that is how it would continue to be, atleast for our generation of women. It seems the only thing “modern” married abesha women have that makes them different from their mothers is that they have an English name for it, which i imagine is supposed to make it better or sophisticated. “Born yeBet Emebet”, that’s what most are. Heaven help their daughters.

  • 6. Mazzi  |  September 26, 2008 at 12:08 am

    “… A woman’s ‘tiDar’ is ‘her life’. Where else do you
    think the saying: ‘Sergina Mot Andd new’ came from.
    And all that tear on your wedding day ? It’s a girl crying
    for what she’s losing and about to go into.”

    You are right abesheet…. I don’t even know why I bothered to ask where the woman’s life was in all the plans your friend was conjuring up for himself. All the crying that happens at weddings back home (by the bride and the bride’s relatives) used to baffle me when I was a little kid. But once I grew up and saw my surrounding for what it was, I had a different understanding of traditional weddings. They felt more like a transfer of property (the bride) from one authoritative man (the father, or older brothers, or uncles in the absence of the father) to another (the husband).

    So the crying may not even be about what the bride is leaving behind (probably no love lost there either), but more what she is getting into (possibly a life with a man she barely knows), painfully aware of what is expected of her as a dutiful wife and dutiful mother in short few months, but not knowing what to expect at all what her personal life would be like. And already married women who may not be enjoying their own married lives, also cry for her wishing her better luck, but marry her off nonetheless since she will have no value as a woman in the society if she is not married. Ay, ay… what fun to be a woman with no rights. I had hoped that at least for ‘modern’ women of our generation, situations might be much better. If it is not, then that is heart breaking, and indeed heaven help their daughters.

  • 7. abesheet  |  September 26, 2008 at 6:42 am

    They felt more like a transfer of property (the bride) from one authoritative man (the father, or older brothers, or uncles in the absence of the father) to another (the husband).

    That paragraph reminded me something i read about the Japanese culture, Mazzi. It goes something like, a woman has three owners in her life time. When she’s young, her father. When she married, her husband. When she gets old, her son. It’s amazing how civilizations from opposite ends of the world seem to agree on one thing. Their treatment of women! It’s as if the gods has gotten together, like Mob leaders, and swore an allegiance that whatever they do to eachother they won’t let their grip on their women relax. Perhaps a day would come when women folk break free and start ruling the world 🙂 . Amazon, that’s my Utopia.

  • 8. Mazzi  |  September 26, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    “…a woman has three owners in her life time. When she’s young, her father. When she married, her husband. When she gets old, her son.”

    So so true, in so so many cultures! 😦

    Yay, for Amazonian Utopia 🙂

    If only……

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