Archive for October, 2008

My ETV dream

ETV has made a couple of changes in the new Ethiopian year. It’s changed its name (from ETV to ERTA – Ethiopia Radio and Television Agency), it’s logo (from bluish to redish) and it’s broadcast time (from 12 hours to 15 hours a day). Not to mention the controversial transfer of Tigrigna and Oromiffa Programs to the respective States making some wonder if Arabic and French (launched through ETV2) were more important to the Federal government than the above two major Ethiopian languages.

Infact, the only area ETV/ERTA hasn’t looked into hoping to affect change seems to be in Staff quality. Products of the “Meserete Timhirt” generation and still functioning with what I call “YeQebele mentality”, these people seem to be telling us to “take it or leave it” when they aren’t trying to educate us. I know not all Ethiopians run a blog and think the movie “Hermela” was a waste of time and good money. But that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the best they can get, does it?

Now, semi binor, I’d have liked to see these changes take place on ETV/ERTA:

Cut out or Minimize:
1. The same old BeInstrumental yetaJeBu “nature shows”
2. Mindless and “yeCheretu” sitcomes like “My 3 sisters” and “Acapulco Bay ” or National Geography documentaries from the 1960’s that run for the 100th times
3. Developmental journalism programs with “yeFeTeTe” Political agendas
4. Traditional songs by Gish Abaai Kinet from the 1980’s that still make the tv set feel like a torture chamber

Put in or Have More of:
5. Sitcoms
6. “Zena Tintena”
7. Poetry readings, literary discourses, documentaries on Ethiopia’s literary giants
8. A smile on news anchor woman Hawlet Ahmed’s face

October 31, 2008 at 2:16 pm 4 comments

Harar, Hararuma..

Before listening to the reading of Tesfaye Gessesse’s “Shilingen”, I associated the city of Harar with “Zeyitun”, long dresses made of colorful rags and a picture of a lady in a “BaleTilet Qemis” that was Ethiopian airlines’ advertisement you saw everywhere back then.

“Shilingen”, ofcourse, gave me an insight into what the lives of many a Harari women can be (or so i thought back then, I was a young’un). So I started associating Harar with train stations, basket full of fruits and nameless stranger that make away with a single mother’s hard earned 50 cents. A decade and half later, I got the chance to visit it. I didn’t waste my time by shopping for contraband goods as would a less impressionable individual. No, I went “Shirshir” as the boys from Bole2Harlem would call it. I walked through every one of it’s doors, sat in the traditional [museum-like] houses and had my photo taken infront of Arthur Rimbaud’s paintings. A fellow traveler with an artist’s soul trapped in the body of a tour guide called Harar “a poetic city”. Perhaps! But it’s no doubt a poetry you’d have to strain the ears to hear. For harar is where silence goes to die. It’s noisy. It’s chaotic. It’s swift. Light as air and indiscriminant as death. Alas, not stopping for anyone! The madness, however, has a shade to it. Lines on top of lines of silver, gold and all the colors a rainbow is made of. Kaleidoscopic and beautiful. Like the “erbo” their women make.

The women!. So much has been written about the beautiful Harari/Adere women. So many songs have been made. Questions asked. And answered. The “mí”/water has been suggested as the secret ingredient to their attractive looks, the fruits, the abish/telba, the traditional makeup. All may have contributed. But I think it has more to do with their breeding. Most claim to be half Arab, and look it. Along with the kindness, honesty and sociability, the Hararis indeed seem what the future (80, 100 years from now) holds. So my countrymen go after them every chance they got. Just like my country women are went after by Afro-American men.

(And what a shock it was, seeing that afro-American brother who was always complaining how he’s been discriminated against by his Ethiopian brothers and sisters for taking the shape of his nose from his West-African-descent father join a: “sexy light skinned People” group on facebook. The title had a “no offense to dark skinned people” tag on it in brackets. But I, a “Qey dAmA” though I maybe, took offense none the less. I don’t know which disappointed more, a thus-far soulful brother starting calling himself “sexy light skinned” the minute he convinced a light-skinned girl to go out with him. Or the fact that, when on human’s skin, black is no longer a “timeless classic”. That It has a time limit and comes with an expiration date. Or both.)

Ok, anywho, where was I? Oh yeah, I was talking about the city of Harar and my impression of it the first time I saw it. What brought to mind all these recollections was a video I watched last night. This video was made to commomerate Harar’s 1,000 years of age along with the Ethiopian Millennium. Entitled “The Walled City of Harar”, made by Sin’e-Pics Digital Media Design and running for only 36 minutes, the video is the best travel doc I have ever seen. When I say it’s narrated by Girum Zenebe and Sebhat Gebregizabher gives a couple of interviews in it, you’d know it’s one experience you shouldn’t miss.

Now the though question! Why didn’t I upload it for you? In a word: Copyright. In two words, copyright and youtube. So how about you get somebody to buy and send it for you from back home (like i did for my husband this morning) and use this song by my favorite Harari singer Ehsan Abduselam for “meTeKejzia”.

Aman!

The above post is dedicated to Dr. Ethiopia whose love for Harari girls surpasses all understanding 😉

October 30, 2008 at 11:43 am 12 comments

Thus spake the bride

Seifu Fantahun & his colleague were discussing “The Wedding of the Millennium” yesterday afternoon. I.E. between Athletes Chief-Superintendent Tirunesh Dibaba & Major Officer Sileshi Sehin last Saturday (26th October 2008). One of the comments that kept coming up, they said, was on how the Bride’s make up with a bit of a pile up. “Her skin was dry,” fans seem to have complained, “I personally prefered her looking sweaty and natural”.

By the way, have you noticed how most brides don’t look as pretty as their normal “good hair day” on their wedding? I myself have been told I looked good for someone who despises “yeSerG Qemis”. But i’ve never used any make up or even had my eye brow lined before that day. A certain change for the better is, therefore, to be expected. What’s more, I have drawn the line with the “Feshagn” lady as to how i want my hair to look (the way I’ve always liked it) so to do it ifyouplease. However, many a bride doesn’t seem to dare do that and ends up looking like a stuffed doll version of herself. The irony of the matter is, a bride-to-be is afraid to say “no” or to demand for less, because she’s afraid she’d ruin her big day. She wants to look her best, the “feshagn” lady is supposed to know the best, she’s Ethiopian (so entirely dependent on other’s good will for her suvival). Still, we don’t have to sit infront of the tv screen with “Sunday, Monday, Happy Day” for a background to know when we are looking our best, and when we aren’t. Mushrit, the mirror, have you met? BTW, the same thing seems to happen to people who get caught on a candid camera of some sort. One minute they are “sweaty and natural”, the next minute they are giving interviews to Jamie Kennedy and they look all made up and bloated.

Anywho, after hearing Tirunesh had too much make up on her face on (like I said) Seifu & Co.’s FM whateverytheycalledit, I decided to check out her website and see for myself. See how the “other half” marries, so to say. The half that wants to make it open, instead of private. And worries who it should invite, instead of who not to leave out. One thing lead to another and, before I know it, I was in Tirunesh’s Journal (which she writes “fortnightly .. on her life, on the track, and on her activities”) reading an all too official love letter that gives the impression of being meant for the public instead of my favorite “Ruwach” and her Groom-to-be Seleshi (who she “laid eyes on” at the legal age of 18 and been dating for the last 5 years). It’s entitled Sileshi My Love (proving what I’ve always said about titles – it ain’t easy to make them work. And talents: we should all stick to what we do best 😉 ). I wish Tirunesh and Seleshi “YeAbraham YeSara Gabicha”. Or, if and when possible, an even better one. Enjoy your read!

The Wedding Bash

October 29, 2008 at 9:00 am 3 comments

Have you ever..

.. come across those people who don’t know who Elvis Presley is, or what made Anwar Sadat a distinguished Egyptian, but can give you a brief description of each and every position on the Kama Sutra?! They are hardly religious so Kipling couldn’t have been talking about them when he observed many religious people know more about iniquity than the unregenerate. But from the way some of them have been giving me a shock-treatment in the past decade, he might have as well been 😉 .

Enter MY AUNT. A saintly woman if I ever saw one, in the right profession for it too – Head Nurse, who (inspite of tending to naked bodies all day) blushes at the mention of any thing intimate.

SCENE: A house of a neighbors’ whose maid servant is suffering from something nobody has heard of.

After holding the girl’s back, making her breath in and out and asking her various questions, my aunt took a couple of us outside to confide her suspicions. “All symptoms point to one direction: HIV” she said “but tests need to be done to make sure. Better take her to the hospital”.

My mother, who immediately assigns herself an Advocate to anybody she likes (or is a protestant Christian) lamented “but she’s a virgin”.

“Well,” my aunt said cooly “blood transfusion, tooth brush, ‘siletama negeroch’, anything can cause it. What’s more, I’ve heard that’s how her uncle died. Who knows what happened? He was a bachelor and she was living in his house. Some men would do anything when they are drunk”.

“Eh?!”, I must have protested before I knew it because my aunt eyed me with compassion. As if she felt sorry for us “ewe lambs” who would hold our silence infront of the shearer’s.

I realize working in a hospital and police station has a tendency to rob you of your innocence. But the easiest conclusion would have been “taking care of uncle” instead of “incest”. It was unsettling.

And then there was that time on that “know your country” trip I was a part of in my old organization. We had a custom of contributing one birr each to help us buy the latest album, which would be played on the trip and given to whoever won the lot.

“Let’s buy English songs”, somebody begged that year, “We are always buying Amarigna muziQa. Let’s buy English for a change. Abesheet, any suggestions?”.

“I know Electra [MuziQa Bet] has Shaggy”, I said “Let’s buy Shaggy. I love him”

“Yes, make it Shaggy” a mechanic called out from the back of bus “Shagging is good”. A laughter, the happy, exploding and unstoppable kind any Ethiopian would recognize as having something to do with sex, followed. Unfortunately, I hadn’t read Bridget Jones’ Dairy yet so I didn’t know what the word “shag” meant. My demanding an explanation, however, only made the laughter worse. When a year later I came across the word “shag” along was “ciggy”, I was impressed. “Who would have thought..!” I mused.

After class Saturday afternoon, I was sitting at the hair saloon that does my hair waiting for my cousin to have hers’ done. The soap on tv being too girly even for a Hair saloon, I started browsing through a magazine I found nearby. That’s when I came across a beautiful model named “Lulit”, “Eyerusalem” or “Gelila” in the bag section. I beckoned the teenage daughter of the owner over. Her decency, inspite of a sharp wit, and her love for movies reminded me of my young kins so I preferred killing time with her when time needed a killing.

“She’s Ethiopian, did you know?”, I said with, no doubt, a twinkle in the eye. “The texture of her skin and bone structure makes you think she’s Afro-American. But she is flesh and blood, that’s her name Lulit (Eyerusalem or Gelila)”.

Then, ofcourse, the discussion turned to beauty. “I don’t care what anybody says these days” I said “I’ve always thought the way West African women are shaped is how a real woman should be shaped like. As long as they have a proportional body and are healthy nothing beats pears”

“But that’s the problem..” the girl interrupted “African women have big butt and the fashion world doesn’t like big butts”

“Well..men do!” I joked, “even when she isn’t that pretty, a girl with big butt seem to attract more attention than a pretty girl who doesn’t have much of it”.

“I know” the little darling chuckled “‘cover the face and attack the base’, right?”

The expression was new to me. But that’s not what I found shocking. Here is a girl, I mean to say, who chose to be so old fashioned that she still does her hair the way me and my college classmates used to a decade ago (“GilBit” or “Qutirtir”), looking extremely bored when the women in the saloon start talking “women talk” and seem to shrink behind her book when her mother starts bossing the employees around, talking about something she shouldn’t be talking in a language she isn’t supposed to know.

“I know, right?”, I think I said. And turned to the magazine. This time to hide in it.

Perhaps I am an “ewe lamb” after all. Or we have to come up with a new definition to “innocent” that would include & legitimize the innocence of this generation at whose finger-tip every thing society has been keeping from us seem to be. But I know one thing, that little girl definitely isn’t!

October 28, 2008 at 12:48 pm 7 comments

Out of my mind

The ethionet.et server was down this morning, as it has been doing for almost two weeks’ mornings now. So I started rummaging through my personal files to find something worth reading. That’s when I came across a file a [learned] friend sent me to read .. get away .. retreat .. and ponder over about a month ago.

The article entitled “Out of your mind” (by British Writer, Philosopher, Speaker and “Student of comparative religion” Alan Watts) caught my attention. “What ho” I said to myself “have we here?”. And so.. I started reading.

The gist of the article, as detailed in the Preface, was as follows: we are all Gods; the realities around us are realities we “dreamed up” ourselves but hid so convincingly that even we/us/ourselves don’t know they aren’t real, and all we need to discover the meaning of life (the world, etcetra) is know it and expand on it etcetera etcetera

I was bored quickly. But not before I came up with the idea of writing the following chapter so the friend and you (my readers) could clearly see just why i was bored. Kindly note that this post is neither a translation, nor an imitation, of Watt’s article. Just a rambling on my part in the hope of creating the “Equivalent” of the “Alan Watts Experience” this sister had.

CHAPTER ONE
HEAR, OH WORLD!
I DO NOT exist. I am present. This existence is the ultimate galactic imagery a chemical imbalance that just happens to take a form, dwelling in what we call “the brain”, by coincidently creating and bringing a feeling of awareness (decoded by the rest of our “sensory organs”) in the minute-by-minute experience we naively call “life” as “living”/”existing”. The galactic imagery which the chemical imbalance merging with meteoroids, asteroids and that mass out of which the soul is made of has been evolving for 938,409,340,38 years before becoming this dwelling-presence occupying time and space we share with those egos that may or may not have been a figment of our imagination. This presence, that I’ve been led to believe is an independent being going by the name “I”, is therefore the result of a 938,409,340,38 years of evolving before the ego (self) that is contained in this bag of skin I’ve been taught to call “my body” dreamed it up and brought it to a certain shape that would occupy the said time and space in this presence that I called ‘me’.

It may come as a shock, even blasphemous, this claim of mine of having dreamed up my existence and the world around me along with other egos dependent, independent and interdependent or not with the God within. The way we are conditioned to perceive the world around us, the fact that our unawakened self only depends on it’s barbaric sensory organs to translate into meaning the information it sees, hears, touches, tastes and whatnot; the fact that we are created in such a way that we can only survive as social animals and the various things that makes shit happen in this world, would no doubt scream “madness”. As Dr. D.C. Whacko once observed, this resistance to the omnipotent self is the ultimate shyness the God in us has been playing hide and seek with from time immemorial. As a blushing maiden resists the advances of her suitor so he could prove his commitment by wooing and ultimately winning her, it demands of us the decision to throw away self and burn it at the stake as the ignorant world did to philosophers, dreamers and poets of past.

Needless to say, this willingness to see your “self” going up in flames doesn’t come naturally. A life-long conviction, as hard to tear away as from a spell, it won’t be broken unless we decided to get in touch with the inner God by doing what the ancient Hindus in their ultimate wisdom called “Nograd Cigam” (meaning “reaching for the higher self”). Reaching for the higher self, as the name indicates, demands a willingness to “get high”. The ancient Hindus, (peace be upon them) accomplished this by going deep into the forest, burning a special kind of leaf and dancing naked enveloped in it’s sacred smoke. This smoke would put a stopper to their sensory organs by producing certain electrical and magnetic waves that would connect the self (brain) to the chemicals, meteoroids and asteroids it evolved from before occupying space and time in the “present”. Resulting in not just a detachment from what we know to be “reality” but a union with the naked super-ego that is contained deep within our bag of skin (which Christians and Muhammudans call “the temple of [the inner] God”). This liberation from sensory organs and the egoistic “self” opens the door for our shy and intricate omnipotent being to be wooed out of hiding, and emerge – fully aware of it’s own Godly ability, one step at a time.

October 22, 2008 at 12:19 pm 2 comments

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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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