Archive for October 13, 2008

Vacancy: Africa: Gatekeeper needed

The story of the rude American is a story I tell all my foreigner friends planning to visit Ethiopia. “Be nice”, I warn them, “Be respectful. Ethiopia is not like any other African country. Ethiopians are certainly NOT like other Africans”. Then, I start to relate the story of this American guy who, after being pissed off at an Ethiopian laborer and not getting any satisfaction from abusing the latter in English (a language the laborer didn’t understand) made the grave error of asking the Amharic word for “bullshit”, told the brother he was & paid dearly for it.

The ICS people (International Community School, which hosted the incident) won’t perhaps admit it to you, how one of their staff was attacked so brutally that night (“with every bone in his body broken”, or so the legend goes) that he has to be shipped out of the country to get proper treatment. But I have it from a reliable source that every time a foreign teacher or admin. staff is transferred to the motherland, the first thing he’s given is the personal dossier of the rude American. After being showed every one of the man’s pre and post treatment photos, the newbie is given the above warning. With, perhaps, an additional footnote of how Muhammud Ahmed (aka the spokesperson for the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Sunday choir) wasn’t kidding when he sang: LeBeGo Kehone, LeQum neger Gudai..

Such an action, therefore, was what I anticipated yesterday afternoon when I saw a Chinese construction worker push an Ethiopian foreman around. The fact that I heard two laborers make fun of the foreman as “becoming China, ‘TiQuru China'” beforehand didn’t make me doubt where their loyalties would lie if/when fights brake out. After all, I must have argued with self, what we feel about eachother never stood in the way of standing together when we Ethiopians become targets of foreign assault. Hasn’t it been observed by many a writers (Daniel Kibret of Addis NeGer among them), how nothing seems to bring the best and the worst in us more than hate for a common enemy?!

I was in for a disappointment! (more…)

October 13, 2008 at 12:13 pm 4 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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