Archive for December, 2008

What ur idols say abt you

An earnest prayer of the “tOrr Awrid” nature, Addis Neger and Addis Admas reported last Saturday, has been made at the Kenyaian Cabinet a few days ago. “The Turkana river is decreasing,” one member of the parliment is reported to have said, “we all know it’s because of what Ethiopia is doing on Omo river. Why won’t we threaten her with war, like Egypt did, so she’d behave?”.

Both newspapers have, ofcourse, reported Kenya’s Minister of Water Resources response to this “teb yalesh bedabo”. That his government has taken the matter with Ethiopia and three years is all it takes to reach some kind of an agreement.

By the time I was done reading Ato Asfaw Dingamo’s response, I’ve been convinced a crash-course on global warming was what Kenya’s Honorable parliamentarians need. Still, i wanted to see if ETV has more to say on the subject. So… i counted the minutes and hit the “Pause” button on my Miyota VCD player (“Gran Tarino”, one of those awesome movies Clint Eastwood has been making lately). The news was on and Amare Mamo was reading it.

, the dark sinned news caster was saying, “so and so has the report”. A balding man with a chubby face appeared on the screen. His name is Doctor Getachew, so and so’s voice-over told us. He’s been living in Germany for the last 19 years working as something or other in a well known factory. Now he’s come back home to serve his country in his capacity. He, apparently, was the person who made the ‘tiri’.

I have ofcourse noticed ETVs tendency of making a “public voice” out of an individual’s. It’s what made many of us stop watching tv for more than 2 years after Michra-97 (“Ye Addis Ababa newariwoch YeKinjitin yeMenGed lai newt endemaydegifu astawequ”, the anBabi would say. Then a man standing infront of a lone building on Debre Zeit road would appear. “YeKinjitin YemenGed lai newt andegifim”, he’d say. The news caster re-appears to re-read the headlines before wishing us a good evening). But they seem to have out-grown this tendency lately. Only showing it on a “Millennium” special or a reportage about some diaspora committee building a school,a hospital or a dam somewhere.

That, however, isn’t what made the sister stop and think. It was a conversation I had with my kins a few days ago. Babi was telling us how a classmate of his was talking about Akon’s wife being Ethiopian as if it’s another gold medal our boys brought home. “What’s the big deal?!”, he was saying disgustedly, “Dude isn’t even that great a singer”.

I’ve then mentioned how that’s not an uncommon practice. I have read, I continued, about an Ethiopian athlete coming 89th out of 92 or 94 fellow cyclists on the Ethiopian Herald a couple of years back. “I guess they are surprised he even participated. Marathon and stuff, that’s what we are known for, not cycling”.

Babi has pursued his lips discontently and gone back to watching MTV Arabia.

Not I. And certainly not this time. I asked if surprise, instead of “Ager Wedadinet”, was behind our being taken aback by the news of an Ethiopian succeeding abroad. Be it a Scientist in Nasa, a Lecturer at Yale or Harvard, a Russian writer with roots in our soil or an African music award even Africans don’t seem to give a shit about; every time we heard the news, we glow with the new-found pride of a homely girl just paid attention by a hunk. As if we’ve thus far been convinced we weren’t worth that attention, that reward, that accomplishment. And their success has changed all that, by saying more about us than them (instead of the other way round).

Is that why we are more hospitable [laugh at the dumb jokes of, finding their attention more flattering] to the whites than to the Africans next door? Because the whites have gotta go down, way down, to reach to our level (something they did from the charitable nature of their soul and nothing else); and the African… not so much?!

December 30, 2008 at 5:36 am 29 comments

Crying “Ye eneJohnny Abaat”

Ever belittled what you have to make others feel better [about the little they got]?! The undersigned did a couple of days ago, and it’s been bothering her ever since.

It starts out innocently enough. With the desire to make those next to you feel you were a kindred spirit, a fellow abesha thus a fellow victim (of this government, this society, this life). It’s the verbal equivalent of holding the hand or sucking the teeth. An “oh.. the buses are worse”. “If I didn’t say no, my mother would have sold me to the first bidder”. “Take my word for it, it ain’t what it’s cracked up to be”. It kills time and makes conversations run smoothly.

Whether it’s on a bus station, a University registration queue, a family gathering; regardless of what the signs you saw mean (an abuse of some sort, a self esteem problem, family problem, money problem, men!); you go ahead and start discussing your experience [with those problems] in an attempt to have them share theirs.

You may need to stretch the truth a bit, for every problem demands it’s unique “aqumada”. Show what you have or those you love in not-so-bright a light. But that doesn’t bother you. You got nothing to hide, you see. Nothing to lose. Nothing to prove. There is nothing that has happened to you that hasn’t happened to somebody else. If your loss could be their gain, let it be. And you are soon rewarded. You see them coming out shyly, one baby-step at a time, like a lizard trying to see if the rain has passed and the sun is out. “LeNegeru eko..” they’d say “bizowochachin aninagerewum enji”. They are turning before your eyes. Getting their self-respect back. Their ability to rationalize back. Stopping blaming themselves for what’s done to them and demanding for more. As they should.

It’s not a 100% selfless act on your side. You get satisfaction: from sharing what you know. From the fact that you’ve been the ‘rescurer’ and ‘protector’ of the emotionally vulnerable (a place where you’ve once suffered in silence). For making sure one more jerk hasn’t walked away with a smile on his face with breaking a heart he didn’t deserve to begin with.

Rage on behalf of womankind as well as a feeling of superiority are no doubt involved. There may be judgment lurking there too. But you keep it to yourself, not just because you have judged and still judge yourself more harshly. But for you recognize an understanding, and not a reasoning, ear is what these people need at times like this.

It’s a service you render to both friends and foes. Women you know would do you harm if they could. Laugh happy laughs when you are trodding you and yours down to the gutter. Petty individuals who try to use it against you some day.

Does that bother you? Not much! It may make you wanna recommend that the woman in question get a life or a neck message. May want to make you feel sorry for poor “amed afash” you. But mostly you treat it with the just ‘niQet’ it deserves. “Let her be” you’d say to yourself, “if that’s what it takes to make her life bearable, let her be”. If she insists on not being let, you get a relief by either hitting your head against the wall. Or by blogging about it. Transferring your ache to the paper, it always helps!

But there comes a time in which you stop and wonder. When your friends, those you consider close to you and expect better from, do it. You can’t help but be bothered when they start lying to you regarding the very things you talked about (sometimes on behalf of others: friends or family members). When they attempt to show you, in words and gestures, that your problems were genuinely bigger than theirs. When they re-think and re-word their past woes to try and make it look less helpless than it was. In a savage attempt, you can only imagine, to prove to either you or themselves that life hasn’t beat them down yet, that they are on top of or atleast in control of their situation. That there were mysteries about them you have yet to discover. Mysteries that are meant to show them in a more favorable light.

Or something.

It’s amusing and painful. Amusing for it’s hard to understand what people would get from refusing to grow up. Painful because you find yourself standing out there, all by yourself, with those memories/facts/loved ones you have unjustly painted discarded like tattered clothes; having bought an enemy instead of a friend.

And you wonder if it was worth it. If you were losing your soul when trying to save the world. Or if they were being swines, in the presence of whom you were told never to throw your pearls.

December 26, 2008 at 1:02 pm 7 comments

BeGenna Chewata..

I was hyper-ventilating (as I always do) over how, with all our sophistication and e-Siltane, one can’t find a decent Ethiopian Christmas card online when an ex-drawing teacher friend heard me and promised to see what she can do. 30 minutes and a cup of coffee later, bwuala!, the KoBele you see herebelow (complete with his “tirur” and fellow Genna players) has been brought to life. Yeah.. using the same Paint Brush I’ve only thus far succeeded in drawing circles with. Well.. Melkam “Yeferejoch Genna” y’all 😉 .

genna-card

December 24, 2008 at 1:32 pm 11 comments

Beware of the dogs..

Equipped with fully armed soldiers, Securitas wire-fences with skull and bones on them for the illiterate invader and all sorts of “MaLeff Kilkil newu” warnings, the Arat Kilo “Parlama” is the last place you expect to see a nullin. But such a creature exists. His name is Teshome Toga. The Hon. Teshome Toga: Ambassador and Speaker of the House of Peoples’ Representatives of the FDRE.

I don’t think there is a more detestable man in ethiopia than this blot on the Parliament. His conutenance, as you know, is enough to intimidate the bravest. Still, he uses all his power to intimidate more and make my Sunday evening with ETV embarassing and “Kuchit yetemola” . He rudely interrupts Parliamententarians in a way that makes no secret why opposition voices are rarely heard (if these people are anything like me, they’d be busy wondering what they did to this man to make him act so to voice their concern), he snubs them openly (all the while referring to them as “Yetekeberu”, by who i wonder.) and once embarassed the Prime Minister himself by being “more catholic than the pope” in “teQorqwarinet” for the “Abioytawi Democracy” cause.

No body expects his Hon. Teshome Toga to grow into a Beautiful swan, the way her Ex. Hon. Speaker of the House of People’s Representatives Almaz Meko did, over night. But his role is of a facilitator. Reading of Agendas, counting of minutes, calling members to order, etecetera… respectfully. His seeming not to realize that and adopting “YeTekochi”, “Kontach”, “Kechi” part, with that face too, proves only one thing: that the Ethiopian Parliament isn’t even willing to pretend it is a democratic forum.

Dawit Yohannes, where art thou?

December 22, 2008 at 2:50 pm 3 comments

Wubetin FileGa..

“Mauritania, here I come!”

That’s what Oprah declared when a beautiful interviewee from the land of plenty (of dimpled arms, force-feeding parents and overweight divorcées who have sex around the clock) told her that Mauritainian men preferred their women the way their dogs liked their bones, with meat on them. Plenty of meat! The bigger the better.

After taking a longer-than-usual time with her Mauritanian guest, saying there was hope for all of us and singing “it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day” in an impressive voice (atleast I think it was ‘it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day’ too many emotions were flying hither and thither that I spent most of the time examining my nails), the first black billionaire with a sunny disposition turned to her audience and said “you see… (with a voice that suggested another ‘you see’ was pending) beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”. Proving, once and for all, a point I’ve been forced to make a couple of times. That you don’t have to be a genius to be a billionaire in this country – and apparently, in America too.

Perhaps no one feels MotoMoto better than a Mauritanian when he makes his way to the prettiest hippo singing “I like em big, I like em chunky, I like em round, with something something”. Maybe a culture that celebrates divorce and treats middle-aged divorcées as an eye-candy sounds too good to be true. But how can beauty be in the eyes of the beholder when society is dictating the terms of who should be considered beautiful and who should not? When parents are giving appetizing medicines, meant for camels of all people!, to their 8-10 year old girls so they could land a husband sooner than the 8-10 year old girl next door?! When American women are still spending billions of dollars a year over beauty products that, a study showed almost a decade ago, would take atleast 6 African countries out of debt by the hand?! 

“Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”! Isn’t it about time we discard this FairyProverb and tell our kids the truth, so they don’t end up with a broken heart as many a young woman has?!

Feel free to differ.

December 19, 2008 at 1:19 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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