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?!