Thursday, June 21, 2007

Wede Dejen ...

Sometime back ...

I hitched a ride with a family friend to Dejen. He also had his brother, an Imahoy and a doctor in the car. The menekuse lady was a very funny. She was as worldly as unworldly people could get. I mean that in a sincerely positive way. She could easily join in on any discussion … from politics to the economy. A long time ago, she told us, she and her siblings inherited a lot of land … rist, I guess. Her siblings sold their land and moved to Addis. She remained in the countryside, kept her land until Derg came along and made her land wurs lemengist. ‘yesheTe teTeqeme. Indene yale arrerre, menekose!’, she said. But her motto is still, ‘meret yigezal inji yisheTal?!’ She advised us to buy (ishee imahoy … as soon I a get the dough)

Yalsemahut gud yelem on that ride, including the ‘fact’ that katikala cures amoeba (yes, the doctor was of the medical variation but his protests went …joro daba … ) and that Katikala also clarifies dirty water (at this point the doctor looked like he’d a have fit in his corner), of hills called Ali Doro, the lifetime of mankind and Haile Gebreselassies’s dis-political career. I’ll share the last two.

The Lifetime of Mankind

In the beginning God, in all his fairness, gave all animals 30 years of life. Humans, dogs and donkeys used to live together trough their steady 30s. Then one day the donkey went back to God and said, ‘I don’t mean to be disrespectful but I really don’t want to live 30 whole years’. God was surprised. He asked why, and the donkey replied. ‘Inae alchalkutm. Wetche gebche besew meseqayet new, meweqer new, meshekem new. Lezih nuro 10 amet yibeqagnal.’ God asked, ‘are you sure, donkey?’ The donkey confirmed, so god took away 20 years of from donkey life.

Now the human overheard this conversation and right after the donkey left he approached god and said, ‘God, if you don’t mind, I’d like to have those 20 years’. Good agreed so now the lifetime of a human became 50 years.

Some time later the dog went to God and said, ‘God, 30 years is a few too many years for me. Could you please taking back some?’. Again god asked why. ‘Well, my life is a hopeless state of indenture. I’m either barking or begging for attention, food and shelter. It gets tiring after a while.’ So god granted the dog his wish and he took 10 years off of dog life.

Once again the human went and asked for the 10 extra years, and God granted them.

Ina ahun yesewin hiywot sitayut, the first 30 years are lived inde sew … you’ve no worries, you’re strong, you’re happy, you fall in/out of love … you live the life of a human being.

Then come marriage and children. The shoulders, knees and CHegura start hurting for no apparent reason. You become a slave to your job and the well being of your family. You toil, day in and day out, for the good of others. That’s 20 years of donkey life.

Finally the kids leave your house, your energy wanes and all you want in life is to spend some quit time at home where you’ll often be heard barking, ‘man new? … eh … beru tenkuakua?’ (woof!) ‘yachin buanbua man kefto yetewat?’(woof!) ‘wey zendroooooo! Yezare 30 amet bihon’ko ….’ (rowwrrrowwrrrwwwooooof!) Ineho you’ve reached your dog years!

Haile Gebreselassie

Apparently Haile recently committed a political gaffe, at least in the eye of most Addis Ababans. He must have attempted a reconciliation of sorts between the imprisoned leaders of CUD and EPRDF. Or maybe he was simply found in the company of the wrong crowd … who knows. I was told of ye were were were as, 'Haile iko ine Professor'n "be Meles imenu" bilo limaled isir bet dires hedo ...' At the mention of words like ‘imenu’ and ‘liyamalid’ I was beginning to tune out of the conversation when the end of the story struck me funny.

'Ina Professor Mesfin adamTew, "Sima Haile, ante keCHinqilatih yiliq igrih yishal’na … bel … bameTahbet wuTalign", bilew abarrut'.

I loved that line. I imagine it was ye Addis Abeba sew miTmiTa, but I liked it nonetheless.

Belu'sti ... I’m off to live whatever’s left of my human years.

p.s. To clarify to possible Haile defenders, i find that line about Haile funny. I'm not saying i think it. It's just amusingly put.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

r u kidding me?

my first reaction on seeing that plastered on the side of a car was ... the title.

I've heard the world 'parkiologist' thrown around habesha circles in the US, and when i was in HS one of my friends used to say that she wanted to do engineering. floor engineering. She was exceptionally good at physics and math and curious minds usually asked for details. She'd answer, with a straight face, 'it's primarily ... janitorial sciences'.

I once read a play called 'Beggiology' published by AAU - on the 'science' of begging in Ethiopia. I was too young but it was still bizarrely hilarious (or maybe it was bizarrely hilarious coz i was too young)

Still, a 'Parking Engineering' car?! Hmm. Where can i enroll?

So many careers ... so little info ... so little time.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I'm Coming Out

Well, PhoTobia is. The qelawaCH types (:-) have already been to it from the 'Misc' section of links on this blog.

Next to internet, I can waste an obscene amount of time with a camera. PhoTobia is where internet meets my camera - a new and better way of wasting time.

Some more random pictures ...

Farm in Gojjam

Yeguada gidgida

Ye'ayate Dist



View from home

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Another Step Backwards

Sometimes I try hard, very hard, to convince myself that our current leaders are good meaning co-Ethio citizens who care about our country... in their own ways which I am unable to understand. They're just embittered by the long struggle experience coupled with infantile Ethiopian politics (not to imply that they're any better at it). Then they do shit like this and my little theory crumbles.

This is a tragedy for the lives of these CUD leaders and their families, for Ethiopians at large ... and especially for our current 'leaders'. I can't help but think it's more so for our 'leaders'. A loss or a mistake acknowledged as can at least be a lesson learned. I fear that in EPRDF's case this is just an error. Period.

Indewaza ...years have passed since the last election. CUD leadership has not recovered its seats nor its verve in Addis Ababa and other urban areas. Instead the population has mostly recoiled back into by Dergue era like silence.

When I was somewhere in the countryside a shimagile man noted, 'Yhichi Qinjit iko tikikil neberech malet new ... mengist iko meriwochwan anqo yeTeyequt'n gin beyetera iyamuala new'. We laughed for the way he put it, but later the guys I was with who're residents of addis acknowledged that a lot had been lost, but a lot that's easy to gloss over had also been won. They said the government had brought about some changes to appease the people, at least areas where Kinijit had audience. (Or maybe it was just the right thing to do.)

Yes, these men and women are behind bars, but their efforts were not in vain. If yet another revolution is not the answer, then they have shown us that non-violent struggle is possible, that there's ground to be won - in patches. They have sparked discussion. They've made us think. They've given shape to an Ethiopian dream. There's only one way forward from here - the struggle for justice will continue.

I've lukewarm thoughts about some of the ideologies of CUD leadership and I may have said as much in some previous posts. But the way I see it, a French man put it well hundreds of years ago:
I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.
I'm not into violent struggle, but 'nuff said!

Kinijit, preach on.

p.s. here's some parting food for thought .... and mawerareja.

Monday, June 04, 2007


Today NYTimes posted an interesting article on adoption in Ethiopia, and how the surging numbers are finally raising eybrows.

On my flight back from Ethiopia there were no less than 5 families who had obviously adopted Ethiopian babies. Mother and father with all their toys and gadgets, and little habesha kids tucked somewhere there. There was an obvious camaraderie amongst adopting parents who'd occasionally stop to chat with other adoptive parents. The Ethiopian passengers were simply spectators. They (eh, we?) stared and stared away. If the parents noticed, it didn't bother them the tinest bit. I guess it's the end of their trip ... they must have had a lot of it already, enough to be desensitized.

At some point an Ethiopian woman in her 40s or 50s, beTam finTir finTir yalu setiyeo, approached myself and a girl behind me and said, 'deresku!' I figured she was talking to the girl behind me and I hope the most there was on my face was a quizzical look. Apparently the girl behind me had done the same so the woman continued, 'izich ga'ko neberku. formun limola sil botayen yazulign biyesh sihed alsemashim?' For a split second I was thinking the woman's talaqe so maybe i should be a little considerate. But man! The woman had so much energy ... she was like an a 5 year old with ADD right after you'd given him some sugar. Fiten koskushe I said, 'ine alsemahum' and turned my face away. I could hear the girl behind me saying 'inem alsemahun', but the conversation continued so the woman stayed on.

Was I glad I didn't let her in in front of me coz that lady made the most random comments in town. The one time she figured it'd be a good idea to include me to her unsuspecting audience list she said, 'ignih ferenjoch iko ye'agerun hitsan aguzew aguzew cheresut. tayachewalesh?' I threw another glance at some adoptive family for her benefit but that didn't satisfy here. She continued, 'agermum?'

I mumbled back that igna indemanasadigachew so I wasn't sure if i was in a position to comment. Apparently that did trick. She gave me a are-you-crazy look, turned around and never bothered to entertain me anymore. Oh well. "Minishim ayamregn, kemeqretish lela" indemilut ...

There is one aspect of adoption that I have a hard time not being judgmental about. Why do they put up kids who have parents for adoption? Adoption an abandoned kid is something, but taking a kid because the birth parents feel they can only support the kid until the day some foreign parents waltz in and fly off with the baby is something else. Like Madonna's case. I still don't understand why, if there is such an abundance of orphans in places like Ethiopia, they keep adopting kids with parents.

Some parents anguished, as did Karla Suomala of Decorah, Iowa, when she arrived in Addis Ababa to adopt 5-year-old Dawit and his 21-month-old sister Meheret.

“It’s hard to know what the right thing is to do,” Ms. Suomala said. “Should we just give all the money we’re spending on this to the children’s mother?” Ms. Suomala and her husband, David Vasquez, had already spent time with her.

“It was obvious the birth mother loved her children,” Mr. Vasquez said. “She said to us, ‘Thank you for sharing my burden.’ ”


While the governments collaborate to protect a delicate adoption system from the perils of growth, adoptive families arrive each week in Addis Ababa to ease their children into new lives.

Last week, these included Mr. Vasquez and Ms. Suomala. While she had no trouble escorting Meheret from the orphanage, Dawit refused to budge, so Mr. Vasquez carried him toward the gate.

There, the child grabbed the bars and would not let go. Mr. Vasquez considered prying his hands loose and thought better of it. Instead he told Dawit that it was O.K. to cry.

I understand that raising a kid is a huge responsibility. But I feel the moment of realization is misplaced and somehow we have grown into a nation of being OK with it. In fact, it seems we've a system to support it. In a country that hesitates to discuss and provide all methods of family planning and STD prevention (people aren't sure if they should promote 'abstinence' for unwanted pregnancy or the use of condoms. The suggestion of pills for contraception is usually met with comments like, 'betekiristian'wa atqebelewim'. If the woman's body keteqebelew ine silebetekirstianu min agebagn?) I wish a lot more was being done to emphasize that getting pregnant is in itself a monumental responsibility.