Tuesday, May 31, 2005

For the Love of a Quickie…

I’ve been so engrossed in electioneering (someone calling himself “chiraq” sent me an innocent sounding email that ended with: “… you have aroused my long dormant “errection fever”… hmm... I’ll assume he is Asian, and call it a day), that I’ve been neglecting my real work, so I’m taking the easy way out today… (I’ve done all I can to avoid a “mother-son” dance that the qebeT, crucible of crazy school I send my kid to. You can take the girl out of Abesha, but not the Abesha out of the girl… I hate these excruciatingly banal events. They do nothing to further the bond with your child… and you leave the damn thing $250.00 poorer, stuffed with mediocre chocolate chip cookies that Tiffany/Ashley/Bunny baked “with my bare hands”, your head spinning with Rodeo Drive war stories told with acute urgency by MILF housewives.Total suckage. But then again I am caught in that guilt-web we Ethiopians call yilugNta… it’s the most vicious of vicious circles. So, I'm going to the damn dance. Solution provided by my husband: “ItyoPiya lakiew!” But of course.)

Anyway, I wanted to post two letters I got which gave me hope that I am not the lone ebd in this world… There are more of us than I thought. The silent majority speaks…

From Tuloffa:

Ms. Wonkette! Look, just because this is your damn blog and you saw fit to set sho’ ‘nuff impossibly high standards for your damn blog, I’ll be damned if I’ll let you have all the fun all by yo’ lonesome self. So, here I am, and I ain’t even no nubile young man in tight pants. Young? Forget it! Nubile? Boy, if that’s not a tall order! Couldn’t even fake it if I tried. Isn’t “nubile”a term used of young women?

And, that, Ms.Wonkette, leaves the tight pants. Last time I tried them on, I was left gasping for air and regretted that I was so far removed from young. See? Jimmah has no exclusive hold on Regret! Perhaps it’s an age thing, you think? I mean, what could an Octogenarian on Jet-lag have but, uh, Regret?

Come to think of it, you too have expressed regret . . . that “more thoughtful, sharp” Ethiopians are not raconteur-ing on the web. You old, Ms. Wonkette? Afer yiblaN! Should I call you Wonkette Tiliqua? Anyway, I’ll tell you why those sharp Ethiopians you speak of are madfeTing at a safe distance these days. Having shed their tight pants long ago, they are now chillin’ in their breathe-easy slacks while soaking some, uh, de tiredness out of them feet, as Zora would put it. Ney esti anchi,.. CHew . .CHew argibet esti!”

And so, Wonkette Tiliqua, WHO left to do the writing but those clearly-pleased-with-themselves-up-to-date folks in tight pants, who are yet to find that their articulate introspection is born of an urgent need to breathe? Inhale, Exhale, Inhale . . .! I regret, there I go again, that folks won’t let them pants out a little so they can breathe. There would be so much less “scholarly constipation” as you call it (I like you, WonkiyE) if they did! Less CHinqet, less constipation! Less dirqet, fewer dereq, ergo, less medareq! You see how it all boils down to the pants, yene imebet? The tighter the pants, the tight-asser the person, the tight-asser the person, the more breathless the remark! Enough to make the “right insane people” stay tight-lipped about it all and just sit tight!

I know, I know, Wonkette Tiliq Sew, I’m not exactly serving you that side-order of irony, wit and perspective you so crave. Even the little bit I have, I am dishing out in more than 7 words! Your uncle might have summed this up like this: “Medareq honwal! Andu kandu yemayshalibet gizE meTa!”

You, Winkette Tiliqua, are the best bargain in town. Le-agotish yekebere selamtayen aqirbiliN. Adera!


And from Ye Filwiha Lij:

I didn't know Ana Marie Cox has a clone sista – that too a black one, I assume! shhh must have been done before Dolly.

A Memorial Day "inter-nets" meandering led me to your blog. You can write girl -- oooooo or lady, whateva!!! I read them all; I really did! What I say, not that it matters ...

The Great Disvirgining - I hope you're not walkin' funny nomo!

Landslide My Ass - ere besmeam bey, tuff tuff, lijish fitt?

Curbing My Enthusisam - Amen.

Ethiopia's Baghdad minitise kibitirse - I hear ya.

Game, Set, Match - A very true and personal story is in order here. My mother, who must be in heaven now (if she's not, her seat should be even before Mother Theresa's) had promised that she would weave a Gabi by herself if "Jimmah's" peace initiative well over a decade ago had worked. Every time I see him on TV, I wonder what she would have said if she were alive to see this.

EPRDF's Gift to the Opposition - minew ete yihe right wing mekebater all in the name of religion, please!!

You're in my favorite now - can't wait to read your next blog after "redecorating or something" I would hope.


P.S. Ohh I forgot about one of the comments - you know which one. That Molla or could it be Godele? Talk about IQ - the kind Molly Ivins would say need to be watered ever morning as the plant on your window sills. I am all for civility and intelligent discussions etc although the latter does not usually include me, but I'm itching so bad that I need to get this off my chest. To Molla, in the undying words of the vice president of this great republic we live in, "Go F$#@ yourself!!" Efoyyyyyyy tinifis aliku!

From the Mouths of Babes

I’m dog tired, cranky and in a strange mood… but I wanted to quickly jot down the happenings of today so that I don’t ever forget…

In many ways it was the same old Memorial Day gathering—the usual motley crowd-- old friends and new acquaintances who gather periodically to trade war stories about work, life, love, politics and kids.

But in one major way, it wasn’t like any other Memorial Day gathering.

The Ethiopian Elections, of course, dominated the conversation and amazingly, even the most notoriously apathetic ones among us have been following these elections… following closely… too closely… as in knowing Beyene Petros’ “metekelawi emnet” on… national unity.

We were all talking strategy and political hackery and dousing each other with sometimes ersatz intellectualism (blamed squarely on the consumption of cocktails)… when…

All of a sudden we fell silent when Teddy Afro’s new song “Yasteserial” came filtering through to the deck. It was one of the most organic moments in my life… a moment unassisted by pomp or circumstance or even the least oblique motion. Just silence as the words filtered in.

It was a moment in ET-yuppiedom. Even two years ago, none of us was really involved in much things directly Ethiopian that was outside of the usual feet masmetat at church during the high holidays… half-hearted attempts at teaching our children Amharic…etc. Writing checks was the most we did for any cause… all very clinical and comfortable.

Looking around at our friends today, I realized that something happened to our circle in the past few years… I don’t know if it is hitting that magical “mid-thirties” point in life and staring at 40 from the 50-yard line—or the resigned acceptance that Ethiopia, with all her warts and splendor, still has a stranglehold on us.

Looking around at our friends I realize how each one of us has connected back to Ethiopia in some way—politically (we talk about it even without liquor being involved), economically (three among us are building houses in Addis), socially (arts movement) and spiritually (um, one is on a rotation at the church’s “cleaning committee”—joined hastily in a fit of over-enthusiasm before she realized that that did not mean sending her cleaning lady.. miskeeen!)

Something happened to us, and the evidence was the look in our eyes as we listened to the exquisitely simple words of an adolescent Ethiopian pop star.

…sings Teddy.

I know most of Gen X Ethiopians have eschewed politics – for obvious reasons… (I still have not gotten a good reason why the right insane people are not writing about politics—(“Tuloffa” do I have permission to publish your letter of explanation?—hey, it’s my damn blog!). But there is a renaissance in the Ethiopian Diaspora. We are coming of age… And the rage we have felt for the past 14 years is finally ebbing. For some of us it has morphed into pragmatic exploits. For some of us the smallest connection is a massive leap forward. But whatever happed to us, the past stopped mattering.

Perhaps we have the EPRDF to thank for that, especially PM Meles, whose attempt at legitimacy ended his reign. It was a small blessing for us that he had grand visions of being seen as a statesman instead of yet another African despot. Whatever his impulsion, he opened the floodgates to something that was even bigger than him. So, yes, we owe him.

… sings Teddy.

When it comes to Ethiopian politics, I don’t trust anyone above the age of 40… Too much has happened. There is too much baggage the preceding generation is lugging around, and no matter how pungent the Capitalist baptism and progressive rhetoric, there is something in me that fears a generation that has seen too much blood spilt for abstract ideology. Hopefully they too realize their handicap and start grooming the next generation to be the leaders they can’t be. Our eyes are on Ato Lidetu.

…sings Teddy.

There is residual fury in me at what the EPRDF has done to Ethiopia. I have tried not to be blinded by it, and it has finally started to ebb over the years. Being in Ethiopia in 1993 and being first hand witness to the debauched wantonness of the TPLF/EPLF marriage changed me forever. The depth of depravity of the leaders nearly dissolved my will… the subsequent tribalization that didn’t even bother to cover itself from its pernicious purpose, and what it did to fuel the ethnic ethic… its avaricious economic policy and third-rate thievery… Okay, Okay… go read this. I know, ye mote zemed yelegNm. But I’m a big girl... I’ll get over it. We should probably have a “Day of oo-oo-ta” where we purge all of this and then move on.

As shall I…

First things first: with all due respect to NEBE, without a doubt, the opposition has won the elections. Numbers do not lie unless they are forced. This will become clear in the future. Dagmawi has an incredible analysis about this. Do the research. The numbers do not add up. So, in pure mathematics, the Coalition might have surprised even itself.

It is part of the Ethiopian psyche to exact revenge on one’s opponent. We think it is our duty to humiliate our enemies, and nothing short of it will do. It will be the greatest challenge for the new leaders on how they handle winning—by winning I mean even if they don’t get to form a government. Thankfully, the era of “be Tiyit yemeTawun be Tiyit” has finally been toe-tagged and cremated… except by fringe elements and they have been so marginalized that we should use them as comic relief on days that end with a “y”. The new leaders have the responsibility to set the tone early and firmly and make sure that the histrionics about the EPRDF should never be personalized (says the woman who just used “debauched wantonness”).

Double dose of chill pills should be widely distributed to the anti-EPRDF flame throwers… The venom… it’s not attractive. And it’s time to elevate political discussion. Someone spray some f’leet please. CHewinet, welcome back… you had been sorely missed.

It is the responsibility of the new leaders to make sure that former EPRDF members are protected from the wrath and venom of its supporters and other anti-PM Meles whack jobs. The kind of base attack I read does not help make the transition easy. So swallow it… yes, if it means that a greater good is served, then swallow it. The new leadership has to set a new standard for morality and good governance. Whatever PM Meles did, he has to be given the right to move on in peace, and we have to depend on the new leaders to set that example. I don’t know how you cure the psychosis, but good luck trying. Maybe we should proclaim June 8 “Hug an EPRDF” day… where are they in the Bay Area? I’ll hug one… maybe even cop a feel.

The difference between the EPRDF and the opposition is that the opposition is not vengeful. Not because it doesn’t want to (although I hope it doesn’t) but because it has a lot of supporters who won’t accept that kind of behavior from its leaders. In that regards, the opposition is lucky that it has a base that checks its ego. They say you can judge a man by the company he keeps. I judge a political party by its supporters. If the Qinijit ever started bullshit like the TPLF/EPLF um, collaboration, it doesn’t need to fear an opposition party ousting it; its supporters will get to it way before that. Welcome back, yilugNta… you had been sorely missed. Unlike the EPRDF whose supporters stood silently by as the bullshit train grooved on, the opposition does not have enough “yes men” and obsequious loyalty that can breed hubris. Their support goes only as far as the well-being of Ethiopia. The minute that is jeopardized they are switching parties. Even the most fervent opposition supporters I know would not stand for the kind of moral turpitude exhibited by the unfortunate love affair between the TPLF/EPLF. In all of this, that’s one thing I know for sure.

… sings Teddy.

The last gift the Prime Minster could give Ethiopia is a peaceful transition of power. Despite his dismal record as a leader, perhaps that he bowed out gracefully may be what redeems him. Maybe he will realize that it is not just western donors that he needs to impress, but the 74 million people who deserve a breather. Hopefully the prospect of leaving a legacy and a place in Ethiopian history different than that of chief sociopath Mengistu Haile Mariam will tempt the Prime Minister to chart new territory. His greatest victory might be to force his opponents to respect him. Not like him, but respect him. He can have the last laugh.

This is a great time to be an Ethiopian, my friends. When a bunch of comfortable, westernized ETs are sitting around on Memorial Day silently bonding though a song, it’s a sign that the renaissance has started.

See Teddy’s video here. (Thanks everyone who sent me the link.) Buy the CD… learn the words. (The other tracks are pretty good too, although one too many animal sound samples.)

I’m beginning to sober up. Back to systemic ranting next time.

“Ere aynegam wei” sings Teddy.

From the mouths of babes…

It was like no other Memorial Day.

p.s. A few housekeeping matters: Yes, to the person who wanted to be a guest blogger... as a matter of fact I have a busy work week coming up so... And, yes to the gentleman who left a comment about where the chicks are on this blog.. Yeah, where you at, sisters? Speak up.

Friday, May 27, 2005

EPRDF’S Gift to the Opposition

Hm.. my husband came back from a weeklong business trip and mentioned that the reason he hates going out of town is that he never knows what he’ll come back to. (Notice there is nothing in there about actually missing his wife and kid.) Well, he came back to ET Wonkette, and now dinner conversation revolves around politics and elections, which I feel is grating on his nerves. So, I’m taking the long weekend off. (btw, he asked me not to quote him, but I will: “Why can’t you just redecorate like all other women?” Yeah.) Next blog after today’s will be on Tuesday… unless the EU comes back with news we could use.

By the way, does anyone know where to see pictures of yesterday’s rally in DC? And where I can see Teddy Afro’s new video? Apparently it’s the cause of consternation in Addis.

Anyway, to ze blog we go…

Politics is a funny game… not funny ha-ha… unfortunately.

One of the greatest disasters for the Republican Party and what terrifies its leaders would be if Roe vs. Wade actually got overturned. Now, on the surface, of course, nothing gives the Christian Right more of a recurring wet dream than the day Rehnquist dodders out and proclaims Roe v. Wade dead.

But secretly, the larger Republican Party knows that that would mean alienating all the moderates and the God-fearing, middle America republicans who think that the whole abortion platform is dragging down the party. The politicos don’t want that. You want the moderates in your party to be just republican enough to be sedated by their love of tax cuts, but appeased by the assurance that the Christian Right will never take completely over. You might remember, even with the far right’s prominence in the 2004 elections, who spoke at the 2004 Republican Convention during primetime (and to much applause): “Benito” Gulliani and za Tahmeenator, both pro-choice, very moderate Republicans. This time Buchanan wasn’t allowed to spit fire and brimstone about an impending cultural war. The heavy rhetoric came from Crazy Zell, a, um, Democrat. It’s what’s called smart politics.

So, bitterly decrying against abortion but secretly hoping that it is never banned has been great for the Republican Party. Besides, Roe V. Wade is a great cash cow... a fundraising favorite.

At the last anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Christian Right held a rally outside of the White House. Guess who did not join them? President George Bush (who phoned in his message of support even though he was only a feet away) … or any other notable republican senator or congressman/woman for that matter—people who think that life begins in a pietre dish (see the current debate on stem cell research.)

Same thing with gay marriage. With a majority both in the House and the Senate, no Republican is breaking bones trying to bring an amendment banning same sex marriage. After all the frenzy about that issue, you’d think that it would be the first thing on the agenda. The red states are left scratching their heads.

Which brings me to the ban on demonstrations that the government of
Ethiopia has imposed.

Imagine if the rally on May 8 had gotten rowdy and people stomped over each other… you know the drill. CNN, the New York Times and all the major western media would be on a body count watch; they’d have sent reporters wearing protective gear to witness those wild Africans acting so uncivilized. Well, everything went peacefully, so.. ho-hum… who's Michael Jackson molesting these days…?

So imagine if there was another rally on May 20… 2 million people at Mesqel Square (I need to consult someone about my wanting to still call it Abiyot Adebabaye… When I was in Addis I asked a taxi driver to take me to Abiyot Adebabaye… “YetigNaw abiyot?” he shot back. I had to over-tip.)

Anyway, so pretend we have 2 million people at Mesqel Square. People are pissed off royally. Pretend someone got into a fisticuff… 2 million agitated people…20 of them start a fisticuff. Guess which will make news? Guess which image will be broadcast all over the world... “Didn’t we tell you that they can’t behave..?”

And guess how Baghdad Bereket would spin that little morsel.

Transcript from Ato Bereket Simon interview on CNN:

CNN: We have on the phone Mr. Bereket Simon, the Ethiopian Information Minister. Welcome, Mr. Simon.

Ato Bereket: Thank you, John.

CNN: Oh my God.. so, what happened at this rally?

AB: Oh, the opposition group. They are animals. They are uncontrollable.

CNN: I can see that. The opposition says that there were about 2 million people…

AB: Ha!

CNN: Care to elaborate, Mr. Simon?

AB: There was a maximum, maximum of 320 people.

CNN: Wow. It seemed more than that to me on the video.

AB: Well, the camera adds 10 pounds. And actually in Ethiopia it adds 50 pounds.

CNN: Oh, okay. Well, that makes sense. Mr. Simon, your government has likened the opposition to Rwanda’s interhamwe. Would you say that was an exaggeration?

AB: Absolutely not.

CNN: Care to elaborate?

AB: Well for starters, CUD actually stands for “Center for Interhamwe Development.”

CNN:Really… ? Because it’s C-U-D, right? Not C-I-D…

AB: That’s a lie. They are lying!

CNN: About…?

AB: Their lies are lies within themselves.

CNN: Wow-wee. That’s… interesting. Now, about the EU and its report…

AB:You mean the EU who proclaimed our win not just by a landslide but by a mudslide as well?

CNN: Ummm… yes. I guess.

AB: What about it?

CNN: Nothing.. well, it was great having you on CNN, Mr. Simon. You’ve certainly enlightened us.

AB: Thank you for having me. By the way, the opposition likes to drink blood.

CNN: Oh, that’s terrible!

AB: It is. And they also roast little children.

CNN: Eww.

AB: Thanks for having me on, John from CNN.

Sorry… where was I? (I think I am secretly in love with Ato Bereket.)

So, the greatest gift the government has given the opposition is the ban on demonstrations for 30 days. It gives the opposition righteous indignation (which they have in abundance to start with) and to milk the “We told you, these people don’t believe in free speech and democracy” line ad nauseum-- which they are doing, by the way, very brilliantly.

But secretly, I am sure they are happy that they are not dealing with crowd control and being blamed for any and all disturbances. They have bigger things to worry about right now… like how to exorcise the extra duty demons from Genet Zewdie’s office. If there was a rally and by any, any chance it is not 100% peaceful (and the government would make sure it wasn’t), the opposition would be bogged down with the PR nightmare of assuring the world that they can control their supporters.

Instead now, they have cornered the moral highroad. Everybody who is anybody (except Mistah Jimm’ah) thinks that freedom of assembly is the cornerstone of democracy. So, bad, bad government for banning demonstrations. Bad government! Meanwhile, the opposition can lean back and watch the government take all the blame. Why stop your opponent when he is tightening the noose on his neck? So, as far as the ban on demonstrations: the opposition has its cake and sipping machiato with it, courtesy of the EPRDF. (Good manners dictate a thank you here… )

I know, I know… I’ve also read the zeraff! dissertations by supporters of the opposition who are besides themselves with testosterone-y indignation that “the peoples voice is being muzzled.” Right. Let me tell you what will muzzle the people’s voice: tear gas and being clubbed to death.

Oh, by the way, I’ve taken Ato Engineer Hailu Shawel off the time out chair. In what I think is another brilliant move, the opposition is now thinking of having a day of prayer, in lieu of mass demonstrations. You see? You see how they are workin’ it like seasoned politicos?? Now, you are talking! Imagine the whole country taking a moment to give props to the feTari. The natural feriha igzihaber and feriha Allah as well as an overdose of yilugNta swimming in our Ethiopian gene pool makes a “National Day of Prayer” the perfect response to the government’s ban. In politics, when life gives you a lemon, you peel it, halve it and then squeeze the juices it in your opponent’s eyes.

Meanwhile at the Menelik palace, Ato Bereket Simon is working on the spin on any future “Day of Prayer gathering”…

We have Mr. Simon again… Tell us about the Day of Prayer, Mr. Simon. From what we could tell, it was pretty peaceful.

Do you know who they were praying to?

No, as a matter of fact we don’t but…

They are praying to the devil.


Yes, Did you hear the drums?

Yes. It sounded beautiful, actually…

That was the devil talking back to them… We all know they are planning for bloodshed… like the interhamwe…

But wait a minute.. it all looked so…

Do you know what “Kinijit” means?

No, can’t say I do.

John, Kinijit means Interhamwe in Amharic.

That’s just awful.

It is. Thanks for having me in the CNN.

No, thank, you!

And so it goes, folks.

Happy a great Memorial Day, those of you in the States. We live in a great country.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Game, Set, Match!

Daily Affirmation From Baghdad "Bereket Simon" Bob:
"We are delighted the EU confirmed
that we won in a landslide!"
May 26, 2005

Seriously, there is ye Itopiya Amlak!

In the midst of gloom and doom, who brings a ray of sunshine in our lives but the EU. The situation is drunk with irony.

After all my mwart about how the CUD should settle into being an effective opposition, here comes a flustered EU waving a “Do not pass go, do not collect $200.00” card that leaves us all breathless.

Good thing there was a CYA paragraph in my blog from Tuesday with this clause:

Unless the opposition is expecting either the EU or another big international observer to declare that it won (let’s not count on Jimmaha Cart-ah who might finally have taken his image as a man of peace a little too seriously), there needs to be a serious look into what the next steps are for Qnijit.

So, I’m not as dumb as I think I am.

If I may, from the EU Mission Statement:

"The National Electoral Board does not seem to be in control of the counting operation by the constituency electoral committees and limits itself to passively receive the reports from a limited number of constituencies."

To which the boundlessly witty Ethiopian Electoral Board spokesman, an Ato Getahun Amogne, replied with this devastatingly tepid ‘right back atcha’: "We have electoral officers in each constituency and they are responsible for that. We are in control."

Well, that’s good to know. A western reporter should ask Ato Getahun what his last name means.

What does the EU “confidential” report “obtained” by the AP mean to the Qinijit? (By the way, it ain’t confidential when you leak it. Minnew itayE!)

It puts EPRDF in more of a pickle, and Tony Blair in the awkward position of having to avoid Meles’ calls for the next few days. There is something fantastically fara about this doling out of election returns in piecemeal. It is as if the EPRDF is trying to squeeze itself back into toothpaste tube, and the harder it tries the messier it is getting.

The opposition should now get a statement from Tony Blair. Have him say something to the effect that he will stand by what the EU decides. Nail? Coffin?

But, there’s more… oh, much more!:

The EU report also said U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who led a team of 50 election observers, undermined the electoral process and EU criticism with "his premature blessing of the elections and early positive assessment of the results."

Unless there is a "drastic reverse toward good democratic practice" the observer team and EU "will have to publicly denounce the situation.

"Otherwise, the EU jointly with ex-president Carter will be held largely responsible for the lack of transparency, and assumed rigging, of the elections."



Which brings me to Jimm’ah Car’ra.

Oh, Jimm’ah.

I have not read a more excruciatingly disinteresting and disinterested report than Jimm’ah’s “been there, done, that” Ethiopia Trip Report since my son’s “What I did last summer” essays that I have to coo over because I need him to think I am a good mother.

There are some notable “regrets” Mistah Jimm’ah shares with us:

The EPRDF's likening the opposition to Rwanda's interhamwe is as, or more, regrettable as are some opposition slurs against the Tigrayans in the ruling party.

(BTW, what did the opposition say about the ruling party? I can’t find it on the web. I sure hope they didn’t advocate that people rise up and summarily machete members of the ruling party and then burn their bodies in front of their children because, yeah, that would be as or more regrettable.)

But yet another Jimm'ah regret:

We regret the NEB's initial directive to restrict the types of domestic organizations that could receive credentials for election observation.

I thought regret was something you sent when you can’t make the annual Memorial Day barbeque your obnoxious brother-in-law throws. Trying to thwart a democratic election? I regret to say that's what civilization would consider more than regrettable.

What else did you see, Mistah Jimm’ah?

Some irregularities in procedures did occur, the most notable being that ID cards were not always checked. While officials consistently asked for voter cards, they failed to be equally diligent on the presentation of ID documents.

Not asking for ID cards was the most “notable” regrettable irregularity Jimm’ah witnessed? Well, it would be if the Ethiopian elections were a nightclub and its bouncers were trying to prevent underage drinking!

But I interrupted Mistah Jimm’ah…

In Soro, Carter Center observers witnessed a large number of underage voters. There also were unconfirmed reports of vote buying. In addition, the bags that the ballots were delivered in were opened one day before voting commenced. Dessie City, Kebele 10, was also an area of concern, where crowds grew restless at an overcrowded polling station and tried to push into the station.

Wait a minute… we went from regret to concern? Not asking for ID cards was regrettable, but lugging in an opened bag of ballots is something of a concern? If the EPRDF overturns the election results and clings to power will Mistah Jimm’ah find it… um...disquieting? Or perhaps if the EPRDF imposed military rule and imprisoned opponents… would Mr.Jimma’ah be… unsettled?

Surprisingly, the Coalition doesn't seem to be giving the NEB's neglect of the “No ID, No Service" policy that much heft in their 28-page letter chronicling election irregularities. Let’s see… unduly delaying voting and counting… Dismissing and jailing observers… Preventing counting to take place… yep.. I can see why they found that… nerve-racking…. Stealing and hiding ballot boxes… Replacing the original filled ballot boxes with fake ballot boxes… Ripping ballot boxes… uh huh… what do you know… no mention of ID cards!

I wish the Coalition would get its priorities straight.

Anything else, Mistah Jimm’ah before we hurl ourselves off of a cliff?

We have made observations across Ethiopia and trust that the NEB counting, tabulation, and verification will be completed in a careful and expeditious manner.

Yeah. And the EU report? Your thoughts on that Mr. Ex-president? Is it un-soothing?

Jimm’ah, Jimm’ah, Jimm’ah… I know you’ve worked on River Blindness and Trachoma in Ethiopia, and that’s something very unregrettable, but what is the deal with you and PM Meles??

Oh, I see you elaborate on that in your other Trip Report :

The Carter Center has had a long and deep involvement in Ethiopia, beginning in 1988 when I responded to a joint request from the International Red Cross and the UN High Commissioner on Refugees.

We remember that…

"Within an hour, he and I had worked out a solution to the problem..”

Allllrighty…But, Mistah Jimm’ah… I was asking about you and PM Meles… What’s the deal with you two?

“During these months, in 1989 and 1990, I also became acquainted with Meles Zenawi, the leader of Tigrayan revolutionaries.”

Aha. And what did you guys do? Did you wage peace on him? Did you tell him about your peanut farm in Go-ja? Did you, perchance, Mistah Jimm’ah, share your dreams of a free and peaceful Ethiopia? What did you guys do???

“He would meet me at airports in Paris, Atlanta, and London when I came into the region, spread his war maps on the floor, and describe his progress against Mengistu's forces.”

Excuse me?

So, you’ve been such fast friends with PM Meles even way back in 1989 that he was spreading his war plans on the table of an airport Hardee’s showing you his war plans? War plans? Ahh the things BFF’s.. best friends forever... do for each other! Was there any exchanging of friendship bracelets?

And what happened when your friend came into power, Mista’h Jimm’ah?

"After Meles prevailed in 1991 and despite my concerns about Eritrean leadership, he granted Eritrea complete independence in 1993, cutting Ethiopia off from the Red Sea and making it the most populous landlocked nation in the world."

Well! That’s an achievement to be proud of… landlocking 74 million people. Way to go, bud. I was going to suggest war, pestilence and famine, but that’s been achieved already.

So, you’ve been BFF with PM Meles and have been relatively quiet about his administration for the past few years, despite several human rights violations? Well, at least, Mistah Jimm’ah, you very graciously opted not to observe the 1995 and 2000 elections. That would have been a disgrace, and in the name of all Ethiopian people, may I say, thank you.

But, let’s move on… Mistah Jimm’ah.. … Anything that peeved you in the run-up to the elections? You have the floor…

“The most highly publicized event was the expulsion of observer teams from the National Democratic Institute, International Republican Institute, and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems."

Yeah. That kind of sucked! Well, we are sure you ripped into PM Meles for that! You're no pushover. Tell us! Tell us, Mister Jimm'ah... tell us how you excoriated your best friend about the inappropriateness of kicking out well-established institutions. Jimmah won't stand for that kind of behavior! Tell us how, when it comes to democracy, J'mm'ah stands tall and proud. Mister Jimm'ah... you have our ears...

"Although I appealed personally to the Prime Minister, he refused to reverse the decision.”


Well, as long as you appealedto his sense of fairness, Mistah Jimm'ah. There's only so much you can do. You couldn't very well take any stronger a stance than appeal to the man. He shared his war plans with you, for God's sakes! It is regrettable he refused to reverse the decision to kick out three big international agencies. But just so that we are clear, PM Meles’ reason for throwing them out?

“Ethiopia expelled NDI, IRI and IFES, formerly the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, because they had not registered with proper authorities…”

Well then. In light of that... Remember, the tenet here is "No ID, No Service." If it was good enough for them in the Soro region, then it's good enough for the uppity international observing crowd. Proper IDs… proper registration I see a trend here. Besides, really, who do the IRI and the NDI think they are!

Well, Mistah Jimm’ah… as long as you didn’t proclaim the election process free and fair before the elections started? Oh, you did? Well now, that’s regrettable.

Mr. Carter. Enough! In southern parlance, “Don’t piss on my back and tell me it’s raining!”


Here's a petition going to the Carter Center.

Ethiopia’s Baghdad Bob, The New “A” Word and the Ethnic Ethic

"Our members would be prosecuted if found to have taken part in abuses. Any
diversion from this code of conduct would make our members accountable.”
- Ato Bereket Simon

That would be Ato Bereket, Ethiopia’s Information Minister, a.k.a. the Baghdad Bob of Ethiopia. Remember the other Baghdad Bob, Saddam Hussein’s Information Minister? Remember his memorable utterances that lent comic relief to an otherwise humorless war?
"Let the American infidels bask in their illusion" Belew!
"We have placed them in a quagmire from which they can never emerge except dead"? Digemew!
"God will roast their stomachs in hell at the hands of Iraqis"? No… he… did’n!

Now let's switch back to Ato Bereket for a moment:

We believe that the ruling party is enjoying its finest years and has enhanced
credibility across the board. So why do we need to take part in such unethical
practices when we are going to win the election with a landslide?"

Duuuude! It must suck every day being the Information Minister for EPRDF, but these days it must suck ridiculously.

The greatest judge of character I know is my father. My father would take one look at my potential suitors in high school and verily summarily dismiss them thus: “Esu ayrebam!”… esu westlatanet alebet” and the dreaded “asteyayetu alamaregim.” 98.75% of the time he ended up being right.

So I called him yesterday to ask about Ato Bereket. “Teiyiew bakish. Lerassu miskeen new.” What!? Okay, this is that 1.25 times that my father is wrong. I prodded for more information but that’s all my father would say. I was about to give up on my pursuit when I caught the tail-end of my father’s mutterings. “Yiliqunu, something something… igziyaber yiyilat…” Who? Ma? “Yachi Genet Zewde… igzihaber ye srawan yisTat.”

Something in my gentle father’s voice told me not to ask any more questions. Apparently, the Education Minister, the former Education Minister, has major karmic debt to contend with.

What must it be to be like to be universally hated? As a leader, wouldn’t you feel like you need to earn the respect of the people? When I was in Ethiopia, whole avenues would be shut off when Meles and entourage zipped through Addis. I know they probably thought it looked cool. They would.

It’s been so long since Ethiopia had a leader she adored.

One of the best articles I’ve read recently is this one about Emperor Haile Selassie. It is so on the mark about what we did to the man. Thirty years later, a young Ethiopian pop artist, Teddy Afro, managed to finally give the man tribute. Ayi ItoPiya!

Anyhoo, to today’s “pissing me off” du jour

I often have to check the calendar on my computer when I read some Ethiopian, formerly Ethiopian, and endeavoring to be future non-Ethiopians’ discussion forums on the off chance that whatever weird science being cooked up at Microsoft had not transported me back to 19th century Ethiopia without my express permission.

I am not sure if people are being facetious or being deliberately provocative but it appears to this amateur wonkette that all is not well in Kansas. Are people really taking this ethnicity thing seriously? “You arrogant Shoans… yada-yada”… “Oh, it’s Tigrayan chauvinism yap-yap-yap”, “Oromiya shall rise” (where has it been?) Lib miyadekimmmm neger!

Do people realize how ridiculous they sound? A whole generation has grown up and come of age without ethnicity being at the forefront of its mind. And yet…we have yet to move an inch. (Although you have to appreciate the irony—using cable modem to rabble-rouse about zemene mesafint foibles.)

Do you wonder what the ancient Ethiopian kings would have posted on discussion forums if they had computers in their ilfign? The afe negus of Dejazmatch Kassa/Atse Yohannes typing furiously on Menelik II’s discussion forum: “You will never, never rule Ethiopia! The fury of my Tigayan blood will boil you and Shewa! And by the way, Ankober sucks!” To which Menelik would have tightened his bandana and dictated to his Tsehafi Te'ezaz: “Shoan bones will never melt in a cauldron of boiling Tirgrayan blood! And by the way, check yo’ self… If some trollop had not seduced Melmal Eyasu, you’d be some third rate Asir Aleqa!”

In the meantime, on an Oromo separatist website… well, they’d be bellyaching the same thing they are today.

So, there… things have not changed that much, have they? It is so ridiculous.

In the Mengistu era it was the great Adhari vs. Lab Ader divide. God help you if by some pimply abiyotawi’s fuzzy math you ended up categorized in the adhari column. Many a bet lij has slunk by Qebelle doors, his or her face buried, praying that no one would throw out a random act of “adhari!"sm.

So, what do you think would happen if I shouted “ante adhari!” in a crowded room today? I’d be ridiculed until my bones cracked. (Hm, unless I said it in a roomful of cantankerous EPRP-ans… then I’d be their hero. Talk about “wiy miskeenoch!”)

So, in a few years, (I'd say months) this deranged obsession with ethnicity will become passé, no one will care, and those who peddled the dementia will be mercilessly ridiculed. So, I say that those of us ahead of the curve start ridiculing them now. Ethnic politics is the new Adhari, the A word, and its shelf life is about to expire. God help us, if EPRDF is retired, so will the era of getting all senselessly frantic about who our grandfathers were, and not a moment too soon. And excuse me, but wasn’t that why the Haile Selassie regime was crucified—for making bones about its bones?

I had initially though that I’d vent long and hard about ethnic politics—but really.. it’s such a farce in today’s global economy that it’s not worth it. Besides, you know everything there is to know about it, thanks to 14 years of the EPRDF’s imbecilic policies. So, the short end of it is, let’s all get over ourselves. The future is in pushing Ethiopia to become the Silicon Valley of Africa… It’s about building a burgeoning, educated middle class that is too busy working, not clinging to blood and bones. The future is to extricate ourselves from this static agricultural based economy to an industrial based economy. And in a fast paced, progressive economy, there’s no time to whine about what your grandfather did to my grandfather. So, tell it to your therapist and move on, brother. No one except the Anuaks can play the ethnic card today without sounding asinine… least of all the Amara, Tigre and Oromo. I mean, not even P.Diddy is this narcissistic.

Enough! You feel you need to bond with your forefathers? Go build a road or a hospital in their honor and shut up.

Hm. That felt good.

Wait, hold on… lemme check my calendar just incase…. Nope… it’s still 2005 and I am no Seble Wengail Meshesha throwing carefully choreographed virgin-harlot looks at the besieged Bezabih. (He’s so cute when he trembles.)

Goddamn those Microsoft people! What do they do all day?

So, it has officially started—anyone playing up the tribalization racket will be ridiculed. Let’s start with the EPRDF…

Oh.. and thank God Dagmawi is back!

One of my favorite Seleda articles about how to move Ethiopia to the new century.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Curbing my Enthusiasm

You know when you feel like the lining of your stomach is starting to unstitch? That’s what I felt like when I read this article about the opposition’s latest cockamamie statement that it might boycott the parliament.

Maybe the beginning of the end is for the opposition instead of the EPRDF like I sermonized in yesterday’s blog. I have this sinking feeling that unless Ato Hailu Shawel, excuse me, Engineer Hailu Shawel, is put in the “time out chair" (my son can point it to him) things might get a bit calamitous. Ewnetim weichegud!

Of course I say all this from the comfort of my chair. I can only imagine the extreme frustration of the opposition in seeing/hearing all the election fraud that’s been the talk of the town. I can only imagine what it is like to invest so much time and energy into a campaign only to see it disappear before your very eyes. (Note to self, remember to posthumously sympathize with the Kerry/Edwards campaign.) I can only imagine the disgust and irrationality that can take over knowing that you could possibly win a political campaign--- if only everyone behaved.

But that’s the point. The ruling party doesn’t know how to behave. The question is, can the opposition rise above it?

The opposition said it would boycott the elections way before it was necessary to do so and then backed off. Now it’s saying that it might boycott the parliament. Even if it has no intention of doing so, saying so makes it look like the opposition is not yet ready to play with the big boys. Why is the opposition making this an all or nothing issue? They do realize that they aren’t the first ones to have lost an election unfairly? When you play in the big leagues, the game can sometimes get dirty. The test of a true leader is how you play the game with those rules. If everything was smooth sailing then what would leather chair analysts like me do in their spare time?? Forfeiting the game doesn’t make you a hero. And hasn't the opposition learnt anything from its boneheaded decision to walk out on the debates? Hasn’t it wasted enough time boycotting the elections in 1995 and 2000?? Double weichegud!

Can anyone out there who knows people who know people who might know someone at CUD/UDEF pass them some Alka Seltzer, please? Let’s drink some bubbly and strategize.

For starters, no more of the hyberbole, please? Okay? Okay! I get enough shilela at the playground. I don't need it coming though my motherboard.

Now, unless we are all expecting the EPRDF to suddenly become a fair, law-abiding organization which will respect the outcome of the elections even if it loses…

Okay, enough fantasy. Let’s all get a grip. This is a party whose leader, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, leader of 74 million people, found it to be within the realm of acceptability to say (right before elections) that if the opposition gets elected Ethiopia will degenerate into another Rwanda. It was a vile attempt at swaying votes. Yet it typifies the mentality of those who are in power and to what extent they will go to hold on to power.

So, tell me, are these the people that we expect to concede graciously? I don’t know who to be mad at anymore. Why do we insist on inflicting such pain on ourselves?

Unless the opposition is expecting either the EU or another big international observer to declare that it won (let’s not count on Jimmaha Cart-ah who might finally have taken his image as a man of peace a little too seriously), there needs to be a serious look into what the next steps are for Qnijit.

My opinion is that the opposition might want to win the p.r. war and lose the parliament. You can always win back parliament. Your reputation is a harder battle, especially when you are holding on to a fragile coalition. And why does everything in our culture have to be either big or insignificant? You have to win, or you are worthless. Winning at any cost is such a bizarre concept… it breeds bizarre leaders. We all compromise in life… we compromise with our kids, our work, our lives. But when it comes to politics and the Ethiopian psyche, it’s always all or nothing—even if it is to the detriment of our goal. Why aren’t little but most definitely forward steps considered achievement???? Isn’t there a sane middle ground?

I am not saying that the opposition should curl up and declare defeat. I am saying that it should play smart politics until June 8. If the EPRDF is reelected, then what? What does it mean to say “We won’t let them steal the election?” At a certain point you are going to have to back up your words with action and it is going to get harder to produce action when your words have already sown weeds. Even worse, being in a position of having to produce action, most probably the wrong one, just to back up your words.

So first question first, to what extent is the opposition going to fight? By making the ultimate prize "winning the parliament" and intimating that nothing short of that will do, the opposition might be setting up itself for a big black eye; because if they don’t get the parliament then, as I mentioned yesterday, they would be seriously undermining their constituency. How about expanding that horizon a bit and saying, ”Okay, we fought a good, honest fight and we gained all these seats.” Play up how much the ruling party lost. (The coverage in the Western media was actually going their way for a while… we all know that the ferenjies like the underdog, and a gracious underdog—they’ll lap it up.) Really, lost in all of this is the immense gain the opposition has made. Why is that being undervalued?

While we are all hoping that the EPRDF will step down if it loses, do we have a contingency plan if it doesn’t? How about making plans to be the most effective leaders Ethiopia has seen for the next five years? Prove to people once that you are a reliable, strong leader and you would win their respect. They might not like you, but they will respect you. That is priceless. People, people, people… 5 years is not a long time. It isn’t. And the EPRDF’s power has been eroded so it’s not business as usual. You have a historic opportunity to be a powerful opposition. Being a powerful opposition is much better than being a marginalized political party with more bravado that cahones. Can we please refocus the lens so that the future is in focus?

Pushing this a little further might start to make the opposition look like a power hungry entity that will do anything to grab onto power. Why is graciousness so underrated in our society??

Oh, wait a second… wait one damn second! Is this all a sophisticated political game that the CUD is playing to appease its base by putting up a fight but when push comes to shove it will buckle down? It is, isn’t it, Qnijit? You are probably reading this laughing at me at how over my head you are! Oh you smarty pants. You made me sweat bullets for nothing, that’s what you’re telling me. Oh you cunning, impish politicos. You go on ahead with yo’ bad selves. I’ll stay quiet.

Shit. I’m going back to watching “Boiling Point.” Yerassachiu gudaye!

Monday, May 23, 2005

Landslide my ass!

I am still trying to get reliable information on the elections. I guess the hanging chads and the pregnant chads are being counted. In the meantime…

Can somebody please explain to the Information Minister the definition of a “landslide”? When a government which controlled 98% of the parliament actually (admittedly) loses seats in an election… not so much a landslide. The latest figure being touted by the EPRDF is that it has won 300 seats. Considering it used to have, what 542, claiming a landslide victory might be… what would you call it, retarded.

The general consensus from all seems to be that no way is the EPRDF going to give up power. I get this sentiment from the most salient of political analysts, my uncle in Ethiopia who has a knack for summarizing major world events in seven words or less (Tsunami: “Esiya wusT cheresachew, aydel?”) He tells me that the EPRDF hardliners are now saying “be demmachin yagenenewin manim aywesdewim… (“No one will take away from us what we gained by spilling our blood”). God help us when Prime Minister Meles is considered the moderate one in Ethiopian politics.

About the elections: the pictures I see posted on the innernetz from Election Day in Ethiopia… I don’t care who your candidate is, they had to touch you. The elderly woman pushing in her ballot in the box with the help of her young assistant… the group of qessoch who, adorned in heavy gabi to combat the early frost, holding their crosses in one hand, and their ballot in the other… the young men who showed up to vote dressed in their best outfits, their hair trimmed, their faces freshly scrubbed in the proper deference to democracy. It is hard not to feel touched.

There are some sentiments here in LA and in the States by know-it-alls easily dismissing the elections. To me they were profound. Despite myself, I know how I felt when I first cast my vote to elect my leader. I can only imagine how they felt in Ethiopia. These are certainly exciting times for Ethiopia.

So, how do you lead a nation when you don’t control the capital? Yeah, yeah… don’t give me the “you damn elite, Addis Ababa is not Ethiopia” argument. For all intents and purposes it is. Not that it should be, mind you, but the reality on the ground is that it is. And the opposition, it appears, has also won all other major cities. Surely, this is the beginning of the end. Perhaps in 2010 Ato Bereket Simon will know the definition of a landslide.

If it is a foregone conclusion that EPRDF will retain power, this will be an opportunity for the opposition to fine tune its policies ( I read Ato Hailu Shawel’s interview and, ehem, them policies need some fine tuning), strengthen its coalition and cruise into power in 2010. Five years is not a long time.

I am reminded of the modus operendai of the nutty wing of the Republican Party which basically said, “It’s OK is we lose a couple of elections. We will bide our time with winning small local elections and build up.” When they said that, by the way, the Democrats scoffed: who are these hicks who think they can regress America to a theocracy? Big mistake. The Christian Coalition started off by winning city council, school board and dog catcher positions in 1982, and now you can’t be elected to the highest office in the world without the approval of Pat Robertson! Abess geberku! So, seriously, five years is not a long time.

We should not devalue what it means to be a vibrant opposition. It’s all about thinking two steps ahead. EPRDF has already lost despite winning another (last) term. You can deride the right wing nuts in the Republican Party all we want, but their tactics of rising from a disdained minority to being major political players should be taught in textbooks. The best victory is one that is achieved despite the rules being stacked against you. Who would have thought 20 years ago, that we’d be having arguments about whether there should be a Ten Commandments monument inside a state court house! It was an amazing change in political tide, and perhaps that’s what the Ethiopian opposition should be concentrating on rather than piddle with sound-bites. Hey, CUD/UDEF! Can you actually enjoy being a powerful opposition, please?

The thing is, unless the opposition starts spinning their gain in parliament as a huge victory and stop with the “I demand a recount” chikonet, they might lose momentum with the people, especially those who voted for them. It will be hard to recover the base once your supporters start feeling like they sided with the losing party. That won’t be good. People need to feel like winners to have voted for the opposition, despite not actually winning the parliment!! That will keep them hanging on through to 2010.

If, as is believed, the EPRDF is determined to hold on to power by any means necessary, then let them have a last victory lap. Be gracious about it. My suggestion is that on June 9 the opposition goes on a “Thank you, Ethiopia” tour and win the hearts of the people. Once you’ve won their hearts, you’ve won.

It might also be an exercise in tolerance both for the ruling party and the opposition to work together for five years. Even when the coalition wins in 2010, however, I hope there will be another vibrant opposition (even if it is the EPRDF) that keeps us from ever having one party heading a rubberstamp parliament. If Berhanu Nega becomes the Mayor of one of the biggest cities in Africa and he has to report to PM Meles, wouldn’t that be a lesson in cooperation and compromise? I am inclined to think that all is not lost just because the opposition does not have 297 seats. It will make it stronger. It will. The opposition should bide its time and not hurry to storm into a falling house. Just wait until the house falls down by itself and just step in.

To me, the case against the EPRDF and PM Meles is simple. I like honor in a person, and this government has proven itself astonishingly dishonorable. I can tolerate some incompetence, even some hubris. But honor is non-negotiable. At the heart of it, I see no goodwill and good intentions in the EPRDF, and that makes it hard to see beyond that.I visited Ethiopia when the EPRDF first came into power.

They say that you can tell a man’s true character when he has power. How PM Meles and his party behaved between 1992-95 was abominable. I used to think that “Ye Ethiopia amlak” was a simpleton saying that gave ecclesiastical explanation to all that ailes us. But truly there must have been a higher power looking out for Ethiopia, because the whole TPLF/EPLF alliance during that time and the guerilla mentality it brought with it was nothing short of obscene. That Ethiopia did not deteriorate into a Somalia at that time was because there was ye Ethiopia amlak. Maybe someday I will write a book on that time.

In short, why is honor the last thing we look for from our leaders in Ethiopia, and Africa in general?

A friend of mine who stopped being an Ethiopian in 1991 and became an Eritrean (he has since become an Ethiopian again, but I have not checked his country affiliation in a couple of months) went back with me to Ethiopia in 1993-4 and was aglow about what hew saw as the “new Ethiopia". He quickly joined the cabal of the nouveau riche. I returned to the States having had seen enough unacceptable behavior.

In late1999 or early 2000 my friend was deported from Ethiopia and I heard an earful from him about the scandalous way Eritireas were being deported and treated in Ethiopia, how the Meles government was evil and how this is a holocaust.

Yep… except it was a holocaust between 1991-1999 as well, it just didn’t seem like it to my friend.

You don’t even have to go to the stunningly bizarre ethnic policy and kililization/tribalization policy of the Meles government. (Something I will address later.) I truly believe that anyone who has goodwill at heart is workable. You may have glaring policy differences with a person of goodwill but still trust him and his leadership.

Like I said, honor is non-negotiable, and the EPRFD is unforgivably, unrepentantly dishonorable. The case against Meles is simple.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

The Great Disvirgining

Is Ethiopian Politics More Unsightly Than a Middle Aged Azawint Cruising Chercher Godana in a Yellow Corvette?

Why are only insane people writing about Ethiopian politics on the internet? Wait… let me rephrase that. Why aren’t the right insane people writing about Ethiopian politics on the internet?

I’ve been asking myself that question more frequently these days as I scour the “inner-nets” trying to get information on the recent Ethiopian Elections… Man, it’s a mean, mean world out there. You’d have to practically wear a hazmat suit (topped off with your favorite gabi, of course) to just log on on some of these pages that tout intellectual discourse. I am no prude to literary viciousness. Thing is, I like intellectual viciousness served to me with a healthy side order of irony, wit and perspective (preferably by nubile young men in tight pants.) Not, as I have been loathe to discover, by aged, crotchety, very dubious “Drs” with a chip on their shoulders the size of kampolojo. You know who I’m talking about… those faceless, pretend pontificators who have not had an original thought since 1974. They serve up political insight equivalent to a super-sized Big Mac – stock full of empty calories and God-knows-what artificiality. Post consumption one is left bloated, ashamed and smelling like cheap, recycled grease.

Yes… that whirring sound you hear from your hard drive is my bitterness oozing out. Hold me.

Can I say something though? (Of course I can… it’s my damn blog!) The one exception to all this, of course is Ethiopundit. Oh, Ethiopundit… a sure sign that God doesn’t have total disdain for us… I love Ethiopundit.

I also love Seleda.com. I am one of those Seleda fans/addicts/stalkers/wannabees, and try as I have, I have yet to convince them that THEY should be involved in elevating the political discourse on the web, just like they did for literature and guramaylaye. Well, nothing doing. They won’t touch politics, which I think sucks. But perhaps they have a point—it might explain their longevity, although their long hiatus now has me wanting to re-embrace anorexia.

Anyway, so back to my question: why aren’t more thoughtful, sharp, raconteurs writing about Ethiopian politics?

Someone who must hate me a LOT sent me this piece of intellectual hedonism that started me on this journey… looksee at this piece of crapola that is the best example of scholarly constipation I’ve read—EVER! Now what happened in our lives that this kind of writing is not hurled in front of The Supreme Court of ET Smart Asses to be made vicious fun of? And then there is Ato Tecola, purveyor of mystery meat political analysis… there are a lot more but I am fresh out of ulcers medicine and its 98 degrees out there.

So, that’s what started my skivvies bunching up… and it only got worse when I tried browsing Ethiopian discussion forums… Can we not talk about those? Please?

Bottom line: On behalf of disenfranchised ebdotch out there, enough already!

So, here I am, trying to blog… Oh, ye World Wide Web. How I love you. All my repressed anger spileth over on thine patient ears.

I am no political animal. The last time I was in Ethiopia some ballsy immigration bureaucrat type person asked me what my “gossa” was. I had to preface my answer with a dignified glare. (For his brazen question as well as for his polyester tie.) “ItoPiyawit.” He looked at me with that blank look you see in Addis whenever you pick up someone else’s litter. “Setiyo… gossa… zerish! mindnesh?” Oh, dude, it’s sooo on, I thought and was keying myself to tear him a new one when a kindly relative who was sent to chaperone my temper intervened on my behalf. This is Ethiopian politics?

I am no international aid worker/policy wonk who gets paid too much money for shuffling paperwork and nodding off at conferences about eliminating poverty—oh, you… you’ll be hearing more about that from me later!

I am just your average Ethiopian trying to understand Ethiopian politics. These blogs will be my entrée into a place that is, truly, more unsightly than an overweight, middle aged megalomaniac driving a yellow Corvette.

Welcome to my world, and these are my observations and rants, not in that particular order.

Guest bloggers welcome.