From the Mouths of Babes
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
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.
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.
… sings Teddy.
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.
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.
There is residual fury in me at what the EPRDF has done to
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
The last gift the Prime Minster could give
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.
I’m beginning to sober up. Back to systemic ranting next time.
“Ere aynegam wei” sings Teddy.
From the mouths of babes…
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.