Wednesday, March 22, 2006

20/20

Huh? Huh? You like?

So this is the kind of conversation that passes for conversation between me and my husband:

“I can’t figure out the html code for the new Weichegud look.”
“Why are you redecorating?”
“Hel-lo.”
“Hello, what? What hello?”
“It’s nearly been a near with the same look?”
“So?”
“So??!! Excuse me, have we met? What are we? Godless communists? Same look for an entire year?”
“You realize your analogy makes no sense.”

And that’s when I remind him of how many hours I was in labor. Match, game, set.

Sorry for the leave without absence, but just as I was ambling to get back, goodness gracious, it was Fashion Week, people. The High Holiday. Happy to say things are back on track, but with a twist. The Wonqville family has expanded, literally and literally.

Point 1: I will be on maternity leave after I heave out another baby.

Point 2: I have managed to recruit a couple of writers, so now there will be four of us haranguing you. Their introductory blogs are coming up, but here are the basic stats:

Meskot- highly disillusioned, big city lefty who dabbles in pop culture idolatry. Has become ruinously political as of late. And a little something for the fellows on the east coast: she be single… and, if I may be the divulger of secrets, easy on the eyes…when she is not scowling… which, in these troubled times, ain’t that often.

Welafen- on a self imposed exile to a cave somewhere in one of those square states which the rest of us think don’t exist, Welafen will occasionally opine on social matters. WelE is smack in the middle of mending a brutally broken heart, so if he sounds unduly morbid, please, be gentle… Only the gentlest sprinkling of salt on his open wound will be acceptable.

Trendspotting Chiraq- will be the resident political satirist, which is very ironic considering that T.C. lives in the terminally humorless Bible Belt where they speak in a nauseating drawl when they deliver incoherent hate speeches.

And, of course, Gooch has an open invitation and a special place in our hearts.

Okay? Okay.

I’ve been mulling what Gooch said about functional diaspora organizations. Can’t We All Just Get Along is a must-must read if you are interested in channeling your energy.

I think I’ve been lucky in that the few Ethiopian-related organizations I’ve been involved in have been positive. Of course that’s because they’ve been grassroots, and the membership was an amalgamation of like-minded people who drink as heavily as they curse. I know. Where do you sign up?

There is an intricate psychology one has to be armed with to get involved in Ethiopian organizations: the kind of psychology that helps you cope when you don’t get a return phone call from an organization you are trying to help. Once you get over that hump, then things fall in line.

The fantastic thing about Gooch’s entries- especially “Give and ye shall be given”- is that it triggered helpful discussions on harnessing the energy of disenfranchised diasporans. That’s the thing about politics. If you don’t watch out you become a raving lunatic. Gooch was able to inculcate some direction to the rant. And, look. He did it in three short entries… without the assistance of four-letter words. Damn, he’s good.

Phiqr took the baton and started the ball rolling- read the comments. I lib Phiqr.

So about this forum leading in some kinda action… Seriously? Don’t givethat kind of boost to my self-aggrandizement ‘coz that’s not going to do anyone any good.

I am not being modest here. I know my place. There are some of us who are destined to be the ranters, the raconteurs, the people who sit in the back of the room and talk to imaginary friends. The “Guddu Kassa” of life, if I may be so bold. Then there are the Goochs of this world, blessed with clarity and pragmatism. Nirvana would be marrying the two, not asking one to morph into the other… i.e. I know my calling.

Here’s my take:

For Ethiopia to see better days, we have to be better Ethiopians.

Cue in the violin. Somebody? Anybody?

That out of the way, I agree with Gooch in trying to make existing organizations better. Being disillusioned by an organization is not intrinsically Ethiopian. Ask the democrats-- who never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. The aftermath of the brutality of post-revolution Ethiopia has left a whole generation socially retarded. There should be a post-communism psychotherapy that we as a society should go through because something went el-whacko there.

Social change has to precede political change.

Once we've re-glued our mental state, we’ll be able to seize the bull by the horn, the Ibex by the balls [insert less graphic and more appropriate metaphor here].

Until we calibrate our collective psyche, however, there are things we can do. I agree much with Gooch (I’m having a T-shirt printed that says that) when he says trying to start a new group, especially over the innernetz, might be duty heavy at this point. So here’s what I think:

1) Change our social behavior. Surround ourselves with the right kind of people. Yes, I said it. Hang out with people who are doers and result-oriented. A friend of mine tells people who call her to complain about the EPRDF that they have an allotted time for whining, and then they either STFU or she’ll hang up. That should be our policy. The time and energy expended bellyaching... please, people.

2) Start small. Join a civic organization, a political support group, edir, mehaber, whatever. Stay engaged knowing this will be for the long run. Activism is not a laxative. Start by calling friends and urge them to call friends, etc. Often we want to sprint before we learn to walk without stumbling.

3) I forgot number three. But rest assured it was a splendid point.

I’ve said this before- we need to align ourselves with moderates who have the ability to temper their anger and angst, Berhanu Nega style. (That excludes seething to make a point, which he does brilliantly.) I don’t believe in ephemeral alliances, no matter how politically expedient it might seem. Long term, it does not work. It sounds naïve and politically unsophisticated, but we need to realize that we have a right to ask for leaders who are honorable, above all. It’s not okay to settle for leaders who mistreat us less than Mengistu. Surely, that can’t be our yardstick.

So specifically we want to do something? Again, thank you Gooch for leading us to Advocacy Ethiopia. A friend of mine who is in the know about people who know people who are famously in the know also vouches for them so… whaddayawant? Gooch Certified, mother approved.

Hark, the “Wonqville $20/20 campaign” hath been born. Take out your credit card… steady now... and commit to donating $20.oo to Advocacy Ethiopia. (If you want anonymity, send the money order thing.) Twenty bucks. Then send an email urging 20 0f your nearest and dearest to do the same. The last part is equally important. 20/20. Get it? Wait. You hear the angels singing in C Minor? Yes, you do.

How can we keep track of how many of us participated? Geja? Can we email you? Or add it to the comments. We can use the honor system.

With a few friends, my family celebrated the anniversary of the victory of Adwa at the same place Mussolini declared war on Ethiopia. Adwa is our history; and people with that kind of legacy cannot squander it or, worse, settle for being led by refined mediocrity.

20/20. Advocacy Ethiopia.

10 Comments:

Anonymous H. Gabriel said...

I just love your clarity. I think it comes from the combination of brutal honesty, sharp wit and mind, and love of something bigger than one self. Blog’s like yours, OneEthiopia’s and a few others inspire the rest of us to do a little bit more each day than we would have otherwise. You are already using your gift/talent to move forward the ideal to one day make Ethiopia truly democratic. So keep doing what you do best and good luck with the number two in the family.

1:15 AM, March 23, 2006  
Anonymous phiqr said...

I like... but after I click on my "Weichegued!" bookmark I had to check on the address line when I didn't see the "golden brownish" background... I though my pc had some kind of virus attack called woyane that delete by favorites :)

Finally, you spoke. I know you wouldn't let the opportunity pass by with out you saying something. At least not at your own backyard.

Yes... I am in for Wonqville 20/20. The challenge will be the second 20 for admitted introvert. I quickly visited Advocacy Ethiopia. They seem to be well organized. They have event coming up for March 31st. A great line up of speakers. An opportunity to spend Friday night outside home, it's been awhile.

In "Give and ye shall be given" Gooch has pointed out the obvious that we are giving(doing) nothing at all or not enough. He said "... I would rather raise a million dollars for Kinijit today so that it can develop the capacity to promote peace and democracy for all Ethiopians, rather than tomorrow..." well said my brother. Before I start quoting every sentence here I challenge all to go back and read it again.

Though we all suffer from "paralysis of analysis", snap out of it, no excuses. Find a way to do more, raise a million. The anniversary of Kinijit's victory is around the corner. Lets celebrate it by putting our money (more money) where our mouth is, not just reading Wonk's posting... not that anything wrong with that.

6:04 AM, March 23, 2006  
Anonymous Bedri said...

Welcome back, wonQ.

but wait a minute. 20 friends?? nearest and dearest? you people have friends that number in the double digits? i must exile myself to the same cave as brotha-man.

Okay, there goes my $20. now i have to find friends. mekera new trying to keep up with the WonQzes.

9:57 AM, March 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats on the bambino business. Sorry to be negative, but $20 dollars to an advocacy firm sounds silly after I read that heartbreaking story on meskelsquare.com about the emaciated guy who dies on the street. If we're gonna give money, I'd rather we give it to a local NGO. I found a few yesterday because I couldn't sleep after reading that. I would be willing to share if anybody is interested. If not, Advocate.

If any of you have CNN OnDemand, see this program with Christiane Amanpour where she shows a hospice in addis. 18 and 19 year olds from England are nursing these people. This 18 year old kid is crying and comforting a young woman who obviously does not look like she will make it another day. I was so ashamed that it would never occur to me to do that and these random ferenjoch were doing that!

1:45 PM, March 23, 2006  
Blogger Geja said...

Dito. I am gona go out tonite and get blasted to celebrate your comeback. Ok, no more drink for me, but can I pass by a bar and smell the bira? I am already working with AE, because I found them forward looking, energetic proactive, and what is the sentence? Tenkara tikuret alachew.

I have only one Project so far on Basecamp. I will start another one, anybody with a snazzy name for this project? "Hamsa Lomi" is already taken. Sorry guys and gals. If five or more participate, for the winner I will pay his/her twenty bucks for AE. Any takers? Do it using the Comment, and I will tag it and let you know who got my Jackson.

After that Wonk or anybody else, send me the list of your contribution, email me, put it on the comment, or I could also give access to selected few to get into the project site and update. This way you all can enter your ideas, manage the project, anything that will get us moving. The gear has shifted from park to first, in time we should switch to second, third and so forth. Henceforward, no more parking gear. The truth, and only the truth. – Say “I do”.

3:41 PM, March 23, 2006  
Blogger Wegesha said...

We welcome Meskot, Welafen and the Chiraq. Only the good things you've heard about the east coast fellows are true.
Wonk, any thoughts of naming baby #2 Wegesha? I guess not.
Anyway don't forget to scream out "epidural" the moment your foot steps in the delivery room. You are expierienced so you should know that by now.

3:53 PM, March 23, 2006  
Anonymous Gooch said...

Welcome back, ETW, welcome back!

Much thanks for letting me use your stage. Now, hopefully, the ratings of Weichegud will bounce back from the lows I drove it to!!

10:51 PM, March 24, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

20/20? I think its pointless. Give the money to the oppsition directly, are not they the ones fighting to bring good not only to one sector of ethiopian society but to all????

3:10 AM, March 25, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

20/20? I think its pointless. Give the money to the oppsition directly, are not they the ones fighting to bring good not only to one sector of ethiopian society but to all????

3:11 AM, March 25, 2006  
Anonymous not anonymous said...

Wonq,

Moment I saw your new look, I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. But, I puzzled over why your husband quesionized you about your reason for redecorating. Shouldn’t he know by now that there’s no rhyme or reason for much of what we do here? Besides, it was fashion-week, for crying out loud! If nothing else, one refashions one’s blog during fashion-week, unless one is a “Godless Communist,” as you put it.
What is it with your husband, wonq? He . . . a buzzkill or something? You know, that’s the trouble with folks who are given to sensibility and pragmatism. They are so, uh, sensible and pragmatic! I think your husband should “change his social behavior” and fall in line with the rest of us to let this “frontal assault” (the new banner) grow on him too like I hope it will on me.

Changing his social behavior should not be that big of a deal to your husband. Not if he heeds his own wife’s advice and “surrounds himself with the right kind of people.”
Like we here at wonqville are about to do to surround ourselves with the right kind of people. The RIGHT kinda people! Like WelE. Cave-dwelling WelE. Brooding WelE of the brutally broken heart! And Meskot. Scowling, highly disillusioned Meskot! And Chiraq! Well, enough said about Chiraq. And Gooch! Kidus Gooch, Patron Saint of wonqville, who will bail you out and thank you for letting him bail you out!
See? All “RIGHT” kinda people!

Beterefe, wonq, the Advocacy people seem to have their act together; good choice. Will do our part there.

I hope all is well with you. If it’s a boy, call him anything, ANYTHING but Wegesha. Something about that name that causes the testosterone level to go thru the roof. ;)

5:09 PM, March 25, 2006  

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