Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Been busy working on a couple of local campaigns. Will be back soon. For the first time I see really, really encouraging signs of the emerging Ethiopian-American voice. People are very aware, and voting! A new generation of Ethiopians is out there canvassing and so freakin' connected! I think HR 5680 will pass. Seriously.

Use your voice. Vote! By 2008 the Ethiopian-American vote will be taken very seriously. The image is that this a dedicated voting block with "new immigrant" fervor. The tide is turning.


Will be back after I recover.

Zenobia has a follow up entry on Ato Kahlid’s case.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

"Ethiopian Man Convicted of Female Circumcision"... Uhh...?

There are probably a hundred and one reasons why one should not be surfing the web when one is on a conference call with one’s particularly onerous client, but add to that list the likelihood of randomly screaming out “holy shit!” when one reads on the front page of the BBC News webpage that an Ethiopian man in Atlanta has been convicted of circumcising his daughter.

I’ve spent a few hours reading about this case and … folks, as much as I am a feminist-in-stilettos, there is a lot wrong with this case, not that you would know it by reading a totally hysterical article that is dependably posted on CNN. The man, Ato Kahlid Adem, was going through an exceptionally nasty divorce and custody case from a South African woman who only noticed that her daughter was circumcised after the separation? And the vivid details with which the seven-year-old girl remembers what happened when she was two unsettles me.

I got into one of the biggest fights of my life with a white, liberal, “I am here to save Africa” woman about FMG. She wanted to “understand” the phenomenon, while I eventually ended up suggesting she have her clitoris hacked off to get the full scope of the matter. There is nothing to “understand” about FMG. It is brutal. It is inhumane and there is absolutely no fucking excuse for it.

But I don’t think this guy did it to his daughter. And if he did not and his ex-wife has leveled this false charge against him, it not only takes immigrant women’s plight back to the Stone Age, it devalues the atrocity of FMG.

There are too many inconsistencies about testimonies from the plaintiff and witnesses, and as Africans, as Ethiopians we need to get the bottom of this. Some of the reports I’ve read so far don’t even mention timelines and the divorce/custody petition, and once again we are letting other people define us. It is up to us to set the record straight, and if my intuition is wrong and Ato Kahlid did it, I will be contrite to the point of humiliation. But something does not add up. And if the glove don’t fit…

I am not sure if the community has rallied behind Ato Kahlid and to what extent Ethiopians in Atlanta are aware of the case--- there appears to be ample coverage of it by the local press. I hope Ethiopian lawyers in Georgia will look at this case and inform us what happened.

While doing a little research, I was delighted to run into two new Ethiopian bloggettes, which has made me very, very happy. (Dina at Coffeechilisun has been very quiet, as has Fiqirte at The Concoction.)

Zenobia at Ewnet Ethiopia has an insightful post. She declares “Kahlid Adem is Innocent.”

Eleni Agiz at Ethiopia Encyclopedia, a prolific writer and thinker (and a young’un) also covers this story in her post “Ethiopian man circumcises two year old daughter?”

I am drowning in work and life (yes, I am one of those mothers who has to work) but I hope we can all rally to find out the truth.

Eventually I will update the links on the left (I know you Explorer users can’t see the links, but why the hell are you using Explorer?).

But I welcome my sisters to the ET Blogospere.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Burnt by Tears and Blood

“What kind of person would want to harm the people of Ethiopia?”

It was my mother’s lament upon hearing about the second wave of massacre unleashed by the Ethiopian government on innocent people armed only with their audacious belief in a better Ethiopia.

This is not just hyperbole. It is the truth. A government that could not handle the thought of giving up power unchained its inner demon previously gussied up with a cadaverous veneer of respectability.

What kind of person would want to harm the people of Ethiopia? The kind led by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. And he did it with such self-absolved righteousness that let his conscious believe shooting children in the head is acceptable collateral damage.

A year ago today there was a massacre in Ethiopia, devised and executed with calculated cruelty. Eventually Ato Meles will have to explain to his children why he allowed other people’s children to be riddled with bullets and die, sometimes clutching only the rancid air around them. Perhaps only the unforgiving indictment from his own children’s eyes will make Ato Meles understand the pain he has inflicted on Ethiopians. Until then, he will keep calling the dead “hooligans.”

Ethiopia and Ethiopians will survive the consecutive waves of violence from this government because Ethiopia and Ethiopians have had enough. It remains a mystery why Ato Meles thinks a bully can break the spirit of a people who yearn to be free. After all, Meles and Co. fought with ferocity and determination against the brutality of Mengistu. Does he think other people have any less a determination and ferocity than he?

Alas, the Achilles heel of Ato Meles: the kind of hubris that comes from being in power too long to make one forget what it is like to be the underdog. He has become so used to lackeys and sycophants, so addicted to dollars and euros thrown in his tin can, so blithely content with mediocrity and numbing obliquity, and increasingly undeterred neither by his meager intellectualism or lackluster sophistication, he keeps clawing on the flesh of innocent people. After all, that’s his default. It’s all he’s good at.

Ato Meles refuses to understand that temper tantrums are not policies and begging for small change from disdainful foreigners is not economic strategy. And massacres? Massacres are not social programs.

Only honorable men worry about legacies, which is perhaps why Ato Meles and the entire EPRDF operation exist only to pillage ephemerally. But their version of a good time will eventually come to an end, and when it does Ato Meles will have inherited his children trauma and exile. He will end up talking to bare walls, lonely expect for the ghosts of those he massacred.

As his reign crumbles with ignominy, Ato Meles should pray Ethiopians will be kinder to him that he was to them. Ethiopians will remember who they have always been and will make Ato Meles and his coterie mere footnotes.

This is a government that tortures people for passing out calendars. It has forfeited any benefit of doubt. It has squandered whatever goodwill it had stitched together.

Ato Meles confuses ruthlessness with discipline, Melesocracy with democracy and chaos with opportunity. He lights incendiary fires of ethnic discourse and religious wars with the eagerness of a licentious arsonist. He is chronically unable to look beyond the today, uncaring about who or what he takes down with him. He is dishonorable, has become predictable and will become irrelevant.

Last year there was a massacre in Ethiopia.

In remembrance of those burned by tears and blood. May you live to see an Ethiopia that is no longer cruel to your children.


With apologies to the photographer of the picture above. I can't find the credit. Please let me know.

UPDATE: Thanks Mengesha. The photpgrapher is apparently Boris Heger for the Associated Press.