Wednesday, December 13, 2006


People, people, people. So concerned was my father that I might be in the middle of translating Dr. Berhanu’s book, When Freedom Dawns, I got a rare phone call from him. He hemmed and hawed (my father is appallingly unqualified to conduct small talk but the gravity of the matter required him to cushion his concern with awkward questions about my daughter’s eating habits) until he could take it no more.
Semash… ye Dr. Berhanu’n meSehaf… ke miyaq sew gar new miteregumiew?” (“Are you translating Dr. Berhanu’s book with the help of an expert?”)
Ah. Could there be a better way of saying, “Listen, kid. We all enjoy your cute blog thing, but… stick to shtick”?
I had to, of course, allay his trepidation. No, I told him, I am not working with an expert. And by the way, dad, what does “teleTafi” mean in English?
My mother, on the other hand, comes from a long line of proud men and women who don’t let things like facts obfuscate their custom-made reality. She grabbed the phone away from my father.
“Simi… eyesemash new? Eniya zemedachn Ato Debela, (nefsachewn yimarew enna) ye enne intna agot, eza Gefferssa minorut… esachew be Taliyan gizE turjuman neberu yibalal. Besachew wetesh yihonal. Ye lij lijachew ezi Addis A’ba ale meseleN. Dewiyilet.”
(“You remember our relative, Ato Debela (God rest his soul), uncle of what’s-his-name, they used to live in Gefferssa… well, they say he used to be a translator during the Italian invasion. Maybe you took after him. I think his grandson is in Addis. Call him.”)
And that’s how it works in my family: you are tag teamed by diplomatic temperance and irrational exuberance. For a moment though I did entertain what it would be like to talk to what’s-his-name, Ato Debela’s grandson who probably neither cares I exit nor can verify the village rumor that his grandfather once served as a translator during the Italian invasion. I imagined the awkward silence that’d proceed our strained series of “dehna nehs”… followed by… what? Me trying to weave in Ato Debela’s name into the conversation with the grace of a bull in a china shop. “So, tell me. This Ato Debela. Did he like the kitfo?”
So, no. I am not translating any book. I did propose an on-line book discussion… which was so long ago that I can now understand why people think I must be translating it… what the hell could be taking this long?
But, as an update… yes, I promise… Come the New Year the said discussion will be resurrected. Our good friend Gooch, along with the fellows (and fellettes?) at Redeem Ethiopia and Carpe Diem Ethiopia have signed up to take on chapters because that’s how they roll. The saga continues. In the meantime, no need to give Ababa Wonqette an additional ulcer.
And incidentally, the story is that the geniuses in Ato Meles’ government have started monitoring all email communication, which explains my father’s increasingly cryptic email messages. Ah. We are back in Mengistu’s era. Ato Meles is one blue khaki suit away from total unhingement. God speed.

Friday, December 08, 2006


It started off as a simple conversation during the staggeringly platitudinous “let’s build a memorial to MLK” hug-o-rama in DC on November 13. I was there representing my company because… um, it is my duty as the token black who also happens to be a woman—an equal employment opportunity officer’s wet dream, thank you very much.

Maybe one day I will gather my wits (and guts) enough to write about the absolute banality of a $100 million memorial in the midst of one of the most perilous times for African American males… high school and college graduation rates at an all time low; incarceration at an all time high. Half the companies who have pledged money to this insanity could not care less about racial equality because… well, I’ve freakin’ worked for them.

Oh, God. And then the myriad of civil rights fossils who have not had a semi-lucid thought since 1964 trying to lecture us (the young and the black) about the good old days, and lamely hinting at what sellouts we’ve been. Meanwhile Jesse Jackson was sniffling while angling for camera time. Ugh.

The whole thing was so creepy. And by the way, Clinton loves him some brown sugar. So does Bush-- So do all those white old men from the South.

So a simple conversation turned into a big conversation and now the Wonqette household is on the verge of moving! Mo-freakin’-ving. As in moving from one state to another! It is chaos. It is mayhem. It does not have a good beat and you can’t dance to it.

So that’s where I’ve been all this month. Blahblah. Blogging will resume as things settle.

In the meantime…

I see Ato Meles’ bloodlust hasn’t abetted. The Somali war is looming over us like an insipid logic readily dangles over Rumsfeld’s head. Seriously, can’t we get Ato Meles a blood-‘n-gore video game to keep him busy, or isn’t that good enough for irrelevant, semi-literate African warlords any more? Sigh. They are so temperamental.

Also, blogs and websites have again been blocked in Ethiopia by a regime which is part thug, part halfwit. Yeah, because blocking blogs is such a great way to keep out information during these crazy pill shortage days of Melesocracy. Bravo, boys. Next, maybe you can round up random people and charge them with genocide based on a witness who thinks he sees unicorns urinating on Bole Road on the second Thursday of every month… oh, you’ve done that already.

The EPRDF is going down. The question is, are we ready? Spiritually, politically… are we ready?

Be back next week.