By Yilma Bekele – I was proud. I was walking tall. I was happy to see my friend. That day the usual two minutes greetings took forever. I was in a hurry to share the source of my joy and pride. If only I knew how wrong I was. I announced that I was on my way back from a celebration. She asked what about. And I was proud to say the commemoration of the battle of Adwa. You know where the African beat a European power, that Adwa, I said.
She just looked at me. She sighed ‘I see’ and was unmoved by my news. Well I was surprised. That is not the response I expected. I thought she might not be aware of the significance of the Victory at
She hushed me. She looked at me with pity and mocked me with her cruel laugh. She said ‘I know all about
Well she said ‘I am not against celebration as such but wouldn’t you say
She was not done with me. She asked ‘what have you done lately to continue the spirit of
She was relentless. She continued ‘let me tell you who should commemorate
“The cry of my country men who died due to your nerve-gas and terror machinery will never allow my conscious to accept your ultimatum. How can I see my God if I give a blind eye to such a crime.”
Our country has produced a lot of Abuna Petroses. We don’t have to go far to find brave Ethiopians that have been imbued with that rare gift of selflessness and courage in the face of overwhelming odds. Tilahune Gizaw of
I was tongue-tied. I am finding out that I was devoid of personal responsibility. I was using the bravery of my ancestors to hide my cowardice. I am always the first to crow about the three thousand years history of my people and the fierce independent spirit interwoven in my DNA. I wave the Ethiopian flag every chance I get. I have the flag hanging from the rear view mirror in my car, a bumper sticker for all following me to see and another one in my home. I eat Injera every day of the week and consume Starbucks coffee from Yirga Chefe. I listen to Teddy Afro and watch Shemsu and Meskerem on You tube. I thought I was a good Ethiopian. My sister was confusing the hell out of me. I shouted ‘what do you want from me?’ ‘Why are you doing this to me?’ I pleaded.
‘Honesty my brother’ she said. ‘Let us stop playing games. Let us all stop pretending. It is shameful to stand in other peoples shadow and take credit for their action. It is time you take a good look at yourself. It is time you grow up my brother. I have been watching you and I don’t like what I see. I notice that you and your friends are always in the forefront to celebrate other peoples struggle and victory. That is not fair to those that sacrificed. Mentioning
She was on fire. She was furious. ‘Tell me’ she said ‘ I have heard that someone took it upon himself to organize a ‘sister city’ agreement between your town and Bahir Dar and considering that the people of Bahir Dar have no say in how their city is run how come you haven’t done something about it? How come you allow individuals to make decision on your behalf? You live in a democratic system where you can demand accountability and transparency in the decision making process. Why are you quiet when your right is being trampled on? Oh I see so many of your friends are upset; they are seething with anger but behind closed doors. You see Abuna Petros was angry but not in hiding. The citizens of
She left me shell shocked. She left me to contemplate my humiliation. Thus I sat down and decided to have that conversation she mentioned with myself. What I found out is not something to write about. I thought of the little more than five hundred cadres bullying 80 million people and compared that to the six hundred Selmans. I imagined Abuna Petros alone standing in front of the firing squad defiant to the end. I remembered Dr. Asrat looking at death but serene and UN afraid. The picture of Ras Abebe Aregay relentless harassment of the fascist forces played in my head. The bravery of Abraham Deboch and Moges Asgedom tickled my brain. Oh god what has become of me? Why am I self-destructive? Where did I get this idea that I can outsource the struggle for freedom?