Ethiopianity and Independent Thinking By Teodros Kiros
I love being an Ethiopian, and I am honored to have been born to Ethiopian lands; I am humbled by our sublime mountains designed to nurture spirituality, manifest in the birth of the great thinkers who grew up there; my soul is pervaded by the depth of thought (more…)
I love being an Ethiopian, and I am honored to have been born to Ethiopian lands; I am humbled by our sublime mountains designed to nurture spirituality, manifest in the birth of the great thinkers who grew up there; my soul is pervaded by the depth of thought that the ravines and valleys inspire in me; my eyes are drunk with the beauty of the lush and green of the south, which greet me, when I land from Ethiopian Airlines to visit my homeland; my heart vibrates when it listens to the roaring sound of the saxophone and the sharpness and power of the trumpet in classical Ethiopian music, how many times have I shed tears of passion as Tisita, pierced my sensitive heart in the darkness of a lonely night; how often have I fallen in love with those round and bright Ethiopian eyes, resting on the ravishing bodies of our women; how tirelessly do I admire our dance and the cuisines that accompany them; how desperately have I wished that I could master all our ethnic dances and consume their cleansing fragrance, when one is possessed by them.
There are however, many Ethiopian matters that await our objective criticism, so that the features of our Ethiopianity could be considerably better, if we take a deep look at ourselves, and we will become the best because of them.
We Ethiopians are much too secretive about things that ought to be openly shared, discussed, corrected and discarded if necessary, and yet we choose to die with secrets which divide us, and which contaminate our souls, and sometimes contribute to our early death. We need to rethink the relationships between secrets and our souls; some of the secrets are so frivolous that they are not worth dying for, and yet we prefer to die with them as opposed to openly share our with our friends, acquaintances and our loves ones.
We are also disturbingly suspicious of one another. Our eyes say it all, when we meet a new Ethiopian. We hardly welcome the new person, and we suspect anything that comes out of the person’s mouth. We deliberately stare down when a stranger comes to our midst; sometimes we deliberately deny the person a human recognition, particularly, if we think, he/she is better dressed, better spoken.
We go out of our way to make the person invisible, when we encounter her/him on the streets, at an elevator, at a public faction, on parking and numerous public spaces. When matters go out of hand, we make decisons about marriage and other matters based on the ethnicity of the person. We go out of our way and decide to form opinions on the bases of the person’s name and his/her ethnicity.
Our relationships suffer, because we lie to each other. The men go one way and the women go the other way. In the middle love is lost; in fact, I often wonder if we really know what love is, if we really let love embrace us, because falling in love is an act of courage; often, we confuse love with use. We enter relationships to use one another, and when use is exhausted, we are left empty, and become the object of laughter and gossip, because we engage in both of them so deeply.
Surely we go to church and make attempts to live the Christian life, and yet we do not even really forgive a mistake, and we are not aware that forgiveness is the corner stone of Christianity. Many marriages and even more friendships collapse, because we do not forgive. Friendships and relationships are destroyed because we are too proud to forgive and move on. Instead, we pretend to be saints who never mistakes, and we encounter Ethiopians who make mistakes and ask for our forgiveness, we shun them, we humiliate them and we ostracize them.
One of our central weaknesses is the unwillingness to think for ourselves and by ourselves in the company of the creator. often, and almost always, our families and our ethnic affiliations influence our decisions. Rarely, do we consult our inner reason and think independently. We do not tolerate objective criticism and advise. We quickly resort to group thinking and we condemn Ethiopians who think differently, and label those who disagree with us by putting them in ethnic baskets, forgetting that individuals who disagree with us may be doing so, as independent thinkers, seeking to think for themselves.
The Ethiopianity that I dream about has to attend to the above matters, objectively, through good manners, as our classical Ethiopian ancestors did.
I love my country so much that I have ventured some of my thoughts for your considered reflection. I, too, am afflicted by the vices, and I am making every effort to correct them- as I move towards death and mature in the womb of time.
Life is short and maturity is long, but we all must try with the help of the Transcendent and embark on the path of growth and self-purification, through the power of independent thinking- tenaciously and relentlessly.
The unfinished project of new Ethiopianity demands our willingness to change, to grow, to mature and die.