Ethiopianity and Independent Thinking By Teodros Kiros

January 2nd, 2011 Print Print Email Email

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.

  1. Tigabie
    | #1

    What a powerful massage… God bless U btother It touch’s my inner most,it isn’t for I didn’t know it before but it is one of the main weakness in my life which I struggel to over come it everyday.

  2. tewbel
    | #2

    I don’t think that Ethiopians are saints, nor that they should be. If we shy people it is geneally because of our culture that makes discretion and politiness part of our social canon. The manner of ‘Yelunta”, a unique Ethiopian behavior, may probably express our feeling and attitude towards others and ou social interaction. There is nothing that Ethiopian appreciate than respect and politness to others, sometime at one’s expense.

  3. selamta
    | #3

    It is a wise piece of advice. The degreee of our resentement, envy, anger, alienation, kinship, etc. reflect our selfishness and narrowness. We always complain about “others” in contravention to the teachings of the bible or Koran that urge us to look at ourself in the mirror (Matthew 7:3, Romans 2:3, Qur’an, 2:44) We are very often possessed by faultfinding habits since belittling others gives us the illusion that we, as an individual or group of people, are bigger. Without transforming ourselves from within, all social relationships and political and religious activities will remain phoney and are doomed to failure. All the things that the author pointed out; such as, Mercy, Charity, being judgemental, materialism, etc are in fact addressed in the holy scriptures. We read and mug them but, unfortunately, we don’t practice them.

  4. TG
    | #4

    What a wonderful article. I totally agree that we ethiopians have many vices that pervade through society, too many to mention here. The one that hurts us the most is “mikegnenet”. We are very negative as a society and have ill will for each other. Let’s be happy for each others accomplishment and root for one another.

  5. Dilnessa
    | #5


    Why you always talk about forgivness and not justice? Have you ever placed yourself in the feets of those whose parents, children and siblings were murdered by rulers?

    I know you have cousins who accomplished the murder but I do not think you have victim family memmbers. The country needs not just hypocrite forgivness but justice. We may need to have forgiveness but we absolutely demand justice. Justice! Justice! and justice!

    Thank you!

  6. tewbel
    | #6

    Please let’s stop demonizing ourselves, we ae like most people in the world. I was working once in World Wide financial institution, some of the fierce personal competition, jealousy, secretiveness, intrigue and negative gossip about each other that was going on makes our misbehavior a pale imitation. I think also that some of the failings that we are blaming ourselves for might derive from the extremely difficult and harsh life experience that our society has gone trough from time to time. For instance the past four decades can hardly be called happy times. That we do some self-criticism is a healthy sign, but it should not be overdone. Happy New Year.

  7. Ethiopian kid
    | #7

    It is good to write and express ideas what so ever it is. With out discussion there is no social progress. Thank you Tewodros for that.

    Having said that, though there is much to discuss on the topic Tewodros raised, I am against his saying of “With all by the help of the Transcendent”. This is believing in idols. I do believe in the Almighty God, the Holy Trinity! Take out that poison if you are as you said “in the move to death and maturing in the wombs of time”. It is time to repent, otherwise there is no any other way scape eternal death. Orthodox Tewahido is the cure.

    Thank again for your time and effort.


  8. aha!
    | #8

    To begin with the title connotes corelletion, when there is no correlation btween the two concepts. Next, it is not fair to make analysis of Ethiopian society with out the political context. It is then becomes easier to decipher that the Ethiopian with higly dignified and patriotic individuals and loyal to their rulers, and willingness to die for the territorial integrity of the country, the flag and religion have from time been subjected to fear: fear with reverence, fear with hatred and animosity towards their rulers. They have a tendency to be reserved and endure man made famine, economic hardships, human right violations, ethnic conflicts, which could have been averted as being their fate, rather lack good governance, political and economic freedom and liberty of the individual to own property and settle anywhere in Ethiopia.

    As such for the last 19 years, the country is dominated by communistic oriented liberation movements of TPLF and its surrogate teletafi parties, who were inlined to hinge their struggle on the question of oppression of nations and nationalities, which formed the TPLF/eprdf regime for the last 19 years with ethnic and secessionist politics and policies as part of the constitution, with no independent branches of government in place are ruling as revolutionary democracy towards which it receives budget support and/or non humanitarian aid in the order of billions with no transparency and accountability. From inside the regime is propped up by the teletafi parties and the do nothing teletafi parties, which implicitly support the regime and lately tried to create a coalition which an alter ego to the current regime, but failed miserably. With these political forces, neverthelss, negaive forces of disintegration, the Ethiopian social fabric of 80 ethnic groups, which may be likend to species populations in a forest, where the species population compete for availeable resources and live harmoniously together as did the Ethiopians prior to that except for the revolution that is justified by class struggle for land reform, master servant relationships, workers and factory and business owners, which have been accomplished by democratic revolution. The silent majority of Ethiopians, do not have anything to blame, to say the least the rural and the city dewellers have nurtured and educated the elites and political leadership that are to blame by not integrating/merging over the common goals for unity, territotorial integrity and sovereignity of Ethiopia and Ethiopians with a unified strategies to bestow the individuals with political, economic freedom and liberty with personal responsibility. Then and there, the positive forces of integration will prevail and retored Ethiopiawinet before ethnicity prevails. It is only free people that relish independent thinking, where each individual epresses his/her opinion freely to advance the common good.

  9. aha!
    | #9

    Correction: the phrase do nothing “teltafi parties”, shold read the “do nothing loyalist opposition parties”.

  10. Gash Polisu
    | #10

    Ethiopian Kid,

    Lij Birot Abatun Ayqedmim…I think as a kid you need some lessons kkkkk

    Lesson no.1 every one has the right to worship anything. If I believe in the Sun that is none of your busiess. you have the right to try to convert me to your religion but you cannot say that Orthodox Tewahedo is the only way. Imagine, Orthodox believers number not more than 40 million in Ethiopia. so if Tewahdo is the only way, do you mean that the rest of the world is going to rest in Hell? come on, fella, I too am Tewahedo adherent, but I do not think that Catholics, Protestant etc is the wrong way so long as each believer does what God expects of us.

    Lesson.no2 respect your elders

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