Heart felt thanks to Abuna Paulos. By Yilma Bekele
Well there was a controversy a while back. The regime got tired of creating political drama. Like the US Army announces “three division headquarters and eight brigade combat teams have been scheduled to support Operation Iraqi Freedom in the next rotation beginning this fall”, the Meles regime announced ‘the Political Drama Group (PDG) will be replaced by Religion Drama Team, Orthodox unit (RD-O) to support the ongoing pacification directive as envisioned by the great leader for life.
PDG received the Adwa Medal of Honor for the 99.6% win. Special mention was made regarding the creation of Medrek and the further splitting of the legal opposition. Captain Tekle was credited for exemplary job on E. Hailu for a work that has been optioned by Hollywood.
The first order of business for RD-O was the unveiling of Abuna Paulos statue. Abuna Paulos is the current head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC). Actually that is not a true statement. He is one half of EOC. You see a lot of folks consider him to be a political appointee placed in place by the ruling ethnic based regime. From what I understand, the people he is supposed to minister to do not view the Abuna favorably. I am not that familiar with the workings of the church but my cousin who is a relentless hard working member of our local church, tells me the Abuna has been accused of strange behaviors incompatible with the position he holds.
His scandalous picture with the American pop star Beyonce raised some eyebrows and his alleged habit of packing a colt 45 or a Glock under his robe is believed to be blasphemous act by a lot of people. The Holy Synod has passed a unanimous decision to remove the pagan statue but who is listening. For that we are grateful. The presence of that monstrosity is a reminder of our subservience to lawlessness.
Anyway back to our controversy. In July of 2010 the Religion Drama group-Orthodox successfully unveiled the new statue to commemorate the 18th anniversary of the Patriarch’s coronation. It was a success. The ensuing discussion electrified the country. It was the talk of the town. According to the blog Ethiocross ‘Newspaper reports had it that the sculpture cost more than 300 thousand birr and was commissioned by faithful of Sefere Genet Debre Kuskuam Kidist Maryma.It was announced that three other statues of the patriarch would be erected in Nairobi, Johannesburg and Jerusalem’ Folks completely put aside the then scandal of the selling of Gambella, the lease of part of Gondar and Afar to concentrate on this statue of a living Abuna.
RD-O was dealing a deathblow by announcing such an outrageous statement. The fact that the statue is only 2 meters or 6.6 ft. but cost a one-year wages of over twenty five thousand Ethiopians was not lost on the population. It might not look bad compared to the 4 million they raised to buy the Abuna a Hummer but it is still a strange tribute for a religious leader. It is considered one of the most expensive pieces of art by any standard. As for franchising the statue it is actually on hold depending on foreign reserves and has to compete for funding with other activities carried out by sub department of ‘disruption and chaos.’
The reader might wonder why exactly I am thinking of a statue at this earthshaking historical moment with the fall of Ben Ali of Tunisia and his flight from the Continent. Actually that is exactly why I was thinking about Abuna Paulos and the statue. There is no question that I was deliriously happy with my Tunisian compatriots breathing that rarefied air of freedom. I can only imagine what it feels like walking down the wide boulevards not worried about the ever present ugly mug of Ben Ali, Kebele tugs, the local police, the Federal Police and special Agazi force. No fear, no worry must be intoxicating.
I saw the unfolding of the drama on television, read the good news on Facebook and became familiar with it on twitter. Poor old Ben Ali was twitted out of office. No AK 47 was fired in anger, no explosive device was planted in the street and no tanks were displayed for a show of force. To be Facedbooked and twitted became the fate of paper tiger Ali.
I knew something was missing here, something to record that fateful moment, anything to define the Jasmine Revolution. Then it came to me. Oh, I am so spoiled by the happenings of the last twenty years. I needed some kind of symbol to put it in perspective. If you think of it the fall of East Germany was symbolized by the breach of the Berlin Wall, the liberation of Romania was marked by dear old Nicolae and his wife Elena dangling and Saddam as usual gave us his oversized statue in the middle of Baghdad. Tunisia needed a defining moment.
That was what Tunisia was lacking. A big statue of some body, anybody to vaporize. Well they only have wide boulevards but no statue of a former tyrant. They were forced to burn a few buildings to show their outrage. Now you understand why I was thankful to Abuna Paulos. I know his two-meter statue is no big feat compared to Saddam’s. I mean you don’t even need a ladder to topple it. Hey don’t knock it, it is still a statue. It beats burning some symbolic building like EFFORT office or such place. The fact that we can drag it using a two-wheel Toyota is also a plus. No need to bring a tank and a ladder like Saddam’s required. I am thinking some poor African soul like me will be pleased to have his symbol when it is our turn to wake up and shine. You know it is coming. It is possible due to the skyrocketing price of oil we might not afford a Toyota, in that case a Sebeta donkey can be a good substitute.