IT IS ALL ABOUT US AND OUR FUTURE – Girma Kassa (Chicago)

February 8th, 2008 Print Print Email Email

Dear Fellow Ethiopians:

Many years ago, I remember listening a story on Deutche Weille (German Radio). The story was about a German who once visited Ethiopia. He traveled to two neighboring villages which were not in good terms.When he arrived in the first village he received a warm welcome. Elders showed him an excellent Ethiopian hospitality.

Few days later, as he was packing to start his journey north to the next village, the elders asked the German: “Where are you going now? “. He answered that he would be going further north to the next village. Elders were shocked. “Don’t you know them? Those people in the North are barbaric. They are killers and have no mercy to strangers. We are warning you. Don’t go there.” they said. (more…)

Dear Fellow Ethiopians:

Many years ago, I remember listening a story on Deutche Weille (German Radio). The story was about a German who once visited Ethiopia. He traveled to two neighboring villages which were not in good terms.When he arrived in the first village he received a warm welcome. Elders showed him an excellent Ethiopian hospitality.

Few days later, as he was packing to start his journey north to the next village, the elders asked the German: “Where are you going now? “. He answered that he would be going further north to the next village. Elders were shocked. “Don’t you know them? Those people in the North are barbaric. They are killers and have no mercy to strangers. We are warning you. Don’t go there.” they said.

The German listened but politely declined their warning and drove further north. As he arrived in the northern village, contrary to what he was told by elders in the south, he received a similar welcome; again an excellent Ethiopian hospitality.

When the elders of the northern village found out that he came from the southern village and was able to make it alive they were amazed. “God really protected you. Those people were known in eating people alive.” they said with great shock.

This story is teaching us two very important lessons. The first one is that Ethiopians are good people in their nature. They are good at welcoming strangers and being refuge for those who flee hunger, starvation and war. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing It.” says the Bible in Hebrew 13:2. Showing hospitality to strangers and opening our doors to those who are afflicted is one of our precious cultures that we need to keep, preserve and pass to the next generation.

In around 615 AD, the early followers of the Prophet Mohammed were harshly persecuted by the rulers in Meccah. At that time these first Muslims got refuge in Ethiopia and were welcomed by Ethiopians. (It is for this reason that Ethiopia was exempted from the jihad which started to take place in nearby regions. Later on, when the Muslims had control over Jerusalem, Ethiopian pilgrims were allowed to travel there, and even maintain holy sites in the city.)

The post Siad Barre Somalia is by far one the best illustration of a man made disaster. Rebels successfully put and end to the Siad Barre dictatorship to later turned their gun on one another. (Ke essat Wede remet) . Because of the civil wars and protracted battle among the war lords, Somalia collapsed. The world and the UN ignored the suffering of Somalis. Somalis were deprived the right to live in peace and dignity in their own country. They were forced to flea their home to find shelter and refuge eslewhere.

For millions of them, Ethiopia has become their destination, their refuge. Ethiopia has welcomed them opening its hand wider. I remember in 1992 when Somalis were filling the street of Addis Ababa and when they were treated like any other Ethiopians, as brothers. (I presume it is still the case)

These show the deep rooted culture of Ethiopian hospitability, something that I and any Ethiopian must be proud of.

The second lesson we learn from the Deutche Weille Story is that there is culture of mistrust and misunderstanding among ourselves. Why do the people of these two villages have very different and negative attitudes towards one another?

The mistrusts that we see between these two villages can explain the problem of Ethiopia as a whole. This culture of mistrusts among Ethiopians, is a culture that has bogged our country into poverty, war and self destruction. Unlike the good culture of welcoming strangers, this culture is a demonic culture that we must be freed from.

There is an evil spirit among Ethiopians; that portrays us differently and negatively to one another so that we don’t work and live together in peace; that creates mistrust towards one another; that moves us to open our heart and stretch our hands to foreigners but not to our fellow Ethiopians; that covers the good deeds of our brothers with lies and fabrication so that we do not see the truth and start looking our fellow brothers positively.

Why do Ethiopians have negative attitudes towards one another? Why were we not able to make peace in our land and stop shedding the blood of another Ethiopian in vain? Why?

There are multiple reasons for all these. I will try to list few of them, I think, they may have contributed to this unfortunate reality of our country.

I believe Ethiopians are most of the time unfairly blaming the whole village or region for the crimes and sin of the very few. We do not usually dissociate individuals from the people, individuals from the party or the party from the people. We generalize and put everyone in the same basket.

I believe we have a heart that is rigid and not forgiving. We tell bad incidents and stories of the past again and again from generations to generations. Our children inherit “hate” and “revenge” from us.

I believe Some evil and selfish individuals, political parties or even governments who benefit from a crisis among regions exploit little incidents for their own advantages. I remember when the Derg broadcasted the massacre of Assossa (where settlers from Wello were burned live in a hospital) to instigate the public against the “Tigres”. The TPLF also video-taped and distributed the killings of civilians in Hausen to gain the support of the Tigryans. (Some are accusing the TPLF for tipping the then Ethiopian Air force that a rally of “weyanes” would be held in Hausen so that they can have a good propaganda video showing the bombardment of civilians).

I believe the Lack of dialog and communications basically deny the opportunity for people to know the truth about one another.

I believe the lack of free and responsible media that focus on the positive items that may help the rapprochement of old adversaries, has made the coming to a common understanding, impossible.

I believe our eyes mostly see everything else that come from those whom we think are bad elements through the prism of hate. We tend to dismiss any good actions or gestures from the part of those elements we do not support or hate. We tend to spin the good efforts of fellow Ethiopians instead of being appreciative towards and learn from one another. We do not think that people can change.

Isn’t that sad?

We tend to be good to strangers but not to ourselves. As the Bible says “show hospitality to strangers” it is also written that we must love our neighbors as we love ourselves. As we are good to foreigners and strangers we must learn to be good also to one another.

I think it is time for a spiritual renewal and a new beginning. It is time to spell out this spirit of hate and division from amongst us, once and for all, and open our heart to love, compassion and forgiveness. It is time to stop looking at one another with the “grudgy look” . Instead we must learn to hold the hand of our fellow Ethiopians. We must learn to live for the future instead of being buried in the past. We must be freed from our old (sometimes century old) grudges and open our heart to forgiveness and reconciliation. We must all be engaged in our country’s affairs and put an end to the era where very few individuals decide our fate and mess up our country. We must change our character and culture of being quickly filled with rage. We must learn to solve our problems with a dialog instead of trying to bring solution with a barrel of the gun. WE MUST CHANGE MENTALLY AND SPIRITUALLY.

There might be some people, group of people or individuals we hate. However we must all remember: we are all Ethiopians, created by the Almighty God to live in a great country of ours Ethiopia as a family. The Tent is enough for all of us. Let us stop burning down the big tent on our children for with the tent in ashes we will have no place to go.

“So make no mistake: the choice in this election is not between regions or religions or genders. It’s not about rich versus poor; young versus old; and it is not about black versus white. It’s about the past versus the future. It’s about whether we’re going to seize this moment to write the next great American story. So someday we can tell our children that this was the time when we healed our nation.” Said Senator Barack Obama, the possibly next first black president of the United States, in a rally he held in Washington with Senator Ted Carolyn Kennedy.[1]

The Senator was talking about a US election. I would like to talk here about the struggle to have a new, democratic, God fearing and prosperous Ethiopia. Allow me to rephrase what the good Senator’s speech and conclude my article with the following message:

“The Choice in this struggle is not between regions or religions or ethnic groups. It is not about rich versus poor; young versus old; it is not about Tigryans versus the others, “oromos” versus “neftegnas, one ethnic group versus another. It is about the past versus the future. It is about creating and building a new Ethiopia we are all proud of; an Ethiopia that cherish with its old and ancient proud history but also leave behind the curses of hate, revenge and ‘toregnenet’ behind; an Ethiopia where we want our children to live. An Ethiopia where the law rules, human rights are respected and Ethiopians are equal regardless of their religion, ethnic group, age, gender and economic status. IT IS ALL ABOUT US AND OUR FUTURE. LET US ALL CHANGE AND START A NEW JOURNEY FROM ZERO.

[1] http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/post/samgrahamfelsen/CGVRs

The Author can be reached @ Muziky68@yahoo.com

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