የሌሊት ወፍ

እነሱ ገና አንድ ወር እየቀረው have yourself a merry little Christmas ምናምን እያሉ ሲዘፍኑ እኛስ ቅዳሴ ብንሰማ ከለካይ አለብን እንዴ? ሆጵ ሆጵ ሆጵ

The ቅዳሴ came on my earphones while I was doing late night work on a presentation. It was nice. It almost felt like I was attending የገና ዋዜማ ሌሊት ቅዳሴ. It ain’t got shit on የፋሲካ ቅዳሴ though. You know that the celebration of gena in ኢትዮጵያ is subdued as compared with that of fasika. What the Westerns have failed miserably to understand is that if He came to the world, and let us say, just chilled until ripe old age, then redemption would have been out of the question. The death trumps the birth; and in this case, we as a nation are not being our usual fatalistic selves.

A person asked me when our holiday was and I answered that the nearest was Christmas even though it falls on a different date (later on I would kick myself for not having remembered that we celebrated Eid al-Adha just last week.) Person was kind of disappointed that we did not have “indigenous holidays” as if Christmas was their gift to the rest of the world. There is a strong possibility that my people may have been celebrating Gena back when person’s people were on their harvest festival shit. And now they expect us to tell them when our harvest festival is?

I don’t believe my being  Catholic would stand in the way of my pride in being an Ethiopian and the traditions of other pretenders to heaven. In our church, የግዕዝ ቅዳሴ አለ and ብዙዎቹ መዝሙሮች are taken from the Protestant churches. It’s like having the best of both worlds:

Had I been alive at the time of the Italian invasion, and of the same religious persuasion, I would definitely have been an አርበኛ. Ok, may be not an አርበኛ but most definitely not a ባንዳ.

I don’t spend too much time worrying whether my religion is the right one or not, dissecting our differences (“ካቶሊኮች በድንግል ማርያም ያምናሉ ግን ቤተክርስትያን ጫማ ሳያወልቁ ነው የሚገቡት”) It is enough for me to know that God is right. Come judgment day, I hope it is going to be an all-or-none phenomenon.

It is hard to be Catholic in Etyopia, man! No, there is no persecution. But the pool of chicks to marry from is narrow, very narrow. A good number of Catholics end up marrying outside of the religion. Perhaps they want to prove that they are in high-demand, limiting their realities may be. For people like me that translates as “Just because we are both Catholics, does not mean that you stand a snowball’s chance in hell with me.” Speaking of snow. I should have known ዛፎቹ መለመላቸውን ሲቀሩ –we is about to get fucked. Good thing we dabble in ግዕዝ and መዝሙሮች though:: They are survival skills, whichever path the need to procreate might lead us. (A modern day Macbeth at his final hour tells his nemesis that he cannot be defeated by any man born of coitus. Nemesis retorts that he was a fruit of IVF and shoots him. And then the twin of the nemesis appears.)

It was well and good if one could be a citizen of the world, all categorization flung out of the windows. But recent events are making one take stock of one’s situation, about who one is and where one stands in the struggle:

I can’t say that I have experienced racism since I came here. Not that I know of. But should it decide to rear its ugly head, I know that I am not going to be immune just because I am a “light-skinned” Ethiopian. Although there are many shades of black, I doubt if those shades would matter in the face of antagonism. Not that the shades should matter: our trials and tribulations as well as our hopes and dreams have got to be shared.

But I still have got to worry about what other black people would think of me (have thought of me) when they meet me (met me) for the first time: Africans -stuck up, Africa Americans -bush.

I still also have to worry whenever I mess up at school, whether it would reflect on the intelligence of black people. Now, after I mess up, there would be another layer of feeling awful, in addition to the old stalwart: hours after said mess up, I would still be thinking how bad my performance must have appeared in front of people.

I had a lot of ደንባራ in me even before I left home; Sami would know. But coming here is like a whole ‘nother level of መደናበር:: In Bahir Dar, I used to bow my head even when greeting my students. My friend used to tell me that I was making the students confused: if I do the bowing what is left for them to do? When I do the same thing here (or when I walk or sit with my head down, as has been my wont from time immemorial) I fear that it could be construed as a loss of confidence (some truth in that), obsequiousness, deferring to the “superior race”, a relic of unresolved childhood issues,… who knows?

ወዘተ ወዘተ  እሺ አሁን ወደማጠቃለያው

So, I am  Catholic, and a black man. Two things that, in the Etyopian context, are loaded with ambivalence.  Catholic – Orthodox vs. Protestant; Black ­– Black black vs.  መለስ ያለ black.  On a personal level, even my field of study is pretty ambivalent. The biomedical sciences straddle the line between medicine and natural sciences. Hell, even ጉራጌ መሆን ራሱ መሀል ሰፋሪ መሆን ማለት ይሆን? እንዲያው God forbidና, if shit were to go down between any two of the big three, we would be the ones providing both sides with the ammunition. አንደ ባሎቴሊ ሳልከሰስ ላቁም:: ግን እኮ even Standard Oil did business with the Nazis.


ለካ ኤዞፕ ጥቁር ነበር?!

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. rebeccafisseha
    Dec 15, 2014 @ 09:57:56

    real funny about the “indigenous holidays”!!


  2. getere
    Dec 08, 2014 @ 15:25:28

    Man, you know what the best way is? You just gotta keep in mind a lot of it is rooted in ignorance. Even though the magnitude of ignorance is huge, it is ignorance. So my friend, smile and educate.

    The other day a Green Peace volunteer stopped me and told me how our problem in the “first world” here was easy when compared to “third world” problems, and how we can help the “third world” by pushing “third world” governments and corporations to do the right thing. My younger self would have tolerated only a few seconds of that. But I’m much better now. I heard what she had to say (nice girl with good intentions). I gave her an example of NGOs opposing construction of the Hdase dam without fair recognition of its benefits to the whole country. Also told her I believe more in local efforts driven by local people themselves. Of course we were never going to agree. We both have our strong beliefs. But we did discuss. She told me about some of the things Green Peace had done, and I gave her an idea of why some of us our reservations about donating. It’s a step forward.

    Next time someone asks you for an indiginous holiday, laugh and ask them to guess how old Ethiopia is. You’ll have a great conversation. Many people ask me about Ethiopia. I remember now at least three friends wanted to visit the country with me. I couldn’t help them because I go to spend time with my family. One of them finally went on his own.


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