Letter from Ethiopia #6

By Dandew Serbello - September 15, 2001

Dear Readers,

          Give me the liberty to divert from the usual line and write about the feelings at home in the wake of the unprecedented catastrophe that took place in America on the 11th of September. As you know it was the Ethiopian New Year Inqootatash.  Meskerem 1, 1994 was a bright morning and sunny. People were dressed with their immaculately white Shemma and supervising the slaughter and skinning of fattened rams, which incidentally were bought cheaper than any time during the last ten years. People were high spirited and jovial. The national radio and TV were broadcasting live musical programmes on the eve and transmitting well wishes and traditional songs and dances throughout the holiday. We had hard times to get our distant calls through to our kith and kin in the Diaspora. I feel most of my Ethiopian readers must have experienced what I am trying to say.

          In the afternoon the live TV transmission was interrupted to inform us of the catastrophic mishap that took place in Washington and New York showing the pictures of the airplanes colliding with the skyscrapers and exploding one after the other. It was an agonizing view. Soon enough there was sad news spreading in town of the fatal collapse of a respected old lady who was watching TV and whose children were probably working in the World Trade Centre buildings. Minutes later they say, the sons and daughters of the lady called Addis to inform their family that they were safe and sound. What a pity! There was also a soothing news that a young girl who is working in the Centre had taken leave for the New Year holiday and was conversing with her mother in Addis from her home and watching on TV the demise. She didn’t have to call back fortunately. There were some incidences of similar nature.

          In an Amharic weekly I wrote a bitter saga about the sad ordeal Ethiopians started facing in foreign lands since the overthrow of the Imperial government. I had never felt so bad in my life, thinking of the wishes and dreams we as students had for our people and our country and now we have lived to witness that our country has been classified as the most down trodden place where destitute people live and leave. Her children take refuge in any country be it South Africa or Australia, Swaziland or New Zealand spread all over like the seeds of cabbages as it were. My countrymen we love you and our hearts bleed for you knowing you had left your beloved country for want of a better rule and justice.

          The agony of America is our agony. We stand by the side of justice and democracy, not because George Bush warned us, not because we are included in the list of danger zone, but because we are from the land of human origin that abhor cruelty to humanity in general and act of terrorism in particular. Ethiopia is a land where people live in peace irrespective of their creed, colour or race albeit the poverty of her people thanks to the leadership. As once the famous Laureate playwright Tsegaye Gabremedhin wrote, “…our country is poor not in resources but in equity, not in management practice but in justice and truth …

          The American people through their artists Michel Jackson and et al sang ‘ We are the world’ and stood by us during the bitter famine we had endured in the early eighties. When terrorists hit America, it is not only America that is affected. It is all peace loving people that are affected. We stand by the Americans. God bless the world. Happy masqel holiday!!!

Dandew Serbello

from Sidist Killo

Copyright @2001-2004

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