Subject: The Big Divide
I enjoyed your very entertaining letter. I can tell by your writing style
that you are a very organized, methodical guy. Those headings/subtitles reveal
a guy who has conducted one too many corporate meetings! :-) Do I detect
a dichotomy of nature between the corporate Rafael and the Rafael whose bachelor
pad is always unlocked, fridge empty and aptartment desperate for some clean
up? I've visited such places, and it's amazing how that seems to be a fiercely
protected tsebay of Ethiopian bachelors - or is it more of
a religious ritual for St. Joe alumni?
Regarding the Boney-M album, I have to confess, I never saw an
original album at my school - only bad duplicates which were probably
100 tapes or more removed from the original judging by how muffled and scratched
the sound was. Mind you, they were just as coveted as if they were the diamonds
of the Shah of Iran or some such thing! I still can't figure out why that
band and less than a handful of others were so incredibly popular in Addis
(and for an extended period of time too)! Later generations seem to be just
as captivated, even though it's music from way before their time.
Yegermal! Maybe we were just starved for pop music and those
were the only ones available then.
I see that you cleverly but not so subtly weaseled your way out of commenting
on "The Chasm". At least you acknowledge it exists - thank God it's not just
in my head. Well, have it your way - I'm not staying on the sidewalk! I'll
be daring and will throw in my two cents. Yerasu guday!
one could probably list many factors which to one extent or another
contribute to this polarization of Ethiopian men and women in the U.S. such
as "megenaga yelem", "menegager akaten", setoch hylegna
natchew" (i.e. they are independent) etc.. My particular theory is
that an insidious thing called Pride is the root of the problem. Too often,
we are looking for someone/something better (or so we think) than what we
already have. Wey kurat, Wey qibtet! The next best thing may
be someone younger, more beautiful, more educated, more successful or even
someone from an elite group. Ambition is good when it comes to career and
our professional life but it's disastrous (in my opinion) when it comes to
I'm not saying one should be with someone whom one doesn't love, but I've
seen many relationships that ended (and been in a few) that had good potential,
if only there was the commitment to make it work. It's like we are never
content; always looking for that elusive person that will make our life complete
(ay mognenet!). We don't get married young and grow together
because we have this irrational fear that he/she may be an obstacle to our
success/happiness. Sadly, as we grow older, we also grow farther apart. Often
we fail to see that the one who is right there has the potential to be the
right person if the right ingredients were added, i.e. love, acceptance,
affirmation, and oh -the big one: forgiveness. I've adopted this theory that
the thing I desire in a guy is the very thing I need to be myself. Here is
an excerpt from a poem I wrote not too long ago. It's not one of my best,
but it's one of my favorites:
He was a Giver of love, time and attention
He gave respect and honor to everyone, young or old
He would stop to talk to a homeless person while I impatiently drummed my
fingers on the dashboard.
Compassionate, gracious, and forgiving
And reserved especially for me: deep affection; indescribable
Never holding back, always giving
Giving generously, giving joyfully
When I was sarcastic, he was genuine and warm
When I was self-critical, he complimented and affirmed me
Where I failed, he saw something positive
Was he just utterly blind to my faults? (As God always chooses to
And yet his being so
Did not fill me with pride
But rather humbled me;
Amazed that he would think so highly of me
Much more so than I thought of myself
He inspired me to be more than I was
He truly brought out the best in me!
Is it any wonder that I think the world of him?
Did I have a point here? (Probably just my capricious nature). Ah, yes! It
was simply to suggest that we can inspire one another to be better, more
successful individuals and in the process become each other's soul mates
simply by treating each other with love and appreciation. Well, I guess that's
my take on that issue. I hope you will come out of your PC reticence and
share some of your thoughts on this rather angebgabi tiyake.
Gedelem alebalam, even if you say egir yemetaTib new
yemefelegaw! My advice would be, maybe you should try a different
planet - Naa, different solar system! :-)
By the way, I was in your neck of the woods this past week. Sera meftat
le-zuret yameCHal. I'm also contemplating trips to Mexico City and
our fair city, Addis Ababa before I get tied down to a job (Ugh!). But my
pragmatic side (I do have one - yeah right!), tells me I should be focusing
on the search for a fulfilling career. Of course, not knowing what one wants
complicates things a tad. It seems like what I want changes faster than I
can keep track. Do I sound like an unstable, irrational woman?
Yezorebat setiyo (Lesson #2: never, ever call a woman THAT)!
I suppose eventually I'll stumble over something interesting. Some of my
closest friends who for some inexplicable reason are more concerned about
me finding a "real" job than I am, tell me that "anything interesting" will
not cut it as an objective on my resume. My response is an innocent "why
not?" Wish I were that naïve. Of course, the most appealing career objective
for a year or two is also the most elusive. If only it took a resume with
Objective -- "Full time wife and mother". Wouldn't that be nice if things
were that simple. Maybe they really are - zim belen TaTa enabezalen
Eshi, Ato Rafael, I better wrap up this letter before I throw
out another Politically Incorrect opinion. Then I'd really have the SELEDA
folks cutting away everything I painstakingly wrote down to two paragraphs
and subsequently demand I miraculously make it two pages again! I'm curious,
what was it that you hated by your junior year, school or your major? You
also haven't really told me about your job (whatever it is - I know it's
a BIG secret, right?) I know that being specific is not the forte of your
gender --but do try!
Almost yezorebat setiyo - not quite yet!
Subject: Who's Zoomin' Who?
As I sit here, I am tempted
To write another
chronological, "organized" letter
What's a man supposed to
do with our Editor crackin' the whip??? (I'm surprised "they" haven't used
us as a "Top-Ten" excuse yet)
If I had succumbed to my temptations, (as all men are apt to do), I would
have had 3 sub-titles:
1) In the beginning
2) Those nasty good-for-nothin'-men
3) Revenge of the ladies
But, I won't take the easy road, opting to be - no hoping to be -
semi creative while under the gun.
And so, let me begin by saying that "what we have here" is a classic
case of mar sibeza yimeral
Way back in the day, when immigrant ETs numbered a "few", there was a certain
sense of camaraderie
A sort of us-against-the-rest mentality. You were
very happy just to see another ET in town. You, therefore, rarely dreamed
of back-stabbin' the few yager lijoch that were around because
you would have very quickly become a very lonely agul ferenje.
But then times changed. The numbers and "choices" of friends
And so did the means to screw things up
Let me be right up-front and tell you that one of the main reasons that "cracks"
developed into "chasms" was because ET-men are such
.Well, actually, being non-discrete is a generic man thing, and not
just an Ethiopian problem.
(And, yes, I will generalize because any man who didn't grow up in a cave
knows what I'm talking about
Heck, one thousand years ago, the man who
ran the first marathon - and died - did so just to spread the news about
a great war victory; so you better believe that couple of yager
lijoch hanging out in an air-conditioned bar will be tempted to talk
about anything under the sun
.But I not defending them!! I'm just saying that yager
wendoch just had to speak about their "conquests"
if the boys were the type who couldn't handle a drink or two
especially true in DC where happy hour drinks are bigger that your San Fran
It never quite dawned on these poor amateur drinkers that they could have
just as easily been the "conquered"
.As Aretha would say: "Who's zoomin'
who??" (Yes, Tirseet, ET women have been known to keep score too). In any
case, the boys kept talking, and the ladies kept getting madder
Now in all fairness to the men, some of us weren't initially sure what the
fuss was all about. It turned out that the answer - in a lot of cases - had
to do with a certain set of "double standards"/rules that yager
setoch decided to play by
It's all tied in with your theory
of pride and someone better
.If you add pride + "better" + "double standard"
you get a whole lot of women thinking - or being told: bezuh (kewond
gara) ketayew ye-miyagebagn yiTefal.
Given that most men don't "two steps ahead" in relationships - or life for
that matter, (yep, I'm generalizing again), the problem only got
.Which is really a round-about-way of saying: the larger the
population size got, the longer the list of real - or imagined - victims
This crazy cycle created a very curious phenomena known as "ferenje
(be mistir) mawTat"
It was somehow assumed that an ET man or
woman could do the craziest, kinkiest things - just as long as they were
being done on "the other-side-of-town" with a
And just as long as no one on this side of town
knew about it, they and could therefore be labeled as Ms.
.How bizarre is that?!?!? I only wish I could be so calculating!!!!
Some folks tried a variant of this by saying: enay agere hajaye
This usually produced disastrous results because of
the huge expectations placed on both individuals
So how do we begin to bridge the chasm?? Heck if I know the answer, but here
are a few suggestions that might help
1) Yager wendoch, go easy on the
weré!!! Think about it, does talking about who you slept
with last night really make you a better person??
2) Setoch, being discrete is good, but don't get carried away
by this whole double standard thing
.If a guy doesn't love you for who
you are, (and vice-versa), then your with the wrong person.
Beyond that, here is my number one reason why relationships don't
Setoch expect way, way, way too much from the guys
men can not be gentle yet strong, proud yet humble, caring yet
all at the same time
This expectation reminded me of a true story of how one
azawint once remarked after listening to her daughter and friends
"Lije, inante yemitifeligut sebat bal inji A'nd bal
Darn, time is almost up
But before I go, I got to answer your question
about junior year
The only thing that I hated in junior year was my
.Who needs to be bored with "Statics" when I could have been studying
about the roots of democracy in Athens and Troy
(It's that marathon
thing I was telling you about)
there is another thing I got to "air" to neti-zens
that is how boring Ethiopian music has become!! It's getting down-right awful
in its cookie cutter approach!! Maybe that's another reason yager
lijoch can't get along!!! They can't dance together anymore!!!!
Got to go before I get carried away
See you "in a few"