To:             Rafael
From:         Tirseet
Subject:      Adam and Eve

Dear Rafael,

Hats off to you for your very honest and insightful perspective. How refreshing when someone takes responsibility for their part in a situation. Oh boy! It's news to me that there is such a prevalence of werè amongst Ethio men. (Shows I've been out of Ethio circles too long). I always assumed women talked more than men but I do take your word for it since you are an Insider! :-)

I suspect though that the reason for the "double standard" among Setoch that you mention is less about Yewondoch werè, and more about a survival mode. We come into this society and discover that we have emotional needs that are not even acknowledged let alone fulfilled in our own culture. I'm talking about the need to feel loved, appreciated and oh! Another big one - respected! Let's be honest about our culture - isn't it true that a man would almost never publicly display affection or respect for his woman? As if this would somehow portray a weakness or character deficiency in him and make him a lesser person. Tilik w'rdet! But, I tell ya, the man who is able to do that is absolutely one who has immense self-esteem, because he recognizes that affirmation of another person in no way reduces his own worth. Quite the contrary.

So here we are (Setoch) observing how our American counterparts are treated. We see them being listened to and their opinions respected; receiving flowers in the office on their birthday, anniversary, and Valentine's day; receiving tremendous support from their mates in terms of family obligations and their own education & career; etc. etc. We realize we have the same desires. Egnas lemin yekeribinal? And we also recognize that is just not something Ethio men are good at (forgive the generalization - of course there are exceptions). Perhaps what the Setoch you talk about do is to try and get that need met elsewhere, i.e. surreptitiously dating Ferenjies (or not so surreptitiously as the case may be). Because deep down inside, they really only want to be with an Ethio man. So they try to have their cake and eat it too!

I'm not condoning this type of behaviour at all, but I do see where many women are coming from. It may be their way of coping, but it's also the easy way out because getting our Ethio man to learn from Ferenje men (yes, they do have good qualities - the subject of my previous poem was a Ferenje) requires discernment and tenacity.

I have to agree with you, albeit reluctantly, about Setoch having unrealistic expectations. But I disagree with you emphatically that the men can't be gentle yet strong, humble yet proud, etc. I have faith that most Ethio men can be all of that and more, they just (a) don't recognize the value of those traits and (b) don't know how to be that way. It takes an astute woman to convince a guy that those are good things to aspire after (not only for the relationship but also for his own character development) and then to teach him how. Such men just don't come ready-made! Ke Piasa ready-made megzat bechalema endet arif neber! We have to stop expecting that the men will learn by osmosis simply by virtue of living in Western society - cuz it ain't happenin'.

That brings to remembrance the saying "behind every successful man is a woman". I wouldn't go so far as to say every but I'd say it's certainly true for many, many men. If it's not a wife, it's probably a mother. So, egna Setoch need to be smart and give the right mix of love, respect, and space while being careful not to trample on that oh! So-delicate ego! (Girls - makuref as a method for getting the guys to do anything is a complete flop!).

And if our Wendoch would stop being so staunchly chauvinistic i.e. thinking that treating women right is being agul Ferenje, well…we may just be on our way to a happy medium. Someone I just met - an Ethio guy no less - sent me an electronic greeting card with flowers and "Hello Tirseetiye" on it! . Needless to say, he immediately scored big points with me! So for all you guys out there (single or married) here is Lesson#? Be romantic and send out those darned greeting cards! Ya can't get flowers cheaper anywhere else! And the endearing "iye" after her name is an absolute MUST! C'mon guys, it's not that hard. The return on your investment of 3 minutes of time and ½ ounce of effort is tremendous! And there's no reason Setoch shouldn't reciprocate likewise.

Rafael, I think you hit the nail on the head with your interesting comment about "choice". Choice is a good thing IF we can handle it in a responsible manner. Having more choices is no guarantee that we will make the right choice or even a better choice than the person we are already with. I wasn't planning on it, but I can't resist sharing a short excerpt from another piece I wrote some months ago. (Don't worry - this is the only other poem pertaining to our topic so you are safe from any more! :-))

Consider Adam & Eve who only had one choice: each other.

If no one else existed on this earth,
Except the two of us
How happy & content we would be!
Because we would only have one another
So let us live, as if…
There really is just the two of us!
You and I are it
Created from each other and for each other
No one else exists
Just the two of us
You, Adam and I, Eve.

Well, Ato Rafael, I'll have to digest your theory about the role of boring "cookie-cutter" Ethiopian music in exacerbating our dire straits! I've been out of touch with what's out there currently so I'm ill-equipped to have an opinion one way or the other.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you!


P.s. I'll pick up the Queen of Soul's "Who's Zoomin' Who?" album. I confess I haven't heard it yet…also some Amarigna musiqa so I can judge whether or not it's the same old story/melody!

To:           Tirseet
From:       Rafael
Subject:   They call that stuff music???

Selam Tirseet….

It's deadline time, and our dearest of  Editors has called me to gently remind me that I am running "behind"…again…

Now that I've ingested your Part III, I am ready to hopefully fulfill the old mantra "last but not least"….

Let me begin by saying that a lot of what you said is right-on-the-money…Many of us forget that it is often the simple things in life that a lot of people appreciate…

In fact, I got motivated enough by this whole train-of-thought to go dig-up an old set of phrases that a colleague of mine gave me when she got laid off…( I got to "borrow" this stuff 'cause I definitely can't match your stash of giTim and sem enna worq):

It isn't a matter of what life deals you,
It's a matter of how you deal with life!
You gotta work…like you don't need the money,
Love…like you'll never get hurt.
You gotta' dance like nobody's watchin',
It's gotta come from the heart…If you want it to work.

I don't know the key to success and happiness, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody!

Success or happiness requires…the vision to see, the faith to believe, and the courage to do!!!

Since I ended-up as a pseudo-random ex-engineer who is currently dabbling in marketing, I have no idea if this stuff makes as much sense to others as it did to me; but I hope it does 'cause I see a whole lot of ye-hager lijoCH caught up in a whole lot of materialistic "I-got-to-work 80-hours-a-week-to-buy-the-black-leather-couch-and-new-Accord" mode.

(Lest you snicker at my attempt at psycho-babble, let me tell you that back-in-the day, I used to never understand why a whole bunch of folks back home had a copy of "Desiderata" plastered on their walls like it was some kind of Picasso…The damn poster was even translated into Amarigna!!! For a while, I honestly thought it was some sort of neuvou-riche prerequisite for saying you are middle-class…The toughest part was when the owner pointed it out, and you then felt obligated to read it for the millionth time, and pretend you understood it…)

But I digress…and am almost in danger of exceeding my word count before I can discuss my latest pet peeve - the sorry state of Ethiopian music….

Trust me Tirseet, you ain't missing much by not listening to the latest Ethiopian music…Why, you ask? Well every singer seems to have the exact same session band that uses the exact same settings on that damn synthesizer machine…

…It gotten so bad that ferenjoch can play our music better than we can!!! A few years ago I watched a video of Aster Awoke on BET JAZZ in which she was jammin' with an awesome ferenje band…She hasn't sounded as good since…(I just saw her in Oakland last month, and it looked like half the band members were about to go into a boredom-induced coma).

If you ever want to get "back-into" Ethiopian music, I strongly recommend the "Ethiopique" series of CDs…They are largely based on pre-Revolutionary recordings - a period of time when neither the producers nor the session bands would ever dream of overwhelming the musician's raw talent with computerized drum machines. (The latest 2 - in a series of 6 - cover Mahmoud while he was still creative…You should be able to find copies at Rasputins in Berkeley..)

EeFOY…Now that I've "vented", let me go back to more "sane" topics…

…I loved the electronic card idea. I think it a great way to say hello. I got to try it some day…(But mind you, even though we are living in a  dot com-crazed world, there is nothing that can replace the smell of fresh abeboCH)…

Ok, Tirseet, since you have given us men so many good pointers, maybe you can solve an age-old problem that many of us have encountered…

…Why is it, that at an abesha party, all the men and women sit as far away from each other as possible as if the setting is some sort of segregated tej bet?

Now, in keeping-up my attempts at psycho-babble, I suppose I could blame it on the Jesuits who forced many of us to attend girls-and-boys-only high schools… (Hey, we live in a country where everybody blames everybody else for their problems)…But I see this behavior from folks who came from "mixed" schools/"environments" like "your own"….

At this point, you may be asking what's the big deal?? Enough already!!! (As we like to say in New York)…Perhaps I am indeed making much-a-do-about-nothing, but I often see guys and women staring at each other from afar as if they are engaged in some sort of who-can-blink-first contest. This is probably because they may feel too intimidated to get into the middle of a group and engage in conversation. (Kind'a feel like you 're being inspected by 20 eyeballs)…This often leads to a hilarious situation in which guys camp out near doors or bathrooms in the hopes of catching the women as they take a break or on the way home…

Anyway, I'm beginning to sound like yakorefe neCHnaCHa (I got an excuse for that too...It's 9 PM, and I haven't eaten all day)…so before I go, I was curious to know if you had "settled" on what you are going to do "post-stock" during your sabbatical…I hear you stock-market types always want answers yesterday for tomorrow's problems….How do you plan to go from 5th gear/top-speed, to a "Driving-Miss-Daisy" pace???

"Inquiring minds want to know…"