Reaction to the May issue of SELEDA ran the gamut: from atwelwoolo yemidefa praise, to avuncular advice to, well, er, shall we say…wirgibgn… the likes of which that has left us still licking our fancied wounds.
Our "In Box" overfloweth, of course, because of the voluminous 'yazoongne lekekugns' of Ethiopian men in the Western Hemisphere who just had to vent (some would say spew) well-spun hyperbole in response to "Battle of the Sexes: Part One." (The kind people at yahoo.com had to remind us to delete some of our messages if we wanted to continue to remain in their good graces, and we were only too happy to oblige by deleting messages that had the words "tegab" and "defar" in them.)
Regarding the comment by Ethiopian women:
"Now, yebass bilachiu, we hear some of you are yearning for the 'bengna gizay' days when it was perfectly acceptable to kidnap ('metlef') women and use us as bargaining chips in land deals. ("I'll take four hectares and that pretty li'l thing right there.")
Adam M responded by firing off this Molotov cocktail "Enante setoch! Ere demo min honen bilachiu lekefa jemerachihu? OK, while I admit that what some of our women said was interesting, I object to the assumption that any self-respecting Ethiopian brother has ever traded four (count 'em four!) perfectly good hectares for any woman! We demand you apologize to all the good hectares of Ethiopia."
Kefa (we kept hoping his name was a reference to the Kifle Hager and not a derivation of the more ominous adjective 'kifaT'), followed up with considerably less magnanimity. "Koy enji Ihits," he wrote. "Who taught you how to atir mezlel and ansola megfef? That kind of male bashing brings to mind the 'Set ena enkulal' teret. (Just kidding, guys.) Hey, is it open season now?" (… Yep… definitely from 'kifat'.)
Peppered with several exclamation marks and plenty of other punctuation that we don't expect to translate to "Yasadigachu… enjera AYA-satachihu", Tebebe Maraki unshackled from the depth of his soul the kind of venom we usually reserve for ICS grads. "Eh! Wey kibtet. Ekul aregen, " he laments, his lips probably bleeding from acute kenfer memteting. "Ferenge alhonachiu abesha. Because of Nobless Oblige we will try not to come at you with the fury of Adowa. However, good job for at least getting our attention. We have taken note."
And not that we thought anything good would come from anyone named "Kitachew", but even we who have been numbed by cynicism were surprised by how supremely he managed to live up to his name. "Endet set lidgoch honacihu…?" he started off. Cute. "Ihitoch… Ms. Magazine went out of business for a reason. Arafachiu tegezu belegnal…" (Ooops, was that our delete button again?? Damn!)
U! U! U! Ye gelagay yaleh!!
Luckily, just as we were about to be swept away into the seas of oblivion by angry waves of testosterone, the literary gods sent us Hebret Haile in the form of a fetno derash warden of beleaguered SELEDA editors. "I was a little afraid "Battle" would end up being a cheesy abesha version of a Cosmo "How to Train and Keep Your Man" round-up," she wrote. "I was pleasantly surprised to read humorous, un-catty and intelligent digs at Ethiopian men. I'm sure they will take it in the spirit it was written. Once again, great job!" (Hear THAT Kifat… we mean, Kefa?) … And, uh, Hebret, we'll call you later about getting that issue of Cosmo.
Thankfully, not all the mail was acrimonious volleys of "ke kurchimchimit betach" kill-the-messenger disdains. Proving that we had not managed to alienate all Ethiopian men, is Dawit Shifferaw's message "Finally". "It's about time our women spoke their mind and [this is] the perfect time for us to listen carefully. Communication is the bottom line. Please keep it coming. All the more power to you !" Ahh, the sweet chimes of chewinet.
On a decidedly less cerebral front, all that SELEDA friend and known provocateur, Araya, wanted to know was "Where are these women? And how can I date them? All of them!" E-Z, guy. Unhand our sisters, thine swine!
"No, this did not bring world peace," wrote P. Aga, effectively bringing to an end our persnickety attempt at world peace. "But how I chuckled when I read BOTS Part 1. Congratulations on a humorous approach to what is an often-taboo subject for us Ethiopians. I can't wait for part 2."
Finally, putting an end to this matter, Mettasebia wanted us to know that one very important entry was left out. "ET men need to know that 'feminism' is not THE 'F' word," she pointed out. "Can you add that in?" Hell yes, we can! … Listen you ne'er-do-well ET men who think you can make omelets out of our sisters: Feminism is not the 'F' word! (Er, we think 'fundamentalist' is.) So there!
We are giddy with joy to report that unwittingly (and believe us, any good we do is unwittingly), the May issue of "Life Diaries" seems to have started a trend of sorts. Several of you informed us that guest diarists Harean and Abiy's email exchanges on reading and displaying Amharic print outs in their offices, has ostensibly inspired you to "cut/paste/print/post" Amharic sayings all over your work places.
We at SELEDA ourselves, who have not had an original thought like that in, like, well… never, jumped on the bandwagon and siphoned off a lovely waterfall image with the words "Selam" written on it in Amharic alphabets to use as wallpaper on our computer screens. No biggie, we thought, until our ferenjie tech support people kept commenting about the "cute little birds" on our monitors. "Uh, no, that reads "peace" in our language," we'd try explaining. Eyes squinted, they'd look closely at the monitor. "Nope, looks like cute little birds to us, " they'd insist … which is why our screen saver now scrolls the words "Get the fundamentalist out of this office!"
We heard from several wholesome young co-eds, who took a break from piercing body parts the Good Lord never mant to be pierced, (hummm… that was uncalled for) to tell us how much they grooved on "SELEDA Careers" and the internship information we provided. "It's great you guys haven't forgotten what it was like in college," gushed Dawit Belete. "Thanks for creating a forum to include those of us who aspire to enter the corporate world. This gives us great insight."
Echoing Dawit's sentiments, Sewasew relates to us how she too was contemplating "just another summer job", but thought better of it and has taken on a temp position at an architectural firm. "That way I can start making connections even as an I enter my sophomore year. I'm glad I run into SELEDA." One soul at a time, folks, one soul at a time.
Which brings us to some of our favorite "You go on with your bad selves" rhapsodies from people who love to love us:
Mesfin Reta, who strikes us as being one of those rare SELEDA readers who also happens to be a harbinger of good taste and upper crust literary ilk, serenaded us in verse. "Enat yager lidjoch nacheu SELEDAwoch/ Tirsachin getete areghachihoon moygnoch," starts off the first line. Eye, eye, eye. Gena ahoon kum neger meta. And we seriously contemplated responding in kind, except, being the intellectual pygmies that we are, the only sliver of haiku in our possession starts with "There was once a man from Nantucket…" and that might not seem so appropriate here. Thank you, Mesfin.
Filed under "B" for the "Blatantly Sycophant", is Desalegn's declaration, "SELEDA is my mistress! And I am not worthy to walk through the gates of Wodet Alen…" Ere b'ngus! "I will be your 'ashker' , SELEDA people, if you let me. Thank you for bringing a little laughter into an over-worked computer programmer's life." (Desalegn was apparently AWOL during the little episode we call the Revolution in 70's, when the 'A-Word' was systematically purged out of the land's lexicon.) Thank you Des, but gosh-darn-it if we just didn't fill the last available entry-level SELEDA, um, Woz Ader position... but we are in dire need of Zebegnas, if that should capture your muse.
Continuing with the love fest, (and boy were we hurtin' for some!) Tamerat Dagnachew made us flinch with his comment "SELEDA is the closest thing to genius. In these days where discourse about Ethiopia on the Internet is dominated by crass political rantings, I was very grateful to find an oasis of sanity. I'll add one more big 'bertu!' to your brilliant repertoire. Thank you." No, thank you, Tamerat. Although… closest to genius…? We dunno. That's still Jerry Springer territory.
Computer gurus throughout North America (who have proven themselves to be steadfast SELEDA supporters), were united in their contempt that such a "classy operation" like ours could sport such a mediocre front page. (Absence of 'frames', apparently, is enough to exile any operation, classy or otherwise, to the land of "the computer faras.") But, just like the hager lidgoch you all are, it was extremely touching that not one of you made a "yelewetilgn" request without first offering your expertise to spruce up SELEDA's look. Now that, our fellow Ethiopians, is class. Excuse us. May we? … "Errrrre goraw! Echick! Echick! Echick!"
Occasionally, we've noticed, some of you like to mess with our fragile minds… and for the love of Ledeta, stop it! Sam Aseffa will be delighted to know the havoc he caused with his loaded statement "You guys are interesting. I think". We are sure clear thinkers and pragmatists alike are probably thinking, "Now, what's so loaded about that statement?" Ah, pedestrians! We will have you know that SELEDA deconstuctionists and gatekeepers of our collective neurosis worked overtime to decipher Sam's message: did he mean "I think you guys are interesting" (which is good) or "You guys are interesting, I think" ? (Hummm.. uncertainty.. not good.) Or did he mean "You guys are interesting, I think" (which of course we read as "I , Sam Aseffa, think you are interesting. Everybody else thinks you are delirious fustian dog poops." Which is definitely not good.) Pardon us again while we crack open a fresh bottle of Asprin.
We always love hearing from readers whose emails come bearing lavish advice. "I totally enjoyed the first and second issues of SELEDA," wrote Mulusew Bekele. "It is great to have a site where Ethiopians living abroad can share their life experiences, their successes and I hope their failures as well. Oh, here comes pearls of wisdom, we need to learn from our mistakes." Absolutely. And with a princely name such as "Mulusew Bekele", he could have told us that we were insolent rapscallions and our humbled response would have been "Amen, degemoon". "But," he continued, "Your Wodet Alen is subtitled "Who's Where in the Corporate World". [This] excludes those of us toiling in the non-profit sector. Is it an oversight or are the editors interested only in those who are in Corporate America (i.e. a case of 'Show Me the Money')"? Mulusew… we love people in non-profit sectors. Some of our best friends are in non-profit sectors. Really. And no, we didn't mean to exclude any of you. We just didn't think we could ever impress any of you enough that you would want to be even remotely associated with peep-squeaks like us. Needless to say, we are revamping the whole thing. Degemoon.
Sisay warned us about what untold pestilence would befall on us if we ever let SELEDA morph into a political forum. "I was hoping to be a stand-by-and-observe reader," he said. "But I like what you have started and I just had to put in an early and unsolicited request that you maintain SELEDA's witty and intelligent tone and leave the politicking to others. Bewhoalya neterik endaymeta."
In the same vein, Teshager Tesfaye wrote, "An e-mail list I started years ago has now become a political forum as opposed to its goal, to become a networking and experience sharing hub. Please make sure you don't go down that path...."
OK, now that we are wrought with guilt, we suppose it's time for full disclosure: It's not that ignoble, baronial, Aldous Huxley-esque thoughts of cashing in on the good name SELEDA to create a "Greater SELEDA State" has never crossed our minds… (complete with little SELEDA robot people controlling all of the world's computers and brainwashing subjects into supporting our hidden agenda of creating a dictatorship based on sarcasm and irony… and selling millions of SELEDA Beanie Babies in the process) … but, given that we've just mastered using the 'alt' button on our keyboard without crashing down whole networks, we think that we are at least a couple of light years away from fulfilling any paltry dreams we might harbor of dominating the world.
So, we get it. Poletika ena korenti be ruku new. Once again, all of us at SELEDA want to thank our readers for their support. May has certainly been an interesting month for "The Mail". We look forward to June following suit. Drop us a line at Seleda@yahoo.comSeleda@yahoo.com with comments, suggestions and recipes for Quanta Fir Fir.