We didn't know what we would find in our "In Box" in the aftermath of unleashing SELEDA, and breathed a sigh of relief at the overwhelmingly positive feedback bestowed upon our sensitive selves by equally sensitive readers. Even your criticisms were so benevolent that, as they say in circles we frequent, "Yenanteh sidib eko ende kibat new meto litif yemilebgn". We are humbled beyond recognition, and cashing in our "Bertu, bertu" chips, we have come back at you with the second edition...much to the distaste of all of our significantly better other halves, who had hoped we would get over this little fancy and resume regular happy lives. Ahh, were it that easy.
Maneuvering through our emails, we were happy to find Samuel Kidanu's message, "Ere Ye SELEDA Amlak Yaleh!", in which he made his despair apparent at having scored an 8 on "Top Ten Signs You Have Become a Ferenjie". (Eight?!? We would have thought even George Washington would have plateaued at 7!) However, not one to take on this kind of an affront lightly, we were happy to find out about his plans to seek out the services of one Yeneta Gebremeskel, who, we assume, is schooled in reformations of Ethiopians gone awry. You go Sammy! And not that we are experts or nothin', but we have a feeling the good Yeneta might not take too kindly to you referring to yourself as "the Sam Man". But that could just be us. Lemaniyawoom, entuf entuf belegnale.
Abiy Desta, on the other hand, who was equally disturbed at his own high score, saw no reason to take such radical steps. Instead, he politely asked us if we could adjust the Top Ten questions "so I can score a little better. At least I drive the right car." Abiy, meet the Sam Man. The Sam Man, Abiy.
Tewodros and Rahel's email exchanges in "Life Diaries" by far seemed to be the most popular feature, although Y. Menelik spoke for the lot of you in decrying SELEDA's decision to let Rahel use a pseudonym. "Do the esteemed SELEDA editors, in their wisdom, not see the contradiction in trying to build an open forum, while hiding the identity of its writers?" he chided. "Negeru endimeremerilign ke akbrot gar eniteyekalen." (Wait a second... Esteemed? Wisdom? Us? Ayteganim.) Point well taken, Yodit? Yohannes? Yergalem? Yeshi? And, ere min mirmera yasfelegewal? Huletegna aylemdenim.
Given that erudition in any form throws us off-kilter, we found ourselves startled yet delighted Yitbarek Baharu picked up on what he called "the ironic incongruity" of Rahel and Ted's interaction with societal woes. "As a scientist working in the field of HIV research, conventional wisdom would have Rahel interacting more with issues of life and death than Ted, a politico in D.C. It was that irony, their insight and the easy exchange between this Ethiopian sister and brother which made reading 'Life Diaries' an immeasurable delight. Bravo!"
Meanwhile, K. Dawit, who seemed to have missed Yitbarek's poignant observation entirely, first admitted (perhaps a little too eagerly?) that he almost felt like a voyeur in the "Rahel and Ted Chronicles", then put forth a blue print on how SELEDA could be a forum to "hook up" single Ethiopian professionals. "Neger eko endezi new yemijemirew."
Moving right along...
The award for "Best Charmer of Egomaniac SELEDA Editors" goes to Abiy Hailu, who ingratiated himself by comparing the words in SELEDA to "Sebeta's waterfall - smooth as silk." We wasted little time deploying peons (we are not yet presidential enough to have interns) to find out just how formidable this metaphor was, and have been assured that Sebeta is no pansy trickling brook. Abet anjet meblat, abet anjet meblat!
The runner-up in the Department of Charm is Beamlak, who we can tell possesses impeccable taste in literature and is a proponent of our kind of math. After generously propelling SELEDA to "most interesting and fun Ethiopian site" status, he slapped it with an 11 rating on a scale of 1-10. (Ewnetim Beamlak!) Hopefully, he will never run into that Ethiopian mail-order-bride web page, which might make our numero uno eminence with him very short lived.
In the "Alrighty Then!" file goes Tedla Imeru's terse letter telling us that while he liked our "little venture", he hoped future issues will try to "appeal more to us men". Apparently, the first (or as Negash put it, the 'maiden') issue of SELEDA had a distinctly "femme overtone that [was] plaguing it." Ouch! And unfortunately for us, Amazon.com is freshly out of the latest edition of Webster's "Testosterone-to-English Dictionary". Our loss.
On the international front, Mahlet Mulugeta from Ontario, who, thankfully, made no mention of being plauged by our tone, wanted to encourage us not to be so provincial as to limit SELEDA's appeal to Ethiopian professionals in the US. Similar requests came in from Sefanit in London, Stephanios in Rome and D. Amha in Sweden (what? No one from Quatar?), prompting us to daydream about the day when we will be able to throw around zingy repartee in all the romance languages. Hang in there guys.
"Since you had me entertained for hours," wrote Iyob Melaku, "I will refrain from addressing you as 'Dear Snobbish Editors' as you suggested those of us with free email accounts do." Shhhh! A gentleman in our midst. He then went on to butter us up more, before slipping in an appeal for us to lay off our "million dollar words." Iyob, Iyob, Iyob. You must have known we are total push-overs for flattery and smiley faces, so whatever you want, guy... even if it means we can't throw around 'obsequious' in some form or another.
A few people pointed out that the background we chose for the introduction page made the text a little difficult to read. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts to bribe our webmasters into coming back to work to fix this glitch, (they continue to observe a work slow-down thing, ostensibly to protest maltreatment from unnamed SELEDA upper-management bullies.. blah blah ) we were not able to remedy this problem right away. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Speaking of imperceptive and callous disregard for creativity, we were dismayed that some of you (mostly people in California) did not know what the word SELEDA meant. (Is the Yeneta fully booked?) Now, if we were the sarcastic, revelers-in-bombast types, we would have seized this opportunity to zing out snappish retorts about the brainpower of Californians. Alas, we are cursed with the whole chewa, asadagi YALbedelew burden, so... SELEDA = Blackboard in Amharic. (That loud thundering noise? That was y'alls parents' hearts breaking.)
The vociferous NYC/DC contingent made its displeasure known that our closing Wodet Alen to new members was behavior that was seriously courting derision. Not even our thickest, sturdiest dictionary could deflect the barbed arrows of friendly venom some of you fired our way. Fasil Ambachew, who has been "waiting for a forum like this forever", was outraged, we tell you, outraged, about "the great Ethiopian shut-out." "The 'issues' I had about filling out surveys had finally subsided," he let us know, "until I was cruelly rebuffed by SELEDA and its 'abiot astebakis'."
Metchal Zerberga (a pseudonym, you think?) said it was "cliquish"; Ermias condemned it as a "sera" to exclude lawyers like him (as if they had a chance!); Mirafe G. Marcos asked what the protocol was to be pushed to the front of the line (ha! Just like pushy ivy-leaguer to think nothing of rules and regulations); and Mulugeta Assefa, spoiler of the little fun we are trying to have, threatened that unless we opened up a spot for him, he will start spreading rumors that we are a "bizarre, intellectual, pagan cult, whose members sacrifice virgins to appease the computer gods." Hey, hey, hey! Watch who you call bizarre!!!!
On the future of SELEDA, Amha in DC (those people again!) first commended us on "quite a unique and refreshing approach to promoting dialogue", but forewarned us about how "future installments will determine whether we will truly witness something worthwhile, or whether it will all revert back to mind-numbing dribble." Ereg, ereg, ereg. Akaki zeraf! You mean this issue was not? And we worked so hard...
Finally, suggestions as to what to cover in future SELEDA issues poured in generously everything from soccer updates (yeeach!) to book clubs, to running personal classified ads. (Humm. "Derbaba professional male looking for shenkorit princess for walks on the beach and quiet dinners." ???)
For now, we have stuck to subjects we know something about, and have taken into consideration Getamessay Melaku's suggestion on providing internship information to our readers; and Robel Yersa's new feature idea, the SELEDA Survey. ...
...("Lielt-mesaye konjo, looking for the right goremsa to pamper and spoil." ???)...
We would like to thank our readers for their enthusiastic and touching response to SELEDA. Slowly but surely, we are building a strong foundation, and will always strive to bring you exceptional issues. We hope we can continue to depend on your support. Depending on our reader's participation, (there we go again threatening the very fabric of this forum) we have plans for SELEDA to be a monthly 'zine, so check out the next issue on June 1st.