ETV’S white foreigners’ interview on occasions like “Timket” epitomizes nothing but messed up identities

Anyone who reads this post please tell me what has interviewing white foreigners got to do with building “brand new image” of Ethiopia. What is so pleasant about asking a certain white dude on primarily Ethiopian festivity? If you have noticed some of the questions from ETVjournalists” goes like “Is this your first time to be in Ethiopia?” “What did you observe?” “What difference did you see if this is your second time in Ethiopia?” Year in year out same questions with several white interviewees. By the way, I have nothing against white interviewees.

OK, we are distinct country in our traditions, cultures and history but every country is different on their own. And I know, media houses like ETV may have interview with whomever they want, but come now, after all it was “Timket” and many of Addis dwellers dress up to symbolize their cultural heritages and pledged their allegiance to– the Red, Yellow & Green flag of Ethiopia and surely they must at least have a chance to reflect their passion on their holiday on the national television not tourists.

I believe the essence of presenting white peoples interview on the national television on the occasions like “Timket” is an exhibit of admiration of what is foreign. For me it is an exertion of journalists who want to identify themselves with something that is regarded as “better testimony for good image of Ethiopia”. Here the biggest challenge comes to the picture: What is better? Better than what?  “Who can be the witness for our own holiday other than ourselves” These journalists give a lame reason of building brand new image of Ethiopia for interviewing white people. I am boldly labeling this as an attempt to adopt confused methods of image building and confusing foreign identities and cannot relate to any of public relation activities that would help to build a brand new image of Ethiopia. The journey for brand new image of Ethiopia is a long trip that will have to take many factors.

I have observed that there is a movement (though it looks artificial) towards appreciating what is local, what is ethnic and what is indigenous, and this is observed on a public occasions like “Timket”. ETV should take the advantage of this movement to capitalize on its quest for brand new image of Ethiopia.

I do not think brand new image of Ethiopia will be built by something trivial — such as asking opinions of white foreigners about “friendly people of Ethiopia”, or “the good weather of Ethiopia” or interviewing foreigners about ethnic, indigenous or religious celebrations such as “Meskel” or “Timket”. For me these acts are indications of messed up identities and adoration of white witnesses. What do you think?


2 thoughts on “ETV’S white foreigners’ interview on occasions like “Timket” epitomizes nothing but messed up identities

  1. Dearest Endalk,

    Thank you for sharing your view. I read your points and a lot of questions came to my mind. However, I don’t want to dump them all here. I rather wanted to say just my opinion.

    Indeed, image building of a nation is always a positive act as you said. However, the benchmark we used as a reference matters. My point is not actually commenting on the reason why interviews are made with foreigners. The point is just look at any ETV program whether it is “Arhibu”, “Tenawo bebetiwo” or any; every journalist wants to mix “English” in between their talk. Even sometimes that is considered as knowledge level. So, taking this into account, it won’t be a big deal if they always count interviews with the so called “Ferenj” as an “image building” which shouldn’t be actually the case.

    Another issue is the way majority of us have grown up. It is assumed that the one who can speak with “Ferenj” is considered as respected person. However, this is becoming obsolet the recent generation. Let me take you to the Arba Minch tour guiders. Majority of them are highschool graduates and they used to guide anyone coming from foreign countries. So to build an image of country on such occasion, I wish those guidee could have been interviewed through questions like: How many tourists have you guided this year? Which festival do the tourists appriciate more? what kind of improvements are expected from tourism office? etc.

    Though that is non of my business as an individual, I have a feeling that I shouldn’t be affraid when I comment on such things. Because, this is my blood Ethiopian, this is my country and this is mine whom I have to comment for constructive purpose. Overall, I agree with your idea in that the more we repeat with the same question and approach, the more will be deterioration than construction of the image.

  2. I was once one of the white interviewees for ETV at Meskel festival in Adigrat in Sept 2009. You’re right the questions were fairly standard (‘how do you find Ethiopia?’ etc), but what I found concerning was that what was translated (dubbed into Amharic) when it was shown on TV wasn’t what I’d actually said. I can’t 100% confirm whether this is right or not as I never got to see the broadcast and don’t understand Amharic well enough, but (Ethiopian) friends with me when I was interviewed told me after they’d seen the broadcast.

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