Is this yet another cause that is doomed to not change anything at all?
Recently, a petition page which demands the removal of Ethiopia’s reference to famine from Oxford Dictionary is being circulated amongst Ethiopians facebook community. I was eager to see how different it would be from the ones I see every now and then on facebook.
With growing excitement, I clicked on the link. There is a page which reads “I am an Ethiopian and am not starving” with a distressing story of how Ethiopia is analogous with famine.
As time went by and people started to become a member of this petition group, I realized it is typical Ethiopian campaigns on facebook where you see mob yelling by saying do not identify me as a starved. People click on the page some might like it at their own convenience, voiced their opinions on the available space. It is just like a signing petition; but nobody knows to whom the letters will be addressed to.
Now the petition group grows around 5,248 members for the cause I guess these people are full of energy and they are screaming online, excitedly by saying I am an Ethiopian and not starving
But I think not a single one of them seemed to care about many Ethiopians who are really starving. It is all about being online and using facebook, holding the best ideology free issues, putting slogans on facebook, and most importantly, getting coverage from the media specifically the western media.
On my first glance apart from the annoyances of countless invitation of Ethiopian causes on my facebook page, I admit I thought it was fantastic initiative. I felt these people are most responsible Ethiopian citizens on earth; folks who care for the good image of Ethiopia, folks who would stand against the stereotype of western media to make a difference.
But I was wrong.
I soon realized that the petition page which demands the removal of Ethiopia’s reference to famine from Oxford Dictionary don’t bring any change at all. They are really just groups of people on social media networks who are trying to represent the other image of Ethiopia or showing that they have a ‘voice’.
Watching from the sidelines
Although it may be the best way of showing the western media has stereotyped Ethiopians with a single story of famine and starvation that every Ethiopian wants to end these stereotypes, I strongly believe it certainly cannot make a difference. And since what I hope do is bring real change, I refused to join this facebook petition group.
Unlike the middle-eastern ground breaking social transformations or say it revolutions, this petition pages don’t have the power to bring about change. This is because the western media that helped a lot in creating the stereotype are not ready to be a part of the change this facebook pages are seeking. On top of this I believe facebook petitions are easy, participation and bringing the actual change is difficult.
Can these people change the image of Ethiopia by removing Ethiopia’s reference to famine from Oxford Dictionary? Will Ethiopia emerge with a new image amongst the west?
Will the likes of BBC,CNN, or Hollywood stop producing films or making news which frames Ethiopia with famine or starvation? Above all to some extent are we not starved? Are we really committed to defy the stereotype of starvation of famine and starvation? If this is how things stand, I refuse to sign this petition. What do you think?