Why Ethiopian Television (ETV) provokes my wrath

While I may be a normal Ethiopian, I am informed of all Ethiopian issues that go on political and yet I cannot stand watching ETV. Why would I not stand to watch the entire television program designed to inform, entertain or educate the public? It’s straightforward really for about a decade of reasons! Where shall I start, okay let me begin with journalists

These ETV people aren’t really journalists

This may be the biggest argument for not watching ETV. And I say ETV reporters are “shabby” and ETV is like a patient with multiple organ failure. They make news by interviewing a dunce or a bimbo on the street. I together with some friends of mine who share my feelings always know the guy or the woman; he/she’s being interviewed only because he/she is being interviewed in the areas of something ETV consider news. His/her approach, such as it is, consists of saying “you know” with a lot and broadcasting a massive “I’m-so-excited-to-be-part of this project of the millennium”. Besides the journalists always claim that they are promoting Ethiopian renaissance, which I believe is a fallacious claim with the stance of the premier that has stated Ethiopia has only a century old history. If government argues Ethiopia has only a century old history, if they say Axum obelisks has nothing to do with Southern people of Ethiopia which Ethiopian renaissance are they talking about? After all promoting Ethiopian renaissance cannot be news. Otherwise ETV must redefine Johan Galtung’s news values.

The “analysts” of Ethiopian economy, media or politics .

Analysts and pundits of any sort of life be economics or entertainment are supposed to be all-inclusive if not detached. But on ETV any time they wish to slip a bit of an “expert” commentary regarding the “Great Millennium Project” or price fixing on commodities in, they’ll invite an “analyst” -for-hire, someone who will say exactly what the anchor wants him to say. This is evident if you are disgusted enough with”የህትምት ዳሰሳ”. The hosts of this specific program are so despicable as such that presenters, hosts and anchors take on the responsibility of interrogators and negotiators and even attorneys in some cases. And the invited expert for all seasons. No matter what the topic, this chameleon will become an instant expert. He throws in a bit of jargon, comes to some sweeping conclusions and calls on the government to do more. Oh I trust him; because he wears an expensive suit.

Flashy advertisements

Though it is not peculiar to Ethiopia shallowness is being imparted through advertisements through Ethiopian television. I can be a witness that young people are developing a narcissistic behavior because of ads. Flashy advertisements on television only create the urge for impulse buying. What is even more irritating is these ads are produced by a public relation companies that are found to be a proponent of government policy and strategies with some kind of covert, deep rooted economic and political ties with people in government. Here there is no need to mention companies’ names I hope you know what I am talking about. I do have many more reasons but let me keep it short for today!

University Libraries: Are they the forgotten instituitions in service of censorship??

Recently I visited a certain university library and asked for a book by Assefa Jaleta; the libertarian informed me that the book is not available. Because I know the fact that the book was available in the library earler I asked where the books had gone. She simply told me that all the books by same author were ordered to be removed from the university library.
I immediately walked straight to the periodical section of the library and tried to check weather private papers like “Aweramba Times” and “Fetih” were documented in the libraries. But, I can only make out “Addis Zemen” and “The Ethiopian Herald” ,which are ETV in print, together with some “love” and “fashion” magazines and some selected English newspapers. I went back to the librarian to inquire why they have changed their policy in documenting only selected newspapers. She said that the library does not have a budget to subscribe for every private publication. But I remain resilient and raise my point to her again if I can donate some private newspapers that I obtain weekly for my own consumption. Guess what would be her response . . . “letter from authorities” . . . she said I should bring a letter from a concerned authority that permits me to donate newspapers for the library. I recognize that what is going on in the library is a kind of a soft, quiet, very menacing censorship, where nobody is raising a reek, nobody is complaining, nobody is burning books .
Apparently, these people are just quietly making sure dissident opinions do not get out there for students. It also has a facade looks of self-censorship. Though it needs research with wider samples it is probably fairly widespread. Besides, I don’t have any way of really knowing it; because libraries who censor are not likely to tell me why they reject books, newspapers or magazines with edgy political content. It is dirty secret that no one in the media would like to talk about. It is even more distressing because the librarians do not even realize that they are practicing censorship. Can we say it is paradox; to see censorship in Ethiopia is less well documented today than it was during the “Derge” regime in our libraries?

Why do I cheer for Barca philosophically? Part One

Fortunately enough, as we are blessed with series episodes of El Clasico matches in the coming four weeks, I decided to share my passion of football as Barcelonista! You know, these days whenever there is a Barca game some friends of mine asked me to give them an analysis of Barca’s game and yet some others mock me because they say that I used to be a fan of Arsenal. They always think that I changed the club that I supported so keenly because Arsenal is not considered as big club anymore. Yes they are right I used to be a fan of Arsenal and I still enjoy free flowing one touch football of Arsenal. But I say what happens on the pitch remains on the pitch for Arsenal and my love of football have gone beyond the pitch and Barca provide me an ideological support for my passion of football. This is one of the case why I love Barca and I do have more and let me tell you why.

The history of Football Club Barcelona clearly showcase unprecedentedly that FCB is engaged in a major moments of reinforcing the Catalan identity and Catalonia as an independent constituency of Spain. I’m sorry to say that but I have to say it the current repression in Oromia regional state of Ethiopia is exactly similar if not identical with Franco’s period of Spain, which I suppose FCB has fought successfully through peaceful, honorable and poetic football.

Scholars who’ve studied the ethos of the Oromo’s all agree that the Oromo have suffered a lot. And I extend this wide-ranging agreement of scholars to make an analogy of the Oromos with the Catalans. In similar fashion and scale of the Catalans the Oromos have gone through extreme psychological stress, leading to even more severe identity and cultural disruptions that is self evident to date.

Though I admit the Oromo’s nationalism has got its own distinct characteristic features and poorly researched unlike that of their Catalan counterparts I have found comparable causes in their nationalism. Therefore, I craved to be a fan of FCB because it has the capacity to harness the brightest of Catalan values; FCB is a club that is well acquainted with demands and power of globalization to help in promoting the real Catalan cause on global scale. FCB is a club that is good at integrating players from Spain and the rest of the world, nurturing them with the best insight available in football as well as in life, rather than on narrow ideology unlike the likes of Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad FCB has the ability to forge harmony, not just among the Catalans but the whole of Spain as we have observed in the recent world cup of South Africa as well as Euro 2008. I believe these achievements were greatly inspired by FCB players and most importantly by Catalans. This clearly shows the ethos of FCB which influence Catalan players to abstain from narrow self interest and embrace the possibilities that they can accomplish if they work together to build a better Spain.

FCB is a club that fought not only injustice, but also a club whose approach to freedom and justice seem gone well with the problems of a Catalan identity: well composed as foundation, positive even in the time of Franco’s adversity, willing to stand for truth about issues of Catalonia

For friends of mine who might doubt the ability of sport to unite a nation for a cause I strongly believe that sport provides ideological and cultural support for a certain society.FCB is a classic case. It is also evident if we look at how football is interwoven with the life of Brazilians. Ethiopian middle and long distance athletics domination over the world and our joyful festivities whenever out athletes win a certain championship can also epitomize my claim. Moreover, if scandals are true once I heard that Keninesa Bekele had a plan to wrap himself in the flag of his regional state after his major Olympic victory but the criticism was so harsh and loud then he left his plan for fear of being associated with one of Oromian opposition groups. I do not care weather this rumor is true or not but I feel there is a strong urge of the Oromos to make themselves felt in Ethiopia or outside Ethiopia and I suggest the Barca way is the best model to follow. For now, let me not strain you with stiff politics of football. Enjoy the first Classico from the coming four Classicos in succession this Saturday, which I expect a five nil trashing of the hosts in whites. Sure I expect that!

In Defense of Bewketu Seyoum

Bewketu Seyoum’s hit literary pieces (poems, essays, novellas and short stories) puts on hold for the last five years amongst young Ethiopians and I dare to say that Bewketu is becoming the most read contemporary Amharic writer. His literary pieces established, Bewketu, as a rising literary talent to watch.

One of his recent essays, titled “እግር ዐልባው ባለ ክንፍ” brought aggressive beatings up on him, but I see this article as a literary piece which exceptionally dig deep down into the roots of some of our beliefs and challenge our convictions. Bewketu has tried to present food for our thought. I strongly believe that this piece would have ignited some ferocious controversies had it been read by more people and I decided to write this piece in defense of his right to freedom of expression.
As I clearly states on bio section of my blog I strongly believe in freedom of expression. Though it is on the paper and with its all claw back clauses our constitution defends the right to freedom of expression. If not government at least people who claim themselves as a freedom pugilist should be abided by it. I am even deeply worried by some folks who started a cause page on facebook against this “እግር ዐልባው ባለ ክንፍ” piece of writing. Many people despite their claim of being civil and gentle if I use Robert Frost’s words despite their claim of their –“ability” to listen to almost anything without losing their temper or self-confidence some facebook friends of mine sadly seem to have displayed impatience towards the spread of extremism by joining this group. For me this act of my friends is an inability and unwillingness to challenge different ideas. Please understand that I am not saying what Bewketu has written is right or wrong I am supporting his right to freedom of expression, which is also mine and yours and which means nothing if it does not include the right to say stuff that upset other people.
You know what I believe, had Ethiopians protect freedom of conscience, thought and expression, nobody would have a problem with somebody like Bewketu telling his point of view in friendly and hilarious language as in the article in the question.

ታላቁን የሚሊንየም ግድብ በተመለከተ ከተሰሙ ሰሞነኛ ንግግሮች

አንድ ወዳጂ ሰሞኑን በአባይ ወንዝ ላይ ሊሰራ የታቀደው የታላቁ የሚሊንየም ግድብን በተመለከተ ከሚካሂዱት የውይይት መድረኮች አንዱ ላይ ተግኝኝቶ አንድ ተናጋሪ ሲናገር ሰማሁ ብሎ ያጫወተኝ ፈገግ ያሰኛል ፡፡ ንግግሩ ቅልብጭ ከማለቱ ብዙ ርዕሰ ጉዳዮችን የዳሰሰ ነው፡፡

የስብስባው መሪ እድሉን ለተናጋሪው ሲሰጡት አስተያየቱን እንዲያሳጥር አሳስበውት ነበር፡፡ ተናጋሪውም ትዕዛዝ አክባሪ ነበርና፡፡ አስተያየቱን እንዲህ ጀመረ፡ ˝ ለዘመናት አያት ቅድም አያቶቻችንን ሲያስቆጭ የነበረው አባይ በእኛ ዘመን ለዚህ አይነት ወግ ማዕረግ መብቃቱ በውነት የሚያረካ ተግባር ነው፡፡ በተለይ መንግስታችን በእድገት እና ትራንስፎርሚሽን ዘመን ይህን ማስቡ ሊያስመሰግነው የሚገባ ጉዳይ ነው፡፡ እንደሚታወቀው ግብጽ በእሁኑ ሰአት በከፍተኛ የህዝብ አመፅ እየታመስች ሰለሆነ የታላቁን የሚሊንየም ግድብ ፕሮጀክት በሰላም ማስፈፅም እንችላለን፡፡ አንድ አንድ ተቃዋሚዎች ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥም የግብጽ አይነት ህዝባዊ አመፅ ሊቀሰቀስ እንደሚችል ይናገራሉ ነገር ግን ይህ የግብፅን ከፍተኛ የሆነ የስራ አጥነት ችግር እና የዋጋ ግሽበትን መሰረት ያረገ ህዝባዊ አመፅ ካለመረዳት የሚመነ ጭ ነው ፡፡ምክንያቱም በኢትዮጵያ ዜጎች የስራ አድል ተፈጥሮላቸዋል፡፡ከዚህም በላይ መንግስት ለሰራቶኞች ከፍተኛ የሆነ የደሞዝ ጭማሪ አድርጓል ፡፡ መንግስት ይህንን የሚያደርገው በቅርቡ የተክሰተውን የዋጋ አለመረጋጋት ለማስከን ዕንደሆነ ይታወቃል ቢሆንም የገበያውን ሁኔታ ወደ አልተረጋጋ ሁናቴ ለማድረስ የሚፈልጉ አንድ አንድ ስግብግብ ነጋዴዎች የሉም ማለት አይደለም ይህ ማለት ግን ሁሉም ነጋዴዎች በአቋራጭ ለመክብር የሚፍ,ፈልጉ ጥማታሞች ናቸው ማለት አይደለም ፡፡ ነግር ግን አንድ አንድ ገለሰቦች የነጋዴዎን ማህበረስብ በአንድ ለመፈረጅ ይሞክራሉ፡፡ በተለይ የነጋዴው ማህበረሰብ በብዛት የአስልምና ሀይማኖት ተከታ ከመሆኑ አንፃር ሙሰሊሙን መህበረስበሰ በአንድ መፈረጅ የኢትዮጵያን ታሪክ በቅጡ በለመገንዘብ የሚመጣ የጥገኝነት አባዜ መሆኑ ግልጽ ነው፡፡ምክኒያቱም ሙሰሊሙ በኢትዮጵያ ታሪክ ከንጉስ አል ነጃሺ ጀምሮ ለሀገራችን ኢኮነሚያዊ ;ማህባራዊ እና ፖለቲካዊ ሁኔታ ከፍተኛ አስተመወፅኦ ያበረከተ ማህበረስብ ነው፡፡”

አስተየያቱን ለመቀጠል ትንፋሹን እያሰባሰበ ሳለ በኪሱ የያዛት የቻይና ሞባይል ዙምባራ ዙምባራ በሚል ዘፈን የስልክ ጥሪ ከባድ ⶼህት ተሰብሳቢውን ግማሹን ከደሞወዝ ለግድቡ ማሰሪያ ስንት ፐርሰንት ይቆረጥ ይሉ ይሁን ከሚለው ጭንቀትና የርስበርስ ወሬ ግማሹን ካንቀላፋበት ቀሰቀሰው፡፡ በዚህ ማህል ሰብሳቢው ተናጋሪው አስተየያቱን አንዲቋጭ ሲያሳስቡት አስተየያቱን በጥያቄ እንዲህ ሲል ቋጨ፡ ˝ አሁን ግድብን ማሰሪያ ለሚሆን የምንገዛው ቢድ ቦንድም ሆን ቦንድ በፍላጎት ወይስ በግዳጅ ነው የምንገዛው ?˝ ብሎ አጥረ ያለ ጥያቄያዊ አስተየያቱን ሲያበቃ ተሰብሳቢው ሞቅ ባለ ጭብጨባ አጀበው፡፡

Emerging FM Radio Stations in Ethiopia? You mean tiny, localized and fragmented government mouthpieces

The emerging few FM Radio stations in Addis Ababa and in some parts of Ethiopia have to plot a narrow route and stuck in promoting development, “excellent” image of Ethiopia and social change. Besides these Radio Stations are too scared not to upset those with a stake in the status quo. I know these FM Radio stations are credited with helping to advance some important social causes such as promoting women’s right and amplifying the awareness of HIV/AIDS related problems, but it is apparent that they are under austere tacit government pressure to be calm on other issues.

Let’s look at examples, the Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority (EBA), has given license for twelve different radio stations since 2008 from which seven radio stations belongs to Radio Fana franchise. Rumor has it that Radio Fana stations are accused of having a bias favoring EPRDF. Sheger and Zami FM radio stations allegedly are too spongy to go well with EPRDF policies and strategies, some say they might not be fond of EPRDF but they are not willing to go against a government-proposed policies.

Almost all FM or community radio stations preach government policies instead of informing or entertaining. Or if they attempt to amuse their listeners they may even go to the extent of offending them — their entertainment programs have always generated controversy. Take a look at their sports programs most Addis Ababa FM radio stations tend to, on average, spend more time on Arsenal or Manchester United because every premiership “pundit” wants a fame amongst Ethiopian “football” fans and the FM radios has the greatest capacity to cater to the imagination of passionate “football” fans.

Contrary to their names most community radio stations are not all owned and controlled by the community, though most are sponsored by nongovernmental organizations. Jimma University community Radio can epitomize this. On top of this most are also based in rural areas and are focused on the concerns and need of a specific community; they also typically broadcast in local languages. There is no doubt these stations are credited with playing a central role in disseminating health messages, but they are always conscious of the stuffs that might hurt EPRDF’s feelings