Letter from Ethiopia #8

By Dandew Serbello - October 25, 2001


Dear Readers,

I donít know what to write about at this moment in time. Things are moving so fast even in Ethiopia. Could it be the globalization boat? Whatever I had in line for you is now being pushed aside to a waiting bin. I would have been happier if I had kept you logged in to traditional anecdotes and stories which I think you are missing because of distance. By the way have you ever imagined how far away you are? Try to remember the land and the ocean you have flown over before you reached where you have settled now. That is indeed too far to imagine! Thanks to technology we are now very close to one another at least in mind. You are now reading a letter I have written in my home, window watching the bright Sunday morning sunshine and the feeling the cool breeze of Tikmit, the month most of you know to be taxing some Ďbonesí as it were. Whatís up back home wonít you say?

            Well, we are still on our toes waiting in trepidation about what next? Ever since we got the news that the Anthrax bacteria was mailed to Kenya, i.e. to our doorsteps, we have started thinking about ourselves too. Terrorism seems to take global dimensions.  Incidentally, our Post office is drenched in troubles. About a month or so ago, they raised their tariffs to an unprecedented high level perhaps belatedly discovering that they couldnít cover their expenses. I must say the electronic mail is the culprit to a large extent. And now came the Anthrax danger contributing its share of damage on postal services. That large GPO Hall you were perhaps familiar with its crowded shiro and berbere tera is now an empty and deserted place. No wonder.  How can a family living on remittance from his kith and kin manage to send a pack of pepper paying over a hundred birr?

Some of you gentlemen and ladies should add postage on your remittance for local parcel, I advise you. Your people may be too decent and modest to charge you the extra. And the PM seems to sink us in an economic further dipping. At a time when the price of coffee is at its lowest wane in decades and globalization became a scapegoat for local businesses coupled with the overall economic slump in the country, he has created a job opportunity for over 45 ministers, minister de-etas, and vice ministers and parliament has approved a supplementary budget of 1.3 billion birr at its first session to run the new ministries. This is about 7 to 8 percent of the national budget. In his national address at the opening session he has promised to carry out a lot of promises as of this year although we are already 5 months into the New Yearís budget. The source of the fund is not known to me.

            Another piece of news is the medical update of our president undergoing treatment in Saudi. One private paper was telling us the government of Ethiopia and the members of the family of the president had decided on the return of the president to his country to cut on costs as he had no hope. Last night the state media told us good news that he was doing quite Okay and was conversing from hospital bed with members of his family. God save our president.

            I donít know whether to praise or curse the situation but most farmers this year are disappointed with the price their yields could fetch them in the market. Grain price has dropped down from the anticipated mark. The industries were not ready to absorb the produce and even if there were a few of them the farmer has little purchasing power to buy industrial products.

The current disturbing issue more than anything else is the danger from HIV/AIDS and the accelerated rate of death of the youth. Burials have literally become routine jobs. Black textile sales has boosted unfortunately. All the celebrities in our country at present are campaigning against AIDS. The Patriarch included. God deliver us from AIDS.

Dandew Serbello

from Sidist Kilo



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