Letter from Ethiopia - July 2002

from Tizibt Mezgebu

Dear Readers:

This is the second assignment I was given by MediaETHIOPIA people in my new position as a "temp replacement" for Dandew Serbello. However, as you know very well, I haven't even delivered the first assignment. The details are long. But imagine the dilemmas of any social commentator in Ethiopia, especially a young one like me who just started a married life. Among the many lessons that we learnt from Colonel Mengistu's and Dr. Meles' time (I am sure that you have heard about the recent doctorate degree our esteemed prime minister was bestowed by a Chinese university) is that if one intends in pursuing a long life, then one has to learn how to avoid talking anything that might upset the powerful people who drive Land Cruisers and dress badly. After I wrote my first letter, my husband, who doubles as my guardian angel, asked me to change so many lines that I just left the whole thing as it is to be revisited at a later time. I hope you will be patient with me.

I had thought we will be introduced in a different and may be more appropriate way; but things have worked in an expected way. Well, anyway, about two weeks ago, I was traveling back to Addis Ababa on a train from a stay in Dire Dawa and as the train was making its way through the Afar land, an idea came to my mind. You see many months ago we had heard a story that some Ferenji researchers have said that the Ethiopian rift valley is actually splitting into two. I am not a geologist or anything like that. So if I sound a little bit ignorant, please excuse me. But thanks to some illegal Internet cafes here in town, I was actually able to do a small research myself and get more information that intrigued me. It is true, if my research is to be believed, that there is a continental break-up going on as we speak in the rift valley and the Ferenjis are studying it. It looks like Afar, Assab, Harar, my childhood city of Dire Dawa, Awash, Deder, Asebe Teferi, Ogaden, even Nazret my friends are going to split from Ethiopia proper. Just look at the map and tell me I am dreaming. The rift valley will actually be covered by a new sea and Arsi, Sidamo, Bale, Harar will be split from Mother Africa. This is crazy, don't you agree with me? So, as the train was crossing the Afar land and the sun-baked land that our poet Tsegaye talked about, the idea that Ethiopia will find a natural access to the Sea once more occurred to me. Patience, however, is what is required. Patience just for a couple of million years, that is. But Ethiopia without Arsi, Nazret, Dire and Harar? Losing Eritrea is bad enough. And now this? I am sure this will be a headache for OLF too. Western Oromia is going to be split from Eastern Oromia! The great Che-mendefeur (addis-dire railway) will also be washed away. No more Sodore! No more Langano! No more Awassa! With Arsi and her people gone, how are we going to keep the 10,000 and women's marathon records? Pilgrimage to Kulubi, you will be surprised, will then involve a trip over an ocean. Djibouti will also be gone, by the way. Now where are we going to sell all that Chat?

Tizbit Mezgebu negn Ke Saris

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