Ethiopia: Cultural Degeneration
As an Ethiopian the first thing I tell foreigners when they ask me about my country is about the long ancient civilization we had, our victory over a colonial power, and the diverse and developed culture we have. I usually tell them about the Ethiopian hospitality, unique calendar, unique script ‘The Fidel’, and our gift to the world, coffee. I resented when my country’s name is raised in association with war, famine and drought. The world has stood with us during our darkest time in the 1984 famine by sending relief aid. We are grateful to that. But we are paying indirectly as it opened an opportunity for some chauvinists to open their mouth whenever the condition permits, or whenever it didn’t permit to attack us. Lots of work has been done to change that image but the result is very slow although not totally hopeless. During those darkest times poverty was rampant, drought was frequent and famine was inevitable. But people were dying with dignity. A farmer would rather die of hunger instead of slaughtering his plough oxen. Our culture was untainted and original. People respected people, religions of various sects coexisted together for centuries.
Thirty years now, where are we? Yes, there is significant economic progress and more importantly the possibility of drought causing famine and holocaust is very minimal. But let’s see the cultural degeneration we are in now. Our youth is becoming a total slave of western culture. What the west couldn’t imposed on us by force during the colonial era, we are buying and importing it now willingly. Our music, movie, dress, language (including in kindergarten) is all foreign. Let alone to be proud of our culture and promote it, we are starting to be ashamed of it. What we are learning from the developed nations is not their technological advancement but their cultural degeneration. In today’s Ethiopia broker is respected more than a trader, musician is more important than the scientist, flight attendant is more paid than a doctor, and rapist is more tolerated than a political foe. We admire a corrupt official and despise the hardworking public servant.
After what has happened to the 16 year old student, Hanna, in the middle of the capital, how am I going to depict Ethiopia as owning a developed culture and Ethiopians as God-fearing religious people? Personally I don’t believe this is an isolated event. This is the sum result of multiple but well tolerated rotten cultural entities. Respect to the elderly, respect to women, respect to each other is long gone. Prostitution is at its climax. Girls as young as 14 are deep in to it. We saw it, but no one raised his voice. And this is equivalent to encouraging it. Families are nowadays tolerant to see their teenager boy/girl having a partner. They might think this is modernity because it is done same way in the west. To have multiple sexual partners is now a sign of top civilisation but mockingly sexuality is one of the most primitive senses we have. It doesn’t demand any genius to disrespect oneself. These all tells us how morally corrupt we are becoming, how culturally we are degenerating and how cheap the value of life has become. If it is difficult to detach our name from famine, it will be next to impossible to clear our name from this outrageous scandal once it became agenda of the main stream media. But most importantly we don’t have to be good for the sake of a good name, but because there is no alternative than becoming one. Today we are watching it on the TV, tomorrow it is our sister’s, daughter’s, wife’s, or mother’s turn. Unless it is curbed now, there won’t be a brake later. I demand justice for Hanna! Justice for the victims of rape and harassment!