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Ethiopia In the eyes of the Clapham Omnibus Commuter



Ethiopia In the eyes of the Clapham Omnibus Commuter


By Samuel Estefanous 28 January 2019


There is this venerable old friend of Law Students all over the world-the reasonable man regularly riding the Omnibus from Knightsbridge to Clapham in London.

He is a funny kinda fella; he never forgets his umbrella, he rarely loses his temper, he even got the presence of mind to blunt the tip of his umbrella lest it should inadvertently poke a fellow commuter…sometimes he near damn freaks us out and we would try to mock him to no great avail-‘he might as well wear a hat year in and out, Sir’ we would say and our Professor would be like-‘he certainly does!’

Sometimes I see him cautiously crossing the road around the Piassa. Sometimes I read his editorials on the pages of the two Amharic Weeklies. Sometimes I read his Op-Ed on line. He is everywhere and paradoxically nowhere.

Anyway he is the reason the world at large and our own country in particular hasn’t turned in to one big noisy horrendous bedlam.

Let us conjecture current political events as would be seen in the eyes of that pesky reasonable man.Incidentally, don’t hold anything against him he is as harmless as our own local Sergeant Gebru.

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1-Ethinic Politics is fundamentally flawed.

Ethnic consciousness breeds on the fertile grounds of gross senses of alienation and animosity. Basically your loss is my gain. Remember the late Premier’s favorite expression-zero sum game? Hm…you are right…that is what it actually is.

2-Poverty and Ignorance Breed Extremism.

Recently an Amharic weekly featured a good article that runsalmost counter to the views of the political fever of the day -a reflection on the foreign affairs policy of EPRDF. Now you don’t have to go freaking nuts on nobody...looks like the document in no uncertain terms singles out poverty and ignorance as the two major threats to the territorial integrity and unity of the Nation.

Those afflicted by the debilitating sickness flock toethnic and religious fanaticism for cures. You know why? Fanaticism shelters personal failures like no other.

3-Federalism? What Federalism?

Ethiopia has never seen a mighty singularly centralized and an unequivocally unitary state as witnessed in the past twenty seven odd years. We are just experimenting with a functioning federal system as envisaged by the FDRE Constitution in the past seven months. You aren’t gonna believe this but I was “intellectually delighted” when I heard the Tigrai National Regional State Council had rejected a proclamation adopted by the Federal Parliament.

Hitherto, true to form, we did have a College of Federalism and a plethora of Federalism scientists but hardly any federated States. I mean no disrespect to the distinguished professors but it was much ado about nothing.

4-A Nation founded on strings of myth will not endure

I like Dr.Fikre Tolosa and his…his…what was that fashionable Amharic word recently coined… yes-‘trekt…or terek’…It is so good natured and so lovingly narrated that I wouldn’t dare say anything mean to spoil it.All the same it beats reason and logic to believe a Marsabeth Oromo from the North of Kenya is a blood relation of a Welkait peasant and the latter had hardly anything in common with a fellow tiller a stone throw away-just beyond the hill…Even Dr.Getachew Haileis said to have “blushed crimson”…much dark skinned as he is. And the man is the last of his kind. He speaks Hebrew, Arabic, Amharic, Tigrigna and Oromifa…for better or worse, he represents the last true native intellectuals…

5-A Crowd is Untrustworthy.

Again you may find this hard to believe but the very folks who stood in line- in the middle of Nahase kirmet- to bid the remains of the last Premier farewell,will threaten to beat the hell out of you for speaking anything nice about him. They were inconsolable then. They were grief stricken and they might have shaken their head at you in disbelief seeing you dry eyed and all in those days…

That is what a crowd does everywhere…the point is, never fail to wave back but never trust it.


6-The Curious Case of the Hyphenated Ethiopians.

These are prodigal children and except for a handful, most of them had long betrayed their country and the sense of guilt is to blame for the false patriotism that comes out in crude, violent and   vulgar forms. The government should give up on them when it comes to politics.




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