Editors' Note
My Story
Lucy's Sparkle II
Seleda Fives
Seleda Berenda
Not Too Strange
Tumbling ...
Lost Shadow
Modern enough
Ingliz CHew
Top Ten

Emboldened by an undefined urge, Seleda editors contacted prominent Ethiopian thinkers to respond to five questions related to this month's theme. Three exceptional minds, Berhanu Yalew Yihun, Dr. Fekade Azeze and Ato Gaitachew Bekele, heeded our call and fired back.

Berhanu Yalew Yihun hails from a pre-modern village of a town in north-central Ethiopia. Having bypassed the pseudo-modern city of Addis Ababa on his way to the hopelessly modern West, he proudly professes total ignorance of "Ethiopian modernity". But the lack of such a pedigree evidently would not prevent him, or us, from sharing his seemingly "erudite" pronouncements on such a controversial subject by posturing as an itinerant ferenj expert.

Dr. Fekade Azeze teaches literature in the Department of Ethiopian Languages and Literature at Addis Abeba University. He has published several critically acclaimed volumes of poetry entitled Ayya Gosheme, Ashara, Habeshoch Yenuru, CHuhet and Iyehedku Alhedim and two monographs entitled Ye-seneqal Memriya (A "textbook" for teaching folklore written in Amharic) and Unheard Voices: drought, famine and God in Ethiopian Oral Poetry. His much-lauded Ph.D. thesis from the University of Sheffield is entitled The Intellectual in the Ethiopian Novel, 1930-1974.

His is a life distinguished by nearly four decades of public service. An arbegna in his teens, Ato Gaitachew Bekele, served the Ethiopian government for over thirty years. Since 1972, he has devoted his time and energy spearheading a rural development project in northern Shoa. His memoirs, published by the University of Michigan, is entitled The Emperor's Clothes: A Personal Viewpoint on Politics and Administration in the Imperial Ethiopian Government, 1941-1974.


1) What does modernity mean to you?

Click here for response.

2) Can you tell us one indigenous and one imported truly "modern", maybe even revolutionary, idea (in terms of how it disrupted the prevailing accepted practice) that have been developed or adopted by Ethiopians over the span of our history?

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3) What is the single most important lesson that we can learn from our encounters and experiments with modernity from Italian-Occupied through present day post-Revolutionary Ethiopia?

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4) What was the principle cause for the chasm between young and old that evidently became unbridgeable by 1974? Why was the division so profound and virulent at that particular time and not during other transitional (in terms of generations) periods such as the 1950s or 1990s?

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5) To foment change (of any kind), attitudes and behaviors have to evolve. What are the ways in which this can be best done in these "modern" times, when near-insurmountable challenges (such as HIV/AIDS) are placing some urgency on our ability to change?

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