In Honor of Ethiopian Excellence…
Remember them weenies who went to those snotty private schools in Addis? Yeah, those aslecshi molqaqoch who never had to cram for an exam under the flickering light of a Tila shet layered ampool, and pour over well thumbed, ye gazeTa enna 'lastic shifan geography textbooks circa 1842. Well, where are all those prissy alumni now? Yep. Ordering $80 pajamas for their in-bred poodle from petsmart.com or serving 4-5 in a low security facility—model white-collar criminals. Derom bilegnal!
Luckily, these days in Ethiopia, not all private schools churn out future sociopaths and lawyers. (Please forgive the redundancy.) In the horizon, shining so brightly that we all have to blink and sigh in awe, is the new Yenegew Sew School.
Established in September 1998 by Ethiopians who "felt a great concern and indignation about the deteriorating quality of education in the country", Yenegew Sew aims to play a "vital role in the preparation of future citizens who will actively and constructively participate in, and contribute to, the national economy". Sounds peachy to us. Staffed with 12 teachers and about 150 students, it offers education to the ninth grade, with hopes to expand to high school and university levels.
The School has a goal to develop "critical thinking and intellectual independence" in the student body, to nurture a future generation of highly educated, moral, "clear-thinking, and articulate" young'uns. We at SELEDA, long and avowed enemies of critical thinking and intellectual independence, can't help but bitterly conjecture ("UH! Yet bederesin!") at the heights we would have risen to had Yenegew Sew been around during our formidable years. (Heck. Who are we kidding? We would have been kicked out for setting a small fire in the Biology lab while growing Genetically Modified CHat. But, whose to argue that'd be a bad thing?…Us being kicked out, that is. Not the GM CHat.)
The good news is that it is not too late to participate in making sure no more future SELEDA editors end up crossing your path. Yenegew Sew finances itself through selling shares, and yes, you too can invest in making sure that no more mooTi aff illiterates flood the cyber meda. And, and this is the best part, no more garishly bribing current private school administrators so that l'il Yonas and Alemitu can spend the next 12 years learning about cotton manufacturing in Manchester. Huh? Huh? Is this a deal, or is this a deal? (A moment, please, while we tear into our frash again to unfold bills we hastily stuffed in there on April 15.)
For more information go to: http://www.telecom.net.et/~yenegew/
KIDUS GEBRIEL CHURCH of ETHIOPIANS in SEATTLE
At some point or another, influenced by some anti-Microsoft rhetoric the Justice Department and friends at Sun Microsystems fed us, we might have, somewhere, penned a few caustic remarks about Seattle. But then again, ij awTu, who hasn't?
Well, we stand before you, admonished and dingai teshekemen. We are proud of our fellow Ethiopians out west who inaugurated a new church that rivals any in Dangila or Goré.
"Ethiopians of moderate to meager means started organizing to build their own church four years ago," informs us their numero uno tifozo. "Since that time, they have bought a church lot and paid off every nickel". The church, with the help of Ethiopian engineers, was designed according to the traditional Ethiopian church architecture. (And if you ever doubted that there are Ethiopians who are engineers, we-eehhlll!)
We hear that there is one no-no word at Kidus Gebriel: Mortgage. "Every tree, grass, lot, lumber, shingle and nail has been paid for." (We assume uttering 'SELEDA' might rank up there as the next no-no word, which, we hear, can get you TibTeba in the high 200,000s. But that's everywhere, so no biggie.)
In the age where people name their kids after credit cards (American Express Getachew and Discover Belete), we take great comfort in discovering financially astute Ethiopians in the Diaspora who are building up the community and sustaining the culture without incurring the kind of debt that would make the World Bank one happy camper. They are role models to other cities who are in the process of establishing churches (Charlotte) and mosques. Bertu teberatu.
And, they have one of the best websites to boot! Click on: http://www.seadashen.com/gebriel.htm
Everybody, say hi to Awtarnet. ("Hhhaaaaiiii Awtarnet!") A rapidly up and coming news, information and entertainment portal, Awtarnet is one of the newest and coolest entries in the jan meda that has become the Ethiopian cyber presence.
Launched in 1999, it is based in Canada and aims to be a "one window information source" for all Ethiopians in the Diaspora. Awtarnet is one of the best-organized and artistically superior websites this side of the great "animated flags galore and Inkuwan dehna meTu"gifs divide. It is simply elegant, clear and clean.
The page has several features, among them News (updated frequently and categorized neatly), a Children and Youth forum, Business and Finance updates and, its crown jewel, the Arts and Leisure section. SELEDA is proud of Awtarnet's exclusive coverage of author Nega Mezlekia's superb book, "Notes from the Hyena's Belly: Memories of My Ethiopian Boyhood". Bravo and igir simenal! Other features in the arts include reviews of Gebre Eyesus Gorfu's book, "Gorfu Contra Nietzsche", and a profile on artist Skunder Boghossian.
As original content on Ethiopian sites becomes a necessary link to tapping into the Diaspora, Awtarnet is off to an auspicious start with its essays and profiles. The SELEDA writing staff, of course, is desperately looking for other venues to escape to now that the "grand vision" of upper management to lay claim to a "Greater SELEDA Empire" has, well, it's freaking us out! So, look for a massive exodus to any entity that won't insist that the new policy of tattooing our new "ID Numbers" on our arms is just "routine policy" at most 'zines". We are sure Awtarnet will treat us better. They reek of class. We know how to spell "class". We're seeing marriage.
Check out Awtarnet at www.awtarnet.com
GiGi: "One Ethiopia"
We know, we know… We should be condescending and snobbish about modern Ethiopian music. Go Kassa Tessema, lelaw hulu yiewdem! We should be playing this new genre in the secret recesses of our basements, under cover of night, and not hawking it indihi be adebabai, ferchissake! But at one point or another we will be unmasked, and better here than at the Tsebel qimesus we host once in a while.
So, ok… ok… she's gorgeous. But that's not the only reason SELEDA men have been seen at her concerts, huddled in dark corners, nursing a club soda and holding onto their pocket protectors for dear life when she slides onto the stage, throws back the mane on her head and whispers "TenayisTilign" in such a way that can make a monk "qobun meTal". The woman has dynamic stage presence.
Her "One Ethiopia" album is a cornucopia of gedai lyrics with her sensuous voice lathered all over it. Fergeddaboutit, as the doorman at the Helmsely Palace is known to say. GiGi seduces her listeners with a combination of innocent taunting and outright "come hither"s, but never to a point that makes you feel like you just went through a gaudy mesheta bet.
The title song, "Ande Ityoppia" is very even-tempered and sentimental without beating you over the head with patriotic over zealousness. A welcome combination that starts off a great album with a discernable bang! The third song, the breezy ballad "Na", …well, if SELEDA ever becomes a TV show, this would be our theme song. In a devastatingly stunning voice, she crescendos through several octaves, seamlessly riding one high tone after another until she makes a song mined with difficult pitches seem graceful.
While at times the drum machines and synthesizers do her injustice, she overcomes them in most cuts and definitely in the seventh song, Adey Abeba. The song is an upbeat iskista buoy accompanied by the words of a woman who is well versed in the nuances of life in mehal hager. Yeah, yeah. But then she goes into stuff about Ante ye-kenfer wedaj be gizay samegn/Teff abeTiraleu ye sew gzu negn and we turn into rubble. A massive, weak-kneed, remorseless pile of rubble.
To buy "One Ethiopia" on line, go to www.ethiopianmusic.com.