Head down and leaning a bit forward, I walked across the slippery, slushy pavement trying not to be late for my appointment. The temperature was 17 below zero with strong winds and a bit of flurry activity (well, for the metric challenged, the 17 below translates to 1 degree Fahrenheit). For the time it took me to walk the two blocks from where I parked to the building, my face was frozen with my ears ready to fall off. It serves me right, I mused, as this happened to be the day I renounce my Ethiopian citizenship to swear allegiance to the Queen of England. I felt I was being given a chance to repent, turn around and go home–on the other hand, I thought, this is a perfect day to become a citizen–if this doesn’t turn me back, nothing will.…
Deep in reflection, I raised my right arm and started repeating what the judge was reading out loud to about 82 of us from 23 different countries–so she continued, "I swear" and we repeated, "allegiance to the Queen of England and her heirs and descendants"...my mind was racing–how many before me had taken the oath without fully appreciating the irony of it all? While most of us left our country fleeing the Derg regime, wasn’t the main movement that brought about the Derg the contempt that people had for Royalty?...and now?? ah, well!!! Maybe it’s okay because she is a ferenj.
We had a friend there who was witnessing the event and recording it for, I am sure, some sinister scheme. He was the one suggesting naming my son "Keda" so that his name would read "Keda Alemu." I looked down for a brief moment and wondered why I was so dressed up - I didn’t feel that this was a moment of triumph, but something I was forced to do - "imbi lehagerE"...I should have worn my ije Tebab - but remember, it was 17 below - ije Tebab was never designed for this...