Mea culpa. Bad mail editors! Bad, bad mail editors!
We apologize on behalf of the temperamental SELEDA Mail editors for being so neglectful of this column. It's just that they have not been the same ever since they discovered their department is that hefty slice on the "SELEDA oppressed masses" pie chart.
And not even the cute type of oppressed masses! Rather, the type that wear those God awful Old Navy jeans and relish in those damn sit ins. Which, don't get us wrong, could be charming (in a Hannibal Lechter kinda way), except upper management has to step over these disgruntled employees on the way to the executive washroom, and upper management gets real cranky when it's Joan & David footwear comes in such close proximity to baseball caps.
In their own words: "We can't wait until hager temel'so hager estihon."
But we digress… we were apologizing just before we delved into the phenomenon that is SELEDA Mail.
Needless to say we got an earful about last month's My Story. And with the exception of a few "aynachiun lafer"s, most of you were polite in stating your affront. In fact, we were very pleasantly surprised at the intellectual and disciplined argument for and against this piece. (The trademark SELEDA readers' CHewinent.)
There are, of course, exceptions and that's what makes SELEDA readers so giddily fabulous.
From one reader who signed his/her name 'Disappointed Reader': "I am very disappointed by your article, My Story. I was a regular visitor of your site and telling people to visit, but now I will never visit your site…As a Christian and as a very disappointed Ethiopian, I see now you are not young professional, but young, twisted mind…"
Ehhh. Not that this is any time to be picky, but we always thought we were young, professional and twisted. But we're sure that will placate Disappointed Reader none. We wonder if it would be wrong to add DA's name to SELEDA's Annual Orgy list. Naaaa. That would be twisted.
And then there was this from Henock G. Micheal: "Dear Seledans: First I would like to express my deepest appreciation regarding the awesome job you guys are doing. BUT I was disappointed in particular with the June issue's My Story. Even though I do not have any problem with regards to people's sexual orientation, I DO question whether such a foreign issue be brought up here in such a beautiful page that galvanized Ethiopians of diverse political and religious backgrounds. SELEDA has been accommodating social issues that touches all. NOT the almost non-existent homosexual problems in Ethiopian culture."
Uh? What? What beautiful page? Oh, this beautiful page? [Sheepish grin.] OK. But you see what we mean by CHewinet, though, doncha? First off, we are delighted to hear that we have galvanized groups outside the sira fet, mooTi moTmuwaTa assemblage. Second, OK no more "foreign subjects" on this page, which we hope means that we are off the hook regarding saga stories about yuppie ETs taking their dogs for cancer radiation treatment. Thirdly, almost non-existent does not mean non-existent. So, you know, we get off on a technicality.
"Now don't think of me as a typical Ethiopian girl with typical Ethiopian values," says our new friend M.A. "I'll be honest, I was shocked and [then] he said and I'm quoting," I came here when I was 15." That in my opinion is a child enough to let your surrounding influence what he or she thinks. [sic] I'll bet you more than anything that if he had stayed in Addis he would have grown up to be that typical Ethiopian guy we see and run into on the streets."
Hmmm. A fine point, which kicked our brainto into that rare reflective gear, M.A. It had us wondering how we at SELEDA would have ended up if we had stayed back home. Well, for one thing, the Qibbay yeTeTa dula beatings that'd accompany each one of our aff ilafis would certainly have curbed the sid adeg in us. Secondly, the influence of Hibre T'rit and Qebele Kinet would have made us much better at iskista. And, hopefully, we would have had enough suck up prowess to end up as an assistant to an assistant bodyguard at Addis Sheraton.
But that's neither here nor iziya.
We heard from Nguru Karugu. "Thank you for the 'My Story' entry in this issue. I got a phone call from a High School friend of mine who implored me to read the article and respond to it ASAP. You see I am a Kenyan gay man, who grew up in Ethiopia and completely get the experiences expressed in this story. I salute the courage of the writer and his friend. What most people must understand is that our orientation is not a choice but the way we were born. The drama comes from the amount of energy we spend trying to change who it is that we are…"
Then there was Lemlem Tibebu. " Whoever you are: How candid, real and truthful! There was a time when I felt a lot of prejudice against gays and lesbians, and even though I still do not understand many things, I have learned to accept [it]. … As open as you have been, I am sure that you are just as open in understanding that not condemning the ignorance that we feel or felt, is the key to open doors towards you and your life. Whatever you are, whatever you do, remember also that my God is your God, and never let Him out of your life."
And finally on this subject, our friend A.D: "You people win the 'Best Envelop Pushers' award. While I found [My Story] wholly inappropriate, deliberately provocative and a little on the "shock jock" side, I have to admire your guts in putting it up there. Man, now that is what we here in the East call Ballsy, capital B. SELEDA is living up to its cutting edge reputation."
Huh? Reputation? What reputation? Oh, that reputation. [Very sheepish grin.] Well, y'know we might just parlay that reputation into clinching ourselves very upper management positions at the Ritz-Carlton Popo Laré. The kind of upper brass position that wields the kind of power to declare July 4 a new holiday in Addis Ababa kilil 90210. Then we'll talk Ballsy.
Jumping back to May,(the History Issue), the Top Ten got a much-needed "alehulachiu" from Aman Ke Los Angeles. "Bravo! I was never into the "top ten" until your March issue made a believer out of me. Your historical (or should I say hysterical) satire was incredibly entertaining and educational."
Thank you, Aman. Maybe this will serve as an impetus for the Top Ten editors to start "being into" the Top Ten themselves.
Tsega Gebreyes was similarly smitten. "What a great book collection. Where do I order?"
Ka ching! Please send cashiers check for $4,021.16 to SELEDA Editor #6, d.b.a "Buzz B. Aj Inc.", Switzerland. (Shipping included. Kind of. Expect delivery when the check clears.)
Mimiye, who we, although we have not a shred of evidence to support it, are convinced is a nubile little vixen right from the heart of DC, went on to share her deepest, most profound thoughts with us. "Why don't you guys have a search thingy? I've been trying to find some article that I heard was posted in your thingy, but I couldn't find it, mainly because I don't know the post month but only the title."
Ah, a common problem, Mims. We hear SELEDA women asking SELEDA men a variation of that very same question all the time. (Except when they say it, they make it sound all accusatory like.) But you were talking about where our search thingy was. Well, we… uhm… ahh, we are working on a "search thing-a-ma-bob". Is that the same thing? Probably not. Not all thingys are created equal, we assume?
Speaking of vixens, someone who signed their name "Gud Iko New" had this to spit our way. "Why is this site all up in Narzret School girls' asses? Gee, get a life already and talk about Bekele Weya or something."
Taken aback and a little flustered, we hastily assembled the SELEDA Tribunal (whose soul purpose is to decree whose, er, derrière we should be up) to ponder this timely query. It's members agonized for days, well, hours really. Ok, it was minutes, but they were agonizing minutes, and here is an excerpt from their decision. Annex 1, paragraph 1, line 1 reads: "While we are delighted to learn that Nazret School girls do not share one posterior ("girls' asses"), there is no new evidence to prove that they still don't share one brain (nicknamed "birtukaniye"). Hence, the decision to let SELEDA hold its ground and not strategically withdraw to Bekele Weya (wherever the hell that might be) will remain undisturbed…. Say us one, say us all. And now, we shall go back to loitering on 18th Street."
So, you see. We can't argue with the Tribunal. Them is big people.
Moving right along to greener pastures, Ben from Ottawa had this to say about SELEDA Interactive. "… but I do disagree with your assumption that your website is interactive. Just because you have published a few submissions doesn't qualify your site to be called interactive. A true interactive medium is where the majority of the participants can have equal opportunity to voice or contribute…. How about a webboard section that is moderated? You will have a chance to filter some of the postings that are offensive or inappropriate, but at least you would have given the majority of the readers a spot in your website that can be used at all times…"
Ok, Ben. We were with you until the "equal opportunity" part. Because that smells of democracy and you know how that word rubs SELEDA upper management the wrong way. It's like asking them if they've ever attended a Siminto vs. Abujedi game at the stadium in Addis. (They wrinkle up their noses and squint their eyes in horror. Trust us. We asked.) Besides, we assure you that half the "inappropriate and offensive" posts on a SELEDA board will come from the SELEDA staff, so we might as well just keep writing our comments on the bathroom walls. However, you do make a good point, so we are going to work on a SELEDA chat session on the 15th of every month for the few QeTero akbaris in our midst.
It was good to hear from our friend Sirak Solomon, who had a few suggestions of his own. His letter reads in part, "Surely, young Ethiopian professionals and therefore SELEDA has an innate interest in the current situation in our country. Although your forum strives to "provide opportunity for young Ethiopian professionals to exchange ideas and information on surviving and flourishing in the corporate world" (as stated in your initial issue), I doubt many professional Ethiopians go through a single day without contemplating the current situation in our county. Again, I realize politics is not one of the fortes of this forum but when an issue affects the lives of so many of our people we can not play bystanders and act as if nothing is happening…We need inspiration SELEDA…we need someone to push us. That someone could certainly be YOU."
Not that we are not grateful to be held in this high esteem, but we have to wonder if the Apocalypse is truly a'nd hamoos away. One has to wonder about the void out yonder if moshlaqa people like us are called unto the task of deciphering the drudgery that is the Diaspora's role in ET politics. And is anyone else alarmed by this besides us? Surely there are more mature, balé Tm, Kollege yemeselu people who can be called upon? Because the standard answer around here as to who the "Woyeus" and the "Shabbys" are is "Are they of the Connecticut Shabbys?" Or, "Are either one of them SELEDA débutantes at the Fall Cotillion?" So, you see, y'all are better off on your own. Trust us.
Besides, we said in the first SELEDA that we are steering clear of politics and we will continue to stand by that. Always. Unless it is politics regarding Nazret School girls, and then we are so in there!
Our "Scratch your head and roll your eyes quizzically" file is suffering from extreme bota Tibbet, but Hiwot 24's email had to be squeezed in there albeit with little force. Says she who is not ingida to succinctness : "Why don't you write something interesting please?"
Now, this is what the Princeton Review calls a "trick question". Ahhh, you sly little thing you, Hiwot, you! You sly, adroit, minx you! You thought we would fall into the obvious trap of saying something so dubiously crass such as "we are so sure the 24 after Hiwot's name is her age and not her IQ." Huh? Huh? It's SELEDA, not SELE-DUH, missy! Well, we aren't biting. The simple truth is that we are alem yemesekerelachew wholesome bores and dawdling, boozehound idiots! Therefore, writing something interesting to suit someone of Hiwot's caliber would entail going through the Classics. And frankly, we don't have the brainpower to analyze why Humpty Dumpty fell. And who can deconstruct the allegorical mysteries of Little Boy Blue? Was Mary's lamb an example of anthropomorphism? Ech! Who need al-a-dat? This is us on Jeopardy: "We'll take "Dumbness for Dummies" for a hundred, please, Alex.
But why bicker when we can go back to doing what we love doing? Reading our love mail.
To wit, Mekdem "not to be mistaken for a male" Wondafrash's email with a subject line that reads "SELEDA yene Qelebé". Already, we are besotted. "I had to overcome the intimidation, overlook the possible scrutiny and last but not least your "oh so witty" sense of humor… SELEDA, SELEDA, Ke-yet lgemerew? I doubt all I have to say will go without inflating the already, ready to burst, ego of our editors. A simple thank you to thee "humble" (stressed of so many times) editors for the tantalizing, succulent, and at times, offensive yet true articles. You enlighten me. …In fear of sounding redundant, I must curtail my message short (I don't believe in beginner's luck). But I leave not without mentioning that you (the people behind SELEDA and the avid readers) are a soothing remedy to my wild nerves that occasionally suffer from nostalgia."
(You see, these are the kinds of letters we crave. Not outré demands to write "something interesting" fer chrissake!)
U-huh. And we aim to sooth. And, Mekdem, of course, wins this month's "Best Name" award, hands down. What SELEDA men want to know, however, is more about her "wild nerves", but we are sure that is between her and her gods.
But the SELEDA Love Train stops for no one. In our "If you mashmonmon us, won't we meshmon-mon?" file goes Mesfin Makonnen's mail that has even upper management's heart going "pitter patter". And if you knew just how entrenched the adage is that upper management has no heart, you'll know what a compliment that is.
"People! What a great site!! 18 years since I am out here, and finally I found "Arada" right smack in the middle of the WWWeb! I am proud of you all, keep up the good work. Who knows one of these days I may send in yet another crazy story of a young Ethiopian from the French Lyceé who made his way to Corporate America. I will be reading on so keep the show going."
And to all you cynics out there who though no one from Lyceé ended up anywhere but Sostegna Police Tabbiyya, may we please see your wrist? Whack! Whack! Mes, zimbelachew lijay! We don't believe the hype. And b'and aff on the article!
And finally, we have a "faithful reader" in Fikre Giorgis. "If there were more people who [thought] like SELEDA's contributors, Ethiopia would have been the JEWEL of Africa. SELEDA, you are the hope of many of us living in Diaspora. SELEDA editors, thank you for making us cry through the nostalgic entrées, keeping us smiling through the humor desserts, and making us sing "SELEDA, MALEDA, ADERECH ARADA...."
Like we've said time and time again…You can tell people with class. And wisdom! Notice he said that SELEDA's contributors would be the jewel of Africa. Us, we're happy being the cubic zirconium of Qebenna.
And with that we have to scadaddle. Heartfelt gratitude to all of you who write to us, and we hope we have gotten better at writing back. We love hearing from you.
Until next time, no, next MONTH, we bid you farewell.