Traditional Coping Mechanisms from Ethiopia.
Ten Ethiopian Tools and Techniques for Effective Stress Management.
By Sza Sza Zelleke
Do you have stress at work? Are you tired of working in countries and offices
where you are a cultural refugee with office friends and allies who all claim
you as their own? Professional Blacks who look to you for racial inspiration;
white upper management who rely on your high standards of performance; Latin
Americans who recognize and identify with a lot of your cultural practices
including religion etc, etc, etc
Do you feel torn on all sides and suffer
from the "friend of the cat and keeper of the milk stress syndrome"?
Do you find that the hospitable quality of Ethiopian culture; the flexible
nature of the Ethiopian character and chameleon nature of Ethiopian features
and color are hard to live with? Are you tired of working hard and being nice
to everyone without having respite and without recourse to your own culture
in the work place? If so, read on!
The modern office is widely accepted to be a primary source
of stress. Professional Ethiopians working in offices of the first world are
particularly prone to stress for a number of reasons, not least those mentioned
above and exiled from their cultural roots are left to deal with their problems
without access to the wealth of traditional coping mechanisms of Ethiopia.
While it is true that the adaptation of these systems may not be relevant
to life in America, the techniques I have selected are easily transferable
technologies designed to enable the professional Ethiopian get a modicum of
relief from the stress of learning, living, and working outside his/her country.
This life is lonely and hard. So, to make up the list below I have drawn from
ancient change management and stress control techniques used by Ethiopians in
days of old who were successful professionals operating in circumstances similar
to the high pressure solitude felt by many Ethiopian professionals in America.
This list has been drawn then from my years of researching the activities and
experiences of solitary Ethiopian warriors who operated in the CHaka
of Ethiopia in order to get independence. From examining the diaries/letters/articles
and other references to the lives of these great men and women, I have made
up this list. Before I start, however, I would like to share with you all two
pieces of advice that have repeatedly shown up in research, regarding the PREVENTION
of stress. As a Doctor, I believe of course that prevention is better than cure.
I advise you all, then, to hear the admonition of Ethiopian professionals that
have come before you and urge you to follow their only three rules for survival
and success in preventing an individual from taking liberties with you and as
result becoming a source of stress in your life:
A. Never give your back to potential sources of stress
B. When facing potential sources of stress, NEVER EVER give your teeth (i.e.
smiling and grinning and other such silly ferenji practices).
C. If there is blood on the ground/carpet, make sure it's not yours.
Thanks and Good Luck.
Ten Ethiopian Tools and Techniques for Effective Stress Management.
1. G'lmiCHa: Drag and drop your eyes from the eye
of the stress-giving beholder to his/her feet disdainfully and slide back up
again to start again. Repeat once or twice and relax. Then later repeat once
or twice then relax. Do this routine as many times a day at the office as necessary.
2. QunT'CHa: The preferred method of stress management
for women experiencing sexual harassment at the work place. More effective if
maximum pressure is applied during the pinch of flesh held between index finger
and thumb or even better, nails of said fingers. Push thumb forward and bring
index finger to create what is known as a mzl'g effect. For maximum
effect deliver the QunT'CHa in playful manner as if one is only joking. Note:
this method does not work on masochistic men, in which case a good lawyer must
be contacted immediately.
3. "Waa!": An Ethiopian mantra that creates
a force field around you at work. To be uttered once only at least three times
a day when stress giving office colleagues approach. Extend index finger at
source of stress when doing this mantra through which protective energy flows.
4. Shil'ela: An Ethiopian process of self-actualization
achieved by verbalizing the positive aspects of ones self and delivered as poetry
in motion. There is no preferred form or content and individuals are encouraged
to make up their own verse as they walk up and down in their office. Recommended
before an important meeting or presentation or negotiating a raise. Please refer
to pages 46-48 to get the correct steps and positions for mengoraded during
5. MeleGat: Confronting one's source of anxiety with one's
leg. One can do this in the bathroom or when you and the source of anxiety are
alone. Not a group activity. A one-on-one session preferred.
6. Masbokat and AskonaN: Precedes MeleGat
or Qarriya T'ffi and involves the acting out of one's intention
to physically confront ones source of anxiety in the presence of the source
of stress. The Masbokat acting-out ends with the mantra which must be uttered
in total disgust-- "AskonaN" (once) which enables the
release of ones negative emotion and indicates the end of ones cognitive dissonance.
7. Qarriya T'ffi: Perhaps the most satisfying of all the
traditional techniques and already used in America although known by a different
name. Confronting one's source of anxiety with the back of the hand preferably
when wearing a 20 gram gold Lion of Judah Ring, thus ensuring that the print
of the lion is left behind on the cheek of the source of anxiety. Seeing this
artistic expression of your anger being released brings great joy and relief
8. Mezzerer: The victory of Body and Mind over
things that do not matter. While it is up to each individual to discover and
develop his/her own methods of mezzerer, the most important thing is that after
the act, never to look behind.
9. BerberE Steam Bath: Another method of coping
with sexual harassment. Invite the protagonist home and give him one!!
10. Mewzer/Belgique/AK-47: In Ethiopian culture
there is no greater aromatherapy for the overstressed professional than the
bouquet of barood that wafts to the nose after firing off a few rounds. It is
said many an arbeNa woman preferred the scent of barood to the scent of a good
perfume. While the Mewzer and Belgique were the last resort used to facilitate
the independence of Ethiopia after the League of Nations failed her, this last
method on my list is also a last resort, and not recommended except in extreme
circumstances. With its little red light and thirty bullets, the AK-47 is light
enough to be easily carried for target practice on the firing range. With its
capacity to fire off thirty at a go, that's enough aromatherapy to relieve a
lot of stress.
You can order Dr. Shinabachew's books on these subjects or get a catalogue
by writing to Ammanuel Hospital P.O.Box 5678 Addis Ababa Ethiopia.