Diaspora Ride

It is noticeable that the national pride Ethiopians have for their country is embedded in their DNA. When they talk they make it sound like there could never be a better country.

This sentiment is shared by the majority whether in-country or abroad and because much has already been said about it, will not be the main subject of our topic. On the other, observing our habitual actions and reactions makes it rather obvious that we think little of what we are capable of.

Have you noticed how people directly assume that a person is a Diaspora or non-Ethiopian the moment an ethical situation arises where rationality is required. This especially caught my attention during one of the train rides going from one end of the city to the other. As usual, after a couple of stops following the beginning of the ride, the carts slowly but surely filled up with too many people that it had become impossible to breath. Getting towards the doors was not conceivable at all let alone going off the train with people jumping into the train the moment the doors opened instead of waiting for the passengers to exit.

Logically anyone would think it a rational approach to give the ones exiting the train the priority in order to have more space inside the carts. However it seemed as though this logic could not be applied for reasons I have yet to comprehend. Maybe the disseminated information regarding the short duration of the open doors had scared them that they rushed in. Somehow it does not add up. Demanding that the shoving and the pushing stop resonated as an insane request with the majority who exclaimed that it is better to push and shove to go out. Refusing to push meant that getting off the train at the terminal stop was the most feasible option which is highly inconvenient as you can imagine.

Each stop tirelessly welcomes more and more people and the train like an anaconda roaming through our cities barely seems to spit its passengers out. On this specific day, the complaint regarding the pushing and our ability to get off the train only two stops after our actual stop came from one person in our group.

A mob like sentiment dawned on everyone in the cart around us who suggested we pushed our way out and murmured that we were clearly Diaspora. Though the common saying advises for those in “Rome to do as Romans” in this case, asking for polite interactions does not seem to adhere to this idiom.

What I found to be hallucinating was the fact that something as banal and idiotically logical as allowing exiting passenger to leave before entering the carts had seemed so far-fetched it inspired the flinging of a couple of insults at our group. Since when has being rational, logical, polite and holding ourselves to higher standards when interacting socially become something reserved for non-Ethiopians and the Diaspora.

Which is what had me wondering about which standards we hold ourselves to and how high we think of ourselves. Obviously not high enough when phrases such as “Excuse-me”, “Please” and “Thank you” get you looks and when asking for civilized interactions, brands you as a non-Ethiopian born and/or bred. It has come to my attention that for those using the train on a daily basis and for those whose lives depend on their timely boarding of it not pushing might be implausible. Though as humans we adapt to our surroundings no matter how often they change, whether they are just or not, it bothers me that we accept to treat each other like we treat animals here.

Being polite to one another should not depend solely on our bank accounts, the cars we drive, the clothes we wear and our age.

We should respect one another regardless of conditions based solely on our being human.

Should we also not expect more of ourselves as Ethiopians?

By Christine Yohannes
Christine Yohannes writes about social change, performs at public events and conducts poetry workshops in schools. She has established a monthly event entitled "Poetic Saturdays" - a platform created to allow everyone the freedom of self-expression through art. She can be reached at poeticsaturdays@gmail.com

Published on Apr 22,2017 [ Vol 17 ,No 885]



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