Different Faces of Easter

Holidays have a deep social significance. They are moments of family reunions and celebration. This, however, is not universal. For people living outside of their country, holidays are moments of recalling good memories. And this brings sadness to the heart. Part of this feeling is shared by those who have to work during the holidays.

I wish my readers a blissful Easter.

The last time I wrote about Brussels, the capital of Belgium, and seat of the European Union, the terrorists had exploded a bomb at the gateway of the international airport and in a metro station very close to the European Parliament. My point, then, was to tell my readers if Ethiopians had been affected. Of course, that story had dominated the broadcast media and front page headlines all over the world. We all had, in one way or other, expressed our sorrow and wished all the best to the families of the dead and wounded.

As Brussels grapples with its new reality, the holiday season has arrived. Hence, I prefer to share the emotions of the members of the Diaspora during holiday celebrations, in general, and the Easter holiday, in particular, from my personal perspective that is.

There are all sorts of celebrations that take place throughout the year, the most important of which are the Christmas and the New Year celebrations. Mainly they involve families getting together to have a good time with and kin by dining and wining. These holidays are also characterised by charitable acts and home improvement activity. People may wash and give away salvaged garments, footwear and household furniture. It is also a time of refurbishing and repainting rooms in the house.

I have also observed that this is an opportune time not only for felicitations and families. The holidays are also good for business, as they are preceded by a shopping spree with noticeable price deductions. However, I have noticed a kind of timid advertisement in the electronics media in Ethiopia. I say ‘timid’ because despite the incessant advertisements, sponsored or not, there are a few exceptions. One commercial announcing sales has told us plainly that the price of eggs among other commodities is 2.9 Br, while half a kilo of cheese is sold for 26 Br.

But other advertisements for imported or locally manufactured goods claim that they sell at reduced prices, with discounts of up to 30pc. Nobody, not even the so called Trade Competition & Consumers Protection Authority, seems to know what figure that percentage difference may mean. Neither the Agency nor the Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority (EBA) seem to have control over the commercials that do not give the prices of goods being advertised.

Did I miss the sense of the phrase ‘consumers protection’?

There are people who do not care to know what it exactly means to adhere to the policy of free market economy. There seems to be the need to explain the concept.

The old school of thought has it that price is determined by the equilibrium of supply and demand interaction. This is only possible if supply and demand conditions are constantly fulfilled. But in our case, this is not possible because the market price is not dictated by the supply and demand interaction. At least not yet. Therefore, the maxim that says ‘never dry the water pool or you would lose the fish population’ applies. The moral is to keep the balance in order to stay alive.

The week leading up to the Easter Sunday holiday is usually observed with serenity and deep pious meditation, with prayer for repentance and solemn confessions. If there is one moment of home-sickness and a feeling of nostalgia, I am sure it is when celebration of the holiday cannot be experienced as it is done at home among members of the family. Holidays are nothing more than being at home and having a good time together.

This year, I wish I could feel that way. But the serenity and pious week of committing oneself to God – that serious period and religious dedication needs to be extended for the whole country.

At a time when death threats have been hovering over a large part of the country as a result of the El-Niño-induced scarcity of food and water, unanticipated downpours causing the banks of the rivers to overflow in and around the heavily populated city of Dire Dawa, resulting in flooding. Heavy rainfall ravaged the city for the second time in recent memory. The overflow of the rivers has not only broken bridges and embankments but has also taken the lives of at least two men and a couple of herds, carrying them downstream.

Some church going folks had quite good reasons to plead to the Almighty God to have mercy on Ethiopia for the repeated misfortune and hard times that has made us vulnerable and exposed us to agony.

But if we go by the boring, hammering commercials we hear reverberating from one radio station to another, the market is filled with imported and home produced furniture and canned food from as far as New Zealand. These products include dairy products such as baby milk and livestock products!

The Agency charged with the responsibilities of protecting the interests of the consumers may not be staffed properly to control prices but I cannot see any reason why a nation that wishes to substitute imports is falling prey to imported goods.

During Easter, the shopping bonanza particularly focuses on livestock, poultry and green grass. The noisy ground level little markets and the hullabaloo of a labyrinth of noisy roads during the day and the music of night clubs may be all deafening. Yet, it may bring some sort of temporary feeling of enjoyment, especially after one or two shots of strong liquor.

My heart goes out to those whose businesses involve driving to long distance places. Home sickness may make it a death call to drive day and night to make it before it is too late for the celebrations. I am down on my knees in prayer, that the holiday may come and go in peace and happiness.

Happy Easter to you all where ever you may be.

By Girma Feyissa

Published on May 03,2016 [ Vol 17 ,No 835]



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