26 February 2019

My hopes for Ethiopia give me courage

The past 10 months have been extraordinary for Ethiopia and Ethiopians around the world. The changes in Ethiopia have exceeded expectations. Groups and individuals labelled as terrorists by the TPLF led clique are now functioning freely in Ethiopia.  Journalists, bloggers, political activists and human rights campaigners are free. Thousands of political prisoners have been released. Thousands of Ethiopians diaspora members have returned home and reunited with their loved ones. Lots of encouraging stuff have happened. These give me hope and I remain hopeful.

We cannot, however, deny the challenges the new administration has been faced with. But I also know, and many others as well know, that Rome was not built in a day. Democratic culture cannot be built over night. It takes time and needs our patience and perseverance. This culture cannot also be built by a few political elites. It needs the active participation of the majority. We cannot win by being onlookers. We cannot win by being blockers. We cannot win by only having a good will. We can only win when we roll our sleeves and do the right thing practically. We need to act. Action will bring a reaction.

In the meantime, I remain hopeful that the changes in Ethiopia will last long and meet the expectations of the majority. I also remain hopeful many engage practically and help Ethiopia succeed. After all, life is too short, and we cannot afford to lose the once in a life time opportunity we have at hand. Hence, I remain hopeful that Dr. Abiy and his team deliver on their promise. I also remain hopeful that the main opposition parties deliver what is expected of them and help Ethiopia go into a new era.

Going into the Era of Hope together.

25 February 2019

The talk is change

Obama talks change,
So does McCain,
Brown and Cameron.
Politicians talk,
So do students,
So too teachers,
So do others.
So what is wrong,
If those who seek sanctuary.
Talk change,
And voice their concerns,
On the change they all dream.
That allows work
And safeguards education,
That uses experience
and knowledge
And restores confidence
That goes for family union
And avoids family breakdowns
That encourages full participation
And helps to come out of misery
Many hoped for
Spoke about for years
This should come at last
For justice to prevail
For life to be normal
For that sends message for hard work
So as to pay back to the host
And discharge self responsibly
And get recognition and dignity,
That is the change we all dream.

Written in October 2008.

Going for the unknown

I still remember
That very moment in my life
When I decided the unknown
Over the little known
Booking a place in a plane
Leaving behind the family
And close ones at home; and
Deciding to be part of the unknown
With optimistic view of the day
Having some hope
Which are yet to be dashed.
Leaving the home airport was frustrating
As it involved a lot of risk
I remember those prayers
Which I had done time and again
A prayer to escape home
A payer to keep the hungry lions silent
The journey was full of thoughts
Thoughts from childhood to present age
Thoughts that took me back and forth in time
Thought where hope and despair
Had to face one-another.
The arrival wasn’t bad
Though I didn’t know
Where I would finally end up
As destination was unknown
Life has now changed forever
For worse or better.
The airport was as huge as usual
Embracing people of all colour
Some looked familiar
While others confused
The way to the city wasn't easy
Using the underground trains
To a place not booked before
It is all keeping going
Going, going, going. going.
Following instincts and thoughts
How tough is it to prefer the unknown
Over the little known
To keep life on hold
On hold for unknown time and future
On hold for reasons little known.

Written in May 2009.

What do they mean?

The stranger is to travel,
To move around in big city.
With no experience how to make it,
Taken by his deep thoughts.
How do I go to this place,
Train or bus should I use,
What do they mean when they say zones,
Are there cities within city,
Locating places and zones,
Knowing the price,
Buying the card
The Oyster,
From the machine or the office.
Checking the line,
The platform,
Boarding the tube,
Getting off the tube or changing,
Listening to the announcements
And reading same,
This is station X,
Change for line A,
The announcements come once again,
Attention please, attention please,
This is a security announcement.
The stranger is awakened,
His ears stand like nothing
As he gets more vigilant and worried.
There goes the announcement again,
Please keep you luggage with you,
And report unattended items,
And suspicious behaviour,
He recalls the announcements.
What do they mean when they say that,
Poses the question to himself.
As he gets more confused,
And contemplates to get off,
Yet he recalls the announcement,
Suspicious behaviour, as he recalls,
What do they mean when they say that,
The stranger looks around,
As he is more confused,
But no body looks that scared,
Different or Worried,
Is it only him who is scared,
Most are busy, busy reading,
Newspaper, book, magazine.
There come announcements once again,
This is station Y,
What a relief to reach at Y
He finally gets relived,
And awakened from his thoughts,
Before he even went to ask,
As to whether he should get off,
Or what do they mean when they say that,
Not knowing that the man next
Is a stranger Like himself.

Written in May 2009.

Rush and run

Everybody runs,
Run, run, run.
Nobody says hi,
Or expects same.
They still run,
Rush and run,
Push and pass,
Run on stairs,
On escalators,
In the streets.
Some run down,
Others run up.
Some run in,
Others run out,
Some run east,
While others west.
Still others run
South or north
They all run,
Rush and run
The beauty of rush hours,
The beauty of busyness.
Run, run, run
Always run

Commuters at a London train station

Written in April 2007

My pillow, my bank

What did I hear the other day
Banks run short of money
Financial institutions go burst
The same is true for insurance
Do I worry about it
Or should I worry for my pillow
Which is my bank for what I have!
My pillow my bank
My bank is my pillow.

Written in October 2008 following the financial crisis

My shyness

Let me question
Why I am shy
Is it nature
Religion or culture
Background or gender
Are there reasons
Why I am shy
Or is it man made
Or confidence,
Experience, exposure
Education or what is it
The reason for my being shy
I want to know
Why I am shy
As I feel shy
To remember that I am shy
And promise not to be shy
Yet it remains only promise
As I start to feel shy
As soon as I go into life
And have something in common
So what is it that makes me shy
Can I ask it again
As I am afraid of my shyness
As someone born to feel shy.

Written in September 2008


On a bright afternoon in North London, I was in a tube to the centre.
Hurried to reach Victoria so as not to miss the coach; for the trip to Cardiff.
The guy next had an issue; an issue with which he was obsessed.
He then asked a question; mate what time is the match
Mate, it is the match of the day, he continued; as I looked a bit confused,
It is Arsenal versus Tottenham; The North London derby.
I think you are an Arsenal fun, he continued.
Of course I am an arsenal fun; though I didn't tell him that.
I don’t know why I kept so quite.
I was just listening; listening to what the gentleman had to say
I am for the Gunners, he added; as he prepared to get off; by the Finsbury park station.
He said to me see you later.
Showing me with his hand; that he was going to inject.
Some heat into the blood; in terms of a pint.
I gave him a warm good bye; for his being friendly.
Yet had to think about him; his dedication and freedom
Of thought and expression.
The Cardiff coach was ready; to take its passengers on board.
It was unusually full.
Do you mind my sitting next to you
I politely said to a guy who I think is a Welsh.
He gave me way to the seat by the window.
As I sat next to him and started reading a book
Which was written in Amharic; which is my tongue language,
Where are you from mate if you don’t mind, said the gentleman next.
I am originally from Ethiopia, I replied;
Oh gosh! Have you got rugby in Ethiopia, he asked.
I have no idea was my answer; as I had no clue whatsoever.
What Rugby is after all; it is running that we love.
There was a very good match last week, he continued.
The blues with Gloucester; which was the best match of the year.
In the millennium stadium; especially the try from John
That helped the blues have the dominance in the game.
Did you know that the match; was also international, he continued
I have never watched Rugby mate, I replied.
While at the same time showing interest; to know a little bit about it.
I asked some naive questions; as I didn't know what Rugby meant.
And the guy replied and made sure that I understood what he said.
I appreciated his effort to help me understand.
But at the same time I learnt that he was also in love
In love with Rugby to the bit
That gentleman must be around; around in the city.
As it is time for six nations; six nations in rugby.
The gentleman is in love; in love with rugby.

written in October 2008

Hole in the wall

Mama had a problem

Which is of financial
Took up the phone to make the call
London or New York should I call
Isn’t London cheaper to call?
Asked the old woman herself
As she believes to know western life
And remembers how money is pulled from the hole
The hole deep in the wall
She still recalls
Putting the cards
Hiding fingers
Typing numbers
How could they put money in the wall

For every passing individual
Mom is thinking about the hole
And is now making the London call
Hello my son
How is your life?
How are the people around
The buses, the trains
And the one that goes underground
Is that supernatural or man made
Mom continued asking questions
When did they build those places
Where were we then in those times
She had questions with no answers
The young man who was worried
Asked his mom why she had called
Mom was so quick to remember
To ask her son what to send her
I need only some money son
Which I should get very soon
The son answered politely
Telling mama there was no money
Explaining the slow down in economy
That made mama so furious
As she knows there is a hole so generous.
Hole in the wall so generous.
So generous for bye passers.

Written in 2008

22 February 2019

ልማትም ሆነ ግንባታ ከሰብዓዊ መብት አይቀድምም

ሰሞኑን በለገጣፎ ብዙሃን ዜጎቻችን የመኖሪያ ቤቶቻቸው ፈርሰውባቸዋል። ዜጎች ሳይወዱ በግድ ወደ ጎዳና እንዲወጡ ተገደዋል። ይህ ክስተት እጅግ አሳዛኝና በጣምም አሳሳቢ ነው። ዜጎቻችንን ማዕከል ያላደረገ ልማት ምኑን ልማት ነው? የፈረሱትና ለመፍረስ እቅድ የተያዘላቸው ቤቶች ህገ ወጥ በሆነ መልኩ ተሰርተው ቢሆን እንኳ በምላሹ ዜጎች ለጎዳናና ለችግር መዳረግ የለባቸውም። ቤቶቹ የተሰሩት አስተዳደሩ እያየ ነው። ስለዚህ ችግሩ የነዋሪዎቹ ብቻ አይደለም። ጥፋትን በጥፋት ለማረም መሞከር ለማንም አይጠቅምም። የክልሉ መንግስትም ሆነ የፌደራል መንግስት ለጉዳዩ ትኩርት ሰጥቶ ተገቢውን ምላሽ ሊሰጠው ይገባል። እቅድ በእቅድ ይሻራል። አዎ ሰው ያወጣውን እቅድ ሰው ሊሽረው ይችላል። ለችግሮች አማራጭ መፍትሄ ይፈለጋል እንጂ እኔ ብቻ ያልኩት መሆን ያለበት ካልን ከጥቅሙ ጉዳቱ ያመዝናል። የእኔ ሃሳብ ብቻ ነው ትክክለኛ ሃሳብ ማለት አያዋጣም:: የመነጋገርና የመተማመን ባህል ሊዳብር ይገባል።

ባለፉት ወራት በሀገራችን ያየነው ለውጥ እጅግ አበረታች ነው። ይህንን ለውጥ ዘላቂ በማድረግ ዜጎቻችን ተጠቃሚ እንዲሆኑ የማድረግ ስራ ሊሰራ የሚገባ ሲሆን ለስኬቱም የሁሉም ቀናና ሀገር ወዳድ ዜጋ ትብብርና ድጋፍ ከምንም በላይ ወሳኝ ነው። ለውጡን ለማደናቀፍ ሌት ተቀን ተግተው የሚሰሩ ግለሰቦችና ቡድኖች መኖራቸው የአደባባይ ሚስጥር ነው። ስለዚህ ጥንቃቄ ማድረግ ይገባል። በህይወት ዘመናችን ያገኘነውን መልካም አጋጣሚ ተጠቅመን ህዝብን ማዕከል ያደረገ ስራ መስራት ጠቀሜታው ለሁላችንም ነው።

10 February 2019

Abiy the uniter unites Ethiopians in London

Girma Haile Mariam addressing the audience
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has only been in power for less than a year but has touched the lives and souls of many. His contagious passion for Ethiopia and willingness to work with everybody, has united Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia around the world. To that effect, Ethiopians and British citizens of Ethiopian origin met in Wandsworth, South London to discuss about the change the premier has introduced in Ethiopia and the challenge he set for the diaspora to contribute a dollar a day through the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust fund (known as EDTF).

Sunday 10th February saw Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia gather at York Gardens Library and Community Centre in Wandsworth to discuss about the formation of The London Chapter of EDTF and how they can help those who need help. Wandsworth is the home of St. Mary of Debre Tsion, the biggest Ethiopian Orthodox church in Europe which often attracts many Ethiopian related functions and events. 

The event brought together Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia of all political persuasion and none for a great cause. In fact the leaders of the event were composed of the two factions of Debre Tsion London Church, which has been divided for the past 7 years. Hence the EDTF effect in London is not only about raising money for the EDTF but also bringing folks together for a common good. Girma Haile Mariam, one of the organisers of the event said: “EDTF is not about politics, religion, etc. It is all about what we can and should together to help our fellow citizens who have no access to clean water, access to many things important in our lives. Trust me, Our contribution will make a difference

EDTF council members, Prof Lemma W. Senbet and Dr. Aklilu Bisrat as well as NuNu Wako, the convener for EDTF Volunteer Task Force joined the event via Skype. Their insightful contributions and availability to answer questions boosted the confidence of all the attendees of the event. Following the event, a mum and senior citizen, who didn't want to be named said “Because of EDTF I was able to meet with someone I haven’t met for over 10 years as I lost contact with them. EDTF has reunited me with my good old friend.

The EDTF London chapter is the first of many to be formed across the United Kingdom. Ethiopia and UK have strong relationship and work together on a number of bilateral and international issues. Harriett Baldwin, Foreign Office and DFID Minister for Africa was in the horn of African country in October following which she said: “The UK and Ethiopia are working together to tackle shared challenges and to make the most of the opportunities East Africa offers, on everything from development and education, to creating jobs and attracting investment. We will continue to support the ambitions of our partners, like Ethiopia, to build a stronger, more prosperous and more peaceful region.”

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