The poem looks at issues of gentrification, poverty and poverty born prostitution. Tends to see emerging economic and social realities in Ethiopia with a social justice lens. As a culture formed from spirituality in the Christian and Musim religious traditions, social justice as a way of life was much more vibrant in the years before the coming to power of the regime in Addis Ababa now.
Impoverished neighborhoods in Addis Ababa were forcefully dislocated to make way for investors. The consequence is far more worse than just economic injustice. Social relation built over decades and decades of warm relation in times of joy and sorrow as well collapsed ( Professor Mesfin wrote on that) due to the gentrification process. After the dislocation, neighbors were not even allowed to maintain the erstwhile rather family like relationship. There was a report that many were settled in different directions in the outskirts of the capital Addis Ababa. By the way one many even need to think in terms of the notion of “extended family” to understand the social bond between neighbors although “extended family” is very outlandish concept in view of the nature and belief of Ethiopian society.
Intensity of poverty coupled with sex tourism and influence of undesirable aspects of globalization seem to have pushed many to a way of life that was very much considered as vice : prostitution. In the past, even the poorest with no means to sustain life will find it impossible to come to terms with the idea of making a living out of what is called disapprovingly in Ethiopia as “sale of flesh.” In addition to the degree of poverty, the tendency to see hedonism and sexuality in its socially unacceptable form came to be considered as a form of “advancement” and “progress.”
In consequence, Ethiopians are pretty much living an era of social malaise and the regime in power seem to have benefited from it. In fact, there are indications that the regime is systematically promoting the trend as a tool to nurture a politically docile generation. All sorts of communication access are easy so long as they do not lead to political awareness.
Misrak Terefe – who composed the poems – deserves credit for bringing such socially and politically relevant topic to a stage.