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Ethiopia : If there is indeed such a thing as Political Nudity ( By Samuel Estefanous )

Ethiopia political Nudity
Capitoline venus, Capitoline museum, Rome ( credit : @archaeologyart – Twitter)

By Samuel Estefanous

I do believe that man is God’s creation cast in His own image. Every aspect of his/her body is ‘a holy abode’ according to the teachings of the Abrahamic faiths. What is mysterious and holy is respected, loved and held so precious that it is covered up. When bared for all to see it loses that mysterious, beautiful and precious aura that it becomes cheap and vulgar, hence the crime of public indecency.

Public Nudity is thus criminalized in many legal systems. Society frowns upon it and cooperates in enforcing the forbearance of such an act. One can’t walk the streets naked with the vain assumption that it is her/his body. Wrong. The streets are common. There is a towering mark off between a public highway and the privacy of one’s bedroom. 

In equal measure some otherwise functional words and expressions become vulgar and indecent when the language crosses over to the domain of the public. A gynecologist is at total liberty to discuss and use the terms in writing. That is a functional employment of the terms but a news anchorman can’t do that. A writer isn’t allowed to dab in ‘vulgarity’ arguing that those are functional terms. Well, a section of the Bible does, some argue as Wallace did in his epic fiction the ‘Word’. To that contention the counter argument, among others, is that the holy books aren’t bounded by any earthly limitation. God talks about His Creation and how to care for it and how to deal with it but you are no God and that is the end of the story.   

Enough circumnavigating, here is the moral of the story. Keep your hatred of other tribes and the excess of love for your own to the seclusion and privacy of your bedroom; don’t walk naked on the ‘babur’ high way you are a disgusting sight sore-particularly when you are old and your legs are so frail and thin while your belly is bulging.  The excess of youth is tolerable because they have and they are the future; they have ample time and resources to make up for the loss they have inflicted and to learn from their mistakes. What is more, they kinda need to stretch the limits. But old folks don’t have that elasticity and when they try to stretch they are sure to break.

Unfortunately Ethiopian politics is disproportionately dominated by the spill overs from that infamous generation of the 70s that they tend to do more breaking than fixing. At this critical juncture when the country’s very existence is at stake, instead of coming forward to do some mending to counter balance the excess of the youth they are boring holes to leak the very essence of the Nation. 

The politics of quarantine

When folks were told to quarantine themselves for fear of mingling with other races, the bulk of the society was like-we aren’t a colony of lepers, if you feel like it, raise a four meter long concrete wall around your house and keep fenced in until doomsday. Our ancestors chose to live with and among other tribes in peace and fraternity. We will not be defined by the scars but the enduring willingness and ability to peacefully coexist; we will not be defined by the wrongs of the few but by the welcoming hugs and smiles of the multitude.

You see, every kind of freakish or sick idea could occur to an individual person by volition or the dictates of circumstances and over time he might come to “like” it as a coping up mechanism of an otherwise possible mental break down; but such is no reason to demand the public to take to bed with him. 

This is what appears to me like a disgusting public political nudity. 

We are the Standard and Measure of who you are

Yesterday, I was listening to a prominent lawyer of Oromo extraction on the ESAT TV Mogach program. He was explaining why he had quit ethnic party politics. 

“There is a bunch of self-righteous politicians who would like to issue license certifying who is a legitimate Oromo and who isn’t.” 

There are indeed a growing number of politicians who are self-designated standard bearers and measures of Ethiopian identity.    

One may truly believe that such is indeed the case. He is entitled to entertain the definitive question as to who an Ethiopian is and come up with his version of the answer. The way the question is entertained may be laughable or childish and not worthy of a second thought but he is entitled to his opinion in the privacy of his premises.

However, the moment it is carried to the public it becomes not just vulgar but criminal. It doesn’t so much as suggest as it declares there are multiple tiers of Ethiopiawinet with some at the apex dispensing Ethiopiawnet and certifying the extent and degree to others. This sentiment is even more pronounced when it comes to Oromuma, Amaruma etc. In the public domain these people don’t qualify to hold office as they fall short of the minimum mental state of soundness that requires them to exercise power. 

Unfortunately, they do. It is a miracle the county is held together with all these clinically ‘sick’ people running the affairs of the government at different levels and in opposition every single blessed day. The only reason the country has stayed afloat thus far is the overwhelming majority of the public is by far more enlightened and knowledgeable than the politicos.

Shared Values and cherished common Destiny

Constitutional preambles sometimes read like unmitigated emotional effusions. Yes, they even take cognizance of a presumed common destiny as does the fourth paragraph of the FDRE Constitution. 

But a Constitution isn’t just a social contract between and among different constituent members of the Union. It has to “give account” why the constituent units have come together to agree to form a single lasting Union. It has to justify why the Gambella National Regional State is in the Union and why South Sudan isn’t, why the Tigray National Regional State is in and Djibouti isn’t. 

The FDRE Constitution and the other three preceding it have positively concluded that:- 

-by continuing to live together with our common rich and proud culture

-by continuously cherishing the culture and values of others as our own 

-by the continuous interactions among each other in a positive and mutually beneficial manner,

-by continuously inhabiting a common territory

We are at the stage of social development to found a single political and economic community and share a common destiny.

In simple words the age-grade cultural, political and democratic institutions of the Gada system are the common equally cherished cultural heritages of the single political and economic polity called Ethiopia. Either the Constitutional Presumptions are founded on a misguided false premises or there is no way a society of Nilotic and Omotic people are banding together to discredit and denigrate a  cultural heritage of their own as primitive and unworthy of entry in the register of the cultural heritage of the entire human race. 

How ironic it is. All Africa and the black diaspora are proud of it and are actively advocating the Gada system to be elevated to a higher status not just as a cultural heritage of the black race but that of the entire human family but those who are actually practicing it are organized to discredit it. Isn’t this the height of political nudity?

One may harbor such an idea in the privacy of his existence but to proudly propagate the idea in an open forum is a political nudity of the grandest scale.  

God Bless.

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    • on the contrary, dear IAF, I come from a position contending that there are offending naked private and personal strong negative prejudices being traded as a legitimate political opinion.

  1. Dear Ato Estefanos, I don’t understand the point of your metaphor.
    Is the Geda system expose by the Society of Omotic Nilotic people equivalent to a public nudity?
    Are you advocating that the system should be covered up because exposing it is somewhat immoral or even illegal?
    Are you advocating that it should not be exposed as something to be ashamed of like public nudity?
    One would hope that such an atavistic system be studied , presented to all stake holders and analyzed before resurrecting it and applying it to a system of social organization and political governance in a multi-cultural Ethiopia in the 21st century.
    One would also hope that more groups give their thoughts whether they are for or against registry of the Geda system in the UNESCO non-tangible cultural heritage. It would benefit from unlimited in depth exposure before such a registry.

    • Dear Ethiobserver
      something tells me you have given this a lot of thought… you are so very familiar with the subject which makes me assume you did get the metaphor just fine… only we seem to disagree-which is healthy…
      I am an Ethiopian, Sir…the only ‘expose’ of the Gada system I know is the kind Prof Legesse Asmerom did…I mean age-grade social organization and administration is a native African civilization which the Oromos have kept alive.
      Guess what? almost all the Nilotic and Omotic tribes of Africa have the system with slight variations as most African tribes do…the chief reason that prompted me to protest…even Wikipedia acknowledges the prominent role of the Oromos in keeping the system well in to the 21 century… something that makes me proud as an ETHIOPIAN.
      I kinda liked your particular way of addressing the issue, though…it kept a smile on my face.

  2. Subject: “Ethiopia : If there is indeed such a thing as Political Nudity ( By Samuel Estefanous )”
    June 27, 2022.

    “Political Nudity” ?!?! YES, THERE IS 21st Century ETHIOPIA is proving it.
    And consequently, there will be nudity of NINE proud parts of the vanished Ethiopia.
    The TRUE END of the glories Ethiopia.

    Will the NINE parts be happy? Yes, now they will be busy fragmenting themselves by themselves, for themselves into second pieces. More pieces to come. Is that human nature in general or exclusively designed by the oldest free country around the Globe? It seems, it is our choice for entertainment. Ahaa!!! No wonder there is an expression, called & FREE FALL.


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