Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Millennial Opportunities: Perspectives of the African and European Existence

Global Strategic Enterprises, Inc for Peace and Prosperity- www.globalbelai4u.blogspot.com

Ethiopia: A Simple Life? or an alternative perspective on life?

America: A complicated and terrorized life?

Dear Patriotic Global Citizens and Friends of Ethiopia.

Perspectives has become a new way of comparing life in Europe and Africa.

The European life style is modulated by calendar, news and activity plans and documentation of almost all events of life. As such all life events are categorized by social, economic, leisure and ecological activities and a lot of time and effort is made documenting emotional relationships at home, school, work and the environment.

By comparison the rest of the world is quiet or does not have the time, skills and resources to document the lifestyles of its citizens. As such it appears, while the rest of the world was busy surviving for Millennia, the Jewish people documented not only their relationship within themselves and their neighbors but with nature and the ecology by giving it some divine, spiritual and mythical expressions.

The whole stories in the Bible are an extension of the Jewish existence for the past 6,000 years. It is amazing that to date no other group of people has documented their existence as a group or community like the Jews. Even today, the Israeli-Arab relationships dominates all the news media as though the rest of 6.5 billion people do not exist or are not bothered to document their existence.

So, as the 8th Millennium is upon us, we have to ask what have Africans or Ethiopians documented over the past 8,000 years. It is very little compared to our Jewish brothers. In fact, most stories that we find are those written about us and our environment by visitors such as this one.

It is amazing how the current generation spends writing about the future or the past with some imported values systems coined as revolution, struggle, democracy and fantasy, and yet we do not see real life story documentation of average people and their perspectives on life. Perhaps they do not have the discipline, resources, skill and competence to document their life events.

In the past the scholarly communities have been attached to religious institutions and they documented events as they saw them or from the perspectives of their patrons. Today, the blogging world is giving opportunities for individuals who have access to computers and Internet to write their opinions on events as they observe them. As usual the African continent lags behind in the technology of digital communication and we are left to depend on the stories of the Gettlemans, Mitchels and now this anthropologist.

It is time to change our perspectives and this story is one that needs to be corroborated or alternatives are given about events in Ethiopia by the local people may be with some comparison of life in Europe, Asia and North America, etc.

All the same, I found this interesting reading and felt compelled to share with my readers to see their perspectives too.

Life in Ethiopia may be simple, but it is crowded in Asia, despondent in Europe, and may be too stressed in America and terrorized in the Arabian countries. All this is perspective. As life in Ethiopia, Europe, Asia and the Americas can be very similar depending on which part of the cities one lives. City life by and large is crowded and stressed, whereas country side life is relaxed and may even be simple. It is all comparative and depends on the writer's perspecitve.

Here is an account of a graduate anthropology student from Europe about his life in Ethiopia. As usual it is interesting because the European mind and life style tries to document events around them giving some perspectives on life.

I wish he asked more questions for us to answer rather than only his own perspective. Yet, it is better than nothing. I wish Ethiopians will document their lives in Diaspora in some form or another so that there is comparison and more complete perspectives. May be more will be inspired to write their account on this unique time of Millennium for future generations to make their own comparisons.

Here is the simple life as Stevenson saw it or exprienced it. It is very interesting indeed.

by Jed Stevenson
Posted: 08/27/2007

It’s been two months since I arrived in Ethiopia. It may be another two years before I leave.

What am I doing here? I am engaged in a long rite of passage, the equivalent of the Aboriginal walkabout — a period of voluntary exile, after which (supposedly) I will return to my former home a wiser and more adult person.

For anthropology graduate students, this is a normal part of our education. I have visited Ethiopia several times before, and each time I was taken aback by the suffering and the poverty. I have learned to expect melancholy and depression upon arrival in the country. But this time, I feel an overwhelming sense of well-being.

It’s a matter of perspective. While I pity the plight of many of the people around me, I’m also reminded of my relative prosperity, health and opportunity. If you ever feel like you’ve gotten a raw deal from life, take a trip to Ethiopia.

My happiness can also be attributed to being sheltered from the Western media. In the United States, I feel obliged to follow the news, almost to the point of obsession.

But Ethiopia has only one TV station, and the Internet is available via dial-up at speeds ranging from slow to glacial. The radio and newspapers are the main source of news, and they report largely on national issues. My life in Ethiopia is simpler.

But national news is far from uplifting. Although the rains have been good this year, the specter of famine still haunts Ethiopia. The country occupies a disadvantageous position in the global trade system, and the absence of democracy and freedom of expression at home make parts of Ethiopia vulnerable to famine even when there are bumper crops elsewhere. Since national elections were held in Ethiopia in 2005, half a dozen newspapers have been shut down for criticizing the government.

Last month, the Africa correspondent for The New York Times, Jeffrey Gettleman, was expelled from Ethiopia for interviewing members of the Ogaden National Liberation Front, a militia group fighting for the independence of the ethnically Somali part of Ethiopia. (Gettleman did not respond to an e-mail for this article.) The Ethiopian army is also fighting a protracted war in neighboring Somalia, which it invaded with American support at the end of 2006.

Despite these problems, many Ethiopians are maintaining a stoic attitude. They have lived through decades of authoritarian rule, have been mobilized to fight wars on their own turf and have seen their country remapped and rebranded, as when Eritrea gained its independence and a nominally socialist government gave way to a nominally liberal-democratic one in 1991. This history gives them a different perspective on the news than most Americans.

Where Americans are alarmist, Ethiopians are skeptical. While their government plays along with the U.S. in the so-called war on terror as a means of obtaining badly needed foreign aid, most Ethiopians know that terror is as likely to be deployed against them by their own government as by shadowy networks of malcontents.

Spending some time in a country internationally renowned for poverty, suffering and conflict has its upside. It protects against the tendency to paranoid speculation and status anxiety that so afflicts American culture, it helps sharpen one’s ability to distinguish real problems from phony ones and it serves as a reminder that we must count our blessings.

Jed Stevenson is an anthropology graduate student from Colchester, England. He is studying in Ethiopia for the next two years.

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