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Ethiopia and Ethiopians have been the butt of every poverty joke ever told since the famine. The image of that particularly dark period in Ethiopian history remains etched in the minds of many and mostly is still the only perception foreigners have retained about the country to this day.
The recent unfortunate incident of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner catching fire ended up being the perfect platform for some additional jokes about the country. I have to admit, some of them are pretty hilarious and it is clear to see that those who wrote it meant it as a joke.
For example, the bit about the Dreamliner probably being made from mud and wood, hence easily catches fire or the bit about how in the world Ethiopia could afford the glamorous aircraft while it can’t even feed its own people, are some that can be mentioned. All these comments have stirred up emotions among fellow Ethiopians who have expressed their feelings of disappointment in the world via social Media. People shared their feelings of disappointment on tweeter, facebook status; and then the public page called “Yes, Ethiopia has Dreamliners; deal with it!” came along, a place where upset-by-the-event Ethiopians can discuss and share their feelings of disappointment with other fellow Ethiopians with similar feelings.
The newly-created facebook page instantly became a hit as many people joined in the discussion. But before we get all consumed by emotion, we should ask ourselves if it is even worth getting upset over. I say it is not. Ethiopia is a poor country, and with that comes all sorts of unpleasant situations that people have to go through. That is the reality. The other reality is that there is progress; things are slowly but surely changing in Ethiopia for the better, and these changes are visible and cannot be denied.
We have to know that, usually, the people that are most critical about Ethiopia are Ethiopians themselves. We are the ones who are always complaining that all is wrong with this country, we are the ones who don’t hesitate to leave and go to western countries because it is better there… the list goes on.
However, the second others start to criticize and make jokes at the expense of our country, we go crazy. Are we hypocrites or what? So what should we do when the rest of the world makes fun of us? Should we take it to heart? Should we moan and complain? Should we really take our time to create a facebook page in retaliation to the negative comments? Oh, I know; how about just ignoring the whole farcical and idiotic situation? It amazes me that we take ourselves so seriously that we get upset by some comments made by people who probably don’t know the difference between left from right. We have to understand that most people, especially young people in developed countries, don’t really have any clue where Ethiopia is and what’s going on here. Such people do not care that there is progress being made and Ethiopia is one of the fastest growing countries in the world. People in these developed countries usually don’t even know the difference between Ethiopia and let’s say Pakistan and they probably think Africa is a country.
Unfortunately, Ethiopia will continue to be the punch line of many jokes to come. When that happens, what we should do is develop some sense of humor and just leave it be. Sooner or later, it is inevitable that all will admit what is evident; Ethiopia is growing.
In one of her books, Ayn Rand wrote that we should learn to distinguish between errors of knowledge and breaches of morality. An error of knowledge is not a moral flaw, provided you are willing to correct it; only a mystic would judge human beings by the standard of an impossible, automatic omniscience. This is why we can’t blame those who blab without understanding the reality. But a breach of morality is the willful evasion of knowledge, a suspension of sight and of thought. That which you do not know, is not a moral charge against you; but that which you refuse to know, is an account of infamy growing in your soul. Make every allowance for errors of knowledge; do not forgive or accept any break of morality, Rand wrote; this is for those who know the reality, but do not want to admit it as they believe the false supremacy of their kind (not referring to race here).
Yes, Ethiopia has Dreamliners, and I can also list down the many incredible facts that make this Nation one of the greatest nations on earth and will continue to be in the future. What matters in the end is what we think of this Nation of ours. Next time people make jokes, laugh. Laugh at the jokes, laugh at the ignorance and above all, laugh at the stupidity.