(Source: Tigrai Online, By Tesfaye Kassa) –
Everytime a person or persons from India see me anywhere, like in a mall, post office, or airport, they great me as if I was one of them. The first word that comes out of their mouth is “Namaste!”. I usually reply with the same courtesy, because that is one of the very few Hindu words I know. However, I always get irritated when they follow with a question “Are you from India?”. Though I kind of know why they would confuse me with someone from India, that, ladies and gentlemen, used to infuriate me. I don’t have anything against India. Actually, their beautiful women aside, there are many things I admire about them. It just used to upset me. And that used to amuse and actually please my dear wife Zebadam Zee Asrat Getaneh. She loved to see me angry when they ask me that particular question. She would say, with her sweet voice, “ende, min yanadidahal?” (Why does that upset you?). She knows very well why it upset me. I always hated when people confuse me for another person that was not Ethiopian. It used to feel as if they are trying to rip my Ethiopianness away from me. There was no prouder moment than the times when someone recognized me as Ethiopian. “Are you from Ethiopia?” Oh, Gosh, that question always used to make me feel good about myself.
Not any more, ladies and gentlemen. NOT ANY FREAKING MORE! Have you noticed that I am using a past tense? Like “used to”, “hated” etc? That is because I don’t feel that passion for my “Ethiopianness” no more.
Yes, Ethiopia has disappointed me. Ethiopia has, with its egregious and criminal treatments on my Tigrean people, has disgusted me beyond words can express. No, I no longer have that passion of being from that land, the land that gave the delicious and addictive drink coffee. Nope, I no longer have the appetite to be eager to tell any audience how beautiful a country with a rich history we have. Little did I know that this country that I used to love would dare to kill my cousins, aunts, and uncles with such impunity. Not in my wildest dreams did I think that this country that I worshipped second to God would be that evil and let its army and an invited one from another country to gangrape our girls, young girls as young as 7 years old, gangrape monks as old as 80 years old. How would I have expected the land I cherished my whole life would be this heartless and let another country destroy the livelihood of our farmers?
Therefore, NO I do not feel Ethiopian, I do not belong to that filthy country no more. I refuse to be referred to as Ethiopian. I no longer call that land as my country. And yes, now you can ask me “Are you from India?” and I will not be upset by that question any more. Just don’t ask me if I am from Ethiopia. That will upset me, that will shame me. I would rather be confused for an Indian than Ethiopian. So, I no longer care whether Ethiopia will disintegrate or perish. That, ladies and gentlemen, is no longer my business. I have got a bigger dream, a bigger duty, a larger plan. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is to make the Nation of Tigrai a reality.
I AM NO LONGER FROM ETHIOPIA. I AM FROM TIGRAI!!