Home > Comment > Could Ethiopian Academics Have Done Better?

Could Ethiopian Academics Have Done Better?

 By Alethia

There is no doubt that these days many Ethiopians are wondering and thinking long and hard as to what Ethiopians from various walks of life could do to make a difference to their society: a difference that will truly make a difference for better for generations to come. This is my reflection on what the Ethiopian academics could do and could have done to make Ethiopia a much better country.

By academics I refer to college and university teachers. My focus in this article is on the Ethiopian academics in Ethiopia. Since this is a large topic my focus will be limited to some key roles that Ethiopian academics could play in the Ethiopian context that can make a real difference to the way the society functions. 

 This is personal reflections on observations that I’ve made over a long period of time. Personally, I’ve also been through no less than ten years of post-secondary education in Ethiopia. I’ve a great interest in what has been happening and is happening and will be happening in post-secondary education in Ethiopian colleges and universities. I’m an academic myself and look forward to contributing my share of responsibility in the years to come. I’ve not held an academic position in any Ethiopian colleges/universities yet with an exception of teaching at various colleges briefly and in all of these only on a voluntary basis, without any reward in any form at all. No one can overemphasize the value of education for any society, including ours. Good education is among those absolutely essential things for any nation’s development in any form. No society can enjoy any desirable human civilization without some contributions from learning, mostly in the formal setting like colleges and universities. I’m by no means implying that we should not pay attention to teaching/learning process before colleges/universities. That requires a separate article. If and when there is some relevance from what I say to pre-college teaching/learning experience that is because these things are intimately related and no wonder about such relationships when they’re obvious.

Once again this article will be limited in its focus; it’ll mostly focus on teacher-student relations and the attitude of teachers to their students in the academic environment and the academic competence of some of the teachers in colleges and universities in Ethiopia. First to teacher-student relations.

The relationship between teachers and their students varies from place to place and from culture to culture. One does not have to expect a radical departure in teacher-student relationships in one’s academic environment from the dynamics of the larger interpersonal relations in any given society. However, since teachers are more educated than their students and are expected to have learned something important in life and are also expected to be wiser and more mature than their students,  it does not seem right to think of teachers at colleges/universities to act and do their jobs in much the same way like the rest of the society. Teachers who’ve undergone years of academic training that challenges, in various ways, their mindset, their knowledge, their emotional and intellectual maturity,  and judgment are naturally expected to be role models for their students, and, of course, ideally speaking, for the rest of the society. Teachers who’ve undergone years of academic training would naturally come to see what it takes to produce responsible, knowledgeable, emotionally and intellectually mature students as fellow citizens since these people shoulder the responsibility of perpetuating their society’s civilizations. 

 The way teachers interact with their students and attitudes that teachers bring to their students and their work do not seem to have been adequately explored areas in explaining why some societies keep producing likeminded academics and citizens and I think our society’s experience is nowhere different. Now those of us who’ve gone thru the Ethiopian college /university education environment can easily recall so many unacceptable, inexcusable and absolutely wrong, characters and actions of our teachers from our many years of experiences. If asked personally I’d single out, maybe very fortunately, only one teacher from more than a dozen or so who taught me at the university who does not belong to the others whose attitude to their students and whose relationships with their students were totally unacceptable and downright wrong.  

 Now many of us who’ve had experiences of having been taught by our college/university teachers could say things like the following without making any mistake: most of our teachers would look down upon us, their students, as lords would do to their slaves or subjects; most of the time the best way to show that students are not as good as their teachers is by composing the toughest exams that those who composed them would not even   be able to do at their ease if they had to take the same exams; many times if a student academically challenges the teacher chances are that such a student would most likely  suffer years of condemnation with failing grades as retaliation; many times teachers would not tell their students where they get their lecture notes from so that students would not get hold of them as a way of avoiding being challenged by bright students or any; when it comes to grading so much worse could be said about how teachers want to prove their alleged superiority to their students by  grading their students’ exams in such a way that only a few or no student gets an A or As and the rest, the majority,   would get some Bs  and mostly the usual Cs and Ds and these were experiences of the 80’s and 90’s, if not entirely true today; no one can make a mistake that grading in such severe ways by teachers has  been used  as weapons to protect their “superior’’ status in the name of teaching and learning process;  some teachers would do whatever it takes to look like they know much, much better than they actually do in order to avoid exposing  their lack of competence due to the following reasons, among others.

This brings us to our second item for consideration. Lack of academic competence by a teacher negatively affects the teaching/learning process perhaps more than teacher-student relationships and teachers’ attitudes to their students. Academic incompetence could be explained in a number of ways for a number of reasons. My focus again is limited to a few reasons. Any student who’s been even vaguely attentive could not fail to be aware of lack of adequate preparation for teaching by the typical Ethiopian college/university teachers. I’m not talking about incompetence due to lack of resources like books and as such. Not at all!  I’m talking about academic incompetence due to, mainly, lack of resourcefulness and personal initiative and lack of personal motivation for learning for oneself first before one undertakes teaching as a college/university teacher. Due to lack of personal initiatives and lack of motivation it’s so common to see a typical Ethiopian teacher using the same lecture notes, not good ones in the first place, over and over and over for years.

Why do most of the college/university teachers in Ethiopia lack motivations to learn as much as possible for their own personal development first in the process of learning and teaching? Some might want to explain such lack of motivation for personal learning and personal development due to lack of adequate research facilities, poor libraries, and any number of external factors that could negatively affect one’s level of personal motivation. But such explanations are not going to work well in all situations. I’d rather argue that lack of research facilities should be among good reasons to be more motivated and resourceful to overcome such handicaps in a country such us ours! This is not a place for me to go autobiographical but the truth is that lack of adequate research facilities added more reasons for me to be more aggressively motivated and resourceful to overcome such barriers and handicaps even when I did not have the privilege of being part of an establishment such as colleges/universities.

 If one’s determined to learn and grow intellectually as an academic, I think, it’s eminently possible to overcome some of the existing barriers and handicaps with which we all are familiar. If a teacher, as an intellectual, has more than an average desire and level of curiosity to learn for himself/herself and if a teacher is genuinely interested in the well being of his/her students and in the generation of people that he/she is molding and shaping, I think, such things are more than enough reasons to overcome almost any existing handicaps in terms of lack of research facilities. Persistent lack of personal initiatives and motivations to do more than the least required to just make one’s living by doing much the same year after year seem to have severely affected the quality of a generation of students in Ethiopian colleges and universities. I’ve no doubt that most of the academics that have presided over the teaching/learning process in most of Ethiopia’s colleges/universities, mainly at AAU, could have done much better as teachers whose work and life is responsible for producing a generation of fellow citizens whose life could make a tremendous difference to the future of Ethiopia. 

 We’re now ready to draw out implications of the above. It does not take a genius to figure out why we in Ethiopia see, for more than a generation, much the same in terms of the quality of educated citizens, mostly those who’re college/university educated and those who’re teaching at colleges/universities. Put another way: the arrogance and ignorance by some so-called educated Ethiopians, the unacceptable degree of incompetence of some so-called educated Ethiopians, the indifference to whatever happens in the larger society by some so-called Ethiopians, etc., can be explained by the way the academics live their lives and carry out their responsibilities as I’ve tried to show above.

 A teacher who thinks and acts in such a way to show that his/her student is his/her inferior and also a rival that deserves destruction; that his/her student does not deserve his/her best efforts at the teaching/learning process; that one way to prove that one’s student is not his equal is  by grading his/her student as harshly as possible; that one way of showing a teacher’s “ superior knowledge”  is by hiding the sources a teacher uses to teach his/her students, etc., such vicious characters and actions can only perpetuate the cycle of problems that have destroyed the purpose and mission of the   life of colleges/universities. Those who’ve suffered from really low GPA’s as a consequence of their teachers’ unreasonably harsh grading policy,  which is based on all kinds of wrong reasons,  have inevitably failed  to meet requirements for graduate studies,  and how many of such young Ethiopian college/university graduates  have lost countless opportunities for advanced studies only God knows.

 Add to these the incompetence of college/university teachers and one can easily see how much we’ve regressed in terms of producing properly educated Ethiopian citizens. It’s no exaggeration if one says that for most of the time the actual learning process for some or many of those who teach at Ethiopian colleges and universities has stopped at the moment they graduated with whatever degrees they’ve earned. Unless they’re forced by external pressures so many of those who teach at Ethiopian colleges/universities do not have a visible and established tendency to advance their knowledge/scholarship even about the very subject matter they mean to teach. This is one of the easiest things to document if one were to challenge this view. I’m not a stranger to the Ethiopian academics and I’ve known some for many years and what I share here might even be somewhat a generous description about how some of our academics live their lives as academics.

Now from what has been said above one can safely conclude that the persistent damages that we as a society have suffered from the failure of the teaching/learning process in the Ethiopian colleges/universities could easily be the second worst damage done to our society next to  the damages done by ill-governance in Ethiopian political history of our generation. Yes, we’ve some, or rather a few good and competent and caring teachers at some of Ethiopia’s colleges/universities. But they’re too few to make all the needed difference. Now imagine what kind of educated citizens could have been molded and shaped and produced if we have had considerably many teachers whose life’s most important goal is the wellbeing of their students, a care one could compare to the care parents extend to their children. For me the well-being of my students, esp., their future is of paramount importance and I can’t imagine sleeping at peace while  doing anything less than my very best to my students who’re entrusted into my life for one of the most important jobs one can imagine: molding and shaping the lives of one’s  students  in the most positive and desirable way that can sustain and perpetuate the life of scholarship and  also the life of virtues that can sustain the life of the larger society when these students go out into the larger society to make an impact and leave their legacy likewise. 

 I think, the future of Ethiopia, the future of a generation we’re bringing up after us cannot be a better generation in any desirable way if the life of learning continues at Ethiopia’s colleges/universities the same way it’s been going on for a generation or so now. We need a revolution that is designed to change the teaching/learning environment in Ethiopia’s colleges/universities. We desperately need   a radically renewed commitment to produce a new generation of students, a new generation of properly educated citizens that Ethiopia has been waiting for generations.

My message, in a sense, is a continuation of a call for better, virtuous characters in Ethiopia’s academic environment which, ideally speaking, is a proper place to bring about change in character as one of the often neglected goals of education is to bring about change in character. What is the point of amassing knowledge, theoretical or practical, if one’s life, one’s character does not change for better? What is the point of education if being educated does not make a difference to how we should live our lives and lives lived between those who have had the privilege of being educated and the others who did not have such a privilege?

One can easily see that when we’ve properly educated citizens who’ll be knowledgeable, responsible, informed, wiser, sensible, understanding, tolerant, broadminded, more perceptive, of sound judgment about issues personal and societal, and when  the more we’ve such citizens  the better the future of our society will be. Universities are, without any doubt, the most important institutions that any society should care about and my hope is that those whose lives are deeply tied to universities/colleges in Ethiopia will do much better to bring about a much overdue change for the Ethiopia of now and tomorrow. I do strongly believe that Ethiopian academics could have done much better for their nation, their society, and therefore they should do much, much better than whatever they’ve done. I look forward to the time when my role as an Ethiopian academic will be an opportunity to contribute to the well being and flourishing of my society, for a generation to come. I hope to see more likeminded fellow Ethiopians with a shared and common goal that will make a real difference as to how we should live our lives as part of our society, as academics and responsible citizens too.    

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Categories: Comment
  1. Aemero
    March 3, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    Alethia,
    Thanks for speaking behalf of previous and current Ethiopian students. School is one of the institiutions where any nation shape and produce responsible citizens.

    By the way, is there any means that this article could get translated into Amharic and get printed on some of Ethiopia news papers in Ethiopia? So, all Ethiopians in Ethiopia could read it. specially, students and teachers.
    Thanks
    Aemero,

  2. hailu
    March 4, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    sorry to oppose you but the ethiopian intellectuals, especially in diaspora, can bring more negative than positive for ethiopia. i can tell you everything since i have experienced diaspora live for over 15 years.

    most of them are politicized. unless you want to exclude ALL diaspora oromo and somali ethiopians, there is no way all ethiopian academics can unite for a common cause. almost 80% of oromo ethiopians fled due to persecution so in their mind Ethiopia should and does not exist. they want “independence” before anything. their defenition of pro-woyane is not walta. their definition of pro-woyane is ANY ETHIOPIAN WHO LIVES HIS NORMAL LIFE IN ETHIOPIA and DOES NOT RAISE ARMS.
    so virtually millions of people are anti-Oromia independence in ethiopia so oromo diaspora intellectuals are out of any endevours in ethiopia.

    also subtract the somali(ogaden) ethiopians.
    subtract the sidama ethiopians, subtract the afar ethiopians in diaspora. (by the way all of these people do not call themselves ethiopian here in the diaspora)

    so then you basically have the amhara, tigre, gurage, mixed and a few other ethiopian left.

    so a unity of ALL ethiopian intellectuals is virtually 99.9% impossible. thousands of acedemics, wealthy intellectuals in the diaspora are waiting until Oromia, Ogaden, Afar and Sidama becomes independence before they imploy their intellectual assets for economic and social development.
    meanwhile many intellectuals inside ethiopia are waitig for DV lottery and other ways to LEAVE ethiopia.

    a recipe for disaster for our hopeless ethiopia

  3. Alethia
    March 4, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    Hi Hailu:

    Thanks for your comment. Honestly, I’m not sure what you wanted to communicate. I’m not sure whether your response was to the article above. I was not arguing for the thesis you seem to be arguing against. Will you help me see what you is relevant to the article titled, “Could Ethiopian Academics Have Done Better?”

    Remeber this from the article above, “By academics I refer to college and university teachers. My focus in this article is on the Ethiopian academics in Ethiopia.” How is your comment relevant given what the article is about?

    I’ll respond when you specifically address issues the article addresses.

    Thanks again.

    Cheers,

    Alethia

  4. abesheet
    March 5, 2008 at 6:31 am

    Can somebody give me the “chimq hasab” of this article? Too long for me, sorry! Never been a huge fan of non-fiction articles, even if i’m a literature student & hope to become a Critic when i grow up :-). Still, felt the first two paragraphs were redundant and almost appologetic in manner. That may not help the education system much but Alethia should be taking notes ;-).

  5. zewge abate
    March 5, 2008 at 7:13 am

    I do respect the views aired by Alethia on Ethiopian academics. In life, examining ourt state of being today, not just university teachers but we all could have done better.

    I reckon the writer has seen the problem from a narrow angle. While it is true that arrogance and incompetence somehow prevail in the higher learning institutions, they don’t just emanate from within the institution. They are a reflection of things like moral decline in the society, poor quality of education, curriculum that is often argued to need a massive overhauling, and what have you.

    By the way the writer deliberately refrained from citing critical problems on the learning end, albeit alluding teaching-learning process over and again. How about the ‘generation of students’? Are they ready to partake in the feeding of knowledge and skills from the sholars who commit themselves to unveil their professional obligations, no matter how few such scholars are claimed to be by the writer? I doubt if that is the case for many learners. I have also reservations on the writer’s claim that teachers come up with bombarding exams this time around. After all, owing to the tendency that students are more favored than teachers in such academic arenas, the teacher’s freedom of probing students with challenging exams are being significantly compromised by facilities like rexam, regrade and so on. Not to mention some teachers’ avoidance of reading long essays and analyses for laziness.

    So I advise the writer to take a holistic approach to such concerns which I appreciate he/she has picked up in the first place.

  6. Alethia
    March 5, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    Hi Abesheet:
    Hope that you’ll grow up and become a critic someday. I look forward to reading your contributions then. I value the works of literary critics myself though I’m not one of them.

    I can give you the summary/the central ideas of the article which is already short like a summary itself of really complex issues. If I give you a summary I’ll deprive you of an opportunity to learn something and hence won’t do it for you. This is because I believe encouraging someone to learn vicariously, or spoonfeeding someone is doing a damage to that person, intentionally or unintentionally.

    There was nothing apologetic in the first two paragraphs as far as I can see. If your point was supported by examples and hence more concrete I’d love to respond.

    Good luck reading 800 or so pages long non-fiction books if you can’t sustain your interest and attention for a six pages long mini article which is no where difficult to understand in the first place.

    Cheers,

    Alethia

  7. Alethia
    March 5, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    Hi Zewge:

    Thanks a lot for your very perceptive comments. Three points:

    1) Though I do not know what you mean by that I saw the issues from a narrow angle what you said in this is right onto something: “While it is true that arrogance and incompetence somehow prevail in the higher learning institutions, they don’t just emanate from within the institution. They are a reflection of things like moral decline in the society, poor quality of education, curriculum that is often argued to need a massive overhauling, and what have you.” This article is one of my many articles,elsewhere, that is intended to bring out some widespread problems of our society that also affect the life of learning at academia. When you said this: “[t]hey are a reflection of things like moral decline in the society…” That has been part of the central messages of my other many articles elsewhere. Just before the end of my article I said this: “My message, in a sense, is a continuation of a call for better, virtuous characters in Ethiopia’s academic environment which, ideally speaking, is a proper place to bring about change in character as one of the often neglected goals of education is to bring about change in character.” The “continuation” I was alluding to was to my previous articles and their message. You also mention “poor quality of education” as another factor but I’m not clear about that. If you mean “poor quality of education” to explain poor quality education that I was trying to talk about in post-secondary education in Ethiopia such will be a circular explanation and will be useless unless elaborated. I hope you meant something else.

    2) You also say this: “By the way the writer deliberately refrained from citing critical problems on the learning end, albeit alluding teaching-learning process over and again. How about the ‘generation of students’?”. Yes, I deliberately refrained from writing about the students in this article. That was not the purpose of the article. Teaching-learning process is inclusive of students as well, you’re right, but the article was not intended to focus on the students for now. Another article should be devoted to other aspects of the teaching-learning process, which is a truly complex situation as you well know. One article can’t do all at once. That is why I deliberately refrained from discussing all there is to discuss about the complex issues.

    3) You also say this: “I have also reservations on the writer’s claim that teachers come up with bombarding exams this time around.” When I said something about exams and grading I also said this for qualification: “…and these were experiences of the 80’s and 90’s, if not entirely true today.” I was hesitant to claim what I said about grading was entirely true without qualification.

    Thanks again for your thoughtful comments. In my future articles, which I hope to write, I’ll address some of the issues that I’ve not touched in the present article.

    Cheers,

    Alethia

  8. Alethia
    March 5, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    Hi All:

    It’d be really great if I could hear some comments, preferably critical and constructive, on the article above so that we can learn from each other and advance forward (or refute conclusively) the ideas contained in the article.

    I hope that those fellow Ethiopian academics in Ethiopia can help us understand the complex issues of teaching-learning processes in the present day Ethiopian post-secondary education. Therefore,the views of Ethiopian academics in Ethiopia would be indispensable. How can we do better, if we admit that we’ve not done as much as we should have done before?

    Look forward to hearing such views.

    Cheers,

    Alethia

  9. March 6, 2008 at 1:32 am

    Even if I didn’t attended higher education in Ethiopia Alethia brought up excellent pints. What he/she didn’t bring up is the economic (salaries) of these professors/professionals and its impact on their academicals and personal life. If I am not mistaken these professors/professionals paid two or three thousands of Birr a month and we expected those people to be productive as other academics in the West/East.

    With Respect Baheilu

  10. Alethia
    March 6, 2008 at 2:25 am

    Hi Beheilu:

    Thanks for your comments. You’re right that I did not bring up issues that could go against motivation for doing better for the Ethiopian academics. But do not forget that I also said this: “Some might want to explain such lack of motivation for personal learning and personal development due to lack of adequate research facilities, poor libraries, and any number of external factors that could negatively affect one’s level of personal motivation. But such explanations are not going to work well in all situations.” The issue of being underpaid, if we may say so, could be one of those factors that could negatively affect one’s level of personal motivation to be a better teacher. I’m by no means saying or implying that teachers should not be paid what they deserve to be paid, whatever amount is proper for them to adequately address their basic needs plus whatever else is needed to be taken care of. I’d love to argue forcefully why teachers should be paid way more than medical doctors, for example. Where would do medical doctors come from if there were no schools and no teachers? But this article was not about this issue.

    Now here is a problem: Most of those who teach at colleges & universities teach there by their choices, if I’m not mistaken. It’d be hard to imagine one teaching at college/university forced by somebody else or some institution that forces him/her to teach there. University educated people are not naive to fail to make the best decision about their career and most (or all) of them are there because that is the place they wanted to be, in one way or the other. If this reasoning is correct, then those who’re there could have chosen to do something else that pays more. They could leave the university at some point or another for better paying jobs. And we all know that some do just that. Some reject any offers to teach at universities in Ethiopia just because of the payment issues and accept better paying jobs elsewhere. That is also something people are aware of. These are no secretes.

    The bottom line: should we then conclude that being underpaid is or should be the main reason for lacking motivation to do better? I don’t see how and that is why I did not bring up this as a good reason. Any ideas?

    Cheers,
    Alethia

  11. G
    March 6, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    Hi Aletia,

    Please do not write enlongated comments in the comment section ,the longer the comment is the higher would be the probability to lose track on the flow and even to stop reading,please try to finish the main team of your article right there in the article ,do comments whenever it is necessery and important,it should be as short as the pigmies .Please do not misunderstand me ,I am among the top readers of your articles and sorry ,that is what I feel when I read long comments ,given the article.

  12. Alethia
    March 7, 2008 at 4:26 am

    Hi G:
    Thanks a lot for your counsel or piece of advice. Will you show me which of my comments/responses above was irrelevant to the comments/questions from the readers? That will help me a lot for my next comments/responses. I hope this is not too long for you to read WITHOUT losing track of my comment.

    Cheers,
    Alethia

  13. E
    March 7, 2008 at 6:13 am

    Alethia,

    Why re u so defensive? Jez! I like your article, though. May be a little bit of self-praising will make the article even more attractive and impartial.

    After writing such a long essay, I wonder why you failed to understand Hailu’s comment, which for me was clearly written.

    I think his thesis statement sums it all up: sorry to oppose you but the ethiopian intellectuals, especially in diaspora, can bring more negative than positive for ethiopia.

    Truly,

    E

  14. E
    March 7, 2008 at 6:29 am

    Oh, Me again, Alethia! 🙂

    I just wanna drop Hailu’s last two sentences, which I think are worth mentioning in addition to the one I quoted above:

    “Thousands of acedemics, wealthy intellectuals in the diaspora are waiting until Oromia, Ogaden, Afar and Sidama becomes independence before they imploy their intellectual assets for economic and social development.
    meanwhile many intellectuals inside ethiopia are waitig for DV lottery and other ways to LEAVE ethiopia.”

    I encourage you to read most of the comments people give at least twice so that you see their relevance to your topic.

  15. Alethia
    March 7, 2008 at 7:20 am

    Hi E:

    My short and non-defensive (if this works for you) answer is this: I don’t think there is anything in my article about Diaspora Ethiopian intellectuals. So, question is, will you please show me if there was anything in my article to which Hailu’s (and by extension your comments) are applicable? I’m assuming that you’ve read the article, which I doubt.

    Will you show me what you wrote is relevant to what I wrote?

    Cheers,

    Alethia

  16. abesheet
    March 7, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    I appologize for my insensitive remark regarding the length of your article, Alethia. Had I been aware you were around to respond, I’d have choosen my words more carefully. I was assuming it was another article Arefe copied off the web, thus the error. Still, I thank you for your kind wishes, although I have no intension of reading 800 pages of non-fiction if my life depended on it :-). Why? It would be the end of me!

  17. Sara
    March 7, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    I sympathize with what Aleathe says about academics in Ethiopia.
    I had some unpleasant experiences with college teachers in Ethiopia. At a teaching college that I was attending, most of them demanded an utmost respect and reverence from students.
    We had one particular teacher who funnily autocrat and absolute ruler. He used to give us hard time. From this first day, we were told that he doesn’t like girls and blinds. He notoriously told students ladies are devil. It was often rumored that if he sees his boy and girl students together, he would take it as they are having a fling and consider in his grading. In the class he teaches, (Mostly talks), you take notes and leave the class. Grade wasn’t something they you earn, but something of a charity you get from him.
    If you raise questions that would pass challenging, it would be like inviting danger upon yourself. Then if we happened to cross his way in the compound, we have shift our ways and head to a different road. All in all he was like a Kolo Temari teacher of the past century. I don’t if he is still around, but he had the likes of him. It was a shame but we were all complacent.

  18. G.
    March 7, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Hi Aletia.
    I have not said any thing regarding relevance or something very related to the content of your article ,why did you ask me that kind of question all of a sudden,I am sure I do not understand why you asked me that question in the first place,please ,you better understand the uselessness of such defence for all of us,if you are not interesed in my comment,you have the right to write whatsoever # of pharagraph,but at the end it will not worth it.

  19. Alethia
    March 7, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Hi Abesheet:
    Thanks for your note. No worries about what you said in an earlier note. By the way, as much as possible I respond to all relevant comments on my articles if there are comments sections where they get posted. Next time if you see an article by me I’ll most likely respond to my commentators. It’s something I take seriously. What is the point of having one’s writings posted/published for the public and not engage the audience if there are opportunities to learn from the audience?

    Hope that you’ll come to love non-fiction writings no matter how big their sizes are. Years ago, when I was a younger reader, when I get a chance to read good non-fiction books the first thing that would give me delight was their size in terms of pages. Books with over 500 pages brought me more delight, of course, if they were good books to begin with. If the book is a good one throughout you’ll have more things to learn from its massive contents than otherwise. Only if the book is a really good one anyway.

    Thanks again for your note.

    Cheers,

    Alethia

  20. Alethia
    March 7, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Hi Sara:
    Thanks for sharing your experience with the rest of us. I’m sure that there are so many victims of similar profoundly unsettling experiences at one or the other colleges/universities in Ethiopia and it’d be a good thing if others will also share some of their experiences here so that the ones who’re in the habit of continuing to perpetrate the same as yet nameless crimes would take note of the voices of their victims and think twice before they do it again.

    Thanks again.

    Cheers,
    Alethia

  21. Alethia
    March 7, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Hi G:
    Thanks for your note again. It’s so clear why I said what above. If your comment was not relevant to the content of the article why write it under the article in the first place? I know some of the commentators have the habit of using a word without having any idea what they’re communicating because it feels cool for them, I guess, and you accordingly used one. Why be “defensive?”. It’d have been a learning and growing process if we know what words we use for what purpose and to communicate what whenever we use them.

    If you comment on the content of the article that, at least, shows that you MIGHT have something good to say. Please don’t just write some English words because you can write them. That is the mindset of a generation of fellow Ethiopians that this article is designed to address. Since I’m doubtful that you’ve read the article I’m suggesting for you to read it and show its weaknesses, when you find some, so that I can learn from you and maybe others will, too. I’m a very serious person and take whatever is written here with utmost seriousness. I’m not the average blogger who surfs blogs and spites meaningless words to feel good about writing a few things, etc. Take me seriously and show me where I’ve gone wrong. Do not forget that we’ve responsibility to write responsibly and with respect to the rest of the readers. Mind you that I’ve written the article and THIS comment, too, as a double-edged sword with the intention that some who have a habit of doing what you did may learn something from it and be more cautious and act responsibly and with respect to fellow readers and commentators when they decide to say something.

    Cheers,

    Alethia

  22. E
    March 7, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    Alethia,

    Your self-defense mechanisms surprise me the most. Not bad things, by the way, maybe you would like not to use them a lot.

    Having said that I must say I have read your LONG essay, otherwise I wouldn’t be commenting here just for the sake of it. So you mustn’t doubt.

    I thought the following was the title of your article:

    “Could Ethiopian Academics Have Done Better?”

    In that case, I don’t understand why you find it difficult to digest Hailu’s comment.

    So far I know you are talking about the Ethiopian Academics. So I could for example see your question being rephrased as:

    Could Ethiopian Academics, regardless of their geographical location, have done better to either change or challenge the dynamics of the higher education system in Ethiopia?

    I think the answer is crystal clear–YES.

    So the next question:

    How come then the “Ethiopian Academics” couldn’t do better?

    The responses that Hailu, other readers, and you provided could lead us to finding the answer.

    My question to you:

    Should we ignore the case of the so-called “Diaspora Intellectuals” just because your article fails to mention them (either on purpose or no purpose at all)?

    Truly,

    E

  23. Alethia
    March 7, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    Hu E:

    Thanks again for your comments. Now what you wanted to communicate is much clearer and thanks for that.

    Having a title like the one I’ve for the article does not necessarily entail that it’s INTENDED to address ALL Ethiopian academics EVERYWHERE. By the way, the reader does not decide freely what the writer meant/means by what he/she said/says and also set out to accomplish in his/her writings when the writer explicitly limits the scope of his writing to a particular group. There is nothing wrong with that.

    Now you can substitute your suggested title for my article, i.e., “Could Ethiopian Academics, regardless of their geographical location, have done better to either change or challenge the dynamics of the higher education system in Ethiopia?” and see how it sounds for a title. Even to accomplish what you meant to, to include ALL Ethiopian academics, you don’t need to have such a long title.

    Yes, one can relate, talk about, discuss the role of the Ethiopian academics both in the country and Diaspora and write an article on that. I did NOT do that and that was NOT my INTENTION. Therefore, one can’t just attribute to me what I NEVER INTENDED to be the case. Do you see what kind of mistake you’re committing and you want to defend it, WITHOUT being self-defensive? Perhaps reading an article or two
    or a book on HOW TO READ might help you and Hailu and others avoid making the mistake that has brought up such irrelvant digressions from the substance of the article. If you’re a product of the Ethiopian education system I’d understand how hard it’s to avoid making such elemenarty mistakes. I mean this sincerenly and mean to help my fellow Ethiopian. Nothing personal my friend.

    Finally, I’ve a question. You might help me understand the habit of fellow Ethiopians, which is among the things that I couldn’t make sense of yet. Why do you have to bring up self-defense mechanism talk? Is it a new Ethiopian mindset that I’m failing to understand? I’m just explaining things for my readers and how does explaining have anything to do with self-defense mechanism? What is going on my friend? Your explanation of this trend or fashion which makes no sense to me might shed some light for me and thanks for that help in advance.

    Cheers,

    Alethia

  24. Alethia
    March 8, 2008 at 4:09 am

    Hi Abesheet:

    This is a different note to ask you a question or two. If you meant what you said in your first brief comment you’re a student of literature somewhere and would like to become a critic someday.

    I was wondering if you’re currently a student in one of the colleges/universities in Ethiopia. If you’ve read the article, which was/is unfortunately longish for you, I’d like to hear if the message of the article is more or less true of your experience of college life as a student. If you meant to say that you’re a student of literature in a broader sense, not in the context of academia, my question would not be applicable, and also if you’re not a college student in Ethiopia, if you meant a student in the sense of being at college, it might be difficult for you to realistically answer my question once again.

    One other question: I don’t have knowledge of literature and literary critics in Ethiopia. Would you let me know of some of the well known literary critics among Ethiopians and why you also chose to be like one of them, assuming that there are some fellow Ethiopian literary critics.

    Thanks for taking your time to help me with the above questions.

    Cheers,

    Alethia

  25. Love Ethiopia
    March 8, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Great article. Enjoyed reading it. I also enjoyed reading your responds to your readers. Used to be a student at of one of the Ethiopian Universities for a brief period of time. When I left the university I felt relieved, and did not try keeping in touch with my instructors. Noted significant differences between teacher student relationships in Ethiopia and the western world after I joined one of the universities of the western world. So, I think the student teacher relationship in the western world is much better than the student teacher relationship in Ethiopia. At least students in the western world are not afraid of their instructors.

    By the way, I can tell that you deeply care about the subject matter you wrote because you attentively and directly respond to your readers’ comments. That is great. I think you should keep it up. I mean keep up being direct about the message you want to relate. Some of the readers remark may be somewhat offensive and provocative, but do not be discourage by it since that is what it meant to be. But also keep taking the readers remarks very seriously because if one takes time to comment your article that person most probably saw values in your article; for instance, I browsed few articles and noted that no one commented about them.

    Let me ask you a question without being political. As you know the universities of Ethiopia are known in there peaceful struggle to bring regime changes. Don’t you think one needs to analyze the student teacher relationship in their struggle to bring better regime? To me it appears that the Ethiopian academics made so many sacrifices in their political struggle so not mentioning about this part of their relationship might be discrediting them. Would you think it might worth looking into the peaceful struggles of academics? If so would you please explain to me what a peaceful struggle means?

    Without mentioning names on this forum – I noted that currently Ethiopian politicians are preaching about what peaceful struggle means. They all seem to have different understanding of it. I think it might be ok to have different understanding of what a peaceful struggle means since its definition might depend in the circumstances of the environment.

    But I am talking about peaceful struggle to bring in better leaders that are disciplined and have great values, and characters in the context of Ethiopia. I give so much weight to one’s moral character. So in the context of current Ethiopian political situation both local and Diaspora would you please shade some lights about the characteristics and the means of the existing peaceful struggle? Again I am not trying to engage you in political discussions. I also know and understand the current problems among the various political parties. So with out taking side would you mind sharing with me or for that matter sharing with your readers what is a peaceful struggle ought to be in the context of Ethiopian teacher student relation, Ethiopia history, culture, and past and current political environments? Also please shade light about the types and the means of peaceful struggle from a philosophical perspective so that one can compare with the current Ethiopian ways and means of peaceful struggle.

    Since I saw your sincerity in your article and your replies to your readers I took the liberty of asking you too many questions. I am sorry about that. I look forward to reading your perspective.

  26. Alethia
    March 8, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Hi E:

    I just wanted to clarify a point from my last response to you. I really wanted to engage fellow Ethiopians who mean to engage with me and show me something lacking in the article so that I can address such issues and learn from such interactions. I’ve been engaging some fellow Ethiopians on Addis Voice, where the article was originally posted, and there I’ve had an experience which is much similar that can help you see my point above.

    When I say if you’re a product of the Ethiopian education system, what I meant by that was more about the mindset that some/many inherit from their teachers than the incompetence. When one fails to grasp a certain issue and hence makes some mistakes I’d not say anything like the one I said in my previous response to you. But when one makes mistakes like the one you made due to a MINDSET that teachers at our higher education system exemplify (arrogance, I-know-it-all style that says you’re wrong no matter what) that is offensive and despicable and I can’t stand that since that is morally objectionable. Arrogance in any form, based on ignorance or even competence is inherently wrong. I can’t tolerate it and the reason is simple: it’s a flawed character trait having seen it too many times among my fellow Ethiopians (so-called educated folks) that led me into writing the article, among other reasons.

    I decided to add this explanatory note with the hope that you see the point in a better way now. There was one fellow Ethiopian who engaged me and others on the above mentioned website who was in the habit of discussing an issue that was not based on my article. Finally, after a number of extended exchanges with me and another commentator he seems to have felt shame and deleted all the irrelevant posts that he’s shared with us. But deleting those pots from the public sight would not mean that he’s become a better person right away. One can’t delete a bad character trait overnight since no one acquires a bad or good character trait overnight either! That same person told us several times that he was a highly educated fellow. If you mean to be sincere, won’t you be ashamed of such a fellow Ethiopian? I expressed my sense of shame for him right there. Can we do better? That is the question that led me into writing the article, among others.

    Cheers,
    Alethia

    P.S. Those of you who made a point saying that you don’t like a bit extended comments please ignore my comments when they’re more than a sentence or two. That only shows who you’re as a person. You’re free to be whatever you choose to be. I’ve no objection.

  27. Alethia
    March 8, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Hi Love Ethiopia:

    Thank you so much for your really thoughtful comment and also thoughtful questions. I’ll try to respond briefly to your questions a little later. I saw your post right after posting my last post.

    Thanks once again for taking your time.

    Cheers,
    Alethia

  28. Alethia
    March 8, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    Hi Love Ethiopia:

    Thanks again for your questions. Now I must make some things clear. I never denied that there are important roles for Ethiopian academics to play in the political life of the country. I’m also aware of such roles played by some such Ethiopian academics and some are still playing such roles. However, it takes a different article and a different context to discuss such roles. I don’t think roles played by Ethiopian intellectuals in politics are more important than roles they can play in their most important commitment as academicians. They could have brought about so much desirable change for the betterment of their society IF they’d contributed their share of responsibility as committed academics. I’m the last person to believe that Ethiopia’s ONLY or KEY problem is in political leadership. Why should I believe that? For what reasons? I’ve never seen any convincing reasons offered to that effect that also address that change in political leadership will guarantee to bring about change in all or almost all other areas of the society.

    I’ve written a number of short articles (some call them very long) on how we, Ethiopians, as a society have failed in a number of ways. I never denied that bad governance contributes to the multiple problems we as a society have been going thru either. But bad governance cannot be a source for ALL the problems that we’ve gone thru and am going thru as a society. I’ve been meaning to call our attention as society to an alternative approach and hence a more plausible one that means to do diagnoses of our societal problems. I’m deeply convinced that we as a society can do much better if the call that I’ve been issuing for a renewed commitment to bring about social changes primarily based on changes in the lives of individuals takes place. No government can bring about changes in individuals’ life for better unless individuals are willing and are determined to change for better in the first place. Why talk about these issues when the questions were about the role of bringing about regime change you might ask?

    Aiming ONLY at changing the regime is one of those misguided solutions that does not address the reasons why change in regime is not going to bring about the REAL and LASTING change at all. The real change starts with the individuals in society, not with the consequences of actions of those in public limelight. I’ve addressed these issues in a number of other articles on various websites. Now my focus in the above article is to call for a vigorous change in academia which has nothing to do with changing a regime or joining a political party or group. We’ve all lived to see what changes such movements have brought about in our own life time. If I’ve learned anything about why we keep failing as a society whatever I’ve been trying to share has been some lessons and insights from our repeated failures. Bad governance is only one of the problems in Ethiopia. Large parts of Ethiopia’s problems are consequences of a failed and failing society. That brings me to talk about the central role of character in the life and/or death of a society/community. That has been the theme of most of my previous articles I alluded to above and I’d like to encourage you to read some of them from other websites where you can easily find them.

    Now my hope is that those who want to see me address politically oriented issues in relation to academia will see that that is not the direction I’m heading. Hope this is a bit helpful to to see what I do and why.

    Thanks a lot for your thought-provoking questions.

    Cheers,

    Alethia

  29. Love Ethiopia
    March 9, 2008 at 12:54 am

    Alethia,

    Thank you for your generous responds. I wish I could eloquently write like you. It is easier to me working with numbers than words. If you see flaws in my writing, if I am out of scope or if I am not communicating clearly and directly please forgive me or if you desire point out those mistakes.

    I agree with your remarks including “it takes a different article and a different context to discuss such roles.” I also agree with you that politics is only one part of students’ teachers’ relations ship. When I asked you the questions I was worried about getting out of the scope of your article, but then I justified my questions by telling myself well it has been happening in the universities of Ethiopia, and politics is parts and parcels of teachers’ students’ relationships so why not discussing about it.

    If one desire is to contribute his/her best to a society including teachers’ students’ relationships do you take avoiding addressing political issues, political moral values, political characters without being political or with out taking sides is wise? I asked you this question because I felt that you dogged my questions by advising me to find and to read your other articles that might address my questions?

    You know I do not even know how many articles you wrote. Do you have an index for your articles? Have you written books before? Have you ever thought about publishing your short articles, Collective Works of Alethia? Have you considered gathering and saving your written interactions with your readers? I think they are valuable.

  30. Love Ethiopia
    March 9, 2008 at 3:59 am

    Alethia,

    Have you noted that your article is the top post, most read and most commented, article of this website?

  31. Alethia
    March 9, 2008 at 6:56 am

    Hi Love Ethiopia:

    Thanks again for your kind thoughts and comments too. You must be among the rare fellow Ethiopians who could see something valuable and good in another fellow Ethiopian’s work. You might not realize this if you’ve not shared your thoughts/reflections with the Ethiopian public. I’ve had responses like yours: positive, constructive, and encouraging like (by the way when I write I write to see if I could get critical and constructive comments more than responses that agree with me since there is much less to lean from the latter than the former anyway) and the most destructive.

    Now a few thoughts to share with you: When I write various articles they might have implications for politics or not. I develop certain thoughts that might or might not have direct or indirect bearing on politics. In all of my other articles I’ve tried to make it as clear as possible that I’m not a politician, nor do I have any political ax to grind, nor am I associated with any political group, extant or extinct. I work with ideas and I’m deeply convinced that ideas have consequences and I’m trying to show some implications of the ideas we hold.

    Teacher-student relationship has profound implication for a society but that, in the context of my article, does not have any direct bearing on politics and that is why I did not see any reason to address political implications for it. But one can change the direction of such an article and make it political in any way one wants to. That is not my intention and there is nothing wrong with such a stance as far as I know. This has nothing to do with dogging a question.

    I alluded to some of my other articles because you can find some preliminary ideas in them, esp., as to what I’m trying to get at in the present article as a matter of broader context though you don’t need to since the present article is self-contained and does not presuppose knowledge of others. You can find some of my previous articles here under the pen name, Alethia: http://www.ethioquestnews.com/Democratic_Path.html

    I’ve not written a book yet but am going to do one sometime soon and these short articles are points of contact with fellow Ethiopians. Thanks by the way for your kind words. If you’ve an access to Addis Voice you might want to read interactions between the readers of my other articles and myself about most of my other articles. I enjoy interactions so, so much.

    Please keep sharing your thoughts and thank you so much for sharing your thoughts so far.

    Cheers,

    Alethia

  32. Love Ethiopia
    March 9, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    I will take your words that you are not political, and please take my words that I am not political. We do not need to discuss about whether you/I are political.

    Thank you for the link. I have not surfed that website before. I read some of your articles. You have done a great job regarding “Truth and Media Ethics among the Diaspora Ethiopians” and “Are there moral rights and wrongs in our politics?” However, in your article titled, “Are there moral rights and wrongs in our politics?” you highly reflected your personal opinion than telling the facts as they are regarding one of the issues you have addressed. For instance, you made it sound that Mr. Hailu is not the leader of CUDP anymore. I think that is your personal opinion, which is fine with me. However, note that you told half of the truth. Isn’t the Diaspora divided on that issue that is for some he is still the leader of CUDP for others he is not? I leave the judgment for you. We do not need to bounce ideas back and forth about it since it is a political issue.

    Why you keep dogging my questions? I have asked you questions about IDEAS of what a PEACEFUL STRUGGLE is ought to be but you keep dogging my questions because you think that is political. I worry about my beloved people of Ethiopia because the politicians are directing them towards a peaceful struggle but they have nothing to read about as their moral guidance about peaceful struggle in the context of their culture except for the below http://www.ethiopianreview.com/content/2065. But people like you sit on a side and keeps his pen down while he has the knowledge to say something about it. Do you think keeping silent about it is right?

    I read the above article on the link I gave you a while ago and I also read it last night. First time when I read it I was embarrassed by the quality of the writing. I think now the author spent time editing it, and it reads better. I think the article has some good ideas in it, but again due to the source can you imagine your people using only the above as their moral guide?

    By the way, I have no comment about the publisher of the above website, and the author of the above article I provided you the link for since you have addressed the issues that are my concern in the following articles: “Truth and Media Ethics among the Diaspora Ethiopians” and “Are there moral rights and wrongs in our politics?”

    Don’t you fill sad about the idea that kids in the various universities of Ethiopia might be reading the above article without having other material for comparison? I know there are lots books that discuss the sprit of peaceful struggle but none of them are in the context of Ethiopian culture and history. Please note that I agree with you that teachers would a better job if they just do their job, but we both know that is not happening.

  33. Alethia
    March 9, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    Hi Love Ethiopia:
    Thanks again for your thoughtful response. By the way, the link you gave me did not work. It does not open. Can you write the title of the article so that I’ll try to google and see if I could find it that way? Or, please try another way that might work. Thanks for that.

    Now, you kept challenging me to write something on peaceful struggle that aims at regime change if I’m not mistaken, and you think that I’ve failed my people for not doing something like that. I think it’d be a good thing to remind you of some of the things that I’ve shared with you in one of my responses above, I said: “I’ve written a number of short articles (some call them very long) on how we, Ethiopians, as a society have failed in a number of ways. I never denied that bad governance contributes to the multiple problems we as a society have been going thru either. But bad governance cannot be a source for ALL the problems that we’ve gone thru and are going thru as a society. I’ve been meaning to call our attention as a society to an alternative approach and hence a more plausible one that means to do diagnoses of our societal problems. I’m deeply convinced that we as a society can do much better if the call that I’ve been issuing for a renewed commitment to bring about social changes primarily based on changes in the lives of individuals takes place. No government can bring about changes in individuals’ life for better unless individuals are willing and are determined to change for better in the first place. Why talk about these issues when the questions were about the role of bringing about regime change, you might ask?”

    I continued thus: “Aiming ONLY at changing the regime is one of those misguided solutions that does not address the reasons why change in regime is not going to bring about the REAL and LASTING change at all. The real change starts with the individuals in society, not with the consequences of actions of those in public limelight.”

    If you’ve understood the above ideas I’ve made it clear that what you’re asking me to do is not something I believe in and for reasons that I’ve been sharing in many of my articles and in the above quotes as well. Ethiopia is not going to change for much better if the current political leadership changes now or sooner. I don’t believe that such changes in those in political leadership in the country are going to bring about much desriable changes for better in the society at large. You should have seen these points as direct responses to your question which you kept asking me. I’m not one of those who share your views about the problems and solutions for the problems you and and I’m trying to address and the approach to bring about lasting change in Ethiopia. I’ve made it clear that the approach you’re suggesting and for that matter almost everyone else that I’m aware of is suggesting is not going to work. I’ve argued for that and I’m not just sharing a personal opinion. Now you tell me what’s wrong with what I’m sharing with you and for that matter whoever is reading these comments. You see, you’re asking me about something I don’t believe will work and from that you conclude that I’ve failed my people. That does not follow and hence such a conclusion is false. I’m doing what I should be doing to my society in a way that shows where my conviction is. I could be wrong about everything I’ve said but it takes someone to show me where I’ve gone wrong if I myself keep failing to see where I’ve gone wrong.

    Thanks for your thought-provoking comments and hope this response is of some help to address your question one more time.

    Cheers,

    Alethia

  34. Love Ethiopia
    March 9, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Alethia,

    Thanks. I am in front of my computer so saw your comment coming through.

    Although I don’t totally agree with it, great point, “Aiming ONLY at changing the regime is one of those misguided solutions that does not address the reasons why change in regime is not going to bring about the REAL and LASTING change at all. The real change starts with the individuals in society, not with the consequences of actions of those in public limelight.”

    I think one does not need to wait until all the individuals in a society to change in order to have a real change in our society since it may not be practical to wait until all the individuals to change. I think one has to try to change both the individual and the regime at the same time. By the way, I think fundamental necessary changes in our society have not occurred along with the regime changes since in the last 40+ years the regime were changed under the barrel of the gun.

    The below is the title and the link of the article I mentioned. Google will find it for you, if you use the title to Google.

    “Andargachew Tsige revisits peaceful struggle in Ethiopia Mar 08, 2008”

    http://www.ethiopianreview.com/content/2065

  35. E
    March 9, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    Alethia,

    I needed to bring the “self-defense mechanisms talk” because I sensed a heavy and authoritative tone of voice in your responses to readers.

    Here is what I mean:

    It is true a writer can limit the scope of his writing to a particular theme. But I don’t think he can limit the scope of a reader’s thinking about his writing. You may explicitly talk about the “academics in Ethiopia” in your article. But as a reader I can relate that topic to other issues. I can interpret your article in various ways as long as my interpretation directly or indirectly relates to the point you are making. I do not think you can limit my thinking, my interpretation.

    I enjoyed reading your article but I felt intimidated reading your responses to readers. You were not allowing for many ideas to relate to your idea. Just like any authoritarian does you wanted me [the reader] to just take your post as it is and not raise other similar issues. If that is not a self-defense then I do not know what to call it. If you have a better explanation, I would like to read it.

    Sorry if said things that were unnecessary in my earlier posts. I just did not like when you want your readers to JUST STICK to one point you wanted them to discuss–teachers in Ethiopia and how they could have done better but nothing else.

    I have not been through the Ethiopian higher education system. So that is why I read your article with interest. That education system has produced many intellectuals who most of them are found in the West. These people could have influenced the system that shaped who they are today. Hence, my reason for being interested in Hailu’s comment.

    I don’t know what my mindset is like by your measures of “the Ethiopian mindset.” But it is for sure I despise arrogance for I believe it is the source of evil and unproductiveness.

    So I hope you don’t misunderstand me.

    I look forward to reading more of your writings. Hopefully, you let readers to bring more ideas to discussion that directly or indirectly relate to your topic.

    Truly,

    E

  36. Alethia
    March 9, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    Hi Love Ethiopia:

    Thanks again for the link and your thoughtful response. Two points:

    First, when I say “Aiming ONLY at changing the regime is one of those misguided solutions that does not address the reasons why change in regime is not going to bring about the REAL and LASTING change at all. The real change starts with the individuals in society, not with the consequences of actions of those in public limelight”, I emphasized ONLY to make a point which you understood differently, or you rather misunderstood. By that I meant that focusing only at changing the regime can (and should) also be understood to include other things needed to be done to bring about real and lasting change in the society. This does not mean we should do nothing to bring about change in a regime when the regime is an undesirable one. It means if our focus is only at changing the regime that amounts to being a misguided solution since all of our society’s problems are not going to be solved by just changing a regime. It means again we need more to do in order to bring about change that is real and lasting. We need to bring about change in multiple directions, if you like. I hope this is clear.
    Second, you say, “I think one does not need to wait until all the individuals in a society to change in order to have a real change in our society since it may not be practical to wait until all the individuals to change.” You added the word “all” to talk about change in the life of individuals in a way that I did not intend or I did not say or would say at all. I never said nor will ever say that “all individuals” must change for a society to change. Concluding from the emphasis on bringing about change in the lives of individuals to “all individuals” is a logical mistake that I’ve not committed which you’re attributing to me. Mine was a general point that does not have to say “all individuals”. There is no way to make sense of such change if there be such a change in this real, actual world. If MORE individuals in our society are willing to bring about change in their lives that will contribute to the desirable change in their community and the society at large that is enough for my reference to individual lives. Not all individuals expected to change in one way or the other since that is a mistaken way of addressing the issues we’re trying to address.

    Finally about the link: I’m sorry to say this but I’ve to: my Amharic is not good enough to make sense of such a long and important document. As a result of disuse my Amahric has deteriorated and hence not good enough to make sense of such serious documents. You must have a good command of the language to be able to read it and comment on its substance. Unfortunately that is not for me at the moment. Thanks for the link though.

    Cheers,

    Alethia

  37. Alethia
    March 9, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    Hi E:

    Thank you so much for your very helpful response to my responses to you. Several things in response;

    First, I’m so sorry that you felt intimidated by the way I respond to commentators, to some or all. You don’t need to by friend. Now, I’m having a hard time understanding what it feels like hearing a voice of an authoritarian, which is the farthest thing I could think of myself. In discussions such as these I believe in reason, giving good reasons for what we believe or say, and asking my conversation partner for good reasons has nothing to do with speaking in an authoritarian voice, if there is a tone of voice in my responses at all. Authoritarians, as far as I can tell, know no reasons , or give no room for reasons, good or bad. Might is right as they say. What I’ve been saying is just asking for good reasons and good reasons and good reasoning are the norms for us to follow, for myself and for my readers.

    Second, now the closest thing you offered that would make it sound that I limited the way my readers to respond to my article is when you brought up the issue of how much I’ve emphasized that I’d not address issues that are not based on my article. I don’t see how one can conclude from that that I was limiting my reader’s thinking, etc. How can that follow? You can think whatever you think is right or wrong about the article but from that it does not follow, once again, that whatever you happen to think is relevant to my article’s message, IF IT’S NOT RELEVANT ANY WAY. Do I have the same right not to discuss issues when I THINK they’re irrelevant to my article? Do I have that right? If I do, then it follows that we should be respectful to each other and find a mutual way to engage each other in issues we think could be fruitful to the overall goal of the discussion.

    Third, any reader is free to think whatever about the article as I pointed out above. But once again that does not mean whatever way one interprets the message of one’s writngs is correct. Having freedom to think in whatever way does not guarantee what one thinks about a writing is necessarily correct. If whatever we think and interpret something to be what we think and take it to be no matter what the intention of the writer is, then anything goes. Then there is no truth being communicated; then whatever readers happen to be thinking is true. Then nothing is true per se or the turth the writer means to communicate does no longer depend on the writer’s intention. It all depends on whatever readers think! Would you go this way about thinking and interpreting writings? If you say yes, do not forget that there is no way for you to say anyone gets your written messages in a right or wrong way because there is nothing right or wrong about getting things right. I want you think about these things I’ve just shared and what it means to read a piece and think about it and interpret themessage being communicated and also what you wanted/intended to communicate in your above otherwise thoughtful response.

    Fourth, there are a number of fair and reasonable and proper ways for us to engage in ideas that have direct relevance or indirect relevance to the article above. You or others in the audience could have simply asked me as follows: I see your point in the article is to communicate this or that. I wonder what you’d think about this idea….. Or, one could have easily said that these issues seem to be related to the issues you raise in your article but then I realize that it was not your intention to focus on this issue in the article, and then to bring up the issue and ask me if I’d like to address it. You see the point my friend? I don’t have to be forced to discuss issues wheneitehr I don’t see their relevance to my piece or when I’ve no interest in discussing them, or when I’ve an intention to discuss them in a separate piece and for many other relevant and good reasons that I don’t have to share with anyone.

    Fifth, please note this: I invest a lot of my time, out of a very limited time at my disposal, from a very demanding academic environment that I’m involved in because I take my fellow Ethiopians and commentators seriously . I take my time to engage serious and responsible readers and it’s only fair for me to expect a reasonable discussion unlike some ubiquitous habits of blogging that I can’t stand for a second since they’re despicable and downright wrong.

    You’ve shared a helpful note and hope that what I’ve shared in response, which I hope others will take a note of as well, and my hope is to continue to engage with fellow Ethiopians who take their contribution seriously and responsibly and do these things in a civilized and proper way of engaging issues with clarity of thought and expression to the extent that we’re able to engage in such conversations.

    Cheers,

    Alethia

  38. Love Ethiopia
    March 9, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    Alethia,

    Thanks for your respond. Regarding Amahric my reading skills also is deteriorated. It seems like I read faster in English than Amaric these days. By the way, some of the reasons for not able to read the material I referred you could be due to the writer’s writing skills. I don’t think the writer is a good writer; I do not even think he is a person of good characters. I am very sorry to make such a remark on this forum.

    But you know when the playing filed is wide open, and when great people stay away from the paying filed bad people ideas flourishes – I think people who abstain as either a follower or a leader is one of the major problems of our beloved Ethiopia. Some of the reasons I turn to you to consider exploring the idea I brought up to your attention were because it ain’t easy finding a good writer with good characters.

    Once I picked an Amharic book that they say was written in Kaliti prison by one of the Kinjiit members. I was not able to read it easily so I shared the problems I was having reading the book with other people I know they told me that they were having difficulty reading the book.

    Look forward reading your next piece. By the way, I read a couple of your most recent articles including this and your readers’ comments on Addis Voice. Some of your critics appeared to be very sincere, and they made great points. They appeared to try to add real value to the discussion, although they were direct and negative about their remarks. Negative remarks aren’t bad if they meant sincerely.

    Thank you for your kindness. Good luck about your books. Keep writing goods articles. And do not shy away from the political filed at least try to set a standard to the political players by keeping producing your small articles that they may use as a comparison for their behaviors and actions. You may not hear from me for a very long time.

  39. Alethia
    March 9, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    Hi Love Ethiopia:

    Thanks for your note. Thanks for wishing me good luck with some of my small writing projects here and there.

    You’ve been a valuable conversation partner and hope to re-connect when time permits. I also disappear some time when time dos not permit me to engage in lively discussions such as these.

    Cheers,

    Alethia

  40. Tazabi
    March 9, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    Love Ethiopia,
    I’ve to say something about your above comment on Dr. Berhanu Nega book here. I’m sorry to hear that his book never appeal to you, however in my opinion that’s the only non-fiction book in recent time i enjoyed reading. I admit, in the end there’s a longish and very repetative naration about the party and i found that boring too. Other than that that book should be used as a text book :=) What really surprised me is that the book is not about only “Kinijit”, he talked about the Ethiopian fundamental economy, the education system (the very issue what Alethia trying to address in this blog), and you would learn a lot about human characters and of course it gives you an insider look about the “Kinijit” party (i should say it depends on your political view).

    I understand that reading is not part of our culture and many Ethiopians gets intimidated reading a big volume book. My advise to you, if you plan to read the book, you’ve to be unbiased and you’ve to suspend your political judgment.

    Alethia (old friend),
    Interesting comments. When i look back now from my short stay in AAU, almost all the teachers had the same teachig style, their relationship attitude towards the students were almost the same. Also, most of the teachers are the product of already a failed system and discussion never been encouraged and never been part of the scholl culture. There was so many wrong doings left unchallenged.

    Of course, among so many problems, the continuing flow of “brain drain” is also hurting the country from finding qulified professional skills not only in scholls, but in many areas too. In my opinion, the problem and the blame falls under the University administartion. They’ve to change the same old way doing things. I guess.

  41. Asmara
    March 10, 2008 at 12:37 am

    Hi!! Tazabi,

    When you say one can learn a lot about human characters from Dr. Berhanu Nega whom some call spin Dr Berhanu Nega, Dr. Free xxx, and etc you must be saying one can learn bad human characters. Don’t you?

    By the way, I don’t think love Ethiopia asked you for your advice. Share your opinion as you wish but keep in mind to offer your advice only when you asked. Also, I think Reading might not be a culture at your home but it is a culture in my home and at my relatives’ home. So please stop speaking for all Ethiopian since you are not there representative. When Ethiopian schools start using the spin Dr. Nega book as a textbook it must be the doom days of Ethiopia. Please note will not respond to your remarks.

  42. Alethia
    March 10, 2008 at 2:18 am

    Hi Tazabi and Asmara:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. I can’t say anything worthwhile about the book you guys are referring to since I’ve not read it. But it’s interesting to see some of the comments above (some exchanges) which sometimes go off the target but still are somewhat interesting.

    I hope some will share their experiences about colleges/universities and the quality of education in present day Ethiopia as a response to the above article or in some sense in relation to its message. I heard many relate stories of deteriorating education in higher education in Ethiopia, partly for the reasons that I dealt with in the article and partly for other reasons, esp., something to do with quality of the student population, which is a result of something else. It’d be interesting to discuss whatever issues with a mutual goal of understanding the problems before we move to a stage to propose solutions for existing problems. I hope some will be courageous enough to speak their minds as they share their reflections on the current status of higher education in Ethiopia.

    And also, I’m not aware of articles or writings that openly mean to address and challenge the university/college education in the country including the role of the teachers there and hence the article above is meant to open up a room for such dialogue, discussion in an environment that could ideally result in some good for the benefit of students and teachers, the university community at large.

    On another note, I was curious about what Asmara has said in response to Tazabi’s comments. Referring to Tazabi’s offer of piece of advice to a fellow commentator Asmara says, “By the way, I don’t think love Ethiopia asked you for your advice. Share your opinion as you wish but keep in mind to offer your advice only when you asked.” Wouldn’t Asmara’s suggestion amount to offering his piece of advice to Tazabi without being asked for it by Tazabi?

    Another response by Asmara to Tazabi is about Tazabi’s remarks about lack of a reading culutre in Ethiopia which Asmara takes to be a generalization that should not include ALL Ethiopians. I’m wondering if Asmara’s strategy to limit his awareness of a reading culture to his/her home and his/her relatives’ home would imply that Tazabi’s remarks on a reading culture in Ethiopia would be in conflict with the following view: by and large, or generally speaking without committing a fallacy of hasty generalization, that there is no widespread and vibrant reading culture in the Ethiopian society. I’d be happy to read or hear a denial of such a view, whoever holds it, and how it can be defended. My question for Asmara would be: can you say, in any reasonable way, that most college educated and even high school graduates in Ethiopia are into the habit of reading mostly books that have educational value? I’m not talking about 15 minutes or so long reading of news papers, etc. I’m talking about reading solidly educative books as a habit whether one’s a student or a graduate of a high school or college or even a college teacher in Ethiopia. Mind you I never used the word–all-never. Do not include –all–in your response too. Will you share your reflections on the question I’ve just posed for you? I’d, indeed, be happy whoever wants to answer the question. What I’m interested in is hearing something that can teach me something about our own culture of reading, specially in Ethiopia, once again. Who answers the question is of no consequence.

    Cheers,

    Alethia

  43. E
    March 10, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Alethia,

    I appreciate your thoughtful response as usual.

    I must agree with the following:

    “Having freedom to think in whatever way does not guarantee what one thinks about a writing is necessarily correct. If whatever we think and interpret something to be what we think and take it to be no matter what the intention of the writer is, then anything goes.”

    My point is that yes what one thinks about someone’s writing may not necessarily correct but let’s allow for that freedom to happen. I think we both agree on this now.

    You said, “there are a number of fair and reasonable and proper ways for us to engage in ideas that have direct relevance or indirect relevance to the article above. You or others in the audience could have simply asked me as follows: I see your point in the article is to communicate this or that. I wonder what you’d think about this idea….”

    Again I totally agree with you. But sometimes a person may not know the proper ways to engage in discussion. Do we have to ignore that person because he fails to understand “the proper way?” I think not. Those who know the proper ways have the responsibility to inform those who do not know.

    You are an honest writer I must say. And I thank you for that.

    Btw I am doing a research on the education system in Ethiopia, particularly focusing on the primary and secondary education. Maybe we can talk about this issue next time you write something related to it.

    Until next time,

    E

  44. Tazabi
    March 10, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Asmara,
    Well, you’re entitled to your opinion. This’s the beauty of life. I just want to remind you that this’s a discussion board and you shouldn’t be limited to whom you’re resopnding here.

  45. Alethia
    March 10, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    Hi E:

    Thanks for your note and for your kind words as well.

    It’s good to see that we’ve made some crucial progress in being able to see where we come from and where some differences in our ways of handling some issues under this discussion have come from as well. One point:

    You said this: “Those who know the proper ways have the responsibility to inform those who do not know.” You’re right about that but you see when some among the participants do not even acknowledge such a possibility that someone might know something that one does not know with an open mind to learn from another, it usually comes across as rude for one to offer his/her help in order to fulfil his/her obligation, when you you know so well that your audience would right away interpret your kind offer as authoritarian and dictatorial. If you suggest to a fellow Ethiopian certain ways are better than others, almost to a person, I can assure you that your sincere offer is interpreted as dictating someone to do something this or that way. Some would right away tell you that your offer is based on some arrogance, etc. Just re-read some of the earlier remarks in the posts by some of the participants under this very discussion itself. That is what I was referring to as the typical “Ethiopian mindset” which I despise and think is despicable.

    I assure you that you’d probably find one or two out of ten fellow Ethiopians, I’m being generous here, who’d be free from such a mindset in the context of discussions like this. Please, go to all the articles that have been discussed on Ethiopian issues, written by me or someone else, and if there are discussions/comments sections, just count how many participants are free from what I’m referring to as the typical Ethiopian mindset. Now I’ve some recognized/recognizable friends, with whom I’ve made friendship over such discussions under the discussions over my articles and I’d not include those “friends” under such a category. They’ve already become “friends” and that makes it difficult to make an objective assessment about my suggestion. I leave it to you to do this research, if you’re curious and want to see the typical mindset of our fellow Ethiopians. I’ve tried to do the same thing, when responding to my readers/commentators, as consistently as possible, no matter how many things I’ve heard being said about me right there, and I’m sharing this out of experiences that you can check out right there online.

    Thanks for your understanding and hope to exchange more ideas on issues of mutual concern and interest as you kindly suggested.

    Cheers,

    Alethia

  46. E
    March 10, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    Alethia,

    I keep coming back to this place. I think that is because I am enjoying our discussion. Thank you for the positive dialogue.

    From our discussion I just realized how easy it is to agree that we disagree and we can agree again. But then I am sad because this kind of dialogue rarely happens in the real world among Ethiopians. The opposition vs the government feud, case in point!

    Now back to my point.

    You said, “when some among the participants do not even acknowledge such a possibility that someone might know something that one does not know with an open mind to learn from another, it usually comes across as rude for one to offer his/her help in order to fulfil his/her obligation, when you you know so well that your audience would right away interpret your kind offer as authoritarian and dictatorial.”

    It is true. But this also depends on your approach to the person. If I know that the individuals do not know the proper ways of engaging in discussion, I will probably pass them for the first time. And then perhaps I will tell them, at the end of our discussion, what I know are the proper ways of discussing. If I do this, I should not worry about whether they are going to judge me as authoritarian or dictator. I should believe I have done the right thing.

    I guess the problem is we all have preconceived notions of what others are going to say about us. We struggle in our mind by contemplating so many things, “if I say this, they are going to say that” kind of things. But the possibility is that they may not even going to say anything. One thing is for sure we all are not perfect. And I do agree with you there are some people who find it difficult to accept when they are wrong. In this case, I guess there is nothing much you can do. Hopefully, they will look at the mirror one day and learn that they are imperfect and it is okay to be wrong and learn from others.

    I do not know maybe I am romanticizing the issue. So please forgive me.

    I hope we can go back to the discussion on education since I am very interested in the subject. The “ethiopian mindset” is very complicated; it deserves its own discussion topic.

    Truly,

    E

  47. Tazabi
    March 10, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    Alethia,
    I address to you because Asmara already left me a note saying “Please note will not respond to your remarks” 🙂 It’s making me laugh just reading her/his last cooment, though.

    I know the book is irrelvant to this discussion. It’s a very good book and i just hate to see people dismissing it just because the writer is a political figure or for some unkonown reasons. I read the book when it came out and i was very impressed by it. Actually, the book also talked about the higher education system problem, his experiance as a teacher clearly. Personally, if i find a book worth reading it, i would recommend to anybody who’s willing to read. I understand, politics is a very sensitve issue for many these days and it’s easy to misinterpret anything near, close to politics. I’m apolitical and i’ve no agenda with Kinijit. Hope, Asmara will come back.

  48. Alethia
    March 11, 2008 at 5:08 am

    Hi E:

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts on what I shared above. Now you can see how far we’ve gone from where we started out exchanging some responses above. This is an example of how I long to see some fruitful discussions to go among us, Ethiopians, if this is not too much of a wishful thinking, at times. I should make this clear though: Yes, I’ve some fellow Ethiopians, not many though, who’re very reasonable and responsible and respectful discussion partners that I’ve come to know. I wish there were many more Ethiopians like them.

    By the way, as you pointed out above, with which I do agree, you can see that I do speak my mind. My comments are not usually constrained by what people would think and say since I’m the last person to entertain such ideas, when I’m sure what I’m doing is the right thing. That is why I come across, unfortunely, to some fellow Ethiopians as authoritarian (that by the way is how I appeared to you too several posts above). Of course, I try my best, when I can, to say things kindly and with understanding as well. When it comes to call a spade a spade I do that openly and without apology as long as I speak my mind with utmost sincerity. Having said that I should not downplay how frustrating it’s to deal with some fellow Ethiopians. Some visit websites/blogs ONLY to insult their fellow Ethiopians and engage in character assassination. Imagine visiting websites/blogs ONLY to do that. Now I’m familiar with such despicable characters thanks to the freedom that they enjoy to live for such actions when it comes to their contribution to the discussion over the net.

    On another note, I look forward to hearing your findings on the education system in Ethiopia that you mentioned above, particularly in the primary and secondary education. I don’t have experience with these two systems and it’d be good to hear what you have to say about them. Many years ago I was an elementary school teacher somewhere in a rural part of Ethiopia. That was a long time ago and I gather that so many things are different nowadays compared to those days. If we as a society do well with respect to education, from primary schools to graduate schools, I think we’ll have a hope to change for so much better in the years to come and that is my dream and hope that some will share this dream with me and contribute their share to turn such dreams into a reality. You and I might be among those dreamers who’re also willing to do something more than dream great dreams.

    Thanks for your conversation.

    Cheers,

    Alethia

  49. Alethia
    March 11, 2008 at 5:35 am

    Hi Tazabi:

    I wish the book you’re referring to were written in English so that I’d read and see what Dr. Berhanu says about his experience as a teacher at AAU since that could be relevant to this discussion. As a matter of fact, I’ve several very close friends who were his former students who told me on many occasions how ideal person he was as a teacher. According to their testimony he could be among those few academics that I said are too few to have made all needed differences to the academic community at AAU.

    I also know three AAU teachers with PhDs from Cambridge, Yale, and Princeton, who were role models when it comes to their role as teachers, both in their relationship with students and their competence as academics. Especially, their relationship with their students was nearly dreamlike since there was almost nothing like it to compare their treatment of students with. None of them is teaching there at the moment but then whatever they are doing now or wherever they are their former students (I was taught by the one from Cambridge) always talk about them with great admiration and nostalgia. It’d be great to share positive experiences of some of our former teachers (maybe without mentioning their names) so that their positive legacy is one of those things others might want to perpetuate, out of good intention or otherwise.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Cheers,

    Alethia

  50. E
    March 13, 2008 at 1:51 am

    Alethia,

    Thanks for your response, which I enjoyed reading.

    You said, “Many years ago I was an elementary school teacher somewhere in a rural part of Ethiopia. That was a long time ago and I gather that so many things are different nowadays compared to those days”

    Do mind sharing your experience? How it affected your life and what your reflections were then? What did you think of the curriculum and did you ever think of proposing a curriculum plan for the MoE that particularly aimed rural education? When was it that you were teaching? I am very curious to hearing your answers.

    You said, “If we as a society do well with respect to education, from primary schools to graduate schools, I think we’ll have a hope to change for so much better in the years to come and that is my dream and hope that some will share this dream with me and contribute their share to turn such dreams into a reality.”

    I do believe so. We need a revolution in Ethiopia—not the bloody one. We need a movement that revolutionizes the education system in our country, be it primary education, secondary, tertiary, academic or vocational! The current developments are promising in terms of increasing the quantity of educational institutions. Yet a lot of work has to be done to improve the quality of education.

    I will share with you the little that I know about primary and secondary education, mainly in rural areas, as our discussion progresses. Hopefully, others will join us.

    Look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Truly,

    E

  51. Alethia
    March 13, 2008 at 4:26 am

    Hi E:

    Good to read your response and also to continue to exchange a few more thoughts with you now and then. I’ve no doubt that there are more fellow Ethiopians, besides you and me here just exchanging our thoughts, who’re aware of this small exchange of thoughts without adding an idea or two. I consider it a tragedy to witness silence by so many when they could have made a tremendous difference by adding their thoughts to this small exchange in so many ways by bringing up a number of interesting and helpful ideas worth exploring and further developing.

    As for some reflection on my years as an elementary school teacher some two decades ago, I don’t think I’ve much to say. I was an ordinary teacher and taught for a few years. The curriculum was, I think, the same all over the country, in cities and rural areas. I never thought of proposing a (different) curriculum. I was pretty young then and there was not much on my side that was worth sharing then. This might sound crazy but even in those days I was looking forward to teaching at colleges/universities and my thinking about education was mostly forward looking. Nothing has interested me more than college/university education and one main reason for this has always been, I think, is my being a typical academic from early on in life and having a strong desire to pursue and explore more sophisticated and deeper ideas at college/university level with the community at such stage in its educational level. Though my journey thru the years to realize this has been a very long and tortuous one, pretty complicated, I’m at a stage now to share the ideas that I’ve been pursuing for many years whenever I get a chance. I, of course, am involved, to some extent, in teaching at a college/university, though not in the country at the moment. Having said this, I must add this: I don’t work in issues related to curriculum and can’t comment on such issues.

    One thing you mentioned that also has been of some interest to me is the fact that there are many new universities/colleges in Ethiopia that have been built in recent years. Not long ago, I even had a chance to visit one of the new universities which just started accepting its first batch of students in my own home town. I hear that there are a number of new schools like that in the country. My reactions to the building of many new universities are mixed line many others’. It’s good news that there are post-secondary institutions within a reasonable proximity for many who really want to be beneficiaries of education like the rest of us who’ve had such privileges. But then realizing that these new schools do not have much by way of resources like libraries and teachers with advanced degrees, among other things, to efficiently train their students is heartbreaking.

    The university I had a chance to visit (I talked to the Dean and the President and its first batch of students) did not have enough teachers with advanced degrees. The library was just being built and it was a heart breaking experience to realize that those students can’t get much of training in such environments. I’m not blaming anyone for the lack of this or that though. I’m only sharing my reflections on what it means to be students and teachers in such environments and am wondering what should be done and who should do what to make a difference for the future of the academic community in such newly established universities. If concerned fellow Ethiopians are willing to share their ideas here and if we can work together to make a difference to the new generation of our brothers and sisters who go to college in such environments, I think, we can change the destiny of Ethiopia to a significant extent. I look forward to hearing what other fellow Ethiopians would want to say about these heartbreaking stories.

    Thanks E for sharing your thoughts and I look forward to reading your thoughts as well as others’, if others are willing to join us.

    Cheers,

    Alethia

  52. She is Paris
    March 13, 2008 at 6:54 am

    Alethia,

    I think you are a great writer so I have been observing your writing style. I took the liberty to abridge your most recent comments and I reduced it by 853 characters that is the original remarks of yours was 3,944 characters, and I condensed it to 3,091 characters. Do you think the below abridge article still communicate the same message you wanted to communicate? Is it appropriate one to take the liberty and abridge somebody’s writing?

    Good to read your response. I’ve no doubt that there are readers who’re following this small exchange quietly. I consider it a tragedy to witness silence when they could have made a difference by sharing their thoughts with us.

    I don’t have much to say about my years as an elementary school teacher two decades ago. I taught for a few years. I think the curriculum was the same all over the country. I never thought of proposing a different curriculum. I was pretty young and there was not much on my side that was worth sharing. In those days I was looking forward to teaching at colleges/universities and my thinking about education was forward looking. Nothing has interested me more than college/university education and one main reason for this has always been my being a typical academic from early on in life and having a strong desire to pursue and explore sophisticated and deeper ideas at college/university level. Though my journey thru the years to realize this has been very long, tortuous, and complicated, I’m at a stage now to share the ideas that I’ve been pursuing whenever I get a chance. I am involved in teaching at a college/university in the western world. By the way, since I don’t work in issues related to curriculum I can’t comment on such issues.

    One thing you mentioned that also has been of some interest to me is the fact that many new universities/colleges have been built in Ethiopia in recent years; I had a chance to visit one of them in my hometown, which just started accepting its first batch of students. My reactions to the building of many new universities are mixed. It’s good news that there are post-secondary institutions within a reasonable proximity for many who really want to be beneficiaries of education like the rest of us who’ve had such privileges. But then realizing that these new schools do not have enough resources, including libraries and teachers with advanced degrees to efficiently train their students is heartbreaking.

    The university I had a chance to visit I talked to the Dean, the President and its first batch of students, and noted that it did not have enough teachers with advanced degrees. The library was just being built and it was a heart breaking experience to realize that those students can’t get much of training in such environments. I’m not blaming anyone for the lack of resources. I’m only sharing my reflections on what it means to be students and teachers in such environments and am wondering what should be done and who should do what to make a difference for the future of the academic community in newly established universities. If concerned Ethiopians are willing to share their ideas here and if we can work together to make a difference to our brothers and sisters who go to college in such environments, I think, we can change the destiny of Ethiopia significantly. I look forward to hearing what other Ethiopians would want to say about these heartbreaking stories.

    Thanks E for sharing your thoughts and I look forward to reading your thoughts as well as others’, if others are willing to join us.

    Best,
    She is Paris

  53. Alethia
    March 13, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    Hi She is Paris:

    Thanks for your kind words and also for your contribution. I think your abridged version (I’m not sure if abridged is an accurate word to use here) is accurate as far as I can tell.

    You raised a question whether it’s appropriate to take the liberty to abridge somebody else’s writing–probably, you mean, without the writer’s knowledge or consent. It depends. For example, honestly, I don’t know why you decided to abridge this last comment since you did not say why you did it. You opened your contribution by saying something to the effect that you like my writing style and the next thing I see is your slightly abridged version of my last response to E. I’ve no objection against your decision to abridge my last post but then you can see some possible tension when one means to understand your reasons to decide to abridge the last comment when one realizes that you say that you like my writing style (or something to that effect) and the next thing is to see your going ahead to abridge the last comment and for some such a reason might not seem a good one why you saw a need for abridging in the first place. I’m trying to figure out your reasoning or justification behind your decision to abridge since you did not say this or that. This is not an objection at all.

    Now based on what you did above, taking some time to abridge my last comment and doing a good job at it I can tell that you’ve a good command of the English language and that is a great asset if you’re a writer and I want to say keep it up. Perhaps you sincerely think that I’m a “great writer” and wanted to see if I’d have any constructive criticism to offer that you might take a note of. No objection again about such a reason, if that is the case, but I doubt whether this could be your reason for deciding to do an abridged version of my last comment. Maybe you wanted to break the silence that I was lamenting about in my previous post and wanted to do something and hence ended up doing some work as you did. No objection again. All the above are my attempts at figuring out what plausible reasons you had when you decided to abridge my last comment.

    Finally, I’ve provided abridged versions of others writings many times but the difference here is that I always did that when my friend’s requested me to do such a thing, esp., in the processes of providing comments. In another context, my professional work requires me to summarize key arguments in others’ writings (at times it could be summarizing 300 pages long book with complex arguments to only two or three pages) and I know such a work requires an extremely careful reading habit and if you’re into such things I want to say, keep it up, and there is no doubt that such works pay you off immensely.

    I’d, of course, like to hear your response to what I’ve shared above. Most importantly, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the issues raised in the previous post or any under the article, including the article. Hearing your thoughts on such things would be great!

    Thanks again.

    Cheers,

    Alethia

  54. Alethia
    March 13, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    P.S to She is Paris:

    One other possible reason for your taking time to abridge my last post could be that you like my writing style but then you also wanted to help me improve it by showing me some way of doing it in a better way since no one is a perfect writer and there is always enough room for improving one’s writing style. I’ve no objection again, if there was the case. If I knew that to be the reason I’d not have spent my time trying to figure out your possible justification for your decision to abridge my last post.

    Cheers,
    Alethia

  55. Alethia
    March 13, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    Hi & She is Paris:

    The two of you are the two conversation partners I’ve at the moment and I’m wondering if we can share our thoughts about what to do, as individuals and in a group or as a community to bring about a revolution in the Ethiopian education.

    In the article that triggered some of these ongoing conversations I said this, among other things: “We need a revolution that is designed to change the teaching/learning environment in Ethiopia’s colleges/universities. We desperately need a radically renewed commitment to produce a new generation of students, a new generation of properly educated citizens that Ethiopia has been waiting for generations.”

    E also shares much the same when he/she said this: ” We need a revolution in Ethiopia—not the bloody one. We need a movement that revolutionizes the education system in our country, be it primary education, secondary, tertiary, academic or vocational.”

    I’d like to hear your ideas of what should be done to bring about such a revolutionary movement for so much desirable and long overdue change in the Ethiopian education. There is no doubt that by bringing about significant changes in the Ethiopian education and properly educated citizens we can bring about so much desirable change for Ethiopia, for our people who’re always waiting and hoping to see any such promises being delivered by the ones who have had the privilege of being educated as Ethiopians.

    I look forward to hearing your thoughts as I hope others will also join us in this conversation.

    Cheers,
    Alethia

  56. She is Paris
    March 13, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    Alethia,

    Abridge is a misnomer. I should have said took out stuff from your sentences.

    Have read a few of your articles online and noted that some of the wordings in some of your articles did not add value to your writing. So, I removed stuffs those I thought did not add value to your sentences from one of your most recent comments in order to communicate my observations with you.

    Whether you like it or not when you post your article online you are trying selling your ideas for free. So since I saw values in your writing wanted to communicate my observations with you because I thought some people might not take time to read your articles because of the choices they have.

    I am still working on my writing as you can tell, but I know a great piece of article when I see it. When I come across to a great article I read it word by word otherwise most of the time I find myself reading or eyeballing paragraphs, although the contents of the article is great except for being wordy.

    Regarding bringing desirable movement in Ethiopian higher education system one thing I noted readers saying is lack of quality professors. We all know that Ethiopia higher education system has significant shortage of quality professors. For example, I have tried to read several presentations of Dr. Berhanue Nega while he was teaching in one of the universities of Ethiopia but noted that his presentations were not well written so I wondered how could students effectively grasp the ideas he tried to communicate with them unless he was able to clearly articulate the ideas he was lecturing about.

  57. Alethia
    March 13, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    Hi She is Paris:

    Thanks again for your post. Thank you so much for telling me your observations about my writings and deciding to weed out some words or phrases that would not add value to the sentences or the message the sentences were intended to communicate. While we’re at it, I’d like to say this why you happened to see some words that could have been removed without affecting the meaning of the sentences.

    As anyone who does some writing I’m also conscious of my possible and/or target audience when I compose my writings and with such awareness on my part I try to insert a word here or there if I think the inserted word/phrase could help my reader to get the message, in case there is some ambiguity if left unqualified. It’s in such moments that I tend to insert some words which could be entirely avoided. That comes down to my attaching more value to communicating my ideas with as much clarity as possible when, at times, some might find some of my qualifications unnecessary and even might clutter what I mean to communicate clearly.

    And also, I love words and do love great pieces of writings like you. Many times while I could aim for literary elegance, and literary beauty that emerges from the way a writer masterfully uses words in his/sentences, I aim at communicating truth with as much clarity as possible since I value truth communicated with clarity than obscured in the flowery beauty of the language. I know it’s possible to aim at striking a balance to achieve both, to communicate truth and beauty, but that goes against my professional conviction that requires me to focus more on truth communicated than anything else. The primacy of truth, that is the slogan that directs most of my writings as much as possible.

    These above two windows into my writing styles are just personal reflections that I wanted to share with you without implying by any means that what you shared with me is not a desirable thing.

    By the way, the issue of not having enough quality professors at Ethiopia’s institutions of higher learning is a recurrent cry and I’ve already shared my frustrations in my article above about that. Writing takes some serious effort for some and it comes much easier for others. Some people are good speakers yet poor writers or vice versa. We’ve all of these types of people at universities anywhere. But as you pointed out it’s a great disservice if professors fail to continue to develop and hone in their writing skills since no one is just a good writer without exerting some effort though that differs from an individual to an individual.

    It’s been a pleasure exchanging some thoughts with you and look forward to hearing more from you. I’d like to know if you also have writings online, on any subject matter that I can read.

    Cheers,

    Alethia

  58. She is Paris
    March 14, 2008 at 12:28 am

    Alethia,

    I don’t have writings online. Writing is hard to me so I do not write, although I have continuous flow of simple and complex ideas, which I like to write about. For example, one of the simplest ideas I want to explore has been to find out the root causes why the Berhanu Nega group did not go to the airport to receive Haile Showel when he arrived at DC?

    Please note the first public explanation the politicians in the Berhanu Nega group provided was they did not go to the airport because they did not know his flight schedule. Some members of the public think this is not an important issue worth exploring. Other members of the public think this was the making/breaking point of Kinijit.

    I see serious character flaws in all these answers. I am be just guessing but noted that you are one of the vocal writers who have been attempting to address the root causes of such kinds of character flaws in our society; for example, you might wrote “Could Ethiopian Academics Have Done Better?” to address such issues.

  59. E
    March 14, 2008 at 12:54 am

    Alethia,

    Thanks for answering my questions. I really appreciate that you sacrificed your precious time to respond.

    You said, “Though my journey thru the years to realize this has been a very long and tortuous one, pretty complicated, I’m at a stage now to share the ideas that I’ve been pursuing for many years whenever I get a chance. I, of course, am involved, to some extent, in teaching at a college/university, though not in the country at the moment.”

    I am sorry to hear that you had a difficult journey in life. One can appreciate the sweetness of life after experiencing its bitterness. “Our difficult times teach us resilience,” elders say.

    Do you mind sharing what subject areas you teach?

    You said, “The university I had a chance to visit (I talked to the Dean and the President and its first batch of students) did not have enough teachers with advanced degrees. The library was just being built and it was a heart breaking experience to realize that those students can’t get much of training in such environments.”

    Those in high schools also face similar challenges, especially students of vocational schools. As you know we have a new program, 10+1 and 10+2, for those students who don’t qualify for the college preparatory program. I believe this is a great move our country made in the history of education. However, the problem lies in implementing the program. Few facilities and unqualified teachers make the 10+1 and 10+2 program unfavorable. I must say, though, that students in urban areas benefit more than those in the rural areas. Most of the predicaments happen, in fact, in the remote corners of the country.

    What can we do? Well, there is a lot to be said. I don’t even know where to start.

    I think it first starts with National Reconciliation Process. We must find a way to resolve the recurring political tension, which has been hindering us from moving forward for generations. I believe the key for meaningful development in Ethiopia lies in the hands of our leaders—both the oppositions (including the “liberation fronts”) and the government. Otherwise, whatever we do without solving this very issue becomes fruitless.

    However, individuals can contribute their part in different ways. For example, Mulatu Astatike’s case is one beautiful example. We can send books to our old schools, for example. Whenever we travel home we can do exemplary works. We can share our knowledge with our fellows. Look at what the Chinese and the Indian diasporas do, for example. Aside from sending money back home, they transfer knowledge (from the simplest to the most complex one) to their respective countries in whatever possible ways. Disliking a ruling party does not mean disliking your country. If we give up on our country because of politics, then we are as guilty as the government that we despise. Do we let our destitute mother (who once made us who we are today) perish (of hunger and thirst) because a stepfather who we disapprove of is married to her? I think not.

    So until a National Reconciliation Process comes to light, individuals must not stand aside and look while their country falls apart. We all responsible in way or another.

    Poet and Author Kebede Michael once wrote:

    የተማረ ሆኖ እውቅቀቱን የማይገልጥ:
    ባለ ጸጋ ሆኖ ለድሃ የማይሰጥ:
    ድሃ ሆኖ መስራት የሚጠላ ልቡ:
    ሦስት ፍሬ ቢሶች ለምንም አይረቡ::

    ***

    ብዙዎች ተወልደው ከድህነት ቦታ
    በሗላም አጊኝተው ይሆኑና ጌታ
    ቶሎ ይረሱታል የጧቱን ለማታ
    እየተሳናቸው መለስ ቢሎ ማየት
    ማለዳ ሲነሱ የወጡበትን ቤት::

    Truly,

    E

  60. She is Paris
    March 14, 2008 at 1:52 am

    Alethia,

    You asked me “why you happened to see some words that could have been removed without affecting the meaning of the sentences?”

    When I try to read your articles I found myself running to your speed bumps such as the scope and the qualifications of your articles. I believe a scope and a qualification of an article are paramount; however, I think they can be placed concisely in the thesis. If they cannot be placed in the thesis, it might be better presenting them as an introduction paragraph or as a footnote at the bottom of the last page. What do you think?

    I do not like reading long phrases. I do not like to read wordy articles. I like to read conciseness, direct, and smooth articles.

  61. Alethia
    March 14, 2008 at 3:34 am

    Hi She is Paris:

    Thanks for your two comments above. Some responses are in order:

    First, it’s good if you write down your thoughts about the issue that you shared with us above. You said that writing does not come easily for you but as you know it becomes so natural once you’re into the habit of writing down your thoughts and also take the risk of sharing them with others . I want to encourage you to go ahead and write the issues that really meant something for you. On may part, I think I’ve said my share on the values of character for those in leadership positions and otherwise in some articles when the issues were timely and needed to be addressed. I’ve no intention to revisit those issues at the moment.

    Second, by the way, in my previous post I did not ask you a question when I said this: “While we’re at it, I’d like to say this why you happened to see some words that could have been removed without affecting the meaning of the sentences.” I was explaining ( the why in the sentence was the why of explanation which was not phrased in an interrogative form as you can tell from re-reading it and also from the context as it was followed by two paragraphs that were intended to provide the explanations for why someone, you or someone like you, happens to see some qualifications, etc., in my writings. Hope this time things are clearer.

    Third, when I write for a professional audience or when I write a formal paper I depend on footnotes to do lots of my explanatory work. I agree that things like footnotes would help a lot in minimizing some qualifications that come up in the body of the text. But truth be told, I’ve never taken the articles that I’ve been writing to share with the public here and there as anything formal that require such devices. Footnotes/end-notes cause lots of distractions for many readers who’re not used to them and hence my deliberately avoiding them has always been to minimize such distractions for my diverse readers.

    Thanks again for your comments/thoughts.

    Cheers,

    Alethia

  62. She is Paris
    March 14, 2008 at 4:20 am

    Alethia,

    Thank you for your responses. Also thanks for encouraging me to write. You are doing a great job so keep it up.

    It has been great chatting with you.

    Regards,
    She is Paris

  63. Alethia
    March 14, 2008 at 4:38 am

    Hi E:

    Great to read your response once again. Thanks for your very encouraging post.

    Yes, my life’s journey has been a pretty complicated one. But the truth is that I’ve become a better person, if I’ve become one, because of the longer and tortuous journey which has so many twists and turns. Without a gripping and consuming purpose in life I’d not have made even to half of where I’m now by any means. I’m not implying by what I’ve just said that there is anything extraordinary about my life or that I’ve attained anything that significant compared to any others. I’m only talking about the twists and turns that I had to go thru to be where I’m now, which is as ordinary as life of the next person.

    By the way, I shared what I did, in some vague ways deliberately and am now at a stage to let you know that I’m not going to say more about myself more than what I said publicly in my other articles. I’ve shared a little bit about my academic background in some other articles somewhere and I don’t need to say anything additional here. I only had to say the brief things I said only because the context of discussions called for that at some point. Hope that you understand why I resist to say more.

    By the way, I really liked what you said about what it means to do something worthwhile to our people no matter which ruling party is in power. That was a powerful message and I’d like YOU to write an article based on the things you said in your post. Specially, if you can develop and share these thoughts: “If we give up on our country because of politics, then we are as guilty as the government that we despise. Do we let our destitute mother (who once made us who we are today) perish (of hunger and thirst) because a stepfather who we disapprove of is married to her? I think not.” Please consider writing an article to further develop these ideas and have it posted since such ideas need to be forcefully argued for to mobilize those who’re just waiting for the current govt to go with a hope that Ethiopia will become a paradise only if we’ve a change in govt, of course, significant change for better in the political leadership.

    I wish there is a magic way to bring about a national reconciliation process in our country. I’m skeptical about such a thing happening soon. Until we see some significant or radical changes in the beliefs and values and characters of those in political leadership positions, both in the ruling party and the opposition, there does not seem to be any hope to see much change for better that soon. I don’t want to entertain hope which is unrealistic since such a hope is more an illusion than hope proper. Most of my reflections on our society have been attempts to spell out why I’m so skeptical about our future. I can’t just believe anything at will without good reasons.

    Thank you so much for the Amharic poetry by Kebede Michael. Those few lines were so insightful.

    Keep sharing your thoughts my friend.

    Cheers,

    Alethia

  64. She is Paris
    March 14, 2008 at 9:11 am

    Alethia and E,

    I noted that it is very hard staying away from politics. Anyway, I am enjoying reading you guys’ posts. I think you have developed a great idea to address the current unpleasant feelings among my beloved people due to the failures of Kinijit, and the failures of the Diaspora media.

    As you are aware both groups of Kinijit are in a process reorganizing. However, first most people are being shy away of politics due to the unprofessional and the uncivilized manner the politicians and the Diaspora media have handled the division of Kinijit. Second, most people do not think either group of Kinijit would be as successful as they were in 2005 elections because in 2005 elections the people and the politicians were galvanized by the notion of Kinijit not by the charisma of any particular politician.

    It will be a great reflection to our Diaspora community if one of guys considers exploring ideas under a thesis statement “We are as guilty as the government that we despise, if we give up on our country because of Kinijit/Diaspora media failures.”

    I could try to come up with ideas those may be used as sub thesis, and share with you. The article could be our talking point for the next coming weeks, if it will be released by Sunday. What do you guys think?

  65. Tera Wotader
    March 14, 2008 at 11:33 am

    She is Paris,

    In fact someone has already adressed this issue nicely:

    http://addisvoice.com/article/open_letter_to_ethiopians.htm

  66. Alethia
    March 14, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    Hi She is Paris:

    Thanks for your post and your presence here as a fellow seeker of change for better for Ethiopia. What you brought up is partly what struck me as a powerful idea from E’s last post as I also pointed out above.

    Honestly, I’ve tried to say a few things that I thought I should have said about bringing about positive political change in Ethiopia in a number of articles before and I don’t have anything new to add to what I’ve already said before. I can develop much further those ideas that I’ve shared before but not in another article. I think it’d be a refreshing thing to read the issues from another angle this time. I’ve also written one article on the Diaspora media and its ethics though that is not part of what you are suggesting here as far as I could see.

    Having said the above, my recent and most immediate future concern will be to address issues that those who mean to love Ethiopia (or claim to) can do to bring about a real change in Ethiopia while some are engaging in some peaceful political struggle to bring about political change. As I said many times before I’m of a conviction that changing the regime in power is only a temporary solution for Ethiopia’s much more deeper problems. Our most fundamental problems as a society cannot change overnight or anytime soon even if we have a change in govt. This idea has been the theme of my many articles. Therefore, consistent with my conviction, I’ll be writing on what Ethiopians can and should do to their country to bring about the more fundamental change, which goes far deeper to changing the govt or political leadership. I look forward to reading if there are any better arguments that will show us a better approach to convince me otherwise.

    Thanks for encouraging us to write an article on what you suggested, to which I’ve no objection. I’d like such a piece to be written by someone else with a fresh and different approach, if possible. You or E can do it.

    Cheers,
    Alethia

  67. She is Paris
    March 14, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    Alethia,

    Thanks for your response. I see you point.

  68. Alethia
    March 14, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Hi She is Paris:

    I’ve been wondering if you’re the Paris with whom I had a fascinating conversation in another website under a discussion under some article.

    The way you’ve your name, “She is Paris” sounds interesting: it seems to suggest an identity claim that says “this writer, SHE, IS identical with the person named PARIS”; in that case it’s meant to remind someone of the fact that this writer is the same old friend called Paris. Could this be the message?

    The Paris I remember, probably the same person, also said something about my writing style then. I had a fascinating conversation with the then Paris and am just curious if I’m continuing a conversation with an old friend unawares.

    By the way, one would not stop wondering when the above two clues jump out on the one who wonders, what if. Just wondering.

    Cheers,
    Alethia

  69. She is Paris
    March 14, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Tera Wotader Says:

    Thank you for your response. Thanks for the link. The article I am thinking about is the same the article you forwarded to me.

  70. Alethia
    March 14, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Hi Tera Wotader:

    Thanks for stopping by and suggesting that article. Hope that you’ll play a more active role here by contributing your thoughts as well.

    Cheers,

    Alethia

  71. She is Paris
    March 14, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Meles Zenawi allegedly escaped an assassination attempt in Gondar

  72. She is Paris
    March 14, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Alethia,

    Several times attempted posting a replay for your last post but ain’t going through.

  73. She is Paris
    March 14, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    Alethia,

    So you know that she started following the Politics of Kinijit when she heard about the allegations of the stolen fund. Fundamentally now she thinks the alleged stolen fund of Kinijit was used as a pretext for the grand plan to split Kinijit. Sorry about mentioning names on this forum but do you remember the Kinijit Auditor allegations about the stolen fund? Have you noted that he has not responded to any of the challenge people through at him? Have you wondered about why he went underground?

    Thanks for asking. Yes, “this writer, SHE, IS identical with the person named PARIS”. She might have conversation with you in the past but it ain’t in her recent recollection. She is Paris like to speak her mind. She comes and she goes. She goes away when she looses interest; for example, she is giving up interest in Ethiopia politics due the failures of Kinijit, although she is not a politician.

    By the way, She is Paris is planning reporting the Kinijit Auditor behavior to the AICPA, and to ask AICPA to snatch his licenses. She has not made a decision weather to report him yet because she thinks other people might have already reported him.

    She thinks one person is the most responsible person for the splint of Kinijit. She is alarmed by the behaviors of the people in the splinter groups. Most people around her think we Ethiopian have no hope in our oppositions group, and she shares this idea with them. So, she goes away for a long time, and then she comes back when she start feeling guilty about stopping following up about the status of her beloved people of Ethiopia.

    Anyway, She is Paris soon may disappear form this forum because she might soon exhaust sharing what she had to say that is first we Ethiopian have no hope in our politician. Second, Ethiopia has not grow leaders in the last 40+ years, she grows people whom they speak other people mind instead of speaking their mind. So she is ashamed of her people behaviors. Third, she says Ethiopia has no leader and she has no HOPE. She is Paris is very sorry for making such kind of assertions but you know … She is Paris.

    Best Regards,
    She is Paris

  74. Tera Wotader
    March 14, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    She is Paris,

    What a contradiction!

    In one of your posts you wrote: It will be a great reflection to our Diaspora community if one of guys considers exploring ideas under a thesis statement “We are as guilty as the government that we despise, if we give up on our country because of Kinijit/Diaspora media failures.” for which I pasted a link of Obang Metho’s article.

    Now you turned around 180 degree and said she[She is Paris] is giving up interest in Ethiopia politics due the failures of Kinijit, although she is not a politician.

    How do you explain that?

    I am tempted to say ” No wonder you are Hailu Shawel’s supporter: The father of all contradictions!!”

  75. Alethia
    March 14, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    Hi All:

    I thought you’d be interested in reading the following that I’ve just read. It reflects some of the themes of issues that I kept mentioning above that I’ve been sharing with the public. It might be helpful for She is Paris and others who share her frustration with the character flaws of our politicians:

    “Why a Politician’s Character Matters
    Opinion Editorial by Thomas Sowell – Mar 12, 2008
    29 ratings from readers
    Eliot Spitzer is the last in a string of high-profile figures recently caught doing something he knew was wrong. Was he a hero caught acting out-of-character? Or a monster acting surprisingly in character?

    What was he thinking? That was the first question that came to mind when the story of New York governor Eliot Spitzer’s involvement with a prostitution ring was reported in the media.

    It was also the first question that came to mind when star quarterback Michael Vick ruined his career and lost his freedom over his involvement in illegal dog fighting. It is a question that arises when other very fortunate people risk everything for some trivial satisfaction.

    Many in the media refer to Eliot Spitzer as some moral hero who fell from grace. Spitzer was never a moral hero. He was an unscrupulous prosecutor who threw his power around to ruin people, even when he didn’t have any case with which to convict them of anything.

    Because he was using his overbearing power against businesses, the anti-business left idolized him, just as they idolized Ralph Nader before him as some sort of secular saint because he attacked General Motors.

    What Eliot Spitzer did was not out of character. It was completely in character for someone with the hubris that comes with the ability to misuse his power to make or break innocent people.

    After John Whitehead, former head of Goldman Sachs, wrote an op-ed column in the Wall Street Journal, criticizing Attorney General Spitzer’s handling of a case involving Maurice Greenberg, Spitzer was quoted by Whitehead as saying: “I will be coming after you. You will pay the price. This is only the beginning and you will pay dearly for what you have done.”

    When you start thinking of yourself as a little tin god, able to throw your weight around to bully people into silence, it is a sign of a sense of being exempt from the laws and social rules that apply to other people.

    For someone with this kind of hubris to risk his whole political career for a fling with a prostitute is no more surprising than for Michael Vick to throw away millions to indulge his taste for dog fighting or for Leona Helmsley to avoid paying taxes — not because she couldn’t easily afford to pay taxes and still have more money left than she could ever spend — but because she felt above the rules that apply to “the little people.”

    What is almost as scary as having someone like Eliot Spitzer holding power is having so many pundits talking as if this is just a “personal” flaw in Governor Spitzer that should not disqualify him for public office.

    New York Governor
    Eliot Spitzer
    Spitzer himself spoke of his “personal” failing as if it had nothing to do with his being Governor of New York.

    In this age, when it is considered the height of sophistication to be “non-judgmental,” one of the corollaries is that “personal” failings have no relevance to the performance of official duties.

    What that amounts to, ultimately, is that character doesn’t matter. In reality, character matters enormously, more so than most things that can be seen, measured or documented.

    Character is what we have to depend on when we entrust power over ourselves, our children and our society to government officials.

    We cannot risk all that for the sake of the fashionable affectation of being more non-judgmental than thou.

    Currently, various facts are belatedly beginning to leak out that give us clues to the character of Barack Obama. But to report these facts is being characterized as a “personal” attack.

    Barack Obama’s personal and financial association with a man under criminal indictment in Illinois is not just a “personal” matter. Nor is his 20 years of going to a church whose pastor has praised Louis Farrakhan and condemned the United States in both sweeping terms and with obscene language.

    The Obama camp likens mentioning such things to criticizing him because of what members of his family might have said or done. But it was said, long ago, that you can pick your friends but not your relatives.

    Obama chose to be part of that church for 20 years. He was not born into it. His “personal” character matters, just as Eliot Spitzer’s “personal” character matters — and just as Hillary Clinton’s character would matter if she had any.

    Thomas Sowell is a Senior Fellow at The Hoover Institution at Stanford University in California. He has published dozens of books on economics, education, race, and other topics. His most recent book is Economic Facts and Fallacies, published in December 2007”

  76. She is Paris
    March 14, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    Tera Wotader,

    Allow me to take your name literally that your real name is Tera Wotader and you are a professional Tera Wotader. I think as a professional Tera Wotader you might have more leadership skills and more wisdom to make Ethiopians Academics work for you without challenging you a bit than any of the current people in the opposition leadership. Note more power to you — Ethiopian has been lead by Tera Wotaders for the last 40+ years.

    About my contradictions of my thinking pattern I have told you that is how She is Paris is. She cannot help it — when she gives up hope she goes away when she feel guilty of not contributing her share she comes back. So now She is Paris is feeling that there is not much that she can contribute on this form so she is thinking going away. Don’t you think this is being human?

    Regarding a supporter of Haile Shawel She is Paris is not his supporter but she thinks he might be the only politician who speaks his mind among the Kinijit leadership; for example, she never saw him making a public speech from a written script.

    Best,
    She is Paris

  77. She is Paris
    March 14, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Alethia,

    Aletihia I think you are a wise man so I think you could see the difference among the problems created by Eliot Spitzer, Michael Vick, and Kinijit amateur politicians. For example, first Eliot Spitzer did not let the public down like the Kinijit politicians. He delivered outstanding public service, although his private life was not perfect. Second, although Michael Vick ruined his career, he did not let his team down by creating problem among his teammates.

    However, Kinijit politicians let down Ethiopian people by creating problems among Ethiopians.

  78. She is Paris
    March 14, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    Alethia, E, and Tera Wotader,

    Good-bye. It was a great pleasure chatting with you all. Enjoyed the chat also learned some from the posts on this forum.

    Noted that Alethia is pursuing truth tirelessly, and he is sharing his knowledge among his people kindly. I understand that Alethia thinks regime change is not a solution for Ethiopian problems so he digs deeper to let his people know the root cause of their problem, and I think he is doing a great job.

    Tera Wotader please remember that you might be the only hope of Ethiopia and Ethiopians. I wish you good luck. Just get ride of the current Ethiopian government by any means whether peacefully or by force without worrying about Ethiopian academics because they will come and beg you to let them work for you without challenging you. For example, the moment TPLF took power one of the first intellectual who joined them was one of the Kinijit leaders – you know what I mean.

    Love you all,
    She is Paris

  79. Tera Wotader
    March 14, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    She is Paris,

    I wanted to say a lot of things to you, but alas, you are not willing to stay here: you said goodbye already.

    I sense that you are in a state of despair due to the current circumstances of our country. Especially, with the situation around Kinijit. I sense also that you are convinced it is because of “this group” and the “intellectuals” that we have what we have.

    It is very remarkable why you believe you are not part of the problem. Troubling is also the fact that you gave me the mighty task of redeeming Ethiopia and Ethiopians. How fair is that?

    I [“the militaryman”] am more grateful to people like Alethia who are convinced that Ethiopia’s problems are created by all and should also be solved by all. They are fair not to leave the whole burden to me and to me alone.

    I am so disappointed in you!

  80. She is Paris
    March 14, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    Tera Wotader and Alethia,

    I am sorry about She is Paris. She also disappoints me all the time. Yes, she is Paris is in a state of despair due to the current circumstances around Kinijit.

    She is Paris is grateful about people like Alethia. She thinks that we all Ethiopians created Ethiopian problems, but she thinks Tera Wotader might have a better chance to solving Ethiopian problems than Alethia.

    Anyway, right after She is Paris said good-bye to you all she came across to the below article so thought it may add some value to her assertions that “Tera Wootader” may have a better chance to bring changes in Ethiopia than the Ethiopian intellectuals. By the way, She is Paris has not entirely read the paper so please do not think that she is endorsing it. The point is some other people are also have been wondering about the behaviors of our intellectuals.

    http://www.ethiopianreview.com/content/2097

    Return to the Source: Aleqa Asres Yenesew and the West

    “So firmly convinced is Asres that the so-called modern intellectuals are but the instrument of Ethiopia’s colonization in default of military means that he asks: what else is their role but “to appropriate and expand what originates from the enemy and pass it on to youngsters?” As a result, Ethiopia faces the greatest danger of all time since those whose task was to provide protection now side with the enemy. When the patrols of the society turn into deserters, its defensive capacity is utterly shattered.”

  81. Meaker
    March 15, 2008 at 2:17 am

    She is Paris Says:
    You need a big HUG and a good Therapy. What’s exactly you’re talking about??? You make no sense at all!!!!

  82. Alethia
    March 15, 2008 at 3:56 am

    Hi She is Paris:
    I’m not sure if you’d be back soon but I was thinking if I could take the liberty of abreviating your name to SIP, just to the initials. I hope that will be okay with you.

    It’s good to see other fellow Ethiopians (Tera Wotader & Meaker) here as participants. Thanks for Tera Wotader for your contributions and thanks Meaker for stopping by too. It was not long ago that I was complaining that we should have more participants here and hence my feeling grateful to your contribution.

    Having said this, I’m afraid that we seem to be losing SIP’s presence here as she seemed to have said good-bye to us. If SIP ever comes back soon, this is for her: I was not comparing Gov. Spitzer’s failure to that of our politicians. These are incomparable things. I was only pointing to the role and value of character in the lives of politicians or thos in leadership.
    Otherwise, it’s good to know that Tera Wotader (which by the way seems to be a name adopted to be modest) and SIP also seem to understand where I come from and what my thoughts are about solutions that I think are lasting and desirable for us, Ethiopians. Let’s continue to share our ideas and see if we can come up with fruitful ideas to further explore and develop for the sake of our people whose hope is in those who claimed to be educated and actually have something positive to give to their fellow Ethiopians.
    Please keep sharing your thoughts with the hope that something positive comes out of such discussions.
    Cheers,
    Alethia

  83. Tera Wotader
    March 15, 2008 at 10:19 am

    She is Paris,

    I am convinced that your despair and disappointments emanate from the exaggerated hate you harbor towards TPLF/EPRDF or the current government.

    You hate them because they are not democratic and probably for their certain policies you do not agree with. And I am not saying that they are democratic or I support all their policies.

    Now ask yourself, if back in 1991 it was not the TPLF/EPRDF that took power from the Dergue but lets say EPRP, meison or some group that resembles the Kinijit of 2005, then do you think that group would have been democratic?

    In other words, do you think that TPLF/EPRDF is a special case in Ethiopian political history?

    I would like to know how you think about this..

  84. Tazabi
    March 15, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Hi Alethia,
    I’m a bit lost reading some of the recent posts. Your article discussion transformed to something else. Thanks for Wotader’s link. I got a chacne to read Mr. Obang Metho’s article and i found it very interesting. His reflections were heartbreaking.

    In recent time i read comments attacking Ethiopian Military profession. We need to keep in mind that there are thousands and thousands of voluntarily and involuntarily good, hard working people in Ethiopian military profession. I don’t think it’s fair blaming the military in the general terms.

    p.s Thanks for letting us read Thomas Sowell’s editoral opinion. I like his writings particularly in race issues.

  85. Alethia
    March 15, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Hi Tazabi:

    Yes, you were gone for a while and in the meantime the discussion, at times, has been transformed into other issues.

    Yes, Obang Metho has been a crusader for justice and human rights and his writings are honest and really good ones-consistently.

    I read Thomas Sowell once in a while and that short piece showed up in my email and I decided to share with readers here. Yes, his writings are brief and perceptive ones.

    I hope She is Paris (SIP) and E will come back and join the new conversation partners we’ve here. When I get time I’ll write a sequel to the above article and we’ll continue to share our thoughts. There are many issues that we can discuss about the present and future of Ethiopian educational institutions in Ethiopia and I still am looking forward to hearing something more about such issues. How can we do better?

    Cheers,
    Alethia

  86. Arbiter
    March 15, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    Dear Alethia,

    I gather that you guys have been investing significant amount of time discussing about “Could Ethiopian Academics Have Done Better?”

    The discussions around this article are encouraging, although at times too long and off track. The readers’ remarks are well thought out and well written. Some readers appear attempting wisely pointing out the conflict in their behaviors, human behaviors; for instance, She is Paris, Love Ethiopia, and Tera Wotader appears to act as catalysts for the discussion on this subject. They try to instigate good/bad/off-track ideas. For example, She is Paris says that She is Paris comes and goes and she attempted to explain why she comes and why she goes. She also stated that when she goes away she goes away with an intention of not coming back, but she keeps coming back because she feels responsible. On the other hand, Tera Wotader indicates that he needs help to handle the task on hand.

    I understand that it is almost impossible to keep the discussion on this subject matter on track since the job of the Ethiopian Academics is highly affected by several factors including the political agenda of the government. I have the below questions and suggestions to Alethia:

    (1) Have you considered having a website/blog such as “Hello Hello Ethiopian Academics” that could be accessible in Ethiopia? If so, have you thought about promoting this website among students and academics so that they may post their opinion about what they could have done better?
    (2) Have you been summarizing the readers’ posts so far? If so, can you share the summary with your readers?
    (3) Attempt making your posts brief and to the point.
    (4) Do not dig deep into your readers’ remarks. Take your readers for their words. Digging deep into your readers’ remarks might turn off some of your readers since they may not have time to respond to your question.
    (5) Do not make remarks about readers idea being right/wrong.

    Since I said all I had to say I would not keep bouncing ideas back and fourth. As a matter of fact, Ethiopia does not have time for “what if kinds scenario analysis”. We need to act and we must act now. Also, I appreciate brief and to the point reply, if you could. I want every word in our discussion to count. So no need going around the bush. If our discussion turns out to be argumentative and endless I will leave the task on hand to Tera Wotader and Alethia, and I flow the footsteps of She is Paris.

  87. Alethia
    March 15, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    Hi Arbiter:

    Thanks a lot for your very important contribution. Your judgments as an arbiter are mostly on the right track and hence valuable. Now to some responses to your questions:

    1) I don’t have a website nor am I thinking to have one. Time-wise that is infeasible for me at the moment. If someone is willing to take such a responsibility I’d be happy to contribute my share whenever I can.
    2) I did not summarize comments from readers. As far as I can tell the comments which are relevant to my article can be found above and they are not too many. All the comments were not directly on my paper as you know.

    3) Surely, I can make my comments brief and to the point. But being brief is not intrinsically better in all contexts and for all purposes. When comments call for a bit more detailed response it’s my duty to provide such a response. Brevity does not have to be valued at the expense of what needs to be communicated, if needed with a bit more details when situations dictate. That is why my responses vary from one to the other.

    4) I’m not sure what you mean by digging into readers’ remarks. I’m not sure where I failed to take my readers at their words. I hope that you’re not sying that I don’t have to ask questions if my readers are unclear. Taking one’s time to do some good, like contributing one’s share, is an exercise in personal responsibility, as I take it, and I’m not sure why I should look at others as less responsible.

    5) I’m not sure what it means to say “Do not make remarks about readers idea being right/wrong”. Some ideas or thoughts are true (right) and some are not. Mine included, of course. Being fair and objective to my readers’ ideas is different from suspending judgment about an idea. Ideas are shared here for public good and if they are not good enough why pass them by? For what purpose? This needs clarification.

    Finally, I see your point when you say “Ethiopia does not have time for “what if kinds scenario analysis. We need to act and we must act now” but WHAT IF we act on wrongheaded ideas and go on committing the same mistakes again and again? Lack of careful and proper what if questions and answers to them and lack of careful analysis of our ideas are part of our society’s problems. I’d love to see your arguments for why this seemingly innocent suggestionyou made is a good idea that other should adopt. I’d not for the obvious reason because it does not seem to be right as it is. You can argue for your point without being argumentative. There is a difference between these two as I hope you know.

    Thanks so much for your perceptive comments. Look forward to reading more valuable contributions from you among others.

    Cheers,
    Alethia

  88. Arbiter
    March 15, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    Dear Alethia,

    Thank you very much for your respond. Your points are clear so I accept them. You are making great contribution; keep it up. As far as my contribution concerned I shared all I have, except for I might be able to pay someone to develop a website for you, if you are willing maintaining it. Maintenance of a website may cost you $100 to $200 a year. Think about it. Take care.

    Thank you
    Arbiter,

  89. Alethia
    March 15, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    Hi Arbiter:

    Thanks for your prompt response. Thanks for your offer to help with a website. It’s time, more than money, that is the problem with me if I commit myself to maintaining a website .

    By the way, this blog–Addis Journal–is accessible in Ethiopia and it might be a good idea to contact the one who runs it to see if he can help us with the idea you’re sharing with me here. It might be possible to link this blog to something at the colleges/universities in Ethiopia. You’d have a better idea. I’ll send my articles to whichever blog/website if it can deliver the message to readers in Ethiopia.

    Thanks once again for your offer and understanding and encouragement.

    Cheers,
    Alethia

  90. Arbiter
    March 15, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    Alethia,

    I am very sorry for being short with my communication with you. Anyway, I have observed that you are open minded, very flexible, hard working, and honest. Ethiopia would have been one of the most developed nations, if most of us try as much as you have been trying. When I offered you a website I know you don’t have a shortage of money, but time. Anyway offered you what I have.

    I believe the most effective way of promoting your idea.“Could Ethiopian Academics Have Done Better?” is among the students and the academics in Ethiopia. So, as you said contacting this blog and finding out if they could give you a page on this website might be your best option. The second most important aspect is making students and teachers in Ethiopia aware about the purposes and the goals of the blog that is marketing and selling your idea to encourage students and teachers to post what they think they could have done better in REAL TIME.

    The most the Dispora could do to make a difference in the academics of Ethiopia is sharing their academics experience to students and teachers in Ethiopia and contributing resources such as books, etc.

    Good luck on your end over. Wish could help you out more. Will look for your articles online, and will catch you next time.

    Don’t work to hard,
    Arbiter

  91. Alethia
    March 15, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    Hi Arbiter:

    Thanks so much once again for your very encouraging thoughts. Thanks a lot for your kind words about me. I’m just trying to do something, some good, when I can. If, even, less than a hundred honest and sincere and responsible fellow Ethiopians commit themselves to doing something about transforming education in Ethiopia, I’m confident that so much good could be accomplished.

    Some would immediately object to such an idea by bringing up the problem with the political leadership, which is one persistent reason that people at times would use to justify their failures to do their own share. I’m of a conviction that those in political leadership would not oppose those who teach at colleges/universities if the latter really mean to be good teachers by doing those things that would not bring them into conflict with the govt. I’m not implying by what I’ve just said that Ethiopians academics have enjoyed academic freedom in Ethiopia, nor am I implying that there are resources within the teachers’ reach to transform the education system overnight. These are real issues but my message is about doing some good even when we’re under any circumstances. We can’t just wait for a transformed, paradise like Ethiopia to come into existence by failing to bring about such an Ethiopia into reality!

    In all these, I’m only talking about a radically renewed commitment, from changing the mindset of teacher-student relationship, which is not usually different from the relationship between those who hold the highest political offices in Ethiopia and the people of Ethiopia at any given time in our history. One of those things I’m calling for change to start with is in the relationship between teachers and their students. Then working hard, on the basis of personal motivation and initiative, to do some good for the people of Ethiopia (for those who never had a privilege to go to school) can take us so, so far along on the right track.

    I just wanted to share the above as what motivates me and am trying to communicate this message with fellow Ethiopians in academia. Aribter, you can play a crucial role in this movement as I’m just beginning to share my ideas for whatever they are worth. It’d, of course, be great if students and their teachers in Ethiopia have access to these ideas whoever shares them.

    Thanks again my friend.

    Cheers,
    Alethia

  92. Arbiter
    March 15, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Alethia,

    I am more than willing to help you if you could specifically instruct me about what kind of help you need. Mind you, I am not into much about discussing/talking about ideas. I do what I think I need to do under my capacity. I don’t believe belonging into a party or a forum to do what I need to do. If I make a reasonable effort just to help my relatives and neighbors back home, I think I will make a difference.

    By the way, I am spending time and effort exposing the killings of the current regime. I am in a process of developing a website that contain about 83 innocent citizens that have been killed under impunity by the security forces of the current regime. I am planning to publish the website on their third year anniversary this coming May, if all goes well. I have completed gathering the contents of the websites from various sources and the design of the website is also completed sometimes in January. I will be starting sending the contents of the website on a CD/DVD to the US senators.

    I am doing this alone. No one is pushing me, nor instructing me. There is no motive behind the work I am doing except for exposing the killings of the current tyrant regime. As you can see above my hands are full.

    Take care,

  93. Tazabi
    March 16, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Hi Alethia,
    As always, I really appreciated for taking your time and engaging your audience in this discussion. I’ve no idea how you managed to do this because, some of them gives you early warning note leaving the discussion, some demanding a short article. Some even have a nerve demanding a short respone and summarizing the article for them. Unbelievable! You’re such a kind person putting up all these demands.
    It is very frustrating not reading a single comment from former or current teachers about the above article. Let’s assume that they’re not aware of it . Yeah, right! :=( It nice of him/her offering you to help out for your own website/blog, though. However, as we can see around us, we don’t have a shortage of websites/blogs. If it’s all about having a website/blog, most of the problems could’ve been wiped out by now. Thanks again!

  94. Alethia
    March 16, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Hi Tazabi:

    Good to hear from you once again. Thanks for your kind words again. You know when I write an article I also commit myself to engaging my readers when they take their time to comment on it.

    As we all know there are all kinds of commentators: some kind, some mean, some just write some words without even thinking about what they mean to communicate, some come just to insult, some to correct without clearly understanding what they’re doing, some contribute really helpful and perceptive things, some suggest or recommend this or that , at times, without realizing what they’re doing, some just to show off that they know this or that, some come here to truly contribute their share out of a sense of responsibility, etc, etc. Trying to handle all such commentators is not an easy thing as you noted. But I know my people and I can mostly tell why they’re here. I feel sorry for some, I feel so sad for others, I feel ashamed of some, but then I feel proud of some too. Since I’m convinced that there is no other way to become a person of virtues except by practicing virtues I decided to do things that I can and should for the right reason at the right time. That is the reason why you see me trying to live up to my own expectations, my desire to be a person of even some virtues rather than vices. It’s a matter of choice, decision, and commitment to pursue some ideals in the midst of every day commitments of life.

    I don’t have any time to spare, by the way. But then if I fail my people in these small things, how can I do anything worthwhile when more is expected of me? I’m just trying. Thanks as always for continuing to be a source of constant encouragement. Friends like you also mean so much to me and I’m grateful for that. You could have also chosen the way of vice and could have consistently chosen to be mean to me, as some have habitually been as you know from some websites, but the truth is that you’ve also chosen to pursue some virtues and I commend you for that.

    Like you I’ve been shocked to see some long silence by those who were or are part of the higher education institutions in Ethiopia. I suspect that many have seen and even have probably read the article. I also suspect that if the ones who’ve read it are the ones the article is critical of, I don’t think they want to come out to public to admit their weaknesses and failures, being who they are: Ethiopians. How many Ethiopians would typically do such a thing? Confess their mistakes in public? The ones who were/are good teachers, if they’ve read the article might have probably chosen to keep silent not to expose their colleagues’ weaknesses. This is a typical Ethiopian thing for some too. My hope was also to hear from the students, former or current, but then that does not seem to be happening much here. There are possible reasons for that too but I don’t want to add anything now.

    Hope that some academics will do something, eventually, to the betterment of their people in their commitment as educators with great responsibilities to their people, most importantly, to their students before anyone else.

    Cheers,
    Alethia

  95. Arbiter
    March 16, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    Alethia,

    Just saw Tazabi’s and your most recent post. I sensed frustrations in both of you remarks. To me the readers who have posted remarks regarding your article might be highly knowledgeable comparing to other articles remarks that have been posted on other websites

    Anyway, Alethia you may have to consider this as your life time mission that is you may consider being the Oprah Winfrey of Ethiopian teachers students relationship. So, I believe you have to market and sell your idea aggressively; for instance, you many consider:

    1. Letting all the media such as the VOA, DW, ETV, and Abugida be aware of your mission, and encourage them to interview you since that will give you a platform to promote/sell your idea. You know they all have programs that attempt to address issues you are trying addressing so I believe they should be happy to talk with you.
    2. Talk to your relatives in Ethiopia and try to hire people to distribute the location of the information on the web around the colleges/universities of Ethiopia.
    3. Send letters to Ethiopian colleges and universities and see if they entertain your idea that is if they let hold seminars in Ethiopia.
    4. Consider rewriting the issues you try to address in questioner format with a yes/no answer then if you obtain replies analysis and summarize the data and represent them in graphic form once a quarter or whatever period you select to release your report.
    5. Consider giving readers an option to post their comments both in English/Amharic.

  96. Tazabi
    March 16, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    Hi Alethia,
    I forgot to share this with you. Approximatley three weeks ago, i had a conversation with an Ethiopian Law Pofessor about his recent visit in Ethiopia. Among other things, the purpose of his trip was that shipping over 10,000 donated law school books and distributing to Universities and Colleges where it needed. I was excited and happy to hear his good deeds, so, i kept asking him questions. To my surprise, he told me that he tried to call AAU and he never got resposne. He contacted one guy who supposed to be handling this kind of issues and he never return his calls never interested to talk to him. You should see me, i was screaming, yelling at him and asked him why he hadn’t complain to the school president and of course, he laughed at me. Finally, he contacted other Universities, Colleges and he gave it away.

    This’s the same guy he expressed to me his frustration with Ethiopian officials. Years ago, the non-profit orgnaization offered him a warehouse full of supplies including medical, school, etc., and he contacted the Ethiopian Embassy to let them know the offer and asking them help shipping to the people where it’s needed. The Embassy gave him different phone #s representing 3 ethnic based organizations. He got tossed around from one person to another and in the end they gave him the shipping address where he can ship the goods. In the mean time, the organization couldn’t not wait too long and finally they donated to Katrina victims.

    Imagine, this’s just a one man experiance and i’m wondering how many out there expeirancing the same. I know this professor very well, i trust him. He has no reason to lie. It’s very sad to learn that a big acadamic institution like AAU refusing/ignoing to return this professor phone calls. This is abosolutely unacceptable behaviour for those individuals who’re in charge. Very sad!

  97. Arbiter
    March 16, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    Tazabi,

    I have no doubt about what you told me. On the other hand, I heard people saying they took books, medical supplies, and etc and gave lectures at the various universities of Ethiopia. By the way, these people who were able to do what they did have connections because they even met with the President of Ethiopia.

    Since I saw frustrations in your respond I made several suggestions to Aletehia. You have seen the posting on this website. Currently people appear more interested in discussing their primary concern that is the crisis of Kinijint. Alethehis mission is great, deep, and long but he may have to try all the routes I mentioned to him to see if could get attention and deliver what he want to deliver.

    To sit down in front of a computer and exchanging ideas back and forth is very time consuming to most people including me. So Alethia may have to take the horse to the river and pray the horse may drink. You know what I mean? I myself do not have time to handle this kind of online chatting so I asked to be spoon-fed. I hope that is not too much to ask for?

  98. Tazabi
    March 16, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    Arbiter,
    I admire your continues suggestions and efforts to let the word out. I don’t know if you know Amharic language, but this comes in my mind reading your comments. Yagere sew “Aweko yetenawen, Biterut Aysemam” yelal. Got it! Believe me, if i say something close/near to a political figure in the middle of this discusion, this blog would be crashed with no time.

    Obviously, it’s frustrating seeing less than a handfull participants in this very criticl issue. It would be nice in this early stage first, sorting out the problems and taking the discussion to another level. Honestly, as i see it, education is not only Ethiopian problem, it’s a global problem now. No matter where you’re located, you could have a conversation with a complete stranger in the street and they would tell you their concerns in Education system these days.

    BTW, Alethia is a one man and he has been addresing many Ethiopian social issues for a while now. I’ve seen him beaten up by bloggers for no reason at all and he never gave in. I understands blogging for many is not a pleasant experiance, in the same token, i hope we don’t expect Alethia to find and figure out all the social issue problems for us.

  99. Tazabi
    March 16, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    Arbiter,
    You said ….”I hope that is not too much to ask for?”. Since you asked for it, i would say, hell YEAH! At least you’e honest asking the whole world to be spoon-fed. Good Luck!

  100. Arbiter
    March 17, 2008 at 12:40 am

    Arbiter,

    Your word choices are not in my vocabularies, anyway you sound like a mediocre bodyguard. Take your time to understand the seller and the buyer mindset whether for money and for free. And wheatear the idea is great, mediocre or bad.

    By the way, the difference I managed engaging Alitia with grueling dialog; I don’t think I have a desire exchange another idea with you. But keep in mind I will keep grueling Alitia, I know he will take it, and I know he will outshine me.

  101. Alethia
    March 17, 2008 at 1:50 am

    Hi Arbiter:

    I wrote the following note as a response to your 8:48pm post and did not have time to post it immediately. Here is it below.

    Thanks for your encouragement once again and also for your offers to help me get something worthwhile done about the issues under discussion in ways that you can. That is of course deeply appreciated.

    You’re right about two things in your latest post: first, there is some frustration about the silence of those the article was meant to target. That is natural and understandable but it’s also frustrating. As for the comments directly on the article, which are not that many, I think some were more pertinent and valuable than others. Let that pass for now. Two, I consider doing something worthwhile to improve the education atmosphere in Ethiopia’s colleges/universities, as one of my most important goals, and you’re more or less right to see it that way. If the teaching-learning environment in Ethiopia changes significantly that is among the most crucial means to bring about significant changes for the Ethiopian society. This thesis deserves another full article to articulate and that has to be done another time.

    Thanks a lot for the ways that you suggested. I’ll think about them and see what I can do. Undertaking some of the suggestions you’ve kindly shared depends on a number of other factors on my side you might not be arare of, most likely not. I’ll think about them. Please keep sharing some such thoughts whenever you have some. Your contribution so far has been very valuable and hope that you’ll continue to share such thoughts in the future as well.

    Cheers,
    Alethia

  102. Alethia
    March 17, 2008 at 2:28 am

    Hi Tazabi:

    Thanks for sharing the experience of the law professor and his attempts to done books to AAU. I want to assure you that his is a typical experience and there is nothing surprising about that story though it is shocking and tragic beyond belief. I’ve heard so many stories like these. Some people who ventured into doing things like these ended up going thru similar or worse nightmare experiences and I know some who ended up sending books to other African countries. I’ve been planning and am still thinking to collect books to ship to colleges/universities back home. Since I don’t know what to do to overcome such barriers in order to get some books from here to there I don’t have any solution for this at the moment. Another alternative will be to collect and donate books to public libraries but who knows how the bureaucracy and total indifference to such things is different there.

    I don’t want to deny Arbiter’s story that some have been fortunate enough to donate books and also to give talks at a university or so back home. There are some who’re lucky like such people too. This is not a typical experience as far as I know.

    Since books are among the most important and key instruments in the education process and since we don’t have so many good and truly caring and committed teachers as much as we need them at the moment, I think it’s an imperative for any concerned Ethiopian who truly cares for the education of his brothers and sisters to mobilize and collect as many books as possible to colleges/universities in Ethiopia.

    All of us who followed the Kinjit leaders visit to the US last fall vividly remember how much celebration and hope and confidence the Ethiopian Diaspora have invested in such mass movements with action. But I want to say this: if even a fourth of Diaspora Ethiopians to the number of those who’re welcoming and celebrating the Kinjit delegates among them start to mobilize a movement to collect books and to ship books to bring about a revolutionary change in the future of their brothers’ and sisters’ education, Ethiopia will change in ways that none of us have foreseen at the moment. I’m confident that more than any Kinjit led movement a movement carried out by committed young Ethiopians to pursue knowledge and education to the fullest extent possible with whatever resources we provide them with will bring about real and lasting changes for the generations of Ethiopians to come. I know that just having good books is not sufficient to bring about such a revolution as any reasonable person can see. But without adequate teaching resources such as books the commitment to bring about change in the education of our brothers and sisters will be an exercise in futility.

    Hope some will take note of such ideals and change them into reality.

    Cheers,

    Alethia

    P.S. Just as I was to post the above I was checking my email and you’d not believe that the following was an email I got! It’s a mass email from Ethiopian Students’ Association International–ESAI.

    “On the 8th ESAi summit, do more than attend. Become active and change the lives of students in Ethiopia. Join the University of Cincinnati Alliance of Ethiopian Students (UCAES) and University of Cincinnati African Students Association (UCASA) in an effort to collect books to students in Ethiopia.

    Collect academic books from your friends and family and bring it to the summit with you. Extend the precious gift of knowledge to our brothers and sisters!

    Please contact Ramala Ande (Abush) for more information at:

    email: indetine2@yahoo. com
    or just PM Abush with a Subject: “Book drive Le Ethiopia!” @ http://www.esai. org

    ESAi along with UCAES & UCASA would like to thank you in advance.”

  103. Arbiter
    March 17, 2008 at 2:40 am

    Alethia,

    You are welcome. I am not aware of the factors on your side. Although I don’t like asking personal questions; I like hearing whatever you think is appropriate sharing with a stranger.

    I live in California, and I have never been actively engaged about community/politics related issues. I have been corresponding with you because I saw value in what you are trying doing. I already contributed all the ideas I have to your project. I believe you are dealing with a though but worthwhile project. Wish you good luck and success.

    Don’t work too hard; take care of yourself.

  104. Alethia
    March 17, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Hi Arbiter:

    Thanks again for your post. By the way, I’ve never participated in any organized, politically oriented or community oriented things before. It was just a year or so ago that I started writing short articles to address issues that I thought (at the time and even more so now) that other writers seemed to have failed to address in some definite ways that could make a difference to the future of the Ethiopian society. That is what I’m still doing. I’ve no affiliation, political or otherwise, to anything in Ethiopia or about Ethiopia except to some professional organizations in my profession or an academic institution where I’ve some mutual interests to pursue.

    I’ve other personal commitments in life which have priorities over what I do in public thru my short writings. What I do in public thru some of my writings is not necessarily opposed to my most important and enduring commitment that is at the center of my identity but in terms of priorities there is no reason to change the order of importance. My public activities such as the one’s we’re engaging in directly fall out of (or, are consistent with) what I pursue in my life as my life’s most important commitment, which requires all my attention and energy. Though this might still be vague but my hope is to give you an idea why some factors on my part might not allow me to do some of the things you kindly suggested for me and/or for anyone to follow in order to do something worthwhile about changing the education system in Ethiopia for better.

    I also lived in California for a while and it’s good to have a friend in you back in Cali.

    Keep in touch friend, and you’ve been a very valuable conversation partner.

    Cheers,
    Alethia

  105. Hello
    March 17, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    Alethia,

    It appears that they blocked this website. Posted a few remarks but EPRDF put them on Hold. Sorry for not be able reaching you.

  106. Change
    March 18, 2008 at 12:00 am

    Alethia,

    Thanks for the info. I hope you will keep trying to accomplish your goals. I also hope the below links will give you some encouragement so browse them at your leisure. By the way, when I post the article with the link they keep blocking it so removed the links. This is Arbiter.

    Change is not easy, but one of my twenty years old nieces thinks she can make a difference in American politics with her changes in her pockets. About a year ago she has started campaigning for Obama. Most of us in her family thought her efforts would not go far and we have kept advising her that Obama will not make it, but the girl bravely has kept campaigning for what she believed against all the negative influence around her. To date I have not contributed for the campaign fund she is raising for Obama

    Starting from this year she has started appearing on major TV networks including CNN, MSN, and AP. They let her make a speech at the “Women for Obama” rally at Columbus Circle, New York. Sat, Feb 2, 2008. At the end of this month she will be one of the keynote speakers along side with Senator John Kerry’s sister at a dinner party where a plate of dinner cost $1,500.

    These days Ethiopians in all walks of life are trying to bring change to their country. The Ethiopian government cannot keep doing what it has been doing. I think soon we will see significant positive changes in Ethiopia, if we all keep trying and trying our best in whatever we think we can change.

    So the moral of the story my niece is doing it all alone and as she said keep trying and trying and trying until you get it right!!!

  107. Alethia
    March 18, 2008 at 4:20 am

    Hi Change/Arbiter:

    Thanks for sharing your niece’s story. She sounds a very impressive young lady. Yes, all those who got to where they dreamed to get got there because the never gave up. I’m of a deep conviction that that is one of the key traits for those who’ve succeeded in doing what they committed themselves to doing and accomplishing.

    I can say that I’m among those who do not know what it means to give up what they firmly believe to be important and what they commit their lives to. Once I’m committed to pursue something which I unwaveringly believe to be worth pursuing I’ve never, ever experienced any wavering about what I set out to do. I wanted to teach at a university when I was in my teens. I never wavered in my convictions and what I do now is what I wanted to do then. I think I’d understand your niece well. Giving up what I truly and firmly believed in is not in my vocabulary at all. This is to re-assure you that the moral of the story you shared with me is well taken and it’s been my life’s principle as well.

    As for some problem posting some links I think I’m inclined to think that it’s with the technical side of the blog rather than someone else blocking what you wanted to post. There was months long discussion last year on this blog (I was part of it) and some of us went thru some trouble posting, usually links, and at times we had trouble posting even our own ideas. From what I remember those problems were rather technical problems and I suspect the same is true of your experience. Given the reasons for blocking posts by the govt, I don’t think what we’re doing here is of any threat to the govt. I suspect even the govt being happy that there are some who want to bring about change in Ethiopia by addressing the problems in Ethiopia by changing something worth changing in the universities/colleges. This is just my guess. We’re not discussing anything politically pregnant and contentious in any obvious way and my guess is based on such an understanding though I could be entirely wrong.

    Cheers,

    Alethia

  108. Change
    March 18, 2008 at 5:03 am

    Alethia,

    Glad to hear about your determination. I think you are right regarding me not able to post the links. The links were a speech of my niece at Obama campaign and her Obama campaign ad. Anyway, since you got the determination you do not need the links to encourage you, and you do not need my encouragement. Keep up with the good work.

    By the way, I sent an email with a link to your article titled “Truth and Media Ethics among the Diaspora Ethiopians” to Girma Kassa who posted an article today on Ethiomedia titled “Action against Ethiopian Review.”

    Although I do not know Girma nor read any of his post, he appeared to me he has just started noting the behaviors of the Ethiopian Diaspora media when Ethiopian Review gently brushes a small corner of his political line. I am sorry about my remarks regarding Girma, if you know him.

    Will catch you next time when you post your next article.

  109. Alethia
    March 19, 2008 at 1:18 am

    Hi Change:

    The story of the Diaspora media is one of those that outrage me if anything does such a thing to me. After sharing my profound disappointment with the Diaspora media in that article I’ve almost forgotten the existence of such mediocre representation of media and its ethics by our fellow Ethiopians. There are only a couple of exceptions, to the unfathomable depth of mediocrity and madness with the Ethiopian Diaspora media.

    By the way, a good friend of mine just emailed me to ask me why he does not see my articles in any other websites/blogs, presumably the well known ones, except on Addis Voice and here. What I’ve just said above is part of the explanation. The key reason was that I could not stand lies that underwrite “the ethics” of their journalism that absolutely turned me off.

    I do not know the person you mentioned but then if he’s just realizing the depth of the problem with the Diaspora media that would be simply unbelievable. But I don’t think that is the case.

    Cheers,
    Alethia

  110. Change
    March 19, 2008 at 6:33 am

    Alethia,

    I agree!!!

  111. Change
    March 19, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    Alethia,

    How you doing? I think I mentioned to you that I am in a final stages of publishing a website. The website has about 83 people pictures that were murdered during the 2005 elections in 65 pages. The pictures are accompanied by about 65 quotes of various sources; for example,

    “Whatever career you may choose for yourself – doctor, lawyer, teacher – let me propose an avocation to be pursued along with it. Become a dedicated fighter for civil rights. Make it a central part of your life. It will make you a better doctor, a better lawyer, a better teacher. It will enrich your spirit as nothing else possibly can. It will give you that rare sense of nobility that can only spring from love and selflessly helping your fellow man. Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for human rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country and a finer world to live in.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

    “It was never the people who complained of the universality of human rights, nor did the people consider human rights as a Western or Northern imposition. It was often their leaders who did so.” Kofi Annan

    I am thinking quoting you the below from your article titled “Neither Dialogue nor Outrage is a Viable Solution” on one of the pages that has a picture one of the murdered person. Please let me know what you think? and/or if you have time to polish the below further to reflect a regime change alone would not bring change unless a behavior of a society also changes please do so.

    “How can one consistently argue for respect of human rights if human beings could be used only as means to achieve some goals, be it political or otherwise? It takes a society that values virtuous character traits to denounce and reject its political leadership when its political leaders are living testimonies and embodiments of what it means to be people of vicious characters.” Alethia

    Some problem I might have with the above would be personally I think most ordinary Ethiopians have great behavior; however, they have not been fortunate for having great leaders. I see behavioral problems among the elites of Ethiopians not at the ordinary citizen level. Hope you will help reconciling the above challenge.

    By the way, I do not have to quote since I have plenty of quotes in my collections but I want to quote you since I see values in what you have been trying to communicate and also to recognize your efforts. So, if you don’t have time to polish the above and/or if you don’t want to be quoted let me know.

    Regards,
    Change

  112. Alethia
    March 20, 2008 at 3:36 am

    P.S.
    A typo that needs to be corrected:

    I mean to say “Can we say that those in the current govt were born[instead of “worn”] evil and different from those of us?”

  113. jemil
    May 6, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    why you guys argue each other all of you guys have good point

  114. Biniam
    March 16, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    I can’t believe that i spend more than 2 hour reading Alethia’s post and the comments given by the reader. Before i say anything i want to express my great appreciation for the amazing peace and change in Ethiopia seeker, Alethia, i usually don’t have a patient of reading lengthy posts and comments, but this time i was surrendered by Alethia’s well written comment, What an amazing citizen!
    I don’t think we can find any Ethiopians who went to Ethiopian higher education and didn’t experience or didn’t know somebody who went through this ill experience. I am one of the victim and beneficiary of Ethiopian higher education, for most of us until we get to see the real and pure student – teachers relationship that could gain a powerful success to the student as well as to the country as a whole, it is hard to comment about the badly handled Ethiopian higher education. Alethia clearly shows how higher education instructors in Ethiopia treat their students to cover up their very limited knowledge. I 100% agreed with all of the comment stated by Alethia, i was a student in AAU and also got a chance to get my Second degree from western university. while i was in Ethiopia everything that i heard was Ethiopian education was nothing but the best, even compare to Western education, i even heard it from my instructors, but i found it to be the opposit. I have been warned many times for asking question in the class.
    Here is what i heard just a week ago from my sister who is a first year stuedent at Mekele University, she is nursing student, she told me that she saw her Anatomy and Phisiology instructors less than 10 times throughout the semester, during that time they came to class for 15 minutes and tell the students to read such and such page. that is all. just two days ago when my sister come back from her break she found out that she got F in both of Her Anatomy and Phisiology classes, i asked her what the next step will be she told me that she can take the exam again, if she pass they will give her new grade again, there is even a possibility of getting A. after she took just the exam again. I don’t see the difference of traditional healers with nurses or doctors who will graduate this way, I may prefer to go to the traditional healers since they have a lot of experience than my sister who will be a “ nurse” 3 years after.
    To me it is getting very clear that ethiopian education is going from worse to worst, so far we have seen an amazing increase in number of higher education in Ethiopia as well as graduates but the quality of education and students knowledge in thier specific major is shockingly poor even compare to many other african Countries, It is even getting clear now that, the number of ethiopians who recived degree from western higher education is lower than what it is used to be, even if the number of ethiopians live in western country is increasing termendously.
    i will be back soon with some of the solution that i think will work to shape Ethiopian higher education to the better.

    thanks

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