What a holy alliance!
Many people, when they want to relax, watch movies, do callisthenics or read books. Those who want to laugh chase comic movies. Others, who want to really laugh a special kind of laughter, they follow government mass media. For example, Addis Zemen, the government’s daily Amharic newspaper gives us, in its July 17 issue, a rare example of an alliance- a holy alliance at that-of the “imprisoner” and “the imprisoned,”, or to be politically correct,” the corrector” and “the being corrected.” It happened in the Debrebirhan Correction Center and provides us with an idea that could be a starting point for a comedy. This is how the story goes.
On May 23, one of the “being corrected” escapes from the correction center. The guards call, for questioning, six inmates thought to be very close to the escapee. According to a letter written to Addis Zemen by an anonymous inmate, the investigation went from 12 o’clock midnight to 8 o’clock in the morning, accompanied by the usual beatings. According to the anonymous letter, the screaming of the inmates being beaten had greatly disturbed not only the rest of the inmates but also the neighborhoods of the correction center throughout the night. Furthermore, the writer of the letter expresses his complaint by saying that those in the correction center should have the protection of the law.
The amusing part of the story comes in the response (to the anonymous letter) of the head of the correction center sent to Addis Zemen and the circumstances under which that fantastic response was prepared. The head of the correction center assures us that:” the inmates who were investigated and the investigating members of the correction center had an open and frank discussion and had issued a joint statement assuring everybody that the investigated inmates were in no way subjected to any kind of beating or abuse.”
Just imagine for a moment what kind of discussion it must have been-inmates and investigators amicably sitting together, face to face, on equal footing and having a free discussion. It is also possible that there may have been a research paper presented around which the discussion was conducted. Don’t laugh! The story is not over yet.
The non-partisan Addis Zemen further adds that according to the statement it received, “The Correction Center Administration and the entire inmate population there had a joint discussion on the escape incident and that it had been stated by the inmates, in no uncertain terms, that they were really infuriated by the escape. They had added that it was not only from the guards that the inmates had escaped. In actual, he had also escaped from them and, therefore, they, too, were to blame”.
Finding such loyal inmates in Ethiopia and in Debrebirhan at that is something special. The inmates, as well as the correction center, really deserve a prize. By the way, it is not known for sure whether the inmates were put in the correction center because the court had found them guilty or because they were innocent. Or, is this the beginning of an innovative public relations tradition where the corrector and the being-corrected exchange places in turns? “It is also from us that the inmate has escaped!” is a fantastic saying. It’s amazing that the inmates of Debrebirhan Correction Center should say that. If a question is raised as to where the first prisoners who become infuriated because one from among them happens to escape were found, let it be known that it is nowhere else but in Ethiopia, the land of Luci. And who is the discoverer? Who else but the one, and only one, Dingetu Fetera?
(Taken from the August 7, 2008’s edition of Press Digest, an Addis- based weekly newspaper, which translates excerpts from various local newspapers.It is edited by veteran journalist, Girma Beshah.)