Saturday, June 20, 2009

You MUST be an Ethiopian if…

1. You drive straddling two lanes. To most Ethiopians, the lines that are drawn on roads are either for decoration or just by employees of the Ministry of Transport having fun.

2. You think you’re worth more if you buy an expensive cell phone. This is even amazing since the most you can do with your cell phone is talk and send text messages. Only a few months back was 3G even started. The cell phone costing 350 ETB sometimes out-performs one that costs 3000 ETB.

3. You live in a hovel that charges 100 birr rent and park this year’s BMW outside. Many Ethiopians seem to have their priority wires in a tangle.

4. You are embarrassed to put on your seat belt while driving, but flaunt your thing as you pee in the streets. Many drivers in Ethiopia prefer not to wear seatbelts stating that people would call them show offs. But those same people would forget about people’s opinions when they had to go number one in public.

5. Pronounce ‘the’ as ‘ZE’, spell ‘welcome’ as ‘WELL COME’, forget how to spell words with the ‘e’ at the end and add it when not required. Examples would be “Well Come to Peac Hotele.”

6. You can spell your name, and have documents to prove it, in at least 5 different ways. Example: Biruk, Bruck, Birook, Brook, Beruk, Berook …

7. You open a new business and name it after the city you used to live in while you were in the United States. Addis Ababa is full of cafes, hair salons, hotels and other businesses with names of US states or cities. It wouldn’t be safe to mention them here.

8. You, while in Ethiopia will spend tens, sometimes hundreds, of thousands of birr to get out and once out whine about how you’d rather be back home…

9. …and when you DO eventually come back home you brag about how good you had it in the west.

10. You kiss up to anyone that is better dressed than you, drives this year’s BMW and owns the cell phone in number two. It’s a sad fact that customer service givers, from guard to the highest manager will judge you by what you’re wearing. I’d really recommend that if you were having a bad hair day, were tinkering with your car’s oily and greasy parts and were wearing cutoffs, scraped boots and a filthy cap… you’d better change all of it before you answered that door bell. Whomever you might meet my ask you to go get the master of the house.

11. You can’t tell the difference between New Zealand and Netherlands. It was really embarrassing when a newscaster reading the news couldn’t make out which country was being mentioned, she decided to play it safe…so she said that the news was from, this is not a joke, “Newzerland.” EDIT: On the news on 19/06/2009 the commentator read news from "Swizland." It's not clear if Switzerland or Swaziland was the intended country.

12. You would rather dehydrate, sweat and stink up a storm, on a hot day, in a crowded car or bus, than to open a window, because you think the draft would kill you…

13. …and if at home, you still believe the old wives’ tale that the draft from two opened doors will make you sick. From the way some Ethiopians react when a window whether at home or in a car is cracked, you’d think it were bullets coming in rather than plain air. It would have been tolerable if the person asking that the offending window be shut were reasonably clean and had remembered to wash his feet this month or change socks since last week.

14. You cannot see the irony in drinking, eating and fornicating sinfully for the few days before Lent and thinking that you will make up for it all during the following 40 days. Two or three days before the fasting begins people go crazy bar-hopping till all crazy hours. They stuff themselves with all the food they can get their hands on.’ Sex and the City’ is really on! When asked, Ethiopians tend to say that it is to keep them stronger during the fasting, to help them make it through and to lessen the temptation. Isn’t this all against the Passion of Christ? Isn’t the whole idea of fasting to weaken one’s self and to fight the temptation…? Why bother if one is packing and storing for the ‘long haul’?

15. You think some job is below you while in Ethiopia, but would beg and grovel to do it in the US or Europe, but still not tell your family or anyone who knows you back home what it is exactly you do. You create fancy job titles like ‘Sanitation Engineer’ when you’re a plain old janitor. You say you work for ‘a large American company that has over 31,000 branches.’ You don’t exactly hint it but encourage people to think that you’re a shareholder in that company. It is a sad day when people find out you only work at McDonalds and the only share you hold is your share of the scoop… the fries scoop that is.


  1. I am both amazed and amused by the post. You are very critical of Ethiopians, but somehow spot on.
    I wonder what all those people with expensive phones and card would say about the current new about Ethiopian famine and the Oxfam statistics that says thay 46% of Ethiopians are malnourished


    1. رضا بهرام

      شهاب مظفری
      I wonder what all those people with expensive phones and card would say about the current new about Ethiopian famine and the Oxfam statistics that says thay 46% of Ethiopians are malnourished
      مسیح و آرش AP

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