Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Brain Drain in Action

I get this Ethiopian news feed on my rss, and whenever I click through I end up at this pretty suspect site called Ethioblog, which is somehow related to a fairly reputable Ethiopian news site called Nazret.com.

The articles are straightforward, if mundane; I get the feeling they pretty much run a Google news search on the word "ethiopia" or "ethiopian" and then they post the first ten links or so. Most of the time, it's crappy stuff about Ethiopian guys in Kentucky getting arrested for robbery. But as with many sites I visit, more than the actual articles, I find that I spend more time reading the comments to them.

Can I just put this out there: there are some crazy fucking Ethiopians with internet access. You don't believe me? Read on!

Below are excerpts from a string of comments written by various people to a single post on this Ethioblog site. I have rendered them exactly as they appear on the site, spelling mistakes, emoticons and all. Very important to keep in mind: the original post everyone’s responding to is about how a newspaper in Addis Ababa INCORRECTLY stated that 50 Cent and Janet Jackson would be performing at the heavily-anticipated millennium celebration in Ethiopia, which will occur in September of this year.

(N.B. Ethiopia runs on an ancient calendar that's seven years behind the Western one, and Ethiopian New Year has always fallen, coincidentally, on September 11. Perhaps it's no surprise that in recent years Ethiopians--with our swarthy, Semitic looks and our Arabic-sounding language--have tried to keep stateside celebrations on the low-low.)

What I love about the comments, which are usually written in all caps with emphatic syntax and punctuation, is the vehemence with which they all seem to be written. You get the sense that whoever wrote them was gnashing his teeth and pounding out the words on a keyboard, the space bar splitting in half. So, it's not unusual to read a comment in response to an article, say, about Ethiopia's Prime Minister that reads: "Death to the rotten Meles vampire and all of the Tigray tribe. Blood of their children will be drink by winners of democracy."

Anyway, just so that this is clear, I have to repeat it. The article these comments are responding to is about how Fifty and Janet will most likely NOT (I repeat, NOT) be performing in Ethiopia.

People complain about the great brain drains that are afflicting many developing nations like Ethiopia. Sadly, after reading these, I think they might be on to something.


"That is what i call millenium.”

"I dought it that they will go in to their grave."

"Go 50 cent and show them whats up for my ppl and yo will be remember forever."

"how about country music ? that is for G"

"I heard the rapper Game and Jarule going to be there too, Fidy needs to watch his back..ain't no Federal police going to help him."

[Mik: Halfway down the page, where at last count there were 24 comments, a person simply identified as "Man" left a message that seemed to redeem everything that came before it. Here's what he said:]

"lol send John bolton, thats what ethios love...not 50."

[Mik: At first, when I read this, I was thinking, Wow, that's a bit cryptic, but pretty deep. You want America to send the cantankerous Bush crony, John R. Bolton, who was the US Ambassador to the UN during the lead-up to Iraq? Are you being serious or sarcastic? Why do Ethiopians love him? Do you think Ethiopians want to give him a talking to? Do you want him to explain why he resigned in 2006 after Bush offered him another position? Please don't leave us hanging, Man!]

[Mik: Then he ruined everything by commenting again.]

Man: “I meant michael bolton...the dead singer....”

[Mik: Sigh. Regardless of what people on hold or in elevators may wish, Michael Bolton is still alive.]

“Fifty don't risk your life in Addis. There are many angry people over there. It is going to be heavy. Heavier than New York street. We have got a lot of time bombs to waiting to pop up. Some don't see it coming…Soda Pop. Da Da”

“who gives a dum”

“That is a good expectation.Welcom both of you for the biggest ever event in Ethiopian history, the millennium festival. I can't wait to happen it.”


Anonymous said...


So I'm doing a search on "emoticons" and stumble on your post. Could *not* stop laughing. Honestly, this had to be the funniest thing I've read in weeks ... and I spend way too much time reading blogs.

And ain't it a shame about Michael Bolton still being alive.

emanuel said...


hilarious, one of your best.

Bryan said...

Very well done.

Probably not the place for an extended John Bolton discussion, but I remember reading somewhere - my dad's annual gift subscription money says it's The New Yorker - that for all the brouhaha about Johhny Boy becoming the UN ambassador/crony, the appointment actually meant he was relatively on the outs with the Bushies, as he was shunted from the inner circle in the White House to the FDR drive.

Sorry, I meant Michael Bolton.

Bilen said...

ayyyeeee, why yo gat to put our peoples on blast?
min nekah ante dureeye!

beqa, john bolton has left ze beeeuuuulding!

Fik said...

you crack me up!
You're being tough on sefiw hizb! As one habesha who went through hell in a bid to perfect her Queen's English( I'm afraid the end is no where in sight) when I read your blog morale tenchacha!If only I could compartimentalise Amharic and English in different parts of my brain .....sigh