The Concoction

An Ethiopian woman's musings on Africa, the world and everything in between

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        Friday, October 24, 2008
        US election: awash with information, still don't get the basics?

        Here is just a fascinating BBC report on race and the US election. I'm beyond the race issue in this election. Knowing what I know now, how still segregated US towns and schools are, I'm not that much surprised that race is still an issue in the election however sad and embarrassing it is. The only thing that puzzles me is how the "black" race is dominant when a person is bi-racial. Like in the case of Obama, why do we call him just black whereas he's really 50% white and 50% black? What happens to the white part in the race definition/calculation when it's mixed with black? Whatever the reason, I'm sure it's so petty it's not even worth pondering over.

        My pressing issue in this case, and what I find absolutely incomprehensible is, how people manage to misinform themselves with all the bombardment of information about the election and the people who are running to be elected. Would you have thought that there would be people in the US, today, at this very moment, with all the information resources and technology, who can't pronounce "Obama" and say that he's not American? Alas, there are - in a town ironically called Uniontown, PA.
        At a local restaurant a friendly waitress started chatting to us. The conversation turned to politics.She shrugged, she was not even sure when the election was to be held, she could not pronounce Mr Obama's name. "I like McCain because I can say his name, so I'll probably vote for McCain."
        Fair enough. May be the Uniontown waitress expressed a really complex issue (of race, segregation, ignorance, intolerance, fear of the unknown i.e. "that one") in a simplistic and dumb way. I will surely be suspicious of a John Smith running for president in Ethiopia. But there is no way that I will leave the issue at that and say...
        "He's from Africa or something. I don't even know where he's from. I know he grew up here, but he's not from here. I think American presidents should be from America."
        BBC's Dumeetha Luthra commented on this with a simple "She was not well informed, but her views were clear." With all due respect, I disagree. With information left, right and center on the election and the nominees, all Dumeetha can say is "she was not well informed..."? Here is what I think. Ms. Waitress from Uniontown has the responsibility to educate herself with the tools available for her. I'll bet money that there are at least four TV sets in the restaurant where she works. Let's assume that she's very busy and she can't pay attention to TV while at work or all sets are on the sports channel. A simple google search with the words "where is Obama from" will do the trick. She doesn't even have to finish typing the whole thing before google makes an intelligent guess and give her options. Wikipedia has organized Obama's biography in a dumb/lazy-friendly way available in 89 languages (yes, I sat and counted them to make a point - it's Friday evening anyway).

        What is sad and scary is that such irresponsible people, who are too careless and/or lazy to make an informed decision as a civilized member of this society, can have the power to decide on my future - shudder!!! The only thing Ms. Waitress is not "well informed" about is about her responsibilities as a citizen, which reminds me...

        Before a person becomes a citizen of a new country, she has to take an exam on how well she knows the history, values and rules of that country. But citizenship acquired by birth is left unchecked. I think this should change. There has to be a basic test to make sure that people know something about the nominees - you flunk, you don't vote. One doesn't move up to the next grade if she flunks the final exams. This is simply because she lacks the basics which are the foundation to the next level, and ultimately, a position in society. So, why should people be given the power to hold one of the sacred positions in society, the right to vote, without sufficient knowledge of the basics? How about that for a Friday evening deep-thinking?

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        posted by Fikirte @ 7:15 PM   1 comments Digg!
        Wednesday, October 01, 2008
        Beautiful - inside and out

        Here is a Time article on Ethiopian Supermodel Liya Kebede. She's really a superwoman - a mother of two, supermodel, WHO's goodwill ambassador, and now the founder of Lemlem (a high-end children clothing line hand-made in Ethiopia.)

        Liya employs Ethiopian weavers who had been struggling due to slow demand for their products. Check out the clothes here and tell me if they are adorable or adorable. The knowledge that they also help villages of weavers back in Ethiopia - priceless!

        Order some cute baby clothes from the comfort of your home/office. You'll be helping poor weavers all the way in Ethiopia.

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        posted by Fikirte @ 8:20 PM   0 comments Digg!
        The face of VAW

        Kamilat - victim of acid burning The face of VAW - violence against women. It should and can be stopped with enough commitment. Helping one woman at a time is a start.
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