Five years is a long time to plant yourself in any one place. Places change you. Experiences change you. I remember when I first started working at a private school and a foreign teacher who had been here for 15 odd years told me that Ethiopian children need a stick in order to behave, I was totally shocked. I was shocked by a lot of things when I first came with poverty probably topping that list. It feels as if my sense of normalcy has been totally shifted which coincidentally also feels as if my brain has gone to mush.
When I first came to Addis, the elections took place. It was a very politically charged time complete with government violence, allegations of fraud and the usual tales associated with elections in Africa (minus a coup!) I made an effort to hear about the two parties involved, tried to speak with people as to how they felt and tried to participate in any civilian strikes. And overall I felt guilty for being a foreigner in a place I didn’t belong.
I never thought I’d be here to see the second round in May 2010. And I never knew I’d be so dissociated from what’s happening around me. The general feel of an election is totally absent – there are no signs or rallys. It’s not even clear if there is an opposition to the ruling party. There is Birtukan Mideksa but her story is an outrage. Mostly I hear about Ethiopian politics from outside (to be specific, a friend who posts links and news stories on Facebook…Hi Chelsey!). Maybe it speaks to the lack of information coming from inside the country. But it’s also indifference on my part.
Five years of being overwhelmed. My life here does not resemble even a shadow of my former self. One baby, two pregnancies. Housebound housewife. A lot of excuses. And a mushy brain.