I live 200 meters from where one of the Generals in Ethiopia’s failed coup d'état over the weekend was killed. We believe we heard the gunshots, from our bedrooms. By we, I mean my teenage son and me.
He is not sure he heard it, but I think I did. Maybe it is my imagination, but all day since Sunday the tents have been up at the home of one of the late Generals and hundreds are coming to pay their condolences. From a distance I have paid mine, sending prayers to the families affected, and praying for the souls of the departed.
Like many in the country, I have no clear information to make any conclusion. I stand with Ethiopians in the unease of the situation. The internet has been turned off since Saturday night. This is after it was turned off for almost two weeks for the national examinations. My son is taking online classes, so his classes are interrupted and have been for close to two weeks.
Amid this lack of internet access, I am managing a huge bill from the only internet provider in the country, the bill is for three days roaming in Dubai. The bill is incorrect, but it may not be easy convincing the company of this, it is the only game in town.
I am exhausted. If I sound like I am all over the place, that is because I am all over the place. I am usually the perky positive kind, but watching my son tell me he could not take it any more got me. And my son loves Ethiopia, his favorite dish is injera and doro wot. He walks around puffed up that Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that was never colonized. He talks about the 1986 battle of Adwa when Ethiopia defeated Italy with so much pride you would think he led the Ethiopian army. He has so many Ethiopian friends that we joke he could win an election as the Mayor of Addis Ababa.
But he has been looking at me with worry, just like he did when we were stationed in Abuja, Nigeria and we heard the bomb blast from our bedrooms from a crowded bus station on the outskirts of Nigeria's capital, Abuja, on April 14, 2014.
It was the outskirt, but not really an outskirt, we heard the bomb blast from our bedrooms in Asokoro, maybe that too was my imagination. I visited the site the next day and it was less than 10 minutes’ drive away. More than 70 people were killed in that bomb blast.
We looked at each other the same way while watching the news on the Nairobi Westgate Mall attack of September 2013. We watched it from Abuja having been posted out of Nairobi 10 months before. We watched it in shock because Westgate was our favorite social hangout place; the Artscafe at Westgate was our favourite restaurant. We spent all weekends and evenings after work and school at the mall.
Life as an international humanitarian aid work merges the personal and the professional, the public and personal. It can be very difficult to separate these because your work is your place.
But I remain positive about Ethiopia. When I was posted to the country three years ago, my Dad congratulated me saying, `you are off to the capital of Africa.’ The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) is here in Addis Ababa, the African Union Commission (AUC) is in Addis Ababa.
As the country went through its political transition last year, my Dad predicted that Ethiopia will come out stronger from the process, I agree, I have witnessed it in the last 12 months with the current Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. In my Dad’s prediction, “Ethiopia, with centuries of sophisticated regimes, will always pull through.” I agree.
I am wallowing in my blueness right now, I know. I will find my perky positivity tomorrow, I am certain. It is easy to stay positive in Ethiopia, the country has my heart and always will. The history, rich history, the questioning kindness of the people and their passionate love for their country will pay off positively in the end. I believe in this country.