Earth to Society: Women Scientists Exist!!!
The NO blog:  Say YES, Yichalal!

A being I love and respect, a very reasonable man, says he does not see returning to Ethiopia for good.  He may not even want to visit unless necessary.  My brother-in-law reminds us there are only certain words we like to say to each other here, and it does not work for his way of life.  Hands out, counting fingers, he says, “አይቻልም : የለም : አልቋል : አይፈቀድም : ተከልክሏል,” in no particular order and in different words that mean the same thing:  NO.

The culture we remember some 30-plus years back was about helping each other out; it was about kindness.  Discussions with returnees (and even individuals who have never left home) bring us to similar spaces of frustration about our Ethiopia.  In daily dealings, people choose to quickly say, “No,” instead of looking into something for each other and trying to find a way to say, “Yes.”  Why we are not excited to help each other out is beyond me.  A complicated, psychological answer may bring light to the issue, but I believe discussion helps us learn from each other if we are open.

A lovely young lady disagreed with me about our beloved Ethiopia.  She brought up “Yilungnta” as it makes us say, “Yes,” to most things even when we do not want.  EXACTLY!  Her point is valid and only supports my argument of doing the right thing.  With this strange culture of “Yilugnta,” it appears the humans inhabiting the land of the origins of mankind say, “Yes,” or, “OK,” to the most unnecessary requests even when we do not want to participate—purely from guilt.

So why are we not feeling guilty about not helping each other out?  Why the quick, “No,” to most requests?  It is about power.  It is about ego.  It is about tyranny and not competency.  We have failed our children.  We have failed our youth.  We have failed our elders.  We have deep wounds that need healing.

Our involvement in resolving all the NOs we encounter on an everyday basis in our nation truly limits our creativity and evolution.  Our leaders…well, there is much and not much to say here…haven’t constructed spaces where students can dive into critical thinking and emotional intelligence.  Forgive me speaking as one who does not attend regularly, but it seems even the most mosque- and church-going individuals don’t seem to bring us back to the way we were in love and fear of the Almighty.  But together we, even individually, can do the job if we choose to embrace the right attitude.  What affects someone positively will affect you positively…and if we assist one—first ourselves and why not another—in accomplishing a goal, the reward is priceless.

On my first week back, I encountered partners who had moved to Ethiopia with their children moving back to the U.S. after several years of trying to assimilate.  They sold their business and leased their home.  They were exhausted from the endless roadblocks and NOs.

Roadblocks and incompetency spill over to the discussion of opportunities and creativity.  We do not even want to think about brain drain!  Seeking better pay, many Ethiopians leave to other African countries and other lands.  How bad could it be for people that instead of being valued in Ethiopia, they leave and do random jobs to survive and be happy?  Why would the medical doctor leave Ethiopia?  Why is she driving a taxi alongside the engineer in their new dwellings?  They want to return to our original home.  They want to contribute.  And those who never left want opportunities—not dead-end NOs that push us to hopelessness.  They want to contribute.  Maybe we should find ways to say, “YES, IT IS POSSIBLE,” to each other.  We must vow to practice it. Daily.

Basically, this small, simple note is a big, complicated matter.  Rules and regulations are necessary in every society, but flexibility is key.  Being stopped and discouraged in every direction—too much NO—does not help with nation-building.  If we are to build our Ethiopia to compete globally, we have to learn to make way for each other.  We should embrace competency, and roadblocks are about incompetency.  Leaders say, “No,” but they also say, “Yes!”

Written by Yodit Gidey