I was super excited when I was given a slot to write a Christmas piece for AWiB. I had so many ideas I was planning on going with and getting some Christmas spirit into my readers. But alas, the universe would have it work out very differently for me this Christmas. Instead of celebrating this holiday, as I would like to have had, I found myself in grief. My dear uncle passed away a couple of weeks ago. His name was Maregu. He was caught in the crossfires of stray bullets, while trying to reach for shelter, all during the day that the government troops entered the city of Mekele to close in on the opposing party.

So now I find myself with a challenge for this particular blog. I think about what my father looks for after I share a blog with him to get his feedback. He is always giving me constructive criticism. How I can better relay whatever my message is to my readers and how I am doing it with my style of humorous writing, as he puts it.  And that, my AWiBers and readers alike, is my current conundrum; I know there is a point I’d like to make of all this sadnessinside me but I also want to add that touch of humor, only if I can, of course. Because even my Maregu would have wanted that; he was somebody that appreciated humor extremely.

When this war was launched, if that is even the term to use, of course I was not for it, by no means.  All I wanted was the sensible way out of the two disagreeing parties, but I see that was very naïve of me to think that it could end peacefully. It led me to believe that the lives of those on the ground may not have mattered enough to those on top – those pulling all the strings. And I found my energy drawing me towards negativity and anger. But upon deeper reflection, I can honestly say that now I can begin to accept the notion that it may also have been a necessary ugly to what could have been a much worse-case scenario, if thisunnecessary beef between the two would have been elongated. I stress again, begin to accept the notion.

I hope that here, my readers can understand that I am in no way condoning what has happened and is happening. Nobody, in their right state of mind, wants war; nobody chooses war. And I am just one person of the many who have lost a loved one or more, and I can’t help to think that my Maregu’s death can not be in vain; neither can that of the other lives that have been lost through these dark times.

All I wonder now is what’s next when the dust settles? It is easy to think of revolting due to our personal and collective pain as individuals, and as a nation. But is that really the way to go? Just how does one go back to normalcy when such an incident happens? Technically, I don’t think one really can. I think you find the strength to move on, because unfortunately life continues to do so. Personally, I have never had such a close death to have had the experience required to deal with it. But, then again, does anyone really ever deal with it or have the experience to go through it?  The pain is so severe and so deep, I doubt it.

It is easy to be in mental space of anger towards everything and everyone around you. It is easy to loose faith in all you believed in, considering this particular unfortunate state of events. It is easy to turn to and carry on the negative dialogue of the situation. But when trying to find inner relief from my sadness, I have had to find not just the strength to carry on, but I’ve also had to find what I consider the strength within myself to grieve maturely, so as to not add flames to the fire. To me, it just seems thatthat will only perpetuate the already heated situation and at the end of the day, it will unfortunately not bring my dear Maregu back.  Nor will it bring back all the lives that have been lost due to this unnecessary commotion.

So what do we do as a people of a nation grieving collectively? How do we clean up the mess that the winds of these disruptive sands have brought upon us? How do we move on together? This is not a clean up I am to do by myself, as an individual, obviously. This is not a clean up that only one particular tribe or tribes must be expected to address. And above all, this is not a clean up that we must expect only our current government to figure out and handle on its own. This is not an easy pick-up-after-yourself scenario. No. It is a joint venture. It’s a job for all of us – as one people.

What do we tell our kids to do after they have left our living rooms looking like a mini-Merkato, market area, of which we get no payment for clean up by the way? After we have handled all the commotion and the craziness of playing along, mediating fights in-between, and not to mention the cleaning up of tears and bruises, what do we ask them to do? We ask them to clean up, right? And even that turns into a whole session of pleading, sometimes even begging, to show them the importance of picking up after themselves. And then what happens? If you are like me, you finally sit down in silence with a cup of tea, a glass of wine or if it was a really trying day, you might just be pouring yourself a glass of whiskey. Regardless, you contemplate, after the dust settles.

The dust has not fully settled yet—I am fully aware of that truth—but I’d also like to believe it is beginning to. It’s why so many things seem to be getting worse instead of better because it’s at the ending point; it’s always darkest before dawn, we all know that. And if I can believe that, and manifest that into the universe, just me alone – imagine what it would be like if more people would put more of those hope-for-the-better and better-days-are-comingenergies into the universe to help with the healing that will be required from all of us, not just for ourselves but for those around us, when all is said and done? Imagine if we could promote positive conversations and debates and neglect to ignite the negative exchanges and dialogues that are pertinent, especially on social media. Imagine how much, even if ever so slightly, how much better it would be! I’m just saying, it obviously can’t be any worse, right?

“Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.” Martin Luther King Jr.


Written by: Marthe Nzokou Giday