What we said at EWIB

Wow, Wow!!! Ladies what can I say …tonight was highly educational for me and hopefully for you too.

But before I get into the discussion, I want to say to you all bravo…85% attendance. We are still alive and kicking. Hurray EWiB!!! Next time will be 100%.

We thought it is high time that we bring others to the group and expand our size and horizon. Next time I suggest we make an effort to bring at least one warm body with us each.

Our next meeting, we hope to have a speaker. Ken Ohashi has tentatively agreed and we need to confirm. If not a speaker, our agenda would be to have two presentations by Azeb and Saba both queens of course—our queens; and a topic of our pick for discussion, “ethics in Business”. But my suggestion would be to have two presentations and to discuss on the strategy of how to grow — number wise. From our past experience these personal presentations, the cornerstone of our existence, take a minimum of 20 minutes each with Q&A; 40 minutes for presentation. If we start the program at 7 as tradition has it, it would take us to 7:40 minimum. We need to split by 8, which leaves us only 20 minutes for discussion. From tonight’s assessment the discussion took us one hour and 45 minutes. So, I feel as though we need to treat these discussion sessions as the speaker’s forums program and hold them intermittently and go back to what we started — to know each other’s business and support each other on those needs.

Since I was not there at the October meeting and Romish and I had other pressing matters to take care of (sorry ladies… EWiB sometime takes the back seat with us), I am not clear on the idea of the discussion but I loved what we did tonight and strive to find time to incorporate them in our programs.

Tonight’s discussion based on the article Campaign Against Dysfunctional Behaviors (CADB) By Salaam Yitbarek”Why can’t we work together”, was quite an eye opening for me personally.

The author had some pointers as basis for his argument:

  • Personalization of issues
  • Parochialism
  • Chronic suspicion or mistrust
  • Paranoia
  • Lack of empathy and empathetic understanding
  • Lack of suspending judgment or giving others the benefit of the doubt
  • Character assassination
  • Lack of openness
  • Holding grudges
  • Envy—that we work to reduce others instead of becoming their success
  • Stubbornness and lack of compromise
  • Zero sum view of the world—compromise is seen as weakness

Quite a lot of interesting issues were raised during our discussion. Some of us thought he had some truth as one attendee from the Diaspora testified to be the reality for them — dysfunctional at best when it comes to coming together as a community for a common purpose– and some thought he was utterly negative without denying the reality. And we all questioned where the basis for this issue lies — our culture, our religion or our national character? The basic principle we argued and agreed upon, I believe, was that we can work together and we should work together.

Some of the interesting points that I thought would give us the whys and hows were– our predicament could be the results of the following:

Lack of transparency (Yilugnta), lack of frank discussion, lack of a culture of dialogue, a sense of territorial that we might have picked from generations for Ethiopia is an ancient culture and civilization and for many, many centuries we were closed off and very self sufficient and don’t know what to do with the rest of the intruders when globalization forced us to mingle with and be like them; an absence of enabling environment…we feel giving positive feedback and encouraging others to excel might swell their heads and they become impossible; we are also very individualistic society that we may not able to work together but we excel when we go it alone;

The other camp was saying that no, we can work together socially as an example Idir, the largest and strongest probably the oldest association but we can’t do it in the business world; this could also be attributed to a lack of system and institution in our business environment. A feeling of insecurity was also mentioned… we can’t tolerate any kind of criticism for we are not confident enough to take what is coming…so we have become a nation of “my way or the highway”.

Others also argued that because of the Derge legacy, the nation as a whole might have bailed out on the idea of civil responsibility and duty and has become a “me” generation. As a result the idea of win, win has become a foreign concept. During the Derge’s era, the “me” only concept might have been perceived as the only survival mechanism that to this day persists.

These are all interesting and useful points to ponder upon. We have also agreed that we need to reflect and look deeper into our own actions and languages which may help us refrain from being so critical of others. We should all be change agents and start from ourselves such as when we feel an urge to gossip, we should catch ourselves in the act and stop immediately and discourage others from doing it as well. We discussed a lot on the language and usage of jealousy, I suppose being envious, or” Mikegna”; we should be discouraged from using the word because the concept takes a responsibility away from individual — from looking deeper into self because the act itself is other focused.

Another intriguing point raised was to examine different thinking processes: relational, circular and linear. The point was made that when some people are asked about specifics, they may feel the need to think what the motive might be and how they can deflect it or use it to their only advantages; as a result they don’t give a direct or pointed response. Very funny, I thought and very true. But when we start examining the whys, we also become more understanding and adjust our thinking accordingly, which in my opinion is less heartache.

We are also hopeful that the young of today are much better off and are discussing issues openly…we only need to look into radio programs and our children in our own households (enabling environment). But we can do more to change. Even though the article was based on the actual or seemingly actual concepts, we need to take it further discussing the issues around the topic and finding means and ways of working together so this topic won’t become an issue anymore. Some of us may not see this happening in our lifetime but we are optimistic we would plant the seeds… and that, my friends, is more than any amount of wealth we can leave for the future generation.

We hope to inspire others by bringing out the issue more openly. We would do so in the near future for a larger audience and probably start a movement. Out of this movement, we could compile a manual on how to…that would be the greatest contribution EWiB could offer this beautiful and marvelous nation of ours – Ethiopia!

But since the whole aspect of this discussion was to really start from us and examine our action before we talk about others….I leave you what I thought was appropriate quote for the subject:

Better to examine the self

  1. If you love others and affection is not returned, look into your love.
  2. If you rule others and they are unruly, look into your wisdom.
  3. If you treat others politely and they do not return your politeness, look into your respect.
  4. If your desires are not fulfilled, turn inward and examine yourself.


With much appreciation and respect,


Share on your socials!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *