Selome is a beacon of light
Selome empowers, Selome ignites, Selome energizes, Selome rocks. Selome gives us all permission to be human and honor our humanity.
AWiB felt so honored that she could afford us with her presence last night at the Hilton. For those who didn’t make it, you missed an opportunity to be with the one force to lighten our hearts and minds. Selome is more precious than the most precious jewels and a room full of people (women and men) who gathered giving up what little time we had, felt honored.
This powerful speaker spoke for what seemed to us a few seconds but well over half an hour and told us she would stop. We didn’t want her to; we wanted more. We wanted to laugh as she made us laugh throughout her speech. We wanted to live through her amazing life vicariously, but Selome being an enlightened leader wanted to listen; she wanted to learn from us. When she did stop, there was total silence in the room one could hear a pin dropped. We were mesmerized and gave ourselves permission to sit there and contemplate what just happened. What happened was we were presented with the most genuine person; she was so unpretentious, we connected with her at cellular level. She brought to us the most basic need to a human—to be as naked as you can be and still keep your dignity. We felt light and bright. She told us she is a diamond and she only shines when we all shine. We all shined with this magnificent soul last night.
When I began my introduction, I said, Selome doesn’t need an introduction and she said” yes I do” — Humility. I introduced her by telling the audience what impressed me most about this dynamic woman. She understands the concept of “give so you shall receive”. She gets it and she is not afraid to practice it. That is the person we had last night and we left renewed. As one member said, Selome is a personality but last night she was a person and we were all grateful. To all you out there, this was a night to give up all responsibilities in life and join. This is what AWiB is all about. We connect you to a meaning and we mean it.
Selome was raised by two educators: a father, a college professor and a mother a school teacher. Her father encouraged Selome by massaging her ego: he would tell her “his Selome” was the brightest, the prettiest with long beautiful hair, the funniest (which she actually is) and that she could get to where her desire takes her. The mother thought all the adulation was a “Wollo” thing, meaning those from Wollo region could be carried away with their ideas and fantasies. Selome tells her tale with a lot of humor, it is hard to do justice in writing. The mother, being from the Tigrai region and somewhat practical, helped Selome touch ground. Selome thinks these characters between the two parents helped her to be a balanced person. Selome indeed is a well balanced and level headed person. She is a person of utmost confidence and she owes it to her father and her upbringing. The question was asked whether who she is today is nature or nurture. Selome believes perhaps both but mostly nurture and she is a product of her successes, regrets, failures and mistakes and she embraces all with pride.
However, her mother’s unabated generosity, (sixteen kids — only five of her own– were sheltered and raised in a house hold of a single parent with an income of a teacher) taught Selome about life and the meaning of it. “It is not what you have but what you are” takes Selome a great distance in life. She believes in giving back to the community that sustains her. As a founder of Network of Ethiopian Women Association (NEWA) and her ongoing work with teenage girls are testimonial. And who would forget the great initiative “And Birr Land Wegen” and the impact that campaign had on all of us; not to mention the spread of the theme for all who want to make a difference in such an unassuming way. Yes, Selome is also an unassuming person.
Selome the refugee, Selome the Diplomat, Selome the CEO of a major corporation—the Ethiopian Broadcast with employees of 1500, Selome the owner of Emerge — a leadership center that strives to build consensus about leadership in our nation and to discuss the “hushed” subjects in our society, a mother, a wife, a friend and above all a concerned citizen. We learned a great deal from her life.
Any regrets in life? Selome says no; perhaps for a while but it passes as a great teacher. Any sad moments? What stands out is the untimely death of a father who meant the world to her. She was angry at life and at God and at a tender age of 13, she was left confused. But as anything in her life that moment also passed as a great lesson in life and made her stronger.
Any role model? Etege Tayetu and through her the partner, Atse Menelik. She believes he was sagacious in supporting Tayetu to reach her height.
Why aren’t more women at the top? Selome feels it is rather more intriguing to her why aren’t those who somehow got to the top stayed the course. She believes it is lack of a support system and that the house or the infrastructure was not constructed to support women’s needs to succeed. Selome thinks that no one to be blamed; the men don’t understand what it takes to include the women in their world and the women lack awareness and training to demand for their needs; they need to know that they matter. Women also falsely led to believe if they are on top, they need to look like and act like those of the machineries. Hence they give very little or no support or credence to those who look like themselves. She says it needs a systemic change, a paradigm shift to reach parity.
Balancing home and career? Is there such a thing? She asks but offers her humanly/womanly mind; do your best and try to ride your journey without guilt. Not sure about the men, but your kids will eventually get it.
So what do you say one thing a woman should take away from all the mishmash? Honor yourself; don’t dwell on your regrets but only focus on your success. The universe is big. God created abundance so we don’t feel crowded or short changed, because we are not. So, share what you have and who you are.
Selome said to be a leader is also to take time to reflect and she thanked AWiB for giving her the opportunity to reflect. Reflect she did and she shared what she got and who she is and we are grateful for this powerhouse.
There are a lot of Selomes out there and AWiB would like to find you and celebrate you. We also want to be a great support to you both in your professional and personal life. Those of you in management, when the time comes for you to feel you want to hide because the world seems to crumble on you, we want to be there for you. Come and join us. Together we shall create our desirable world. Visit us at www.awib.org.et
Ever so grateful,
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