*” It is something to serve your country, it is another thing to save your country.”
**First of all, this is MY opinion from mere observations.
So, I finally got to watch Black Panther yesterday, and I have to say it’s not overrated. Well, it depends on our perspective of course. Now, some people would think it’s exaggerated but when you think about the sense of identity and story it could create for anyone who chooses to listen could be the exclamation mark of all movements. Sadly, it’s a fiction. Sadly, it took a character for us to praise our blackness. Sadly, ironically, feeling like a hypocrite is no fun. Because that’s what I felt.
Okay now, there are so many angles to see the whole story through. For one thing, we are known to take pride in our indifference from other African countries due to not having ever been colonized. We are proud beings. We identify with the outside world than we do with our continent. We take the sense of freedom to a whole other level, we tend to think with our light skin, slicker hair and beautifully carved bone structures. I say “we” because it is safe to say it works for a lot of people, especially for those who are born and raised in Addis. I remember writing about “black lives matter” a while back and most people commented “how does that relate to us? “so what?” and “that’s none of our business”. I don’t think our ancestors freed us to rub it on other hands that had once been caged.
I remember in high school, we had a white teacher for our history class, he actually taught us better than our Ethiopian teachers because he had some kind of enthusiasm towards our ways. But apart from that, I don’t remember being psyched for the class because for one thing even the textbook was boring. It was more of an information that needed to be addressed than a story we should take and pass on to generations ahead. So, watching Black Panther made me feel like a hypocrite. For I know more about how our universe was formed than I know how my country came to be the ground most take pride in. I see a lot of people hashtagging Wakanda due to the sense of belongingness it created, but it would have been great to feel that belongingness on the same ground we defy the culture and story of. For so long, for so many reasons, I have been ignorant and careless about my history. I go once in a year to “celebrate” the victory of ADWA with other people, ironically. Because, look around, we are a generation of individuals with some kind of identity crisis even in our own country. We have schools telling students to only speak in English, we live in a city full of places named after states that do not belong to us, we lead meetings and almost about everything in English and that is sad, including me. I am an aspired writer and I know more about foreign writers than any other local writer. And again, it took a fiction writer for me to say, “Maybe we have a culture”. When I say maybe we have a culture, it is to say that a culture more than the costumes, type of foods and songs that come together once in a year for “nations and nationalities’ ” day. And for me to feel “woke” because of Wakanda to
only go home and back to our carelessness is just too ironic. If we are going to be making our arguments based on Black Panther when we want to prove how beautiful our Africa is instead of actual figures we chose to forget about, then that again is so hypocritical.
I loved Black Panther and I have so much respect for it, because again, it sparks the brain of anyone who chooses to reflect. So instead of striving to claim which tradition belongs to which country, we should all ask how much we know of it and how much we know of ourselves. We are one ignorant generation who consider the traditions of our ancestors to be backward, backward enough to replace it with foreign cultures.
“It is something to serve your country, it is another thing to save it”. Again, as an aspired writer, I strive to be someone. But all this time I wanted to be someone great not in the sense of representing my country but myself. I know it’s selfish. But in all honesty, again for many reasons, like being denied of things that should have been rightfully me mine as a citizen, I had this anger and carelessness that led into the feeling of not ever wanting to take pride in being Ethiopian. Which I figured is not right for your country is one thing and the system is another thing. But that is just another way of life here in the city, we did not grow up with the stance of the country over self. In the movie, there is a scene where the general would have killed her own lover to defend her country. We don’t have that attitude, we are so focused on serving ourselves in the name of our country that we forgot to save our country. To challenge our needs. We do not need an outsider to challenge us for we have been an outsider for so long. If our ancestors who have shed blood for the sake of persevering our identity were still alive to see this, they would have shed tears. Because again, we have surrendered without a battle, in our own ways. Going back could be a challenge but we can always shape how we go on, when we say “#Habesha” “#ProudEthiopian” and the likes, what do we really mean? Do we know what it is like to be Habesha, do we have what it takes or are we just selling our color and music? Now, I am not saying to go old school and rock the “Habesha Kemis” (traditional dress) out in the city, we can save our country by being the best we can at what we are good at in the ways they know best to the point we can’t be left unnoticed. Then one day when someone asks who we are we would be able to tell them we are who our ancestors made out to be. We need a hero, a real hero, a hero that knows our history, and we need a challenger, a challenger to knock us off our rootless ego and empty pride.