Ethiopian Airlines made it happen for me
I had a choice of airlines to take to join the Great Ethiopia Homecoming 2022. That is the same airlines the US Embassy in Addis lists to urge its citizens and personnel to use in evacuating Ethiopia in the dozens of mindless and delusional emails and advisories it has sent and posted on its social media accounts for well over a month.
I chose Ethiopian Airlines (EAL) for one and only one reason. I am proud of EAL. Not just because EAL has been recognized as the “best African carrier” for successive years or its legendary service. Nor because of its extraordinary service during the early days of Covid shuttling PPEs all over Africa.
I am proud of EAL because it is literally an All-Ethiopia Airlines. The vast majority of its pilots are young Ethiopian men and women. So are the flight attendants. The maintenance crew is all Ethiopian and highly skilled. They service regional airlines as well. EAL is highly profitable and has world-class management. EAL has the largest African fleet of planes.
The Star Alliance system in which EAL partners with certain American airlines takes the anxiety and stress out of travel. To me, processing boarding passes, luggage, etc., felt like using an ATM machine. It is virtually contactless.
At the airport counter, passengers are directed to dozens of service kiosks and input flight information, show negative COVID test results, weigh luggage (2 bags maximum 50 pounds) and scan their passports. A duty airline staff confirms the information and away to baggage delivery.
The whole process took less than ten minutes at Los Angeles airport, including wait time to use the kiosk. I flew the Boing 777 200 LR with over 300 seats. It was a sold-out flight. My visual guesstimate of passengers is 95% Ethiopians/diaspora Ethiopians and the rest passengers from other African countries.
The seats in coach were very comfortable and spacious. There was more than enough legroom. The aircraft is kept in extraordinarily clean condition. The flight was smooth and comfortable with the exception of two or three short patches of air turbulence as we approached the African coastline and over Europe as the flight/entertainment (free of charge) display monitor behind every seat indicated.
The onboard service was excellent. The flight attendants were attentive, accommodating, professional and hardworking. For the first seven hours of the flight, the flight attendants were on their toes providing cabin service.
Most passengers snoozed in the second half the flight. The food was in coach was excellent. For a vegetarian/vegan, I enjoyed the fare they offered. Beverages including wine were offered free of charge. The flight was quite pleasant. There were many young people who were heading back for the homecoming. All of them appeared visibly excited and ready to do their part.
Passengers were well-mannered. People chatting, laughing and walking in the aisles covered in face masks. I stood by my seat and did my own flight exercises to overcome the fatigue of the long flight. Frankly, I could not think of anything to complain about.
No doubt, wearing a COVID mask for 13 hours is not fun, but surprisingly I adjusted to it and it did not bother me at all. For those who have not flown internationally in the COVID era, it is important to take the COVID test within the 120 hours (5 day) window required by Ethiopian Airlines.
This is particularly important for those who are not taking the direct flight provided by Ethiopian Airlines from the U.S. An overnight stay in another country could make the test invalid by exceeding the five-day COVID time window especially if the PCR test is taken on the weekend.
A 13-hour flight could be pretty daunting if one does not like to sleep on planes. I had no problems because I had Les Payne’s 612-page book “The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcom X” (2020), winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize and 2020 National Book Award along with virtually every other major book award. The book is based on research conducted over the past 28 years. I recommend it highly.
Ask what you can do for Ethiopia, Diaspora Ethiopians!
On April 29, 2018, barely three weeks after Dr. Abiy Ahmed was named prime minster, I wrote a commentary entitled, “Ask Not What Abiy Ahmed Can Do for Ethiopia, Ask What You Can Do for Your Ethiopia!”
I argued PM Abiy has his work cut out for him and we, particularly in the Ethiopian diaspora, should do our part and not sit on the sidelines complaining and griping. Today, as the Axis of Evil gang up and beat on Ethiopia, PM Abiy has called on the Ethiopian diaspora reserve forces to do their part.
Indeed, the support and struggle waged by diaspora Ethiopians in fighting the psyops/ hybrid war of the Axis of Evil has been stunning. Ethiopians the world over came as one as did Ethiopians throughout Ethiopia. Their common cause: Defense of the Cradle of Humanity, Ethiopia’s dignity, unity and sovereignty.
Those of us who have responded the Great Diaspora Homecoming call and others who could not make it are asking, “What can we do for Ethiopia /ns in its hour of need/” Socrates said, “The unexamined life not worth living.”
I believe Socrates was referring to an individual’s duty to examine the foundations of his/her moral obligations by seeking knowledge and wisdom to live a better life and improve the lives of others around him/ her.
My view is the unexamined conscience makes life miserable by plunging the individual into self-delusion, self-deception, self-doubt, selfishness and self-absorption. The examined conscience produces iron-clad commitment to the cause of Ethiopian unity, dignity, sovereignty and prosperity.
I am proud to say, I have been consistent in what I have done over the past 16 years. I examined my conscience in my 2007 commentary “The Hummingbird and the Forest Fire”.
The question I faced alone in my conscience in The Hummingbird was this: Will I do something, anything, in the face of the Meles Massacres after the 2005 election or just let it go like everybody else by turning blind eyes, deaf ears and muted lips and pretend it did not happen or convince myself, “Someone else will take care of it but not me.”
Will I let the Meles Massacres define me as a coward or will I define it the moment by striking back at the thug master and his TPLF gang of thugs by using my pen and bring them to justice every week before the court of would opinion and convict them, “GUILTY”.
In 2021, for the second time, I am faced with a similar choice: Will I let the Axis of Evil define Ethiopia’s historic moment? My answer is a defiant and emphatic, “HELL, NO!” 2005 de ja vu in 2021!? Never!
Like all diaspora Ethiopians who responded to the Homecoming call, I am responding to the call of the Motherland. The Motherland calls for peace. The Motherland calls for post-war reconstruction and rebuilding. The Motherland calls for reconciliation and avoidance of retribution.
The Motherland calls, “COME HOME MY CHILDREN IN THE DIASPORA. COME HOME AND HELP ME!” Here I am! I ask myself, “What can I do for Ethiopia as a public intellectual?” I am in Ethiopia to serve. Ethiopia has a democratically elected government, the first one in its 3000 plus years history. When it comes to Ethiopia, my personal motto is, “Lead, follow or get out of the way.” I am ready to follow and lead where asked.
Prof. Edward Said observed, “The intellectual is an individual endowed with a faculty for representing, embodying, articulating a message, a view, an attitude, philosophy or opinion to, as well as for a public.”
I should like to argue there are three basic types of Ethiopian intellectuals today:
1) Those who are willing to give and serve because they believe it is an honor and a privilege,
2) Those who complain and gripe and angle for opportunity and
3) Those that are Ethiopians but carry the White Man’s Burden and want to save Ethiopia and Ethiopians from themselves.
I belong to the first category.
Those in the second category are looking out for No. 1. Ethiopia and Ethiopians are their means to an end. Those in the third category think because they have lived and made careers in the West, they have all the answers and look down on the people doing the heavy lifting in Ethiopia.
PM Abiy’s homecoming call to me is a personal call to join the struggle for peace, prosperity and unity.
My mission and the mission of those who think like me is straightforward:
1) Learn from the objective situation on the ground;
2) Listen and talk to the people victimized by TPLF terrorism and thank and congratulate those who defended against and defeated the TPLF;
3) Put our money where our mouth is and join existing resource mobilization efforts;
4) Pledge partnership with the democratically elected government of Ethiopia with commitment for long-term engagement and constructive role; and
5) Propose and share practical ideas to address the issues of peace, reconstruction and unity and become water carriers for those who are doing the heavy lifting in the country.
I hereby issue a challenge to all diaspora Ethiopians, and particularly intellectuals, to come to the aid of the Motherland in her hour of need.
I invite all to consider my 10-point plan for diaspora engagement during the Great Diaspora Ethiopian Homecoming.
Come on over and show Ethiopia
Editor’s Note: The views entertained in this article do not necessarily reflect the stance of The
The January 15/2022