For over a year, Ethiopia has been a victim of fabricated propaganda and biased rhetoric. In addition to upping the ante, some western governments and their media have been pulling out all the stops to create panic in the capital Addis Ababa.
Months back, the tsunami of misinformation waged against the country only intensified as foreign missions and the now-discredited media outlets formed an unholy alliance to falsely sound the alarm on the security of Addis.
The notorious report of the economist and CNN that “Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa is under siege” was among hilariously false reports ever heard. The US Embassy and other western missions in Ethiopia have collaborated in the saga of creating hysteria by bombarding the media with over-blown yet far-fetched statements. This incident spilled the beans on the intentions of some countries and media organizations.
Though they are being bewildered by biased reports, unfair characterization, and deliberate acts of spoiling image, Ethiopians were not reserved from telling the truth in every means they got.
Ethiopians and foreign nationals have staunchly challenged western governments and their media’s attempt of creating hysteria and false impression in the minds of foreigners. Citizens have been challenging the western mainstream media by posting pictures that show the peace and stability in the capital. Some expatriates even refuse the call of return and foreign journalists did not hesitate to report that western mainstream media is telling a bold lie.
The coordinated propaganda triggered the ‘NoMore’ movement that has already gone international. Large gatherings were staged to denounce the fake news and negative rhetoric. The media has no choice but to shamelessly report.
The military victories, against the terrorist group have further ensured safety and peace in the country. The great homecoming of the Ethiopian diaspora was also evident that the city and a considerable part of Ethiopia are safe and secure.
On the heels of these events, there came a series of developments that laid bare on the coordinate propaganda. The decision to hold African Union Summit in Addis Ababa and diplomatic victories came as a sign for the media to go to the drawing board and assess their journalistic practices.
More importantly, it is in the midst of this that the annual celebration of ‘Timket’ or epiphany day came. ‘Timket’ or epiphany is a UNESCO registered cultural heritage that is customarily to be performed outdoors with a large gathering, assortments, and meticulousness.
The celebration of this year’s epiphany has had a far-reaching implication. Ethiopian Diasporas and Tourists, who defied the insistent reports and travel restrictions have witnessed the peace on the top of being part of this anticipated celebration.
Speaking to local media, some tourists said, they have witnessed that reports of western media and travel advisories of embassies are completely untrue. Diaconate Menelik Rutty who came all the way from New Jersey, USA strengthens this fact by saying the best witness is the eye witness. “Everyone should come and see for themselves. The best witness is the eye witness. So, Ethiopia again is known for peace and love. I have experienced love since I have been here. I wish that the world will also come to Ethiopia and visit it, see the love, see the hospitality.” Another tourist, Cedric Denir who has celebrated Timket last year said this year’s celebration is as impressive and peaceful as before. “I would say it is the same. For me, it is the same. I am still impressed by the beauty, the faith of people, and the beauty of dresses.”
For Rachel McCall who came from Las Vegas, USA her presence in Timket celebration proves that the media isn’t all right. “Everything you see on media, some of it isn’t gonna be true unless you come and see for yourself. You can really judge what is like to be here. In my opinion, I think like I love Addis. Maybe all parts aren’t perfect but most of the city is clean and it is really pretty.” Expatriate Martin says he has been encouraging people that are being confused and misinformed by the media to come and see themselves. “For sure, I see all the problems that the country has but I don’t see there is a big problem to live in Addis. All my friends in Germany are concerned about the situation, because they heard all the media stuff. We always tell them we are safe. We are happy to be here. There is no reason not to visit us.”
Mathias from Germany believes that Timket to have great the potential to promote Ethiopia in a positive way. “I came from Germany. I have been here for 13 days. It is a very nice place, peaceful here. It has a unique feeling to see a large gathering of people celebrating in such a beautiful way. I believe this has a potential to promote Ethiopia’s positive side to the world.”
The feeling of the Timket celebration is very different for the diaspora community that has come home following the government’s call. Beginning from the Ethiopian Christmas celebration, they have been participating in various developmental and charity activities. And, Timket is another holiday to make their stay memorable and significant.
Deaconate Yacob Amare who came from Ohio, USA says, “As come here to invest and to work with my countrymen, but at the same time, the spiritual is the most important part of any human being life. I get to experience this. I have no way of explaining this: what kind of feeling that I have. I came with my wife. I can now congrats the nation and at the same time I want to encourage the youth as well as the business community to work as much as they can to build a country.”
Among foreigners that participated in the celebration of Timket, there were also members of the church of Norway. Bishop Olav Fykse expressed his joy to celebrate “It is a wonderful day. We thank God for this opportunity to celebrate in the beautiful weather. The people here and the church have a deep sense of hospitality. It is really a joy and honor to be a guest here today.”
Tourists were not confined to the capital Addis Ababa. Some of them have indeed traveled to parts of the country and celebrated the festivity. Most importantly, the Timket celebration in Gondar has attracted local and foreign tourists due to the historic and cultural significance of the place. Timket celebration in Gondar is peculiar for its Gondar’s rich history, the castle, and its culture. Gondar performs the ritual of Timket inside one of its castles which used to be Fasiledes Bath. Hence, Timket in Gondar lets tourists have an unmatched opportunity to know different things about Ethiopia’s past and present.
One of the tourists celebrating the day in Gondar says, “This is proof that Ethiopia is a country full of culture. What I am witnessing here is unique and beautiful in many ways. And, the holiday is happening very peacefully.” The day is most anticipated by the Ethiopian diaspora community too. “It is very tantalizing. Beginning the airport everything is joyful. I have no words. The sense of Ethiopianism and people become so indifferent even at times of war and is happy. I am very happy to witness this.” Another Ethiopian coming from America says, “This year’s celebration is unique as the country is recovering from problems related with war. The religious service, the unique cultural attire, and customary hospitality are all intact and it made it always new.”
As data from Ethiopian airlines indicated there have been 22 flights per day from Addis Ababa to Gondar. The number shows the event is increasingly attracting tourists and tourists don’t have concerns of security.
Over and above, Ethiopia has been disproving the wrong depiction of western governments and embassies by holding various activities that are never expected of. Among these, the last Sunday Great Ethiopian Run is worth mentioning. Great Ethiopian Run has been reflecting togetherness, peace, and love of sports of Ethiopians for decades. The last Sunday event as it gathered more than 25,000 people attested that the prevalence of peace and Ethiopians are practicing very normal life and business as usual. The event brought together Ethiopians and Ethiopian origins and guests and participants from Africa and other parts of the world. Noticeable participant, Ghan’s beauty pageant winner Dr. Setor Norgebe exploited the opportunity to call for African unity. “Just like sports that bring people together, let’s come together as Africans and united to support each other.
As Ethiopia is poised to successfully host the 35th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the AU heads of states, and other sessions on February 5 and 6, the Western governments and their media have no choice but, to tell the truth.
BY KFLEEYESUS ABEBE
THE ETHIOPIAN TUESDAY 25 JANUARY 2022