Antidote for Rumours: A Questioning Culture

Sep 28 , 2019
By Eden Sahle

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at

Now more than ever, it seems like most people run life on endless greed, false rumour and selfish ambitions. "Me against them" and "me better than them" is the norm. And this is profoundly pointless and hurtful even to the person practising it. The nature of humanity, that once united everyone, is quickly vanishing, and Ethiopia is no exception. It is a time where people are convinced that everything is about them, and serving others is being taken advantage of.

My younger brother who is studying medicine was assigned to go and serve a community in Oromia Regional State for one month, as part of his academic duty. In the past, the place was one of the areas that have experienced disturbances related to protests against the government. This was a cause for concern for friends of our family, as they felt my brother was taking a high risk by going there. My brother, who was very excited to serve at the regional state hospital, was a bit fearful after hearing all the threatening rumours. However, unlike what family, friends and colleagues said, we encouraged him to go and serve his community, affirming that he will enjoy his entire stay and interaction with the community. He went out with unclear expectations.

What he found on the ground was not just exciting but also educational to family friends and colleagues who were convinced of wrong beliefs. Complete strangers became loving and caring families to my brother. They helped him rent a house and filled his temporary home with vital household equipment. They comforted him by telling him they will be by his side helping him familiarise himself with the neighbourhood. Men and women, young and old, that he randomly stopped on the streets to ask directions also tipped him about where to eat and where to find a market with a smile and politeness. They took the time to ask him what he needs and thanked him for coming to serve the community.

His experience can change the narrative that was built on rumour. It is time that people believe based on evidence not on a petty rumour that demeans a community’s value. We have to intentionally decide to speak on evidence and choose to be as kind as we expect others to be. Our common cultural narratives should be about building one another up rather than tearing each other down. What we think of others does not say a thing about them, but it says a whole lot about us.

False rumours breed discord, along with unnecessary problems that spread quickly. We should not run life based on wrong ambitions and vain conceits. We should learn humility and value everyone. People are forgetting that we are more alike than different. We all know it is bad to judge others, but we find ourselves in the act.

When I was a teenager who grew up in a very conservative family, I used to be a very judgemental person. It was hard for me to understand why people do things that do not seem beneficial. I expected everyone to behave as I did. As I grew up, I understood people a lot more and accepted them for who they were instead of expecting them to fit into my world view. I used to judge people in front of them, hence when I realized my mistake, I called each one of those friends and apologized for judging them. When we listen to people and put ourselves in their shoes, there is nothing to judge.

These days it has become a habit to bad mouth individuals and even entire communities. I believe people spread false rumours as a way to bond with like-minded people. It is unfortunate that when people talk about someone else, most people will gladly join in. For most people, there is bonding that comes with talking about others. As for me, I trust everyone except those who bad mouth and talk negatively about others behind their back. I do not join such conversations.

Wisdom is the art of steering through the good and the bad this world brings and living skillfully in whatever condition we find ourselves. Toxicity starts in our thinking and imagination. That is why it is very important for us to watch out, not just for our actions, but also our attitudes, motives and thoughts.

To become truly great at something we have to dedicate so much time to it. What we do all day and every day defines who we are. Let us not be conditioned to believe everything we hear. A questioning culture can lead us to the truth.

PUBLISHED ON Sep 28,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1013]

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at

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