August 28 , 2021
By Christian Tesfaye ( Christian Tesfaye (email@example.com) is a researcher and Fortune's Deputy Editor-in-Chief whose interests run amok in the directions of political thought, markets, society and pop culture. )
There is a long-running sub-narrative in HBO’s TV series Oz that is reminiscent of Ethiopia. The show is about the inmates of a maximum-security state correctional facility. Much drama takes place inside the prison, especially in a unit known as “Emerald City,” an ironically nice-sounding name for a place that ugly.
Much of the story arcs revolve around the inmates' attempts to reconcile themselves to spending much of their lives in prison. Robbed of their freedom and hope, they turn to gangs that provide a common sense of purpose. There are Aryans, Sicilians, Latino, and African-Americans gangs and groups organised around religion and sexual orientation. The primary fault line for the frequent violence that breaks out is an underground drug trade in the prison and the constant racial tensions that erupt. There is also the constant settling of scores.
A storyline built on the latter offers an interesting case study of the political situation in Ethiopia. It revolves around two inmates, Tobias Beecher and Vernon Schillinger, who take a Hatfield-McCoy like feud to a whole new level. It starts when Schillinger, who has been in prison for years, becomes cellmates with Beecher, who physically and psychologically abuses him. Their initial relationship becomes Beecher’s – a white Anglo-Saxon protestant from an upper-middle-class family – introduction into the harsh reality of the American penal system.
Beecher eventually manages to change cells but takes the trauma with him. On the other hand, Schillinger has a parole hearing coming, for which he must improve his behaviour. He foreswears violence and attempts to make peace with Beecher, who will have none of this and goes to great lengths to ensure that Schillinger does not get out on parole. This act does not improve Beecher’s life in any way, but it is revenge, and that is the only consolation he can find for being brutalised when they were in prison together.
Now it is Schillinger's turn to ruin Beecher’s life even further. He concocts a plan that ends in him breaking three of his enemy’s limbs. The feud escalates. Beecher responds by starting a series of events that gets one of Schillinger’s two children killed. The blood-letting, which is not benefitting any party in any way but worsening their situations further, continues. They have too much greed and pride to stop at this point.
There is a significant development mid-show. Beecher becomes religious and decides to make a major gesture for peace. He pays to have Schillinger's son, who has been missing, tracked down and arranges for a meeting between the two at the prison. Before Beecher can tell Schillinger that he has done this for him, Schillinger finds out by himself.
Does he recognise this goodwill and reciprocate in kind?
Of course not. This is a gesture coming out of nowhere. In the reality the two have constructed for themselves, goodwill does not exist. He cannot see a scenario in which the two can ever learn to tolerate one another – his imagination does not take him that far. Beecher must be planning something. This is just another trick, he assumes.
“We need to go on the offence,” he tells his gang.
Schilinger proceeds to have Beecher’s two children abducted and one of them killed. So goes the feud.
Something similar is taking place at a national level in Ethiopia. Groups on the opposite side of the political fault line are in a race to the bottom. They are even killing one another’s children. They have too much pride and greed to bring peace; I expect the bloodletting to go on for a while. By the time they are done, they will have left in their wakes nothing but corpses, widows, displaced people, poor households, malnourished children and famine.
At least Beecher and Schillinger managed to strike a détente. Let us see if our political elites can manage to do more than two fictional criminals in alleviating one another’s suffering.
PUBLISHED ON Aug 28,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1113]
Photo Gallery | 53001 Views | May 06,2019
Fortune News | 45945 Views | Jul 18,2020
Photo Gallery | 44739 Views | Apr 26,2019
Fortune News | 44715 Views | Sep 01,2021
Commentaries | Jun 25,2022
Life Matters | Jun 25,2022
My Opinion | Jun 25,2022
Sunday with Eden | Jun 25,2022
Agenda | Jun 25,2022
Editorial | Jun 25,2022
November 27 , 2021
Against my will, I have witnessed the most terrible defeat of reason and the most sa...
November 13 , 2021
Plans and reality do not always gel. They rarely do in a fast-moving world. Every act...
October 16 , 2021 . By HAWI DADHI
Residing in a country with no capital market, an organised marketplace for trading se...
August 28 , 2021 . By HAWI DADHI
The streets of Addis Abeba are as varied as they are many, although too many of them have yet to be named. From the narrow alleyways of the...
Leaders of the National Election Board are in a charm offensive mood, of a sort. Last week, they organised a rare tour for members of the me...
When the country’s most senior diplomats and envoys return back to their posts after two-week debriefings, they leave behind a point or tw...
June 25 , 2022
It is not the best of times to be in charge of governance in Ethiopia, whether at the...
June 18 , 2022
Some of Ethiopia's economic policymakers may take solace from realising that inflatio...
June 11 , 2022
The stereotype many people have of parliamentarians is as clueless seat fillers who exist to rubber stamp legislative bi...
June 4 , 2022
It was an institution confident in its mission, capabilities and progress that was on...
PM Abiy Ahmed (PhD) at a Gala Dinner Called for the Awarding of the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize
May 6 , 2019
Last year, I met a young and charming medical doctor through a mutual friend. Our friendship quickly grew. She told me about her engagement...
Some live in a distant universe where they are oblivious to norms. There are unspoken rules. For instance, if two friends dine together, unl...
June 25 , 2022 . By TSION HAILEMICHAEL
Regional state officials and cement distribution agents are in an uproar over new rul...
June 25 , 2022 . By BERSABEH GEBRE
Mayor Adanech Abiebie has won the approval of the Addis Abeba City Cabinet to give re...
The Addis Abeba City Administration is undergoing an extensive reshuffling leading th...
June 25 , 2022 . By RUTH TAYE
Dashen Bank has rolled out a data centre for nearly a quarter of a billion Birr. Installed by two local firms, the centr...
Or see contact page