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Maybe We Will Make It

January 18 , 2020

Every Monday there is a live Jazz band at Fendika, a small cultural space in Kazanchis that usually appeals to the rather upper class, cosmopolitan elite. The band is competent and always a pleasure to listen to. But the jam sessions are the cherry on the cake, always transcendental, surprisingly professional and eclectic.

On the first Monday of this month, during these jam sessions, four young adults volunteered to perform. One of them was European, while three were of African descent. The youngest of them could not have been older than 15. They brought with them a guitar with its synthesizer. They also borrowed an electric keyboard, drums and a bass guitar from the band.

And then they started to play. It was one of the sweetest 15 minutes of my life. It was a sound I had never heard live before. It sounded futuristic. There was no melody: just cool, ecstatic and competing sets of rhythm. It was all the more impressive that it came from youngsters that seemed more likely to punish our ears instead of giving us a memorable performance. But despite their appearances, these were professionals that had sharpened their craft and created something new. I was thoroughly impressed.

All good things have to come to an end and so did the live jazz. As we were making our way out of the small, often crowded but colourful and artfully decorated main hall of Fendika, I overheard a friend of a friend, a Sudanese national, making an interesting comment.

“You guys have this every night,” he remarked fairly impassioned.

He was amazed to have found a small piece of heaven in a country that does not look like it has much of it. The news that keep coming out of this country are not very comforting. Students are being killed at universities, road closures and localised unrest are common, and churches and mosques are being burned to the ground by marauding gangs of youth.

It is easy to be overwhelmed. It is easy to forget the good things that remain and the potential therein. But for a non-national who has not been subjected as much to the inequities of life in this country, our circumstance might not seem too bad. If he has only an intimation of the unraveling socio-political state of the country, he may assume that we are a nation of entitled brats unable to see the awesomeness right under our very noses.

Or perhaps he is right. Perhaps we are too consumed with the negatives that we are underestimating our chances of building a democratic, diverse and prosperous nation that, for once, we are sure our ancestors will admire and respect.

Perhaps we have the silent majority that has been biding its time among all of this extremism and tomfoolery and will make its voice heard when the general election later this year takes place. Perhaps a good image, and significant recognition, will encourage this administration to live up to its promises to conduct a free and fair election. Perhaps an understanding of the clear and present danger of undermining the legitimacy of the national election will lead to political parties that have lost to concede defeat and promise to continue to fight ideas only with better ideas.

And perhaps the national discourse will become more sophisticated and sober, giving rise to a populace informed about its rights and duties.

No one can tell the future and this article upon hindsight may read like a terrible joke. Or, just as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s (PhD) honeymoon period distracted us from estimating the level of socioeconomic and security disruption a political transformation would bring, we are underestimating our chances for a brighter future based on the darkness that looms large today.

PUBLISHED ON Jan 18,2020 [ VOL 20 , NO 1029]

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