Nation of ‘Hoarders’

Jan 18 , 2019
By Kidist Yidnekachew

We like to preserve our culture and identities in every means possible. Not just our cultures though but anything that we think has sentimental value, from the first plate our child ate from to our first jebena, a container used to brew coffee traditionally.

There is not much that makes this infatuation annoying if one has the space for them. Unfortunately, most of us do not have the spacious homes that can accommodate all of our sentimental materials, making a case for us having to give them up.

Nonetheless, many households or even offices have unnecessary piles of rubbish around the house, including kitchen appliances, clothes, shoes and broken electronic gadgets that have lost their original colour. This is not to mention the useless pieces of paper, dried out pens, expired thickets and thank-you cards. It is clutter on top of clutter. It is as if we are too afraid to cut ties with our past and re-live it through our collections.

Ideally, most of these should be stored in an attic, but considering the modest size of most homes in Ethiopia, it is the living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms and restrooms that bear the burden of our over-sentimentality.

My home is no different - we are also “hoarders,” as my psychology teacher once said to us in class - which made putting stuff back after a recent renovation a Herculean task.

My aunt and I were moving items back to their previous places when we came across a pile of boxes, filled with clothes, bags, shoes and stuff that were originally in my bedroom.

We went through the boxes and found my shorts and sweatpants from my high school, which is over a decade ago. I also found my lifetime collection of bags, some of them torn and others with broken zippers. I was even at a loss for why I even brought some of them.

“Where did all these stuff come from; I have been sleeping in the bedroom for quite some time now, and I had never seen all these things before,” I said to my aunt with bewilderment. “There were hidden in the boxes,” she replied.

The process of cleaning took almost an hour and a half. We managed to get most of the stuff out of the way. We also put the ones that are relatively in good shape in a box to give away for the less fortunate, which is something we should have done a long time ago.

But why are we saving these things? What is the big day?

We all have that piece of cloth or shoe that we keep in the house without an intention to put it to use. But they are stuff that we should learn to give to those that desperately need them. Many people, like me, are just too lazy to go through the piles of the old stuff to give them away.

But there is also the undeniable sentimental element. After finding the shorts I wore in ninth grade, I felt this strong urge to keep them, less because they were comfy but since there was a part of me insisting that I do not let go of them.

The major problem is our lack of effort to find closure, which should start from items and the small chapters of our lives that we should have closed a long time ago but chose to hold on to.

We need to let go - open our arms to something new and accept the blessings we get from giving to those that need them. An additional perk is that we will have plenty of space in our house and closets, not to mention that they would look neat, clean and presentable.

PUBLISHED ON Jan 18,2019 [ VOL 19 , NO 977]

Kidist Yidnekachew is interested in art, human nature and behaviour. She has studied psychology, journalism and communications and can be reached at (

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