Stereotyping: The Antithesis of Individuality


Dec 4 , 2022
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 edensah2000@gmail.com. )


Generalisation is everywhere, mainly rooted in inaccurate stereotypes and limited information that reflects personal prejudice. It could be an innocent but wrongful characterisation of a person or group. It could also be related to horrible experiences and interactions with others that lead to false narratives and conclusions.

Judgments and stereotypes are mainly the results of our upbringing and perceptions. Our thoughts can quickly become distorted if we do not tend to know people on individual bases. Taking an incident and setting it as a benchmark in every situation is uncalled for.

I was supposed to accompany a couple of first-time Ethiopian travellers to Frankfurt and show them around. Unfortunately, they had to fly without me because I had missed my flight.

Their worst nightmare became a reality as they reached their destination. They claimed to encounter mistreatment and needless "interrogation" from immigration officers, associating it with racial discrimination. I was shocked to hear their claims because such an experience had never occurred to me. I always felt welcomed and supported by the locals there. One of the exciting things about Frankfurt is running into many native Ethiopians and Eritreans.

I rescheduled my flights and left for Frankfurt the following week. None of the things they claimed has happened to me.

At the checkpoint, an officer greeted me warmly and asked if I was Habesha. He spoke to me in Amharic and Tigrina, languages I speak fluently. I was amazed by his accent. He mentioned learning the languages from his coworkers as we chatted a bit before my departure.

I found my friends still intimidated by what had happened to them. My good experience did not ease their negative attitude or generalisation of the racial abuse they have faced. Maybe the people they met then were not in the right mind or were suspicious of their nervous reactions, which was accredited to their first-ever European trip. Indeed, people in public service represent a nation, but they should not be benchmarked for the action of an entire country.

Stereotyping is a typical response most of us go for at times of disappointment or great joy. It is easy to come to a general conclusion based on a single incident that lingers in our minds. A single event becomes a pattern of expectations leading us to an assumption.

I believe that mistreating people for any reason is never right and justifiable. Giving people the benefit of the doubt is better than subjecting them to further inconveniences. Immigration officials quickly get suspicious of first-time travellers from Ethiopia as asylum seekers. We do not have a good reputation as a nation. It is not far from the truth with arrivals illegally entering countries in the name of education.

I have come across people who label Ethiopian passport holders as travellers seeking asylum opportunities. It has become customary for Ethiopians to be harassed by officials at checkpoints in the Middle East or China. They are assumed to have committed illegal activities on arrival or travel back home.

On the contrary, I have seen passengers in Ethiopia automatically get the best treatment when travelling from or outside the country. But treating all nationals with the same mentality is worse. Passengers of such encounters talk about their experiences humorously instead of being offended by the situations.

Misunderstandings can reduce if society unlearns stereotyping. People have to think before acting because others might interpret it as offensive. It would be a wonderful world if everyone communicated without added assumptions and generalisations.

Eden Sahle is the founder and CEO of Yoda Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at edensah2000@gmail.com



PUBLISHED ON Dec 04,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1179]



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 edensah2000@gmail.com.





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