Understandable Pain, Hard to Swallow Destruction

Jul 10 , 2020
By Kidist Yidnekachew

I find most news stories to be dull and boring. Imagine my surprise then when my uncle called me up at 8:30am in the morning, asking frantically if we were alright.

"Why wouldn't we be?" I replied ignorantly.

"Didn't you hear? Hachalu has been killed, and there is a riot on the streets … don't leave the house," he replied.

He did not even need to tell me his full name - Hachalu Hundessa. That is how famous he is. In shock, I went outside. At least from my neighbourhood, things seemed to be fine. It was reported later that the city was surrounded by federal police, and the masses of youth have taken to the streets.

Following that, my family members bombarded me with phone calls. My uncle, who lives in Bole Ayat, told me how they were locked inside their home, scared that someone might break in. I also received a text from a friend of mine who lived in the condominiums in Bole Arabsa who told me how terrorised she felt at the break-ins and looting taking place. Buildings, homes and vehicles were bombarded by stones - it was a similar story in many places of the city.

Does smashing glass and destroying property make things right? Were the owners of the properties that were vandalised deserving of such wrath?

People are angry; this much is understandable. But the destruction of property and the resulting conflict was not an appropriate expression of the pain that might have been felt. It was a perpetuation of injustice.

His family and his fans have a right to grieve. What happened to him was not fair or right, but such acts are not a means to honour his legacy. After all, he fought for peace and equality, and the best means of venerating him is to stand together against injustice.

When I think of Hachalu, I remember his old songs. When his songs played on Tv, even though I did not understand the lyrics, I used to sing along. His songs were filled with passion and I could feel his energy in them. This was back in the days when politics had not inundated every bit of our lives, if there was ever such a thing, and certain things could be enjoyed without having to worry about their hidden messages.

It is hard to believe that such a person would have wanted what has been taking place lately. I can only hope that we would be able to pause for a while and ponder before we decide to take our frustration to the streets. His loss weighs heavy on the hearts of many, and the heavy emotions this can inspire are all too obvious.

There are in fact more reasons for us to go out and make our voices heard. There is the rising rate of domestic violence following the lockdown measures to combat the spread of COVID-19. We should have been angry enough to let our voices be heard collectively. When inflation is going through the roof and chipping away at our standard of living, not even a single person protested on the street to show how many households are hurting.

When will we also start raising our voices for the disadvantages that we are faced with, the privation of which will reverberate deeply?

People, in Ethiopia as in anywhere else, are generally good people. It is also often the case that what is good for the community is also good for the individual. Hachalu's unfortunate passing can be a force for good, the motivation for a more united and louder call for justice and accountability.

PUBLISHED ON Jul 10,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1054]

Kidist Yidnekachew is interested in art, human nature and behaviour. She has studied psychology, journalism and communications and can be reached at (kaymina21@gmail.com)

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