"Ine letenagarkut isu ferto yegotegutegnal"

I receive several telephone calls from different friends who ask me to look at this or the other issue in my capacity as a member of the Ethics Committee.  I just want to make sure that all will understand that I mean to transmit the same information.  Yet, I am afraid that different people might have extracted different meanings from my separate discussions.   I write the following in the interest of exposing the totality of my meaning.

 When we met in DC in February I was very happy with how we behaved.  We discussed, we argued and we came with our determinations. I was and remain happy.

We have "korema" among us.  Thank God for that. They give us a sense of virility and strength.  We want them to roam the meadows and show strength before they turn into bulls that would be placed under a yolk to pull plows for the benefit of humanity.

Imagine Bele Zeleke, who is supposed to have said "wond ayebkelibish".  He was not afraid for his personal fate when folks were "deliberating" to hang him.  Rather, he was sad about the country that he might have regarded to be populated by cowards.

Let people speak their minds, the good the bad and the ugly. We need the daring among us to "tell it the way they see it" for some of us might be too tactful to state how some issues might appear to be.  Our democracy should accommodate all including the daring and the cautious.  Democracy has methods by which it can proceed while allowing the daring to teach us all of the issues that we might have been afraid to sate or to see. We can use the Fantale and Larry approaches that I will describe shortly to negotiate our ways. Firstly though let me share a story.

Ato Mengistu Lemma, a renowned author, Ato Gebre Kirstos Tedla, a renowned artist, and a journalist whose name escapes me participated in a panel discussion in 1964 at HSIU, Arat Kilo Campus. While the journalist was talking one of the panelists was pulling on his jacket.  The journalist said the culprit is not the emperor it is the low level ministers who are the culprits.  Apparently, one of the panelists was pulling one his jacket still. Then the journalists said, "Ine letenagarkut isu ferto yegotegutegnal."  This statement is self-explanatory. I have used it a couple of times the past five days. Let the daring speak.  Let them show us who we are. BTW, let us return to the current issues.

Committees can be quite interesting.  People have more chances at exposing their views if the members are few.  Because people have ample opportunities to express their views people can evaluate each other more fully than in large conferences or meetings.  If done well committees are places where the members develop confidence in each other.  From observing behavior in a small committee, a friend observed that people fall in one of three categories.

Category A.  Those that speak directly and are sure of themselves and of the rightness of their views as opposed to the ideas of others: the daring

Category B.  Those that speak in nebulous and unclear terms giving the impression that they are not committed to any particular cause: the uncommitted

Category C.  Those that would like to bridge the ideas expressed between categories A and B.  These tend to ask the daring to be cautious and the uncommitted to see the wisdom of the cause.

Well, maybe my friend is correct.  On the other hand neither he nor I are sociologists, and we may have misunderstood what goes on and as such we may have misconstrued the problems.  That is to say that we might have expressed our "besot" rather than observed or proposed real and workable relationships or solutions.

Though not a sociologist, I can speak from my personal experiences in the application of work under democratic processes, in what we might call the Fantale and Larry cases.

Rule 1.  "The gentle persons’ agreement."   First and foremost in any committee- or conference-based work, all and any vigorous arguments should be contained within the discussants, and should not be allowed to spill over to folks outside the meeting.

Rule 2.  "Fantale."  If a committee in Addis wishes to take a trip to
Mount Fantale in the Afar Depression many issues should be arranged for, e.g., trucks should be rented, drivers have to be hired, foods have to be purchased and tents have to be rented, etc. Suppose a couple of people object to the idea of going to Fantale while the majority are in support of the trip, the chairman should allow the opponents to express themselves, but still make sure that individuals are assigned to rent  trucks, buy food items, etc.  The chairman and most of the other members of the committee should not flame the opponents or engage them in their opposition activity.  They should hear the opponents' views.  The chair should work to get a consensus.  Failing to get a consensus the chair should not call for a vote, but proceed on preparation for a trip to Fantale if he senses that the majority is for it.  The chairman should assert to all that the group is going to Fantale making the opponents realize that their views are over ruled.  If the opponents wish to get a vote and only then ought a vote to be taken.  Whether done by a vote or by a general sense in which the chair perceives that the majority has determined to take the trip to Fantale, they must work on the various tasks necessary to make the trip possible despite the views of the few who might be opposed to the trip.   A successful application of Fantale will show opponents that they are respected because their views are heard, but that the majority’s interest of the trip to Fantale will be implemented.  The chairman will be at fault if he whines that a few opponents are hindering the effort of the group.  His task is to get all to work together when possible and the majority when it is difficult.

Rule 3.  "Larry."   Larry is a person who loves to say things in general meetings.  Often his views are at variance with what the group senses.  Larry simply has the urge to speak, and would speak.  The chair allows Larry to speak.  All know that Larry has spoken.  Larry is happy.  Most don't take heed of what he says because Larry has made himself irrelevant by opposing the general tenor of the group's effort at nearly all times. The lesson from Larry is to have confidence in the ability of people assembled in a meeting to judge what they want to hear irrespective of what Larry says.  Let Larry speak.