"ma" to "ba":
a time-space syndrome.
For the benefit of a few I rehash below what most of you know only to well. So,
let me begin, with the story of the 60's in Australia.
Before and during the 1960's Australia
paid people to come from Europe and settle in Australia.
An Indian, who traveled to Great Britain,
married a Brit and both decided to settle in Australia.
While in Australia,
the Indian visited different realtors in an attempt to buy a plot of land but
none too successfully. When his white wife visited the realtors she was shown
different plots and at quite reasonable prices. In the evening when the couple
determined which plot to buy, the Indian is supposed to have said the
following. You see my dear the Australian mind like the Australian land
is vacant but fenced. Of course those days were in the past. The
Ethiopians had a different set of experiences.
During the Second World War an Ethiopian notable, Dej. H, who served as a "baldera"
to a British Captain who took a garrison from Addis to Nairobi,
apparently had an astounding experience. When the captain asked how far Nairobi
was, Dej. H had told him that it was just across the
mountains. After traversing several mountains the captain wished to assess the
time left for travel, and inquired of Dej. H if
returning to Addis would take longer time than proceeding to Nairobi.
H replied that it depended on what he wanted to do. If he wanted to
return to Addis, Addis is closer. However, if he wanted to proceed to Nairobi,
then Nairobi is shorter. The story
indicates that Dej. H saw the will of a person as the
measure of the time-space syndrome.
In an earlier period, two high-ranking military leaders of Ethiopia
of the late 1890's are said to have quipped to each other about a place as
follows. One of them, (Dej.
BAN) referred to a place as "yetemarknebet",
while the other (Fit. HG) corrected him and suggested that he refer to it as
BAN was laughing about the days while they were kids, while Fit. HG was
emphasizing the contributions they made to Ethiopia.
Hence the change from "ma" to "ba"
encapsulates the time dependency of attitudes as exemplified in the story of
the Ethiopian notable.
And so it is when we try to learn from Ethiopians that had seen it all.