I wake up and don’t have a clue where I am. There is barely any light, hardly enough to pierce the curtains. But it’s not the gloom or the early start that has left me confused. It’s the ear-splitting chanting.
The noise is in no language I’ve ever heard. Yet the sound is familiar, even if the language is not. I have heard it in Istanbul, the Gulf, parts of Jerusalem. It sounds almost exactly like an imam calling the faithful to prayer.
Yet I am in Ethiopia, the cradle of an ancient form of Christianity, and the hotel at which I am staying is in Lalibela, one of the country’s most Christian sites; there are no mosques nearby. So what is going on?
Stepping out on to my balcony, I see the hillside opposite covered with thousands of people dressed in white cotton robes. They are making their way up a series of dirt tracks, their feet throwing up a haze of red dust. The chanting seems to be coming from the hilltop. But there is no sign of a church or indeed any building up there. All that can be made out is the rough outline of part of a giant cross, seemingly carved into the ground.
My guide, Girtane, is waiting for me in the hotel lobby. Seeing my confusion, he breaks into a broad smile. “It’s St George’s Day,” he says in explanation. St George, I learn, is the patron saint of Ethiopia. The damsel whom the knight saved from the dragon is, in local tradition, an Ethiopian princess called Beruktawit. And the chanting is not Arabic but Ge’ez , the holy language of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
Ge’ez has been spoken in Ethiopia since the time Rome was first founded. It has been the language of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church’s religious texts since Christianity originally spread to the country in the early fourth century, brought to this land by a Syrian Greek shipwrecked on the Eritrean coast.
The reason it sounds so familiar is that its origin can be traced to the same linguistic roots which inform Arabic and Hebrew. Ge’ez, it seems, is just another of the many ways that Ethiopia, and its church, has long been entwined with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern – and not just African – tradition.
I had already been in the country long enough to appreciate its rich cultural heritage and how it is a very, very different place to its Live Aid-era image. The capital, Addis Ababa, is a hive of construction (much of it the result of the influx of vast sums of Chinese money). Great stretches of the countryside look lush and green. But, for me, the biggest revelation in my time there was about the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and its relationship with the people it serves.
Ethiopia was cut off for centuries from the wider Christian world by the Islamic conquests to its north. During that time, its church flourished in isolation, untouched by and ignorant of the theological disputes dividing Europe. That means its traditions provide insight into an older, perhaps purer and certainly more mystical form of Christianity – one that dates back 1,600 years and therefore, in its unaltered forms, bears witness to a liturgy practised only a relatively brief period after the time of Jesus Christ.
To better understand this, I had come to Lalibela, Ethiopia’s self-proclaimed “New Jerusalem”. Here, I thought, I could engage with the religion and its beliefs. What I had not expected was that I would also get to see one of the world’s most impressive – and most affecting – architectural marvels.
It was the fall of the Holy Land to Saladin 900 years ago that prompted these remarkable structures to be built. Ethiopia’s new king, King Lalibela, determined that his subjects, as well as the small Christian states scattered along the Nile, should have their own “Jerusalem” at his capital, Roha, to visit in order to show their devotion.
King Lalibela is so surrounded by legend that it is almost impossible to separate the man from the myth. Even his name, meaning “the man bees obey”, is part of that mystique. At his birth, a swarm of bees supposedly settled upon him, covering him but not stinging him. Later, when aged around seven, it is written that he was lifted towards heaven and spent three days receiving instruction on God’s divine knowledge.
The stories may be fairy tales but the monument he created – and which now bears his name – leaves no doubt as to the power he wielded. Claiming the plan had come to him in a dream from an angel, Lalibela instructed that a series of churches be constructed from the rock itself. This meant they were not built up from the ground with stone or brick but actually chiselled out of the surrounding hillsides.
By the early 13th century, 11 churches had been built. The labour involved must have been immense, not least as many are dug out of red volcanic rock. Some of the churches are constructed across the sides of valleys. Others are built deep into ravines, the result cave-like. Many are linked by subterranean tunnels. A river was re-routed and re-named the Jordan. The largest hill overlooking the site became the site’s own Mount Tabor.
No one is sure just how long the project took. Locals often say 23 years – but that is based on the legend that angels themselves came to help work on it, taking over at night as the human workers went home to rest. Without any records from that period, it is not even known how those humans who did toil on the site were housed or fed.
Nowhere in Lalibela is as impressive, however, as the building they finished last. That is the Bet Giyorgis, or the Church of St George, and it is there – it being St George’s saint’s day – that the crowds are gathered and from where the chanting comes. The surrounding roads heave with pilgrims, some beating skin- covered drums and others waving sticks covered in bells, as around them children dart, selling crucifixes fashioned from dried reeds.
The only way to properly appreciate the Bet Giyorgis is to look down upon it. Dug directly into the hilltop and standing 50ft tall, it is shaped like a giant Greek cross and is set tight within the walls of the surrounding pit. Once the ground was chiselled away by hand to create the monolith, the exterior carvings were completed and the interior hollowed out.
There are no souvenir stalls or safety rails here, health and safety concerns being notably absent. Rather, the pilgrims descend rough-hewn steps. Reaching the church’s entrance, many kneel to kiss the ground. Outside is a small baptismal pool, overgrown with grasses used in Palm Sunday services; inside, the only light flows through narrow windows high up in the wall. On the day I visit, a priest stands in a corner holding burning candles that he waves in front of him. Another wafts a censer, the smoke billowing towards us, as other priests line the walls.
The faithful enter and prostrate themselves forward to pray. “They’ve come here for a blessing,” it is explained to me. “We’re taught that every believer must come at least once in their lives to Lalibela. Some will have brought family members who are sick or disabled, as it’s believed the holy water has healing properties. Many will stay all day and all night.”
A curtain separates the inner area reserved for the priests from the main room holding the faithful. A third section stands at the centre of the church. This is its most holy spot and none but the most senior clergy are allowed to enter. It is there – as in all Ethiopian churches – that a representation of the Ethiopian Orthodoxy’s most revered object stands: the Ark of the Covenant.
The Ark, the Bible tells us, held the Ten Commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai. For the rest of Christianity, it has been lost – most likely stolen or destroyed in the sixth century k by the Babylonians when they sacked Solomon’s temple. Not, however, for the Ethiopians. They believe they know exactly where it is; indeed, that it has been in their homeland for thousands of years. Since the 1960s, in fact, it has been housed in a special chapel near an Ethiopian town called Aksum, where it is guarded by a succession of virgin monks who are never allowed to leave the chapel’s grounds.
The Queen of Sheba is at the heart of the tale of how it supposedly got there. Travelling to Jerusalem, she is said to have met and fallen in love with King Solomon and, unknown to Solomon, had a child with him called Menelik.
This child would become the first emperor of Ethiopia and ultimately return to Jerusalem to reveal himself to his father. Legend has it that Solomon was delighted and bestowed upon his son all manner of gifts, including a retinue of nobles to protect him on his journey home.
What actually happened next is confused. According to some traditions, it was this noble retinue who stole the Ark without Menelik’s knowledge; according to others, that he colluded with them; and in some accounts that the whole endeavour was set up and supported by the Archangel Gabriel. The result, however, is agreed upon: the Ark of the Covenant was taken to Ethiopia, where it has stayed ever since as a symbol of God’s blessing.
I travel to Aksum, hoping to see the Ark for myself. I quickly discover that there is no chance of that. No one other than its elderly guardian is allowed to set eyes upon the relic – not the country’s president nor even the Ethiopian Orthodox Church’s patriarch. The chapel proves to be little more than a concrete box with no architectural interest or style. Standing behind spiky iron railings, it looks like nothing more than a suburban bungalow. To my surprise and disappointment, there is no sense of the sacred here.
The contrast with Lalibela could not be greater. There, you find pilgrims praying, kissing the walls or sitting cross-legged on the floor reading religious texts. Every morning a service is held in all the churches. Lalibela is a place where worshippers’ faith brings life to ancient walls in the most profound manner.
As a Russian, I come from a country that is part of the Orthodox tradition. Culturally, the Russian Orthodox Church is my church – although little I have seen ever enamoured it to me. One only has to consider its hounding of punk-rock protesters Pussy Riot, or its cosy relationship with the state, or the sense of avarice that seems to emit from it, to realise why. In recent years, reports have emerged that a car repair and tyre service was being run underneath Christ the Saviour, Moscow’s largest Orthodox cathedral, and that a brothel was being run on land rented by Sretensky Monastery. Archpriest Mikhail Grigoriev of Kazan was discovered to own a BMW jeep, a Mercedes jeep and a Mercedes saloon as well as three flats and a country house. He was secretly filmed boasting about his £12,000 mobile phone and love of Italian designer clothes. This year, there have been allegations of sexual assault by Russian Orthodox clergy, with students supposedly plied with alcohol before being abused.
The church’s head, Patriarch Kirill, a man who regularly criticises Western commercialism and publicly called feminism “very dangerous”, was even caught out by his own hypocrisy: two years ago, his press team issued a photograph of a meeting in Ukraine in which Kirill’s $30,000 Swiss Breguet watch was airbrushed out. Unfortunately for them, they had overlooked its reflection on a polished table top.
Ethiopia’s Orthodox Church appears very different. On the ground, the impression I get is overwhelmingly one of a clergy committed to personal humility. Again and again I meet priests living lives just as humble as their congregations. They are keeping true to the tenet of their faith that they must forgo almost all possessions and dedicate themselves totally to the spiritual life. This, I feel, gives them considerable moral authority.
After Lalibela, Tigray, to the north, is perhaps Ethiopia’s most sacred spot. Amid its stark, lunar-like mountains, with their steep outcrops and columns rising hundreds of feet into the air, are built Tigray’s own rock-hewn churches. Some of these predate Lalibela’s by hundreds of years and, though less impressive architecturally, have their own power brought by the isolation and otherworldliness of the spot.
Access to many involves scaling a cliff. Again there is no health and safety procedure – or even ropes and carabinas – and I find myself clinging to a sheer rock face seeking out the next crevice as I inch myself towards the top to see one of the churches for myself. There I meet the local bishop, who invites me to his home in a nearby building. It is utterly spartan. A thin mattress on the floor, a beaten-up wooden chest and an old clock radio are seemingly his only possessions. I ask if he doesn’t miss having a few luxuries. The answer is immediate: he does not, he insists. Despite his being a “simple life”, for almost four decades he has got all he needed or wanted from life as he has been able to spend every day “praying”.
As I leave, a group of pilgrims arrives to see him. Standing outside his church, he blesses them. Then he goes inside to get what food he has to share. Together they break bread.
Inside the church would have stood its replica of the Ark, the symbol of God’s promise to his chosen people. Yet what I witness is a living, more immediate, covenant – one that across the country is renewed daily between a church and its believers. If there must be religion, I tell myself, then this is how it should be.
Evgeny Lebedev is the owner of the Independent titles and the London Evening Standard. Follow him on Twitter at@mrevgenylebedev
በኦስሎ ዳይመንድ ሊግ የ5000ሜ ፉክክር ኢትዮጵያውያን አትሌቶች በሁለቱም ፆታዎች በአሸናፊነት አጠናቀዋል
ትላንት ምሽት በኖርዌይ ኦስሎ በተከናወነው የዳይመንድ ሊግ 5000 ሜ. ውድድር ኢትዮጵያውያን አትሌቶች በወንዶችም በሴቶችም ከአንደኛ እስከ ሶስተኛ ያሉትን ደረጃዎች በመቆጣጠር አሸንፈዋል፡፡ በዝናባማ የአየር ሁኔታ ውስጥ በተካሄደው የሴቶች 5000 ሜትር ፉክክር ዳዊት ስዩም በመጨረሻዎቹ መቶ ሜትሮች ውስጥ ፍጥነቷን በመጨመር ጉዳፍ እና ለተሰንበትን ቀድማ አንደኛ ወጥታለች፡፡ የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ፌዴሬሽን ለኦሪገን 2022 የአለም ሻምፒዮና ከመረጣቸው ዕጩ አትሌቶች ዝርዝር ውስጥ ያልተካተተችው ዳዊት በኦስሎ ያሸነፈችበት 14፡25.84 የሆነ ሰአት የራሷ ምርጥ ሲሆን እጅጋየሁ ታዬ (14.12.98) እና ለተሰንበት (14፡24.59) ባለፈው ወር በዩጂን ካስመዘገቧቸው በመቀጠልም የዘንድሮ የአለም ሶስተኛው ፈጣን ነው፡፡ በውድድሩ ላይ ከነበሩት ሌሎች ኢትዮጵያውያን መካከል በዘንድሮው የውድድር ዓመት በርቀቱ የመጀመሪያ ተሳትፎዋን ያደረገችው አልማዝ አያና በ14:32.17 ስድስተኛ ሆና አጠናቃለች፡፡ ሀዊ ፈይሳ በ14:33.66፣ ፅጌ ገብረሰላማ በ14:43.90፣ እና አበራሽ ምንሴዎ በ14:47.98 በቅደም ተከተል ሰባተኛ፣ አስረኛ እና አስራ አንደኛ ሆነው ሲያጠናቅቁ ሶስቱም ያስመዘገቡት ሰዓት የራሳቸውን ምርጥ ያሻሻሉበት ሆኗል፡፡ ጥሩነሽ ዲባባ እ.ኤ.አ. በጁን 2008 ዓ.ም. ያስመዘገበችውና 14:11.15 የሆነው የኦስሎ ዳይመንድ ሊግ የሴቶች 5000 ሜትር የውድድር ስፍራ ሪከርድ ይሰበራል ተብሎ ተጠብቆ የነበረ ቢሆንም ሳይሳካ ቀርቷል፡፡
ዳዊት ስዩም ውድድሩን በድል ካጠናቀቀች በኋላ ለውድድሩ አዘጋጆች በሰጠችው አስተያየት ‹‹ዛሬ ለእኔ ደስታን ስላመጣልኝ በውድድሩ ሰዓት የነበረውን ዝናብ ወድጄዋለሁ ማለት እችላለሁ፡፡ ጠንካራ ተፎካካሪዎች የነበሩበት ከባድ ውድድር ነበር እናም ሁሉንም ለማሸነፍ በቅቻለሁ። በርቀቱ የራሴን ምርጥ ሰዓት ማሻሻል መቻሌም አስፈላጊ ነበር፡፡ በስታድየሙ ውስጥ በከፍተኛ ስሜት ድጋፍ ይሰጡን የነበሩ ወገኖቻችን ነበሩ። ለሰጡን ድጋፍ እናመሰግናለን።›› ብላለች፡፡ በኦስሎ የወንዶች 5000 ሜትር የመጨረሻ ፉክክሩ በኢትዮጵያውያኑ ጥላሁን ሀይሌ እና ሳሙኤል ተፈራ መካከል የነበረ ሲሆን ጥላሁን የ1500 ሜትር ስፔሻሊስቱ ሳሙኤልን በአጨራረስ ፍጥነት ቀድሞ በ13:03.51 በአንደኛነት አጠናቋል፡፡ ሳሙኤል ተፈራ የራሱ ምርጥ በሆነ 13:04.35 ሁለተኛ ሲወጣ ጌትነት ዋለ የግሉ የዓመቱ ምርጥ በሆነ 13:04.48 ሶስተኛ ደረጃን ይዞ ጨርሷል። በውድድሩ ላይ የነበሩት ሌሎች ኢትዮጵያውያን ሚልኬሳ መንገሻ በ13:05.94 አምስተኛ እንዲሁም አሊ አብዱልመናን የራሱ ምርጥ በሆነ 13:16.97 አስረኛ ወጥተዋል፡፡
ጥላሁን ሀይሌ ውድድሩን በአሸናፊነት ካጠናቀቀ በኋላ ለውድድሩ አዘጋጆች በሰጠው አስተያየት ‹‹ሶስት ኢትዮጵያውያን የመጀመሪያዎቹን ሶስት ደረጃዎች ይዘን መጨረስ መቻላችን ጥሩ አፈጻጸም ነበር። እየጠነከርኩ እንደሆነ የተሰማኝ ሲሆን በውድድሩ እና ባስመዘገብኩት ሰዓትም ተደስቻለሁ። ለረጅም ጊዜ ጉዳት ላይ ስለነበኩ ወደ አሸናፊነቱ መመለስ መቻሌ በጣም ጥሩ ነው።›› ብሏል፡፡
በኦስሎ የሴቶች 800ሜ. ውድድር ላይ ተፎካካሪ የነበረችው ኢትዮጵያዊቷ ድሪቤ ወልቴጂ በ1፡58.69 አምስተኛ ሆና አጠናቃለች።
የዘንድሮው የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ብሄራዊ ሻምፒዮና በእኔ እይታ
ከመጋቢት19-24/2014 ዓ.ም በሐዋሳ አለም አቀፍ ስቴድዮም የተደረገው 51ኛዉ የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ሻምፒዮና ከሞላ ጎደል ስኬታማ በሚባል ሁኔታ ተጠናቋል፡፡ ከአምስት አመት በኋላ በድጋሚ በአካል በመገኘት ስለተከታተልኩት የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ሀገር አቀፍ ሻምፒዮና የግል ምልከታዬን እንደሚከተለው አጠናቅሬዋለሁ፡፡ የበለጠ ትኩረትን በሳቡት ውድድሮች ዙሪያ የተመዘገቡ ውጤቶችን በወፍ በረር በመዳሰስ ስጀምር ከፍተኛ ፉክክር በታየበት የመጨረሻ ቀን የወንዶች 5000ሜ. የአለም ከ20 አመት በታች ሻምፒዮና የ3000ሜ የብር ሜዳልያ አሸናፊው አሊ አብዱልመና 13፡45.0 በሆነ ሰዓት ከጥላሁን ሀይሌ፣ ጌትነት ዋለ እና ዮሚፍ ቀጄልቻ ቀድሞ አሸናፊ ሆኗል፡፡ የፉክክሩ አካል የነበረው እና የርቀቱ የወቅቱ የአለም ሻምፒዮን ሙክታር እድሪስ ስድስተኛ ወጥቷል። ከ20 ዓመት በታች የ3000ሜ የአለም ሻምፒዮኑ ታደሰ ወርቁ በ28፡12.0 የወንዶች 10,000ሜ. ሻምፒዮን ሲሆን በ1996 ዓ.ም. በአትሌት ስለሺ ስህን ተመዝግቦ የነበረውን 28፡16.23 የሆነ የሻምፒዮናው ሪኮርድ ለማሻሻልም በቅቷል፡፡ በ10 ሺህ ሜትር የሴቶች ፉክክር ግርማዊት ገብረእግዚአብሔር በቀዳሚነት የጨረሰችበት 31፡21.5 የሆነ ሰዓት አዲስ የሻምፒዮንሺፕ ሪኮርድ ሆኖ ተመዝግቧል፡፡ በርቀቱ የከዚህ ቀደሙ ሪኮርድ ለተሰንበት ግደይ ከሶስት ዓመት በፊት ያስመዘገበችው 32፡10.13 የሆነ ሰዓት ነበር፡፡ ሳሙኤል ፍሬው በዘንድሮ የወንዶች 3000ሜ. መሰናክል አፈፃፀም ከአለም ሁለተኛው ፈጣን በሆነ 8፡22.5 ሰዓት አሸናፊ ሲሆን ጌትነት ዋለ ከአራት ዓመት በፊት አስመዝግቦት የነበረውን 8፡28.98 የነበረ የሻምፒዮናው ሪኮርድም አሻሽሏል፡፡ በሴቶች 3000ሜ. መሰናክል ከ800ሜ ወደ ረጅም ርቀት የተሸጋገረችው ወርቅውሃ ጌታቸው በ9፡41.8 ሰዓት መቅደስ አበበን (9:43.8) በማስከትል በአሸናፊነት አጠናቃለች። አድሃና ካህሳይ (3:51.0) የወንዶች 1500ሜ ፉክክሩን በበላይት ሲያጠናቅቅ በሴቶች 1500 ሜ አያል ዳኛቸው (4:10.0) ተጠባቂዋ ዳዊት ስዩምን (4:11.1) በመቅደም በአንደኛነት አጠናቃለች። በ800ሜ. ወንዶች ቶሌሳ ቦደና (1:47.1) በሴቶች ወርቅነሽ መሰለ (2:02.1) አሸናፊ ሆነዋል። ዮብሰን ብሩ በ400ሜ/400ሜ መሰናክል (45.9/50.5) ድርብ ድል ሲቀዳጅ፣ በወንዶች ጦር ውርወራ ኡታጌ ኡባንግ ብሔራዊ ሪኮርድ በሆነ 73.28ሜ. አሸንፏል፡፡ የኋልዬ በለጠው እና ዮሃንስ አልጋው በእርምጃ ሩጫ የሻምፒዮንነት ክብርን ተቀዳጅተዋል። ጥቂት አስተያየቶች፡- የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ስፖርት አፍቃሪ እንደሆነ እና ለዕድገቱ እንደሚቆረቆር ሰው በብሔራዊ ሻምፒዮናው ላይ ስለተመለከትኳቸው አዎንታዊ እና አሉታዊ ጎኖች ጥቂት አስተያየቶቼን እንደሚከተለው አስቀምጣለሁ፡- አዎንታዊ ጎኖች • ባለው ነባራዊ ሁኔታ ውስጥ ሊገጥሙ የሚችሉትን ተግዳሮቶች በሙሉ በመቋቋም ፌዴሬሽኑ ውድድሩን ከአዲስ አበባ ውጭ አካሂዶ በሰላም ማጠናቀቅ መቻሉ አንደኛው ስኬቱ ነው፡፡ • በሻምፒዮናው ላይ ጥቂት የማይባሉ ታዋቂ አትሌቶች በሀገሪቱ ትልቁ የአትሌቲክስ ፉክክር ላይ ተሳታፊ ሆነው ሲወዳደሩ መመልከት የተቻለ ሲሆን በተለይም በወንዶች 5000 ሜትር ፍፃሜ ላይ የታየው የኮከብ አትሌቶች ፉክክር ልዩ ነበር፡፡ • በውድድሩ ወቅት ለአትሌቲክስ ዳኞች የብቃት ማሻሻያ ስልጠና መሰጠቱም የውድድሩን ጥራት ለማሳደግ የሚረዳ እንደመሆኑ እሰየው የሚባል ነው፡፡ • እንደ ኢትዮ ኤሌክትሪክ ያሉት ክለቦች ለአትሌቲክስ ስፖርት የበለጠ ትኩረት በመስጠትና ተጠናክሮ በመቅረብ ከዚህ ቀደም በጠንካራነታቸው ከሚታወቁት መከላከያ እና ኢትዮጵያ ንግድ ባንክ ጋር የቅርብ ተፎካካሪ ሆነው መታየት፤ የኦሮሚያ ክልል፣ ደቡብ ፖሊስ እና ሲዳማ ቡና ክለብ አትሌቶችም ጠንካራ ተሳትፎ ሳይዘነጋ የሻምፒዮናው ፉክክር ድምቀት ነበሩ፡፡ • የአንዳንዶቹ ተገቢነት አጠያያቂ ቢሆንም ብዛት ያላቸው የሻምፒዮናው ሪኮርዶች የተሻሻሉበት ውድድርም ነበር፡፡ አሉታዊ ጎኖች • የሀገሪቱ ትልቁ የአትሌቲክስ ውድድር ውጤት አሁንም በኤሌክትሮኒክስ የሰዓት መቆጣጠሪያ የማይደገፍ መሆኑ በተለይም በአጭር ርቀት እና በሜዳ ላይ ተግባራት ውድድሮች ላይ የሚሳተፉ አትሌቶች ልፋት ተገቢውን እውቅና እንዳያገኝ እያደረገ ይገኛል፡፡ የሻምፒዮናውን ውጤቶች በዘመናዊ እና ዓለም አቀፉን መለኪያ በሚያሟላ መልኩ አለመያዝ በአህጉራዊ እና አለም አቀፋዊ ውድድሮች ላይ ለተሳትፎ የሚያበቁ ውጤቶችን በማስመዝገቡ ረገድ የሚኖረው አሉታዊ ተፅዕኖ ከፍተኛ መሆኑ ከግምት ውስጥ ገብቶ አሁንም መፍትሄ ያልተበጀለት ጉዳይ ነው፡፡ • የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ፌዴሬሽን ወደ ሚዲያ/ለአጠቃላዩ ሕዝብ የሚያስተላልፈው የመጀመሪያዎቹን ሶስት ደረጃዎች ይዘው የሚያጠናቅቁ አትሌቶችን ውጤት ብቻ መሆኑ አወዳዳሪው አካል የሚያደርገውን የራሱን ውድድርም ሆነ አትሌቶቹ የለፉበትን ውጤት ከማስተዋወቅ አኳያ በቂ አይደለም፡፡ • በወንዶች የጦር ውርወራ እና የሴቶች ምርኩዝ ዝላይ ብሔራዊ ሪኮርዶች እንደተመዘገቡ ይታመናል፤ በሴቶች 100ሜ መሰናክል እና የወንዶች 400ሜ መሰናክል የተመዘገቡት ሰዓቶችም የምንግዜውም ፈጣን ሊሆኑ ይችላሉ፡፡ ነገር ግን ውድድሩ በኤሌክትሮኒክስ ታይሚንግ ያልተደገፈ እና የንፋስ ንባብ ያልነበረው መሆኑ ውጤቶቹ በዓለም አቀፍ ደረጃ ተቀባይነት እንዳይኖራቸው የሚያደርግ ነው። • በ20 ኪ.ሜ የእርምጃ ውድድር ላይ በሁለቱም ፆታዎች የተመዘገቡት ሰዓቶች ከሚጠበቀው በላይ እጅግ በጣም ፈጣን እና እውነታዊ አለመምሰላቸው በውድድሩ ላይ የተፈጠረ አንዳች ስህተት መኖሩን የሚያመላክቱ መሆኑ፡፡ እንዲህ አይነት ለማመን የሚከብዱ እና ጥርጣሬን የሚፈጥሩ አይነት ውጤቶች ሲመዘገቡም የተፈጠረ ስህተት መኖር አለመኖሩን ለማጣራት አለመሞከሩ፡፡ • የሴቶች 10 ኪሎ ሜትር ውድድር ላይ ለውድድር የማይፈቀድ የጎዳና ላይ መሮጫ ጫማን በመጠቀም የተመዘገበ ውጤት በሪኮርድነት ጭምር ተይዞ መፅደቁ። ብሔራዊ ፌዴሬሽኑ ከተከለከሉ ጫማዎች ጋር የተያያዙ ዓለም አቀፍ ሕገ ደንቦችን ማወቅና መተግበር ቢገባውም በሴቶች 10 ሺህ ሜትር ውድድር ላይ የተከሰተው ነገር የውድድር ሕገ ደንቦቹ መረጃ በፌዴሬሽኑ ውስጥ በትክክል የተሰራጩ እንዳልሆነ የሚያመላከት ነው፡፡ • በሴቶች 1500 ሜትር የግማሽ ፍፃሜ ውድድር ላይ አትሌት ዳዊት ስዩም የሻምፒዮናውን ሪኮርድ ያሻሻለችበት ውጤት እንደተመዘገበ በውድድሩ ወቅት በተደጋጋሚ ሲነገር ከተደመጠ በኋላ ግልፅ ባልተደረገ ምክንያት ውጤቱ በሐዋሳው ውድድር ላይ ተሻሻሉ ከተባሉት የሻምፒዮናው አዲስ ሪኮርዶች ዝርዝር ውስጥ ሳይካተት መቅረቱም የፌዴሬሽኑን ግልፀኝነት ጥያቄ ምልክት ውስጥ የሚከት ነው፡፡ ከላይ የተዘረዘሩት አዎንታዊ እና አሉታዊ ጎኖች ለረጅም ግዜ የኢትዮጵያን አትሌቲክስ ስፖርት እንቅስቃሴዎች በቅርበት ከመከታተሌ አንፃር በራሴ እይታ ያስቀመጥኳቸው እንደመሆናቸው አንዳንዶቹ ሀሳቦች አከራካሪ ሊሆኑ ይችላሉ፡፡ ሆኖም የውድድር ደንቦችን በአግባቡ ከማስፈፀም አኳያ በታዩት ክፍተቶች ዙሪያ ምንም የሚያከራክር ጉዳይ ስለሌለ በወቅታዊ የውድድር ደንቦች ዙሪያ የግንዛቤ እጥረት ላለባቸው የስፖርቱ ባለድርሻ አካላት በሙሉ አስፈላጊውን ገለፃ እና ትምህርት መስጠት የፌዴሬሽኑ ኃላፊነት ነው፡፡ ከውድድር ጋር የተያያዙ ደንቦችን ከመጣስ አኳያ በሀገር ውስጥ በሚደረጉ ውድድሮች እንደቀላል ነገር የሚታለፉ ጉዳዮች በዓለም አቀፍ ውድድሮች ላይም ተደግመው እንደግል አትሌቶችን እንደቡድን ሀገርን ትልቅ ዋጋ ሊያስከፍሉ ይችላሉና አስፈላጊው ጥንቃቄ ቢደረግ መልካም ነው፡፡ ባለፈው መስከረም ወር በቪየና ሲቲ ማራቶን ውድድሩን በአሸናፊነት ጨርሶ የነበረው ኢትዮጵያዊው ደራራ ሁሪሳ የገጠመውን አንዘንጋው! ሀገራችን ኢትዮጵያን በመልካም ጎኑ ስሟ እንዲነሳ በሚያደርገው እና በትልልቅ ዓለም አቀፍ የውድድር መድረኮች ላይ የኩራታችን ምንጭ በሆነው የአትሌቲክስ ስፖርት እንደጎረቤታችን ኬንያ ዓለም አቀፍ ውድድሮችን የማስተናገድ የብቃት ደረጃ ላይ ደርሰን ማየት የዘወትር ምኞቴ ነው፡፡ የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ፌደሬሽንም የውድድሮቹን ጥራት ለማሻሻል በትኩረት እንደሚሰራ ተስፋ አደርጋለሁ።
በመጨረሻም በሀዋሳ በተካሄደው 51ኛዉ የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ሻምፒዮና ከመሮጫ ጫማ ጋር የተያያዙ ደንቦችን በማስከበሩ ረገድ የተፈጠረውን ክፍተት እንደማስተማሪያ ብንጠቀምበት በሚል የሚከተለውን ለማለት ወደድኩ፡-
የመሮጫ ጫማ ደንቦች ለትራክ ውድድር
64 ደቂቃ ከ14 ሰከንድ በሆነ ሰዓት የዘንድሮ የራስ አል ካይማህ የግማሽ ማራቶን ውድድር አሸናፊ የሆነችው ግርማዊት ገብረእግዚአብሔር በሐዋሳ በተከናወነው 51ኛው የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ሻምፒዮና ላይ 31 ደቂቃ ከ21.5 ሰከንድ በመግባት የ10,000ሜ. አሸናፊ ሆናለች፡፡ የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ፌዴሬሽንም ዓለም አቀፉን ደንብ ከግምት ባላስገባ ሁኔታ ውጤቱን በአዲስ የሻምፒዮንሺፕ ሪኮርድነት ጭምር አፅድቆት አልፏል፡፡ ይሁን እንጂ መጋቢት 20/2014 በተደረገው የሴቶች የፍፃሜ ፉክክር ላይ በኢትዮጵያ ምድር የተመዘገበ የምንግዜውም ፈጣን የሴቶች 10 ሺህ ሜትር ሰዓት የሆነው ውጤት በአለም አትሌቲክስ ዘንድ እውቅና ሊሰጠው የማይችል ነው።
አትሌቷ የሶል ውፍረቱ 40ሚሜ የሆነ ዙምኤክስ ቬፐርፍላይ (ZoomX Vaporfly) ጫማ አድርጋ በመወዳደሯ ምክንያት።
● ደንቡ ምን ይላል?
በትራክ ውድድሮች ላይ የሚፈቀደው ከፍተኛው የሶል ውፍረት ፡-
– 20ሚሜ ከ 800ሜ በታች ለሆኑ ውድድሮች እና ለሁሉም የሜዳ ላይ ተግባራት (ከስሉስ ዝላይ በስተቀር)
– 25ሚሜ ለ800ሜ እና ከዛ በላይ ለሆኑ ውድድሮች እንዲሁም ለስሉስ ዝላይ
– 40ሚሜ ለትራክ ላይ የእርምጃ ውድድሮች
እነዚህ ደንቦች እ.ኤ.አ. እስከ ኦክቶበር 31, 2024 ድረስ በሥራ ላይ ይውላሉ። ከኖቬምበር 1 ቀን 2024 ጀምሮ ለ800ሜ እና ከዚያ በላይ ለሆኑ ውድድሮች እንዲሁም ለስሉስ ዝላይ የሚፈቀደው ከፍተኛ የሶል ውፍረትም ወደ 20 ሚሜ ዝቅ የሚል ይሆናል።
● የትራክ ላይ መወዳደሪያ ስፓይክ ጫማ ከሌለኝስ?
ደንቡ የጎዳና ላይ የመሮጫ ጫማዎች በትራክ ላይ እንዳይደረጉ አይከለክልም ነገር ግን በ25 ሚሊ ሜትሩ ገደብ ምክንያት 30 ሚሜ ወይም 40 ሚሜ የሆኑ የጎዳና ላይ መሮጫ ጫማዎች በትራክ ውድድሮች ላይ እንዲደረጉ አይፈቅድም፡፡
● ለበለጠ መረጃ :-
On the TPLF’s Love Affair With ‘Genocide’
Today, the joint investigation report by the Ethiopian Human Rights Council and the UNHR
on human rights violations committed in Tigray concluded that there is no evidence that genocide has taken place so far. While this is a bit of a setback for the TPLF, which has wanted the world to believe—since the 1990s, even as the TPLF was dominating power in Addis—that a genocide has been perpetrated against the people of Tigray, unfortunately the group still appears to be determined to make genocide a reality. This is confusing for people who don’t understand why the TPLF is obsessed with genocide, why its internet cadres began using #TigrayGenocide in April 2020, months before the war began. So many weapons have been deployed in this war, and among them: confusion and obfuscation.
In the past several months and more so in the past few weeks, we have been getting
testimony after testimony from allied Amhara forces fighting the TPLF that Tigrayan residents of cities in Wollo have been collaborating with the TPLF by a) attacking ENDF and allied forces from behind; b) forcing ENDF and allied forces to withdraw from towns and cities afraid of committing large scale massacres by firing back at the civilians (Tigrayans) firing at them; c) helping the TPLF locate and execute young Amharas believed to be a threat; and d) in at least one horrifying account by an IDP who managed to escape occupied territories, handing TPLF soldiers a list of women to rape. Another shocking development in the past several months has been the widespread use of child soldiers by the TPLF, which, according to experts who have studied the practice, is an “alarm bell” calling attention to possible plans to commit mass atrocities. The use of child soldiers by the TPLF and its attendant implications, along with the widespread deployment of civilian sleeper agents in Amhara cities the TPLF has taken over, serves to create an overall perception of every Tigrayan as a potential enemy, sowing fear and mistrust.
Many Ethiopians are looking at this and wondering: why are Tigrayan elites on the internet
either celebrating the TPLF’s advance via these toxic methods or silent about all this? How can they not see how dangerous this is for everyone, especially for Tigrayans who live outside Tigray? How can they not see that there is no “winning” after stoking all this lasting animosity? Do Tigrayan elites not understand that there can be no justice for Tigray—whether Tigray secedes or not—unless there is justice for her neighbors, for Tigray does not exist in a vacuum? The questions are being asked but nobody is answering them. Our academic class has largely failed to offer viable analyses of the ideas driving this war, as they failed over the past fifty years in regards to coming up with a fitting paradigm for understanding Ethiopia’s unique situation.
Here is my humble attempt to explain what I think is happening with the TPLF’s obsession
with—and with its active attempt to inspire—genocide:
The most successful psychopaths in any field understand that, in order to win anything, one
must risk everything, including the very thing one is supposedly fighting for. In the case of the
TPLF (and associated Tigrayan political elites), whose motto appears to be “give me supremacy or give me death,” that “everything” they are risking is the lives of ordinary Tigrayans in whose names they are fighting. We have seen over the past several months the extent to which the TPLF is willing to go to sacrifice ordinary Tigrayans in order to get what it wants: wave after wave after wave of young poorly armed and inexperienced Tigrayans were unleashed upon ENDF and Amhara and Afar forces in order to force the latter to waste ammunition and energy before the more experienced soldiers are sent.
So, for a political group who sends tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of
young Tigrayans towards open fire, violence against hundreds of thousands of Tigrayans is nothing if it means the TPLF will in the end win the “prize” it has been obsessed with for decades: genocide. You see, merely attaining power in Addis Ababa is not enough for the TPLF, whose core driving ideology is Tigrayan supremacy. Power is temporary; anybody can take it away from you, and the 2018 uprisings demonstrated that. Genocide is forever. Nobody can take away from you the story of genocide committed against your people.
The TPLF looked at countries like Israel and Rwanda and realized what a potent instrument
genocide is for establishing perpetual minority rule. We have some indications suggesting that the TPLF views Israel as a model. When the war between Ethiopia and the TPLF began in November 2020, Sekoutoure Getachew, a TPLF official, went on TV to tell us that the TPLF’s decision to launch a preemptive attack on the Northern Command was inspired by how the young state of Israel, feeling threatened by her neighbors, launched preemptive attacks against them in the “six-day war” of 1967. Another indication is the manner in which the TPLF, during its 27 years in power, invested heavily in creating a wealthy and strongly networked Tigrayan diaspora which has been used to lobby and influence western governments and organizations much in the same way as the Jewish diaspora aids the state of Israel. The TPLF has figured out that truth does not matter in politics, especially in international politics. If you have the wealth and the personnel to peddle your preferred narrative, if you have the military power to subdue the people you want to subdue, if you are willing to make concessions to external forces (US, Egypt, etc), you can do unspeakable things to others (much like the state of Israel does to Palestinians) and still manage to portray yourself as the victim.
This calculation is so far working for the TPLF, but nothing would seal the deal like the actual
commission of genocide—or something that looks like it—against Tigrayans. As we have seen over the past twelve months, western governments and organizations have shown their willingness to adopt TPLF’s narratives without scrutiny and can easily reward the TPLF with its much pursued prize, genocide, even if actual genocide doesn’t take place.
But why does the TPLF need genocide to establish minority rule? Because, as we saw in their
first tenure in power, you can only rule with an iron fist for a limited period of time. Leaders of the TPLF are adherents of Tigrayan supremacy: the idea that Tigrayans, as the “only” heirs of the Axumite empire, are the natural rulers of the Ethiopian state, and cannot be ruled by “barbarians” south of them. The only acceptable power arrangement for the TPLF is one in which Tigrayans are either directly dominating political power or are the perpetual kingmakers pulling all the major strings. Anything outside that, any system that forces Tigrayans to live on equal footing with everyone else, is unacceptable. And this kind of domination by a minority cannot coexist with a democratic system that the majority of Ethiopians clearly prefer. So, the TPLF needs something more potent than pure political/economic/military power to justify bypassing democracy to establish itself as the permanent ruler/kingmaker of Ethiopia. It needs a new and powerful raison d’être to justify its domination not just to Tigrayans and the rest of Ethiopians but, and most importantly, to the rest of the world. If a genocide were to be committed against Tigrayans (or if the U.S. decides to reward the TPLF with the genocide label even in the absence of it), then the TPLF can license itself to impose all manner of drastic measures aimed at “protecting Tigray and
Tigrayans.” This could be anything from redrawing internal borders (and taking debilitating
measures against the peoples whose lands are being robbed—most likely Amharas and Afaris—so that they will never be in a position to assert themselves) to ethnic cleansing and genocide against populations considered to be a threat. And when you oppose it, the TPLF will say “you committed a genocide against Tigrayans” over and over and over, and its western backers will repeat the same chorus. If they have been this loud over a non-existent genocide over the past twelve months, just imagine what it would be like if the U.S. or UN rewards them with that label.
And this is where the Ethiopian government’s major dilemma comes from: if ENDF and
Amhara forces fight to regain their cities and towns, they risk committing large scale massacres. The TPLF networks reported to be operating within these cities wear civilian clothing and fire at the armies from inside civilian establishments, in an apparent attempt to set up pro-Ethiopia forces. Pro-Ethiopia forces are essentially being dared to commit large scale massacres in order to win back their own cities. So far, they are choosing to withdraw from these towns and cities. But that is another problem: not only is the TPLF committing unspeakable violence against civilians and destroying infrastructure in those cities, the takeovers are emboldening it to continue pressing, giving young people back in Tigray false hope that they are winning and—this is very important—the false idea that they are being “welcomed” by locals in those cities. Then more and more and more young Tigrayans are sent to their deaths.
So the Ethiopian government is stuck between a rock and a hard place. One option is
allowing its forces to do whatever it takes to take back territory, thereby offering protection to its citizens in Wollo and elsewhere, but also risking the “genocide” label by western governments who have been eagerly waiting for such an opportunity so that they can blackmail the government into submitting itself to their wishes on GERD and other issues. Option two is avoiding large scale violence and allowing the TPLF to take power in Addis Ababa and do to Ethiopia what it wishes. One of the things it might do to Ethiopia, according to its leaked strategy document, is force a confederation that will no doubt privilege some states, i.e. Tigray, more than others, and that will no doubt be designed to subdue some populations—mainly Amharas and Afaris—who are considered obstacles to Tigray’s aspirations of domination and expansion (in the TPLF’s original manifesto, Afar is claimed as Tigray land).
And there is absolutely no doubt that the TPLF will make big concessions on the GERD in
order to compensate its western and Egyptian backers, if not redraw borders to make Benishangul Gumuz Tigrayan territory. If you think this is wild, read about the history of the state of Israel, the TPLF’s model state. The redrawing of borders that the TPLF undertook in 1991 was also wild at the time; people don’t think of it as outrageous anymore because the fact that they held onto the territory for 30 years has normalized the event in our minds. And that’s all the TPLF needs: another thirty years to normalize all the outrageous things they will do next.
One may argue that this is a false dichotomy, that there is a third or even maybe fourth option: winning these cities back without mass violence much in the same way the ENDF managed to do during its first campaign in Tigray. We all should pray for such a miracle, of course. However, one can also say that in the early days of the war, the TPLF was mostly withdrawing from Tigrayan cities to avoid urban warfare. And even when they engaged in urban warfare, it was not at the same scale and intensity as has been the case over the past four and half months or so. Starting in mid June, the TPLF’s use of civilians as human shields and fighters stopped being just another weapon in its arsenal and became a center of its operations. The near collapse of the ENDF inside Tigray right before its withdrawal was precipitated by the TPLF’s intensified use of “civilians” to trap the ENDF. Many ENDF soldiers chose to surrender rather than fire at those “civilians.” It is still possible to avoid large scale violence in the attempt to retake towns in Wollo, but the risk for it is very high, and is possibly behind the federal government’s reluctance to take decisive actions.
The point is: barring miracles, the Ethiopian government is positioned to lose something
one way or another. All that is left is choosing its preferred poison. Perhaps one thing to consider for the federal government is: the rights of Amharas and Afaris to defend themselves against the existential threats posed against them by the TPLF is much bigger than the national government’s concerns about its place and relationships with the rest of the world. If the federal government decides to risk the disintegration of Ethiopia, like it has done so far either due to incompetence or severe fear of committing large scale violence, that is fine for the federal government. But when you allow that disintegration to happen, please don’t leave the people of Amhara and Afar in a vulnerable position, unable to defend themselves and their lands. If we must return to the State of Nature, at least give these two peoples, who have so far shed more blood than anyone else in defense of their country, a chance to preserve their lives and their lands. Give them the resources they need to defend themselves before it is too late for them even if you feel it is too late for Ethiopia. Anything less is just a continuation of the gross criminal negligence that the federal government has been guilty of so far.
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