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Transportation by Chain Muhandi (Kenya)Sometimes I write about Ethiopia and its beauty, which is true, but I forget to mention that I’m speaking from a position of privilege. I have the luxury of being able to have sometimes a romantic view of the country because I can choose where to live and the conditions of how I live.
Many people who were born in Ethiopia don’t have the same advantage, and I’m talking about millions of people.
Imagine you were born there, from a poor rural family and have no access to medical care or proper education, and in a more basic level, to nutritious food. What choices do you have? Can you enjoy the beauty of your country? Do you have access to the rich culture?
Probably you don’t even have the chance to live anywhere else in Ethiopia, and much less in the world. You can be perfectly happy anyway but what you’ll lack is the ability to choose or I must say the privilege to choose.
On the other hand if you are born in the developed world, you OWN the rest of the planet. You certainly have more chances to make a decent living and even without being rich, you can travel from place to place in your own country or move abroad if it pleases you.
Ethiopia is full of ferenjis that for one reason or another have CHOSEN to live there, they have the money, the privilege to live in Ethiopia or almost anywhere in the world.
And of course, once there you can enjoy the beauty of the country and its culture, something that many Ethiopians can’t.
We usually ask ourselves why so many Africans risk their lives to reach Europe everyday even when they know they are not wanted, that they can die anytime, that they will get sick, be persecuted, and sometimes incarcerated and sent back home. Many spend many years of their lives in that journey from Africa to Europe.
Well, they do it because they want a part of that privilege, they want to choose what to do with their lives just like you and me.
Let me make a comparison.
As you already know, I was born in Argentina, that also has many wonderful things to offer, from the beauty of the landscape to the warmth of its people.
However, many Argentinians, want to get out of there as soon as they can. But most of them are stuck with their destiny, barely surviving everyday. Some of them manage to save enough money for a plane ticket and enter Europe or the US illegally. They also want the chance to a better life, to a privileged life they can choose to live.
I’ve met many Argentineans in Europe and here, that are living on the fringes of society, hoping to one day really participate in “the dream”. At the same time I know many Europeans and Americans living happily in Argentina, who really love the country and wouldn’t live anywhere else. But that is because at some point in their lives they had the privilege to choose, and even now they still have the choice to go back to Europe if they get “tired” of the South American way of life.
I’m not blaming them. On the contrary I think that everybody should be able to chose what to do with their lives.
But we know that’s no possible.
For a few privileged ones, we need many unprivileged. We are riding on the backs of those who can’t choose.
Also the planet can’t sustain that privileged way of life for everybody. It’s already collapsing as it is, so imagine what would happen if every person in the world started consuming as the West does. Well, it’s already happening in some places like China and India.
So, what’s the answer?
Since I’m a bit of a pessimist, I don’t think that there is one and we are probably all doomed.
If I was a little more optimistic, I would say that if the West stopped living as it does, people started living a more modest life, and helped to improve the conditions of those less fortunate, maybe.., MAYBE we all could have a future.
It’s tragic that my Ethiopian children had to lose their biological families for a slice of privilege.