Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Ethiopia's rumour mill

"Just another case of the Ethiopian rumour mill working overtime," was the response of Dr. Richard Pankhurst several years ago to printed report of his death in one of Ethiopia's private press, back then free of restrictions and in fierce competition for sales grabbing headlines. The power of Ethiopia's gossip and rumour mill is second to none. People will emotionally immerse themselves into any salacious story, to a point where one can be harassed for simply presenting real facts to the contrary...Truth be damned! A frustrated Mengistu Hailemariam used to say, "YeEthiopia hizb, wodeke sibal, tesebere belo yaweral." Although often to harmless ends, some rumours can spin out of control with disastrous results, as was the case few days ago with unrest at Addis Ababa University.

...What caused the protest and subsequent violence was what made the student rebellion unusual. Many of them were convinced that an organ of a third-year student, who died as a result of heart failure, was stolen and sold in the absence of consent from his family.

Harvesting Student Body (Addis Fortune) May 6, 2007