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Zecharias Zelalem @ZekuZelalem
, 18 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
I'm going on a bit of a rant to express my disdain with how some Ethiopians have reacted to the publishing of this article in the @TheEconomist, discussing the rise of the Pentecostalism creed of Christianity in #Ethiopia...(continued)...
economist.com/middle-east-an…
I have read the article several times now. My view is that such a topic cannot be properly addressed in such a short article, but it is an ok start. I don't find anything I'd particularly disagree with although I'd say there are a few subjective statements.
However, a section of Ethiopians have been up in arms, vilifying the Ethiopia based reporter who penned the piece, @TomGardner18, and accusing him of stoking division and religious tension. He has been slandered even here on Twitter where sane minds had tended to prevail.
There is absolutely nothing in this piece worthy of triggering some of the reactions we've seen in the last couple of days. The accusations levied against Tom are baseless and are nothing but a cover for other sentiments I will discuss.
An updated version of the article included this apology note. Many people took issue with Tom's stating that the "Orthodox establishment and its allies in government" oppressed Pentecostal Christians, colloquially referred to as "Pentes," in Ethiopia.
Let's not kid ourselves. There was absolutely no need for such an apology. Growing up as Orthodox Christians, we are taught to deem Protestants as plotting, treasonous people to be looked at with hate, suspicion. We are told they are hell bent on ruining our traditions.
Pentes were despised, talked down upon and subject to ridicule when I was a child. I take some comfort in knowing that it isn't at the same level today, but Pentephobia is a real phenomenon.
The reason why some people reacted by slamming Tom Gardner and accusing him of sowing division I am certain is due to the fact that he shone a light on something many Orthodox Christians would prefer remained under the rug, our track record of discrimination towards Pentes.
Months ago, Christian theologian Andrew Decort, who works & lives in Ethiopia posted a statement to Facebook urging the Orthodox Church body to look back at its history and attempt to right some very bad wrongs. It also triggered highly inflammatory responses from Ethiopians.
Similar to what Tom Gardner experienced, Andrew Decort was told to stop "dividing Ethiopians." He was referred to as a "colonial" presence, a ferenji out to attack Ethiopia's religious traditions. Defaming the Orthodox Church and all. I believe he was subjected to death threats.
Look, the Orthodox Church establishment, like any religious collective, has a lot it shouldn't be proud of. We are all humans right? Some Orthodox Christians call any attempt to address the church's failures as an assault on the church.
And when a foreigner happens to stumble upon the EOTC's shortcomings, you can bet he/she will be up for a public lynching. But the truth is, what Tom said is echoed by Ethiopian Pentes. What Andrew said? Ethiopians from traditionally oppressed backgrounds would endorse.
Similar to how some right wing traditionalists react when people bring up the dark history of Ethiopia's expansionist era, Tom & Andrew at differing times triggered zealots who do all they can to muzzle all talk of instinctive & outright discrimination practiced by the Orthodox.
Truth be told...the closest thing to an Ethiopia associated ferenji stoking religious division...is this man, someone celebrated as a great historian, Eduardo Byrono. He posted these discriminatory comments attacking Pentes but triggered no such reaction.
Eduardo Byrono, an Ethiopian of Cuban ancestry, is still looked at in a positive light and deemed a great historian amongst many despite collectively labeling Protestant Christian Pastors as cowards in what was nothing less than an insulting generalization of Ethiopians.
Had he posted something similar generalizing Orthodox Christians as cowards, he would be rhetorically tarred and feathered, subjected to threats & intimidation. We tolerate outright discrimination of Pentes, but we cannot stomach someone shedding light on our ugly past & present.
I've always identified as an Orthodox Christian faith & won't relinquish what I see is part of my identity. There's absolutely nothing wrong with it. However, any religion can be misused, abused for sinister intentions & sadly, many have tried to justify the abhorrent with it.
We can easily dismiss such topics as being invasive intrusions from malicious foreigners. Whether it's Andrew or Tom, no problem. But my friends, when these questions start coming (and they will) from your fellow nationals, what are you going to say? Where are you gonna hide?
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