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If I cannot, neither should you

There are a very small number of characters that I truly find to be truly repulsive, the main one happens to be “MqInT” pronounced “mi-q’e-gni-ne-ti”. I see it quite a lot in our country and in my conversations with many people, whether friends or family or random encounters in daily life, the understanding seems to be that it is a very Ethiopian thing. The first thing point that many make is that, had it been something that happens in other countries, there would be a translation for the word into those languages. My answer to that is that languages have a different level of precision when it comes to certain areas in which their people practice often. In Ethiopia, our favorite past time is socializing, in the same way that other countries excel at technology. Therefore, as we have included the word “computer” into Amharic and many other languages in the world, I think non-Amharic speakers should include the word “miqegnineti”, to describe a certain social behavior that their language is limited in describing.

Although many, if not all, of you are already familiar with the meaning of the word , let me break down some of its unique attributes so it can serve in the discussion. The first and obvious part of miqegninet is the ill intention or meanness. It is an action that is fully based on ill will. The second part relates to a certain level of jealousy which causes in one the desire to act so as to see others fail. This is a very important part of it. The desire is not to wish to get the good fortune or success of others, rather to ruin, destroy and take away any success they have so they can come back “down” to where the miqegna, i.e. the one exhibiting the behavior of miqegnineti, currently sits.   

The amount of time that one spends trying to fully understand what is at stake for the other person, how she will benefit from it and how they can affect that process negatively and actually turn all of these thoughts into action is a simultaneously encouraging and depressing. I find it encouraging because it lets me know that all of these people have of strong deductive and organizational skills, they have very strong self-motivation, are independent and action oriented. The depressing part is that all of this is entirely focused on destruction. There is no inkling of something good coming out of this, a successful “miqegnineti mission” is one that has destroyed any potential good opportunities for one or many people.

The most triggering part of this for me is the fact that the miqegna’s success is in no way related to something that he gets, rather he is thriving off of ruining something for others. His only “gain”, if we can call it that, is that he now feels satisfaction from being a barrier for someone. Other than that feeling, he has nothing to show for the amount of time he has spent plotting and taking action that carries any substantial outcome that directly or indirectly affects his life.

This practice is one that has been fully accepted and expected by our society. One is told to remain humble not for the sake of learning or practicing humility, but to feign away an possible “miqegnas” from working day and night to ruin his success. A perfect demonstration of this is the lyrics of a traditional song sang in Buhe, celebrated around the end of the year which says KbR bSNd_ KbR be_F¤ Mq¼U YRgF. This lyric loosely translates into, “may you prosper in grains and teff and may your miqegnas fall away” in the new year.

One could only imagine how much manpower is lost on miqegninet that would have otherwise played an important part in transforming our country’s economic or social activities.

In 2012, my wish for us all is to be less miqegna and more serategna. Here’s to a truly productive year!

Contributed by Leyou Tameru
Contributed by Leyou Tameru