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ODE TO THE HUNGRY STOMACH

Ghelawdewos Araia

That Ethiopian belly once again starving

My people once again dying

The Ethiopian nation altogether crying

That Ethiopian mother for her children mourning

 

Though she herself fails to appease the dust

Struggles in vain to survive that wonít for sure last

She may even wish to make the transition fast

For she would become hopeless, helpless without trust

 

Oh! Mother Ethiopia who gave birth to the hero in agriculture

The repository of complex rich culture

The protagonist in early horticulture

What an irony to die of man-made drought and not of nature

 

The Ethiopian peasant, reservoir of human faculty

He who incorporated divine power of fecundity

Legend in handicraft, pottery-making infinity

Now, your soul is compromised by famine lack of alacrity

 

You master of granary, now starve and go hungry!

Witnessing the demise of your cattle, defying veterinary

What a cruel testimony and a bizarre twist of history

That enrages me, makes me mad and angry

 

You master of the soil, terrace, and landscape

You master of the cattle on all land and cape

Sadly, you are unable to skip death and escape

What an agonizing ordeal that I wish I could fake

 

You master of the honeybees that furnish bactericide

I canít believe you are let down to genocide

Those who brought you death donít contemplate suicide

They may want to superimpose on you the culture of homicide

 

But you are indefatigable master of self-sacrifice

You donít even bring your cattle for sacrifice

I bow in your honor once, twice, and thrice

 

 

 

You master of gallantry, Ethiopiaís pride

You probably donít know the culprit that hide

All the food that you produce including skin and hide

You are then devastated by the famine tide

 

It is simply unfathomable, unconscionable

To see my Ethiopian hero seek any food edible

This to me is beyond comprehension, incredible

A shattering encounter, an ordeal so terrible

 

You master of the waters, architect of shallow well

Now with a hungry stomach you have faced a dreadful spell

The world is focused on you; people have a story to tell

While you countenance that earthly hell

 

An earthly hell in the Ethiopian pastureland

Now an arid zone degraded soil wasteland

Could there be some mystery too grand?

A chemical that undermines fertile arable land

 

Chemical fertilizer can cause soil acidity

As opposed to manure dung organic tranquility

And our hero knows it from his daily activity

Although cynics emphasized on his stupidity

 

Our hero knows why he is starving

Despite the disillusioned public but caring

They think that nature impeded him from grain buying

And they wrongly assume that he was destined to dying

 

Early on the Ethiopian land degraded by ecological disaster

Coupled by the introduction of chemical fertilizer

Globalization that makes the Hero a panhandler

Lack of comprehensive development it engender

 

Oh! My Ethiopian hero in agriculture, animal husbandry

I am sorry to see your pasture and farm dry

The whole of Ethiopia grief and cry

I will extend my hand; I wonít let you fry

 

I will, we will come to your aid

Before the time elapses, the Sun fade

We will avenge you before other culprits invade

We will expedite famine relief and development upgrade

 

Hang on my peasant hero, stay alive

With your vision and our commitment, you will survive

With development and appropriate technology, you will revive

And you will harness nature, the time will arrive.

Copyright © IDEA, Inc. 2002/2008. This poem was first published on various Ethiopian websites on December 2002. Dr. Ghelawdewos Araia can be contacted for educational and constructive feedback via dr.garaia@africanidea.org