My friend Duni had been to Europe for two years to study and get his master’s degree in anthropology. And now he is back with new outlooks about the world. In the past, he had been optimistic person who used to see things from a positive angle. He used to argue with reasons as well and often bring to forth the bright side of something dark, the deep concept of something shallow, wider part of something narrow, etc. If you say you hate the ups and downs of life as a result of dirty politics, he would tell you that the ups and downs are the colorful flavors that sweeten your life by offering you a purpose and something to die for under the dirty politics that you oppose or support. He never liked complaining.
Ever since he came back from Europe, I thought he was a changed person. When we are arguing, his voice goes loud like he is on a protest. One of our mutual friends didn’t hesitate to tell me that he wondered that if Duni has been protesting, instead of studying anthropology over the past two years.
Anyways, one night Duni and I were walking while we started this conversation about climate change and socioeconomic developments of Africa. He would say “We came all this way trying to contribute on the efforts to combat climate change, global warming, and environment related issues, which most of them we Africans have nothing to do about. We have been interested in accepting what other solutions of the big players give us, but we are still here; crossing boarders illegally, being burdens to the hosting oceans and being drawn helplessly.
“We say our climate is good for us but they say we are the vulnerable ones and always have to remain receiving the aids. The external aid is good but who is it benefiting after all?”
I have to interrupt him saying “I am sorry Duni but I am not catching your idea”, and he would continue with that protesting tone. “I am trying to say that doing the right thing is always so fast but a second feels like a century. And even if it feels like it takes a century, doing the right thing must always be our priority.”
Again I have to interrupt him.“I still don’t get where you are going to! I mean, I believe in doing the right thing is a purpose of humanity but I don’t clearly understand what you are pointing out exactly. What is it you are talking about our climate and the aids? ”
Then he would say “Well, let me put it this way. We have been putting effort to plant billions of trees over the past decades. But the difference is not as we expected it to be. Most of our trees have not grown as many as we wanted. That is because there has never been a firm commitment and sense of ownership between the public and even the governmental actors who have been running the forestry sector. All that has been undergoing was just an act of temporary campaigns and asking donors for financial support, which we have but that vanishes somewhere in the air.
Now it is time that we stand together and make that firm commitment with a full sense of ownership for the sake of the future world of our own. There was an ancient cultural value of our own that everyone should remember and bring back for such type of purpose. It is called Geyed.
“Geyed is a culture that has been popular between the Amhara people particularly around Gondar. It is a sort of an insurance policy or guaranty while purchasing a mule in past times. In the old traditions, mules used to be considered the most precious domestic animals that people who own one or more would show their life class difference from the others. That means, owning mules used to be a high class value.
“Therefore, when one individual buys a mule, he would have terms of agreement with the seller that they call getting Geyed. Then, Getting Geyed is getting an insurance policy that would last for six months. Both the seller and the buyer would agree on specific terms about the six month conditions of the mule such as if the mule dies unexpectedly, the seller would compensate the buyer. If the mule dies from the buyer’s negligence, the seller will not be forced to make the compensations. Let us say the mule could be killed by a hyena or from hunger; and that could be nobody’s fault but the new owner.
The most important part of the term or the culture is that, the seller would send his own men and follow up secretly how the buyer is treating the mule until the end of the time of the term, six months, in order to avoid such inconveniences. The buyer knows that his seller would do such inspections and understands that the mule is his high class value that he would treat her properly and proves that it is in good hands. But if it dies by any incident beyond his power within those six months, terms and agreements will be executed.
“Now let me come back to my major point. We have planted more than 350 million trees seedlings within only one day over the past year. As a result, we have broken a global record. But the terms that the government and public have made to treat and protect them still need to be revised and the commitments must be strong as our cultural value that I have described earlier.
“We need to get Geyed for the tree seedlings we have planted and we do not need an external aid for it. Most of all (Moreover), we need to launch new mega projects of forestry and protect them through an institutional Geyed policy”.
And that is Duni’s lecture for the walk we had that day and finally I have understood that he hasn’t changed a bit except for his twisted or philosophical way of expression over the matter we discussed. And I know he wasn’t protesting; but only sharing what’s in his mind and trying to show the bright side of something which still remains in the dark side of climate change resolutions. He thinks African countries’ bargaining power on the climate issue is proving that we can grow our tree seedlings with a Geyed commitment.
The Ethiopian Herald Friday 17 January 2020
BY HENOK TIBEBU