‘Them’ and ‘Us!’

Say you need ten thousand birr promptly, and unless you get it the coming months wouldn’t be nice to you. You are in ER mode! Now in this age of economic straightjackets it is mostly impossible if not difficult to find a single person who can offer you that much money in loan or throw it your way as Good Samaritan! (Where, oh where have all the Good Samaritans who like helping others without placing any discriminatory preconditions as birthplace, networks and the like? We’re very much in need of them. The bottom line is whatever the amount of one’s generosity is if there are any discriminatory conditions attached that is not about being a Good Samaritan but about getting oneself in front of the TV cameras!)

So in search of badly needed ten thousand birr and with no one near or far you could ask what do you do? You go back to the basics of helping each other where no one loses a single cent and everyone is a winner. You convince friends and people you are acquainted with to establish an Equb. I can tell you thousands and thousands have benefited from Equbs and built residential units, launched businesses and rode through the rough and inhospitable grounds of life.

You manage to bring ten members together with each contributing five hundred a month the total coming to ten thousand birr. Every month one member would collect the ten thousand birr and in twenty months it would be over. Of course the first payment is given to you since you are in ER situation and the whole idea of establishing the group in the first place helping you.

Equb is one of those traditional groupings which are established irrespective of prejudiced practices that seem to have become the norm of humanity across the globe. Whatever profession you are involved in; wherever your birthplace might be; whatever your political views are, Equb is the one place where we see each other eye-to-eye and hold no grudge at all against one another. The ‘stumbling blocks’ simply don’t matter. There is supposed to be no “Them & Us” stuff within Equbs. Sadly these days these things that shouldn’t have featured within Equbs seem to have burrowed their way deep down into some such groupings and bring down even those taken as very strong.

This Equb had the making of one which anyone would have dreamt of joining. Taking into account the thickness of one’s wallet. The total amount to be paid is said to be big money, about two hundred and fifty thousand. It is said when the members congregate every month there was this festive mood. The present Equb, so it’s said was their third round having had two the previous years. Everything was going nice and well when trouble comes in the most unexpected way.

About four, five members who had always been part of the group and who also were among the most active participants suddenly begin making strange noises. Now nothing out of the ordinary or nothing that would compromise the smiles of members had happened. It was said since this unofficial group of four or five hadn’t come out with what actually was bugging them the other members were in the dark.

And all the monthly festive mood all but deemed. Decision was made to comfort them in a social meeting called out of the usual schedule. That was done. But it was a failure from the start as that no solution came of the process. The splinter group just said they don’t want to continue as members some members were expelled. It was a complete shock to all.

By the way just to shade some light on the members of the Equb all were well educated and running very successful businesses. They were so close together that apart from being members of the same Equb they mingled in their social life with the relationships between their families having grown stronger over the years.

So the demand for certain members to be expelled was such a heavy blow to all that has been built over the years began cracking at the seams. They were asked to name the members whom they wanted expelled and the reasons behind their demands. But they refused to do so. The Equb is still in one piece; But those close enough saying is a matter of time before it comes crashing down.

They say the latest development is that reality has hit home in a very nasty way. A couple of members decided to make some inquiries by themselves and the result was not only hard to believe but also disheartening. Though the small group refused to say who and why the others based on the info they got from elsewhere put two plus and the result was a virtual bombshell.

They found out it was all about identity politics and they wanted two members thrown out! The story gets even weirder when the two supposedly ‘targeted’ individuals had some reckoning and decided that it was all about them! I tell you we are in the nastiest of times on this planet. They have offered to leave and the others have refused.

The talk now is that attempts are being made even by some who aren’t members but are close to most of the actual members to talk some sense into the splinter group at least until the time for the Equb wraps up. Look, these days most things which seem to have come out of the blue don’t come out of the blue! So the fear that there might be some dark forces who are managing the remote control behind the curtains is dragging the efforts. But it seems the remaining members and also the nonmembers have vowed to see their efforts through until things once again return to normal. May god help them in doing so.

Sadly, the “Them & Us’ mentality with a horribly backward state of mind creates problems in more ways than one! And it is the last thing this country which is facing multiple problems and challenges needs. Craving for the times when the “Them & Us” mentality makes way “We & We” mentality.

The Ethiopian Herald June 4/2023

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