Yes, even garbage can kill you,If you stack it high enough.That’s the lesson sinking into many grieving Ethiopians, for whom the great garbage avalanche of 2505 came a few centuries early.
The great garbage avalanche of 2505 by deep
Life imitates art, just more wretchedly:
Desperate parents scrabbled through a towering pile of fetid garbage in the Ethiopian capital on Monday, screaming the names of missing children buried in a landslide after a mound of trash collapsed on an informal settlement killing at least 50.
Humans are a very adaptable species, but if “Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids,” what about “a towering pile of fetid garbage”?
Ethiopia was always poor, but as we’ll see, it wasn’t poor like this. What happened?
“My babies, my babies, my little daughter,” cried one man wandering through the site, tears streaming down his face. Neighbors said he had lost four children.
The landslide late on Saturday also destroyed 49 dwellings and left 28 people injured, city spokesman Amare Mekonen said.
Hundreds of people live on the 50-year-old Reppi dump, the city’s only landfill site, scavenging for food and items they can sell such as recyclable metal.
The tragedy highlights the desperate poverty that drags down many Ethiopian families despite the country’s rapid economic growth and government moves to position the East African nation as a regional power.
On Monday, rescuers used bulldozers to move piles of trash as hundreds of people gathered at the scene, weeping and praying. Some dug through the garbage with their hands.
A ripple of dread ran through the crowd as a body was unearthed and taken away, wrapped in a sheet. Earlier, residents angrily turned on journalists filming the scene, driving them away with stones.
Well, two points for the grieving Ethiopians. What red-blooded man has not had that reflex, on exposure to a scrum of journalists?
As we mentioned, Ethiopia wasn’t always this poor. In the 20th Century, Ethiopia defeated Mussolini’s Italy in a war for national survival. At the time, Ethiopia was a poor country, but the estate of a poor Ogaden goatherd was little different from that of his Calabrian counterpart.
Ethiopia’s king, Haile Selassie, who had led the resistance to Italy as a young man, was overthrown in 1973 and soon thereafter murdered by a charismatic young officer named Mengistu Haile Mariam. Mengistu promised (and, in a way, delivered) a new Ethiopia based on Soviet-style “Scientific Socialism,” and Pan-African brotherhood.
Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but this workers’ and peasants’ state was a great deal for Ethiopians, as long as they were among Mengistu’s insiders, and not something unclean, like actual workers or peasants. For them, the slide to garbage-dwelling scavengers had begun. By the time Mengistu went the way of the luckier subset of popinjays in uniforms replete with unearned baubles, and slipped away into comfortable exile, his Communists had year-zeroed every institution in Ethiopian society, leaving nothing with which to rebuild.
Imagine the Hobbsean state of nature, “the war of each against each,” with no institutions left in society but a corrupt military and a secret police with northern hemisphere tools and southern hemisphere morals.
Meselu Damte, the neighbor of the weeping man, said he lost his wife and four children.
“Their bodies were found in the morning,” she said. “There are still houses that are to be found and many of my neighbors are inside.”
And now you are about to see why journalists tend to lionize “reformers” like the unlamented Mengistu:
Ethiopia is one of Africa’s fastest growing economies, largely fueled by government-driven investment, but the drive to industrialize has also stoked discontent among those who feel left behind.
Yes, Ethiopia is still a kleptocracy, in which a ruling caste piles up the gold teeth of the masses in banks far removed from lawless Africa, but located in greedy hands of Geneva gnomes or Brussels utilitarians.
Mengistu? He was finally put on trial for some of his two million murders, but in absentia. The trial took 12 years, one of those African mockeries of Western traditions, but he was convicted and sentenced first to life and then to death. The sentence will never be executed: those Swiss bank accounts make his retirement, as a special guest of his fellow kleptocrat Robert Mugabe, more than comfortable.
In October, the government imposed a national state of emergency after more than 500 people were killed in protests in Oromiya region as anger over a development scheme for the capital sparked broader anti-government demonstrations.
“500 people killed in protests.” Somewhere, some Occupy Mom’s Basement campus radical is swooning with envy. After all, Ethiopia got to where it is today by following the same policies the Occupy bros would prescribe.