31 Years later…

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Sunday, 14 October 2012…

If you are an Ethiopian living in Ethiopia and more specifically in Addis, then it was no ordinary Sunday.  Whether you spent the night on the streets or came early morning to take your place in the never ending queue, 2pm had become an awaited hour. The sun was as unfriendly as it could get but conversations with friends or even strangers who for that day just happened to be your best mates is making the burning sun and the long hours less painful.You may have been the last one in the line when you arrived but a couple of hours later you turn around and you’re shocked by how many people are behind you.  By mid-day, the only thing you can notice around the stadium area is the long zigzag line of people waiting and hoping to be one of the lucky 35,000 who will witness Ethiopia take on Sudan LIVE.

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From the look of things, you know that you’re not going to make it but this is not the day to give up (if you made it in, Congratulations!!!).  You’ll wait till the Federals run your tired ass out of that sefer. It’s do or die because if the Waliyas win and Ethiopia participates at AFCON 2013 after 31 years, the Stadium is where you have to be.

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As the time approaches people are getting really uneasy with the slow moving line. The feds arriving at the scene are probably just as many as those waiting in line. For some of us that’s not good news. Guilty or not, if you are amongst the restless crowd, then you’ll for sure get an understanding of just how seriously  ‘our faithful peacekeepers’ take their jobs.

The Waliyas arrive in their bus and everyone is screaming, whistling and waving the flag. Through the bus window you see some of the players smile as they hear fans shouting their names. What’s common is the surprised look on their faces. There were far too many people than anticipated.

So the Waliyas are in and after a while you hear the crowd in the stadium roaring. You know the boys are warming up in the pitch and the game is going to start anytime now. At this point people are scattering, they know they don’t stand a chance.  And neither do you. So, at this point one of these things happened. Either you went to a restaurant to have Brunch (Breakfast and lunch), run to the nearest café to take a leak (your bladder is about to burst, you have been holding it since 9 in the morning) or picked a spot in front of the sonic screen at Meskel Square. Whatever you did, not getting a ticket was a downer. Or so you thought.

There were as many people outside the stadium as were in. So Meskel Square turned out to be the ideal spot for the ‘unlucky’ and it didn’t disappoint. In my opinion, it was more vibrant than the crowd in the stadium.wide angle

Sunday 14 October 2012 was a day that brought us all together.  It was a proof that when it came to national matters, we’d all stand as one. If we were going to battle that day, we would have crushed our enemies.  People put their lives on hold so they can wave their flags high up, sing and support  their national team on what was about to be its biggest match EVER.

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There were two possible scenarios. We would either win or lose. But that didn’t seem to matter to the hundreds and thousands of Ethiopians who showed up with their beautifully colored faces, their flags and green and yellow jerseys.

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The Waliyas had played for less than two hours but Supporters were out of their homes and under gruesome circumstances some for as long as the night before. So you tell me who deserved the victory and who ought to be overjoyed.
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