Most Ethiopians, not all, tend to be humble. We never boast about our achievements, and we tend to try and keep our accomplishments to ourselves. But this is our cultures main pitfall. I feel that all Ethiopians and Ethiopian Americans know that we have a beautiful culture full of intellectual , creative and resilient people. However, our downfall is that we don’t embrace the positive aspects of our culture. Is this Humility ? Not really.
In my opinion, humility is when you acknowledge the good aspects of yourself or your culture and embrace it without necessarily boasting about it. A humble person is a modest person. Modesty means you don’t flaunt something around you acknowledge its existence and use it to help propel yourself forward.
Do Ethiopians do that? Do we as a people, use humility to our advantage or disadvantage? I think there could be several different answers to this, but here’s my Ethiopian American girl opinion….
I think that Ethiopians as a people have used the culture of humility to our disadvantage. We have remained modest, and in the meanwhile the country as a whole and the general population has remained stagnant, not moving forward and becoming prone to move backwards. The concept of humility has gone to the extreme for a large portion of the population (in general). The general population tends to talk poorly about those that have successfully used their talents to propel their careers forward. People launch attacks of conspiracy, criminal intent, and poor values on such persons. However, that person may actually be a very humble person. That person may not walk around boasting of his or her success, but that person’s success offends the nature of modesty expected in our culture. That is such a contradictory and backwards way of thinking, yet so many people do it.
Now I know it seems that I am attacking certain Ethiopian behavior or culture, however I’m just pointing out some of my observations. Rather than showing happiness for those that attain high levels of success, sometimes there is actually a bit of jealousy when things don’t necessarily go the way others expect. People forget the “human” aspect of humility.
I love that I have been taught to be humble. But sometimes I wonder, has it been to my own detriment? Here’s my advice: Never down play yourself, never allow others to look down on you, keep yourself first and be proud (but not boastful) of your achievements. Maintaining a balance between pride and modesty is key. Hopefully Ethiopian culture will evolve in such a way that those talented Ethiopians will not be viewed negatively, rather embraced positively for their humble attempt at making our homeland and the Diaspora as a whole a better place.