Neither Here Nor There: Perspectives on Identity by the Young Eritrean and Ethiopian Diaspora in America

September 1, 2009

“My Tsehai Experience” by Naomi Tesemma

Filed under: Uncategorized — Habesha Diaspora @ 5:37 pm
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This very insighful and moving story was shared with us by a new friend of ours, a trailblazer by the name of Naomi Tesemma. We are excited about her submission for this book project and are grateful that she shared this very personal and wonderful experience with us about the Tsehai Conferences, an annual conference whose mission is to provide an international forum that brings together academics, researchers, other professionals, civic and political leaders, artists and entrepreneurs to discuss, debate and deliberate on the State of Ethiopian affairs and the diaspora.

Thank you Naomi!

Please follow this link to read about Naomi’s Tsehai Experience written in July of 2007:

Please follow this link to learn about the Tsehai Conferences:



  1. I enjoyed this too!

    Comment by AfroQious! — September 14, 2009 @ 5:29 pm | Reply

    • Thank you!

      Comment by Naomi — September 18, 2009 @ 2:43 am | Reply

  2. Nice experience! With a sense of togetherness, all is possible!

    Comment by JazzUp — October 1, 2009 @ 12:10 am | Reply

  3. I think you hit the nail on the head when you say “sense of togetherness” – I feel like this is something we are moving away from as a community, though. Does anyone have ideas on how to reverse this trend?


    Comment by Habesha Diaspora — October 1, 2009 @ 12:35 pm | Reply

  4. I think, in order to reverse this trend, we need to dig deep and find out why we’ve lost this “sense of togetherness” or the usual Habesha fraternity in the first place. What are the causes that lead us to be hard on each other, while giving away, almost everything we have to strangers?

    Comment by JazzUp — October 2, 2009 @ 12:45 am | Reply

  5. I’m not sure – some say it’s the current government. I had another friend say we were pretty separatist even before the current government. Then when you consider the diaspora there is the split between those who come at an older age versus those who come at a young age (Indians see the same split between newly arrived immigrants vs. “abcd’s” – “american born confused Desies”). I think there is some fear of the other that comes into play. I think there is a sense of “we’ve on the right path” and they aren’t. I think there is also this sense of I gotta get my share of the pie because otherwise it will be finished. In other words if I share and make room for others then resources will run out more easily.

    Just some thoughts.


    Comment by Habesha Diaspora — October 7, 2009 @ 8:35 pm | Reply

  6. Sometimes we are blind, unable to know who’s who. Any reason?

    Comment by Lucas — October 25, 2009 @ 12:25 am | Reply

    • Welcome Lucas – hm…you’ve got me quiet with that one. When i think of blindness I think how it can go in so many different directions. what way do you see it playing out?

      Comment by Habesha Diaspora — October 26, 2009 @ 9:56 am | Reply

  7. Thanks! Blind, literally; for instance, you’ve someone in your mind who you would like to see every day with your heart. But, after a while your heart gets frozen, and your eyes won’t be capable of identifying who is who, because they are covered with a huge dark glass. So, whenever someone approaches you and shows you something, you always thing it’s that someone who could be trying to say something. All of this leads to blindness, to a paralyzed state of mind.

    Comment by Lucas — October 26, 2009 @ 9:54 pm | Reply

  8. I definitely agree with this inability to see the other anymore. How does our heart get frozen, though?

    Comment by Habesha Diaspora — October 27, 2009 @ 10:10 am | Reply

  9. For one reason, because, against all the odds, and contrary to our default cultural and psychological nature, we learn to use more intensively our brain than our heart for thinking. In an interaction, if one of the two individuals ceases to think with his/her heart for a longer period of time, it will automatically affects the heart of the other individual, it is contagious like yawning.

    Comment by Lucas — October 27, 2009 @ 9:08 pm | Reply

  10. Lol at “it is contagious like yawning.”
    However, i think i disagree with your point. I almost feel like we tend to think too much with our hearts than minds. How else can a new generation hold on to a grudge that originated in his/her parents/grandparents’ generation?

    Comment by Habesha Diaspora — October 28, 2009 @ 4:26 pm | Reply

  11. I meant, we, Ethiopians, Africans in general, are told to think more often with our minds than our hearts, so, many of us are tempted to leave our hearts for a Cardiologist. By the way, is it bad to think with the heart?

    Comment by Lucas — October 28, 2009 @ 8:52 pm | Reply

  12. I actually see as very emotional people and ones who make decisions based on what’s best for those we care about than for ourselves – but that in of itself could be more of a mind decision than heart decision. Is it bad to think with your heart? I don’t know, i think it depends on your goals. Heart decisions tend to be quick relief but do not tend to have the long term in mind. I think that’s the biggest drawback.

    I wonder what others think about heart vs. mind decision making. Which would you say habeshotch fall into?

    Comment by Habesha Diaspora — November 2, 2009 @ 10:20 am | Reply

  13. May be you’re right, but how can one know whether a “mind” or “heart” decision is taken?

    “Which would you say habeshotch fall into?” Well, I think “Habeshas”, as a mixed nation, are somewhere in the middle; others might think mainly using either their heart or brain, but Habeshas use the part of their body which is found between the mind and the heart: their shoulders. They look to the right or to the left to consult, the angel to the right, or the no-angel to the left. That’s why “Esksta” has become their national dance.

    Comment by Lucas — November 4, 2009 @ 9:57 pm | Reply

  14. Hahahaha – that was awesome Lucas! 🙂

    Comment by Habesha Diaspora — November 5, 2009 @ 8:51 am | Reply

  15. Hi Mahlet! How’ve you been? You had a very good exchange of words here.

    In case this might interest you…–the-theatrical-side-of-shopping

    Comment by Tariku — November 16, 2009 @ 9:18 pm | Reply

  16. Hi Tariku! Thanks for sharing!!

    Comment by Habesha Diaspora — November 17, 2009 @ 9:58 am | Reply

  17. Hi Mahlet! How’re you? Long time no post. Hope all is good!

    Comment by JazzUp — January 29, 2010 @ 12:16 am | Reply

  18. Hi there! All is well…business…Long time no post? Here or elsewhere? Here i try to do a weekly thing. You don’t want to put something together for us, do you?

    Comment by Habesha Diaspora — January 29, 2010 @ 8:14 am | Reply

  19. Hi Mahlet, Happy Women’s Day to you and Naomi! Take care!

    Comment by Tariku — March 9, 2010 @ 12:02 am | Reply

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