London Debretsion Church and the Ethiopians

February 26, 2013

by Yilma Bekele

Watch the YouTube video before reading this article.

This is Debretsion Ethiopian Orthodox Church in London England. The picture seems to have been taken on a cold winter day. It is such a beautiful church. Doesn’t it look so serene and peaceful? I am sure it is that most of the time. But according to this video it was nothing but serene a few weeks back. The best way to express the twenty one minute video is it felt like was watching a scene where the mental patients have taken over the asylum.

I agree it is totally depressing to see all classic Ethiopian behavior on display in a controlled environment. The location being a church gives it that special quality of raising the bar to show how low we have sunk. Such a brawl in some obscure hall, how ugly it is, normally is not worth a mention. I guess we get so consumed with the righteousness of our cause that we toss out all civilized behavior out of the window regardless of the place or the time.

The video is not intended to be a work of art. It is not fiction that jumped out of some onesLondon Debretsion Church and the Ethiopians imagination. This play does not have a director, a producer or a lead actor. This video is real unrehearsed presentation of Ethiopians and their social interaction. The setting adds to the drama of the moment. We thank the individual who had the patience to record reality in that hallow ground.

If you care to dig deep deeper into the story you will find out the reason to the madness you are subjected to watch but that is another story all by itself.  Unfortunately having an excuse does not justify bad and shameful behavior. Wrong or right does matter but with this short presentation that we are left with all we can do is watch and marvel at the utter stupidity our situation at home and abroad.  I am interested in parsing out what fate has presented us- a way to watch ourselves from afar. It is priceless.

As I said before the setting is Debretsion Church in London, England and all those present are immigrant Ethiopians. All come to Debretsion by their own free will. We assume they are followers of Christ AKA Christians. For Christians a church is a most hallowed place. It is God’s home. Christians go to church to pray, praise the lord and cleanse their soul of evil thought and bad feelings. We expect love, understanding, forgiveness and chartable acts to flourish in such a location. Is that too much to ask?

It looks like Debretsion is not such place. The fathers and mothers the sons and daughters of Debretsion are not one happy family. Obviously they got a problem. The twenty one minute video is a general example of how the unhappy group went about cooling tempers and looking for solution. It speaks plenty on how we go about resolving differences in a civilized manner. I think it is safe to conclude this gathering to be a microcosm of the bigger Ethiopian society both at home and in the Diaspora.  We take pride in our dysfunctional behavior. Look at the combatants of Debretsion.  They make us all proud.

After watching twenty one minutes of the meeting do you think there is a lesson to be learnt?  I know it looks totally hopeless doesn’t it? How could all those adults act in such a lawless manner? How do they justify such shameless behavior in front of the young people? How do you think their kids are going to act in a social gathering when they have seen their parents foaming at the mouth inside a holy church? What kind of anger forces a sane human being to be so hating and threating with all sorts of nasty acts?

The last forty years have been a time of upheaval in our country. It has affected our culture in a profound manner. The last two dictators although lacking in the art of leadership were richly endowed with mental deficiency, mental illness and were given to delusion of grandeur. Our old culture has experienced disruption in a major way. We are the result of an aborted development.

The biography for Debretsion London church give nineteen seventy six as day one making it about thirty seven years in the making. It also says it is paid for. My first reaction is how fortunate they have such a united and generous community and are able to worship in such a beautiful church. I am sure some people worked hard thru the years to make it happen. Not all of us can put time, effort and money to achieve such goal. Because of the hard work of the few now they have a place of their own to enjoy and grow. They make their congregation and all of us in the Diaspora proud.

You would think the Board of governors and the clergy deserve a heartfelt thank you. You would think the members will strive to build on that success and plan bigger and better things to come. You would think even if there is a problem it will be dealt with in a careful manner so as not to destroy what has already been achieved.

That scenario works among civilized people. By civilized I don’t mean high rise buildings, airplanes, factories, highways and stuff. I mean people with culture and pride. People that don’t have to shout to be heard. People that know their place in history. People that have already lost so much by being displaced from their homeland that a little compassion and caring for each other in a strange land will be the norm.

We are unable to do that. Debretsion is just one example of the disfunctionality that has taken over our social interaction. Debretsion has been repeated in every Diaspora assembly no matter the cause we are trying to create a common ground. This sickness of demeaning each other, belittling our efforts, slandering those who work on our behalf and routinely dismissing any and all ideas has become something to be proud of.

Debretsion Church is an example of a confused and rudderless crowed easily whipped into frenzy by a few anti-social elements. Why do you think that is so? Yes I am asking you the reader why do you think a few can disturb the peace of the many? My simple answer is because we let them! We know something has gone wrong, we know things are not right but our first response is to sit quiet and watch. We seethe inside, our stomach turns, we are very much disgusted but we keep quiet. We don’t dare tell the rowdy ones they have gone too far, we are not familiar with the word NO!

I am also sure after the assembly and meeting we will find plenty that will show disgust and alarm with the noise makers. They will even become animated explaining how offended they felt. There is a saying in our country ‘jib kehede wusha chohe.’ That is the story of our existence.

I can see all this because our Church was a victim of the same ruffian type behavior. Those who felt change is necessary were too lazy to work within the system. They felt a short cut was acceptable since their position was such that ‘by any means necessary’ was an acceptable method. They packed the assembly, they registered new members and they brought their loud mouth to silence anybody that stood on their way. Winning was the only outcome acceptable to them and the price did not matter. Destroying the church to save the church seemed to be a good idea.

Out of the millions of options in front of us we seem to choose the one that hurt ourselves and those around us. We can leave an association if we don’t agree with the direction it is heading. We can relocate to a new neighborhood if we don’t like the location we are in. We can quit a job if it does not meet our monetary and social needs. One is free to change a church if the current one does not satisfy one’s spiritual need. We Ethiopians do not exit with grace. Most of us will wreak havoc on the association, burn our home, badmouth our employer and destroy our house of worship before we leave. We are not programed to accept a simple amicable divorce. In the end we all lose.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. How about a video in living color? This video is priceless. It says many things about us in the Diaspora. There is no reason to assume we are any different over there either. By over there I mean Áger Bet, Ethiopia. In fact we are a duplicate, warts and all.

It is definitely a surreal scene to watch some taking a video of this madness as if to preserve it for future reference while a few were sitting in silence seeming un affected by the chaos. I knew I was entering a new dimension when I saw the Metropolitan Police walking among the combatants. He was not asking for silence, not demanding attention or clearing the scene but quietly showing his presence but allowing the play to go forward.

So the question in front of us is- are we going to learn from this madness and change?  Are we going to be responsible for our actions not to be led by the crazy and idiots among us? Are we going to judge matters on their merit or base our stand on ethnicity, marriage and friendship? Are we going to sit and listen to each other as adults or pace around like a wounded animal? Are we going to work thru the system we ourselves set up or improvise as needed and change the rules to suit an individual? Are we going to give respect to those that work hard to create something and give them credit or demean their efforts and slander their work?

I will give you an example you can try. The next assembly of Ethiopians you meet weather in a coffee shop, Lekso bet or Eder mention any of the organizations working on our behalf like Ginbot 7, Andenet, ESFNA and see the reaction. The first thing that comes out is a barrage of insults, demeaning language and put down. Most probably the individual has never attempted to know, read and find out the goals and plans of the organization. Has never contributed monetary and other help to help them achieve. It does not stop them from being rude. They are always willing to vent out insult and defamation no matter what.  Our community needs help. God help Debretsion and God help our country. Now watch the video below and see Debretsion in all its splendor.

20 Responses to London Debretsion Church and the Ethiopians

  1. Meseret

    March 30, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    Have u seen the latest Vidio about the church elderly & mezemeran ??

    I wonder what your comment will be!!

  2. Meseret

    March 30, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    Melat , u said so many things about the mezemeran .
    U said “ewuket kematat new” mezemeran should kept their mouth shut ?
    Pls if you know it all to be in their shoos 1st pls come and teach them how to become a mezemeran 2nd u said u r not any one side yet u discrase “melekuse” 3rd u trying to call for unite. Pls read ur comment again your word contradict itself.
    Question for you? Have you seen the posted Vidio on YouTube abouth those u called full of knowledge people?? I wander what is your comment on that???

  3. Meseret Dubale

    March 15, 2013 at 10:00 am

    My remarks after learning the recent developments:

    The betrayal of Jesus, the reminiscent of Jude. Dear members of Debre Tsion Church, I urge you in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ to be united and give no concessions to these monks. You are the ones who bought this church. You are the ones who brought these monks so you would worship & revered God. Now you are dealing with Satan in disguise. Do away with these monks who are after fortunes. Their motives is clear absolute control of the church, therefore you should not let it slip away from you. BLESS YOU ALL, GOD IS WITH YOU AMEN!

  4. alem

    March 13, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    Not surprised.
    TPLF takes advantage of any and every weakness we have. Nothing spared. This is just one of their work, but, the fault is with us. Unless we consistently stand for the truth (ie not appeasing corrupt politicians or church officials “yilugnta” etc) then this will keep hapenning. Speak up people! Only the truth can set us free. Don’t look the other way when those among us screw up.

  5. melat

    March 13, 2013 at 10:39 am

    bemejemeriya dereja mezemranun hulunim betamim bayhon akachewalehu slebetekrstian yeteleke ewket yelachewim siketil and sew timirt saymar mezemer slefelege ayzemirim. Behuletegna dereja and sew yelebesew libs mne yahil kibirna tirgum endalew sayawk egziabherin magelgel ayichalewim siketil yefelege binadedu ena enesu lik endehonu bisemachewim enkuan yebetekristian agelgay tera sew mnem timirt yelelew enkuan endezih afun kefto aysadebim siketil Diyakon biniyam gne tikikilegna diyakon neh? dem sitetu aytehal ene betam des yemilew neger kemanachum wegen aydelehum gne betam yasaznal betam mnem tinishim slekomachubet bota ewketu yelelachu tininish sewoch nachu. Siketil simishin balawkewum sle tsebel trgum yematawki set eyetesadebish gurorosh siderik tsebel eyetetash endegena ke afish metfo kal…..enenja endet adrge endemaweraw yetekemetut sewoch nachew ahzab weys enante lemanegawim lelela emnet teketayochu mezebabecha aderegachun hulachum degmo 2 ena 3 ametachu new ezih ager kemetachu slezih ewket kelelachu zimtan yemesele neger yelem !!!!!!!! Andua ehte ahzab eskene chamachew gebtew tezabetubin blalech bado egrachewin weym chamachewin awlikew yegebutin yemisadebut mne yihon yemibalut? YESERACHUT FETSIMO MINIM EWKET KEMATAT YIMESLEGNAL. egna sinak kahn menekuse le betechristian siyageleglu ena siyastarku enji mezemran sisadebu kehula singoradedu ena des sisegnu anawkim.


  6. meron

    March 11, 2013 at 6:47 am

    if the camera man is an orthodox shame on you. i am sure that you dont post ur own problem in public.

  7. me

    March 10, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    “አገር ሲያረጅ ጃርት ያበቅላል”…

  8. mekatel

    March 9, 2013 at 9:06 am

    Ohh my God menaynet zemen wust new yalenew? enante TPLF and hodamoch ebakachihun temaru meles and aba Poulos endet endeteqesefu genzebun zerfew zerfew telewut new yemotut. abet mezemeran endezih beseytan yetemola menfes yezachihu new hizbun mezmur yemetasemut? shame on you yetesasaten qes mastekakel sigeba yeleba tebeka honachihu setesadebu asafariwoch.

  9. Ewnet

    March 8, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    Endih ayenet belegena inside the church this is shameful mezemerans betam tasaferalachu yehen newu church yesetemarchu Azwenet mesadebe keletamoch nacehu egna becha ademetune Talante yemeta Ayen Aweta bible betaweku noro yehen aynet kale ke andebetchu baleweta neber if you want to know what you said watch on you tube yetenagerachuten eyote enqunem ezye church mehede akomeku
    the Monk and few of his followers try to blame others, the truth is clearly shown on video that few of dikonat, memanan setoch and Fasil included shame on all of you.
    Ye Mariam bete lemaferese yemimeta yerasu yefersale edeme yestien hulunem lemayet
    May God bring peace to our church Amen

  10. dawit

    March 7, 2013 at 12:36 am

    The church is the house of God and it means Love prevails everything else. But those things we saw in the video has been disturbing and unprecedented. At least I never saw such things in the church.
    Something should be done using common sense. I support Meseret Dubale’s suggestion.

  11. asteway

    March 3, 2013 at 6:34 pm


    When I watched this peace of video, the first thing that I wanted was to find out the cause of the disturbance. Some have hinted it was the TPLF cadres in the church that caused the chaos.

    Your analysis did not answer my questions other than critiquing the Ethiopian society for the way Ethiopians resolve their differences.

    Still I want to know the root cause of the chaos. Some of the words exchanged in the background heard in the video, such as those “blood thirty …” suggest possible references to TPLF cadres.

    I wish you had addressed the root cause of the chaos rather than vaguely criticizing the Ethiopian society at large for its inability to solve issues properly. Iam sure everyone who had watched that video wanted to know what caused the chaos.

  12. Alex

    February 27, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    Yilma’s excellent analysis to our dysfunctional behavior applies to Enndelibu too

  13. hana

    February 27, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    a good observation and Amaregna bihon degmo bizu dedeb sew yiredaw neber…yasafral. ye setochu bilgina

  14. Meseret Dubale

    February 27, 2013 at 6:44 am

    The problem started with the priests and the monks. They are more in to controlling the church business than teaching the true gospel. The craving to amass fortunes is the driving force behind all this drama. They used the youth choirs as their vector of inciting the chaos similar to Dallas TX, Washington DC, Atlanta GA and Houston TX. Perhaps in many more cities in the USA. They acted like the marines in the front line .
    The London St. Mary Church needs to start cleaning its mess and have the elected board members be in charge of the administrative role. See a few advices below.

    A. Let members elect the board members. Board members must not get paid for their services and are volunteers.
    B. Draft and approve a supreme bylaw.
    C. Priests should get paid for their professional services, but not serve as board members at the same time.(conflict of interest)
    D. Mandatory term limits for the board members
    E. Purge out those few individuals who were shouting and cursing.
    F. Purge out the priest if he was behind this.
    May God bring peace to St. Mary Church and its members. Amen!!!!!

  15. SOLO

    February 27, 2013 at 6:32 am

    this reporting is great , others please learn from this kind of well balanced and organized articles , that way you get readers , i read this observation trice and no matter what the approach is fantastic , LEARN ETHIOPIANS HOW TO REPORT ,YILMA BEKELE THANK YOU AND BE CONTINUE YOUR ARTICLES LIKE THIS .FAIR APPROACH.

  16. joro

    February 27, 2013 at 12:12 am

    i don’t have no idea who is who! or what is the problem but i would start solving the problem first by firing all the “mezemerans”

  17. Meseret Dubale

    February 26, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    Based on what i saw a few mezemerans and a few imature ladies took controll of the situation. Shame !Shame! Shame!! It was utterly disgusting. I am apalled to see the clergies stood behind like chear leaders. lastly but not least i thank yilma for the piece of fantastic work.

  18. BEREDA

    February 26, 2013 at 1:06 pm


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