Ethiopians face millennium fatigue

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images Last week, Passport noted that Ethiopians will be partying into the night on September 11 this year, welcoming in their new millennium. But citizens there are already facing “millennium fatigue,” the BBC reports, as the government has co-opted this event to launch a major public relations campaign and attract tourists: Every night ...

599484_070911_ethiopia_05.jpg
599484_070911_ethiopia_05.jpg

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

Last week, Passport noted that Ethiopians will be partying into the night on September 11 this year, welcoming in their new millennium. But citizens there are already facing "millennium fatigue," the BBC reports, as the government has co-opted this event to launch a major public relations campaign and attract tourists:

Every night after the main television news bulletin, viewers have been subjected to a dose of Millennium news and relentless exhortations to plant trees, clean their environment and colourfully celebrate the new Millennium.

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

Last week, Passport noted that Ethiopians will be partying into the night on September 11 this year, welcoming in their new millennium. But citizens there are already facing “millennium fatigue,” the BBC reports, as the government has co-opted this event to launch a major public relations campaign and attract tourists:

Every night after the main television news bulletin, viewers have been subjected to a dose of Millennium news and relentless exhortations to plant trees, clean their environment and colourfully celebrate the new Millennium.

It has begun to feel as if celebrating is not a pleasure but an obligation.

To make matters worse, the independent, non-government events that were planned—including reggae performances from the Caribbean, a “Taste of Ethiopia” exhibition, and a restaurateur’s project to feed 2,000 hungry children—have been canceled due to lack of government support or outright denial of permission. And the Millennium Concert, which will feature Ethiopian stars as well as performances by Beyoncé and the Black Eyed Peas, will cost around $150 a ticket. At around 14 percent of the average Ethiopian’s annual income of $1,094, the concert will be far out of reach for most. Perhaps the government’s efforts and investments to attract tourists and promote Ethiopian products will pay off in the end, boosting incomes in the country. Let’s just hope that it happens well before the next millennium.

Prerna Mankad is a researcher at Foreign Policy.

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