Monday is recover from jet lag day so myself, Tom Lutes, and Katina Bishop tag along with Tes and Demelash to the offices of the Ministry of Youth and Sports. For over two years Tes and Demelash have been doing the bureaucratic and diplomatic legwork to receive the stamp of registration for Aikido to be recognized by the state. To receive this certification we can then go to any one of the ten regions of the country and have official sanction which means possible financial support and access to sites for dojos to train in. Even though we have already established Dojos in these areas, to have the stamp of registration makes us official with the Ministry of Youth and Sport, and that has the potential of opening new possibilities. Demelash has been shepherding this through from Addis Ababa and this visit is held as a routine event, but perhaps my presence, as a ranking Aikidoka, might had some fuel to the process.
The staff in the Ministry greet Tes and Demelash as old friends as we’re guided into the Minister’s crowded offices on the third floor. Hadush, the advisor to the Minister appears out of an inner door and graciously sits us and excitedly explains all the research he’s been doing on Aikido on YouTube, Wikipedia, the Internet, and other places that I don’t quite understand. He asks us to wait a moment and ducks back into the inner office and then returns almost immediately holding a sheaf of papers telling Tes and Demelash with great animation that thanks to him the Minister has vetted the process and he is now drawing up the papers that will provide the stamp of legitimacy. He repeats the story countless times as he stands over the secretary as she types up the papers, continues the same story in the Minister’s office, and with us in his office. We’re a bit suspicious that this may only be another story with no real action and at the same time containing ourselves from doing the happy dance and shouting out “We’ve done it!” As the papers are prepared Hadush says he’s very impressed with Aikido and will join the Dojo in Addis Ababa. Good sign.
The secretary types, Hadush moves from office to office, and three men confer at another desk. We wait. The secretary types, Hadush walks around with papers patting the air in front of us telling us it will be soon. We wait some more. We hope, but the temperature is dropping. He comes out of the inner room excitedly pointing to a formal stamp on the papers. “Look” he shouts, “the stamp! Look right here, the stamp.” Pointing his finger at a stamp with the Minister’s initials through it. “The stamp!” he repeats victoriously. Yes the stamp. We are smiling widely at each other. We’re thanking him and hugging him and sharing high fives and fist bumps.
We’re on the street doing the happy dance to the curiosity of by standers. “The stamp. We have the stamp!” we laugh. May the stamp do good in the world.
Take it easy but take it!