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Ethiopia vs South Africa the game, “the hunger” and Twitter

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

This past Sunday there was a bit of a twitter explosion referring to the Ethiopian Walia Soccer team as being “hungry” or “starving” for their big win.  I want to share some of the tweets with you but first let me provide some context.

There is no doubt that the Ethiopian team has been looking sharp lately, they ended their 31 year long African Cup of Nations absence earlier this year, played well and are now gunning for a spot at the 2014 World Cup.  Perhaps it’s the long years being known for solo marathon runners or maybe it is the economic boom happening across Ethiopia, but expendable income is definitely being spent on supporting the national team.  Fans flew down to South Africa for the African Cup of Nations, they painted their faces, brought signs, brought their voices and hopes and filled the streets and stadiums while their team played.  They say Ethiopia left a lasting impression both on and off the pitch.

Well this past Sunday was no different.  South Africa showed up to battle Ethiopia in Addis Ababa, both wanting to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.  The Walia fans also showed up, some waited in 15 hour long lines and when the game started they were raucous and electric.  The commentators described the atmosphere as nothing short of intimidating.

Feeling the heat, a bevy of jokes and comments were posted on Twitter.  Here is just a sampling of a few:

 

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Famines in Ethiopia have been horrific.  They are also just one part of a dynamic region’s history.  These tweets are unthinking, unreasonable and atrocious.

Unfortunately, they are also not that uncommon.  Whatever today’s date is, if you search “Ethiopia” on Twitter you won’t have to look too far to find some wise crack about “being hungry like an Ethiopian” or having about “as much food at home as all of Ethiopia does”.  Here are just a few from the last week: