I was in the United States for an exhibition when I got the chance to see the remains of Lucy-one of the oldest human relics known to man. Her stunning feature sets my heart hungry to know more about her origins in the Horn of Africa, where it is believed where mankind takes its roots.
I googled Ethiopia to see what the people look like in the present day. The diversity of the ethnic groups convinced me, I should visit this place. Google also showed me lots of images that showcase the usually imagery that are associated with the area: famine, hungry kids etc. And their women? Hmmmnn! They dress like you can take them nowhere. Some rioting colour combos, I thought!
I narrated the joke to my Ethiopian friend, who for one reason or the other refused to see the funny side of it. ‘What you are seeing is not the real thing or the whole story. Google images are not enough to tell you about who we are.’ So, I have heard him and decided I must visit Ethiopia to see things for myself.
Getting a flight to Ethiopia was not difficult. Its Capital City Addis Ababa is the Capital of the African Union, mainly, because Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that has never been colonized.
I had my choices of airlines, ranging from British Airways to KLM. Ethiopian Airlines also runs from most countries to Addis Ababa. Even though Ethiopian Airlines is Africa’s best, being a third world airline, I chose KLM as…… you know………in as much as I love to see a plane takes off……..I do love to witness it lands. Tough luck though, I could not get a flight on KLM, so I had to make do with Ethiopian Airlines.
Every second on Ethiopian Airlines was worth it. The air hostesses can only be described in Spanish… “cintura estrecha”. They are tall with the right shapes, curves, hair and faces to match. For the first time on a plane, I stayed wide awake throughout the journey.
I have some Ethiopian friends, so I have heard them converse with each other in Amharic. I noticed that the sound chu is a common denominator in most words. Denanachu, Endemnachu, selamnachu……. thischu and thatchu. On arrival I was not sure if I should say to the immigration officer ‘I’m Jovinachu’ in case chu is mandatory.
Hotel business in Addis Ababa is booming. Hotels range from the cheap (Ras Amba) to the posh and expensive, Sheraton Hotel. I did not see any of those funny dressed ladies shown on TV. I guess my friend was right. I do remember some guy and a few kids asking me for money but come on, there are beggars everywhere.
One striking feature of Addis Ababa is the way their culture has been incorporated into their night clubs and restaurants, a feature lacking in other parts of Africa that infuse solely western effects. Night clubs range from the traditional ones like Yod Abyssinia to the modern ones like Freezone, which are my favourite. I must add here. It does not really matter where you eat in Addis Ababa. Unlike other countries where you go to McDonalds for their big mac, or Starbucks for their coffee and pastries, Ethiopians eat only one thing. Injera- a sour tasting flat bread. Injera is eaten and cherished by most Ethiopians.
Don’t you have anything else to eat? Ethiopians though extremely very friendly, go on the offensive whenever you question ask the question. Really being fair, there are other Ethiopian dishes. You have the following:
Tibs and injera
dor wot and injera
sega wot and injera
Kitfo and injera
kuanta firfir and injera
aybe and injera
beyanatu and injera
There is also the traditional coffee drinking ceremony after each meal. This is taken with the same seriousness the English go into Old Trafford to watch a Manu Match. It might stun you that coffee takes its roots from Ethiopia.The word coffee is derived from ‘Kafa’, the place where coffee originated from. Drinking buna was like discovering the roots of coffee. You might think you’ve had it all with Starbucks coffee or Italian espresso but being upfront with you, if you’ve not tasted Ethiopian coffee, you do not know coffee.
The roads of Addis Ababa are neat, even though the new ones are wearing out faster than the older ones. I was told by a grunting local that the roads are all contracted to the Chinese, who construct substandard loads. Hence they are all cracking. It’s sad African governments do not make the best of their own professionals. They have more respect for foreign trained professionals.
The crime rate in Ethiopia is as high as Bush’s IQ, next to nothing. It is very rare to hear of child kidnapping as you hear in the North America. The people appear content. Ethiopian ladies, though not as expensive and flashy as their West African Counterparts, are very beautiful. The men are facially good looking but lack the desired masculinity black men are attributed for. I wouldn’t want to see an Ethiopia man in a North American jail. I was surprised that a few Ethiopians do not identify themselves as blacks. I found this rather odd as some are as dark as myself. I think this misconception stemmed from Queen Sheba’s legendary relationship with King Solomon.
Majority of Ethiopians are Orthodox Christians, even if a large chunk of the population is Muslim. Here is one country I see Christians and Muslims living together in peace.
I visited the National Museum of Ethiopia which houses remarkable artistic treasures as well as several precious archaeological wonders including fossilized remains of early humans like the famous Lucy.
I spent hours watching the Ethiopian lion in the Addis Ababa zoo. Though smaller than his other African counterparts, he ranks as the most beautiful due to his characteristic black mane.
I spent quality days in Addis Ababa. Her beauty reigns supreme. For now she’s been penciled as the go to place for my honeymoon.
By the 7th day, I had reached my ITL (Injera Tolerance Level). Don’t get me wrong Injera is the 9th wonder of the world, Jay Z’s marriage with Boyonce being the 8th. I just could not stand eating the same food everyday. Well coming to think of it, it’s a month after and I have to confess, I miss Injera already.