ETHIOPIA ~ ኢትዮጵያ

Ethiopia is considered one of the oldest civilizations in the world, having its own ancient Amharic alphabet, language, and calendar. Clocks even track time diferently. Ethiopia is distinguished historically in that it maintained its independence during centuries of colonization by Western powers. Many aspects of daily life are rituals: serving coffee, cutting chicken, greeting people, and other indigenous customs.

The country has been written about in Homer’s Odyssey.


map of ethiopia

Entirely landlocked, Ethiopia comprises much of the Horn of Africa. The country contains most of the highest elevations in Africa, and the region has been called “the roof of Africa”. Furthermore, the country is bisected by the geological wonder Great Rift Valley. The Blue Nile begins at Lake Tana. Ethiopia’s allure does not end with its geological marvels. To experience more environments we set out from the capital city, Addis Ababa, on a long trek north.

Addis Ababa has the highest elevation of any African capital city.

Despite the acclaimed beauty of Addis Ababa, we observed firsthand the enormous population growth sizzling with overbuilding, street food, a contemporary light rail system, and roaring traffic jams. The synergistic frenzy of competing sales platforms enforces the informal economy which is very much an attraction in Addis. Ethiopia has a long history of ethnic harmony.

Ethiopia has the most airports in Africa.

It was perplexingly alien but exquisitely intriguing to squat and wait anxiously for the “council” to come to a spontaneous consensus. Culture in action. Modern and traditional could not be more divergent or eons apart.

Haile Selassie was the 225th and last Emperor.

Ethiopian food has become a global favorite. Aromatic spices are the essence of the distinctive cuisine while the national staple of injera, a sourdough flatbread, used as a plate and utensil, is part of almost every meal. Mercato is the largest open-air market in Africa. Everything imaginable is for sale.

Public education is free. Primary schools are generally accessible and there is a high rate of enrollment. However, there is a shortage of secondary schools, so overcrowding is common. We attended the aftermath of graduation from Addis Ababa University. Block after block was festooned with caps and gowns and cheering families flooding the streets in celebration.

The first Black African gold medalist was Abebe Bikila who won the Olympic marathon in 1960 after running barefoot.

The growing Chinese presence has inspired lively debate. Their involvement in every aspect of commerce, construction, infrastructure, and agriculture is obvious. Whatever their ulterior motive, China recognizes the significance and the potential of Africa to the world.

Ethiopia is perceived to be the diplomatic capital of the African continent.

This civilization’s rich heritage continues to leave an indelible imprint. Ethiopia has more recently been experiencing extended turmoil. Only the future will tell the tale.

queen of sheba
rampant mosiac of cultures
this civilization borrows history from nowhere
the original bible referenced it in its appendix
translated from its own sacred strange alphabet
& unique calendar
on its mutilated hills they invented coee
now new africa by custom
but hampered by ancient traditions too
~ Lou Jones

dateline: addis ababa ethiopia


Ethiopia Gallery

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