Journal des Alternatives


Ethiopia by the way of South Africa

Sara Brunelle, 3 juillet 2008

Sara Brunelle,
intern in Johannesburg, South Africa

Photo : Daniel Lanteigne

The following text is an excerpt from a much longer one written by the intern :

[…] I have been tracking down Ethiopians in my neighborhood ever since I returned [to Johannesburg]. Living in the center of Pan African Yeoville, this task isn’t very difficult, I found quite a few at the local Rasta club, and though everyone there is wearing red-green-yellow, Ethiopians distinctively dance only in the shoulders. They get a real laugh when I show up from nowhere saying « hello, how are you », and « what is your name » in Amaharic. But because of this, I now have the fortunate opportunity of hanging out in traditional Ethiopian coffee houses right here in my own neighborhood ! Which is fantastic because Ethiopian coffee is so delicious.

Ethiopians are warm, welcoming and very proud people. The names, dates, and stories of their long history as Africa’s only non-colonized country are inscribed in their heads. Ethiopians will happily review the intricacies of their history with you any time, and if they pull out the bible it is only to show you just how often Ethiopia is mentioned.

Ethiopians also tend to have very impressive names. I enjoyed a fantastic conversation about the Christian-Muslim wars with « Scientist » and « Super Genius » over some very terrific coffee.

Robin and I passed an amazing holiday.... From Addis Ababa, the capital city, we traveled north to Bahir Dar, a University town on Africa’s second largest lake, Lake Tana (the source of the Nile), and from there drove the only road, just recently built, still further north to Gonder. Cars passing is still fresh and exciting to the locals and they usually drop their things to wave. From there we took a plane north to the mountains of Lalibela, an astonishing place, to tour 11th century churches carved of stone. In two and a half short weeks Robin and I trekked 40k, rode mules up a mountain, learned traditional dance, and saw a lot of churches. […].