ADD in ADD (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)

ADD in ADD (Addis Ababa) Happy New Year from Addis Ababa! That’s right, Ethiopia rang in 2005 on September 11th. And you know what that means!? I am now seven (7) years younger!

“The Ethiopian calendar is based on the older Alexandrian calendar, which in turn derives from the Egyptian calendar. Like the Julian calendar it adds a leap day every four years without exception, and begins the year on September 11th or 12th. A seven- to eight-year gap between the Ethiopian and Gregorian calendars results from alternate calculations in determining the date of the Annunciation of Jesus.” Interesting and I’ll take it!

ADD in ADD (the airport code for Addis Ababa) can’t help but be a common syndrome for any visiting tourist; pulled in every direction, horns blasting as cars avoid livestock and each other, the strong smell of coffee wafting from doorways into the street and all the while absorbing the vibrant colours of traditional clothing, tin stores and colourful billboards selling you brands you’ve never heard of. Coffee Cola, wtf? And I’m thankful for these bursts of colour because many third world countries are dirty although to be fair it is not necessarily dirt from garbage but “dirt” from soil. Perhaps dusty is a better term to use? The rust coloured soil, which becomes claylike when wet, sticks to your shoes and I can only imagine that many must feel dirty at the end of the day when a layer of dirt and diesel pollution lies on the skin. Luckily, I spent most of my time in buildings or cars while in Addis.

View From Intercontinental, Addis Ababa

View From Intercontinental, Addis Ababa

Speaking of dust and dirt leads me to the history of humanity. Out of the fourteen great fossil findings in the world, twelve are from Ethiopia. The oldest hominid fossil ever found is over 4.4 million years old and Lucy, the first erect hominid, who many of you might have heard of, was unearthed in 1974. She is 3.4 million years old and a replica can be viewed at the National Museum in Addis Ababa. So, yes, we all come from Africa, in fact, we all come from Ethiopia. I’m told a dozen times a day here that I look Ethiopian and for a long time I have wanted to do one of those DNA profile kits. For $20 you swab the inside of your cheek and they send you the profile of your ethnic roots. I always assumed that Western African roots would show up but now I’m wondering if Ethiopia might. Although, when travelling, I’m told I’m Brazilian when in Brazil, Moroccan when in the South of France (home of many Moroccans) and sometimes even South Mediterranean. Yep, my profile could be very interesting. I’m going to do it as soon as I get it home and I’ll be sure to share the results with you.

Replica of Lucy, National Museum, Addis Ababa

Replica of Lucy, National Museum, Addis Ababa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The history of our humanity should alone inspire you to come to Ethiopia but don’t worry, I’ll give you many more reasons to come. You don’t have to be a history buff to appreciate the oldest history in the world and remember with non-stop, 11-hour service from Toronto on Ethiopian Airlines it makes it easy.

 

Ethiopia’s current population lies around 80,000,000 with 5,000,000 people living in Addis. Unlike many countries the majority of its population are farmers and live in rural areas, areas where it takes days to walk to the nearest town. I have found these people to be the most interesting to observe and I can’t wait to share them with you in my upcoming posts. As I spend time here I hear mention of the same two major historical figures over and over again, both uniquely interesting. One, related to Jesus Christ and the second, the supposed second coming of Christ. Let us begin with the second because he has ties to my Jamaican heritage. Haile Selaisse, was emperor and king of Ethiopia from May 2, 1930 until his death in 1976. Born in 1892, he was of the 225th lineage to King Solomon and his father was the cousin of King Menelik the 2nd (to be discussed later). Selaisse is on record in the Guinness Book of World Records as being the most visited king in history by other dignitaries and he was a spokesperson for Africa, receiving fifteen different honorary doctorate degrees. I did not have any idea how important a role Ethiopia and Selaisse played in Africa’s history. In terms of international diplomacy Ethiopia spoke/represented Africa until 1923. In 1923 – 1963 Selaisse created the League of Nations and saw that each member nation’s flag had one of the colours we know as “rasta’ colours included in their flag, after which Haile organized the African Union in 1963.

Entoto Church, Addis Ababa

Entoto Church, Addis Ababa

Meanwhile in Jamaica, Marcus Garvey prophesized that there would come an important king from eastern Africa who would do great things, changing the life of blacks forever and freeing them from slavery. And, indeed, Selaisse did.

In the spirit of Ethiopia, Selaisse sent many of Ethiopia’s Christian Orthodox archbishop/clergy to Jamaica. He was not a Rastafarian but he did, in 1968, invite Jamaicans to return to their homeland and set aide land for them. To this day, 150 kms to the south of Addis Ababa lies Shashamane, where most of Jamaican decent reside. Today less than 1% of the population is Rastafarian. I unfortunately will not have the opportunity to visit on this trip but hope to return someday and do so.

Any black person owes reverence to Haile Selaisse, such an important historical figure who held a major hand in the end of exporting African slaves to other parts of the world.

Entoto Store

Entoto Store

While in Addis Ababa I really enjoyed my visit to the Entoto Mountains, located just on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. Although it was a brief part of my day in Addis it was a favourite part. If you have ever seen video of Ethiopians running and/or training for the Olympics this is where they do it. Addis Ababa is the 3rd highest capital in the world and the thin air makes it ideal to train for marathons.

Entoto women with their donkeys, Addis Ababa

Entoto women with their donkeys, Addis Ababa

Entoto Mountains are one of seven mountain chains in Ethiopia with over 50,000 in habitants. The hills on the outskirts of Addis are overrun with eucalyptus trees and you’ll enjoy seeing the townspeople and their donkeys carrying firewood down to market. There are some great little towns on the way up the mountain and since I find culture to be one of the most fascinating things to visit you’ll certainly enjoy your time in Entoto. Oh yes, I should mention that we went up to visit a church and its museum filled with religious and royal relics. ☺

Entoto Waterjug Market, Addis Ababa

Entoto Waterjug Market, Addis Ababa

A huge shout out and thanks to Tariku of Yama Tours for your hospitality during my stay in Addis and Northern Ethiopia. Your knowledge, professionalism and the speed in which we organized things was incredible and I am so thankful that we got to work together. Anyone going to Ethiopia must contact Tariku for an unforgettable experience.

Entoto Girl, Addis Ababa

Entoto Girl, Addis Ababa

 

Life is short so live it!

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