Being African, I am aware of the different cultures in my country as well as other countries within the continent. This awareness hasn’t been so deep because at the back of my mind, I still assumed that although different, our way our life would be similar.
Namibia was the first African I visited and the experiences I had there sparked my interest to see what’s going on in other parts of the continent and to better educate myself.
This time around, I traveled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to celebrate the union of my friends and had the opportunity to get to know more about Ethiopia.
To be honest, I knew very little about the country or the people. I actually got to know more about Ethiopia when I came to Germany and these were the only three things I knew:
- Ethiopians not identifying as African. More like Ethiopia and Africa are two different continents
- Rastafarians love Ethiopia and call it the ‘Holy Land’
- The country on the African continent that was not colonized
by submerging ourselves in new cultures, environments, culinary traditions,… we enrich ourselves with new frameworks for comparison and give our world room to grow
…I got to learn some more about Ethiopia and put down 6 things that stood out to me:
1. Seven years behind the rest of the world
Ethiopia uses an ancient calendar from the rest of the world. When I visited, they had just entered the new year which is 2011.
There is also a different time system. For a long time, I thought the wall clock had broken down until I saw the same time on TV. This got me very confused and it was explained to me when I asked about the different times.
So basically, there are two 12-hour clocks for day and night (not the AM and PM we may be familiar with). The day time starts when the sun rises and this starts at 1:00 o’clock.
2. Injera for breakfast, lunch and supper
I was already introduced to their staple dish, Injera and I loved it. Injera is a sour flat bread with spongy texture eaten with different types of sauce. When they say staple dish, it really is what it is. It is eaten for breakfast, lunch and supper. :). They do not get tired of eating it – just like how I do not get tired of eating Kenkey.
… it is eaten with raw meat too. 100% raw.
3. National pride
Ethiopians show so much national pride which was very beautiful to watch. The folks sang and danced to songs telling a story about how great Ethiopia is and their whole journey.
Aside Nigerians, I’ve not yet come across a people so proud of their national culture and heritage. It was so beautiful and brought tears to my eyes whenever i saw them sing along and dance to powerful songs about Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian shoulder dance! It involves a lot of shoulder movement; bouncing the shoulders, rolling the shoulder blades and tilting the chest. All of these happening at once and of course paying attention to the rhythm.
Watch the video to get a ‘feel’ of it:
…dance from Southern Ethiopia from the Gurage people 🙂
The Ethiopians thought I pulled it off and many could not tell I was not Ethiopian.
5. Internet struggle
This struggle was real! I could never forget my experience with internet availability. With only one telecommunication network owned by the government, you are sure to have a lot go wrong here. It was a pain getting internet connection. Even when I bought a lot of data on my phone, I just could not use the internet.
Meskel is an annual religious holiday which commemorates the discovery of the True Cross by the Roman Empress Helena in the fourth century.
I was fortunate to be around at the time of the celebration and I sure had to participate because religious people travel far and wide just to experience this moment.
Although I only visited Addis, there was so much I learnt about the people of Ethiopia and it is on my bucket list again to explore the other regions!
Thanks for reading! 🙂
My other African visits you may find interesting: