A Normal Friday - with a Buried Relative

Rain-1It’s raining, but it shouldn’t be. For a couple of weeks now cloud and thunderstorms have been more common that the expected clear blue skies. Locals tell us it’s odd – the month of “Ginbot” (9th in the Ethiopian calendar) should be hot and sunny before the rainy season sets in, but this year the weather’s not behaving. While England basks in warm sunshine, we need umbrellas and coats. It’s all wrong – this is Africa after all.

Patience

All plaited and bunched upI remember clearly the look on my young daughters’ faces when I approached them with the comb to remove tangles and tidy their hair. Ethiopian hair is often a mass of very soft curls which when left untended sticks out at all angles in a very endearing way.

SIM City

SIM card cutting funWhen I heard that the Labour Party is pledging to renationalise the railways in the UK because they are “expensive and inefficient”, I had to supress an urge to invite Mr Corbyn to pop down here to Addis for a week and find out what living under nationalised industries is like.

Six Weeks To Go

It all happens on 18th June...Six weeks to go until the end of term, one can feel the excitement rising as a six-week visit to the UK is planned and days are beginning to be earmarked for events. The anticipation of seeing children and grandchildren in person is so very special.

Being an Ethnic Minority

A random picture of a boy in a market“Give me all your money!” demanded the scruffy young boy, holding out his hand whilst flapping it in the way beggars here always do. This request came my way while we were out and about in the countryside several months ago – a common demand, although since being here I’ve not previously been asked quite so directly. He was clearly very poor, but I had to explain to him that I had no money on me (which I hadn’t) and he slunk off disconsolately. Usually the demand is just “Money! Money!”, and our white faces make us targets - often when in more remote areas; less so in Addis where being white is not quite so unusual.

Salon Experiences

My new hairdresser's salon“I’ll turn left here then,” Phil said as he manoeuvred the car down a narrow street. I consulted my instructions again. “There should be a hill, but this is flat,” I observed despondently. With no addresses in Addis, descriptions and landmarks are used to locate any specific point of interest that you want to visit. On this occasion it was a hairdresser that had been recommended to me, and I was keen to try.

Boating in Botswana

The Chobe River - Botswana on the left, Namibia on the right“This is the complete opposite of Addis” observed Chris, as the Chobe river gurgled gently past the sides of our electrically powered boat. The young woman who was our guide for the next two days, endearingly named Slodge (I once accidentally called her “Splodge”), was skilfully navigating us towards a distant herd of elephants walking along the river bank.

Suffering - a Tale of Two People

Dr MesghinaDr Mesghina

He had a habit of doing this. Time management and planning ahead have different meanings in Ethiopia, and Dr Mesghina’s skills were finely honed. He jumped up at the end of one of our meetings last October, headed to the front and announced that our group would be having a weekend retreat before Christmas and that “Dr Phil will be doing the talks”. This was the first anyone – the group, the leadership and especially Dr Phil – had heard of this plan.

History, Haile and Hippos

Ethiopians defeating the Italians, 2/3/1896Georg Hegel, a German philosopher who died in 1831, 65 years before the events that shaped last week for us, once said “We learn from History that people learn nothing from History.” [i] I don’t think Italian governments and armed forces read much Hegel. In 1936 the Italians occupied Ethiopia, but were defeated and evicted from the country in 1941 by Ethiopian forces assisted by several other countries including the British, under General Orde Wingate.

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