Ethiopia’s age-old culture

The air was heavy with clouds when the Ethiopian Airlines plane landed at Bole International Airport. However, any dull moments were immediately banished the moment I stepped in the clean, ultra modern, glass clad terminal building that could easily be mistaken for a Five-star hotel by a first time visitor.

Being Kenyan and thus in no need of a visitor’s visa, I was plucked out of a long queue of visa applicants and cleared in a matter of minutes, much to the consternation of those waiting. Courteous airport staff helped with luggage without expecting anything in return.

The famed hospitality of Ethiopians was already on display here. As I struggled to exhibit mutual feelings, my conversation here began and ended with the only Amharic word I had mastered from Selamta, the in-flight magazine — amesege’nallo’, thank you. Nevertheless, I would need more than this single phrase to navigate my way around Addis Ababa, or ‘new flower’ in the local dialect.

Ethiopia is a country that has in the past been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Enduring images of hunger stricken citizens were beamed across the globe courtesy of the late renowned Kenyan photographer Mohamed Amin. If it is not hunger, then it is the never-ending friction with its eastern neighbour, Eritrea, in a conflict that cost thousands of human life.

In this din of depressive reports, a few superlatives about the country have been ignored, things that I discovered in my recent visit to the country. Read full story here.



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