Wednesday, December 5, 2007
It was 9:30am when we left the hotel. Our taxi driver was named Demisse
Lemma. We spent the next 21⁄2 hours visiting market places or
one huge market. Mr. Lemma said it was the largest and most sophisticated
market in Africa. There was nothing different about it, except its size.
It was very similar to many other markets I’ve seen in Africa.
It was a short visit. We purchased a few gifts of body wear then returned
to the hotel.
After lunch, we went on our 2nd sightseeing trip. Our driver or tour
guide was named Amin. Amin is a friend of a friend Sharon had met while
in Tanzania. He is a young man, as guides go, very knowledgeable, who
appeared to be India. He was born and raised in Addis. There were three
places he selected for our visit.
From Addis, the futherest village or site was over 50 miles away. Riding
across the well-paved, asphalt highways, we scanned the scenic mountains,
valleys, grass and trees, all green and brown like a colorful quilt.
“All is green during the rainy season,” said Amin. We occasionally
stopped for camera work. The breathe-taking beauty forced us to pause,
take pictures and reflect on the panoramic scene and long history of
We passed small villages with corn-shaped huts, cattle, goats and donkeys
being led across the fields, valleys and highways. Our first stop was
near the Village of Melka (which means river) Awash. The river reaches
the Blue Nile. It is treasured by the inhabitants because, unlike the
Nile River, it doesn’t take valuable soil out of their territory.
Turning off the highway, we followed a graveled road to Melka Kunture.
The fenced enclosure, contained fossils, stones, drawings and other
artifacts from millions of years before Christ. I was shocked that the
black stone artifacts were so sharp that I cut my thumb when I touched
one of them.
Back to the highway, our next stop was Adadi Mariam. Again, turning
off the highway, we came to a church built into the mountain or hill.
Arriving into the church yard, we were told that the small stone buildings
that surrounded the courtyard were donated to the church in memory of
deceased loved ones. The church was free to use the buildings as it
saw fit. Sure enough there it was, a church carved out of, or into,
a small mountain or hill. There were steps leading down into the church.
After putting off our shoes, we walked on the carpeted floor. We sat
on wooden benches as Amin explained the history, architectural design
and the areas of the church. There were paintings and drawings. There
was familiar art work that we had seen in many other churches. There
was the last supper, another picture of Mary holding the baby Jesus
and individual pictures of Mary and Jesus. There were different pictures
of Jesus on the cross. All of the pictures were white. Needless to say,
our emotions ran from shock, disappointment, anger and hurt.
The final stop was Tiya Stelle. Here is where stones yet stand above
burial ground. They go back at least 800 years A.D. On the stone-grave
marker were drawings and markings clearly depicting something about
the deceased. On our way out, dancing children surrounded us. Their
dancing was strikingly similar to dances in our church. Sharon danced
with the children. I played catch with them. They had made a ball about
the size of a baseball. It was made of plastic and paper covered with
a sock which was overlapped and then tied. It was firm but soft and
bouncy. A rather ingenious plaything. It reminded me of my youth, when
we made footballs out of newspapers tightly rapped with cords or strings
made into a shape somewhat resembling a football. Some one has said,
“Necessity is the mother of inventions.” How true this has
been for people of African Ancestry. We have had to create something
out of nothing. We created the most melodious sounds in the cotton patches
and tobacco fields during the years of slavery. The spirituals, the
blues, the gospels and jazz are musical sounds which came out of the
hard and difficult black life in the USA. Indeed, we have been able,
somehow, to celebrate hard times. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther
King, Jr., we were able to take the question mark of the prophet Jeremiah,
“Is there balm in Gilead?” turn it into an exclamation point
and sing, “There is balm in Gilead!”
For the first time, I left money to give to the children. They were
so friendly, happy and buoyant. They kept asking for pencils. I asked
Amin, why? He said, “They are taught to asked tourist for books
and/or pencils.” I’m not sure I understand all the reasons.
But one thing is certain, the parents and/or elders wanted to emphasize
the importance of education or learning. I found this to be true across
Africa or where ever improvised children live. The recurring theme is,
“We want to learn.” Unfortunately, yes even tragically,
this theme on the importance of education, to a significant degree,
seems not to have reached a substantial part of the black communities
in the USA.
One other point of interest about the inhabitants of this area, the
tribe is named Guragie. They are very smart, skilled traders. When they
come to Addis and other cities, they work long, hard hours at any kind
of work. They save their money. They study what people are buying. Then
they go into business. They have become very wealthy. They own factories,
stores, etc. “That story,” I said to myself, “has
a familiar ring to it.”
It was 7:30pm when we returned to the hotel. We had departed at 1:30pm.
Again, we passed though streets crowded with vehicles, vendors and people.
Construction was pervasive. The pollution was so thick, I had to cover
my nose and mouth with a handkerchief.
We settled in for dinner, once again buffet. Spinach, mixed veggies,
beets and a green salad for me. The food, to my palate, went from good
to very good. I enjoyed eating at this hotel, which I can not say for
all hotels including the most luxurious ones.
So, it was a very instructive, enlighten, productive day and we had
one more night in Addis. I stayed up until 2:00 am recording my diary
To be continued…
Attend the Timbuktu Learning Center’s weekly Thursday Night Community
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The Timbuktu Learning Center presents A Community Forum on Mortgage
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January 24, 2008, at the House of the Lord Church from 7pm to 9pm.
On Thursday, January 31, 2008, at 7pm, The Brotherhood Department of
the House of the Lord Church, during the Timbuktu Learning Center’s
Thursday Night Community Forum, will sponsor The Screening of a Documentary
entitled “Another Look at Egypt,” presented by Professor
Clinton Crawford of Medgar Evers College.
Attend a Rally of Support for the Sean Bell Family, on Sunday, February
3, 2008, 5pm at the House of the Lord Church. We will also be mobilizing
for the upcoming trial starting on February 4th.
Attend NRLAA’s monthly forum Focus on Africa the 2nd Saturday
from 2pm to 4pm.
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