You want more on Northern Ethiopia? Truly it was the self esteem with which people carried themselves that stood out the most. More? Hmm…
I liked the shoulder dancing but it tired me out. And the ululations were all right once I started, but it was always peer pressure that got me going. I’m just not used to it so I was never sure how it was going to come out. Maybe if I had more time to get used to drinking Tej, the traditional honey wine, it would have come more voluntarily. I tried playing the masenqo, a stringed instrument that played nothing like a violin, but I couldn’t get anything out of it. It could get comfortable munching on roasted wheat kernels.
In the 1300s, the local oral traditions were recorded in the language and script of Geez. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church still uses the Geez language and calendar; that calendar is 8 years behind our western calendar so that I felt 8 years younger the whole time there. In any church I entered, I would see drums. Many church walls featured colorful renderings of Biblical scenes unlike those I had seen before. In the 1630s, there was a wave of religious persecution; the emperor’s uncle was hung but the local people would have been beheaded. In Addis Adaba, the Red Terror Museum seemed church-like; it is dedicated to the memory of those killed by the Derg in more recent times.
In the town of Aweday, there was a crowded outdoor market where all they sold was chat. Chat is a long grass that you can chew if you can bear its very bitter taste; and if you can keep chewing it for an hour or two, you may find it has a slight hallucinogenic effect. At the local dumps, vultures and Malibou Storks hovered over cow heads. In Harar, I took an evening tourist bus to see the Hyena Man; he would put raw meat on a stick and then put one end of the stick in his mouth and let wild hyenas approach him and eat the meat off the stick! No need for hallucinogens in those places.
Prior posts on Ethiopia are Gelada on Picnic and Timkat Festival.
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Lipstick on Jenga
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