Ethiopian snapshots: Still to come

I told many people that I was going to Ethiopia to visit the sacred and historical sights. Am I procrastinating the posting of a story about my trip to the headwaters of the Blue Nile, the island monasteries on Lake Tana and the ancient monolithic stone churches of Lalibela? I have many photos of all that from both our Ethiopian-Italian cousins and myself.


Ethiopian snapshots: Goats and food security

I see goats all over the city here in Addis Ababa in small herds crossing the chaotic urban street’s seemingly lawless traffic. Every day one can see herds of cattle, sheep and goats grazing in open urban fields. Given that back home in Minneapolis there is an active local food movement growing month by month, year by year, this experience here tells me that a lot of our foreign born neighbors know something about HOW to live with livestock in urban settings. I don’t think we will do what I see here in Ethiopia, but change is coming as the necessity to localize food production unfolds. We currently allow for chickens under certain conditions in the Twin Cities. I have never seen goats actually running wild or being unruly here in Addis. It seems to me with effective rules of law, goats could be a part of the movement for food security.


Ethiopian snapshots: Water and electricity

I have lived in the Land of 10,000 Lakes since 1964. There have been times when the lakes and streams have receded below normal levels, but the water has never been a shut off. Water shut-offs in Addis Ababa happens on a weekly basis. In some unfortunate barrios water can be off for a whole week. People will travel by foot to a public faucet with large recycled plastic jugs to gather water for cooking and washing. Bottled water is sold just about everywhere. It looks to me that many people don’t drink water directly from the faucets…not tourists, not residents.


Pulled toward Africa: History, blackness and family

Why have I since high school felt some interest or pull toward Africa during a time when there was such a negative attitude about anything black or African? The Underground Railroad placed my Mother’s family in Canada and some of the “benefits” of assimilation: Education that provided reading, writing and speaking skills and an ability to understand and negotiate white, Western culture. Sometimes that “benefit” was via skin color so someone appearing white, sometimes had the option, if one could stomach it, of disappearing into the white world temporarily or long term.  If you stayed within your African American, mixed race family or community, being “high yellow”, “redbone” or almost white, gave you access or status.  


Out in the cold: LGBT visibility at Olympics key to ending homophobia

Last summer I spent a few days in Moscow to watch the Rugby Sevens World Cup. The tournament was held in the main stadium for the 1980 Summer Olympics—a stadium where U.S. Olympians never competed, due to a boycott over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.


Khao Insixiengmay: Royal Lao veteran

With the creation of a newly independent nation in 1954, the Kingdom of Laos saw the formation of a modern military. The Royal Lao Armed Forces included a Royal Lao Army, Royal Lao Air Force, Royal Lao Navy, and a creation of a national police force; the Royal Lao Police. These branches of the military and police force were composed of young men and women, tasked with defending the newly formed kingdom from enemies, foreign and domestic. Their training, fight, and expertise were to win the long war against perceived Communist aggression in Southeast Asia.


Every flavor of black person you can imagine

In appearance, there is every flavor of black person you can imagine here in Ethiopia. There is also interesting is the mix of Euro folks, too, which includes indigenous Armenians who have a long history here and love this land. Just about every European country has an embassy here. The British and U.S. Embassies look like armed fortresses. (Well, maybe that’s exactly what they are.)


'These Birds Walk' highlights boys' search for home in Pakistan

(Photo courtesy of Oscilloscope)

For a lot of kids, there comes a time in childhood when they just want to run away from home, over something as trivial as sibling rivalry or as serious as domestic violence. Whatever the reason, sometimes the house someone is raised in doesn’t really feel like home.


Babalou as ferengi (foreigner)

Today it rained for the first time since I have been here in Ethiopia. It didn’t last long, but it felt like some kind of blessing for even that brief while. It’s the dry season. I mean we are all in dry season… I say this knowing it’s snowing like hell in the U.S. now.

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