The Jupiter International Hotel — Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Although I have not rented a room and slept there, the Jupiter International Hotel has been a “home away from home” during my time in Addis Ababa. I have found the staff, the atmosphere, the food and managers much more than pleasant. There is a hospitality that I have never experienced in any of the hotel chains I have patronized back in the States. I come to the lobby bar of the Jupiter 3 or 4 mornings per week to use their free Wi-Fi, have breakfast and when I work into the afternoon, lunch and drink or two. 🙂 Continue Reading

Humbly musing on borrowed ideas that somehow ended up on my hard-drive…

“I loved my mother and father, not because they were perfect parents, but because despite whatever lenses they saw the world through, they held me in the deepest part of their hearts.” They struggled, with much effort, in extremely difficult circumstances, to give me the best of what they had materially, spiritually and intellectually. I certainly didn’t understand this on too many occasions as I was growing up and moving into my own adulthood, but now I see more clearly as I push toward 70 years. And yes, I am laughing out loud as I write this now! Continue Reading

Desperate times and transitions of global dimensions

This trip to Ethiopia is coming to an end in a few days from now. In the moment I feel some sadness about that need to say goodbye, but it’s also about the state of things here, Africa as a whole and how that reflects the state of the world. I know that I have a certain perspective influenced by the environmental, peace and human rights movements I have actively been a part for most of my life…no apology for that really. From my perspective, and I am not alone on this, there is a catastrophe unfolding now that has not peaked yet. It is like watching an accident in slow motion with silent screams that cannot interrupt our slide into chaos. Continue Reading

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. Continue Reading

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. Continue Reading

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. Continue Reading

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.  

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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.) Continue Reading