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

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. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Somali music piracy highlighted

When you hear `Somalia`coupled with `piracy ` it rings the bell that Somalia has grown over the years into a household name with sea piracy. But there has been another form of Somali piracy, a Somali music piracy since the downfall of Siad Barre`s military government in 1991. Of course this music piracy can also ring a bell as to what kind of Somali music piracy we are talking  about here, where one might think of it as being some kind of online Somali music piracy: but it is more than that. Over the years, I have personally witnessed usually young Somali musicians willing to emerge but using a shortcut to singing by singing old Somali songs of 1970s/1980s and then burning it into new albums/CDs. I am not ranting here to speak evil of the reputation of the emerging Somali musicians but I am trying to shape this writing of mine as a way not only to expose this habit of copy singing but mainly to raise awareness of the issue which I think the Somali music deserves at this modern era when piracy is evolving into forms hard to contain or predict.There is the nickname Wejiya xun coined in Somali for those who shamelessly do copy singing. Continue Reading

How do you build a lifeboat in the middle of a stormy sea?

By the end of my first week my family drives to the Longano Resort, which is on a volcanic lake. We plan to stay for four days through the Western Christmas Day. Our second day in Longano we drive through a string of towns southward to explore the area which includes land donated by Haile Salassie to Jamaicans and African Americans for their support during the war with the Italians. The villages are: Dole, Arsinegelle, Kuyera, Melka Oda, Shashamene, Tikur Wusha, & Awasa. Our end point was a resort hotel on another lake two hours from Longano called Lewi where we had a fantastic lunch. Continue Reading