post Slavery within Africa

April 29th, 2009

Filed under: History Corner — Lissan Magazine @ 10:02

In most African societies, there was very little difference between the free peasants and the feudal vassal peasants. Vassals of the Songhay Muslim Empire were used primarily in agriculture; they paid tribute to their masters in crop and service but they were slightly restricted in custom and convenience. These non-free people were more an occupational caste, as their bondage was relative.

13th century Africa - simplified map of the main states, kingdoms and empires

There is adequate evidence citing case after case of African control of segments of the trade. Several African nations such as the Ashanti of Ghana and the Yoruba of Nigeria had economies largely depending on the trade. African peoples such as the Imbangala of Angola and the Nyamwezi of Tanzania would serve as intermediaries or roving bands warring with other African nations to capture Africans for Europeans. Extenuating circumstances demanding exploration are the tremendous efforts European officials in Africa used to install rulers agreeable to their interests. They would actively favor one African group against another to deliberately ignite chaos and continue their slaving activities.

Slavery in the rigid form which existed in Europe and throughout the New World was not practiced in Africa nor in the Islamic Orient. “Slavery”, as it is often referred to, in African cultures was generally more like indentured servitude: “slaves” were not made to be chattel of other men, nor enslaved for life. African “slaves” were paid wages and were able to accumulate property. They often bought their own freedom and could then achieve social promotion -just as freedman in ancient Rome- some even rose to the status of kings (e.g. Jaja of Opobo and Sunni Ali Ber). Similar arguments were used by western slave owners during the time of abolition, for example by John Wedderburn in Wedderburn v. Knight, the case that ended legal recognition of slavery in Scotland in 1776. Regardless of the legal options open to slave owners, rational cost-earning calculation and/or voluntary adoption of moral restraints often tended to mitigate (except with traders, who preferred to weed out the worthless weak individuals) the actual fate of slaves throughout history.

Slavery in Songhai
In most African societies, there was very little difference between the free peasants and the feudal vassal peasants. Vassals of the Songhay Muslim Empire were used primarily in agriculture; they paid tribute to their masters in crop and service but they were slightly restricted in custom and convenience. These people were more an occupational caste, as their bondage was relative. In the Kanem Bornu Empire, vassals were three classes beneath the nobles. Marriage between captor and captive was far from rare, blurring the anticipated roles.

Slavery in Ethiopia
Ethiopian slavery was essentially domestic. Slaves thus served in the houses of their masters or mistresses, and were not employed to any significant extent for productive purposes, Slaves were thus regarded as members of their owners’ family, and were fed, clothed and protected. They generally roamed around freely and conducted business as free people. They had complete freedom of religion and culture. It had been banished by its Emperors numerous times starting with Emperor Tewodros II (r. 1855-1868), although not eradicated completely until 1923 with Ethiopia’s ascension to the League of Nations.

Slaves taken from Africa

Trans Saharan trade
The very earliest external slave trade was the trans-Saharan slave trade. Although there had long been some trading up the Nile River and very limited trading across the western desert, the transportation of large numbers of slaves did not become viable until camels were introduced from Arabia in the 10th century. By this point, a trans-Saharan trading network came into being to transport slaves north. It has been estimated that from the 10th to the 19th century some 6,000 to 7,000 slaves were transported north each year.[5] Over time this added up to several million people moving north. Frequent intermarriages meant that the slaves were assimilated in North Africa. Unlike in the Americas, slaves in North Africa were mainly servants rather than labourers, and a greater number of females than males were taken, who were often employed as women of harems. It was also not uncommon to turn male slaves into eunuchs to serve as guardians to the harems.

Indian Ocean trade
The trade in slaves across the Indian Ocean also has a long history beginning with the control of sea routes by Arab traders in the ninth century. It is estimated that only a few thousand slaves were taken each year from the Red Sea and Indian Ocean coast. They were sold throughout the Middle East and India. This trade accelerated as superior ships led to more trade and greater demand for labour on plantations in the region. Eventually, tens of thousands per year were being taken.

Atlantic Ocean trade
The Atlantic slave trade developed much later, but it would eventually be by far the largest and have the greatest impact. The first Europeans to arrive on the coast of Guinea were the Portuguese; the first European to actually buy slaves in the region was Anto Gonalves, a Portuguese explorer. Originally interested in trading mainly for gold and spices, they set up colonies on the uninhabited islands of Sao Tome. In the 16th century the Portuguese settlers found that these volcanic islands were ideal for growing sugar. Sugar growing is a labour-intensive undertaking and Portuguese settlers were difficult to attract due to the heat, lack of infrastructure, and hard life. To cultivate the sugar the Portuguese turned to large numbers of African slaves. Elmina Castle on the Gold Coast, originally built by African labor for the Portuguese in 1482 to control the gold trade, became an important depot for slaves that were to be transported to the New World.

Increasing penetration into the Americas by the Portuguese created more demand for labour in Brazil–primarily for farming and mining. To meet this demand, a trans-Atlantic slave trade soon developed. Slave-based economies quickly spread to the Caribbean and the southern portion of what is today the United States. These areas all developed an insatiable demand for slaves.

As European nations grew more powerful, especially Portugal, Spain, France and England, they began vying for control of the African slave trade, with little effect on the local African and Arab trading. Great Britain’s existing colonies in the Lesser Antilles and their effective naval control of the Mid Atlantic forced other countries to abandon their enterprises due to inefficiency in cost. The English crown provided a charter giving the Royal African Company monopoly over the African slave routes until 1712.

Why African Slaves?
In the late 15th century, Europeans (Spanish and Portuguese first) began to explore, colonize and conquer the territory in the Americas. The European colonists attempted to enslave some of the Native Americans to perform hard physical labor, but found them unaccustomed to hard agrarian labor and so familiar with the local environment that it was difficult to prevent their escape. Their lack of resistance to common European diseases was another factor against their suitability for slavery. The Europeans had also noted the West African practice of enslaving prisoners of war (a common phenomenon among many peoples on all of the continents). European colonial powers traded guns, brandy and other goods for these slaves, but this had little effect on the Arabian and African trade. The African slaves proved more resistant to European diseases than indigenous Americans, familiar with a tropical climate and accustomed to agricultural work. As a result, regular trade was soon established.

Source of slaves
All three slave-trading routes tapped into local trading patterns. Europeans or Arabs in Africa very rarely mounted expeditions to capture slaves. Lack of people and the prevalence of disease prevented any widespread gathering of slaves by Europeans and other non-Africans. Local rulers were very rarely open to allowing groups of armed foreigners to enter their lands. It was far easier and more common to make use of existing African middlemen and slave traders. Slavery has been present in Africa for millennia, and still is today even with children, though some historians prefer to describe African slavery as feudalism, arguing it was more like the system that controlled the peasantry of Western Europe during the Middle Ages or Russia into the 19th century than slavery as it was practiced in the Americas.

The slaves came from many different sources. About half came from the societies that sold them. These might be criminals, heretics, the mentally ill, the indebted and any others that had fallen out of favor with the rulers. Little is known about the details of theses practices before the arrival of Europeans, and so it is difficult to tell if the number of people considered as undesirables was artificially increased to provide more slaves for export. It is believed that capital punishment in the region nearly disappeared since prisoners became far too valuable to dispose of in such a way.

Another source of slaves, comprising about half the total, came from military conquests of other states or tribes. It has long been contended that the slave trade greatly increased violence and warfare in the region due to the pursuit of slaves, but it is hard to provide evidence to prove this; warfare was certainly common even before slave hunting had added such an extra inducement.

For the Atlantic slave trade, captives were purchased from slave dealers in West African regions known as the Slave Coast, Gold Coast, and Cote d’Ivoire were sold into slavery as a result of a defeat in warfare. In the Bight of Biafra near modern-day Senegal and Benin, some African kings sold their captives locally and later to European slave traders for goods such as metal cookware, rum, livestock, and seed grain. Previous to the voyage, the victims were held in “slave castles” and deep pits where many died from multiple illnesses and malnutrition. Conditions were even worse in the Middle Passage across the Atlantic where up to a third of the slaves died en route.

source: courtesy of

post Ethiopia & Israel

April 27th, 2009

Filed under: History Corner — Lissan Magazine @ 21:42

Israel has been one of Ethiopia’s most reliable suppliers of military assistance, largely because Tel Aviv believed that if it supported Ethiopia, hostile Arab nations would be unable to exert control over the Red Sea and the Bab el Mandeb, which forms its southern outlet. During the imperial era, Israeli advisers trained paratroops and counterinsurgency units belonging to the Fifth Division (also called the Nebelbal–or Flame–Division). In the early 1960s, Israel started helping the Ethiopian government in its campaigns against the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF).

Even after Ethiopia broke diplomatic relations with Israel at the time of the October 1973 War, Israel quietly continued to supply military aid to Ethiopia. This assistance continued after Mengistu came to power in 1974 and included spare parts and ammunition for United States-made weapons and service for United States-made F-5 jet fighters. Israel also maintained a small group of military advisers in Addis Ababa.

In 1978, however, when former Israeli minister of foreign affairs Moshe Dayan admitted that Israel had been providing security assistance to Ethiopia, Mengistu expelled all Israelis so that he might preserve his relationship with radical Arab countries such as Libya and South Yemen. Nonetheless, although Addis Ababa claimed it had terminated its military relationship with Israel, military cooperation continued. In 1983, for example, Israel provided communications training, and in 1984 Israeli advisers trained the Presidential Guard and Israeli technical personnel served with the police. Some Western observers believed that Israel provided military assistance to Ethiopia in exchange for Mengistu’s tacit cooperation during Operation Moses in 1984, in which 10,000 Beta Israel (Ethiopian Jews; also called Falasha) were evacuated to Israel. In 1985 Tel Aviv reportedly sold Addis Ababa at least US$20 million in Soviet-made munitions and spare parts captured from Palestinians in Lebanon. According to the EPLF, the Mengistu regime received US$83 million worth of Israeli military aid in 1987, and Israel deployed some 300 military advisers to Ethiopia. Additionally, the EPLF claimed that thirty-eight Ethiopian pilots had gone to Israel for training.

In late 1989, Israel reportedly finalized a secret agreement to provide increased military assistance to Addis Ababa in exchange for Mengistu’s promise to allow Ethiopia’s remaining Beta Israel to emigrate to Israel. In addition, the two nations agreed to restore diplomatic relations (Israel opened an embassy in Addis Ababa on December 17, 1989) and to increase intelligence cooperation. Mengistu apparently believed that Israel–unlike the Soviet Union, whose military advisers emphasized conventional tactics– could provide the training and matériel needed to transform the Ethiopian army into a counterinsurgency force capable of defeating Eritrean and Tigrayan separatists.

During 1990 Israeli-Ethiopian relations continued to prosper. According to a New York Times report, Tel Aviv furnished an array of military assistance to Addis Ababa, including 150,000 rifles, cluster bombs, ten to twenty military advisers to train Mengistu’s Presidential Guard, and an unknown number of instructors to work with Ethiopian commando units. Unconfirmed reports also suggested that Israel had provided the Ethiopian air force with surveillance cameras and had agreed to train Ethiopian pilots.

In return for this aid, Ethiopia permitted the emigration of the Beta Israel. Departures in the spring reached about 500 people a month before Ethiopian officials adopted new emigration procedures that reduced the figure by more than two-thirds. The following year, Tel Aviv and Addis Ababa negotiated another agreement whereby Israel provided agricultural, economic, and health assistance. Also, in May 1991, as the Mengistu regime neared its end, Israel paid US$35 million in cash for permission to fly nearly 15,000 Beta Israel from Ethiopia to Israel.


post Ethiopia & Cuba

April 27th, 2009

Filed under: History Corner — Lissan Magazine @ 21:31

Cuba’s involvement with Ethiopia paralleled that of the Soviet Union. Prior to the outbreak of the Ogaden War, Havana, like Moscow, had been an ally of Somalia. After a series of Somali armed incursions into the Ogaden ruptured already tense relations between Addis Ababa and Mogadishu, Cuban president Fidel Castro Ruz visited the Horn of Africa and urged the two countries to join in forming a regional federation that also would include South Yemen, an “autonomous” Ogaden, an “autonomous” Eritrea, and Djibouti. After the failure of this initiative, Cuba began moving closer to Ethiopia, abandoning its ties with Somalia in the process.

In November 1977, two months after Somali forces had captured Jijiga, Cuban military advisers started to arrive in Ethiopia. By the end of the month, the Soviet Union had also begun a six-week airlift, later supplemented by a sealift, of Cuban troops. From the end of November 1977 to February 1978, Havana deployed approximately 17,000 troops to Ethiopia, including three combat brigades. Some of these troops had previously been stationed in Angola.

The Cuban presence was crucial to Ethiopia’s victory over Somalia. During the Derg’s early 1978 counteroffensive in the Ogaden, Cuban troops fought alongside their Ethiopian counterparts. With Cuban support, Ethiopian units quickly scored several impressive victories. As a result, on March 9, 1978, Somali president Mahammad Siad Barre announced that his army was withdrawing from the Ogaden.

After the Ethiopian victory in the Ogaden, attention shifted to Eritrea. By early 1978, the EPLF had succeeded in gaining control of almost all of Eritrea except the city of Asmera and the ports of Mitsiwa and Aseb. After redeploying its forces from the Ogaden to northern Ethiopia, Addis Ababa launched a counteroffensive against the EPLF during late 1978.

Although there is some disagreement, most military observers believe that Cuba refused to participate in the operation in Eritrea because Castro considered the Eritrean conflict an internal war rather than a case of external aggression. However, the continued presence of Cuban troops in the Ogaden enabled the Mengistu regime to redeploy many of its troops to northern Ethiopia.

A large Cuban contingent, believed to number about 12,000, remained in Ethiopia after the Ogaden War. However, by mid1984 Havana had reduced its troop strength in Ethiopia to approximately 3,000. In 1988 a Cuban brigade, equipped with tanks and APCs, was stationed in Dire Dawa to guard the road and railroad between Ethiopia and Djibouti, following attacks by Somali-supported rebels. A mobile battalion of various military advisers and an unknown number of Cuban instructors who were on the Harer Military Academy faculty also remained in Ethiopia.

After Ethiopia and Somalia signed an April 1988 joint communiqué intended to reduce tensions, Cuba decided to end its military presence in Ethiopia. The last Cuban troops left on September 17, 1989, thus terminating twelve years of military cooperation.


post Ethiopia & North Korea

April 27th, 2009

Filed under: History Corner — Lissan Magazine @ 21:23

Given the change in Soviet policy toward Ethiopia, Addis Ababa’s relations with North Korea took on added importance as the 1990s began. There was little information on the nature and scope of North Korean military assistance to Ethiopia, but most Western military observers agreed that it would be impossible for North Korea to duplicate the quantity and quality of weapons that the Soviet Union had been providing to the Mengistu regime. Nonetheless, beginning in 1985 P’yngyang deployed hundreds of military advisers to Ethiopia and provided an array of small arms, ammunition, and other matériel to the Mengistu regime.

In November 1985, North Korea provided Ethiopia a 6 million birr interest-free loan to be used to purchase equipment with which to construct a shipyard on Haleb Island, off Aseb. Planners expected the shipyard to produce wooden-hulled and steelhulled craft ranging in size from 5,000 to 150,000 tons displacement. (As of 1991, the shipyard had not been completed.) North Korea also had paid for the training of a 20,000-man special operations force at the Tatek military camp.


post Ethiopia & East Germany

April 27th, 2009

Filed under: History Corner — Lissan Magazine @ 21:05

Of all the East European nations that provided military assistance to Ethiopia, none played a more vital role than East Germany. Its importance to Addis Ababa derived not so much from its conventional military support, which at times was crucial to Ethiopian security, as from its involvement in Ethiopia’s intelligence and security services.

East Germany’s military relationship with the Mengistu regime started in 1977, when Socialist Unity Party of Germany leader Werner Lamberz visited Ethiopia three times (February, June, and December) to coordinate and direct the operations of the approximately 2,000 South Yemeni soldiers who were fighting against Somali forces in the Ogaden. East Germany also provided support to Soviet and Cuban pilots who flew helicopters and fighter-bombers on combat missions during the Ogaden War. Moreover, East Germany agreed to give ideological training to hundreds of Ethiopian officers. Even after the end of the Ogaden War, East Germany remained militarily active in Ethiopia. During the 1978 Ethiopian offensive against the EPLF, East German engineers, working in conjunction with their Soviet counterparts, reportedly built flanking roads, enabling Ethiopian tanks to come up behind EPLF lines. In addition, East German military advisers manned artillery and rocket units in Eritrea. Interestingly, in 1978 East Germany also sponsored unsuccessful peace talks between Ethiopia and the EPLF. When these discussions failed, the East German government abandoned diplomacy in favor of a military solution to the problem of Eritrean and Tigrayan separatism.

In May 1979, East Germany and Ethiopia signed an agreement formalizing military relations between the two countries. Then, on November 15, 1979, East German head of state Erich Honecker visited Ethiopia and signed a twenty-year Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation. In addition to calling for greater cooperation in politics, economics, trade, science, culture, and technology, the 1979 treaty also laid the groundwork for increased military assistance.

For most of the 1980s, East Germany, through its National People’s Army and its State Security Service, provided Ethiopia with diverse forms of military and intelligence assistance. Apart from military aid, such as automatic rifles, ammunition, artillery, and heavy vehicles, East Germany provided up to five months’ training in military and police tactics to members of the People’s Protection Brigades, which concentrated on routine police duties at the local level (see People’s Protection Brigades, this ch.). In 1982 East German intelligence advisers participated in that year’s Red Star campaign against Eritrean separatists. East German personnel often assumed control of Ethiopian army communications sites as, for instance, they did in mid-1988 in Asmera. In addition, East German security advisers reportedly acted as Mengistu’s personal bodyguard.

Even after the Soviet Union altered its policy toward Ethiopia in the late 1980s, East Germany remained Mengistu’s staunch ally. In mid-1989, for example, Honecker promised Mengistu fifty to sixty T-54/55 tanks that had been scheduled to be scrapped in a force reduction. However, after Honecker’s resignation and the emergence of a more broadly based government in late 1989, East German officials informed Addis Ababa that the military relationship between the two countries had been terminated and that all future arms deliveries had been canceled. In 1990 the 550 East German advisers and technicians stationed in Ethiopia were withdrawn. The end of the alliance between Ethiopia and East Germany further isolated the Mengistu regime and reduced the Ethiopian army’s ability to achieve a military solution in Eritrea and Tigray.


post Tilahun

April 22nd, 2009

Filed under: Music Corner — Admassu @ 09:56

There are famous people that accompany us our whole life. We mostly don’t know them personally but they become part of our identity. Our national and international pride is always focused on the result of their extra ordinary creation of art, music, and literature that we learned to reflect as if these works were our own collective treasure. I am sure, for me, that have been also the case when ever I thought and still think about Tilahun. I had no opportunity of attending his concert. I have only seen him on pictures and videos. And yet, I was sure to know him through out my life. “…. kandem hulet sosteeeee fikir dersobignal, gin zare addis honooooo yichawetibignal….” his songs like that which I used to murmur unconsciously when taking a walk or when I am alone have been part of my reality.

Now how is it feel when this great singer who accompanied us our whole life passes away all of a sudden? We saw him getting older with all burdens, misfortunes and illnesses that being-old imposed upon him. While seeing how the natural process of age dimming away his physical charm of the younger years, most of us have usually an evergreen visual image in our mind which lead us to see in him the same old Tilahun.

I heard once how everyone in a concert hall cried watching him being pushed in to the stage on wheelchair. And I asked my self then: “How would have I reacted if I was there on that day?” The answer is obvious because the very thought of that situation has already filled my eyes with tears.

I admired him more knowing that Tilahun hasn’t gave up on life. He didn’t sink in frustration which could have been a natural reaction after such a devastating misfortune. Instead, he wanted to help other diabetic patients and children by establishing a foundation. Though it made me sad to hear his broken sentences and to see his fragile physical appearance on a video as he announced about his project on a press conference, my memory kept on reminding me of his legend by producing images of his golden years  in front of my very eyes.

And now, with those images still in mind I dare say: “Tilahun is not dead. Tilahun lives forever”.

post Roba and his Buddies

April 9th, 2009

Filed under: Life Stroies — Admassu @ 20:57

“How is it there where you are living?…” Roba asked me. “…I don’t think it is as beautiful as here, is it?”

“What do you mean it is not as beautiful as here? I don’t think it is that beautiful here!?” I said deliberately provoking him.

“Well…” said Roba with his typical shrewed sarcastic manner “…. if it ain’t beautiful, you wouldn’t keep on coming back, would you?…” he laughed loudly grabbing the attention of those sitting around us “… I mean, you must have paid a lot of money to come to us. It means, here is better than where you are living.” Those sitting around us were nodding confirming that Roba was right.

Roba: “Go and show your people how handsome I am.
(photo: admassu)

“Don’t be so damned sure about that. I am just coming here to see my family, neighbors, and arrogant friends like you.” I said trying to disarm his argument. But I didn’t succeed to convince him for Roba and his buddies just sat there waiting for more plausible explanation. As none of that came from my side, they started laughing at me again.

These guys are always a great challenge for me. When ever I fly home they come over to chat with me and our chat usually ends up with their mocking arguments and destroying laughter.  Roba is the worst of them. He has this impenetrable self confidence and deep-dark humor. Above all, he is armed with a sharp calculating brain. I have never seen Roba hesitating to come up with a right answer at the right moment while facing challenging verbal confrontations. His sharp calculating brain is alway ready to provide him with a right reply and the sarcastic grin on his face does the rest.


Some mornings are so pure and sunny that it invites to have the first coffee ceremony of the day outside. That is of course a suitable battlefield for Roba and his buddies to launch their attacks against me. Usually our meetings start in a normal way. But I knew that Roba was only waiting for a suitable moment to make his first move.


I love drinking the coffee here. Seeing that I couldn’t have enough of it, they started serving me in a huge cup that looked quite big comparing to the traditional Sini. I was enjoying my coffee in this huge cup without predicting any danger as I catch the glimpse of Roba’s eyes staring at my hand. I knew that I just gave him a reason to start his attack.


“So you love our coffee? Of course you love our coffee. That is why you are drinking it in a such huge cup…..” said Roba with a defeating ironic smile  “…. Poor guy! I don’t think you have ever tasted such a great coffee there where you are living.”

Roba is ready to attack. (photo: admassu)

He was definitely right about the coffee but I didn’t want to do him a favor by saying yes. The others watched me smiling waiting to hear my reply. I was sure they would go right over to an exploding laughter after my answer to Roba’s question.

Gosh! I miss those guys already.

post Machiato and ye-Tewat Tsehay

April 6th, 2009

Filed under: Life Style — Admassu @ 19:59

Oh Addis! Things about Addis that remain glued to my mind; small enjoyable things; no-spectacular but yet things of great impulse that permanently pop-up in my memory.

Whenever I accompanied someone to the airport and this someone asks me if I wish something from back home, I usually would say “Bring me yetewat tseahy if you can.” Then this someone would go “Of course I can’t, are you joking?” Actually I am not joking when I say those things. It sounds crazy but I really want Yetewat Tsehay packed in a huge suitcase so that I can enjoy it for at least a month: specially for those grey winter days of Germany.

Any ways, no body has done that favor for me. So I waited till my turn comes to be accompanied to the airport. “Berebere amtalign“, “Belech chat kech kalerek izih ketema zir indatil“, “Original doro kene-inkulalu benatih…” Surprisingly, there was no demand for the Yetewat Tsehay. Well, I thought, I will have it all for my self, ha!

Addis airport filled with yetewat tsehay.

I paid 660 Euro for four weeks ticket to Ethiopia from Frankfurt. May be the ticket is so expensive by the Ethiopian Airlines because the plane arrives early morning. In Addis one can start enjoying yetewat tsehay right at the airport. With that assumption in mind, I thought the price is actually acceptable; acceptable from my own point of view.

We met Bedilu (a very good old friend) at a coffee bar not far from the new church in Bole. I was still adjusting my self to the city ambiance of Addis. And I had quite a hard time to move alongside the speed of the daily life around me. Have I become too slow or is this city already too fast to cop with? I have asked and asked my self afraid to admit that I was missing here something important. And this something is just leaving me behind without giving me time to catch up.

Then I preferred thinking about the small enjoyable things.

Bedilu was having machiato. He invited us insisting we should also try one. So we all ordered machiato. You know these days in Addis all machiato makers do crazy creative things to it, so creative that one can easily feel guilty to drink it and destroy the art. I told Bedilu about it. Bedilu just laughed and promised to take me the next day to a place  where they do even crazier stuff with the machiato. “Crazier…” I thought “…no way!”

(photo: admassu)

We spent the rest of our first day in Addis by site seeing and visiting some more places. We had a great lunch.  As I saw the bill, I thought, how do people manage to pay that much? Addis is not only fast but also too expensive. Watching the standard population on the street and thinking about what we just paid for a single lunch left me with some uneasy feeling.

Busy, busy, busy Addis (photo: admassu)

May be that is the way slow guests like me who just arrived from bahir mado think. Most of my fellow landsmen and women in Ethiopia are too busy to see their daily life the way I think. Every one seem to be alert in Addis. One has to keep on moving in order to exist. Bars are filled with women and men who are busy with their mobile phone answering and making calls. It is as if these people has switched their offices in to their mobile phones. If you meet an old friend like Bedilu for some hours, half of that time goes for making and recieving calls.

I couldn’t cop with this speed. So I kept on concentrating on those small enjoyable things; no-spectacular but yet things that remain in memory. Like machiato and yetewat tsehay

The art of machiato (photo: admassu)

As promised, Bedillu took us to the place where he said they make more crazier things with the machiato. Not a standard bar but a gas station somewhere on the Bole road. The small café doesn’t look so special. A small room with uncomfrtable chairs and tables. But it is filled with customers who seem to afford to go some where else and have expensive breakfast. Most of them were busy with their mobile phones. The atmosphere in the room was too mysterious for a slow guy from bahir mado like me.

So I concentrated again on small enjoyable things. Bedilu hasn’t exaggerated. It was the best machiato I ever had. Yetewat Tsehay out of the window made it even more delicious. I couldn’t help having three of it feeling each time guilty for destroying the creative work.


Yetewat Tsehay = early morning sun

© 2012 Lissan Magazine , Powered by WordPress
Initiated & sponsered by Admassu Mamo Kombolcha, Frankfurt, Germany