Salambo discovering Ethiopia
There’s nothing like going in and out of a place to get a renewed propective on it. For the first time in over two months, I travelled outside Ethiopia to Arusha in Tanzania for a conference. It confirmed my idea that Ethiopia is different from the rest of Eastern Africa. This is not a new idea, and anyone who knows Ethiopia will agree: Ethiopia culturally stands on its own. Ethiopia is the only African country which entered the 20th century as a fully independent nation, after King Menelik II’s epic victory over the Italians at the battle of Adwa in 1896. As a result, for decades Ethiopia, protected from imposing foreign influences, kept a very strong individuality. Its own history goes back to the Antiquity. According to the story, when the Ethiopian Queen of Sheba visited King Solomon they had a son, Menelik I, who became the first King of Ethiopia thus starting a dynasty which is said to have been uninterrupted until the last emperor Haile Selassie. Ethiopia is also mentioned in Ovid’s Metamorphosis, when the hero Perseus is saving Andromeda, daughter of the King of Ethiopia, Cepheus.
Today’s culture, seen through the food, the clothes, the music, the arts and the crafts is very distinctively Ethiopian, and is like no other on the African continent. Ethiopia also has strong regions, each with its own cultural heritage, ethnic group, language and geographical particularities. They include Amhara and Tigray in the North, Oromyia, in the centre around Addis Ababa, Afar, the hottest in the North-East, and Somali region in the South-East, to mention only the largest ones. This is a superficial summary, as I currently don’t have sufficient knowledge to write in more depth about it. However, I am becoming impatient to start travelling more around the country and discover its many wonders.