2017 was the year we decided we were going to Ethiopia and never coming back.
Obviously life had other plans for Infinite Vortex of Light, but the spiritual and professional pilgrimage that ensued shed a great deal of light on the current state of...well...everything.
See Ethiopia is an interesting place.
Seated on the 'horn of Africa', Ethiopia is one of those hidden gems that only Europeans frequent, though we did see a few North Americans, and even a few more South Americans along the way.
Ethiopia holds tight its legacy of never being physically conquered with a zeal that can only be experienced up close and personal (which is exactly how we recommend you experience it, bearing all factors in mind).
The various tribes and traditions all have their own means for doing their things, but a single thread of nationality ties together all the unique, and yet oh so familiar personalities peppering this seemingly endless countryside.
For many of the 'old schoolers', both young and aged, Ethiopia is one place, one nation, one people. In the "New Ethiopia" as we often saw banners proclaiming their support of, there's an unspoken division along tribal lines. Particularly between the Oromoo, the Amhara, and Tigrey (all mutually exclusive conflicts).
The rest of the world saw the accumulation of this with the latest rounds of protests coming out of the Oromoo Reigon, but anyone who watches politics knows, protesting has long since been the youths' means of expressing political discontentment.
We witnessed this first hand living down in Shashamanee, but felt the protests at that time were made into a bigger deal than they actually were. We had family and friends who had called to check on us as if our life was in danger, but in fact, we were very safe in our home.
Our then landlord couldn't say the same, being that he had to run from the police, who were chasing a group of protesters in the streets, but he also got chased through the neighborhood by a local with blade - so maybe he was just prone to those kind of things. 🤔
Needless to say, with the exception of the most recent protests, the outcries for justice had been somewhat overblown by the world's media.
Something else more pressing, and often overlooked, is the mass infiltration of big companies like Pepsi and Coke, as well as the over-saturation of beer and cigarettes pushed into the culture through TV's and satellite dishes, more and more of which go up every day.
Popular hairstyles and fashion trends are drawing young men and women away from the age old traditions they used to feel pride in presenting more than just a few times a year.
Not to mention the "poor Ethiopian" stereotype that always seemed to work well for children in the city when they wanted to run to the nearest 'sook' - or shop - excitement a hop in their step towards whatever imported candy or biscuit suited their sweet tooth that day. Sure they would tell you it was for pens and notebooks, and for a select few, that was the case.
For the vast majority, however, it was really just a sugar addiction they were looking to abate. You'd be surprised how often times these "scrappy" looking youths actually walk around with big bellies full of injera, cookies, and bread. Down the line that simple sugar addiction would be traded out with an unquenchable desire for alcohol, inevitable with everything they're seeing from old American movies and TV programs celebrating Oktoberfest.
In cities like Lalibela, they do still gather around their old fashion Talla - more Tej for Bahir Dar - but the feeling these traditional drinks give off is definitely different from the "fabricated" stuff. (Yes, this is what they would actually say.)
Which begs the question, who is choosing this TV programming?
It certainly isn't the grand son of the sweet little old lady running that Talla Bet (Local Beer House).
Seems safe to say a lot of the issues have been imported. And we found this often to be the case. Specifically when it came to the food, which was mostly alkaline in its antiquity. But, tell an Ethiopian their "traditional berbere" is made with a pepper imported by the United States (as a gift in the 1920's as stated by the museum in Fasil Ghibbi) and he'll be up in arms about how this could not be true.
All to say something isn't quite right with the politics in Ethiopia. The people themselves are good natured, truly loving, and "god fearing" as our elders used to say, yet - the deception all nations are now facing is no different there, we're sorry to say.
No one even bats an eyelash at the fact that the NSA helped build a Surveillance Network for Ethiopia, or the renowned Prime Minister's appointment, not election, just so happened to come at a time when the country was blinded in its joy that their long time dictator-like Prime Minister was no longer in the picture.
It's a deeply concerning to say the least, but they pray every day Igziabeher will see them through. On the other hand recognizing the abundance of the earth is key. The barren yards we saw over there mirrored the situation over here, which was disappointing to say the least.
Only ones with farms to feed their families truly seemed at ease. Nothing like a freshly harvested dinner to come back to after a physically taxing day. These farmers were the real ballers, sometimes blissing us with a bit of their abundance, for which we were thankful infinitely.
Because back in the day, this was the real Balling- Balling on Karma - that kept our villages thick as thieves.
Infinite Love and Divine Light