Nomonanoto Show

Monday, May 13, 2013

Awassa is a university city with 25 000 students. As it is quite big city and there are enormous differences in living standard one sees a lot of iron fences and gates with barbed wire or broken glass on top of them, and all the well off people have watch dogs or guards – or both. One day I climbed Mount Tabor, a beautiful small mountain almost next to my house, with my hosts Tariku and Demelash and seeing the beauty and tranquility there planned to make the climb part of my morning routines with some qigong at the top, but the boys adviced me not to do that since it is not safe for a farangi to go there alone, they said. Actually Demelash got robbed there once, at the base of the mountain with a knife pointing his way – luckily his Ikkyo was swift, but it didn’t prevent the other thugs coming from behind snatching his mobile from his pocket. In spite of all this I felt safe the whole time I was in Awassa – if you know the rules of where you can go and when and stick to them, there’s no reason to worry. I mean, what happens, happens, but it is of no avail to be worried and scared all of the time.
Awassa Youth Campus is a center for children and youth of Awassa to spend their time constructively. It offers teaching in circus, theatre, dance, music, art, sports and aikido. I was mostly occupied with the aikido dojo but fortunately was able to get a glimpse of the other stuff too and even helped a bit planning a writing workshop for girls – it’s a wonderful idea; empowering the girls by teaching them to express themselves and tell about their lives and at the same time spreading more understanding among each other in the community! There is an unbelievable amount of talent and potential in the kids at the Campus and the staff is totally dedicated and everybody seems to take responsibility beyond what is mandatory. I will be missing this inspiring place…
While I was in Ethiopia I learned to greet people either by supporting my right elbow with my left hand when shaking hands with somebody or by adding a touch with shoulders to the hand shake – somehow it makes the greeting feel more intimate than just a normal hand shake. The support on the elbow is a sign of respect, I’m told. There I also saw people having physical contact all the time in a most natural way; especially men are hugging each other a lot, holding each others’ hands and walking with one arm slung around their friend’s shoulders. Also couples can walk hand in hand which you never see in Tanzania.
 People dress up in most casual, streetwise way, you don’t see much of traditional clothes here contrary to Tanzania and all their colourful kangas. Ethiopian women are beautiful and very feminine, they put a lot of thought to their appearance with stupendous hairdos, accessories and very smart dressing up. I started to feel quite plain there with my eternal jeans and T-shirts and made some concessions to my unadorned style. Quite another case are then of course the people who only wear what they have; some broken down dirty rags – day in day out…
One night my friends took me to a culture club. It was one room with low ceiling and the traditional grass on the floor, packed with people. There was a guy prancing about playing a kind of single stringed fiddle and singing. The singer is called azmari and the instrument is called masenko. In the old days azmaris used to be entertainers in royal courts. They make up the words to their singing as they go along, singing about everything they see and think at that moment, often quite mischievously. The azmari even came up to me and sang something that would have made me blush if I had understood his Amharic. Fortunately my friends translated his suggestions only after we had left… Along with the music goes dancing of course. Iskista is a kind of shoulder dance without moving your lower body that much. People just stood up at their tables when ever they felt like dancing (often) and started jiggling their shoulders. And of course since I was the only farangi around I got challenged to dance in front of everybody by and with a female azmari… Well, there is only one thing to do in those situations – to dance!
Another time I was taken to Wondo Genet, a resort with natural hot springs some 40-50 kilmometres from Awassa. On the way there I saw yet another kind of Africa. When you travel from Addis Ababa to Awassa you mostly see very dry, barren land where everything green has been eaten up by goats and cattle. The road leading to Wondo Genet goes through a magnificently beautiful scenery with a lot of mountains and abundance of green plants and colourful flowers – it totally took my breath away, I was almost in tears… The car we used for this trip has a personality of it’s own; an old pickup truck that more often than not looses it’s wind in the crossings and the driver has to ignite the motor again – which our driver Wachica did every time stoically without so much as blinking an eye.
Since the area around Wondo Genet is so fertile it is also a very good place to buy a plant called chat, Ethiopians own ‘afternoon drug’. Quite many Ethiopians like to spend their afternoons chewing chat, also known as eating the flowers of paradise. I guess chat leaves are somehow equivalent to coca leaves, but much milder so they are legal in the country. The locals say chewing chat makes you more alert, more focused on what you are doing, but I don’t know, I never got to trying it since I was always due to give an Aikido class in the evening and I didn’t want to risk being under influence of anything while teaching. All I saw was a bunch of people taking it really easy lounging comfortably and chatting away the whole afternoon, so being a sceptical westerner I’m not sure how much alertness or focusing is involved there… Anyway, Wachica wanted to buy some extra good chat from the place but couldn’t succeed before he hid away the car with me in it since the minute the chat dealers saw the farangi in the front seat the prices went sky high…
On the way back we stopped to have a meal in a town called Shashamane. It has some interesting history. During the 1960s the emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie, whom the rastafari consider the incarnation of God, gave Jamaican rastafarians some land in Shashamane to inhabit. So nowadays they have their own town within the town and driving through it we were approached by a VERY relaxed young man inquiring in that tickling jamaican dialect: Wa’ppun mon, everything cool ‘mongst you? Mi ketch you some bashy medicine? The rastafari also organize big celebrations for Bob Marley’s birthday in Shashamane and then the town is packed with good music and happy celebrators…
Besides rastafari Ethiopia has some exciting relations with judaism and Israel. According to the national saga Ethiopia’s first king Menelik was the descendant of king Solomon and the queen of Sheba. Some of the Ethiopians do acknowledge jewish religion, but most of them live nowadays in Israel since the operation Solomon in 1991 where Israel evacuated about 15 000 Ethiopian jews from the country.
I don’t know, maybe it is this enchanting coctail of exciting histories, maybe it is these mind blowing oppositions this country is made up of, maybe it is all the wonderful people I met or then just good old endorfines flowing through my veins constantly because of the daily dosage of Aikido, but I really have to say a big chunk of my heart was left behind in Ethiopia and replaicing it sits a yearning to go back there one day…

Some of the buildings at the Awassa University campus bring into mind very familiar architecture from home...
Some of the buildings at the Awassa University campus bring into mind very familiar architecture from home…
Tariku with a jo on Mount Tabor
Tariku with a jo on Mount Tabor
Sihonage practise
Sihonage practise
Ukemi practise
Ukemi practise
Children's group at Awassa Peace Dojo
Children’s group at Awassa Peace Dojo
Graffiti done by AYC's own artist Behulum (who also practises Aikido)
Graffiti done by AYC’s own artist Behulum (who also practises Aikido)
On the way to Wondo Genet
On the way to Wondo Genet
Our cool driver Wachicha
Our cool driver Wachicha
The land of oppositions; on the background some barb wired fences protecting a mansion and at the same time the street outside can look like this...
The land of oppositions; on the background some barb wired fences protecting a fancy mansion and at the same time the street outside can look like this…
http://tanzanianway.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/awassa-of-ethiopia/

Heartland Girls Rural Life Training Center: Sister Donna Frances has an orphanage and school on the shore of Lake Awassa in Ethiopia.
In this remote area, every time kids take a drink from the local stream or lake, they are playing biological Russian Roulette.
alt text
In response to such dire conditions Waves For Water was asked to intervene. Jack Rose and Jamie Grumet designed a solution, and after successful fundraising efforts, Jack flew from California to Ethiopia with 80 water filters - enough to bring safe drinking water to over 8,000 people. alt text
Everyone agrees safe drinking water is a basic human right – that children around the world shouldn’t have to suffer when they quench their thirst from the local stream, pond, lake or river. Enter brilliant technology, in the form of a point-of-use, hollow-fiber water filter, which allows these common water sources to be 100% safe to drink. Village by village, in every far corner of the world, we advance towards our goal of water for everyone by bringing water to some, everyday.
alt text
The timely collaboration of Jamie, Jack and Sister Donna, along with the participation of friends and colleagues, has effectively removed the risk of illness and death caused by daily exposure to water-borne disease.
alt text
Thousands of kids, and local villagers, no longer have to suffer from drinking contaminated water.
http://www.wavesforwater.org/project/project-ethiopia
አዋሳ ግንቦት 05/2005 ሠራተኛው የስራ ባህሉን በማሻሻል በታታሪነት በመስራት ምርትና ምርታማነትን በማሳደግ በዓለም ገበያ ተወዳዳሪ ለመሆን ጠንክሮ መሥራት እንዳለበት ተገለጸ፡፡ የኢትዮጵያ ሠራተኛ ማብራት ኮንፌዴሬሽን 50 ዓመት የወርቅ ኢዩቤል ክብረ በዓሉን ትላንት በሀዋሳ ከተማ በፓናል ውይይት አክብሯል፡፡ የርዕሰ መስተዳድሩ ስተዳድሩ ተወካይ አቶ ታመነ ተሰማ ትናንት በፓናል ውይይቱ መክፈቻ ላይ እንደገለጹት ሠራተኛው የስራ ባህሉን በማሻሻል በታታሪነትና በዓላማ ፅናት በመስራት በአለም ገበያ ተወዳዳሪ ለመሆን ጉልበትና ዕውቀቱን አቀናጅቶ ጠንክሮ መሥራት አለበት፡፡ ኢሠማኮ የግል ተቀጣሪ ሰራተኞች የማህበራዊ ዋስትና እንዲያገኙና ሀገሪቱ ከግብር መር ወደ እንዱስትሪ መር እንደድትሸጋገር በማድረግ በኩል ከፍተኛ አስተዋፅኦ አበርክቷል ብለዋል፡፡ የኢትዮጵያ ሰራተኛ ማህበራት ኮንፌዴሬሽን ፕሬዚዳንት አቶ ከሳሁን ፎሎ በዚሁ ወቅት እንደተናገሩት የኢትዮጵያ ሰራተኞች ያበረከቱአቸውን ሀገራዊ አስተዋጽኦ የመዘከር፣ አሰሪና ሰራተኛ ተግባብተው በአንድ መንፈስ እንዲንቀሳቀሱ የማነሳሳትና ሁሉም ወገን ተጠቃሚ የሚሆንበት ምቹ ሁኔታን የመፍጠር አላማ ያነገበ ነው ብለዋል፡፡ ሠራተኛው ጉልበትና ዕውቀቱን ሳይቆጥብ የህዳሴውን ግድብ ከግብ ለማድረስ እያደረገ ያለው ያላሰለሰ ጥረት የሚያኮራ መሆኑን አመልክተዋል፡፡ በበዓሉ ላይ በሀዋሳና አካባቢዋ የሚገኙ ሰራተኞች አሰሪዎች፣ ከፍተኛ የመንግስት ባለስልጣናትና ጥሪ የተደረገላቸው እንግዶች ተገኝተዋል፡
Sources: Ena