From Rwanda to Ethiopia, Reho Travel’s CEO, Karsten Horne, continues on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure through the hill plains and bustling streets of Addis Ababa.
A young boy, barefoot in an old Arsenal shirt and grubby, dusty shorts stands with his goat. He has walked over the hills and across the high plains for many days, hoping to sell his companion for a good price so he can make his family proud. Behind him is the shell of a giant football stadium, being constructed by the Chinese, it will house 60,000 fans and cost over a US$100m.
In the shadow of the giant dome, goat herders huddle together not prepared for the unseasonal cold snap. A few months ago, a giant gas explosion rocked the construction site, a dozen were killed however it never made the press, not that the goat herders were able to read anyway.
We weaved our way through the goat market, waved to the herders and received enthusiastic waves and big smiles in response. Further along the road the contrast of old and new evaporated and the hustle and bustle and chaos of one of Africa’s largest cities soon engulfed us.
Blue and white rusty Peugeot taxis that were at least 50 years old, competed for space with trucks, minibuses and pedestrians with no apparent right of way. Aiming for a renowned coffee shop we attempted to cross the busy road just as a kid grabbed my arm and yelled something incoherent in my ear, annoyed I pushed him away and continued to the other side. Instinctively I felt for my iPhone in my pocket and it was gone, last I saw of it was the kid with the afro and his accomplice merging into the crowd.
Welcome to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.
You soon learn in Ethiopia that their history runs deep, and Addis has its fair share of impressive museums, so when you are standing in the bowels of the National Museum staring at “Lucy”, a 3.2-million-year-old fossil, suddenly many aspects of the city start to look decidedly modern.
The Ethnological Museum, which is in the grounds of the university, is one of the best I have ever seen. Initially you are welcomed by a tortoise who has been there through the fall of the kingdom, the rise of communism and the move to democracy. As you enter the building you are reminded by the young student guide that this is the former residential palace of Emperor Haile Selassie, the stuffed lion at the top of the stairs, with the creepy glass eyes was a pet of the Emperor. The lion has long been the symbol of Ethiopia, it represents strength, kinship and pride, originating with the Hebrew tribe of Judah and is a now a prominent symbol of the Rastafarian movement.
Throughout Ethiopia we came across the legend of Haile Selassie, we stood in his bathroom, showed respect at his grave, accidently showed a lack of respect by sitting on his throne in a church and ran around practicing the Rastafarian greeting “Jah Haile Selassie”. Haile Selassie was Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930-1974, known globally as both an extraordinary and controversial leader who ensured that Ethiopia was the only African nation not to be colonised. His life ended ingloriously as he was murdered by the communists in 1975 and buried beneath a toilet block in his own palace.
The Rastafarian movement revere Haile Selassie as the messiah who “will lead a future golden age of eternal peace, righteousness, and prosperity”. It is believed that he was a descendant of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, a dynasty that lasted over 3,000 years – the longest in history.
Keep an eye on KARRYON for PART 2 of Karsten’s journey to Ethiopia.
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