An Ethiopian Journal

"Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunters"

Discover Ethiopia, Birthplace of Humanity

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“The Ethiopians were regarded by the Greeks as the best people in the world. Homer speaks of them in the Iliad as the ‘blameless Ethiopians’. He claims that they were visited by Zeus, the king of the gods, by the goddess Iris, who travelled to their country to participate in their sacrificial rites, and by Poseidon, the sea god, who ‘lingered delighted’ at their feasts. This theme was taken up, in the first century BC, by Diodorus of Sicily, who asserted that the gods Hercules and Bacchus were both ‘awed by the piety’ of the Ethiopians, whose sacrifices, he claims, were the most acceptable to the gods.”

Passage from ‘The Ethiopians, A History’ by Richard Pankhurst 

Written by Tseday

June 24, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Ethiopia, you can ignore it but you might come to regret it

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April 11, 2015, by Gary Quinn

You can find poverty in Ethiopia, of course, but look a little deeper and you’ll find there’s a great richness too – cultural, historical and human. You can ignore it but you might come to regret it. Seek it out and I’d suggest it will pay back forever.

I’m crazy about Ethiopia. It’s exciting and elegant and stuffed full of history and drama. It offers vast distances between its remarkable tourist sites so, for a traveller like me who wants to get lost in the journey, it’s a fascinating place to visit and one that’s rapidly changing. It’s six years since my last trip here and change is everywhere.

I’m in a minibus heaving with European journalists, cutting down through the Ethiopian section of the Rift Valley towards the Bale Mountains. It’s an eight-hour drive from the capital Addis Ababa, if we don’t take pit stops – but that’s unlikely in a country as surprising and eye-catching as this.

There are deep blue crater lakes to explore, buzzards flying overhead, lush pastures and dark forest alongside us and great restaurants and brand new vineyards to visit. And that’s before we make it to the mountains themselves and all that they offer.

Ethiopian tourism is expanding rapidly and the country is working hard to contain it. The whole world seems to want to be here right now. Two of my travelling companions work for Lonely Planet and the Rough Guides. Both publications gave Ethiopia their vote of confidence recently, putting it among the top tourist destinations in the world you need to see right now.

Beyond tourism, countries such as China, Turkey, the US, the UK and others are investing heavily in a country that is stuffed full of potential. The hotels of Addis buzz with the sound of business being done.

It’s a safe country for tourism, well managed and with a young, educated workforce striving to educate the world that there’s a country and a culture that runs much deeper than old headlines might suggest. After all, 30 years and a lot of political and economic change has washed over Ethiopia since the famine of 1984.

Ethiopians are proud and relaxed. Men of all rank and association walk hand-in- hand in the street. A shoulder bump, that I couldn’t quite master, is the greeting of choice among friends, male and female.

Some say their natural pride comes from the fact that as a country they were never colonised like their African neighbours, others from the fact that they can chart their history back to the birth of man. More again claim it’s just the Ethiopian way – elegance comes from within they say: simply enjoy it for what it is.

The main goal for the engine behind tourism right now is increasing the standards in accommodation, guides and transport infrastructure. Ethiopian Airlines operates an extensive internal flight network making it easier to travel around this country of 90 million people – an essential service since the distances to be travelled can be vast and the roads network still developing. The airline has also recently partnered with Ethiopian Holidays to offer tailor- made packages with experienced guides and great accommodation. There are also many independent tour companies with extensive experience such as Ethiopian Quadrants, run by Irishman Tony Hickey.

The standard of resorts is increasing quickly. Back on the road to Bale we overnight in the Kuriftu Resort and Spa Debra Zeit, one of a group of luxury resorts clustered around one of the crater lakes that make this part of the country so attractive.

Our individual bungalows are thatched and huge while the swimming pool and restaurant overlook sapphire-blue water where pelicans drift slowly behind fishing boats on the lake. It’s a remarkable location, calm and lush with incredible food and wonderful staff.

The next day we travel onward towards Bale and take a pitstop in Bekoji – a small Ethiopian highlands town that has produced some of the greatest distance runners in the world, including Tirunesh Dibaba, Kenenisa Bekele and Derartu Tulu.

Traffic passes and children stare and I try to figure out why so many Olympic medals have been brought home here. The high altitude helps and the great coaching, but the story of Bekoji and its track record is bigger than that. Perhaps, like Ethiopia in general, the people are simply ambitious enough to win, or maybe they’re destined to do so.

The sun is setting as we finally cross into the Bale mountains national park, casting triumphant colours across the horizon. We’re in the Ethiopian highlands surrounded by some of the highest peaks in Africa. A magnificent lightening storm is chasing us from a distance and as night falls and the terrain gets rougher the sense of adventure is palpable.

Thunder snaps in the air as our driver navigates a route across the plateau shaped by rains and deep crevices. The rainy season in the mountains lasts from June to September creating a colder climate than you would expect and you’ll be glad you packed warm clothes. Bale is a biological hotspot in Africa. There are more than 280 different bird species, 82 different mammals and 1,600 plants, 10 per cent of which are endemic to Bale.

While Ethiopia doesn’t claim to compete with its neighbour Kenya for tourist access to wildlife, there is a huge amount to see and experience and we were heading to the very best place to help do that: the Bale Mountain Lodge.

This is a luxury eco-lodge nestled among virgin forest and high peaks. It was opened by Englishman Guy Levene in late 2013 and is a good example of how to build sustainable tourism facilities in the wild. There are only eight guestrooms and in fact they’re not just rooms, rather individual bungalows, each isolated from each other at various heights and looking out on the forest. Some have outdoor showers, some have glorious balconies and all offer five- star accommodation.

Not surprisingly, there’s an Irishman involved. Mark Megarry, a Belfast man, is the lodge manager. He has spent two years away from his usual home in Uganda managing the building of the mountain lodge. The pride of everyone involved is great to see. Local people are trained to work in all aspects of tourism and local materials are used for all building, bringing us closer to understanding our surroundings.

This isn’t a lounge-by-the-pool resort. It’s a get up close to nature and breathe it all in kind of place – although there’s a beautiful natural pool under a waterfall in the forest if you do feel the need for a swim.

Our roundtrip the next day takes us back across the plateau. We spot an Ethiopian wolf, one of only two wolf species living in Africa and one of the rarest canids in the world. Families of warthogs, antelope, mountain nyala and, later in the lower grasslands, families of monkeys flank our route. The views are exceptional and wild.

We finally arrive at our last stop: Haile resort in Hawassa, a low- rise resort-style hotel owned and managed by the great Ethiopian runner and Olympian, Haile Gebrselassie. It surprises us all with its international style and warm welcome. Standing on my balcony I can look out on the magnificent Halesse lake, packed with wildlife and try to spot the families of hippos that live there.

Human life here is rich with adventure. A wedding party pass on horseback. The bride, veiled and dressed in vibrant colour, is led up one side of a hill to meet her husband for the first time who approaches, also on horseback, with a party of men from the other side of the hill. Churches and mosques dot the landscape, shantytowns and cafes, farms and schools. Children run along the road calling out, families till the land around us. Crowds throng the cities, cinemas fill and empty, music is everywhere. People eat and walk and dance and live their lives like every country in the world.

You can find poverty in Ethiopia, of course, but look a little deeper and you’ll find there’s a great richness too – cultural, historical and human. You can ignore it but you might come to regret it. Seek it out and I’d suggest it will pay back forever.

Written by Tseday

April 24, 2015 at 12:26 am

Posted in Ethiopia

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Rabbi Dovid Weiss interview on the occupation of Palestine

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Jewish religious scholar Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss explains why he believes that Israel as a state is not legitimate and why he opposes the occupation of Palestine.

Written by Tseday

April 10, 2015 at 9:04 pm

“With faith, courage and a just cause, David will still beat Goliath”

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I ask the fifty-two nations, who have given the Ethiopian people a promise to help them in their resistance to the aggressor, what are they willing to do for Ethiopia? And the great Powers who have promised the guarantee of collective security to small States on whom weighs the threat that they may one day suffer the fate of Ethiopia, I ask what measures do you intend to take? . . . God and history will remember your judgment. . .It is us today. It will be you tomorrow. . .
– Emperor Haile Selassie I, Geneva, Switzerland. June 1936 

Written by Tseday

March 19, 2015 at 2:01 pm

Ephraim Isaac’s Presentation on The Ethiopian Orthodox Tawahido Church

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The Library of Congress presented Ephraim Isaac, Professor Emeritus, Harvard University discussing his newly published book: THE ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX TӒWAHΪDO CHURCH

“Not only are there strong Biblical Hebraic elements in the theology, political theory, and liturgical calendar of the Ethiopian Church but there is also a strong influence from Beta Israel and Ethiopian Jews. Besides these Ethiopian Jews and of course, the Orthodox Ethiopians and a few Protestant and roman Catholic Ethiopian Christians, there are in Ethiopia also very large numbers of Moslems and various native beliefs.”

Written by Tseday

March 3, 2015 at 6:17 pm

Ethiopia’s wealth of surprises

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February 27th 2014, By Cheong Kamei

The East African country may not be on everyone’s must-visit travel list, but it has a lot to offer

The first time I learnt about Ethiopia was when I watched the video to We Are The World, as images of starving African children with distended bellies flashed across the television screen. And it seems that Ethiopia is still haunted by those powerful images of famine and poverty. The country isn’t exactly on everyone’s must-visit vacation list. To top it off, the costly cocktail of vaccinations I needed — it’s compulsory to be vaccinated against yellow fever, and my doctor advised me to get the meningococcal vaccine and malaria pills — didn’t help put my mind at ease. At first.

As I later found out, giving the country a miss would be a huge pity. Ethiopia is eager to exorcise the ghosts of its past. It wants to show off its beautiful scenery, otherworldly architecture and gracious people. All you need to do is be there.


After a 13-hour red-eye flight from Singapore to capital city Addis Ababa on Ethiopian Airlines, it took another two hours by car to get to resort town and popular day-trip destination Debre Zeit, but it was worth the squeeze through the morning traffic.

Sitting at the restaurant of the Kuriftu Resort And Spa, overlooking Lake Kuriftu, watching people kayak and pelicans swim by, I couldn’t help but feel that Debre Zeit is every bit as gorgeous as vacation hot spots anywhere else in the world. The lush greenery, crater lakes and abundant bird-life are testament to the country’s natural beauty, while the luxurious resort I was at reflected Ethiopia’s current tourist boom.

The temperature at Debre Zeit hovers around the mid-20s (that’s Celsius) throughout the year and the tranquil scene was lulling me to sleep when I caught a whiff of a uniquely heady spice. It was berbere, an indigenous and bright red chilli and spice mix that’s traditionally used in dishes, from steak tartar to lentils and wats (slow-cooked stews). Sweet, fiery and addictively aromatic, it’s easy to see Singaporeans falling in love with it. The ubiquitous staple of Ethiopia, injera, on the other hand, takes some getting used to. This flatbread, made from a grain called teff, is light grey in colour and has a slightly spongy texture — similar to a peanut pancake — and a distinctly sour taste.


My next stop was the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lalibela. “Awe-inspiring” does not come close to describing how impressive Lalibela’s 11 cave churches from the 13th-century are. Built by King Lalibela to be Africa’s alternative to Jerusalem, the churches were not erected from the ground up. Instead, the main structure of each church — complete with windows, door and drainage systems — were painstakingly carved out of living rock.

Nobody knows how exactly it was done, although some scholars speculate it took about 24 years to complete. Seeing the churches, in particular Bete Giyorgis, which is built in the shape of a cross, or Bet Medhane Alem, the world’s largest monolithic church that’s 11.5m deep and almost 34m long, you can understand why the legend goes that angels helped complete this architectural marvel.

It was close to Christmas when I was at Lalibela (in the Ethiopian calendar, it falls on Jan 7), and tens of thousands were making their pilgrimage to this spot. Some perched on rocks to read their Bibles, while others prayed, kissed the crosses that were held by priests or broke down at the sight of the churches. At one church, I witnessed dozens of people tirelessly swaying to the beat of the drummers in their company and chanting hymns in an almost trance-like manner. At every corner were people who had walked for miles — sometimes barefoot — to Lalibela to renew, restore or celebrate their faith. The air of reverence was so intense, it felt intrusive to take photos — it was hard not to feel moved.


A 30-minute flight away from Lalibela is Gondar, Africa’s Camelot, and Ethiopia’s royal and ancient historical city. Our first stop was Fasil Ghebbi, a complex of 17th- and 18th-century castles that marked Ethiopia’s first permanent imperial residence. Earthquakes and bombings during World War II damaged some of the buildings, but the Fasilides Castle is by far the best preserved. It was fascinating to hear about Ethiopia’s rich history, but what I really appreciated was how glaringly tourist-free this UNESCO World Heritage Site was. With plenty of space and time to leisurely stroll through the complex, and blue, open skies, Fasil Ghebbi felt almost romantic.

Separate from the complex of castles is Fasilides Bath. The original use of the 50m-long and 30m-wide bath is not known for sure, but it’s now filled with water every Jan 19 to celebrate Timkat, the Orthodox Christian celebration of the baptism of Jesus.

From Gondar, it is a three-hour bus ride to the Simien Mountains, 3,000m above sea level. Its stirring skyline of jagged mountain peaks, sharp gorges and the undulating plateau have drawn comparisons with the Grand Canyon in the United States. Unlike the Grand Canyon though, the only activities offered at Simien Mountain National Park are trekking and cycling. As I was feeling lethargic from the high altitude, trekking seemed like an ideal way to start the day. The pace and trail were manageable and the guide showed us the best spots to take in — and get great photos of — the mountain scenery and rare animals such as Gelada baboons.

It’s amazing how much Ethiopia has to offer tourism-wise. In a week, I’d received a five-star spa treatment at Debre Zeit, experienced a spiritual awakening at Lalibela and marvelled at Ethiopia’s regal past at Gondar. And I’d only seen a teeny part of this country — it’s five times the size of Britain, by the way. And I’m already thinking of returning. I’d love to see national parks such as the Omo National Park (one of the most underrated wildlife sanctuaries in East Africa) or take in the surreal beauty of Sof Omar Cave. Now all I need to do is to get used to eating injera.

Written by Tseday

March 16, 2014 at 11:07 am

“Everybody comes from Africa. Visit Ethiopia.” H.E. Dr. Tedros

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Dr. Tedros Adhanom, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia promoting Ethiopia’s history and progress to +60,000 people in New York City at the 2013 Global Citizen Festival.

Written by Tseday

November 8, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Faces Of Africa: Keepers Of The Ark – CCTV Africa video

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“In the North of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, one finds a church that was built in 434 AD. This church was the first of about 120 other churches built in the Tigray region. Its curved entirely from a rock and not a single stone block was used. The church is the hiding place of the Ark of the Covenant which is known to be sacred. Whatever is in the Ark is only known to the priests and no one even the president knows or has the authority to check. Hence the big question is, what is in this preserved Ark? We find out from the keepers of the Ark.”

Written by Tseday

August 8, 2013 at 9:43 pm


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