Monday, June 26, 2006

Excerpt from ICS Yearbook

Nice excerpt about Ethiopia from the ICS yearbook:

Emerging from the eastern horn of the African continent is one of the most misunderstood and stereotyped of Africa’s developing nations. It is narrowly portrayed by the western media as a sub-Saharan wasteland fraught with chronic drought, populated by starving children with distended stomachs and fly covered faces and burdened with economic hardship. But these images are only a small part of the reality of Ethiopia, an ancient civilization once called Abyssinia, which is the archaeological site of “Lucy” and perhaps the origin of man some three and a half million years ago.

This is Ethiopia… a country unique in all of Africa, a country that managed to retain its cultural heritage because of centuries of isolation, yet a country that is also a melting pot of Mediterranean, Arabic, and African influences. Perhaps most noticeable is the theocentric orientation of its 50 million people, assembling regularly for religious holidays to honor the different Patron Saints. Most remarkable is that peaceful co-existence prevails among the equal representations of Christian orthodoxy and Islam, unlike the clashes between fanatic religious factions characteristic of other parts of the world. Most Ethiopians express their gratitude to God or Allah in quiet devotion, without zealous fervor or proselytization.

The dress, music, religious ceremonies, lingual intonation, and even facial characteristics display this beautiful and distinctive marriage of African and Arabian, Christian and Muslim. Ethiopians essentially interact in a spirit of unhurried cooperation – miraculous, considering the economic devastation and disadvantaged conditions most of them live with. Yet Ethiopians display not despair, but open affection, gentleness and quiet joy, many walking hand-in-hand, or arms about each other’s shoulders.

Geographically situated in the heart of Ethiopia is its capital Addis Ababa, literally “New Flower.” It is a bustling metropolis of contrasts, with modern architectural wonders set aside corrugated tin hovels; crammed buses and funky Fiat taxis compete on pot holed roads with heavily laden burros, sheep, goats, cows, and hundreds of thousands of pedestrians.

Advertised as having 13 months of sunshine, the climate is often ideal. Addis Ababa’s 8,000 foot elevation makes it dry and sunny throughout most of the year, with heavy rains during the months of July-September.

About 80 embassies exist in the capital, along with the continental headquarters for many Africa relief agencies. Both the African Union and the Economic Commission for Africa are headquartered in Addis, making it uniquely international and the longtime home of many humanitarian-oriented epatriates.

1 comment:

liatdesta said...

hey, i'm thinking about spending one of my years at the ICS in Addis. How is your experience there?? Please email me @ liatdesta@hotmail.com. I'm really interested.