Kemi's trip to Ethiopa and Burkina Faso

 

My month in Ethiopia and Burkina was phenomenal... here are a few initial learnings/experiences which I'd like to share:

 

Ethiopia is a country we all should experience... the only African country which was never fully colonized and which has experienced significant upheaval and war in this century, there is a national pride which I've never seen anywhere!! A deep-rooted sense of history permeates the atmosphere, and every Ethiopian is aware of Lucy (now exhibited at the national museum), kings and queens from Sheba who married David through Taitu who was the clever partner of Melanie II who defeated the Italians at Axum.

* Very, very, very few Europeans in Ethiopia. So wonderful NOT to see banks owned by westerners, businesses dominated by Europeans, and instead, Ethiopian-owned operations all around.

* If you ever travel to the continent, use Ethiopian Airlines. I paid only $100 to add a trip to Burkina Faso to my Ethiopia trip. As EA is the hub of travel in Africa, if you use them, (and the service is excellent!) you can go to any other African country for the cost of the landing fees. I paid $100 for 2 five-hour trips from Addis to Burkina!! The only draw-back (if this is a negative at all) is that you have to fly through Addis.

* Seshemane, Mecca for Rastafarians in Ethiopia. Was blessed to have a sister-friend living there, so spent a night in the lodge and with the small group living at the site... a humbling experience as I learned about the unique international Rastarari family, meeting Rastafarians from the UK, St Vincent, Jamaica, the US, Trinidad, Barbados, Ethiopia, Kenya....

* The way to go to the continent is to hook up with a local contact. I was luck enough to have an assignnment with a local NGO focusing on work with women. They accommodated me, and as a result of being connected to the ground, my experience was ss1000% richer. As a result of this, I met people and experienced things which I never could have in a short month.

* Human trafficking.... Learned a great deal about human trafficking... the organization I worked with supports Ethiopians who have been deported from the middle east after having been trafficked there for domestic work; these young girls from rural areas are taken from their secure (but poor) home environments and plunged into a world of illegal immigration, domestic slavery, new culture, language, religion .... and are often discarded when things do not work out... They return shattered, broken individuals with significant mental health issues... and GSA provides a shelter for them before reuniting them with their families.

*  Excess, excess, excess... we have so much in the west. I visited families who live in a small earthen homes - without lights, electricity, and who, as a result of a self-help coorporative, save US$ 5 per year - and this improves their lives tremendously. .....and we complain.....

*  Burkina - supposedly one of the poorest countries in the world, but what an investment in art and culture by the government of Burkina!   Visited the Village des artisans - saw so much beauty it hurt my heart.....  The film and art centre of Africa...

*  How we dance....One tour guide told me:  In the north of Africa, we dance with our necks and shoulders, in central Africa - they dance with they hips... in southern Africa, they dance with their feet.... interesting reflection...

*  Finally.... for a refreshing difference.... if you want to see women on motorbikes - go to Burkina..... women of all ages, sizes, classes, use motor cycles/scooters to get around.   Dressing in elaborate headgear and traditional clothing, jeans, with babies tied on their backs, with bundles of merchandise for sale - just an ordinary part of getting to work and play!!  Really cool to see...