Jaap Rameijer

Newsletter January 2018, Ethiopia


It was a gift, a birthday gift. My seventies birthday. And what to give a man who has everything? So, I asked for a contribution to go to Ethiopia. A land I just had to visit. Just like Peru a few years ago. I don’t know why, but I had to go there. There was a special tour organized by the well-known and respected travel agency called Djoser. An adventurous trip of three weeks touring all of Ethiopia, including Christmas, I mean Ethiopian Christmas, on January 7th and the Timk at Festival on January 19th.

Let me tell you something about this beautiful, strange land. The Land of Origins, Ethiopia’s official tourism motto. The Source of Humankind. The cradle of mankind. The birthplace of the wild coffee plant and the earliest development of agriculture. The beginning of the Blue Nile. The population is estimated at around 105 million. More than 70% of the population earns a living from the land. Agriculture is the backbone of the national economy with exports of coffee, oil seeds, flowers, vegetables and all kinds of fruits like banana’s, corn, lentils, papayas and more. There is also a thriving livestock sector.

A land with countless churches, monasteries and chapels, all with beautiful colored drawings. And all containing a copy of the Arc of the Covenant. And maybe the original in Aksum. A land with an incredible varied landscape. An elevated central plateau varying in height between 2.000 and 3.000 meters. With huge and impressive mountain ranges and with 25 mountains, in the north and in the south, whose peaks are higher than 4.000 meters. With beautiful, vast lakes, like lake Tana. It is the water reservoir of Africa. With numerous fantastic historical heritage sights. Nine of them are official UNESCO World Heritage Sights, the highest number in all of Africa. With its many national parks, full of wildlife. With its special, independent tribes in the south. With its impressive history. With its wonderful ceremonies, like the Timkat festival. A country, the only country in Africa that has never been colonized. The figurehead of African independence. A country with a turbulent history, but also with an enormous potential to make it one of the richest countries in Africa. But it was also business. Research for my book “The life of the Earth.” For in Addis Ababa I met Lucy the oldest, or almost oldest human being of the world, a woman who lived in Ethiopia 3,5 million years ago.

Let me ‘walk’ you through this magic land, following the route we took with Djoser.

Each tab below is a day/trip of my visit. Do click on each tab to read the story and see my images.

Addis Ababa

We arrive at 0600 at the airport, very early in the morning. And there we get our first impression of how things work in Ethiopia. Very slow, checks everywhere, waiting, changing money, passport check, getting visa, picking up luggage, it takes hours before we are ready. But it keeps a lot of people at work. The city itself is very, very busy. A madhouse. Over 7 million people are living here. A place with both beautiful modern buildings and lots of houses in disrepair, with paved roads and mud roads, with museums, palaces, churches and with thousands and thousands of people on the road, including cattle. Oxen, goats, donkeys, you name it. Noisy, dirty, but very much alive. It was January 1ste, Happy New Year, at least for us. But Ethiopia has a different calendar. For example, on January 7th it is Christmas day. Haile Selassie is still very much present. In palaces, in the university and in museums. As is the Lion of Judah. And strange enough this Olmec head, the same as can be seen in Mexico.

We have our first lunch and it is one of the best lunches we will get during this trip. In the Trinity Cathedral where Haile Selassie and his wife are buried, we see the first religious paintings. Wonderful. Beautiful colors. And different faces of course. And yes, Mary Magdalene is there as well, standing at the cross. But she is not very important in Ethiopia. Mother Mary is. One of the things that struck me most is that in all the cathedrals, churches, chapels and abbeys we visited, there are numerous drawings and paintings of Old Testament Scenes. That is something you will rarely see in West European churches. And the other thing that struck me is that here are so many construction sites. So many new buildings being put up.




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Thursday, 22 March 2018

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Jaap Rameijer

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