The view of Ethiopia through the lens of Natsu

Natsu
From L – R Me, Natsu, Carina. This was at Istanbul airport where we were waiting for the connecting flight to Ethiopia.

I had the opportunity to go on the African Study Visit 2015 to Ethiopia in February. The programme of the study visit was an intriguing experience, meeting people with various view points, each of them emphasising different aspects of Ethiopia’s political and social system (and making me much more confused on what to think than ever before) Incidentally all the information that I gained and the many questions that arose, I needed to verbalize, summarize and analyse in my essay anyways, so taking this opportunity Chijioke has given me, I just want to reflect what I felt being present in an African country, given it was my first ever visit to the continent itself.

Going to “Africa” was on my bucket list ever since I was told that both of my parents had lived and worked there. It has always been a vague curiosity of what kind of place Africa was. Living in Japan, where I come from, the continent ‘Africa’ seems so far away. Not only in geographic terms, but just far, simply far away, a place with such a exotic note.

My (and many of my friends) image use to be, thanks to TV news, cartoons and UN adds, mostly a mixture of “Lion King”, brightly coloured bead necklaces, poverty, exotic culture, bloody conflicts, great athletes, dangerous diseases etc. On top of that, I think many have generalized the whole African continent with a single image. Indeed when I told my friends that I was going to Ethiopia, most of their comments were, “Why go there when there is Ebola?” while others requested “I want a picture of a stray lion walking down the street”. I too, though we had been studying on Ethiopia beforehand, somehow still had that metal image of “rural-ness” all over the country, which I was so familiar with in the TV screens.

Ostrich
She didn’t see a stray lion but she saw an Ostrich. Fair enough……..

That was why it did take me by surprise when we arrived in Addis Ababa for the first time and found large and smooth, perfect roads, and many high and western-looking buildings. There were a lot of other shocks, toilets without paper, being trapped inside an elevator, children asking for money, occasional brownish water from the taps, the load of “Ni-hao”s we received (there was a lot of Chinese people in the city) and food I wasn’t used to etc, but to find the city of Addis as a whole with its infrastructure, many nice buildings, the busy traffic and being different from the “Africa” that I had always seen on TV, was fascinating to me. Also, the dramatically changing landscapes we saw as we travelled outside Addis, from the city view to vast grasslands made me realize how unimaginably diverse the whole of the continent must be, let alone Ethiopia.

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She tried out some of the local dishes. That’s the famous Injera……. I’m not sure what her response to the taste is saying from the picture
DSC02668
This was a risky one she tried, i tried it too…. The red thing in the white plate is actually raw meat… Ermm let me reserve my comments.

With the limited time we had, I know I can’t say I now know what Addis Ababa looks like, not to mention what Ethiopia or “Africa” looks like. But I think I have seen enough to tell my friends in Japan that there is much much more to the African continent than what is often portrayed in screens and photos.

Natsu 2
She’s keen on gathering so much information. That was our farewell dinner.

Now I have realized how very limited my image of the vast continent has been and how very little I was able to see and learn in the visit, my bucket list will probably grow significantly, making more specific details of which countries and regions in the continent to go to. It seems I really need to stop smoking to live long and healthy.

***

I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as i did. It’s amazing to see the effect of just knowing a single side of the story and not just that but seeing it through a flawed perspective. There’s a lot of information in the media but we need to be analytical before drawing our conclusions. This goes beyond this post. Hopefully two more posts will be coming up on the Ethiopian trip.

Loads of Love

JMAD.

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The Man I believe in

It’s been said, living in a mixed area makes us more tolerant and not less. I totally agree with that statement. Recently on Facebook, I was asked what I thought about the statement a Vogue writer gave about Nigerian culture and my response was ‘Can anyone really describe the culture of Nigerians by living in it for a few days?  It’ll definitely be flawed’. How often have you drawn a conclusion without really analysing or experiencing it? In other words what informs your decisions, beliefs or ideologies?

Over the past One month I have had lengthy conversations with some Atheist, Buddhist and Muslim. And it wasn’t in a bid to convert them rather an avenue to understand each other. I remember they all had differing views of Christianity. Let me try and summarise them; the Buddhist couldn’t understand why we had different Churches if we worshipped the same God, was of the opinion that we were divided. The Atheist has been to a Church a couple of times before but found the system in operation questionable especially in laying of hands by the Pastor meanwhile the Muslim couldn’t figure out the Trinity. I equally had another conversation with another person who goes to Church but believes in God and not Jesus Christ and felt it was better that way explaining all religions believe in one God but the division starts when we identify with a particular God.  I am not a theologian but we still had a meaningful conversation, and my thoughts were based on the following. Jesus Christ is the reason there is a word like Christian or Christianity, while on earth He didn’t discriminate, His genealogy wasn’t perfect; out of the four women mentioned three of them Tamar, Rahab and Bathsheba didn’t have good stories, one of them was a prostitute. He loved everyone even unto death; He forgave those who crucified Him. If different religions acknowledge Jesus Christ then there must be something about Him.

During the course of the conversation which happened at different times, I had no intention to win them over, my faithful Christian brethren will be wondering what happened to the great commission of making disciples of all nations. Well let’s say I have learnt it’s my duty to lay the seed and the Holy Spirit does the conviction. In addition to that, looking at Jesus on earth He usually found a common ground to share His message, He made some comfortable around Him (the Samaritan woman at the well). People will be more defensive if they know you are coming with the message of condemnation all in the name of converting them. One question that has been coming up in my head for the past 2 weeks is this, are we as Christians really carrying out the Great Commission out of love or is it just a personal agenda to fill up the seats in Church?

I don’t speak as another religious zealot or a member of a church rather as a person who has encountered Jesus Christ and although I can’t still explain everything about Him but one thing I can try to understand is His love. I have often said it if at the end of this world and remember I said IF there’s no end I will not regret being a Christian. It is a form of relationship that has no end; it is a way of life. This is what I believe in and it informs my decisions. What do you believe in?

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This perfectly sums up what I am saying.