The unique Abyssinia

Kids on the roads less traveled are curious, throughout the world

I get up at crack of dawn. Logically reasoning, a new day has just started. While a European would say it is six, according to Ethiopian time it is zero hour. The notional concept of time we are used to may be delusive. What does the term ‘yesterday at four o’clock at night‘ refer to, depending if the speaker mentions it right in the early morning or in the evening the same day. May be confusing. When does one day come to an end and when does the other start, once again, since many of us do not switch thinking from Saturday to Sunday terms just when the clock indicates it is past midnight. Ethiopia’s concept of time is a no-nonsense idea. Just like several other vagaries of its unique culture.

It is sun that points the start of the day and the time you wake up in the morning. The notion ten o’clock European time brings no useful information for an Ethiopian. In fact it is four o’clock, which for means it is already four hours after dawn, presumably four hours since waking up and yet having another twenty consecutive hours to work, eat, relax and sleep before the next day starts. It makes sense.

Each year consists of 13 months and each of the first twelve months has exactly 30 days, after which comes the last, another six or seven compensatory days long. Note that the year has on the average two more days than the year we are used to. The time in Ethiopia passes slower and in the course of more than a thousand years we get a substantial time shift. Ethiopians celebrated the new millennium merely three years ago!

A truly biblical character on a donkey-pulled wagon

The Ethiopian alphabet consist of symbols representing syllables. The symbols are absolutely meaningless for an outsider. Besides the official Amharic language there is also another primary language. Oromo has similar amount of native speakers as Amharic, while next are the dozens of other languages and dialects spoken by over one third of the Ethiopian population. A living tradition and culture I am able to observe at every step I take.

Just entering a restaurant is enough to see the Ethiopian cuisine as a far different from any other seen in the world. Ethiopia stands out a lot compared to other African countries. As a matter of fact, according to Biblical beliefs, Ethiopia is a location of Eden, the paradise on earth.

Let’s start from the scratch.

A limited information flow in the history of the world naturally evoked the need for parallel development of separate civilizations. Many of these unique cultures have been destroyed by our ancestors, the Europeans. Initially, using violence or slavery and with some time also may people agreed to be voluntarily exploited by the capitalism. Ethiopia is the only African country that was never colonized. The Italians tried to, but fortunately they never succeeded. This means that the Ethiopian culture could have been developing undisturbed for many years parallel to the western world.

I appreciate the fact that almost no soul here speaks neither Italian nor French. Most likely I even more appreciate the fact that it is a sour pancake kuanta firfir made of raw lamb in spicy sauce on my plate, rather than just another pizza or an omnipresent anywhere else hamburger. This is why I consider Ethiopia unique.

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