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Ethiopia is a fascinating country. According to their calendar, the year is now 2002, there are 13 months in the year, one being only five or six days long, and the year begins on August 29th or 30th. It all depend on when you believe Jesus was born. There don't seem to be any seasons - it could be spring, summer or autumn now, but it's definitely not raining. Amongst the confusion there is sanity. The sun rises and sets at roughly the same time each day, Ethiopian drivers don't lean on their horns, and the call to prayer isn't amplified. There is no economy. Coffee, some other agricultural products, and a legal stimulant called 'khat' account for most of the GDP. The Ethiopians have received aid for so long that the concept of an economy is beyond most of them, and they don't seem to be particularly bothered about it, or anything else for that matter.

Perhaps the above is a little on the light-hearted side, even lacking in detailed accuracy, but then Ethiopia, to me, is a light-hearted country where accuracy is either hard to establish or irrelevant. Here's what Hishe Hailu has to say in response.....

'Ethiopia is the only African nation that has been a shining beacon of independence and exemplary to the disdained world in smashing the white supremacy that prevailed in the 19th century. You can read histories and stories related to the Battle of Adwa(1896) whereby the Italian aggressors were thrown to the dust bin of history. This victory of ours has given impetus to the rest of the world to fight for its independence.

Ethiopia is the political center of Africa. You can think of the international and continental organizations based in Addis Ababa. Addis Ababa is second to Washington DC in being a diplomatic center.

Ethiopia has its own alphabet and religion. It has a language called Ge'ez-one of the authentic languages of the holy bible. It is the first African country to accept Christianity and Islam. It is the very country that was mentioned more than 50 times in the holy bible. The Prophet Mohammed had also a special respect to this nation (if interested you can read the Hadith).

Its new year is mostly September 11. This has got nothing to do with the birth of Jesus Christ. We celebrate the birth of our Lord on December. By the way, Ethiopia is the only Christian country whereby God is praised everyday. In English, if one says good morning the response is good morning, in French, Spanish, etc it is all the same. In Ethiopia if you say Endemin neh/nesh? (how are you?) the response is Egziabher yimesgen (Praise be to God).

We have four seasons and they have names (kiremt, bega, tsedey, meker) but we have 13 months of sunshine.

We have our own music notes composed in the 5th century. The composition has five volumes (five big books). They are used for liturgical services. Our music is divided into two: spiritual songs and secular ones. By the notes you can identify which one is spiritual and which one secular. We also have original music instruments. I promise next time if you come to Addis, I will take you to our music Yared school attributed to the great 5th century Ethiopian music legend and I am dead sure you will be caught by surprise. You may refuse to go back to Europe.

We have one of the best philosophers on earth. You can check Zera Yacob-an Ethiopian philosopher in google

We have an economy Mr. Steve. We are not demanding the amount of aid we used to beg. Rome was not built....We export spices, oil seeds, coffee, hides and skins, flowers, textile products, leather products (were you not happy with leather jacket and pair of shoes you bought in Addis?), gold, now we will be exporting power to the Sudan, Kenya and Djibouti.'

Yes, Hishe. Respect.


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