June 16, 2013
What do I call this, ADS or African in the Diaspora Syndrome? Why is there no
collective move, especially in the more industrialized Africa, like Ethiopia
where folks –I thought were more conscious, to connect with those of us who
have been away for five centuries? After
all, the Organization for African Unity was founded here and still has its
offices here on the 50th Anniversary of what is now known (since
2005) as the African Union.
If this is the Pan African Century why isn’t there more of a
move to include those of us in the Diaspora in a tangible way?
Perhaps the philosophical plan excludes those of us outside continental Africa?
Heads of state do not constitute the people. If I don’t know about it, for all
practical purposes most Pan Africans in the San Francisco Bay Area don’t know
Green and white, in the opposite order are what seem to count, that and the
Christian church. It’s not, welcome home
my sister; it’s not who are you my
sister; it’s not what have you been
up to for 500+ years my sister. It’s not that, nope, it’s let’s go to the ATM so you can pay me my sister.
Granted there are linguistic barriers, but hell, I had to save a lot of money
to make the reverse transatlantic route
back here. It took a lot of time and effort to get here. I had to even bring
work with me. So, granted, I would have liked to study more and learn the
language, however, I really had no brain matter space left to fit it in. Now
that I am here, interested and eager, no one is interested in this Pan African
woman unless I make all the overtures and of course have my checkbook ready.
I have made calls to folks; texted—unfortunately unable to email, with now
responses from the sisters I met. Haben has responded with regret.
I wanted to visit the drop-in center which my dollars
support when I first arrived and I was told there was no room in the van or
taxi. Since then I have been running and
today is Sunday; folks are with family and friends and I am neither (no sorrow
just a fact).
There was no orientation when I arrived to the neighborhood –dos and don’t, how
safe is it? Useful information like what buses go where. What the money means.
People speak in paper Birrs; however, there are coins too I discovered
Two weeks ago when I really needed Internet, no one told me an Internet café
was just up the street. 10 Birr an hour with a printer; pretty good deal too.
Instead I stressed and then went to the Hilton, where the Internet cost money
when I could have gone to the Jupiter Hotel and had a fresh mango juice and
listened to live jazz or went to the golf club and used theirs for free. I
found this all out yesterday evening –I could have even used Skype.
To go anywhere from the Betel Guest House one has to pay for
the entire day, $50 US as if $50 grows on trees and Americans have Benjamin
Franklins falling from their pockets—this is the cost if one uses Guest House
services. I was going to have to rent a van today, what a wasted resource to
run around. I decided I’d save my $65, the air and the planet too and skip the
last minute must sees. As we drove to Bahar Dar from Gonder, I
wanted to offer rides to the folks along the way hitchhiking.
Next time, I will ask someone to connect me with a nice bi-lingual taxi driver,
with a fee I can negotiate. Did I say next time? Yep, I did because I am not
going to judge the entire country by this one experience in Betel at the Guest
Better yet, I could get a taxi driver of twos numbers and a college student who
can run around with me for a fee.
I haven’t had much to eat here, which is ridiculous considering their “fasting
meal.” Everyone knows what this entails yet I have this awful rice with
vegetables –carrots and cabbage and onions daily for two weeks—well it’s not
awful, it’s just plain and tiresome.
I get spinach when I bring some home. However it is cooked while I am out of
town, four days before I can eat it. I am glad I didn’t get sick last night,
since electricity is really iffy here— I ask for honey and ginger but I don’t
get it. I bought some last night. I also
have to buy my own fruit, otherwise I would literally starve. In the country, their crop cycle differs from
Addis, which means I can’t find mangos and bananas.
When we go to the local tea shop yesterday afternoon to have a meal, the
waitress doesn’t speak English, although she understands chai for tea and cappuccino for
coffee and chips for French fries. This
is what we order. I am limited on what kinds of junk food I can eat, so for me,
the French fries and potato chips I buy at the corner store suffice. I hope the
food is a little more substantive in Tanzania.
I wanted to get to Shashamane yesterday and to the African Union Building to
see it and to get a doll and some music and to see the National Park and to an
Orthodox Church. Oh well, maybe next time with Helen’s father I can go to a
church one Sunday morning. That would be fun. He seems like a nice man. I would
love to stay with them. I also wanted to walk around the old city—which has the
first hotel built by King Menelik II. This king sported a do-rag under his
When I get back to Lalibela, I’d like to connect with my
tour guide there, Destaw, and when back in Bahar Dar, boat owner Rasta. I still
want to see the falls even if it is a pitiful figment of its former pre-dam
One of the residents here, Deirdre from Ireland, has a new three week old baby
girl named Sara. She will be back to Addis in six weeks to pick her up. The
baby’s new dad’s birthday was yesterday. Perfect gift for the family and just
in time for Father’s Day.
I don’t feel like going to the Internet café, but I better
get moving. I need to email Sister Charlotte and print out her instructions for Arusha, Tanzania.