Addis Ababa: Highland Flower

Addis Ababa: Highland Flower

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The last imperial capital of Abyssinia and the capital of the modern nation of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa has only existed for a little over 130 years. As such, its name means “new flower,” and speaks to its flourishing as a center of power, culture, and influence in the ancient and storied Ethiopian highlands. Here, friendships and kindness abound, and Ethiopia’s enduring legacy of independence in the face of external attempts at conquest is a sense of majesty, tempered by humility, that makes visitors feel welcome and cared for.

Heran and I grab some coffee at an Italian-inspired coffee shop. Café-style coffee, pizza, and pasta are some of the culinary influences the Italians left after their short-lived occupation during World War II. That said, machine-brewed coffee has got nothing on the elaborate, traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony.
The juxtaposition of African and European design was evident in the halls of the former Imperial Palace, once home to Emperor Haile Selassie and now a museum on the campus of Addis Ababa University.
Getacho is trained as a medical lab technician. He left the field because of his aversion to the abortions he was required to help perform. I didn’t ask him about his stance on a woman’s right to choose; he just said he couldn’t bare the actual procedure. His other siblings all work in the medical field. He said to me, in much better English than he gave himself credit for, “All will work out. All will be okay.”
Students text and browse on cell phones at Addis Ababa University. The striking campus library was named in honor of former US president John F. Kennedy—a controversial figure in Ethiopia.
Women in bright colors walk past the verdant walls of an upscale residential district near the embassy zone. Some of the mansions house ambassadors and other dignitaries, guarded from—or kept from—the outside world by these high walls.
Traditional Ethiopian coffee (bottom left) compliments a platter of steaming, savory goodness.

-Ernest White II


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