Ethiopia: First Reminder on Perception

I’ve traveled southward across the Mediterranean Sea. After 6 hours’ flight, I arrived in the ‘political capital of Africa’: Addis Ababa.

I remember well how I perceived Africa during my childhood. I knew Africa as Ethiopia, South Africa, Madagascar, Sahara Desert, wilderness, and The Lion King. South Africa is Nelson Mandela and gold, Madagascar is lemur, Sahara is hottest place on Earth (Africa is extremely hot in general), and there’s a high population of wild animals like in The Lion King.

Africa, in my childish mind, is where extreme hunger, bone-skinny children, dying children live (no idea yet about political instability in some countries). And I know what I thought about Ethiopia until just a few years ago (!): the center of extreme hunger. Highest level of poverty and children mortality.

Now I must apologize for all those apathetic childish mind. And that’s way, way back, as well. This country has been working and gaining a lot on their politics, economy, social development. Now, after my socio-political awareness jump thanks to the classes and people in my Master’s class, I see myself how the country have been developing.

Ethiopian Airlines, the airline I took, did a fairly good job on their service. Brutally speaking, more than I expected. No delay, clean plane, nice crews, good enough food. Through their in-flight magazine I get a beautiful image of the country’s outstanding achievement in athletics at the Olympics (45 medals through the years, 21 of them golds) and their persistent struggle for it. The magazine itself has a very nice layout, content, and style (better than some of the European mags, sorry Italian friends :p).

These images I see are giving me good hopes. Of course I only experience their airline, airport, and customer service. And that’s only the outmost layer one can physically see. Certainly there’s still a lot to be done and lot to be improved. Getting out of the airplane, I see one simple thing representing need of improvement that makes me smile: black fume from the airport shuttle bus.

But it’s a gentle reminder for myself not to give unfair judgment, to avoid stereotyping, let it be for a country or anything else. On the contrary, be advised to see their positive sides and potentials. How much do I know, anyway? Probably nothing. I smile at the old child of me, telling her, “This is Ethiopia! What do you know?!” 😀


Fun fact:
Ethiopians speak Amharic which has its own letters. I found 46 forms of the syllabaries on the plane’s headphone pack. Here’s all of them:

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