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    BY Winta Assefa

    Ethiopia’s currency, the Ethiopian Birr (ETB), had been losing its value over the years. Yes, Ethiopia’s GDP is said to be in the double digits and my country has been named one of the fastest growing nations, not just in Africa but in the world. However, the same amount money could buy one less items than it used to just a short time ago: inflation is on the increase, the birr’s value is on the decrease.

    Don’t worry; this ain’t yet another depressing article about the little tragedies of another African nation. Here is a short list of stuff one can still do with just one ETB. I highly doubt that you’d find these items priced over one birr- but it’s not really impossible.

    Note: 1 ETB = 0.048 U.S Dollar (1 U.S Dollar could turn into 21.03 birr! I know, I know)

    1- BAND-AID: Uno birr can still cover your cuts. One of the main features of Addis streets and boulevards are souqs, small one-room markets which sell small individual items. You can find most of your everyday needs- one mini shampoo, one razor, one pencil- all within the walls of these small markets.

    Now this is on the list because I am one of the folk who panic about little things such as cuts. I am an architecture student who regularly uses cutters and wires in class-cuts are inevitable. So, I always keep a band-aid in my bag.

    But accidents happen elsewhere too. One can get a cut from the edge of a mini-bus’ wooden bench, run a toe against a wooden branch on the floor, rub a finger against the edge of some stray nail. It’s all possible. Especially here.

    2- PEANUTS: aand birr can buy you aand packet of peanuts; a perfect protein-rich snack (unless you poor thing have an allergy to these delicious nuts). The peanuts are sold in small sealed plastic packets of varying sizes. The size of the plastic packets and quality of the roasted peanuts depends on the souq you buy it from. Most of the time, the nuts are just okay. Sometimes, they’re actually quite exceptional.

    All of the peanuts are still in their coats so I believe its hygienic food. Non-Amharic speakers: peanuts are called louz. In the beginning, it was quite confusing (and interesting) to me to find out that the word louz (meaning almonds in Arabic) is the same word used for another sort of nuts here, in Ethiopia.

    But hey, nuts are nuts. Almonds and peanuts: they’re just brothers from different mothers.The main difference between these two nuts, in Ethiopia, is that almonds are naughty-they love playing hide and seek. Unlike peanuts, one can’t find almonds as easily. I learnt to just ditch them. There are other things to miss.

    3- INTERNET: Some internet cafes charge around 1 birr for five minutes of internet. Got just one photo to upload? A couple of messages you need to urgently check on Facebook? Some random thing you want to Google? Just take a seat and finish off your task. It will barely cost you anything.

    4- CHEWING-GUM: Overslept a little? Didn’t get the time to brush your teeth? Hakuna matata. One does not even need to go to a souq to buy gum: they sell it everywhere. A word of advice. Don’t buy the cinnamon flavored ones. They burn! I’m an Ethiopian accustomed to the country’s spicy traditional foods- when I tell you something burns, you’ve got to take my word.

    5- HAIR-PIN: Like many other items here, you can buy hairpins individually. One piece is usually sold for just one birr. Perfect for when you get sick of your bangs blowing in your face or forgot your hair-band at home.

    6- KITKAT CHUNKY CHOCOLATE: due to government subsidies on sugar products, we have the cheapest chocolates in the world. One can buy an entire bar of chocolate for just one birr. Since the subsidies were introduced in 2011, the price of chocolates and biscuits had been rapidly decreasing while the prices of vegetables and fruits rose: children’s ultimate dream. We have all sorts of chocolate brands competing against each other now. International vs. Domestic, Wafer vs. Caramel, Dark vs. Milk. Battle is still on and customers always win.

    Note: In Number 6, I was being quite economical with the truth. Okay, let’s be honest, 6’s a blatant lie. (Oh how I wish it wasn’t)

    The rest of the items are all at the correct price as far as I am concerned. Have fun with your one birr coin/note. Let me know what could be done by a unit of your currency in the comments down there.

    N.B. I just wanted to include items sold at less than one birr: Needle, A4 sheet, tiny plastic hair-clip

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  • Meet the Rastafarians who returned to the Promised Land


    (CNN)When Julian Whitely lived in New York he was a go-to for legendary musician Bob Marley and his band The Wailers. Recalling his time as a fixer for the group, he remembers being asked to do all manner of things.

    "When they come for business, I'm the one.... 'Julian, we need fish,' I'm the one, we need ganja, we need vegetables... take us here, take us there."

    It was a hectic life, and rather different from the one he lives now. Today he is more likely to be found tending his garden than cruising the streets of downtown Manhattan.

    Whitely left New York behind for southern Ethiopia, swapping the metropolis for a rural town. Now he's one of 600-800 Rastafarians living in Shashamene, an intriguing and beguiling place and the heart of the modern day religion.


    The draw of the Promised Land


     Papa Rocky, head of the Nyabingi Rastafarian Community, Patriarch of the Nyabingi Tabernacle, and Rupert Edwards in Shashamene, 2005.

    Two hundred and fifty kilometers from Addis Ababa, Shashamene's Rastafarians live in 200 hectares of land bequeathed by former Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I, the country's leader from 1930 to 1974. A modernizer, he was a strong supporter of pan-Africanism and brought the country into the League of Nations, United Nations and made the capital Addis Ababa the center of the Organization of African Unity -- the precursor for the African Union.

    But for many Rastafarians he was more than just the head of state. In fact the erstwhile duke ("Ras") Tafari Makonnen gave his name to an entire religion.

    Sent to assume the seat of Jah, "His Majesty Haile Selassie I is the returned Messiah, Jesus Christ in his kingly character," argues Brother Moody, one of Shashamene's residents.

    It follows then that, via Rastafarians' interpretation of the Book of Revelation, Shashamene is holy ground: "we see it [as] justified to see Ethiopia as the Promised Land, the New Jerusalem."

    The notion of escaping Babylon and living in a heaven on earth has drawn Rastafarians from around the world. Bob Marley may have visited Shashamene in 1978, but others have made the move more permanent. Moody was born in Jamaica and with his life's savings made the trip to Ethiopia in 1981. Sister Tereas hails from Chicago, Illinois, and relocated in 2005 after making the journey for the first time in 1999.

    Justifying her decision, she says "to know His Majesty and not to come for me doesn't make any sense. We chant every day about Zion, Ethiopia, creators coming from Africa, so if I didn't do it to me it would be like talking just to talk."


    Welcome to Rasta town


    Deputy chief of the Ethiopian World Federation Salomon Eldain his house in Shashamene, 2005.

    Reggae music and marijuana are often associated with the Rasta lifestyle, and they are an important part of rituals.

    Whitely may not grow it among his cauliflowers, cabbage and herbs, but marijuana plays a part in "I-and-I," a communion and oneness with Jah. "We have a practice of using it as a sacrament in our way of chanting," Moody explains. "When I use marijuana, what it does to me, is that it keep[s] me in tune or in harmony with God."

    Around the tabernacle the community chants and re-convenes, brethren reunited on home soil. To live in Shashamene is "to be free," says Tereas. "The feeling of freedom here is amazing, as an African American; as an American person of color."

    "This is always what we want to be," says Whitely, "to come here and live that life... and I'm a little part of it now, you know."

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  • Photographing Ethiopia’s Young Skate Scene


    Jessica Fulford-Dobson’s Skate Girls of Kabul and Yann Gross’s images of Ugandan skateboarders are just a few contemporary examples of how photography has become integral to the development of young skate scenes around the world. It’s interesting to see how a rebellious subculture in the U.S.–whose documentation can be traced back to Craig Stecyk‘s pictures of the Dogtown Z-Boys in 1970s Southern California–is increasingly becoming a means of empowerment across the globe.

    In January, Berlin-based photographer Daniel Reiter fell in love with the growing skate community in Addis Ababa. It was there that he teamed up with the grassroots youth skateboard movement known as Ethiopia Skate. Soon, Reiter found himself documenting the city’s skatelife and collecting skateboards and streetwear for donations.

    Reiter’s pictures–over thirty of which were featured in his debut art exhibition this month in Vienna–encapsulate the hopes and dreams of young skaters in Addis Ababa. Now, with acrowdfunding campaign recently launched and a trip back to Ethiopia on the horizon, the photographer looks to take his Ethiopiaskate series worldwide.

    Okayafrica caught up with Reiter to learn more about his work photographing Addis Ababa’s skate community and the wider impact of skateboarding in Ethiopia.


     readmore here http://www.africa-ontherise.com/photographing-ethiopias-young-skate-scene/

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  • Mekedonia Founder Humanitarian Biniam Belete Married


    Biniam Belete is a Young Ethiopian Humanitarian who is helping elderly and mentally ill poor people in Ethiopia. He is the founder of Mekedonia Humanitarian associations MHA. He is now married to Eleni Gebreyes who is also active in the association.


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  • The 15 Best Quips from Anthony Bourdain’s Tour of Ethiopia


    By Brenna Houck |

    Traveling from the humming streets of Addis Ababa to rural villages, the latest episode of CNN’s series Parts Unknown spans history, culture, and heritage to debunk myths and discover where Ethiopia stands as a country today. According to host Anthony Bourdain, the country is undergoing renewed economic growth “fueled largely by direct foreign investment and a returning Ethiopian diaspora.” And appropriate to that theme, New York City chef Marcus Samuelsson and his wife, model Maya Haile, act as Bourdain’s guides.

    Samuelsson’s exploration of his own sense of place plays a major role in the episode. His relationship to Ethiopia is a complex one. Samuelsson was born to a farming family in a rural Ethiopian village in the 1970s and contracted tuberculosis at the age of two. In a last-ditch effort to save her children, Samuelsson’s mother walked him and his sister 75 miles to a Swedish hospital in Addis Ababa for treatment. She later died, but Samuelsson and his sister recovered and were adopted by a Swedish couple. Then, at an early age, Samuelsson moved to New York City, where he established himself as an expert chef.

    Parts Unknown (Pic 1)“I always find it such a paradox that I was born into very little food, but yet I’ve made my whole life about food,” he says. “My structure and pragmatism comes from being raised in Sweden. And my sort of vibrancy and warmth to cooking and feel-based food that I love comes definitely from here[Ethiopia].” Samuelsson has since reconnected with his birth father and has forged even more Ethiopian ties through marriage; Maya was born and raised in Ethiopia and has a strong grasp on the language and customs. From skate parks to tej bars and sheep slaughtering ceremonies, the group explores what it means to be a modern Ethiopian.

    Here now, the 15 best Bourdain quips from his Ethiopian sojourn:

    1) On the curiosity of seeking out food in a place with a history of famine: “Weirdly enough, the single aspect of Ethiopian culture that most Westerners do know a little about is Ethiopian food.”

    2) On injera bread: “It’s not just food, it’s an implement.”

    3) On the cultural practice of gursha — stuffing food in a fellow diner’s face: “Try this at the Waffle House sometime and prepare for awkwardness.”

    4) On the local cocktail — Turbo: “What’s the first rule of drinking? Don’t mix.”

    5) After drinking the Turbo: “You’re terrible people, man.”

    6) On tej, a low-alcohol fermented barley and honey drink: “It’s a cheap buzz.”

    Parts Unknown (Tej)7) On the number of religious icons in the tej bet: “That’s the last thing I want to see in a bar — the disapproving gaze of a saint.”

    8) On an era known as “The Swinging Addis”: “Before those fun-hating commies came and ruined everything.”

    9) While looking for chicken in a market: “I can smell a frightened chicken a mile off.”

    10) Before the chickens are slaughtered: “See ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya.”

    11) To Samuelsson, on helping women make a feast: “How do the ladies feel about you cooking? This is causing serious problems?” Samuelsson, in response: “No, you already crossed it — because you’re the first foreigner ever in that kitchen.”

    12) On the traditional feast-making roles in Maya Haile’s village: “The production continues. Women in the kitchen — except for Marcus, who [looks] most comfortable there though his presence is a befuddlement to the others. Men taking care of the meat. Oh bro food traditions, you’re everywhere!”

    13) To Samuelsson, on humanity’s unique feasting skills: “It goes right back to the first fire. ‘I’ll bring the dip.'”

    14) On giant platters of barbecued meat: “This I love without reservation.”

    15) On Samuelsson’s preordained profession: “I’m pretty sure you would have been a shit farmer, Marcus, I really do. I just, I can’t see it. You would have been the best-dressed goddamn farmer, that’s for sure.”

    Source: Eater

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