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ETHIOPIA - THE SOUTH

A travel story - Part 2

01.06.2019 – From Addis Ababa to Shashemene
(24.09.2011 Ethiopian Calendar)

Ethiopia - The South After a day of acclimatization in Addis Ababa, we are heading south today. You could fly from Addis to Arba Minch or drive across the country like we do. Halfway through we want to take a break in Shashemene. Even if a few things overlap with a previous trip, we are sure to gain new impressions.
The starting signal will be given for today at around 8:00 am. We leave our Monarch Hotel and Addis Ababa in a southbound direction via the A1 and later switch to the A7. Shortly after changing to the A7, after an hour and a half we reach Lake Koka, which is also known as Lake Gelila. It was created in the period 1957-1960 when the Awash was dammed with a 47 m high dam.

Lake Koka - Ethiopia

Lake Koka - Ethiopia

Image 44 + 45: On the edge of Lake Koka which is lined with countless purple water hyacinths.

Today the lake is around 183 km² in size, holds almost 2 Mrd m³ of water, is used to generate energy and regulate the Awash. As a side effect, of course, a lush flora and fauna has settled, which also enables the annual fishing of over 600 tons and thus contributes a lot to the food supply. We stop at one of the processing stations for fish and watch their doings, ... as well as a numerous bored locals. Whereby this only ever applies to the male world. ;-) Most of the work on the fish is probably done by the children, and the rubbish is disposed of by countless marabous, hammerheads, ibises and other animals.

Lake Koka - Fischverarbeitung am Straßenrand - Ethiopia

Lake Koka - Fischverarbeitung am Straßenrand - Ethiopia

Lake Koka - Fischverarbeitung am Straßenrand - Ethiopia

Lake Koka - Marabus - Ethiopia

Marabous, Ibises and Hammerheads

Lake Koka - Hammerkopf - Ethiopia Lake Koka - Hammerköpfe - Ethiopia

Hammerheads

Lake Koka - Fischverarbeitung - Ethiopia

Image 46 - 52: Fish processing at Lake Koka

Of course, the animal helpers cannot recycle the plastic waste and other waste. If this continues, the population will deprive themselves of their livelihood and turn the natural paradise into a garbage dump. The garbage has already reached the edge of the colorful carpets made of water hyacinths. We don't even want to know what it looks like in the water, although the countless hyacinths would be worth a visit.

Lake Koka - Fischverarbeitung - Ethiopia

Lake Koka - Fischverarbeitung - Ethiopia

Lake Koka - Fischverarbeitung - Ethiopia

Image 53 - 55: Fish processing at Lake Koka

Right next door is a small vegetable market where today a few women mainly sell tomatoes and onions. Who has built the most beautiful tomato tower or put most of the tomatoes in a bucket?

Lake Koka - Gemüsemarkt - Ethiopia

Lake Koka - Gemüsemarkt - Ethiopia

Lake Koka - Gemüsemarkt - Ethiopia

Lake Koka - Gemüsemarkt - Ethiopia

Lake Koka - Gemüsemarkt - Ethiopia

Image 56 - 60: Small vegetable market on Lake Koka



Video: Fish processing and vegetable market on Lake Koka

At Lake Koka is a village with the same name. On the south side of the village you can find huge greenhouses. Who suspect when driving by that you will see many flowers that are grown here, later on German balconies, in our gardens and last but not least in the Christmas decorations.. The Red Fox PLC flower farm mainly grows poinsettias and pelargoniums on over 40 hectares. Over 2,400 employees, most of whom are women, ensure constant supplies. Further information can be found under the link provided.

Ethiopia - Near Ziway

Image 61: Landscape between Lake Koka and Lake Ziway near Alem Tena

We drive a few minutes further south to Alem Tena. Normally I would not have mentioned this place here in my travelreport, but since a new church is being built and a cameraman with a professional background is on board, this construction site has to be included in the picture. The Ethiopian art of scaffolding is always impressive. Please all German professional associations should look the other way. ;-)

Saint Marci of Mary church - Alem Tena - Ethiopia

Saint Marci of Mary church - Alem Tena - Ethiopia

Saint Marci of Mary church - Alem Tena - Ethiopia

Image 62 - 64: The Saint Marci of Mary Church under construction - Alem Tena - Ethiopia

Of course, we're not going to visit the construction site today. We have already seen more interesting objects and will surely find an improvement on this trip.

Kamele zwischen Koka und Ziway

Zwischen Koka und Ziway

Kamele zwischen Koka und Ziway

Image 65 - 67: Beware of "deer crossing"! These dromedaries are of course not wild. There's always a Guardian somewhere, even if you don't see him right away.

A few kilometers further we reach Lake Ziway or Zway, which is more than twice the size of Koka Lake. The lake is not on our plan today, although its inhabitants such as hippos and numerous birds would be worth a trip. There is also the island of Tullo Gudo (also Tullo Guddu) on which the Debre Tsion Mariam monastery is located. It was reported that in the 10th century the Ark of the Covenant was in this monastery for 72 years before it returned to Axum, where it was previously relocated for security reasons. the Ark of the Covenant were protected by the Zay tribe, who have lived here for over 1,000 years and who brought the Ark of the Covenant on the long journey south. In the meantime the old monastery church in which the ark was kept has collapsed. The monastery still has numerous manuscripts and relics, they have accompanied the Ark of the Covenant on its journey. In 2014 a new museum was opened that exhibits many of these millennia-old relics. The island can be reached by boat. The boat tour takes an hour and a half. As a suggestion for another tour.
After we have covered more than half of our trip to Shashemene, we take a coffee break in the town of Ziway, on the west side of the lake. Ziway is 1,643 m above sea level and has a population of around 44,000.

Ziway - Ethiopia

Ziway - Ethiopia Ziway - Ethiopia

Image 68 - 70: Coffee break in Ziway

After the coffee break we drive past a lot of greenhouses that are located at the exit of the village to the south. The facility is significantly larger than the one in Koka. Here, roses are grown by the Dutch family business AQ Roses (short for Ammerlaan Quality Roses) and sold under the Rosa Plaza brand. For more information and numerous impressive pictures, just have a look at the link provided.

Ethiopia

Image 71: Beautiful umbrella acacias along the way

Continuing on the way to Shashemene we cross the area of ​​the three lakes Abijata, Langano and Shala. Here is the Abijatta-Shalla National Park and the East Langano Nature Reserve. Lake Langano is the only bathing lake in Ethiopia that can be used by tourists without hesitation. When we are on our way back after 14 days, we will stop here again. That's why we're not going to write any further about this travel destination today, we'll do that later.
We arrive in Shashemene around 1 p.m. and are dropped off by Alex and Mastu at the Haile Hotel for lunch. We didn't really want to go here, but Mastu doesn't want to go on adventures in terms of food and toilets. We could actually save ourselves the time, because we are not hungry anyway and in the Haile Hotel there is nothing to see apart from memories of a previous trip. We would have much preferred a traditional restaurant. So we try to keep the break as short as possible, only as long as it is necessary for Alex and Mastu.
After the break we want to visit a few places of the Rastafarian community of Shashemene. Tactically considered, we first want to go to the Zion Train Lodge or to Ras Hailu and his Banana Art Gallery to discuss how to proceed. Ras Hailu is a good soul, honest, level-headed, very realistic. He knows what to look out for at the various locations. During our last stay in Shashemene, he gave us a guide who knows the area well. Without a guide you shouldn't move around here if you don't want to be ripped off by various crooks. Unfortunately Mastu did not understand our motives and first stops at the headquarters of the "Twelve Tribes of Israel", and the unwanted problems take their course.

Headquarter Twelve Tribes of Israel - Shashemene - Ethiopia

Image 72: Gate to the headquarters of the Twelve Tribes of Israel in Shashemene

We have a few photos with some Rastas from our last trip and would like to use them as an introduction and getting to know each other. Immediately there is a gathering of Rastas and various highwaymen around us and they really bring a person from our photos to us. The surprise was a success. He will take care of the distribution of the other photos. Unexpectedly, the gate of the Twelve Tribes is opened for us. The Rastas only want a small entry fee of 2 USD or 50 Birr per person. We are pleasantly surprised and have no idea what trap our guide Mastu is falling into. But more on that later.

Twelve Tribes of Israel - Shashemene - Ethiopia

Image 73: Behind the gate with a view of the central building of the headquarters

A Rasta named Mischa welcomes us and will guide us through the area. Most photos are allowed with exception of the front side of the central building (image 73). Close-up photos of the boards in the right entrance area were not allowed. Actually, we wanted to make a video of Misha’s tour with his expressive and comprehensive explanations. Unfortunately, that would have cost us USD 500, which means that we thankfully decline. Again and again we see that some people have simply lost touch with reality.

Headquarter Twelve Tribes of Israel - Shashemene - Ethiopia

Headquarter Twelve Tribes of Israel - Shashemene - Ethiopia

Headquarter Twelve Tribes of Israel - Shashemene - Ethiopia

Headquarter Twelve Tribes of Israel - Shashemene - Ethiopia

Headquarter Twelve Tribes of Israel - Shashemene - Ethiopia Headquarter Twelve Tribes of Israel - Shashemene - Ethiopia

Headquarter Twelve Tribes of Israel - Shashemene - Ethiopia

Image 74 - 80: Event areas
Image 77 + 78: The Star of David, named after King David, is today primarily a symbol of the people of Israel and was once referred to as the "Seal of Solomon". Each flank of a spike is assigned to a tribe of Israel, making a total of 12.

Mischa says "Tomorrow evening we have an event here, you are invited". "There will also be some artists." Unfortunately, we are already further south, apparently we have planned our trip for a day. According to our information, there should always be a nyabinghi in the tabernacle on Saturday, which we wanted to see. Unfortunately, we did not consider that activities will take place at the Twelve Tribes on Sunday. It is also difficult to plan in advance, as feedback from the local contact options is extremely rare. In addition, information from the previous year will be outdated again next year. So don't rely on it.

Headquarter Twelve Tribes of Israel - Shashemene - Ethiopia

Headquarter Twelve Tribes of Israel - Shashemene - Ethiopia

Headquarter Twelve Tribes of Israel - Shashemene - Ethiopia

Headquarter Twelve Tribes of Israel - Shashemene - Ethiopia

Headquarter Twelve Tribes of Israel - Shashemene - Ethiopia Headquarter Twelve Tribes of Israel - Shashemene - Ethiopia

Headquarter Twelve Tribes of Israel - Shashemene - Ethiopia
 
Image 81 - 87: The assignment of the 12 Tribes of Israel to colors, months (birthdays), body parts, characteristics and apostles on the back wall of the central building.

The twelve tribes of Israel are based on biblical stories. Jacob, who is also called Israel, had 12 sons, they were tribal fathers and namesake of the 12 tribes. The order of the colors that can be found on the entrance gate and on the back wall of the central building is not randomly arranged. The first son of Jacob was Reuben or Ruben, the second Simeon or Simon, the third Levi, the fourth Judah, etc. However, up to 20 different orders are discussed. The order of the months starts with April (Ruben) and ends with March (Benjamin). In addition to the months and colors, the 12 tribal fathers were also assigned certain areas of our body, properties and the 12 apostles. My birth month May actually meets Simon Peter, what a coincidence. ;-) In addition, Simeon stands for "ears" and "faith". You can read about what was assigned to the other months and progenitors in the photos.

Headquarter Twelve Tribes of Israel - Shashemene - Ethiopia

Image 88: The lawnmowers of the Twelve Tribes

Headquarter Twelve Tribes of Israel - Shashemene - Ethiopia

Image 89: The blue entrance building with the guest book and the gate from the inside. In addition to the colors explained above, the Ethiopian national colors green, yellow and red, which are also the colors of the Rastafarian, are added on top. Below then the colors of the Twelve Tribes in the same order as in pictures 81-87. The dragon slayer St. George, patron saint of the Solomon dynasty, can be seen at the metal gate.

Headquarter Twelve Tribes of Israel - Shashemene - Ethiopia

Image 90: Mischa and Marion in the ticket booth with the guest book, in which the donations are entered at the same time. Unfortunately, the picture is a bit flashy. ;-)

Headquarter Twelve Tribes of Israel - Shashemene - Ethiopia

Image 91: We're outside again

In the outside area it suddenly becomes uncomfortable when we do not comply with the further requests of various highwaymen for donations or "payment" for alleged services during our stay. The keeper of the lawnmower even throws stones at us and wants to prevent us from taking photos of the entrance gate of the 12 tribes. Actually we wanted to go a little further past the Black Lion Museum and look at the murals, but now our mood has changed too, so we decide to continue our journey as soon as possible. Obviously, Mastu did not expect such a situation. It is apparently his first time in this place. He looks very confused and depressed. We can understand whay,when he tells us that they pulled another 5x 300 Birr for all of us and 50 Birr extra for Mischa from his pocket. Regardless of the fact that we had already paid the official entrance fee, someone apparently managed to trick Mastu. In addition, it is completely unusual that the driver and guide have to pay extra. Especially since Alex stayed in the car. By the way, Mastu had a local guide forced on him, without whom we supposedly would not be allowed to move around Shashemene.We chose Mischa because we understood him quite well so far. So something is coming up again. Mastu now also understands our motives, why we wanted to go to Ras Hailu or the Zion Train Lodge first.
Shortly afterwards we knock on Ras Hailu's iron fence and we are very happy that he is there and we can see him again. He personally opens the gate and remembers with the words: "I know the face." Of course he is right and we give him some nice photo's from our last visit. Unfortunately, not all of us who can be seen in the pictures are among us anymore. His lovely dogs, whom he called Reggae Boy's, unfortunately died in the meantime. But as we can see, he is now comforting himself with other dogs in his garden.

Banana Art Gallery - Shasehemene - Ethiopia

Banana Art Gallery - Shasehemene - Ethiopia

Banana Art Gallery - Shasehemene - Ethiopia

Banana Art Gallery - Shasehemene - Ethiopia

Image 92 - 95: In Ras Hailu's Banana Art Gallery in Shashemene

Bandy Payne, aka Ras Hailu a.ka. Hailu Tefari is a Rastafarian who came to Ethiopia from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent in 1994. At the age of 10 he already developed a special art that is unique in the world. He creates pictures out of banana leaves, just with the different colors of different leaf areas, which he carefully puzzles together. In the course of time he has become well known and has already been invited to various exhibitions. He runs a small Banana Art Gallery in his house and offers his works of art for sale.

Banana Art Gallery - Shashemene - Ethiopia Banana Art Gallery - Shashemene - Ethiopia

Banana Art Gallery - Shashemene - Ethiopia

Image 96 - 98: Ras Hailus Banana Art Gallery

Compared to our last visit, the selection of pictures seems to have decreased a bit. We recognize many of the works of art from that time, but not the prices. In some cases he more than doubled it, which is certainly more than justified in view of his work. His favorite picture "Hurricane Janet" can no longer be discovered. When we ask him about it, he tells us that a rich Russian bought this picture. If he says "rich" Russian, we can imagine that he was very well paid for saying goodbye to his favorite picture. At least we still have a photo of it.
His selection of various badges and medals, banknotes and other from the imperial era has also shrunk considerably.

Banana Art Gallery - Shashemene - Ethiopia Banana Art Gallery - Shashemene - Ethiopia

Banana Art Gallery - Shashemene - Ethiopia

Image 99 - 101: Ras Hailu says goodbye to us.

If we come to Shashemene again, we will definitely visit him again. If you want to see and hear more about Ras Hailu and his Banana Art Gallery, just have a look at our earlier travel report "Ethiopia Again - Part 5".



Video: Ras Hailu - Banana Art Gallery - Shashemene

Our next stop in Shashemene is the Nyabinghi Tabernacle. We are curious how the property has developed and whether the numerous international donations from the past are now bearing fruit. However, we are greeted with a bitter disappointment. The former entrance to the site has been barricaded, the entrance area is deserted and the property is overgrown. We come through an inconspicuous side door through a corrugated iron wall from a sandy road that we did not know from our last stay. But worst of all is the dilapidated tabernacle. The roof has disappeared and with it all the interior fittings and the many pictures. The weeds proliferate in all directions and the use of the property is no longer recognizable. We'll have to forget the Nyabinghi that we had planned for tonight. The Tabernacle is probably history, unless a miracle happens in the future.

Nyabinghi Tabernakel - Shashemene - Ethiopia

Image 102: The new entrance to the Nyabinghi Tabernacle.

Nyabinghi Tabernakel - Shashemene - Ethiopia

Image 103: The roof is gone and what has been created so far is doomed to decay.

Nyabinghi Tabernakel - Shashemene - Ethiopia

Bild 104: The former entrance barricaded with large stones and the entrance house from better days. The gate was covered with sheet metal to prevent it from being seen.

Here, too, we have a few photos of our last visit with us and one extra large as a mural in memory of Ras Mweya. We thought the Nyabinghis would be happy about it, but the two young men who met us and talked to us seem to have no relation to Nyabinghi or the tabernacle. After the unexpected death of Ras Mweya in 2016, who is said to have suffered from syphilis, the people apparently lack the leader and that's why everything goes haywire or steeply downhill. Unfortunately, there was also the fact that a piece of land was taken away from the tabernacle for road construction, which explains this new and provisional entrance situation at an unfamiliar place. If the Tabernacle did not have the status of a church, which is particularly protected in Ethiopia, the entire property would have been lost, as we will learn later.

Nyabinghi Tabernakel - Shasehemene - Ethiopia

Image 105: The functional building behind the Tabernacle.

We want to take a few more pictures and a short video. It's okay for the young men who let us in. But we did the math without the two Rastafarian ladies who just arrived, who almost tear me apart and immediately stop everything. The background to their behavior is certainly the fear that the international flow of donations to the Tabernacle will dry up. However, we have the impression that the donations will only be used for personal living and no longer for the Tabernacle. You can't even repair the bench in front of the house, which shouldn't have felt a backside for a long time (compare 2015, Picture.556).

Nyabinghi Tabernakel - Shasehemene - Ethiopia

Image 106: In the functional building of the Tabernacle.

We are also not allowed to take photos inside the functional building. Maybe it's better that way. We prefer to keep the memories from 2015 in our heads when we were still listening to Ras Mweya's lectures. The numerous picture collection has shrunk considerably anyway. It's a shame. The two ladies are not interested in conversations and the pictures of Ras Mweya do not seem to give them any pleasure. I keep trying to ease the tense situation and ask for the donation box. At least they kindly let us on the premises. My question does not seem to particularly appease the ladies. "You can put the money in the slot there.", Says one of the two and points to the red-yellow-green door to the next room. Nothing more with conscientious bookkeeping with an entry in the guest book, as was customary at Ras Mweya in the past. At least we can buy the current calendar of the Empress Menen Foundation on request, which the boys get from an adjoining room. This calendar is recommended to all fans of Ethiopia and Rastafari or their followers. This calendar, with many historical and current images, not only shows the Ethiopian and Gregorian dates, but also presents a lot of information about Ethiopia and Rastafari worldwide.

Empress Menen Foundation Kalender 2018-2019

Empress Menen Foundation Kalender 2018-2019

Empress Menen Foundation Kalender 2018-2019

Empress Menen Foundation Kalender 2018-2019

Image 107 - 110: Excerpt from the Empress Menen Foundation's calendar 2018-2019 Cover, back and the first two pages.

In the meantime it has started to rain and we are withdrawing from the tabernacle. Mischa wants to know if we still want to go to Bobo Camp, but our desire is limited after what we have experienced so far. In addition, we know that almost nobody is sitting on the dying branch there either. The rain takes care of the rest of the decision-making process. So now we go to our accommodation, which we have chosen this time with the Zion Train Lodge by Alex and Sandrine. We had visited the lodge during our last visit to Shashemene and had already planned it for the next trip. See "Ethiopia Again" - Part 6.
While Alex and Sandrine greet us and show us our bungalows, Mastu fights the last fight with Mischa, who after leaving the Twelve Tribes of Israel was actually only our guest and was of no use. Nevertheless, Mastu can still pull 100 bir per person out of his pocket. The first day of the tour went "really well" for Mastu, which you can see clearly :-(. If it goes on like this, his travel budget will only last half the way. Today, in any case, our experiences are over and we will do it Cozy in the Zion Train Lodge. The Zion Train Lodge is a beautiful natural spot in the middle of the Jamaican Safar, as the land Grant of the former African returnees is called here. Mastu and Alex are not staying here. They want to look for another place and will pick us up tomorrow morning. Now we have two Alex, ... so please don't confuse them. ;-)

Zion Train Lodge - Shashemene - Ethiopia

Image 111: A cool Walia Beer for "after work" in the Zion Train Lodge.

We talk to Alex about our impressions of the Rastafarian community today, which are causing us some concern. Of course he knows this negative development and in the meantime he tries to stay out of the various groups and focuses on his own life. The focus is of course on the lodge, as the future of the lodge is uncertain. An important factor here is to continue to secure the complex rights to land ownership. The next point is the right to stay, because the Rastas are still not recognized as official Ethiopians and do not have the appropriate papers. Every few years they have to apply for an extension of their residence permit. Regarding Rastafarians, Alex doesn't know exactly how many real Rastas are left on Grant's land. "The old die and there are hardly any young Rastafarians following." This is his statement. Then he smiles and says: "We're getting weaker, but that's also our strength." Then he adds: "Even Priest Paul has run away and the Bobo Camp no longer exists. In the second Bobo Camp there is only one Rasta left, sitting around".

Yécathite + Jah Den + Alex - Zion Train Lodge - Shashemene - Ethiopia

Jah Den + Alex - Zion Train Lodge - Shashemene - Ethiopia

Yécathite +Alex + Jah Den - Zion Train Lodge - Shashemene - Ethiopia

Image 112 - 114: Alex with the reggae singers Yécathite and Jah Den.

The Zion Train Lodge also attracts international reggae artists who want to visit Shashemene or have a performance here at an event. Unfortunately, most of them stay in Addis, complains Alex. As we found out from him, our friend Uwe Banton from Germany was here shortly before we came. That would have been a surprise if we had met here.
Today we meet the artists Yécathite and Jah Den a.ka. Massa Jah Den.Yécathite is at home in La Reunion and Cameroon. Jah Den only names Cameroon as his home. Here is an official video from Yécathite: "Pardonn 'amwin"
For September 2019 he has planned the release of his new album "New Day Revelation" (released on March 20th, 2020).



Video: Yécathite - Jingle

Yécathite - New Day Revelation Yécathite - Zion Train Lodge - Shashemene - Ethiopia

Image 115 + 116: Yécathite and the album cover of "New Day Revelation"

Yécathite - Zion Train Lodge - Shashemene Yécathite - Zion Train Lodge - Shashemene

Yécathite - Zion Train Lodge - Shashemene

Image 117 - 119: Yécathite, Massa Jah Den and Alex.

Jah Den tells us about two albums. His first, entitled "Message", was released in 2012. The release of his new album "Liberation" is planned for August this year. Like Yécathite, he sings mostly in French.

Massa Jah Den - Zion Train Lodge - Shashemene Massa Jah Den - Zion Train Lodge - Shashemene

Image 120 + 121: Jah Den from Cameroon.



Video: Jah Den - Jingle

Jah Den - Message Jah Den - Liberation

Image 122 + 123: The album covers "Message" and "Liberation" by Jah Den.

Here is a link to an official video with Jah Den & Lion John, so you don't have to search long: "Militants"
A few cool beers later and after a vegetarian and very tasty soup with Alex and Sandrine in the fresh air, this eventful day comes to an end for us.

Zion Train Lodge - Shashemene Sandrine - Zion Train Lodge - Shashemene

Image 124 + 125: The cats of the Lodge and Sandrine.

If you want to learn more about Shashemene, Carsta Schnabel's heavyweight book "Heimkehr aus Babylon" is definitely recommended.

For a period of two years she lived on the land Grant that Haile Selassie had given to those returning from the black diaspora for settlement. The Zion Train Lodge was her favorite place to work on the book.

The heavy book can be ordered from Rüdiger Köppe Verlag, Amazon or other well-known platforms. With 621 pages of informative reading material and 1,220 grams, this heavyweight is definitely not a book to travel with. For anyone who has already dealt with this topic, you can hardly find a more comprehensive educational reading in German language at the moment.

Click here for a separate article about it: "Coming Home From Babylon" 
Carsta Schnabel - Heimkehr aus Babylon - 2017

   Image 126: Book cover -
   Coming home from Babylon.

We can meet again at this point tomorrow when we continue south towards Arba Minch and visit the Dorze people.

Copyright: www.reggaestory.de
Photos: Marion & Peter Joachim
Text and videos: Peter Joachim
English version: Gabriele Brown

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