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Ethiopia by E-mail

Date: Sat, 06 Nov 2004 11:44:19 -0600
From: "James E. Rollin, Ph.D." <rollin@uic.edu>

It has been a while. I hope this letter finds you and yours all well. I am doing well.

I have been busy teaching organizational theory for the management and policy class. Ralph Brody was here for the first week and taught and for the rest of the time, it is my class. 4 days a week, three hours a day of teaching does not leave a lot of time for other things like preparing for class especially when everything here takes at least twice as long for me to do as it would back home. The biggest challenge has been getting the resources for the students to read and use for their references in their papers. The libraries here are not up to date and the internet is slow when it is available.

Ethiopian Thick-billed Raven I have attached a photo of bird that I took. The bird is found only in the highlands of Ethiopia, it is a thick-billed raven. It has a wingspan of about 6 ft & makes a rough cawing noise. It is sitting in a tree on the university campus and is very common in Addis Ababa. The business community and government are trying to use the natural beauty and history here to try to attract a tourist industry. It is happening is some areas, but has not grown to large scale yet. One area they are concentrating on is for the bird watchers. There are about 80 bird species that can be found in Ethiopia. At least 27 of them can be found nowhere else in the world. The most successful areas in working the tourist industry are north along the historical route, where the ancient cities of Gondar, Lalliabella, and Axum are located. There are old castles, churches, and monasteries there. The other city in the northern route that is popular is Bahadar at the source of the Blue Nile where it flows from Lake Tana. The Blue Nile merges with the White Nile downstream to become the Nile River flowing through Egypt. The Blue Nile Falls, Lake Tanna with its islands, wildlife and ancient monasteries and the Blue Nile Gorge are popular as well. I hope to travel there after Pat joins me here. There has recently been tension between the countries using the Blue Nile River water. Ethiopia wants to use more of the water to improve the agricultural industry to something more than subsistence farming in many areas. Egypt has said if Ethiopia reduces the flow of water into Egypt, they will send in the military to restore it to its historical levels.

The stark contrast between the natural beauty and the abject poverty is sometimes jarring. The lawn mowers are out this morning in the compound. That is about 20 people with knives and sickles are out cutting the grass by hand. It is cheaper to pay them than to purchase the machinery to do it.

Last evening and all through the night I have been hearing loud chanting like from a Mosque or Church all evening. While I was outside it sounded like it was coming from the big new Ethiopian Orthodox Church just northeast of here. I don't know of any mosques near here so it is probably coming from the church, but I could never tell by listening to it if it was Christian or Islam.

Out walking this morning, Samuel walking in the same direction approached me and engaged me in conversation. I have seen him before when I was out walking. He asked about me & I told him. Then I asked him what he did. He works for a faith based organization through the Ethiopian Orthodox Church working with blind children. He said my name, James, is Yakob (Jacob) in Amharic and Yahahov in Geez. Geez is the ancient language in Ethiopia and Amharic is written in Geez script. It is a derivative of the semetic languages and is related to Arabic and Hebrew. He was trying to solicit money or other support for his program. He said the chanting last night was from St. Xavier Ethiopian Orthodox Church. That is the new church near my apartment. This is the anniversary of the saint and an annual festival/fasting day and the inauguration of the church. It is the largest Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Africa.



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