No other country has a name which so accurately evokes its topography! Most people know it as Ethiopia, of course. The spectacular tortuous road from Addis Ababa down to the coast through Asmara, the Simien Mountains, and the Danakil Depression, are just a few features of the Great Rift which so shape this country.
In 1959, my family flew to Addis Ababa, and we lived there for four years. Although I was only young, I do remember a lot of my life there very vividly. My sister was born there, we travelled overland to what was then called Tanganyika, to Khartoum, to Assab; via places with wonderful names: Axum, Wajir, Gondar, Lalibela, Dire Dawa, Massawa…..
I lived through the first and unsuccessful attempt to unseat Emperor Haile Selassie in 1960.
My mother – five months pregnant with my sister, at the time, wrote later about the episode in her memoir:
….and her poem…..
Our Man in Addis….
My father had an important title – Overseas Representative For Dunlop Tyres, for East Africa and The Hadramawt, and was based at the offices of the Arabian Trading Company. He made frequent overland trips to see potential clients, and these often turned into long family trips, in the company’s long wheel based Landrover, with nights spent in truck-stops, oases, and under canvas in the open air.
Wajir – over the border and just into Kenya.
Back in Addis….
On Sunday, the 11th December, I shall set foot again on the ground in Addis Ababa – 58 years later. It will be interesting to catch up….and I’m looking forward to eating injera and wat in a downtown Addis restaurant!