21 August 2012

Ethiopia's Prime Minister has passed away

This morning's news stated that the PM has died and the country is in mourning. Walking on the streets today it is quite solemn and no one is quite sure what will happen next. He was sick for some time.

So the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church and the Prime Minister, who has been the leader for over 20 years, pass away in the same week. I am not sure what effect this will have on my duration here. But the whole business makes me nervous - this is already a very fragile part of the world. I hope things remain calm and am planning to leave the capital for the south for a few days (through the weekend), just in case. For now, I am keeping my ears open for any changes or signs of something unstable and will get out if things disintegrate.

My research continues successfully - collecting one to two interviews per day. I think at this rate, I will be well positioned to do analysis before I leave the country and even have time for some tourism.

Yesterday I was feeling a bit low and lonely, as happens when you travel far away and have no contact with people you are used to hearing and seeing. I met with two Italians and together with one of the Ethiopian priests we went for coffee in the day and then an aperitif after dinner. We had a great laugh and it was so nice to have some silly company for the evening. The girl is quite young, named Beatrice. She was doing some volunteer work at a school in the south. Her father was involved with fundraising for the construction of the school. The man is in the process of adopting an Ethiopian boy, his wife stayed behind in the village to spend time with the boy before they are allowed to take him back to Italy next month. They were both in country for a month already and he is super excited about the new family. He was an absolute character, having an argument with a grate on the street, and joking with the priest, Father Ayele. This is the priest that helped me to get a room in the guest house when I first arrived. He has done some work with the US military and seems to really like working with Americans. I will travel with him to the south to see the school project this week.

Ethiopia continues to be an exciting place. I have no idea of the news outside as so many things are happening here. I will keep you updated. My hope is to find permissions to travel to the rural areas where I hope to speak with more people who live near to the river and who have been moved. My original plans to travel to Asosa, a town south of the river, have been postponed due to some violence in the area - not clear what is happening but many refugees are there from Sudan. I am keeping an ear to the ground to make sure that I do not end up in a war zone.

It would be nice to talk to someone from home. +251931312109