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Post Ethiopia
Created by John Eipper on 09/10/12 3:06 AM

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Ethiopia (David Duggan, USA, 09/10/12 3:06 am)

When JE commented Tor Guimaraes's post of 9 September, he invited thoughts on Ethiopia. I have never been to Ethiopia, which quietly has become the second most populous country in Africa, overcoming its basket-case 1980s history. But one of my high school classmates and teammates, Daniel Abebe, was from Addis Ababa. My recollection is that he was not too enamored of Haile Selassie, the Lion of Judah, who claimed descent from the Queen of Sheba and Solomon.

As with most of my classmates, I've lost track of him, and have no idea how well he's managed through the turmoil, famine and secession that has attended that nation over the last 40 years. Some of this is recounted in Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese's novel of redemption, revolution and recovery of what was lost, set against a backdrop of medicine practiced under less than desirable circumstances. Verghese, who grew up in Ethiopia, has an enviable ability to weave many strands into a story, perhaps nowhere better illustrated than in his second book, The Tennis Partner.

JE comments: One my classmates at David Duggan's and my Alma Mater, Dartmouth, was Solomon Hapte-Selassie, a nephew of the late Emperor. He was a very regal presence on campus. I've unfortunately lost touch with Solomon, but always wondered if he returned to Ethiopia.

Have any WAISers actually been there?

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  • Another Ethiopian Friend... (Robert McCabe, -France 09/10/12 7:54 AM)
    Adding to the list of Lost Ethiopian Friends (see David Duggan, 10 September), I'd mention Solomon Deressa, a poet and writer I met in Addis in the late 1960s. His father was once foreign minister, and I seem to recall friends saying the Deressa family (from Tigre?) was a power in the land. Solomon later married an American girl from Pennsylvania, fathered a couple of kids, studied in New York for several years and starred in several interesting parties at our flat. Then he vanished.

    Have I been in Ethiopia? Yes, several times, but not since the Emperor's death. A wonderfully interesting land and people, immensely proud of their heritage, but not very good at making a success of their governorship. And who could forget the wat! Ethiopian Airlines used to serve this broad thin pancake as a main dish item, swaddling forgotten stuff, rather like a tamale. (Here today, gone tamale, as my forgetter tells me.)

    It was in Addis that I discovered that one shot of whiskey up there in the heights equalled three shots at sea level. Never been so high in my life.

    JE comments: Ethiopian food is marvelous, although to me their bread-and-filling cuisine is more tacolike than tamalesque. It's funny: Aldona and I almost dined at our local Ethiopian restaurant Saturday night, but opted instead for local fare: Cornish pasties, a staple of the copper miners in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. But I must have channeled my thoughts to Tor Guimaraes, who brought up Ethiopia in an e-mail the very next day.

    I see a recurring theme here:  why can't we stay in touch with our Ethiopian friends?

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