After what seems an eternity, the folks at Bahir Zaf are waking up to wanting to write. Well, if you call these virtual literary doodles writing, then yes, the desire is there. The last few months have been testing as I came to realize that creativity is subject to certain non virtual conditions. Work, finance and other real life bullshit presses on thoughts that may be worth sharing. Chinket, (worry), accompanies dirket (dryness). Here’s to Bahir Zaf, an entity that just MUST be!
During a recent conversation with an older parent, I found out His Imperial Majesty did in fact acknowledge December 25 as ferenji Christmas. He would have cookies sent to the various schools in Addis Ababa on that day. I would love to hear this from others who remember those days.
The celebration of Orthodox Christmas is different of course, in the sense that people did not used to exchange gifts on that day but typically eat a variety of yummy dishes after a vegan fast. Yes, doro wot, kitfo, yebeg alicha, tire siga. Yummy. Not before attending service at the church.
Amharic is a great language methinks. Here is a word to remember: souk bederete. The direct translation of these words are “store on my chest” and refers to the people in Ethiopia who walk around trying to sell you chewing gum, fried dough or mobile cards more recently. A better way to think of it the souk bederete is as a mobile store.
Well, these days, there are phone apps that allow you to process payments for goods you may sell on the road…the more things change, the more they are just the same right?
Bahir Zaf is the Amharic word for the eucalyptus tree. A direct translation of the word in English would be “tree of the sea”. I often have wondered how it came to be. The Eucalyptus tree has a story similar to that of an immigrant. Ethiopians grew up around these trees whose origins are from Australia. Legend has it that Emperor Menelik, in the year 1895 or so, approved the tree for plantation due to the deforestation that was taking place around the hills of Addis Ababa. Many have argued against this decision and many have praised it. Either way, there are not too many Ethiopians alive today who have not known this tree.
The only way forward in the mornings for this Ethiopian is not without a cup of coffee. Buna please. Is it a drug? In Ethiopia, it is not unusual to see women huddled together around a ‘djebena’, the traditional coffee maker, first roasting the beans and then brewing it. Three cups are made for each person and the third brew is offered to children due to it’s weakness. The Oromo people take the coffee further by putting salt and butter in the cup. You’d better gulp it all at once or you will be making silly faces. Butter aside, a classic recipe comes to mind: a piece of ginger and some cardamom in the coffee maker can take you closer to home.