Monday, June 25, 2012

Ekpo Eyo Memorial Lecture holds 30 June in Calabar

Prof Ekpo Eyo Memorial Lecture debuts, June 30

The premiere of what could possibly morph into an annual lecture in memory of the late Prof Ekpo Eyo, the first Nigerian-born head of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM); will take place at the Old Residency, Calabar on 30 June.
The late Ekpo Eyo as he looked in the late 1960s.

The lecture, tagged First Prof Ekpo Eyo Memorial Lecture and billed to start at 10am, will be chaired by Prof (Mrs) Eka Braide, a former Vice Chancellor (VC), Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH) and currently VC of Federal University, Lafia in Nasarawa State; while Prof Olu Lawal, University of Calabar is slated as lecturer, according to Mr. Sunny Adaka, Curator of National Museum, Calabar.

Prof Ekpo Eyo, who passed on at his Maryland, USA home on 29 May, 2011;  was inducted a Fellow of the Smithsonian Institution in 1984 and would be remembered for his competent leadership of the NCMM as well as his numerous illuminating papers and books, including the unique volume on antiquities; From Shrines to Showcases: Masterpieces of Nigerian Art as well as The Terra cottas of Calabar; the latter, co-authored with Dr. Christopher Slogar.

The root of today’s NCMM lies in the Nigeria Antiquties Service (NAS), which was established in 1943 with Mr. Kenneth C. Murray, an art instructor and Superintendent of Education in the colonial service, as its founding father.

Mr. Bernard Fagg later succeeded Murray for a while, after which Murray was reappointed to that office. In his first term, Mr. Murray was Surveyor of Antiquities for 14 years (1943 to 1957). Mr. Bernard Fagg, who succeeded Murray, held office for six years until 1963, when the former art master was re-appointed helmsman.

In 1967, Prof Ekpo Eyo was appointed Director of the NCMM then called the Federal Department of Antiquities. Records show that the Ekpo Eyo-led Federal Department of Antiquities helped to foster a good image for Nigeria through exhibitions of indigenous antiquities/artefacts abroad.

For example, in 1980, Treasures of Ancient Nigeria: Legacy of 2000 Years was on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA from 14 August to 26 October.

Two years later, in 1982, Treasures of Ancient Nigeria travelled to the British capital, where it was displayed at the Royal Academy in Piccadilly, London from 30 October, 1982 to 23 January, 1983. These exhibitions engendered tremendous respect for Nigeria across the world.

An outstanding archaeologist, anthropologist and museologist, Ekpo Eyo left a legacy of efficient management of Nigeria’s National Museums by the time of his retirement in 1986.

After his retirement from Nigeria’s Federal Civil Service in 1986, Ekpo Eyo worked as an anthropology lecturer at University of Maryland, US; where he was appointed a professor.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

National Museum Management's irresponsibility throws vendors' lives into turmoil

From his hideout, 55-yr-old fugitive cries out
‘Creditors after my life…National Museum encouraging looting of antiquity’

A 55-year-old man, who had gone underground for fear of what his enraged creditors would do to him, has finally cried out. In a telephone conversation with mauricearchibongtravels, the fugitive, Mr. Ignatius Okonkwo, said he was on the run over debts incurred since 2009.

Mr. Okonkwo, who is a father of 10 children and an indigene of Nri in Anambra State, lamented that three years after he supplied artefacts to the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), the commission’s management has failed to pay him. As a result, he has also been unable to pay various people he borrowed money from to finance the business transaction with the NCMM, where Mallam Yusuf Abdallah Usman is Director General.
Mallam Yusuf Abdallah Usman, NCMM Director General. PHOTOS: MAURICE ARCHIBONG Copyrights reserved.

Okonkwo further revealed that, apart from people from whom he took cash, he had also collected hundreds of antique objects from villagers on the understanding that he would pay them as soon as the NCMM gave him money for his supply of artefacts to that federal government-owned institution.

Unfortunately, three years down the road, Okonkwo has paid neither category of his creditors. Now, after failed promises to pay for over two years, the villagers from whom Okonkwo took cultural objects that were supplied to the NCMM, have lost faith in him and have been threatening fire and brimstone.

During our telephone conversation, a distraught Okonkwo lamented: “Creditors are on my neck. The villagers (people he collected antique objects from) are also after me”. Consequently, Okonkwo has abandoned his home over fear of what irate natives could do to him.

“I’m squatting somewhere now with my family”, he cried. When asked why he did not explain to his creditors that his inability to settle his debts arose from the refusal of the NCMM to pay for objects he supplied to the government agency, Okonkwo reasoned: “The issue of NCMM’s refusal to pay me is none of these villagers’ business. How do you expect me to convince them that three years after I supplied works to the NCMM, that this federal government agency has not paid me. So, as far as the villagers are concerned, I have defrauded them”.

Speaking to mauricearchibongtravels from his hideout last Sunday, 24 June, 2012; Okonkwo rued; “Look at me, a Prince from Nri; I am now squatting somewhere with my wife and children”. Apart from his 10 children, Okonkwo said he has another five children, offspring of extended family members as wards living with him. “Unfortunately, all these children are now out of school because I could not pay their school fees”, he lamented.

Okonkwo’s decision to go underground could have been informed by the experience of one Mr. Uwem Kanon, another supplier of artefacts to the National Museum. Like Okonkwo, Mr. Kanon is also a member of the Artefacts Rescuers Association of Nigeria (ARAN). Dozens of this body’s members claim they have been ruined by refusal of NCMM management to pay them for a transaction that took place since 2009.

Mr. Kanon, who is a pentecostal church pastor, said his reputation has been severely dented by Mallam Usman’s ineptitude, which has culminated in the NCMM’s irresponsibility toward its suppliers. He claimed the NCMM owes him and scores of other ARAN members N198 million for over 5,000 antique objects they supplied to the Commission since 2009.

To facilitate the supply of those artefacts, Kanon said he and fellow ARAN colleagues had borrowed money from friends as well as several business partners and even Church members to embark on a collection spree. Virtually every ARAN member had also collected objects from villagers through promises to pay for them within a year.

Unfortunately, after two years of not being able to pay because of NCMM non-chalance toward meeting its obligation to suppliers, Pastor Kanon was dragged to court allegedly for collecting money under false pretense. Hear Pastor Kanon: “I was arrested, detained and charged to court. I have been severally embarrassed by my creditors and I’m hurting seriously because my reputation as a Man of God has been destroyed. If people cannot trust you, how can they believe your sermons”?

Consequently, ARAN members have finally decided to cry out over alleged wickedness on the part of the NCMM DG, which they claim has ruined them financially and socially. Indeed, the lives of some ARAN members and their families are now in disarray. Some have been arrested, detained and arraigned in court for allegedly collecting money under false motive, while some have practically gone into hiding to avoid the wrath of creditors.

During a chat with ARAN National Secretary, Peter Ezeh in Abuja, he confirmed that the NCMM under Mr. Usman’s leadership had collected thousands of objects from scores of dealers since 2009, but three years after those objects changed hands, all that the suppliers have been paid amounts to less than 10 per cent of their total due.
Peter Ezeh, ARAN Secretary General.

From another telephone conversation with Jos, Plateau State-based Mr. George Agbo, who is ARAN President; it came to light that the NCMM had only paid its members less than N10 million out of a total indebtedness of N198 million. Even so, this N10 million was paid in two installments; as a result, many ARAN members are really suffering, Agbo intoned.

Mr. Agbo, who revealed the body had kept this matter from public glare for more than two years to avoid being seen as confrontational; explained that since every effort to get the NCMM to pay had fallen on deaf ears, ARAN members were now left with no option than to go public with this scandal.

Agbo and other ARAN members recalled that several attempts to reach high-ranking officials in the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation; which supervises the NCMM had also failed. The Minister of Tourism and Culture, High Chief Edem Duke, had been informed through a letter addressed to his office and the latest of such attempts is an Application for courtesy visit to the Permanent Secretary, dated 5 March, 2012 and jointly signed by Agbo and Ezeh; we gathered.

The association had also written to Senator Hassan Barrata, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Tourism and Culture as well as his counterpart in the House of Representatives, added Agbo; who assumed leadership of ARAN in June 2011. The ARAN president said his association, though registered in 2001, has been doing business with the NCMM for over 40 years.

“Some of our parents were vendors to the NCMM”, he expatiated; adding that ARAN members allegedly victimised by Mallam Usman’s inefficiency, include Reverend John Akindele, immediate-past president of the artefacts rescuers’ association.

As to the latest move with the NCMM Management over how to resolve the matter, Agbo said: “The DG (Usman), when he got information that we were planning a protest rally for 18 May (International Museum Day, IMD), had called me on  15 May to say we should come and see him to arrange how to pay us.

“But, our members were sceptical because apparently nothing came out of series of such meetings over three years with the NCMM. We never wanted to be antagonistic, but the NCMM has been unfair to us. How does one explain it? How do we convince people and institutions that we borrowed money from to finance our business, that three years since we made supplies to a federal government institution, we have not been paid?”, Agbo queried.

The acquisition aspect of a museum’s responsibility falls under accession and money is usually voted for collecting works. Through accession, a museum helps to prevent the external flight of priceless pieces of national heritage.

Where money is made available, vendors are encouraged to intervene in the rescue of artefacts and hand them over to constituted authority, the museum, which is mandated to protect national heritage and it could be recalled that sometime in late 2008, ARAN members were informed that huge sums of money had been budgeted for accession.

Based on assurances that they would be paid, ARAN members borrowed various sums from individuals and institutions to finance their expeditions to collect artefacts. In their enthusiasm to rescue artefacts faced with potential loss or destruction, ARAN members had ransacked nooks and crannies of the country. They travelled across Adamawa, Anambra, Benue, Kaduna, Kogi, Plateau, Taraba and even Zamfara as well as other states of the federation and occasionally crossed international boundaries in their search.

Eventually, ARAN members’ efforts yielded roughly 5,000 antique objects that were later handed over to the NCMM. The rescued artefacts included rare thousands-years-old terra cotta, metallic and wooden sculptures, masks and shrine objects et cetera.

After meetings with NCMM Assessment Committee, numerous ARAN members handed in their collections for agreed fees. Interestingly, based on their beliefs that they had a fair deal, some members even threw in some objects as donations to the NCMM. 

Hear Okonkwo, the Nri Prince: “I even donated five terra cotta objects to the NCMM on the day, we (ARAN members) met with the NCMM Assessment Team in 2009”. On his part, Pastor Kanon gave NCMM “two free terra cotta objects”.

Believing that they would be paid within 12 months, “after all, according to Due Process Regulations, there is a six-months limit for payment. The Bureau of Public Procurement also warns government agency not to purchase, where there was no vote to pay”, ARAN President Agbo had reasoned. With that, the suppliers had gone home to await their bounty.

Sadly, three years down the road, getting their money out of the NCMM remains a dream. As a result, the NCMM is willy-nilly encouraging antiquity flight, since people that stumble on such cultural property would feel safer selling them to foreigners.

“Too many thieves are looting artefacts and taking them out of Nigeria, whereas ARAN members are involved in seeking these objects and handing them over to the NCMM with a view to preserving our heritage. But, since 2009, when we supplied the NCMM with over 5,000 objects, we have only been paid a negligible fraction of our due”, Agbo cried.

“Personally, since I started dealing with the NCMM in 1998, I have recovered over 5,000 objects. In 2009, I was one of the ARAN members that supplied artefacts to the NCMM”, said Okonkwo.

Interestingly, every effort to speak with the NCMM DG, Usman; on this and sundry other matters have proven futile, as he would not take our call. It is also instructive that Mallam Usman refused to call us to give his side to some of these issues, in spite of a directive from his superiors and advice from subordinates to do so; as some of the allegations border on fraud.

Pic 1. NCMM DG, Yusuf Abdallah Usman.
Pic 2. ARAN Scribe, Peter Ezeh.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

mauricearchibongtravels: ETHIOPIA: Harvests from the Cradle of mankind

mauricearchibongtravels: ETHIOPIA: Harvests from the Cradle of mankind

ETHIOPIA: Harvests from the Cradle of mankind

MAURICE ARCHIBONG unravels Ethiopia, after a five-day working visit sponsored by the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation NTDC

ETHIOPIA: Harvests from the Cradle of mankind
Pic 1. PHOTOS: MAURICE ARCHIBONG Copyright reserved.

Selamta! Although our guide Mr. Assefa Ayele exchanged greetings and handshakes, the man said he didn’t bother to say “welcome” because we were in our home. According to Mr. Ayele, Ethiopia is not only home for all Africans but also the original home of all peoples.

This is why Ethiopia is fondly addressed as the Cradle of mankind. Ethiopia’s claim to the ancestral home of all mankind is hinged on the discovery of a number of millions years old human-form skeletons and fossilized remains of other creatures.

Chicago, US-based Mr. Donald Yohanson, the leading archaeologist, whose efforts brought the remains of the world’s oldest near-complete human-form skeleton to the fore at Hadar, Ethiopia in 1974; named his find Lucy, but Ethiopians prefer Dinknesh.
Pic 2.

Dinknesh, also variously spelt Dinqnesh and Denkenesh, is the Amharic language word for beautiful and locals think this epithet is more apt than Lucy, which derives from Lucy in the sky with diamonds, the title of a Beatles’ song the excavators were listening to, when they literally struck gold.

Dinknesh is between 3.2million and 3.5 million years old, and subsequent excavations had actually thrown up older archaeological pieces, we gathered. Going by Discover Ethiopia, a publication of that country’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, one such find, the fossilized remains of a chimp-like creature found in 1994 dates back to 4.4 million years ago.

Moreover, latter-day excavations had thrown up older archaeological pieces including Ramidus Ramidus Kadaba dated 5.8 million years old. These finds, apparently, reinforce Ethiopia’s claim of the Cradle of mankind.

Welcome to Ethiopia, whose epithet, various sources say, translates as Land with burnt face. Though home of dozens of different ethnic groups, who speak 80 languages with dialects running into 200; the Ethiopian population is predominantly Oromo but Amharic is the local lingua franca, while English is also widely used. Moreover, many Ethiopians, we were told, understand Italian, French and Arabic.

Ethiopia boasts about 25 mountains and covers a land area of 1,127,127 sq km, which is larger than that of Benin Republic (112,622), Togo (56,785), Ghana (238,533), Cote d’Ivoire (320,803) and Burkina Faso (267,950) put together.

Barely half of Nigeria’s 150million population, Ethiopia’s roughly 76million inhabitants, outnumber the collective populations of six West African countries; Benin Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Niger and Togo. Some 80 per cent of the Ethiopian population lives in the highland areas, Mr. Ayele said.

The Bible talks of a Queen of Sheba, who visited King Solomon. It is widely believed this couple’s liaison resulted in the birth of a son, who grew to become King Menelik I. Ethiopians say Queen of Sheba was one of theirs but Yemenis also lay claim to her. In any case, the history of Ethiopia would not be complete without mention of King Menelik I, King Menelik II and Emperor Haile Selassie.
Pic 3.

One of very few African countries never colonized, Ethiopia, which is also celebrated as the Land with a thousand smiles; is home of the Biblical Ark of the Covenant and the birthplace of coffee. Unlike what obtains in most other parts of the world, the Ethiopian New Year, called Tseday, falls on 11 September or Maskaram 1.

The 11th of September or Tseday, the Ethiopian New Year, coincides with the beginning of the harvest season, which explains why most weddings and parties are usually fixed for this period of plenty. Interestingly, too, Christmas is celebrated across Ethiopia on 7 January.

These dates derive from the Ethiopian calendar, which is Julian and features 13 months in a year. The first 12 months comprise 30 days each, but the 13th month boasts only five days, except in a Leap Year, when the 13th month has an extra day. Because Ethiopian calendar is seven years and eight months behind its Gregorian equivalent, this year, 2010; is still 2002.
Pic 4.

This explains why authorities of Travel Ethiopia, a leading travel and tour operator in these climes; claim a visit to Ethiopia leaves you seven years younger. But, this is not to say your age has changed; it’s like flying from Nigeria to Ethiopia: you lose two hours because of the time difference, but flying back restores those 120 minutes to your life.

Select challenges
Ethiopia has known much travail in the millennia or more that it has been in existence; but few problems have had more devastating impact on this country like the deadly trinity of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. This trio, principal killers of Ethiopians, has depleted the local population by 4 million, Ayele told us.

Hopefully, just as Ethiopians had weathered the storm of previous crises, chances are with advancements in medical science and support of the government in collaboration with international donors and HIV/AIDS control agencies, this country will also climb out of its scary multi-faceted health challenges.

The Ethiopian economy revolves around coffee, cereals, flowers, khat as well as hides and skin. Surprisingly, in spite of the plenitude of this country’s attractions, which include eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites; Ethiopia’s tourism industry contributes, per annum, an average of a paltry 3 per cent to the national income. Akin to the situation in Nigeria, where that sector was virtually prostrate for decades until recent years, Ethiopian Tourism has not kept pace with other countries in developing this area of its economy.

Mr. Jemal Kedir is Marketing Team Leader, Marketing Department of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Hear his submission during an encounter with Nigerian explorers in his Addis Ababa office: “Contribution of tourism to the GDP is less than 3 per cent”.  
Pic 5.

According to Mr. Kedir, Ethiopia grossed $167 million from tourism through over 350,000 visitors since 2008. He agreed the nation could earn more but for challenges, which includes inadequate tracking. “We don’t have satellite accounting system”, he rued.

Speaking further, this marketing team leader said, “We have statistics but these are not strong enough”. He however assured that the situation was about to change for the better shortly, going by various strategies devised by the Ethiopian government. “We have a hotel licensing agency. At federal government level, we’re concerned with star-level hotels, while smaller hotels are regulated by regional governments. But, now there are plans to upgrade even restaurants to star-level too. There are also many programmes initiated much earlier that will be yielding fruits soon. As practitioners, we’re poised to do more; there’s need to do more”, he added.

Shortly after our arrival at Ethiopia’s ministry of culture and tourism, Mr. Bade Adaralegbe, Director of Administration and Supplies at Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) had told Mr. Kedir that, “We are in Addis Ababa, to learn, see and feel the culture and traditions of the people of the great country of Ethiopia. We feel Ethiopia has a lot to offer Africa and the world. We’re here to learn from you, the relationship between your ministry and the private sector.

“We see a lot of private sector Ethiopia at various international tourism fairs. We want to know about the synergy and government’s incentives to the local tourism private sector, toward growing tourism into a major foreign exchange earner. We would also like to know how you’re working to make tourism your country’s No. 1 foreign exchange earner”.
Pic 6.

In response, Mr. Kedir said; “Since 2009, we’ve been doing business processes engineering. If tourism is going to grow; then PPP (Private-Public Partnership) has to grow. There are many players in the industry, and sometimes their roles could be conflicting. So, the public sector must properly coordinate. In the next three months, we’ll establish a Tourism Development and Marketing Agency”.

With regard to incentives; Mr. Kedir revealed: “At this stage, Ethiopian government has given each tourism company the opportunity to import, duty-free, three 4 x 4 vehicles. Hotel builders are also exempt from tax on building equipment procured for hotel construction”.

On how private sector Ethiopian tourism practitioners manage to make it to so many international travels fairs in spite of high costs, Kedir explained: “The government usually foots some parts of the cost on behalf of participants”. Ethiopia’s tourism marketing team leader went on to disclose that usually; Ethiopian government, through the ministry of culture and tourism contributes 40 per cent; while Ethiopian Airlines and the relevant private company bear 25 per cent and 35 per cent respectively of the cost.

Sometimes, the government ends up with a heavier burden; this happens when Ethiopian Airline is not involved; in that circumstance, Ethiopian government foots 65 per cent, while the private company chips in 35 per cent. However, the ratio might soon change as efforts are being made to identify all stakeholders and get each one to make some input.

We gathered, for example, that hotel proprietors do not contribute to funding participation by Ethiopian companies in oversea trade fairs. However, these hotel entrepreneurs, who had not contributed financially in facilitating the marketing process, are often major beneficiaries when tourists come to Ethiopia. So, soon all stakeholders may find themselves having to chip in something.

On the issue of infrastructure, Kedir said, “Government has given priority to tourism through policy enactment since August 2009 to use the sector to alleviate poverty. The government is giving us better infrastructure than previously”. Moreover, the government is investing billions of Birr (the local currency), which exchanged at 13 to $1 during our visit in March 2010; in creating ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) to give competitive edge to every aspect of Ethiopian society, Kedir intoned.

Kedir again: “In Ethiopia, unlike Nigeria, we didn’t pay much attention to the development part of tourism. But, now we’re paying more attention to the development part as well as awareness. That we’ve now identified and organized all the problems, and are providing solutions means we’ve finally woken up from our slumber”.
Pic 7.

To develop its tourism manpower sector, Ethiopia had set up a Hotel and Tourism Training Institute, whose student population would soon hit 700, Kedir enthused. Moreover, travel agents, tour operators, hotel owners, hotel professionals et cetera now have their associations. They need empowerment to function optimally, he intoned; saying that Ethiopian government is poised to strengthen such stakeholder bodies. Data collection and analyzing system will also be strengthened through the business processes engineering, he added. Concluding, Mr. Kedir remarked: “We hope we (Nigeria and Ethiopia) will work more closely together and move forward in a meaningful way”.

Before our departure from the Ethiopian Ministry of Culture and Tourism headquarters, Mr. Adaralegbe on behalf of the NTDC under the leadership of Otunba Olusegun Runsewe presented souvenirs to Mr. Kedir, and expressed hope of enhanced collaboration between that Horn of Africa country and Nigeria.

Aside contact with government’s agency, the explorers also rubbed minds with private sector tourism practitioners in Ethiopia with a view to learning about the PPP situation, which is being encouraged in Nigeria.

The delegation therefore held an interactive session on Monday, 8 March, 2010 with the Managing Director of Travel Ethiopia, Ms Samrawit Moges. Interestingly, though we met Ms Moges on 8 March, 2010; she enthusiastically recalled her encounter with Mr. Ibrahim Zuru, another NTDC director some 21 years earlier during a 1989 tourism trade fair in Italy.

In his opening remark, Mr. Adaralegbe reiterated the Nigerian delegation’s mission, thus: “We are here for first-hard look at select sites in Addis Ababa, and to learn about how Ethiopia’s tourism sector contributes to the country’s economy”. The NTDC chieftain added that the mission also included how Ethiopians with diverse ethnic groups live in peace and work together.

Responding, Moges opened with an anecdote: “Some months ago, at some point in Addis Ababa; I saw a lot of journalists taking pictures inside a restaurant and went to see what was going on. That’s how I discovered that your former president (Chief Olusegun Obasanjo) was in town. And it was a very interesting scene because, when the music began to play, the former president started to dance”.

Continuing, Moges, head of 16-year-old Travel Ethiopia, added; “As a private practitioner, tourism is promoted by local tour operators, who, in spite of the high costs, attend many international fairs”. Moges, however, rued that too readily; the mention of Ethiopia invokes memories of war and famine in the minds of many foreigners, whereas she would prefer the world to see her country from the tourism perspective.

Hear her: “Ethiopia is very rich in terms of culture and tourism. Our attractions are vast and varied; they are not limited to wildlife but include many historical sites, different ethnic groups, festivals and so on”.

On Ethiopian government’s support to private tourism practitioners, she said; “We see a lot of promise for the future. Recently, we (Ethiopian private tourism outfits) were allowed to import, duty free, three 4 x 4 vehicles”. Albeit, Moges wished the government could do more.
Pic 8.

“We still pay tax on camps, generators and so on; and, we think abolition of taxes on tourism facilities will hasten the growth of the industry”. The lady, who revealed that flower planters and dealers already enjoyed enviable encouragement from government, declared; “We hope we could enjoy similar incentives like those in horticulture”.

Moges again: “If we grow our tourism, it will open doors for Ethiopia because tourism is catalyst for growth of the economy in any country. Although there’s domestic tourism in Ethiopia, it is not up to the level we expect”.

The Travel Ethiopia MD also wants “Tourism to be one of the subjects in local schools’ curriculum. Young Ethiopians know about Michael Jackson, but very few of them seem to know their history or the contributions of Emperor Menelik and other great leaders. Responsibility lies on parents, government and everyone to encourage these students to know more about their country”, she said.

Though efforts were being made to improve guides’ quality through enhanced training in Ethiopia, Moges observed; “We also need to develop community-based tourism to grow the industry generally. Without empowerment, we cannot promote our tourist sites”, she remarked.

Just when we thought the lady was through, she continued enthusiastically: “There are many places to see; including a cave church. You should also enjoy Ethiopian traditional restaurants. Our food is spicy, hot and truly delicious”. As to her impression of Nigeria, Moges submitted; “We’re at low level compared to Nigeria, but we have to complement each other. Addis Ababa is now also a spa city; people come here from different parts of the world for massage; so, this is another plus for Ethiopia”.

Speaking further on the contribution of the private sector, she revealed that 95 per cent of hotels outside of Addis Ababa are private-owned. With ongoing developments, Moges reckoned, “Hopefully complaints will subside, especially with regard to food because fewer people want to eat processed food, nowadays. I think we should be serving more of fresh stuff. Where we’re failing, we have to tell ourselves the truth because, if we continue to pretend, we will not improve. Also, we have to use technology to improve our efficiency in every sector”.

Regarding our proposed sightseeing, which included visits to some markets in Addis; the lady advised: “You have to be careful with your pockets”. While wishing us a rewarding trip, she invited us back, stressing, “Ethiopia is not a one-visit destination”. As we later found out; Moges couldn’t be more right!

The Nigerian explorers
As part of its efforts to further boost Nigeria’s economy by improving the tourism industry, the Otunba Olusegun Runsewe-led NTDC has devised many laudable programmes in recent years. One of these is sponsorship of relevant stakeholders on exposure trips or educational tours to various parts of the country, the continent and the world to study the tourism sector, wherever they find themselves with a view to borrowing commendable models to improve the situation back home.

Furthermore, those on such “Fam” (familiarization) Trips are also supposed to explore possibilities of collaborations that will be of mutual benefit to the tourism sector of Nigeria and wherever the explorers visited. This is the reason the NTDC sent a 19-man delegation to Ethiopia in March 2010.

The Nigerian team, led by NTDC Director of Administration and Supplies, Mr. Bade Adaralegbe, included three non-NTDC personnel; Mazi Okafouzu Ugochukwu, Chairman of Mbido Igbo Association, organizers of the Iwa ji Igbo National Festival; Mr. Chas Nwam, a marketer, and Maurice Archibong, Culture and Tourism writer with special interest in museums.
Pic 9.

Other employees of the NTDC in the team were Mr. J. K. Kolawole, Mrs. Ashafa Olanike Sakirat, Mr. Ignatius Ekanem, Mr. Adinoyi Yakubu, Mrs. Omojola Titilayo, Mr. Vincent O. Isaac, Mrs. Ononokpono Grace, Mrs. Kemi Aderin-Olatunji, Mrs. Tabitha Mande, Mrs. Ibiyeye Nafisat, Mr. Kunle Ogunbowale, Mrs. Stella Agada, Mrs. Roseline Edinoh and Mrs. Olatunji Ajisafe.

An analysis of the composition of NTDC staff, who made the trip showed that they were drawn from various units and directorates such as Admin and Supplies; Hotel, Travel and Trade; Planning, Research and Statistics; Finance and Accounts; Office of the Director General and Lagos Zone Office. It is hoped that this diversity in specialization will rub off on various units of Nigeria’s apex tourism body, and by extrapolation percolate every part of the industry across the country and, ultimately, the African continent.
‘Madamismo’ and other stories
Ethiopia was once occupied by Italian troops and legacies of that era linger to this day; same as attacks by Jihadist Ahmad Gragn on this country of 54,000 Churches and 800 monasteries

This is Ethiopia, where; in ancient times, kings had no palaces or homes: Instead, the reigning monarch ruled from roving camps, and “their seat of power was always on the move, with no permanent abode”, according to Travel Ethiopia, a guide book, whose title is name-sake of a leading tour company in these parts. And, believe it or not; in ancient Ethiopia, kings were addressed by their horse’s name? To be candid, this was standard practice those days.

Travel Ethiopia again: “Horses and horsemanship were so important to the life of an Ethiopian that even kings used to be referred to by their horse’s name”. So cherished was the horse that even ordinary folks also had a special place in their heart for this animal. “To the common man, his horse was not only a beast of burden, but also a loyal comrade in the heat of battle”, added Travel Ethiopia.

In deed, Equus Ethiopia, an equestrian club popular among the rich and famous in this country is ample proof that the horse is still much valued to this day, even though automobiles now rule the roads of Ethiopian cities.

Selamta (welcome), once again; to the Horn of Africa country of Ethiopia, formerly known as Abyssinia. A history of modern Ethiopia (1855-1991) by Bahru Zewde submits that Abyssinia “Apparently derived from Habashat, one of the tribes that inhabited the Ethiopian region in the pre-Christian era”.
Pic 10.

According to the same author, who is professor of history at Addis Ababa University; “Ethiopia is of Greek origin, and in classical times was used as a generic and rather diffuse designation for the African landmass to the south of Egypt”.

Excerpts of Dr. Richard Pankhurst’s review of A history of modern Ethiopia, published in “The journal of the Royal Asiatic Institute”, states; “Bahru Zewde, one of present-day Ethiopia’s leading historians, must be thanked for producing the first serious history of his country”. “The book”, Dr. Pankhurst continues, “is packed with information not readily available elsewhere, and contains valuable new historical insights”.

In other words, Professor Zewde is an authority on his country; which is why we turn to his book again and again in this report for deeper insights. Aside Zewde, this travelogue also owes a lot to other publications as well as respondents from various social strata.

Bastion of independence
Though never colonized, Ethiopia was occupied by Italian troops from 1936 to 1941, following defeat of the local forces, led by Emperor Haile Selassie; who went into exile consequent upon the Italian victory. However, it is worth recalling that Ethiopia had defeated the European aggressors some 40 years earlier at the legendary Battle of Adwa.

Italo-Ethiopian wars
The historic Battle of Adwa (or Adowa) actually took place in the mountainous region north of this settlement on 1 March, 1896; and involved a concentration of “Almost half of all the Italian forces in East Africa”. Although the General Baratieri-led Italian aggressors were fewer in number, roughly 20,000 troops, they were better armed, with 56 artillery pieces. In spite of their superior armament, the Europeans nonetheless, suffered crushing defeat at the hands of the Ethiopian warriors.

That was the first time an African nation would defeat a European power, and while Italian government was overwhelmed by shame, Ethiopian national prestige soared after that military conquest marshaled by then ruler, Emperor Menelik II. But, the duel of the late 19th century was very different to the way the 1935-1936 war was prosecuted.

Determined not to be humiliated a second time, Rome committed some 500,000 troops, almost 600 aircraft and 795 tanks to the 1936 confrontation. By contrast, Ethiopia had only 14 aircraft, and 3 tanks. Although Addis Ababa had 800,000 men, about 500,000 of these were recent conscripts, and most of these new recruits were armed with nothing more than spears and bows. Moreover, whereas the Italians had 6,000 machine guns as well as trucks to freight troops and supplies, the Ethiopians on the other hand relied on horse-pulled carts for transportation.

Sadly, despite its overwhelmingly superior armament, Rome still resorted to chemical warfare, which had been outlawed by the League of Nations before the outbreak of war. Ethiopian sources indicate the Italian troops sprayed mustard gas on the locals, causing the death of some 30,000 Africans within three days.

Thus, apart from being remembered for the illegal use of mustard gas by the Italian troops, the outcome of the October 1935 to May 1936 war, often referred to as the Second Italo-Ethiopian War, also serves as memento of the impotence of the then League of Nations. Sadly, this debility trails the current United Nations even to this day.

Interestingly, even though King Sahle Selassie, ruler of the Ethiopian Kingdom of Shewa for 34 years (1813 to 1847), and great-grandfather of Emperor Haile Selassie, had signed a Treaty of Friendship with Britain and France during his reign; both European countries looked the other way, when Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935.
Pic 11.

Apparently, the African country was sacrificed as appeasement over fears that Italy would be forced to forge closer military ties with then Nazi Germany, if allied powers, Britain and France, went to Ethiopia’s rescue. However, London and Paris eventually rose against Rome after fascist dictator Benito Mussolini entered WW II on the wrong side. Italy, like Japan, was one of the few Axis Power countries that supported Germany then.

Consequently, Haile Selassie got British support to form an army of Ethiopian exiles based in Sudan. That force, backed by British troops entered Ethiopia in January 1941, but only succeeded in Addis Ababa’s recapture many months later. Thanks to Ethiopian freedom fighters’ resilience and the end of Anglo-French complacency toward the invasion; roughly five years after Italian forces overran Addis Ababa, the city was liberated on 6 April, 1941.

Italo-Ethiopian relations
However, the intervening period (between 5 May, 1936 and 6 April, 1941), left legacies, both positive and negative; which are extant to this day across Ethiopia. An example is “Madamismo”, the nickname of a curious law that sought to concretize segregation through prohibition of marriage between Italians and Ethiopians.

However, Zewde’s book, first published in 1991 by Addis Ababa University Press, reveals: “Despite the Fascist policy of racial segregation, there was a great deal of interaction between Ethiopians and most of the moderate Italians”. Although Ethiopia had benefited from cross-fertilization from indigenous nuptials among its 80-plus ethnic groups as well as the most celebrated international one sparked by the Biblical King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, inter-racial unions took on a radical spurt during the Italian occupation.

Owing to the charm of the average Ethiopian, not even the importation of commercial sex workers from Italy to assuage nature’s pressures on the occupying troops could detract from their liaison with the locals. As a result, “Madamismo”, was observed more in breach than compliance. The disregard for “Madamismo” was to further foster Ethiopians’ genetic diversity; the infusion of Italian blood has probably made the mosaic more colourful.

Although the Italian occupation lasted barely five years, by the time it came to an end in 1941; Ethiopian society was permanently affected by the occupation, and tales of the good, bad and ugly sides of that era sound fresh to this day.

“The birth of Merkato, the open market in the west of the city, initially earmarked for the indigenous population; an acceleration of the growth of the southward part of the city; the creation of such areas as Kazanchis (in the east) and Kaza Popolare, in the south”; are testimonies of the development that took place during Italian rule, according to Zewde, who further recalled: “Addis Ababa also received its first urban supply of electricity, and water, from the Gafarsa Reservoir, in the north-western outskirts of the city. A number of factories were also set up, most notably the textile mills and cement factory in Dire Dawa, and the oil mill, flour mill and sawmills dotted all over the country”.

To be candid, apart from the sound infrastructure the invaders put on ground, “The Italians (also) left a lasting imprint on the architectural landscape of this country”, as Prof Zewde rightly noted.

As earlier intoned, the Italian occupation had its warts too. Prof Zewde again: “The Italian administration was characterized by a top-heavy bureaucracy and corruption…a vast number of colonial officials was distinguished for their ineptitude and narrow-mindedness, as well as for their corruption”.

The extent of Italian administrators’ shenanigans in Ethiopia could be gleaned from the observation of then Duke of Aosta, Amadeo Umberto d’Aosta, Rome’s viceroy in Addis Ababa, who characterized “50 per cent of his officials as corrupt and 25 per cent as thieves”, according to Prof Zewde’s book.

Agents of the Italian occupation administration displayed a despicable mania for get-rich-quick, adds Zewde’s book, which further indicates that Marshal Badoglio, leader of the Italian forces that conquered Addis Ababa, stole half of the money; 1.7 million “Maria Theresa thalers”, found in the vaults of Bank of Ethiopia shortly after the fall of Addis Ababa. It is possible Badoglio’s recall to Italy, before the end of 1936, a few months after his triumphal entry, was connected with the looting.

Albeit, today’s Ethiopia, especially the capital city, carries imprimatur of Italians’ presence, almost 70 years after the Europeans’ departure in 1941. One of the impacts of Ethiopian-Italian encounters is the comprehension of the Italian language by many Ethiopians, especially among the senior citizens.

Perhaps, the centuries-old encounters between Ethiopia and Italy have encouraged a number of Italians as well as other Europeans and Americans to live in or visit the former Abyssinia. Mr. Ambrogio Malinverni, a leather goods expert, affiliated to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) was one of the expatriates we met in Addis Ababa. Mr. Malinverni, or simply Gino, was a fellow guest at National Hotel, where we stayed during our visit to Addis Ababa.

Gino, who seemed fascinated by our indigenous textiles and fashion; requested to join us in a group photograph. Given this Italian’s interest in our “moda” (fashion), we sought to engage Gino in post-dinner chats. However, much as we would have preferred to sound him out on his impression of Ethiopia and its people; the man was more interested in knowing more about Nigeria and its future.

The date was 8 March, 2010 and the alleged massacre of some 500 women and children in Berom villages near Jos had just occurred. Painfully, it was Gino that broke the news to us; he had been following the story as reported by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the Cable News Network (CNN).

More, from ‘Land with burnt face’
Travel Ethiopia, published by an eco-minded tour and safari operator established in 1994, as well as A history of modern Ethiopia tell us this country’s current name translates as Land with burnt face, and that the epithet has been in use for over 5,000 years, and going by Across Ethiopian skies, a story in the January-March 2010 edition of Selamta, the in-flight magazine of Ethiopian Airlines; “Legend has it that Emperor Menelik I, the son of Queen of Sheba and King Solomon, brought the Ark of the Covenant from Jerusalem to Axum, where he settled and established one of the world’s longest known uninterrupted monarchical dynasties”.
Pic 12.

The same lore in the airline’s quarterly adds; “This is just one example of Ethiopia’s magnificent history, which encompasses legend and tradition, mystery and fact, from a powerful and religious ancient civilization”. Some sources indicate Ethiopia dates as far back as 7,000 years: Expectedly, any community which is so steep in antiquity should boast ancient treasures; and, not surprisingly, this country throws up many.

Ethiopia’s priceless pieces of antiquity include over 250,000 ancient books, whose pages consist of parchments made from animal (often horse) skin and the inks processed from fluids squeezed from plants’ leaves. One of these priceless literary works, mostly of religious nature; is the over 1,000-year-old Ritu Haimanot from Narga in Lake Tana, going by Travel Ethiopia.

A deeply religious people, some 95 per cent of Ethiopians are adherents of the three Semitic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam; while the rest are traditional worshippers. “Both Christianity and Islam became state-sponsored religions in Ethiopia before anywhere else”, according to Travel Ethiopia, which adds: “Prophet Mohammed’s earliest followers (the ‘Asshaba’) were able to escape persecution in Arabia by fleeing to Ethiopia, where they were accepted and allowed to flourish under the King of Axum”.

Travel Ethiopia again: “In appreciation of this, there is an injunction in the Koran against violence by Muslims directed at Ethiopia”. Interestingly, this literature does not state which part of the Qur’an or “Suna” bars Muslims from harming Ethiopia; for, one of Ethiopia’s worst periods, the first half of the 16th century, features invasions by a Somali-born Jihadist, Ahmad Gragn (aka Ahmad the left-handed), who dwelt blow after crushing blows upon several Ethiopian settlements, leaving countless once magnificent Church buildings in ruins after his attack, before being killed in battle around 1543.

As it turned out, echoes of Gragn’s violence continued to rankle in the memory of Ethiopians centuries after that warlord’s aggression because around 1913, when Lij Yasu, grandson of King Menelik II was crowned successor, following the king’s death; the new sovereign was roundly rejected for being “close to Islam”.

Welcome to Ethiopia, land with over 54,000 Churches and 800 monasteries; whose nationals must have been terribly hurt by the 11 September, 2001 attacks on America by al Qaeda. How could terrorism against the US, which stands more than 8,000km from Ethiopia, hurt these Africans? Well, 9-11 is Maskaram 1, which is New Year Day in Ethiopia. And one is left wondering; was it mere coincidence or was there something more sinister to the entire plot?

Addis Ababa: New flower, timeless fragrances
Greetings from Addis Ababa! Some sources say Addis Ababa, current capital of Ethiopia, was founded by Emperor Menelik II in 1887; whereas others point to 1886. In existence for over 7,000 years, Ethiopia remains a land of endless charms to this day.

Considering that Ethiopia’s history dates back several millennia; Addis Ababa, which came into being less than 150 years ago, is, inarguably, a very young capital in terms of age.

Everyone agrees Emperor Menelik II established this settlement, and there’s no disagreement over the belief that this city owes its name to Queen Taytu, wife of Emperor Menelik II.

In response to our probe into the etymology of Addis Ababa, we were told this epithet, sometimes spelt Addis Abeba, means New Flower. A popular lore has it that the wife of then sovereign, Menelik II, had expressed a feeling of reinvigoration and renewal after washing her face with water from a hot spring somewhere on Entotto Mountains, shortly after her husband made a new palace there.

It would seem that the queen’s maids had subsequently spread the story of the royal personage’s refreshing experience, which led to the new capital being addressed as New Flower, reminiscent of the feeling that the fragrance and sight of a flower invokes.

Like a flower, Addis Ababa, akin to the country that it serves as capital; has grown though self-pollination and cross-pollination. A flower or “Angiospermae” comprises sepals and petals, stamens and pistils: This is the quartet that makes a flower complete; where one of these is missing, the organ is incomplete. However, this city is complete, and a parallel could be found in the demography of Addis Ababa and the ethnological diversity of Ethiopia as a whole.

Currently home to over 3 million inhabitants, Addis Ababa covers more than a staggering 250 sq km in the centre of the country, and is surrounded by Mounts Entotto, Yeka, Zik, Wala, Wochecha, Furi and Yere. These mountains shield the city and make gushes of wind uncommon. Addis Ababa is the 3rd highest capital in the world and Ethiopia’s high altitude has served the indigenes well by yielding this country 10 gold medals or more from the Olympic Games through its long distance runners. Entoto Hills, which peaks at almost 10,000 feet, glaring down a large area of the northern parts of the Ethiopian capital gives a good idea of the panoramic picture.

Although the Ethiopian capital started in Entotto Hills, the seat of government descended, when King Menelik II relocated his palace downwards. Long before the mid-20th century, Addis Ababa had morphed beyond its pupa’s stage of two hubs, which comprised Merkato, the principal emporium and Saint George’s Cathedral to the west, and the National Palace to the orient. Discover Ethiopia, a publication, issued by that country’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, states that “By the late 1950s, Addis Ababa was recognized as the unofficial capital of Africa”.
Pic 13.

This probably informed the decision to situate the headquarters of the United Nations’ Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) here in 1958. Five years later, Addis Ababa was also chosen as headquarters of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), precursor of the current African Union (AU). These explain why Addis is sometimes referred to as “Brussels of Africa”. Brussels, capital of Belgium, is seat of the European Union (EU). “Today, every African country has a road named in honour of Addis Ababa”, according to Mr. Assefa Ayele, one of our guides.

Welcome once again to Addis Ababa. The Ethiopian capital is a city of endless charms, and throws up more than a dozen museums. Aside Addis Ababa’s unforgettable repositories, this city’s other attractions include Merkato (also spelt Mercato) Market, said to be Africa’s largest emporium; Gold (actually Haile Selassie) Street; countless Churches, restaurants, bars and many more. 

With the daily average temperature often hovering around 15 degrees Celsius, most Nigerians will find night-time Addis bitingly cold. Comfortingly, there’s plenty of tea and coffee at affordable prices to keep everyone warm. Ethiopians proudly claim that their country gave mankind coffee. Sources say coffee was discovered in the Ethiopian settlement of Kafa, 35km from Addis Ababa.

And, we gathered that Ethiopians do not drink coffee because of its high caffeine content, which acts as a stimulant. In this land, where coffee was discovered; its drinking is in celebration of love and affection. Ethiopians, we were told, drink coffee to relax during conversations; not because of its stimulating property.

We landed at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia around 9pm local time. Ethiopia is two hours ahead of Nigeria, which means we got to Addis Ababa about 7pm, Nigerian time. Our flight, ET 910 aboard Ethiopian Airlines had taken off around 2pm in Abuja. Usually, the flight duration is 4 hours and 45 minutes.

Ms Mariamawit Tesfaye, a guide and employee of Travel Ethiopia, was at Bole Airport Addis Ababa to receive us on Saturday, 6 March. After some 15 minutes’ drive, our bus brought us to National Hotel. The lady was with us till we concluded check-in procedures at National Hotel around 11pm (9pm in Nigeria). Before 11am on Sunday, Mariamawit (or Mary if you prefer) was again with us to begin our sightseeing, one of the reasons we came to Addis Ababa.

The itinerary included a ride up Entotto Hills, a stop at a special textile and dresses market in Shiro Meda and lunch at a restaurant within the complex of National Museum of Ethiopia. At the various stops and along the way, Mary filled us in on neighbourhood and streets’ names, landmarks as well as Ethiopian history basics.

Such was her competence that by the evening of her second day with us, most members of the visiting Nigerian delegation had grown so used to Mary that when she announced that another person would be showing us around from Monday till our departure, many rued this development. However, the new guide, Mr. Assefa Ayele, would prove no less competent and easily earned everyone’s respect through his depth of history, experience and pan-African philosophy.

Inside Addis Ababa
This is Addis Ababa, where the plenitude of old Lada automobiles succeeds in etching themselves on most tourists’ minds. Somehow, these antique cars, assembled in the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) have survived in Ethiopia, decades after communism died in Russia.

Against the backdrop of Addis Ababa’s comparatively modern road network, these ancient Lada vehicles, with smoke spewing from their exhaust pipes as they labouriously crawl up and down this city’s modern avenues, paint a contretemps picture. Nonetheless, these Soviet era automobiles contribute immeasurably to Addis Ababa’s efficient public transportation system, which beats the situation in many other African countries.

Travelling the roads of Addis Ababa, it would be difficult to contest Prof Zewde’s assertion in A History of Ethiopia that “Above all, Italian rule was distinguished for road construction”; for which the descendants of the ancient Roman Empire have always been famous.

Where to Stay
The Ethiopian capital boasts countless hotels, including international chains like Sheraton and Hilton. Our hotel, National Hotel, stood a walking distance to Jubilee Palace, also called Presidential Palace; and near Development Bank of Ethiopia around Menelik II Avenue.

National Hotel is an arm of GHION Hotels Enterprise; and interestingly, their rates, even for foreigners, passed for affordable. For example, a night’s stay in a single room costs $37.39 (less than N6,000), while $57.07 (less than N8,700) paid for a double room. The going rate for a suite was the equivalent of less than N7,500 ($46.26).

And, for a group of low budget travellers; a member could get an Extra Bed at a price of N1,350 or $8.80! Interestingly, all rates entitled each guest to complimentary breakfast cover Service Charge (10 per cent) and VAT (15 per cent). Can you beat that?

Don’t go cursing Nigerian hoteliers; Hotels in Addis operate on public electricity supply, not generators because power outages are few and far between. In fact, from our arrival to departure, a five-day period, there was blackout only on one day, Tuesday; and as our hotel attendants had assured; power was restored around lunch time. In other words, the outage lasted less than seven hours.

Even viewing from the same perspective, it’s sometimes hard to find two people who see an object exactly the same way. In this context, the impressions of a city from 19 adults could therefore be reminiscent of the image of an elephant in the minds of various blind men, which depends on what part of that animal each of them touched. While some may be fascinated by the make and model of cars that dominate the local taxi fleet, one or two may find themselves gravitating towards museums.

Although the main market might turn out the favourite for some, others would rather visit local bars or restaurants to sample indigenous cuisines or quaff denizen drinks. Some may prefer an experience of the local nightlife, and if the destination boasts a mountain; there’s likely to be someone, who’d be thrilled by the chance to climb it.

Where some waters straddle the settlement, one or two might long for the joys of a boat ride or swimming. This was the muse that rankled in our mind during our recent visit to Ethiopia, courtesy the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC).

Nigeria’s apex tourism body sponsored 19 people, including three non-NTDC staffers, on an educational tour of Ethiopia with a view to rubbing minds with that country’s tourism sector authorities, public and private, as well as for first-hand impressions of what obtains elsewhere to see how Nigeria could tap from that.

Also, in the spirit of African brotherhood, the delegation also explored possibilities of collaborations with tourism practitioners in the country visited. It’s doubtful anyone ever gets all they want from a group tour; but every trip throws up some benefits, whether travelling solo or not; as our travelogues from this sojourn has proved.

Beware: Fish comes with bones
I’ve never really loved food; but culture and travel writing requires sampling local cuisines; consequently, I therefore frequently find myself playing gourmet. Like many African nations, Ethiopian gastronomy features diversity arising from ethnic multiplicity. Although many publications describe Ethiopian cuisine as spicy, they are quite mild by Nigerian standard.

At the continental level, I found their omelets and toast very interesting, even curious; a Nigerian’s favourite would be “plain omelet” and bread, also preferably plain, for as toast, it often comes across as “burnt”. On the other hand, Ethiopians make very good salad; and I found their potato chips excellent each time. Ethiopian coffee is literally wow! Any doubt that this country gave coffee to mankind, evaporates in the face of the taste and aroma of Ethiopian coffee.
Pic 14.

Also, even though I never came around to tasting the traditional accompaniment called Injera, I fell in love with Ethiopian fish goulash or Wott, a sort of stew that can also be made using beef or various legumes or vegetables. Fish goulash suddenly became daily manna for me, and savouring my lunch on the eve of our departure from Addis, I felt a need to advise prospective tourists: If you’re visiting Addis Ababa, remember; many flowers throw up fragrances and nectars, and that some flowers also come with thorns.

Consequently, the longing for nectar sometimes brings certain creatures in contention with bees, thorns and other experiences. Viewed against many a city across the world, Addis is very safe, but this is not to say that it is altogether free of scam masters and other undesirable characters. And it helps to heed the advice of local tour operators that one should always be on guard, bury your wallet deep into a pocket and hold tenaciously to your bag or any carrier.

A taste of home
On Tuesday 9 March, we had lunch at a Nigerian eatery called 9-ja Place. Run by a Nigerian, ’Yeye Funlola Siyanbade, 9-ja Place is where to go for a taste of home. Located near the Headquarters of the Africa Union (AU), former OAU (Organisation of African Unity) and Embassy of Liberia, 9-ja Place offers Naija foods, snacks, music, video, craft, lodging and much more.

Although 9-ja Place was opened barely two months ago, the outfit has quickly morphed into a must-visit destination for Nigerians, other West Africans and tourists generally.

Although the NTDC DG, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe was not with us physically, he was there in spirit and spoke through Mr. Bade Adaralegbe, NTDC Director of Administration and Supplies, leader of the delegation; who frequently reminded that each member of the delegation was an ambassador and that any problem, however minor, would tantamount to a serious blemish, for it would not only besmear the reputation of the entire team but by extrapolation tarnish our nation’s image.

Fortunately, this advice sank in and apparently guided the conduct of each explorer throughout our sojourn in Addis Ababa.
NB: The above report is a collection of three of my stories published in 2010 in different titles of Nigeria’s Daily Sun stable.

Pic 1. Martyr Square.
Pic 2. Rush hour Addis.
Pic 3. Maskali Square.
Pic 4. Institute of Ethiopian Studies.
Pic 5. Mr. Bade Adaralegbe flanked by our guide, Asefa Ayele (right) and Ethnographic Museum staff, Mr. Mammu Haile.
Pic 6. African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa.
Pic 7. Another of the many refreshing squares in the Ethiopian capital.
Pic 8. One of the numerous sights of Addis.
Pic 9. An antique Lada: Addis Ababa’s taxi fleet are memorabilia of Ethiopia’s socialist era.
Pic 10. Maurice Archibong at Ethnographic Museum in Addis.
Pic 11. Mr. Bade Adaralegbe (left) and Mr. Jemal Kedir.
Pic 12. Visiting Nigerians with Mariamawit in red.
Pic 13. Ethiopian Orthodox priests at St. Georges Cathedral, Addis.
Pic 14. And, last but not least, Samrawit Moges of Travel Ethiopia.