Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Embassy events and Timkat

Work: I was happy when I found out there was going to be a business lunch for a few people from the University to meet the reigional information officer who was arriving from Nairobi. They had invited some other librarians as well and we had a good informal discussion. Later, I found out that the new Public Affairs Counsel, Michael, would visit our library next month with some other new embassy staff. I have met with Michael a few times and he seems great for the position and hope he can help the university library in any way possible.

I have decided to hold database review twice a week with the librarians here. Since my time is now limited, I want to do as much as I can and make the best use of my time.

The President of Ethiopia arrived on our campus and our office building last Thursday to have some meetings with the AAU President. I was told not to come to work in the morning due to security issues.

Other: Timkat, the Ephiphany in the Christian calendar, fell on Saturday and Sunday. Behailu (a colleague from the Kennedy Library) and a friend of his invited me to accompany them to Jan Mada in Addis on Sunday. It took awhile for the mini-bus to show up as there was not much traffic. We walked to this nearby field and saw a huge procession. Along the way there would be dancing groups. Young men with skinny long poles painted up would join a circle and sing and dance. In a very similar fashion would be fewer women dancers. In the background were the familiar church drums and percussive sistrum instruments. Vendors were selling everything from kollo or roasted barley to hats and visors, cross necklaces, sticks of sugar cane and much more. It was jam packed with church people, tourists and pickpockets here and there. Earlier, the crowd had been blessed with holy water. A unique part of this Ethiopian ceremony is that each church has a tabot or ark. The brocaded priest carries this covered tabot on his head the previous day to the field. They pray and sing all night (and broadcast it with microphones into the neighborhoods) and then around lunch time begin to move back to their respective churches. They also bring out their special processional crosses which are often gold or silver, numerous deacons, priests, nuns, monks, Sunday school students and more who sing and dance to the church music. It is a very colorful and festive day and in Ethiopia is probably more important that Christmas day. After viewing all this, we had tibs or grilled meat nearby and then I headed home. On the way back I found someone had tried to slit my cloth market bag but were unsuccessful in stealing my bottled water and umbrella. To and from Timkat I saw people who had purchased sheep to help celebrate this holiday and were carrying these live animals home.

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