Check this information for Ethiopia (From Black Flag Cafe)

I was in Ethiopia in November. Beautiful country, great people. I stayed in the south, whereas most people head up north. From what I understand, if you want to be hassled as you go see the usual sights, the north is a good place to have it happen. In the south, however, everything is really laid back. Nice people, good food, and the coffee is to die for.

Dire Dawa was a bit dull, but something about it gave the place a real charm. I think it had something to do with the fact that its the only city in Ethiopia that shows a strong semblance of urban planning. That and there are trees all along the street. I think it can get a bit touchy at times, but I may have witnessed an isolated incident. Two guys got into an argument. One of them went inside, and the guy outside pulled a Makarov and started to follow. His friends intervened, but I wasn’t expecting to see that in Ethiopia.

Some Somalis I ate with said Jiginga wasn’t a good idea, but there’s a lot of NGOs there so I think you could see it in reasonable safety. I ran out of time though so that’s not firsthand experience.

I also spent 4 days in Sheshemene and stayed with a family there. Best coffee I’ve ever had in my life.

I never made it down to the country’s southwest areas, but a friend of mine spent a month down there and had some amazing photos. It looked very National Geographic-esque and he said it was a mind blowing experience. Apparently hitchhiking is quite easy. The downside to that is you need tons of time as not many people pass through those areas. Tour guides can take you there, but they run about $80/day. If you hitchhike the amount of money you spend is absolutely minimal.

Addis itself is surprisingly safe – but only in the daytime. I couldn’t find the backpacker hotels in Addis on my first day so I settled on the cleanest “hotel” – that means brothel – I could find. That was an experience and a half. They had a metal detector at the door and the atmosphere was very entertaining to witness. They also had AIDS/condom awareness posters on the walls. I found that amusingly progressive.

As a sample of what its like outside after dark, I went out that night to get water and witnessed two group fights and a number of people scurrying in the shadows like they were running from something. This was all depsite the policemen posted every 30 meters in the middle of the street. The Merkato, the big open air market, was pretty cool. Again, I wouldn’t go there at night, and I wouldn’t go down the alleys ever. I’ve been through some shantytowns before, but that one gave me a strong “stay the fuck away” feeling. Merkato also had a fair number of 100% cotton shirts, something I had been looking for for months.

The rest of my time in Addis I stayed at the Bole Hotel. Its backpacker central. Not really my type of crowd but I did meet some interesting people. I also managed to stumble into my present job after meeting my current boss there. That was a nice surprise =)

Harar is another big spot in the south. I don’t quite know how to describe it. It’s just a strange place.

Language wise, English is great in the captial. In the south I found it near worthless. I actually had more luck speaking Arabic (a large number of refugess worked in Arab countries).

I went to Eritrea in January, but I’ll spare you the details unless you ask for them. This post is already getting too long.


Και μια άλλη άποψη:

By Tsegaye Tadesse

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – At least eight Ethiopians were shot dead and scores more injured on Wednesday during clashes with security forces on a third day of unrest over last month’s disputed elections.

The Ethiopian government said the victims were killed in the capital Addis Ababa while police tried to quell looting, which it said was fomented by the main opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD).

The shootings followed two days of student protests and weeks of rising tensions over preliminary results from May 15 parliamentary elections, which the opposition says were rigged by the ruling party of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

“The whole hospital was literally packed with injured,” a Reuters witness said outside the Black Lion hospital where he saw eight dead bodies, some shot in the head.

Ambulances streamed in with new injury victims, most of them with gunshot wounds, as hundreds of relatives wailed and wept in packed wards.

Wednesday’s killings were the worst in Addis Ababa since police and security guards killed 41 people during April 2001 riots that followed a wave of student protests for more academic and political freedom.

During Wednesday’s clashes, gunfire could be heard across the tense capital, where most shops, with the exception of bars and pharmacies, were closed.


Information Minister Bereket Simon told Reuters roadblocks has been set up to thwart looters, who had begun throwing stones. “In the ensuing conflict, some eight lives have been lost, which the government regrets very much,” he said. “CUD, which is the perpetrator of the violence, will have to take responsibility.”

The CUD said it had nothing to do with the violence nor a strike by taxi drivers that began on Wednesday and severely hampered transportation in the capital.

“We have sent an appeal to the public to stay calm and the strike was not our call. The people said ‘enough is enough’ and they told us they have their own mind that guides them to their freedom,” CUD spokesman Bebebe Eshetu said.

Preliminary results from the election board showed the ruling party and its allies have enough seats to form the next government in the Horn of Africa nation of 72 million people which is the continent’s top coffee producer.

But the CUD increased its share of assembly seats by nearly tenfold, according to those results.

Official results are due on July 8.

Throughout the elections, widely seen as Ethiopia’s most competitive, the CUD also accused government agents of intimidating and killing some of its officials.

The ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) denies harassment and vote-rigging and in turn accuses the opposition of fomenting anarchy and protests in defiance of a month-long post-election ban on public demonstrations.

Hundreds — mainly students — have been arrested and scores injured since Monday in clashes with police and paramilitary troops who have flooded the capital’s streets in armored trucks to enforce the demonstration ban.

Zenawi is himself a former student activist and guerrilla leader who toppled Marxist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991.

Reuters 8/Jun/2005

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