Ethiopia's bloggers tackle bomb blasts and fasting

Ethiopia's bloggers turned reporters and detectives as a series of mysterious blasts rocked the country's capital Addis Ababa.

No one was injured in a small explosion outside a coffee processing plant this afternoon. But at least one person died after a bomb tore apart the back of a commuter minibus near the heart of the capital on March 27, as was reported in Some news on Coffeechillisun and Two Three Four blasts – one death on Meskel Square.

Weichegud ET Politics picked up on one popular conspiracy theory in the hunt for the culprit in her post Exclusive! The Ethiopian Federal Police New Employee Handbook:

It used to be that the government of Ethiopia used to keep itself busy “diffusing” grenades, planted and imagined, to keep Addis residents in tow and to justify roving Humvees to donor nations. But people scoffed. And you know what happens when you scoff at the EPRDF… things have to go boom!

What dilemma. On the one hand… you need to show the world that things are going swimmingly and invite international investors to lookie here. And silly foreigners, a damn picky bunch, want to hear nothing of bombs exploding where their money lies.

But on the other hand… you’ve been telling everybody that you are fighting terrorism, and if it weren’t for you, Ethiopia would be another Somalia, what with all the Rwanda-style ethnic cleansers in your midst.

But on the other, other hand, you have you a population in Addis that needs reminding that, occasionally, it needs to be bombed.

What to do? What would Jesus do?

Far away from all the bombs and blasts, Ethiopia’ current long, long Lenten fast also had an impact on the country's growing band of bloggers.

Addis Ababa Rocking Fun Zone – written by a former Alaskan who married and moved to Ethiopia – gave a first-hand account of the Orthodox Christian season of self-denial. In Fasting update 4 the strain was beginning to tell:

Truthfully, I’m doing quite well, but I have to say that each day is more difficult. Mostly, it’s fatigue, though I recently felt a new sensation in my knees that has nothing to do with recently reaching an age-milestone, but everything to do with the fast…

No, the fast is going well. I had a huge moment of crestfallenness (another 4-syllable “word”) due to the craziness of the Ethiopian calendar. I remarked to my wife the other night that it would be no problem from here on out because we were more than 4/7 of the way when she reminded me that Ethiopian Easter is actually 8 days behind the Easter practiced in the west. Thanks very much, Ato Julian and your crazy calendar. (What on Earth was wrong with Ato Gregory?!)

Other bloggers got caught up in the season's meditative mood.

The Concoction remembered conversations round his Ethiopian family table in News analysis – Ethiopian style:

I do miss those days when my two brothers, my mom, my cousin and myself used to butcher the daily events and history Monday to Friday around 6pm at the dinner table. I just realized that we didn’t do politics on the weekends. My sister (a major in Political Science) was the only one in the family who refused to talk politics. My auntie was the self-designated devil’s advocate and instigator. A tiny woman who always wore the Netela (an Ethiopian shawl) and who was the mistress of coffee ceremony, used to cover her mouth with the Netela and drop a bomb here and there when she felt that the screaming, name calling (in front of my mom – it was only allowed during political discussions), and the popping veins were subsiding. She ignited something and left us with her favorite line Belu ete, wedebete lihidibet (something like Okey now let me go home). As if we were holding her up from going home…!

Journaling Ethiopia reflected on her trip to East Gojjam, “Ethiopia's breadbasket”, in The Way We Were:

I keep having the thought while watching the people in the countryside that this is what life was like for most humans before the invention of bureaucracy…

The farmers in East Gojjam plow their plots of land of golden cereal grains with two oxen and an antiquated Iron Age plow that is basically a scythe with a longer handle…

A doctor at Debremarkos Hospital told me, “When a woman walks into town, she is always carrying 3 or 4 things. I doubt she even rests one day after labor. Whereas when a man walks into town, he puts everything on a donkey.” I like to play a game while driving where I try to find a woman or girl out on the road who isn't carrying something, and a man who is carrying something other than the dula, his walking stick. It's pretty tough to find either in East Gojjam, where rigid gender roles and strict definitions of “women's work” vs. men's work is the strictest and most patriarchal out of all Ethiopia.

Things We Should Have Written Down took a literal diversion from the bustle of Addis Ababa by describing a less-than-savoury back alley between two of the capital's busiest streets in Tread Lightly:

Rivulets of urine wash down the stones and onto the pavement of the main road, to the feet of those waiting at the taxi stand. Many use this shortcut despite the waste that lies within. Some move quickly, not wanting to stay too long, others perform a sort of dry-stone-to-dry-stone ballet, while others walk normally, numb to the rank odor. After a rain, or the night after a particularly festive holiday, desperate measures must be taken: you must hop up on the lip of the trough and balance your way through the alley. Do not lose your balance; for God’s sake, do not fall.

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