10 things wrong with this article


Posted on August 10, 2013 by Kalson Abdi

For ultimate effect, I suggest you read the article first then followed by my commentary.


  1. The best Italian restaurant in the world (according to Bob Geldof, anyway)?Fresh milk, meat and vegetables conspire to make one of the world’s culinary wonders… Ethiopian Cuisine!
    Injera with tibs (meat), spinach and lintels in berbere (pepper) and garlic sauce.
    Pasta and tomato sauce just doesn’t cut the mustard here.
  2. Italian-Style Coffee? Evidently this guy has not had a traditional Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony; then again it’s an honour bestowed upon. The best coffee picked and roasted over an open flame, ground and then cooked in a ceramic pot and filtered with horse hair right before your eyes. It is then shared with friends and family relaxing on beautiful cushions and stools with the scent of frankincense filling the air. All for your enjoyment.
    If this is not heaven, I don’t know what is.
  3. Chinese Roads.
    The author talks about how good the roads are in Ethiopia and then adds an image that doesn’t match the description. I’m confused. Either he has an inadequate understanding of what constitutes a good road or he is just deliberately perpetuating the poor African imagery we have become so accustomed to.
  4. Tanks … lots of them
    Old, rusted, dilapidated tanks. I don’t see how a symbol of war and distraction can ever be touted as a symbol that makes any country extraordinary. People died and many families were fractured and displaced. I bet those tanks have lost their appeal once the human costs are considered eh?!
  5. Underground churches
    “Ethiopia sags under the weight of its cultural treasures.” What is that supposed to mean? Do we say England, France and/or any of the other European countries with cultural heritage sites are sagging under their weight? I don’t think so. Not to mention those were built by exploitative means, a part of ‘Western’ history we rarely explore.
    Simply put, the Ethiopian churches are mesmerizing architectural wonders.
  6. Martian landscapes
    In addition to “Martian landscapes” that is the Danakil Depression, cruel and hot; Ethiopia has one of the more contrasting landscapes imaginable anywhere in the world. From the rocky north-eastern tip down through the arid landscape surrounding Harar. From the mystical mountains of the Gheralta to the wildlife haven in the Bale Mountains. His point fails to express the diversity in culture and landscape that is most interesting about Ethiopia.
  7. Men-only monasteries.
    The author’s sentiment expresses a backward and misogynistic culture. If that were the case hypothetically, then where does that leave Vatican? Just sayin’
  8. The Ark of the Covenant
    YES it’s in Africa and NO You can’t see it… deal with it!
  9. Roadside Rastafarians
    “The roadside Rastas you’re likely to meet are a friendly bunch, who’ll happily talk you through points of interest in the area (often relating to high cliffs off which Italian soldiers were thrown), as well as hawking red, green and yellow hats and accessories.”
    What did he expect? That they would be hostile savages ready to cut off his head, pull out his heart and drink his blood? But if he keeps writing lame articles like this one, they might not have a choice… if you know what I mean.
  10. A fairy tale kingdom
    Those Ethiopian so-called “fairy tale castles” was where power was once wielded and knowledge disseminated in the region, perhaps even important locations for organizing against the Italians’ attempt at colonization. The Ethiopians defeated the Italians through sheer strategy and will for freedom. I never once heard anyone describe Buckingham Palace as a fairy tale castle.

This article is a good example of how language and imagery can be used to diminish the “other.”

Two words to describe this sort of journalism that Africa neither wants nor needs are:Lazy and disrespectful.

What a shame and opportunity lost to express beauty and wonderment.