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A few small brain chunks are all that remain of the man on the street. My girlfriend Mahi and I walk past the lurching throng of crying Ethiopians. Myself, a thoroughly desensitized Westerner, feel only a detached curiosity, and perhaps a hint of jealousy at how emotional Ethiopians can be. If onlookers at a car accident cried in New York, Toronto, or London, they would be subjected to a flurry of bewildered and even mocking looks. This uncontrolled show of empathy contrasts sharply with the seemingly total disregard for human life one often sees in this part of the world, exhibited in the way people drive or how police beat the hoi polloi at the drop of a hat.

A few minutes later we see another horrific car accident through the windows of our careening taxi-van on the way to a small village nearby. The driver of our jam-packed vehicle doesn’t slow down. “If you tell him to drive slower, he’ll only yell at you,” Mahi tells me, a hint of fatalism in her voice. I sigh in resigned disbelief, though a part of me no longer cares, since I’m leaving the country soon.

She tells me a story about cops letting a man who was struck by a car die because they chose to fill in their paperwork before taking him to the hospital. I recall another time while we were walking a friend’s dog in Addis. Mahi kept admonishing me to keep him on a short leash. “People here won’t think twice about hitting a dog. There’s no law against it,” she warned.

Clichés swirl through my head. “Life is cheap here.” “Death lurks around the corner.” “Africa is chaos.” Yes, yes, they sound reductionist, and they’re simplistic and often untrue, but I understand where they come from. It’s silly to consider all clichés or stereotypes true, but equally silly to dismiss them as necessarily false. Administrative failures and poor economic conditions from a long history of exploitation cause such a state of affairs. Car accidents are extraordinarily common in Ethiopia, as are other kinds of unnatural death. I can’t believe how many recently deceased people Mahi knows, or knew. Having African (I can hear a whining voice protesting, “Africa isn’t a country,” but it’s easier to say “African” than Ethiopian, Rwandese, Kenyan, Ugandan, and Nigerian) friends on Facebook means regularly reading necrological status updates.

We’re travelling in the country’s northern historical circuit, the leftovers of thousands of years of advanced civilization. In fact, the Kingdom of Axum, precursor to modern Ethiopia, was one of the four greatest powers in the world by the third century A.D., and the Ethiopians were greatly revered by the Ancient Egyptians and Greeks.

The north is home to the mighty Simien Mountains, where animals found nowhere else in the world reside; 800 year-old churches, carved from a single rock in Lalibela; the medieval castles of Gondar, Africa’s own Camelot; the experimental village of Awra Amba, peopled by utopian atheists who have eliminated gender roles; the swirling lava lakes of the Danakil Depression, the hottest place on Earth; Axum, scattered with millennia-old manmade stelae and the alleged resting place of the Ark of the Covenant; and the site of the 1896 Battle of Adwa, where 100,000 Abyssinian imperial troops smashed a modern Italian army, thus ensuring the empire remain the only country in Africa free from the poison of colonialism.

Travel writer Paul Theroux summarized the state of ancient Ethiopian civilization thusly: “When your barbarian ancestors were running around Europe bare-assed, with bellies painted in blue woad, elaborately clothed Ethiopians were breeding livestock and using the wheel defending their civilization against the onslaught of Islam, while piously observing the Ten Commandments.” Though when he travelled there recently, he described the denizens of Addis as “handsome people in rags, possessed of both haughtiness and destitution, a race of aristocrats who had pawned the family silver.” Colourful, unscientific, and probably offensive, but I must admit I nodded my head when I recently reread that passage.

So what happened? How did a once mighty empire become one of the most impoverished nations on Earth? How did a fly-blown Ethiopian face become an advertisement for the aid industry? The usual reasons: foreign exploitation, mostly at the hand of Europeans; domestic oppression under corrupt elites; extraordinary governmental mismanagement, both under Emperor Haile Selassie and then even more so during the brutal Derg regime, particularly during the famines that have plagued the country for centuries; domestic turmoil, occasionally very bloody, caused by resentment towards the government as well as political, ethnic, and religious rivalries; and of course a few fruitless wars.

It’s become very fashionable of late to speak of “Africa rising.” Ethiopia does have a skyrocketing GDP, and everywhere in Addis one can look upwards to find cranes towering overhead. But these cranes are mostly building luxury hotels that the vast majority of people cannot afford, and most of the growth is benefiting a tiny, often corrupt elite. One should also not forget the “growth” of inequality, urban poverty, and materialism.

Nonetheless it remains a fascinating place with a rich culture, incredible people, and gorgeous landscape, one of the most distinct places on the planet. It’s a different world from the beaches, safaris, tourists and Bantu Swahili cultures of Tanzania that I had been immersed in a few weeks earlier.

* * *

Tanzania was for me a sort of tropical purgatory. I hovered in limbo, gazing dazedly at the blurry lives of passersby. My own life sat twiddling its thumbs in the corner. I’d been staying with some very generous friends in Dar Es Salaam, waiting for an Ethiopian business visa needed as a first step for accreditation as a freelance journalist from a government not known for its fondness of reporters. The consulate in Toronto assured me it would take only a few days. Of course nothing involving Ethiopian bureaucracy can ever be measured in mere 24-hour units.

Naturally no one was able to tell me just how long the wait would be. There are no concrete timelines because there is no concrete process, or if there is one, no one seems to know it. It was hard to tell if this was the usual cloak of obfuscation so often encountered in dealing with African governments, or simply incompetence. I recall former Reuters journalist Aidan Hartley’s description of African bureaucracy: “Even the simplest of subjects, such as the figures for coffee exports, appeared to be matters of national security. In fact, we suspected it was for a more mundane reason. He didn’t know and, more to the point, the figures didn’t exist.” Whatever the reasons, I was adrift in what Sir Richard Burton called “the proverbial delays of Africa.”

Meanwhile, I travel. By bus around the Serengeti and past Mount Kilimanjaro to Arusha and Lake Victoria in the north, and by ferry across the warm Indian Ocean to the islands of Zanzibar and Mafia off the eastern coast. Everywhere I meet tourists complaining how expensive everything is.

Being skinny is painful. I mean it physically hurts. Bones need a cushion of meat to pad their edges and acute angles. Hard surfaces bite into the bottom and back of the gaunt, requiring them to constantly cycle through their resting positions in a kind of ridiculous dance. After 14-hour bus rides on dirt roads with bumps hit with such speed as to propel me from my rock-hard seat into a collision with the ceiling, my ass was sore for days.

During these painful episodes the terrifying realization would set in that maybe I don’t love travel the way I once did. I became more impatient with the bothersome elements of traveling in a developing country, and less infatuated with the adventure. It was no longer new and magical. Perhaps I’ve overdosed.

After my travels, I languished in dusty, friendly Dar Es Salaam amid the coconut palm and baobab trees, white-washed buildings, whirling ceiling fans, bright kanga wraps, raging tropical sun, merciful Indian Ocean trade winds, hordes of foreigners, malarial mosquitoes, modern shopping centres, Indian merchants, grilled street meat, bouncing Swahili music, bajaj and moto taxis, endless traffic, and unrelenting fraudsters. It was more developed and more crime ridden than Addis.

At first it was wonderful catching up with a good friend, meeting new people, and having great conversations, perhaps even the kinds of conversation I can only have with fellow Westerners. But soon I grew frustrated and depressed over my stalling career and journalistic impotence in Ethiopia, and was starting to feel useless in Tanzania. I allowed myself to become the type of traveller I usually can’t stand. Normally I’ll have read at least a couple of books and speak a smattering of a country’s language before even stepping foot on the plane, but I knew little of Tanzania and spoke almost zero Kiswahili before I came. Aside from a few extraordinary cultural experiences, I lived a largely isolated life, taking bajaj taxis instead of buses, chasing Wi-Fi wherever I could find it, and often simply staying at home reading. I had almost no interest in Dar Es Salaam, and my revulsion of African cities was now well-established.

Sometimes I felt like some sort of comic book super villain. It was strange being around Westerners again, and I often had to resist the urge to thumb out the eyes of the ones whose positivity, enthusiasm, white guilt, and political correctness nauseated me. I was comforted by the irritated passages in Charles Bukowski’s Ham on Rye that I was reading at the time. “I liked being bad. Trying to be good made me feel sick.” His sincere anger with the world and disgust with people were refreshing.

Sometime around the third rebooking of my plane ticket back to Addis, I had to ask myself if living there was really worth all the time, money, and frustration. Sure, it’s a fascinating place, and I had made a few great Ethiopian friends. I had had the pleasure, through Mahi, of spending my time with local journalists, artists, intellectuals, and activists. Nonetheless, I finally had to admit to myself that Ethiopia wasn’t for me, at least not Addis Ababa. I had a dispassionate intellectual interest in the place, but no visceral attachment. The people appeared to equate “development” with the adoption of all those parts of Western culture that I so despise – rapacious consumerism, self-help and “positive thinking,” a shallow image-based entertainment culture, and elitism. Nationalism, xenophobia, and general intolerance seemed to be popular hobbies.

Addis was also killing Mahi, from the venomous and chronic misogyny, to the workplace exploitation, to the frequent eruptions of hostility caused by being with a white man. Even her friends gave her a hard time for being with a foreigner. They ask, “Why don’t you tell him to buy you a laptop,” and don’t understand why that bothers her, why it belittles our relationship. Every single economic interaction she had when I was present had to turn into a shouting match because everyone overcharged her. She even had to leave her job at a corrupt construction company because they were trying to extort her for money. “Just get your boyfriend to pay. Isn’t that why you’re dating him?”

Moreover, my job at a mismanaged Ethiopian newspaper was hellish. The journalists were fantastic, but the editors spent most of their time complaining about their “lazy” reporters. They even told me they regarded all foreign journalists as hacks who “don’t understand Ethiopia” (the dozens of books about Ethiopia and the wider region I’ve personally seen on foreign journalists’ bookshelves in Addis would seem to refute that notion). The unfortunate reporters at this paper work 80-hour weeks, sleeping at their desks on the weekends, in an office with almost no cell phone service and Internet that rarely works. They must endure this with seemingly zero compassion from the management. I was working the same hours and also sleeping there on weekends, yet I had no more than 20 hours of actual work to do each week. Whenever I asked why, the answers were, like so many other things, always circumlocutory. And after all that, they refused to pay me a single cent. In the end I didn’t have the energy left to argue with them. After all, rich white people aren’t allowed to complain.

The expats were mostly disappointing; I met many, but socialized with virtually none. The lifestyle and cultural differences were simply too much for most of them to bear and they had retreated into a bizarre bubble world existing side by side with Addis. Most of what they did was designed to isolate themselves from reality. I’ve never been to a country where so few of the foreigners, even those who had lived there for years, spoke the local language. As always, it was fashionable amongst expats to hypocritically denounce the Bubble, but they would also occasionally mock those expats who had gone “too native.” Most were aid workers there to “save Africa,” who rejoiced at the orgy of Westernization, but were hungry for more. Many were so bored that they had become alcoholics, and the worst of them behaved in a way they could never get away with in their home countries, treating Addis like some seedy amusement park or brothel. Even most foreign journalists were trapped in this parallel universe, obliterating my romantic conception of the firmly embedded and adapted correspondent.

* * *

I fly into Addis’s airport, in the wretched Bole neighbourhood, the living museum of everything that’s wrong with development in Africa, and immediately flee to Piazza, a charming old neighbourhood built by the Italians during their brutal occupation of the country. Piazza’s endless cafes and low-key restaurants tend to attract Addis’s sophisticates, and its habitués are friendly and accustomed to a cosmopolitan crowd. It’s the dry season now, and the combination of cool highland air and hot tropical sun makes for a virtually perfect climate, in stark contrast to the inclement weather I had left behind in Ethiopia six weeks before. I sit down to people-watch and can’t help but be struck by their incredible uniqueness – the facial structures and skin tones, the language, the pride. They’re not always good people, but they are a great people.

I can’t help feeling that Ethiopia and I had let each other down. It seemed as though the country had sent its armies to keep me out – hordes of fleas, bureaucrats, thieves, and miscreants. When my camera kit was stolen, along with hundreds of photos, I finally got the message and threw in the towel in bitter defeat. If I was younger, or if it were my first time living abroad, perhaps the “magic” of living in Africa would have made all of the bullshit worth it, but no more. Ethiopia was a false start to my (still theoretical) career as a journalist abroad. On my last day, rolling my luggage down the crowded street to find a cab, a passerby told my girlfriend to “Tell him not to come back.” I decided to take this fellow’s cruel advice. “Beka,” I murmured to myself. Enough.

* * *

Half a day later I’m consumed by the consumerism of holiday-season Toronto. My iPhone jumps back to life with its ever-present hi-speed Internet. It’s too much to handle and I can’t seem to put it down. The airport bus is equipped with leather seats, electrical sockets, and free Wi-Fi. Tickets cost $27 and can be paid using the onboard credit card machine. It leaves exactly on schedule even though only three of its fifty seats have passengers in them (I remember how Kapuściński wrote that the difference between concepts of time in Africa and the West is that in the West, buses leave at a specific time, while in Africa, they leave when they’re full).

Almost immediately, my standards for satisfaction increase tenfold. “This movie will take 25 minutes to download? Fuck.” I stare out of the window of my friend’s hi-rise condo, looking at the CN tower a few hundred metres away. Going without water or electricity for several days at a time in Addis is already a faint memory. I’m drunk off of Western comforts. It feels good, but not healthy. My friends tell me their lives feel empty, and they try to fill in the emptiness with consumer items, sex, and alcohol.

Back in Winnipeg I’m subjected to all the usual observations about how skinny I’ve become (But I suppose I can’t make any comments about how much weight anyone has gained. That would be rude), a few not-so-surreptitious glances at my thinning hair, and the inquiries of when I’ll “grow up,” which, if I’m not mistaken, means living in a “civilized” (i.e. Western) country, moving to the suburbs, and getting an office job.

Those things terrify me. Instead, I decide to return to Istanbul, my first love, the most beautiful city in the most beautiful country in the world. Turkey was the spark that ignited my love for travel eight years ago when I lived there for six months. But in retrospect, perhaps it wasn’t travel that I fell in love with, but rather Turkey. It’s the perfect combination of Western comforts, European culture, Mediterranean passion, and Eastern spirituality and exoticism. And best of all, I don’t need a business visa to work as a freelancer.

If you liked this, you may also enjoy my other essays about Ethiopia, found here.


18 thoughts on “Beka

  1. Everyone of your entries always takes me on a beautiful journey. Thanks so much for your reflections, and for sharing them. Many of the sentiments you express ring very familiar, though in a different way for myself being African and having also fallen into the easy western comfortable lifestyle. It seems an almost unbridgeable gap…but you come dangerously close to capturing it. Though I don’t know you [yet? 🙂 ], I’ve found myself invested in your sojourn in Ethiopia. Too sad it is over, but I will definitely look forward to where the story takes you next. Life is indeed a constant search for home, I hope you find yours sooner rather than later! HAppy new Year!

  2. Hi Nick, I read your first blog post on Ethiopia and I have to say that your last post exceeds in its depth, and its breadth and in the manner you have captured the contrasting reality of the country – I have to say, at the risk of sounding condescending. Even though, you are leaving the country now, I am sure you are taking part of Ethiopia with you- you see Ethiopia once you have scratched beyond the surface, is like the Genie from Aladdin’s lamp – your wishes might not have been granted, but this genie will never go back into the lamp – to be consigned to the recess of memory and in the back waters of your travelling days of youth. It will infuse you, and will always be readily available to tint the sight of whatever spectacles you view the world in. Perhaps if you write more like this you can tame the genie. Bless!

  3. Yes back to your Western comforts, European culture. There is so much bitterness in your writing towards Ethiopia/Addis Abeba and Esp the Bole region. It is clear that for 1 reason or another, you have decided to be very negative towards Africa and Ethiopia. News flash, its not a ‘developed’ continent. In the process of development, there is a gap between the rich and the poor. The reason it is not developed right now is because of Europe and the west. You give little in one hand and take a lot in the other while stopping one from trading equally with Europe.

    You say give a man fish he will eat for a night. Give him a net and he will feed his family forever. Ask yourself, does that man want to eat fish for the reset of his life? No!. He wants to be able to trade. And that is where the west is keeping Africa in the dark.

    Yes you see a lot of charities in Ethiopia. Yes I agree. I have seen it. From VSO to Save the Mothers foot :). Do we need all of them. NO! Do they all help. No! Most of them are just there for a holiday. True some do great work but it is tarnished by the many who should not be there in the first place.

    Why is Africa so poor?

    Let me give you an example,

    Yesterday, Sudan struck Gold. Found untold amount of Oil. Today, thanks to Europeans, they are divided into 2 countries. People who do not have a factory that can make a needle are now fighting with machine guns and killing each other in 1000’s. Same old story aye? And who is behind it? And What is the motive? Go figure!

    Ethiopia did not fall for any of that. We stayed united because we are a smart nation. Like you said, we were building castles way before most of Europe. In Ethiopia, you will find will find rude people, people who steal and people who disrespect just like most other countries. The majority will respect you but they wont see themselves as inferior to you. That’s just not Ethiopia but i have seen this to be different in other African countries. I dont think you liked that. Ethiopia, relatively is a crime free country and this is testified by many travel blogs by Western folk and yet you paint it as different because some kid stole your camera.

    I am sorry you were discriminated against about your Ethiopian girl Mahi but for a man that has lived in addis, you should know the reason why. So many European and Arab men come to Ethiopia and use prostitutes. This does not make the locals happy on so many levels and I believe your discrimination is born out of that. If you are in love, all good but most wont believe that. They just think you are using her. By the way, did you take her to Turkey with you. You didn’t mention that but i am sure you haven’t. May be the locals were proved right.

    One thing, Ethiopia no matter how you paint it, is a growing nation. The IMF and World bank can tell you that. For years, it has been growing in double digits. Thanks to the Chinese, they are bringing us back to our former glory. China is creating a win-win situation for most African countries and development is happening everywhere in Africa. Thank you China. You fell to mention, the child mortality rate dropping in huge %. You fail to mention the Grand dam we are building. You forget to mention the endless amount of forgin investors coming to Ethiopia every day. You think everything that is being done is for artificial reasons. All the building are for hotels the locals cant afford. If no one affords it, why build? You don make sense. There is massive demand for it. Ask Haile Gebresselase. Ask Kenenisa Bekele who both have massive hotels etc.

    What Africa needs, as a priority was always Infrastructure. Its key to our poverty issues but you cant see that. You think a hospital should be a priority but not for me. It will be done but not as a priority. You fail to see all this and think the great work thats being done is all artificial and what the country does not need.

    As for you, a jorno, never a favorite anywhere in the world and i can see why some have not warmed to you or come close to you. Nick, you have a great way of painting with words but you have a long way to go when it comes to substance. You will need to think writing is more than using beautiful words and you have some way to get to the greats you quote in your posts.

    I am glad you are out of your night mare and am glad you are in your ‘western comfort’. I sensed a bit of a colonial mentality in some of your posts and i never wanted to tell you that. But how do you leave Africa? With pity where life is cheap and backwardness is just common.

    In the words of Bob Marly, i just want to tell you that we will be aight!

    • I was going to delete your comment, but I want to show people how nationalists like yourself think.

      First of all, don’t say the word “you” when referring to the West, as if I personally colonized and exploited Africa. Half of my ancestors were actually Ukrainian, and were exploited and conquered just as much as yours.

      When you imply that I’m happy to be back in Western comforts, I think you missed the whole point, or perhaps didn’t finish the essay? And you think by criticizing charity groups, you’re disagreeing with me? Read it again.

      Thirdly, please don’t fall into this trap of blaming every single problem on “the West.” Ethiopia was never colonized. The Italians were brutal, to be sure, but without the help of the British, their occupation would have been much longer. You really don’t think Haile Selassie or Mengistu played any role in Ethiopia’s current situation? Who saved Ethiopia from the famine in the 80s? The evil Western world, curse them!

      And Ethiopia has always been united? Hmm, so Eritrea is still a part of the “empire?” And I suppose there’s no such thing as the ONLF or OLF?

      You think the West is “keeping Africa in the dark” by not trading with them? Have you never looked at import/export figures? And do you really think simply selling your resources is going to develop Africa? Have you never read about the “resource curse?”

      And Europe divided Sudan? First of all, most borders in Africa are completely artificial and were drawn by European colonists. The countries are artificial – what exactly is a “Sudanese person?” It’s a creation of colonialism. Read your history.

      I’ve never said nor implied that I want anyone to “feel inferior” to me, and that’s a really ridiculous thing to say. Equating “I don’t want people to call my girlfriend a bitch” to “I want people to bow down to me because I’m white” is kind of a stretch, don’t you think?

      No, I don’t like Bole. Many people don’t like Bole, for pretty obvious reasons. Do we need to apologize for that? And are you actually saying it’s more important to build luxury hotels that yes, the vast majority of Ethiopians cannot afford, are more important than hospitals?

      Before you comment on the state of your country, or Africa in general, perhaps you should read a few books about it. Simply being Ethiopian is no qualification for having a credible opinion.

      Yes, I’m bringing Mahi with me to Turkey. By suggesting that the racist misogynists on the street were “right,” you are no better than them. Why are you all so concerned with white people taking advantage of your women, but not at all concerned with Ethiopian men horribly mistreating women? Have you seen figures for child brides, female genital mutilation, violence against women, male infidelity, etc.? Ethiopia is one of the worst countries on the planet to be a woman, and it has nothing to do with the evil ferenj.

  4. Nick – your writings are such a breath of fresh air. Thank you for keeping everything about you alive for continuing to share your stories with your friends.. I just (literally last night) came back from Greece where I escaped to for the winter break… I am overwhelmed with the balance Mediterranean culture seems to strike with respect to so many things.. Maybe its because it is trully mixed and “foreign” is an ironic description, since most people are mixed and remixed even though they might identify strongly with their home region. I hope you find peace and comfort for your mind and writing your new, but old home – Turkey. Happy new year!

    Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone

  5. A white friend of mine is married to an Ethiopian woman and they stayed a few days in Istanbul some years ago. He told me that they faced a lot of racism and unfriendly stares everywhere, much more than in Ethiopia.

    Have you been in Turkey with your Ethiopian girlfriend for a while? How does she and you compare Turkey with Ethiopia from an interracial couple perspective?

    • She’s waiting for a visa. There’s no way it can be worse in Istanbul than in Addis, but it exists here too. The difference is, here it’s more just curiosity, whereas in Addis it’s more malicious.

      • No, it is not curiosity. What part of “unfriendly much more than in Ethiopia” did you not get? “They face a lot of racism” …you skipped over that part too. Who was malicious to you in Ethiopia? Your own posts contradict this statement of yours that “its more malicious” in Ethiopia. You seem confused. Did you mix well with locals or not? Racism against black people in Turkey is a well recorded fact. To try and compare that kind of entrenched racism with the dislike you encountered in Ethiopia is ridiculous. People did not like you because you were you, a self obsessed, over indulged white boy who think the world owes him an adventure. You must really hate your dull life in Canada but don’t take it out on Ethiopians who refused to entertain your fantasy. We don’t do baby sitting well. I feel sorry for Mahi, who it appears has been dumped by you to wait for a visa on her own. Why didn’t you marry her and take her as your spouse since you are so concerned for her living as woman in Ethiopia? I hope Mahi never makes it to where you are because you would be an albatross on anyone’s neck. Not only the racism in Turkey but your own insufferable arrogance and tedious sense of self importance. Gilgil..that’s what ethiopians say. Indeed it is Giligil, good to see the back of you in Ethiopia. The passerby was right. DONT COME BACK! Good bye and good riddance.

      • I usually delete these comments (which are often far worse. “I hate white people, I wish they would all die,” etc.), but I’m going to keep this one as a good sample of how many Ethiopians view foreigners, and the logical contradictions often at play. Readers can judge for themselves.

        Yes, there is a lot of racism in Turkey, but not as much as in Ethiopia, in my opinion, and I’ve lived in both countries (have you?).


      • I will be interested in hearing how it pans out.

        If I understand correctly you have never lived in Turkey with an African girlfriend yet.

        My guess is that, paradoxically, people would give you much less shit (than in Addis) if you were with a local Turkish girl but with a black girlfriend I’m not so sure.

        Yet, in my personal experience, I have never seen, around the world, men as jealous, arrogant and obnoxious as Ethiopian men when they see a white guy with a pretty Ethiopian girl, even the little boys think they are entitled to give you shit.

        Even Ethiopians with an obvious high Western education (like GTFO in these comments) cannot control their hatred and rage at the mere idea of a white man with an Ethiopian woman 🙂

      • Thanks for your comment Anton.

        Mahi’s still waiting for her visa (red tape in Turkey is almost as bad as in Ethiopia…). I’ve heard that most Africans here hate Turks because Turks stare at them and yell “Drogba” (the name of a famous football player from Ivory Coast on a Turkish team), which is offensive and annoying, but I don’t think anyone would ever say “Go back to Africa” or anything like that. For Turks, seeing an African is even rarer than seeing a white person in Ethiopia, and they’re mostly just genuinely curious, like when I visit villages in Africa. But I really want to meet more Ethiopians in Turkey so I can get their opinions on life here.

        I’ve had Turkish girlfriends in Turkey and have never ever had a problem from Turkish men. Turks used to always ask if I had a Turkish girlfriend, and if I said yes, they always seemed happy and congratulated me.

        I don’t know what it is with Ethiopian men, but I hope they eventually come to terms with foreign men. There’s going to be more and more foreigners in Ethiopia every year that goes by.

  6. I think it is good to blog about any opinion or experience. I can’t understand anything from all that blog and also the comments after wards. it is fine for me.

    what I can say here is about Turkey. I lived in Izmir for almost one year and I was teaching English for many Turks, starting from wealthy kids language school up to nursing students and senior executives in a language institutes and few Firms in Turkey. As an Ethiopian young man, who went there as HR assistant with working VISA and resident permit, I didn’t felt racism in Turkey at all. They do have a turkish version of saying of darker skinned looks as we call the white skinned as ferenje they say zenje. that is rarely heard from kids on certain circumstances. But, in my time in Izmir, I found the people of Turkey hospitable. It is common to hear Turks lying. then I get used to it. I only trusted few close friends of mine. you know it is possible to get used to things. There were not many dark skinned people living in Izmir also and Izmirian’s are also considered to be the best and coolest people of all Turkey. so if I were you, I wouldn’t live in Istanbul, honestly, in my 5 to 6 flight through Istanbul airport, I only Passed by Istanbul once by bus to Izmir. well it was my ignorance deciding not to visit istanbul. I hope I will return there some day. In Izmir, when you go to Club’s the guards ask all men to enter with girls, so that they will not full with guys only, sometimes Turkish girls are friendly to go in with you and live out the club a minute later (quite cooperative). for an outsider, I am tourist 🙂 works easy to enter.

  7. >>I don’t think anyone would ever say “Go back to Africa” or anything like that. For Turks, seeing an African is even rarer than seeing a white person in Ethiopia, and they’re mostly just genuinely curious

    Any update on daily life with your Ethiopian girlfriend in Turkey?

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