MY FIRST reaction is: ‘Why have a I never heard of this place?’ Axum, in the extreme north of Ethiopia, is the country’s oldest city and was its ancient capital. In the heart of Tigray province, the roots of modern Ethiopia lie in the Axumite Empire that was once one of the world’s four greatest powers, along with Persia, China and Rome. From 200 BC to 700 AD, its empire traded across the Red Sea as far as India and China and had its own alphabet. Continue reading “Ethiopia: Land of legend”
IT’S BARELY DAWN and I’m cold, tired and hungry. Last night it seemed like a good idea to get up at 5am to see a Sunday service in one of Ethiopia’s famed rock churches, here in Lalibela.
This morning, despite the inevitable grumbles, it feels like an even better one. Not that very much is happening; a cluster of priests sit on carpets in one corner of the courtyard; a group of worshippers gather round the church door. If you go in, you can’t leave until the service is over. And since that might take three hours, it’s better to be outside. Continue reading “Ethiopia: Rock of ages”