Jim Eagles: Actually, Bob, plenty grows

Verdant Ethiopia surprises Jim Eagles.
The New Zealand Herald
December 4,2014

The reality of Ethiopia is far removed from what many in the West imagine. Illustration / NZ Herald
The reality of Ethiopia is far removed from what many in the West imagine. Illustration / NZ Herald

The most surprising things about Ethiopia are not its ancient rock-hewn churches and colourful tribes but its remarkable beauty and, I suppose, the widespread anger at singer Bob Geldof.

The image we have of Ethiopia is one of famine, of a parched landscape populated by starving people and a few emaciated cows, of a land without hope. When I told friends I was going there most asked, “Are you taking food parcels?”

The reality was totally different. I arrived not long after the end of the rainy season, to a verdant landscape covered in a patchwork of different crops. Indeed, at one spectacular viewing point one of my fellow travellers was moved to say, “Tuscany, eat your heart out”.

The agricultural techniques may have dated back to biblical times – ox-drawn wooden ploughs carving a single furrow or wheat harvested by hand then trodden by stock to thresh the grain – but there was no doubting the fertility of the land.

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