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HomeOpinionAmerica’s Ambassador Massinga Celebrates Uncelebrated Ethiopian Women Potters

America’s Ambassador Massinga Celebrates Uncelebrated Ethiopian Women Potters

From the writer, LJDemissie, who received assistance from AI technology developed by OpenAI

By LJDemissie
March 09, 2024

In the heart of Ethiopia, where the air is thick with the scent of clay and the sun kisses the earth, a timeless tradition exists. This tradition, woven by the hands of women, molds clay into vessels that cradle stories, memories, and the essence of a nation. These women produce only five to ten pots per day, depending on size. However, with basic technical skills and tools such as a pottery wheel, they could significantly increase their output.

Ambassador Ervin Massinga, with eyes wide open and heart attuned to the whispers of heritage, stepped into this sacred space—the እንስራ (Ensira/Enisra)—where Ethiopian women shape their destiny one pot at a time. Amidst the smoke, he witnessed their labor, their artistry, and their determination.

These women, their faces etched with resilience, endure the smoke and heat of traditional kilns. Their pottery, including jebenas—handmade clay pots for coffee brewing—carry the weight of centuries. Yet, their names remain unsung, their contributions hidden like buried treasures. Ambassador Massinga, however, has uncovered their secret. He has seen them endure the same smoke and fire that they use to coax life into form. He has felt the pulse of their craft—the rhythm of creation, the heartbeat of tradition.

Unity Clayworks: The Ethiopian-American Women’s Pottery School

Now, let us dream together. Let us imagine introducing American knowledge, techniques, and pottery tools—an unbreakable bond between America and Ethiopia. Picture the American Peace Corps establishing a small Pottery Technical School in Addis Ababa to empower traditional artisans and to foster further American and Ethiopian collaboration. 

In this school, women will learn not only the ancient techniques of pottery but also the modern wisdom of American potters. Kilns will roar, wheels will spin, and the air will carry the fragrance of possibility. The smoke that once stung their eyes will now be infused with hope.

Dear Ambassador, let your legacy be etched in clay forever. Let your footprints lead to this haven of creativity, where uncelebrated women become celebrated artisans because of your humanity, effort, and generosity. Let us ignite a hope in these unsung women, which might one day lead them to venture into producing ceramics that could create jobs for generations.

And when the first pot made by women trained by the American Peace Corps emerges from the kiln, its curves shaped by hands that bridge continents, we will know that something magical has happened. Ethiopia’s women will no longer be neglected; they will be celebrated, cherished, and empowered. In turn, we extend our heartfelt thanks to Ambassador Ervin Massinga, and through him, to the leadership and people of America forever.

So, Ambassador Massinga, let us break the silence. Let us celebrate the uncelebrated. Let us turn clay into art, tears into triumph, and tradition into a legacy that spans oceans.


The writer can be reached at

Editor’s note : Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of


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  1. Don’t understand why the American ambassador’s visit to potters’ corner should be considered “celebrating the uncelebrated.” The 1974 Socialist Revolution already de-stigmatized and celebrated this and other trades! This happened half a century ago! It could be you were not born then or were just a lij. Any way, no excuses for not reading or asking what went on a few decades ago. European adventurers used to roam Africa and ask locals where the highest mountain was or where the biggest waterfalls were and then name them after their kings or queens. Your comments reminded me of that.

  2. Your text is well-written and clear. Here’s the proofread version:

    Alem, thank you for engaging with my article. You draw a parallel between the ambassador’s visit and the actions of European adventurers who would name African landmarks after their own royalty. This implies that the ambassador’s actions could be seen as a form of cultural appropriation or imposition.

    My article emphasizes the potential benefits of the ambassador’s visit, such as the introduction of American pottery techniques and the establishment of a Pottery Technical School. It suggests that these initiatives could empower the women potters and lead to job creation. While it’s important to remember history, it’s also crucial to recognize and seize opportunities for growth and development in the present. Thank you for sharing your perspective.


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