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Gebisa Ejeta Travel Journal - Reflections

Purdue Agriculture > Gebisa Ejeta Travel Journal - Reflections
 

 Tom & Gebisa's Ethiopian Adventure

 
 

Reflections

Ethiopians, especially the children, love to have their photos taken.
Photo by Tom Campbell

Ethiopians, especially the children, love to have their photos taken.

Ethiopians are friendly people. Strangers would stop me on the streets and ask me if this was my first trip to their country. But the best response by far was from the children. They looked at me suspiciously at first. But once I showed them their photographs, smiles and laughter were sure to follow, sending the children into a frenzy.

Adults were only slightly more reserved. I got the feeling many had never seen their images before.



The six statues at Haramaya University are shrouded in a veil of exhaust from a nearby school bus.
Photo by Tom Campbell

The six statues at Haramaya University are shrouded in a veil of exhaust from a nearby school bus.

There are six beautiful statues in front of the fountain at Haramaya University, where Gebisa Ejeta graduated from college in 1973. Ironically, none of the statues, dedicated to freedom and equality of education, bear any Ethiopian facial characteristics.

If a section of roadway is closed, Ethiopians simply line up football-sized rocks across the roadway at intervals of 40 or 50 feet to discourage drivers. The same goes for motorists broken down on the roadway. They simply surround their vehicle with rocks (of which there is a plentiful supply) to force motorists to pass with care.



Vehicles often yield to animals traveling alone, or, in this case, herded down a busy thoroughfare in downtown Addis Ababa.
Photo by Tom Campbell

Vehicles often yield to animals traveling alone, or, in this case, herded down a busy thoroughfare in downtown Addis Ababa.

Feel the need to see wildlife? No need for a zoo, just drive down any road in the countryside and you're likely to see a menagerie.

One excursion ran across camels, goats, monkeys, burros, dogs, cattle and guinea fowl.
"We've even seen elephants on this road before," Gebisa said.


Fleets of blue and white minibuses help move people around Addis Ababa, but nighttime blackouts still cause traffic gridlock.
Photo by Tom Campbell

Fleets of blue and white minibuses help move people around Addis Ababa, but nighttime blackouts still cause traffic gridlock.

Traffic in the capital city of Addis Ababa is dreadfully dangerous at night. With more than 4 million people crowding the city, traffic jams are to be expected.

What worsens matters is that the rainy season has come late to Ethiopia this year. How are those facts related? With no rains to push the turbines at the hydroelectric power plants, electricity has been in short supply this summer.

As a result, nighttime power blackouts throughout the capital city often cut off power to everything, including traffic lights. Imagine a city the size of Los Angeles without traffic signals and you get a general idea of the chaos.


High-rises are replacing shanties throughout much of downtown Addis Ababa, as the city and the country modernize. The buildings are constructed using a network of wooden scaffolds.
Photo by Tom Campbell

High-rises are replacing shanties throughout much of downtown Addis Ababa, as the city and the country modernize. The buildings are constructed using a network of wooden scaffolds.

The gutsiest people in all of Ethiopia may be the men and women construction workers building high-rise apartments and businesses in downtown Addis Ababa.

The only way for workers to get to the tops of the buildings — many 10 stories or higher — is on a shaky skeleton frame of scaffolding constructed entirely of wooden poles that look like very long pool cues.

 

 

 

Purdue professor Gebisa Ejeta helps farmers locate Striga, or witchweed, growing in a sorghum field in eastern Ethiopia. The weed drastically reduces sorghum yields.
Photo by Tom Campbell

Purdue professor Gebisa Ejeta helps farmers locate Striga, or witchweed, growing in a sorghum field in eastern Ethiopia. The weed drastically reduces sorghum yields.

Gebisa Ejeta is a hero to many of the industrious Ethiopian farmers who daily tend to their small plots. Sorghum, a major food source for more than 500 million Africans, is planted everywhere in this nation, in the highland plains and in the arid lowlands. It is not unusual to see sorghum clinging precariously to the sides of the terraced mountains throughout the country.

Throughout the growing season, farmers walk their fields, pulling out smaller or crowded sorghum plants they will take home and feed to their livestock.

And thanks to Gebisa Ejeta's development of a drought- and Striga-resistant variety of sorghum, yields are on the rise throughout Ethiopia and other African nations.