“We will be landing in Bole Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in approximately 10 minutes,” says my weary pilot as a 15 hour flight comes to a close. This is my third time visiting Ethiopia, but the first two times hardly count considering the fact that I was less than 6 years old. I had heard many stories from my parents about their childhood in this country and I longed to even get a glimpse for these next two months. This time I was 13 and antsy to experience the country that my parents left for more opportunities, but always considered their home.
I remember marching up the jet bridge with like I owned the airport. Quickly the smell hit me, I turned to my mother and asked her what the smell was and where it was coming from. She replied with a smirk That’s how I know I’m home! My dad interjected by saying This is how my country smells, you will soon get used to it. That sense of pride for my country is what I longed for. We finally see my grandmother and she greets us with the tightest grip, so tight that when she lets go it still feels like her arms are there. She and my mother shed tears of joy for a couple of minutes before we head to the car.Order now
I asked my grandma So, where are we going first? not taking into account the time. Once we got to the front a cloud of disappointment hovered over me because I realized that it was too late to go anywhere but home. Honestly speaking I was really afraid that they over exaggerated all these years about Ethiopia, but I was praying they were telling the truth. The next morning to no ones surprise I was the first one awake. I did not want to waste one day I had in this country, and I wasn’t going to. My dad took me to what used to be his favorite coffee shop.
We walked like everyone else does in this country, well lets just say my dad was walking because I was doing so type of excited hop/skip. My dad kind of pulls my back and a suddenly his whole demeanor had changed. I was confused and started scanning my surroundings. I see a couple of people who are dressed like police officers, but their weapons look like they belong to army men. I pointed and blared Dad! Why do they have big guns? which I immediately regretted because now they are all coming my way. I was terrified and confused all at the same time.
They could tell I was an American, but they couldn’t tell if my father was also, so they came up to him and asked him why he couldn’t control his daughter and how I must respect the authority that our great Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has chosen as officers. They also said a couple choice words, but they were assuming I couldn’t speak Amharic (official language of Ethiopia). He explained to them that I was a little brat from the U. S, and that he brought me here to teach me respect. Thankfully they believed that and went on with their business.
We went home because I wasn’t really hungry anymore and I wanted an explanation more than anything. My parents sat me down and told me about the horrific state that Ethiopia is in. They explained to me that for a long time now Ethiopia has been run through a dictatorship and you can’t be as free as you are in America. I didn’t understand! Why would anyone want to live here? So asked them Is this really why you left? Their faces dropped and told me thats exactly why they left and how they could never raise children in this environment. Then that is when it hit me like a ton of bricks. How different would my life be if I was born here?