Ethiopian coffee may be the best in the world. As least this is what I thought last week in Addis Ababa during our 5-day stop over in Ethiopia on the way back from our mission in Malawi. Here’s a family photo (minus Rachel who stayed home to work) at a traditional Ethiopian resturant in the capital city. We were fascinated by an ancient culture and religious dynasty where many streams converge: Jews, Christians and Muslims seem to get along and share daily life and commerce; the Ethiopian (Coptic) Orthodox Church claims to have (and guard) the Lost Ark of the Covenant and a piece of the True Cross of Christ; the Cradle of Civilization (we saw where ‘Lucy’ and other remains of homo sapiens live in the national museum); the organic and roasted coffee bean product was first produced; and where Rasta Ferians claim to follow the Royal Line of Judah in their loyalty to the line of Rulers of Ethiopia extending back to the marriage of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.
The Falasa (beta Israel of Ethiopian Jews) and the Orthodox Church (especially in monastic communities) have much to teach us in America about finding common ground, shared culture and a common religious tradition. We were hosted by an ecumenical group–The Council of Elders–whose founder is a Ethiopian Jew living and teaching at Princeton University and commuting to Addis every month or so to give leadership to the Council comprised of Jews, Orthodox Chrisitans, Muslim leaders and others who care about shalom/salaam/shelam/peace, ensuring peaceful elections and fair political process, and preserving a common culture. Ethiopia providing a new and different experience of Africa for me (after 6 trips to Malawi and South Africa), and I will reflect more about it soon.
In the meantime, I shall continue to enjoy my Ethiopian coffee which I brought back with me from Addis, and remember fondly our time in Ethiopia in July.