Ethiopia: Balderas Committee press Statement Interrupted by unknown men
Not far from it, surrounded by walls built in the 13th to 16th century, is yet another museum dedicated to the controversial French Poet, Arthur Rimbaud. The walls inside it illustrate his life in Harer, in a mixture of art and photographs. Inside the property, an icon structure constructed by Indian merchants a century ago is where the man, as a 26 year old who was recently described by The New York Times as one “credited by many with reinventing modern European poetry” found refuge in 1880 and became a coffee exporter to Europe from what was then Abyssina and today’s Ethiopia and became celebrated author of the classics, “A Season in Hell” and “Illuminations”.
“The Harari society has spent plenty to protect this structure and we will continue to tell the story of Arthur and his connection to Harar. For good or bad, despite the shortcomings of the man, there are plenty, including accusations of racism, he was an important figure and he is our unique connection to France,” one of the residents from nearby said.
(The house of the poet was re-constructed with the support of the French Embassy in Ethiopia and a slew of French owned brand multinationals, including BGI Ethiopia, Air France, Alcatel, Yves Saint Laurent and others).
In an old and aging Peugeot taxis, his image is plastered proving his significance to Harar. The Reporter spoke to a few of these drivers and most seem to know little about the man but seem to be aware he was an important figure and are fascinated that such a powerful figure lived in Harar more than a century ago.
“I had the image when I bought my taxi and I kept it because the man seems important and I liked the fact he chose to live here,” Mohammed Mohammed, one of the taxi drivers said.
In the wee hours of the night, what has become a custom to tourists is the hyena feeding ceremony, preformed by Yosuf Mume, who has done it for the last decade.
“The idea is simple, it’s to place a small meat on a stick and hold it in the mouth and have the hyena snatch it from there,” he told The Reporter. “Many people come for the selfie and to take a memorable photo with the hyenas and it’s safe and these (wild) animals do not harm anyone,” he said.
There has been much rumor that his father, Abbas Yosuf was brutally killed and eaten by the hyenas, but Yosuf said, that is factually false. “My father retired as he was frail and old and he passed the job to me. Remember, he did this for almost fifty years and he was tired,” he told The Reporter.
Within Harar, Hyenas, as wild as they are, freely roam near the proximity of residents to celebrate the birth of the Prophet Mohammed. An annual ritual, residents feed them porridge with butter and goat meat on the mountain of Hakim, a place of ritual, where prominent Muslims are laid to rest and attract thousands of visitors.
For Harar, the next few years are to be an interesting time of growth.
It’s due to open the biggest public hospital in the area on the top of one of the mountains overshadowing the city and construct new and modern hotels, recognizing the importance of tourists that are interested in visiting and a mega stadium. There are more, including, inaugurations of cultural centers and museums and a new Diaspora neighborhood and the famous open market, that has plenty of offerings, despite some noted shortcomings of lack of garbage waste and left over khat in the midst of filth and animal waste is still something to experience – this despite suffering some damage to it this week on suspected arson.
“Harar is growing, we are not just growers and consumers of khat, we are a hidden gem of Ethiopia”, Mohamed, the taxi driver declared as he was waiting to transport Turkish tourists to a local mosque. “We are a diverse society and we have much to offer”.