National Geographic : 1965 Apr
But I find Addis Ababa an island. The New Flower, with its look of a modern metropolis, floats in a rural, largely primitive sea-as do Ethiopia's few other true cities. Industry has been slow in coming to a land whose natural resources have been little ex ploited and whose roads are still a-building. Farmers and herdsmen need no cities; even most Ethiopian provincial capitals are but overgrown villages around market squares. Asmara, second city of the empire, has an Italian look. Why not? Italians laid out its streets and erected its buildings. Diredawa, with its streets of flame trees, has a French look: French builders of the railroad between Addis and Djibouti in French Somaliland constructed much of the city. Harar, behind 574 its Arab-built wall, is a bit of Islam. Assab and Massawa, the empire's two sea ports, impart the Eastern flavor of sun-baked Red Sea cities. Russians are building Ethiopia an oil refinery at Assab. In Massawa we explored the port (page 580). We toured the academy where Ethiopia trains officers for its new, tiny navy. We saw salt extracted by sun heat from sea water pumped into shallow, diked ponds. Well-fed Sharks Spurn Swimmers One day Roberto Barattolo, an Italian who owns a modern cotton mill at Asmara, invited us to go fishing in the Red Sea. Who could decline when the temperature ashore is 110 degrees in the shade? In Roberto's luxurious motor yacht, Difnei (page 581), we sliced east across the Massawa Channel toward Ethiopia's Dahlak Archi pelago; Difnei is named after one of its 126 islands. Low, sandy, and blazing hot, they served a busy Red Sea trade in olden times. Only a few fishermen live there now; pearling boats come from Yemen in season. Threading the channels between islands, we put trolling lines over the stern. Soon tuna and mero and barracuda and dolphin lay flopping on the deck. Then, donning masks and snorkels, we swam down through the crystal-clear water to meet the fishes in their own world of waving sea fronds and rippled yellow sands. Later Saleh, the helmsman, told us he had seen huge sharks nearby. I asked him why he had not warned us. "There are enough fish for them here so they do not eat people," he said. We had traveled far when Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia, King of Kings, Elect of God, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, received us in private audience in Addis Aba ba. He had been following our progress, we knew, and frequently had smoothed our way. Stained-glass window in the lobby of Af rica Hall in Addis Ababa depicts an allegory of the continent's progress from bondage to freedom. Artist Afewerk Tekle, who executed it, also designed the national dress he wears. Imposing Africa Hall serves as an all Africa convention center. From the Imperial Box, at rear, relatives of the Emperor watch a session of the United Nations' Economic Commission for Africa. The Organization of African Unity, a Pan-African group, also has headquarters here. Ethiopia paid for the $2,000,000 hall.