National Geographic : 1965 Apr
EKTACHROMEBY CHRISTIAN MONTY© NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY Hyena-man of Harar feeds a beast whose jaws can crush an elephant's thighbone. Eyes glittering, another of the city's hundreds of night-roaming scavengers awaits a turn. Kaffa people still gather the wild beans for market, but Tekka plants his glossy green bushes in scientific rows and cleans the crop with modern machines. To Jimma we went on our last adventure in the ancient land, and I am glad we did, for Tekka's pancakelike injera and his wat, the traditional Ethiopian stew, were the best eat ing in the country, and his picnic turned out to be a microcosm of modern Ethiopia. Rainbow's End Holds Adventure We were a hundred assembled under the trees that shade the coffee shrubs on their steep hills. In huge fig trees half-smothered by lianas, hornbills perched and colobus monkeys played gymnastic games. There were Galla soldiers, a police colonel aristocratically Amharic, a young Italian in a sport shirt with his Ethiopian wife in a shamma. I saw, among those who served us, Moslems of Kaffa and dusky pagans of neigh boring Sidamo Province. Our host, Tekka, was of the Gurage, hard est-working people in Ethiopia and among the oldest. An Ethiopian Horatio Alger, he began his career selling old bottles and tin cans; the Emperor recently rewarded his achievement in creating his plantation by calling him to Addis Ababa and decorating him. His guests teased him, calling him an ab origine. But the talk was good-natured and drifted from past to future, which here meant coffee, and the roads that one day would take 582 it to market, and the schools for training the young folk to grow it. The double rainbow still arched across the sky as the picnic drew to a close. It seemed to rise almost from our midst, and the far end rested upon a great mountain rising sheer from the distant jungle. I looked about me. The men were shooting at a tin can on a stump-men whose forebears would have been shooting not at a target, but at each other. The children whose laughter had added so much to the afternoon were being rounded up from their hide-and-seek in a banana grove. There was school homework still to be done. In the coffee-cleaning sheds, Tekka's ma chinery hummed. An Ethiopian Airlines plane came low overhead, scattering the tumbling monkeys in the trees. Getachew came to my side. "It is almost the newest part of the empire here," he said. "A century ago it was savage and uncon quered. See now how we are working all together to make life better. "But it is still a land of mystery, this great jungle," he added. "Tekka says somebody must one day climb the mountain at the end of the rainbow to see what is at the top. I wonder what is up there." I said nothing, but I knew the answer. The one who climbs it will find the same prize that is hidden in every corner of this exotic empire-adventure.