Monday, April 22, 2013

Common Head Turner # 5

Outside a bus window, livestock on the road presents itself as a sea of cows. 

It doesn't matter if you're in a large city (including the capital, Addis Ababa) or rural village, animals will be on the road.  What better, more established route can a herd take?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Media Intl

You can never predict the affect that art, religion, philosophy, music, entertainment, or fashion from one country can have on another.  What's considered attractive, interesting, or great within a given country sometimes doesn't translate past its own borders.  There are too many factors involved to easily explain why this is the case.  My guess is that whatever the medium, simplicity, scale of broadcast, and a sense of familiarity are major factors involved with whether or not media is picked up internationally.  

In Ethiopia, many foreign movies and songs get airtime but the ones that stuck out the most for me were the unexpected.  Hearing Michael Jackon's 'Thriller', or Celine Dion's tracks from Titanic, as a counter example, was not surprising.  Below are a few performers that surprised me.  How did they get here?  Why did they stay?

Don Williams - Surprisingly, country music gets a lot of love over here. Don Williams is one artist of several country music stars that get a lot of play and singalongs. I like Don Williams and he actually sounds great with an Ethiopian backdrop. Many rural towns (especially around the national parks) offer a decent setting for the thoughts and emotions his music evokes.

Leo Sayer - 'I love you more than I can say' sometimes plays on ETV, the most available station (and probably the most watched) in Ethiopia and can occasionally be heard in public buses, the streets of Addis Ababa, and on the radio.  It doesn't play as much as Celine Dion but I've heard this song just about everywhere.

Jean Claude Van Damme - Why him?  There are so many more action stars in this world that perform better.  Perhaps it's the simple, easy to follow plot that his movies usually follow.  The scene above was taken from the movie, The Inferno.  I think this clip typifies most Van Damme fight scenes: Van Damme encounters a psychotic villain and has to fight.  Although in better shape and seemingly much more coordinated than his enemy, Van Damme's role is to get roughed up by this guy until he looks like he wants to give up, fall asleep, or roll over and die.  This period of pathetic loosing lasts a minute or two and then he gathers his strength, motivation, or a lucky break somehow (in this clip a jet provides all three) to make a come back, put his enemy in submission, and even offer a little mercy.  The fallen psycho takes advantage of the mercy granted him (like in this scene), abuses it, and is killed as a result of mishandling of it.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tree Profile: Moringa Stenopetala

A Moringa Stenopetala Emerges

There are few trees that represent as many products and services like that of the Moringa tree.  In Ethiopia, Moringa stenopetala has been grown for many years, eventually having naturalized to the Ethiopian climate and biophysical conditions.

In Konso, as well as other villages and towns in southern Ethiopia, Moringa stenopetala seeds are often sown within a compound when construction of a house begins because it is a major food staple and represents food security for many families.  Moringa stenopetala is also frequently planted within crop lands, lending itself to agroforestry, a system in which trees lend themselves to soil stabilization, attraction for bees, and other benefits within a land intended for sustainable crop production.

Moringa Stenopetala Growing Within Konso Cropland 

Moringa stenopetala leaves provide nutritious food for people.  The leaves have substantial amounts of iron, protein, calcium, phosphorous and vitamins (A & C) [1].  Leaves are prepared fresh by either boiling or steaming them.  The taste is similar to collards or any other dark leafy green you might have eaten.  In addition to its leaves, young seed pods and roots (with a taste very similar to wasabi) can be harvested from Moringa stenopetala and eaten, too.  After drying and powdering, leaves can prepared as a nutritious tea (a moringa tea mixed with ginger and honey is really good) or added into soups and stews as a nutritional supplement.

The Leaves and Young Blossoms of Moringa Stenopetala Near Wolkite, Ethiopia

Seed pods from Moringa stenopetala can also treat polluted water [2].  After being crushed into a paste and stirred into unclean water, its seeds begin to act as a flocculant, attracting all the harmful particles in the water to stick to the bottom of the water container where the seed paste accumulates.  Once the particles have been allowed to settle, the water on top can be scooped out or poured through a clean cloth for drinking without fear of becoming sick.

Moringa Seeds and Seed Pod

Moringa stenopetala grows quickly, offers bee forage, adds nitrogen to soil, serves as a source for fuel wood, and can add beauty to the areas that it grows.  Moringa stenopetala performs best in sandy, well drained soils within an elevation between 400 and 2,100 meters above sea level [1].   


[1] Agroforestry Database 4.0 (Orwa et al.2009)
[2] "The tree that purifies water: Cultivating multipurpose Moringaceae in the Sudan" - FAO Corporate Document Repository

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Common Head Turner # 4

Straight out of Addis Ababa, it's sheep on a line-taxi!