June 27 2011

Tracy’s Ethiopian Film Blog

Lake Chamo Rift Valley

by Tracy Pallant, Film Development Worker

In Ethiopia the Meskel Ceremony (The Founding of the True Cross) is one of the most colourfully celebrated occasions for Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, but nowhere more so than in the Guraghe region of Ethiopia.

In September 2010, with the support of Wales Arts International, Tracy and Amy from our Film Department were invited to work with Adanech Admassu (one of the Gem TV Directors, part of the Gemini Trust, our partner project in Ethiopia) to make a short film documenting her personal journey to celebrate and learn about her Guraghe culture and how it has impacted on her life. This was the first time that Adanech had had the opportunity to celebrate Meskel in the Guraghe region.

Addisu Demissie, a dancer from The Gemini Trust who came to work with Valley and Vale last year together with Adanech and Fikirte, is also Guraghe, and we were able to spend time with his grandmother and family in the village of Welkite, 4 hours drive from Addis Ababa, where we spent 3 days making the film.

What an amazing place. We were welcomed with cups of traditional coffee made with salt and butter (unique to the Guraghe people) and Cotcho, bread made from the false banana plant. There was also Kitfo (raw meat) which I didn’t sample being a Pectarian, and Araki, which could quite possibly be the most intoxicating alcohol we’ve ever tried.

Meskel is celebrated in a very different way in the Guraghe region from the rest of Ethiopia. Food, drink, dancing, music and clothes are all unique to the Guraghe.

We were treated with such warmth and hospitality, despite being spat at by Addisu’s grandmother, initially shocking, until I was told I should feel honoured as it meant friendship and respect!

We couldn’t believe how lucky we were to be there.

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