Harar, Hararuma..

October 30, 2008 at 11:43 am 12 comments

Before listening to the reading of Tesfaye Gessesse’s “Shilingen”, I associated the city of Harar with “Zeyitun”, long dresses made of colorful rags and a picture of a lady in a “BaleTilet Qemis” that was Ethiopian airlines’ advertisement you saw everywhere back then.

“Shilingen”, ofcourse, gave me an insight into what the lives of many a Harari women can be (or so i thought back then, I was a young’un). So I started associating Harar with train stations, basket full of fruits and nameless stranger that make away with a single mother’s hard earned 50 cents. A decade and half later, I got the chance to visit it. I didn’t waste my time by shopping for contraband goods as would a less impressionable individual. No, I went “Shirshir” as the boys from Bole2Harlem would call it. I walked through every one of it’s doors, sat in the traditional [museum-like] houses and had my photo taken infront of Arthur Rimbaud’s paintings. A fellow traveler with an artist’s soul trapped in the body of a tour guide called Harar “a poetic city”. Perhaps! But it’s no doubt a poetry you’d have to strain the ears to hear. For harar is where silence goes to die. It’s noisy. It’s chaotic. It’s swift. Light as air and indiscriminant as death. Alas, not stopping for anyone! The madness, however, has a shade to it. Lines on top of lines of silver, gold and all the colors a rainbow is made of. Kaleidoscopic and beautiful. Like the “erbo” their women make.

The women!. So much has been written about the beautiful Harari/Adere women. So many songs have been made. Questions asked. And answered. The “mí”/water has been suggested as the secret ingredient to their attractive looks, the fruits, the abish/telba, the traditional makeup. All may have contributed. But I think it has more to do with their breeding. Most claim to be half Arab, and look it. Along with the kindness, honesty and sociability, the Hararis indeed seem what the future (80, 100 years from now) holds. So my countrymen go after them every chance they got. Just like my country women are went after by Afro-American men.

(And what a shock it was, seeing that afro-American brother who was always complaining how he’s been discriminated against by his Ethiopian brothers and sisters for taking the shape of his nose from his West-African-descent father join a: “sexy light skinned People” group on facebook. The title had a “no offense to dark skinned people” tag on it in brackets. But I, a “Qey dAmA” though I maybe, took offense none the less. I don’t know which disappointed more, a thus-far soulful brother starting calling himself “sexy light skinned” the minute he convinced a light-skinned girl to go out with him. Or the fact that, when on human’s skin, black is no longer a “timeless classic”. That It has a time limit and comes with an expiration date. Or both.)

Ok, anywho, where was I? Oh yeah, I was talking about the city of Harar and my impression of it the first time I saw it. What brought to mind all these recollections was a video I watched last night. This video was made to commomerate Harar’s 1,000 years of age along with the Ethiopian Millennium. Entitled “The Walled City of Harar”, made by Sin’e-Pics Digital Media Design and running for only 36 minutes, the video is the best travel doc I have ever seen. When I say it’s narrated by Girum Zenebe and Sebhat Gebregizabher gives a couple of interviews in it, you’d know it’s one experience you shouldn’t miss.

Now the though question! Why didn’t I upload it for you? In a word: Copyright. In two words, copyright and youtube. So how about you get somebody to buy and send it for you from back home (like i did for my husband this morning) and use this song by my favorite Harari singer Ehsan Abduselam for “meTeKejzia”.


The above post is dedicated to Dr. Ethiopia whose love for Harari girls surpasses all understanding 😉


Entry filed under: Latest Posts.

Thus spake the bride My ETV dream

12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Dr. Ethiopia  |  October 30, 2008 at 6:41 pm


    Abesheet, stop killing me slowly. Listen I have been to harar more times than i can count and i will explain later why. (Hint: It is not the woman)

    I hope the perception of the “womens’ look” was something that you had now seen with your own two eyes.

    They are attractive.

    So how about you get somebody to buy and send it for you from back home (like i did for my husband this morning)

    Thanksfor remembering to do that. lol

  • 2. Mazzi  |  October 31, 2008 at 9:01 am

    Ah, Harar….

    “Etibte yeteQeberebet Ager.”

    For that reason, it shall forever possess my soul along with my ‘Etibt’ :-).

  • 3. abesheet  |  October 31, 2008 at 9:17 am

    Lol, Dr. Ethiopia. Ahun tiDaRe biBetebet min titeQmaleh 😉 ?.

    Mazzi, so you are “yeHarar Lij”? Well, you are lucky! I wish i was born in Harar. Would have made things so easy. (Will explain when i figure out what that means). By the way, the term “Etibt” brought back something i heard Nebiy Mekonnen talk about a few years ago. He said he was reading and translating an amharic poem to a foreigner when he come across the word “Weshme’t”. And boy was he in trouble? I think it took like an hour to make the guy grasp the general idea of what a “weshme’t” is and all those things Ethiopians connect to it. That’s why i’d like to learn german, by the way. So i could read Kafka in the language he originally wrote his stories with. Even then, things are bound to go missing. Oi.

  • 4. Mazzi  |  October 31, 2008 at 9:46 am

    ‘yeHarar Lij’ indeed though I grew up mostly in Addis. While my parents are not from Harar, I claim that place as my ‘home home’ and Addis as my ‘home.’ When life on this side ruffles my feathers, I sometimes fantasize about owning a house in Harar and one day retiring there :-).

    LOL about the ‘Weshme’t’ story. So funny, and so true! Talk about a severe case of ‘lost in translation.’

    The same way you want to learn German to read Kafka in his ‘mother tongue,’ I want to learn Spanish so I can read Pablo Neruda’s out of this world (in my humble opinion anyways) romantic poetry. Even my favorite English translation of one of his poetry books “20 Love Poems and a Song of Despair” gets to me in ways I can’t even describe. So I can not possibly imagine what it would feel like to really understand the original verses in Spanish!

    I would love to read Kafka’s letter to his Dad in German, if I could. Now, that would be a trip!

  • 5. Dr. Ethiopia  |  November 4, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    Abeet, ine takiyalesh chewata wedalew.

  • 6. Inem  |  December 14, 2008 at 1:24 am

    Thanks Abesheet for a well versed tribute to one of my favorite places on earth. The six years I lived in Harar remain to be the best years of my life so far, though my itibt and eternal love and longing belong to Addis. The Harariya song is so auspicious to this entry, a well placed clip indeed. Beauty is indeed in abundance in Harar and the girls who carry it in grace are as uninhibited and natural as they come. I doubt if the Wolloye who are adorned with mesmerising beauty, music, voluptuousness and the traditional (some parts not all) sexual freedom could match the Hararis in deed. I love Harar and its people dearly, and cherish my wonderful youth memory till kingdom come. I wish my fingers, as yours Abesheet, were blessed with poetic touch when they touch the keyboard to pay a deserving homage to Harar. I wish the music center in my brain is aroused to compose a timeless melody that catch the essence of Harar from Hakim gara, beyond the jegol walls all the way to Erer ber and the other exits…..wey Tiyit mATat allu basha….

  • 7. abesheet  |  December 15, 2008 at 5:40 am

    Lol. Inem. What a beautiful description. Well, as i’m sure you’ll learn later, being poetic doesn’t come naturally to me either. I have to labor over an idea for a good half day to come up with a decent post. “Pretentious” is what i call my kindda writing. Most of the time, i’m not even sure what i’m trying to say or if the way i am trying to say it in is right. I am passionate, true, but passion ain’t exactly attractive with people as many a baggage as moi. If most Ethiopians, atleast from my generation, spoke as good an english as me (‘the edited version’) or had internet access around the clock, I’d have been out of business before I started 🙂 . Still.. i’m glad you liked the article and the e-novel. I’m grateful for the Daraku contact detail as well. I promise to contact them when i have got something worth while.

    Keep visiting!

  • 8. Inem  |  December 16, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Give yourself a break, a harsh self criticism may not be healthy. You do your best and that should be enough. I doubt if you would run out of business. Isn’t Addis full of the Sandford, IES (to name a few English elite schools) educated peers (assuming you are one)of you who most likely have ample internet time? Maybe they are not as passionate as you are on writing/blogging…..Berchi

  • 9. abesheet  |  December 16, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    As my favorite post “Hard Times” – The Ethiopian Version would tell you, I actually went to Menelik the 2nd, Inem. My father was an English teacher and I loved books. That’s how i managed to speak better English than most of my class mates.

    But thanks for the kind words :).

  • 10. Inem  |  December 16, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    Ok we both belong to the Menelik alumni then, except my dad was literally a yeneta. Hats off for you abesheet…

  • 11. Layla  |  July 19, 2016 at 8:51 am

    This is something that I can not put my finger on. ha ha ha . wow. First of all abesheet, are u Ethiopian? 🙂 The other thing is that ‘rag’ you called is a life saver. 🙂 Love u.

  • 12. Layla  |  July 21, 2016 at 10:28 am

    If it is for keepsake, I would love to have probably a cross between that rag and this India cloth. ha ha 🙂 https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQZImSDHSpLGSVvhrhENJSYVeF02OQe31ODWmP9nDPM8Ksv80vVig. Amesegnalehu.:) ha ha

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The blogger tries to think outside the box, or wonder why she sometimes can't.

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