Photo Essay - May 15, 2004 -  MediaETHIOPIA

"Harer - the city of walls, minarets, churches, and legends"

Charm and enigma were the two words that came to our mind as we were doing this photo essay on the princely city of Harer. Along with Gondar, Harer is one Ethiopian city with a continued history of hundreds of years. Every facet of the city reflect this Historical heritage. The wall is of course Harer's most enduring symbol. Historical churches like the Medhane Alem and others are built close to numerous mosques, Qotu Oromos sell farm products to Somalis, Hadere and Gurage business people compete for a share of the city's wealth. Looking at the ease in which the city seems to embrace life and the enthusiasm one reads in people's face, Harer seems to be a place that has always been a great place to live in. May be it was this attraction that has made Harer a site of numerous battles and object of aspiration for conquest whether by the Turks or the Egyptians.

More than the landscape, the architecture and other works of man and nature, what we found very intriguing was the Harer human character. Most of our team members are from Addis Ababa and talking to Hareris and hanging out with them over the weekend we stayed in this city, we were reminded why some of the most colorful Ethiopian personalities in our recent history come from this city.  'It is the chat', said one of our colleagues as we were shocked that he would utter such a statement in public. The Hareris - true to their reputation of laid-back and tolerant folks - never took an offense but one of them  in fact reminded us that the way things are going, Addis Ababa could as well be the leader in chat consumption. If you have been a student at the Addis Ababa University and had a Hareri room-mate, then you will know what we are talking about. And also, every Hareri in Addis Ababa seems to have gone to the same high-school - the MedhaneAlem  High-school even though we hade seen some other schools in town.

An institution that had left some long-lasting imprint in the city was the Army (the Military Academy and the 3rd division). Perhaps, we hadn't stayed long-enough in this city; but the 14 year's rule of the TPLF/EPRDF seem to have undone what was the pride of the city. But Harer being what it is, seems determined to remain a unique place in the Churcher mountains and Eastern escarpment of the Ethiopian highlands. The ladies remain as beautiful as ever, the Hyena man still feeds his hyenas some left over meat from Harer Sengas, the bars are still full, water remains to be rationed, the Haderes thrive in business,  and the Somalis and Qotus continue to add color to this corner of the country.  
In this column: Ras Mekonnen's Statue, the Old MedhaneAlem Church, the Municipality building, an old building from the 30s, Qotu women on their way to the market. For the great memory, we wish Harer - the city with a welcoming heart best wishes. In this column: One of the main Harer gates (Amir Gate), a 'chat farm' near Harer, a recently painted mosque, Senkelle after the recent rains (Afar Land), recent Meher harvest in the Churcher moountains. In this column: On the shores of Lake Alemaya near Harer, chat is traded in the open in Harer (some is consumed by the sellers themselves), a scene in Jegol - Harer's Arada, and an old building.

Copyright @2004

MediaEthiopia [SKK]