Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bonga to Jimma

I said good bye to the students at Apinec. In the few days that I was with them I shared information about producing products from the bee hive, and together we created a procedure for making tej, the Ethiopian honey mead. I also answered quite a few questions about America. There were numerous questions about “red-skinned” American Indians and American family customs, especially the role of females in our society. Many wanted to know about the prospects for the reelection of President Barak Obama. The citizens of remote Bonga, Ethiopia were versed in American political issues at great depth and understanding. The men each gave me a warm Ethiopian handshake, shoulder bump, and hug. They were all amused when I gave the one female in the group an American hug. Wubishet Adugna and I headed for Jimma by truck.

As we travelled the dusty road through the Kaffa Zone, we observed numerous traditional hives hanging high in trees. The hives are a beautiful sight on the Ethiopian highland ridges adorning tall Cordia africana trees, “weyra” in Amharic. We stopped at the home of beekeeper Abeba Rausha who showed me the bees he keeps in modern bee hives, modified Zander hives. Most modern bee hives in Ethiopia are painted yellow. Forest coffee beans dried in the sun on the ground in front of Abeba’s bee hives. Abeba served us fresh bread that his wife had baked along with valonia honey and coffee. This was indeed a delicious and memorable meal shared on the porch of Abeba’s home. Abeba manages 175 bee hives with some modern hives and many traditional hives. White blossoms of valonia, a low tree of 20 to 30 feet covered the southwestern Ethiopia highlands. The Kaffa Zone is the heart of the organic forest honey and coffee region. The word “coffee” comes from Kaffa. The coffee tree is thought to have been discovered here and taken from the Kaffa zone to be replanted in equatorial regions around the world.

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