Every time I watch a video clip on Ethiopia, I end up thinking "Do they stand out or what?" and I have a very good reason to come to that conclusion every single time. It turns out, Ethiopia is the only African nation to escape the clutches of colonisation. The country was never colonised which means, everything that is Ethiopian is as unique as they come, be it people, culture, food, language and even alphabet.
Take clothing for instance, Ethiopian women wear attires, called habesha qemi, made of traditionally woven and spun fabric (mostly cotton) called shemma. The ancient technique of making these garments take about a couple of weeks to produce one attire as it requires a weaver to individually weave long strips of fabric which is then sewn together. These are mostly in white with occassional patterns woven in, for variety. For Ethiopian men it is mostly white-collared long shirts, traditional shawls called netela and knee-high socks.
Next up, Ethiopian cuisine. Once you go Ethiopian, it's hard to come back from that. Ethiopian cuisine is not only delicious but also fun to eat. They take communal dining seriously and one can understand why. Traditional Ethiopian dining means a 20 inches sourdough flatbread base called injera on top of which is served many vegetable and meat dishes called wat. The bread is used to scoop up whatever side dish there is, meaning, no cutlery. When it's traditional dining, except fish, Ethiopians stay away from any kind of seafood or pork. What you can also try when in Ethiopia is Doro wat, a delicious stew of chicken and hard boiled eggs. The injera or the flatbread is made out of teff flour, flour made of seeds of William's lovegrass. Sounds way interesting than normal wheat flour, doesn't it?
Speaking of cuisine, coffee is not something to leave behind. In Ethiopia, the women perform elaborate coffee ceremony for friends and family where the green coffee beans are roasted, ground and put in jebena (traditional pot of boiling water). After a couple of minutes, once the coffee is ready, it is poured into a finjal, traditional earthen cups. A coffee ceremony is always accompanied by delicious snacks.
When we talk of any culture, we can't do without the music. Every ethnic group in Ethiopia has their own unique sound. Musical instrument is one of the most fascinating aspects of Ethiopian music culture. From the use of bamboo (pan flutes) to krar, a five- or six-stringed lyre decorated with wood and beads to animal horn shofars, these are just some of the many traditional instruments that Ethiopians use. Most traditional songs are sung in Amharic language, another example of how unique Ethiopia is.
These are just few of the things that make Ethiopia unique. When we talk about offbeat, what better example than a culture untouched and that has been preserved as it is. This is just a little sneak peak into the unique world of Ethiopia.