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  • Michael Kenning

Beyond the green lungs of the city

As part of his on-going placement in Ethiopia, Michael Kenning is gaining experience in ministry at St Matthew’s Parish, Addis Ababa. This past weekend he got to attend a wonderful concert put on by members of the congregation, and on Sunday took part in regular worship.

Michael writes:

I led the morning service at St Matthew's this morning and Canon Martin preached. After the service, we went for lunch in a local cafe we liked called Koba (banana leaf). On the way back it started spitting with rain and we just got back home when a totally incredible thunderstorm and downpour of rain started which even split a major branch off the tree in the compound outside the church!

Once the rain abated, Frekal, one of the church members and I, took a taxi up to Entoto on the northern outskirts of Addis. The Entoto hills rise to 2,600M and contains a beautiful, forested park that is the green lungs of the city. Recently a great tourist viewpoint has been developed with cafes and an ice cream shop. Families were strolling around enjoying themselves and there are miles of cycling and walking tracks through the forest.

About 500M further up the hill is the octagonal Entoto Maryam church and Emperor Menelik's palace. As previously mentioned, Menelik II is a great hero of modern Ethiopia because he decisively defeated the Italians at the battle of Adwa in 1896, thus ensuring continued Ethiopian independence and that Ethiopia was the only country not to be colonised by the European powers.

Entoto Maryam church is built on the site of the original church where Menelik was crowned as emperor in 1889. Nearby is a museum that contains various Menelik artefacts including his bed, clothes, gifts he received from various European countries and even some guns from the battle of Adwa.

On the other side of the church is the mud and wood 'palace' Menelik had built in 1883. Menelik initially intended to make Entoto his new capital, after abandoning his previous capital at Ankober. However, after a cold rainy season in 1886, the royal court decided to move down the hill to camp by the hot springs in the valley below. The Empress Taitu was so entranced with the hot springs surrounded by flowering mimosa trees that she named the place 'New Flower' or 'Addis Ababa' in Amharic and the new capital was born!

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