Chanting in a Dead Language

There’s some Ethiopian Orthodox holiday going on right now. Nobody’s explained it to me, but most of my Ethiopian colleagues have sworn off milk and meat until April, and there’s a man chanting over a loudspeaker in some church next to the ILRI campus for hours at a time. I asked someone at lunch today what the man was saying but he said nobody knows. I laughed for a second but realized he wasn’t kidding — the man is chanting in Ge’ez, a dead language from Ethiopia’s past.

Add it to the list of things that make Ethiopia completely different than any other country I’ve ever been to (especially its neighbors in East Africa). I’ll be in Addis Ababa for another week; plenty of time to buy a bunch of gourmet coffee beans and postcards. Stay tuned and wish me luck!

3 Comments to “Chanting in a Dead Language”

    1. Alan Author

      Yeah, I’m not exactly sure what it is (and I haven’t bothered to look it up yet). They explained one holiday (called “Timkat”) related to Jesus’ resurrection where, among other things I’m sure, young men can throw a lime at a lady and if she picks it up, you’re hitched. Hah!

  1. Thashika

    They’re fasting for Orthodox Easter. They don’t eat dairy or meat but fish is okay. It’s for 60 days and they break on Easter Sunday. Most people fast for Easter even people who aren’t very religious. Easter is a huge holiday there, even bigger than Christmas.

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