Yesterday, we visited the Artisan Bazaar/Market, which was scheduled for the following weekend and one of the primary reasons for our travel. This is the best place for us to network with local artisans. I am so grateful for God’s provision in placing the correct vendors in our paths and coordinating our times. We were able to network and establish the relationships needed with a variety of local artisans. The Ethiopian artisans are very gifted. One artist in particular, Yami, has extraordinary handmade leather products. Unmatched to say the least.
Today, we visited a Rasta Free Art Village. The art was interesting. The people were more interesting. Kind. Gentle. Soft spoken. The majority of the sculptures boast up-cycled items. Literally, the artists collect trash and construct sculptures from toilets to trains and on to animals. It is very eclectic. The Rasta artists are peaceful community, and they nurture their land. In the midst of the busy, bustling Addis, the Rasta Free Art Village is an oasis. Two of the artists, who paint in the village, produced paintings worth the flight to Ethiopia.
Next, we met with Aklilu, one of our favored artists. His paintings bedeck my kitchen and family room. His colors and shapes captivate the eye. This young man’s working conditions are nicer than many, but Americans would be offended if asked to work in his studio. But Aklilu. Ahhh. What creative genius. We accrued many pieces from Aklilu. You won’t want to miss these pieces.
After visiting a gamut of artists, our day’s highlight was visiting our friend/brother/driver’s home. Modest, but appreciated, Solomon rents a two room space. His bedroom and sitting boost his confidence in hosting us. He is most proud of his outdoor cooking space and private toilet. Being allowed into Soli’s home felt like an initiation of sorts and left me feeling more connected to him than ever. The car ride back to BeJoe hosted my first real cry in Ethiopia this trip (first of many, I am sure). Rectifying my love for Ethiopia, its people, my son’s culture, my habesha family, the joy it holds, and my love for my family and friends in the states is impossible. In the meantime, I am trying to simply embrace each moment of each day.