Monday, September 10, 2007

Who Keeps a Thirteen Month Calendar?

(photo courtesy BBC)
On 12 September, Ethiopia will reach their 2000 millennium based on their traditional thirteen month Julian calendar. In 2000, for those with regular 12 month calendars, the rest of the world saw spectacular celebrations and exceptional firework displays, every hour on the hour from each time zone, until the city of glitz and glamour became dull with a colored light shown on the Hollywood sign as its boring contribution. Seven years plus later, Ethiopia is finally going to get its Party On for the Third Millennium. Perfect do over for those who want a shot at a brand spanking new 2000. President Gore.

Enormous red, yellow, and green banners flutter from the sides of most major buildings in the capital, Addis Ababa, showing off the country's colors. Women in traditional white embroidered dresses dance through shopping malls while onlookers ululate. And residents are buzzing about which star-studded party they want to be at Wednesday.

The main event on tap for Wednesday night is a musical concert featuring The Black Eyed Peas, a Los Angeles-based pop group, as well as dozens of top Ethiopian artists.

The $1.2 million concert, which was supposed to be free to the public, has been shifted to a new $10-million conference hall that construction workers were working day and night to complete, right up until Wednesday. (Photo courtesy Reuters/Radu Sigheti)

Only those able to pay $170 – two months' earnings for the average Ethiopian – will be allowed to enter, but the event will be broadcast live on television and on a big screen at a stadium open to the public.

Ethiopia had hopes to draw tourists in massive numbers, as well as Michael Jackson and Beyoncé, but due to security issues, the crowds are much smaller than planned. This led to the cancellation of an international soccer event and requiring a ticket purchase for concerts previously billed as free. Well, it is a kind of retro 2000 celebration - we know where we can send the goofy glasses with the 00's in them when the world is done. Meanwhile, Ethiopia is excoriating the UN and dismissive of Eritrea over the border dispute that has lent itself to a loss of security, bringing a damper on the celebration. Eritrea fought a civil war with Ethiopia to gain its independence ending in 1993, but hostilities erupted again ending in the other Gregorian calendar version of 2000.

Somalia is vowing a multitude of retributions. In the midst of all the strife and strafing, why would a bureaucratic Tourism minister say its safe, when their are obvious reasons that what they are saying is demonstrably false? As part of Ethiopia's Millennium Celebration the government is freeing 10,000 prisoners. That said Ethiopia still stands alone as the only African country never subjected to colonialism, enduring a short brutal occupation in their just ending Second Millennium by Mussolini's Italy.

Rebecca G. Haile's book, Held at A Distance: My Rediscovery of Ethiopia, was released in paperback in May 2007. Her parents fled in 1976 and years later her journey takes place back to the African country, unlike any other on the vast continent.

No comments: