Cabbies/Uber drivers/Taxi men have the reputation, sometimes deserved, as being the most talkative of professions. They are also famous for fairy tales and outlandish stories. Back home, they are also know to SNITCH a lot. Basically poking their nose where it dont belong.
I took a day tour of Addis Abbaba, the capital of Ethiopia. I had been in Addis before and had only taken a tour of the city once. The cab guy/tour guide had promised a well informed guide which turned to be a hollow promise. He only showed me the UN conference center and the parliament of Ethiopia. Must say the Ethiopian parliament is rather a lack luster building. Most parliament buildings i know of stand out, in a magnificent way. This cab guy asked if i knew the UN conference center and i said yes. I omitted the part of me being admitted in the health center in January 2015 due to a serious case of FEVER. Mind you, that was my first time in Ethiopia.
Since Addis Abbaba has over 400 hotels and around 130 embassies, i knew it was a huge city and had always wanted to take a tour. Mid this year (2019) , i decided to finally take a tour and didn’t want a repeat of last time. I logged on to Trip Advisor and secured the services of a Mr Brown*. I cannot reveal his real identity because of certain reasons. On the trip advisor page, he was charging 100 dollars for the 10 hour tour of the city and provided bottled water. Lunch of course was excluded. Toilet and smoking breaks are included in the package, just in case you know. On Trip Advisor there are so many guided tours of Addis Abbaba and its a headache choosing one but the reviews from other travelers help a lot. I chose Mr Brown* because he sounded so sincere in his description of the tour package and looked innocent in his picture. He didn’t look like a cab guy who would crook me or sell me to terrorists.
Mr Brown* picked me up at 8.00 am and i must say, i had a nasty wine hangover. I expected the day to be miserable but it turned out pretty well for someone with a wine infused nuclear headache. The moment I stepped into his extremely clean and well maintained Nissan Sunny vehicle, he greeted me and ensured my comfort. We then, started having a conversation and the first thing to highlight was his language skill. He was communicating with me in flawless English language with crisp pronunciation, neutral accent and almost error free grammar. I am not a native English speaking person and my assumption that his English is good is that communication in Ethiopia can be a bit of a hassle especially since Amharic sounds more Arabic and can make it hard to understand their English pronunciations. My first stop was a pharmacy for headache tablets to address the hangover. Must say the pills didn’t help. Water turned out to be a good remedy.
We visited the University, a cathedral commissioned by Emperor Haile Selassle to thank Ethiopians for fighting the Italian invasion, visited the Emperors palace, saw the Ethiopian parliament and so many other sites. I bought souvenirs and frankly speaking, the whole trip was exhausting but informative. He knew Ethiopian history very well. Every place we visited, he was well informed about the artifacts and what they meant and where they originated from. What surprised me was his knowledge of the artifacts at the Ethiopian national museum. He gave very detailed account of everything in the 3 or 4 floors of that building. Cant remember how many floors it was.
I bought lunch for both of us and it was on our journey back to my hotel that he told me something that really SHOOK me. We were passing the US Embassy in Ethiopia when he told me he was a virgin. BAM, no warning. I braced myself. I knew it was time to roll out the big guns. Throughout the day, we had talked about health in Ethiopia, NGOs, the civil war, general standards of living, poverty, Italian invasion etc. Nothing that leaned closer to SEX or Sexuality. He told me he was 29 years old and had never kissed a girl. I tried to act cool but i was shocked. He told me he was a VIRGIN and wished he wasn’t. He asked me if i was married and i told him NO but i had an 8 year old son and we were separated with the mother since he was 2 years old.
He then told me, how Ethiopians date to marry not just to date. He asked me how many ex girlfriends i had and i answered sincerely. He went on to explain that his father had been killed the civil war as a soldier and they had escaped with his siblings, led by their mother. The Ethiopian Civil War was a civil war in Ethiopia and present day Eritrea, fought between the Ethiopian military junta communist governments and Ethio-Eritrean anti-government rebels from September 1974 to June 1991. During their escape, along the journey at night, his 2 brothers and sister separated from them and he hadn’t seen them since then. He stuck with his mother and sister. They had arrived in Addis Abbaba and somehow he eventually lost track of his sister too. He wasn’t sure where his mother was. I was like, fuck, this story is deep. Mr Brown* told me he had no family though they could be alive.
I explained to him that we had never had a civil war in my country in the last 120 years or so. I couldn’t imagine what he went through to get where he is today. I asked him if he had ever tried to locate them and he said he did. They was a centralized agency that tried to locate displaced family members from the war with a low percentage of success.
By this time, i knew that missiles would follow next. Big guns had already been fired. He told me that he stayed alone in a flat outside of Addis Abbaba, a 45 minute drive and he shared the flat with a friend who comes and goes for days. Next thing BAM, since the new PM of Ethiopia had assumed office, they now had access to the internet and he could watch porn. He was learning to MASTURBATE so that he could relieve sexual tension. In my head, im like, “dude thats too much information for me”. I could do without knowing your porn activities. But then it got me thinking, do people have to learn how to masturbate. Eswatini is a semi liberal country and we grew up knowing what masturbation is and why it was presumed a SIN.
Anyways, he went on about how he was saving money to make sure that he could date a nice girl and marry her to start a family. I felt pity for him and wished him luck. That caught me by surprise because back home, we just date and such conversations of starting families crop up when you are closer to your 30s. Mr Brown* had been saving since his 20s so that he could afford a wedding. He specifically said Ethiopian women are expensive and judging from his background, you could allow him to get away with such a generalization. By this time, i was feeling so SAD for him and was comparing his life to mine.
I had assumed that dating in Ethiopia was as easy as back home but i learnt that the dating games had different rules here. I imagined explaining to Mr Brown*, the concept of ALIMONY. I was convinced that if he had heard about ALIMONY, he would never marry. We then briefly discussed Ethiopian women, beauty standards and of course the conversation diverted to trash as usual. The kind that men get into when discussing women and beauty. Where we differed was when Mr Brown* said Beyonce had the best booty in the world. I disagreed with him in that regard and tried to point him in the right direction explaining my choice in detail .
He dropped me off the hotel around 9.45 pm and i must say i enjoyed my ride with him. It was an exchange of human stories between two people from the same continent yet different countries and perspectives. I agreed him to buy him dinner the following day so long as he showed me a nice fancy club where one could cool off and enjoy the waters of immortality. Turned out he knew a ritzy place written in Amharic that had all the dazzle. It was a hangout spot for the thousands of AU diplomats and foreign missions in Ethiopia.
If you want to know Mr Brown* real name and want to use his services, you can directly contact me via Facebook on the page: Indigenous African Nomad