Words by: Mmamello Matake
During my trip to Ethiopia, I carried my little sister’s spirit, my mother’s broken heart, and their excitement mixed with curiosity, with me to the airport, making the journey an emotional one. Having been fathered by an Ethiopian man throughout my teenage years, I felt a deep connection to the country and its people.
My mother’s love for an Ethiopian man who ran a tuckshop in our yard was considered forbidden and unusual, and she faced harsh criticism from the public, as well as from our family. As my mother’s firstborn, I took on the role of both deputy parent and lifelong companion to her. I witnessed her struggles, growth, and triumphs, and my siblings accused me of being her favourite child. But the truth is, I have known her the longest, and nothing can replace the bond we share. I saw her in all her different relationships, including with my siblings’ father, who was my stepfather. I was present when they were born and have many stories about their father. At times, I feel guilty that my sisters don’t have similar memories with their own father. My connection to my mother, however, remains unbreakable.
I also came across some hardworking and diligent women during my stay at Kuriftu Resort & Spa Entoto. They would come every morning to collect wood, which they carried on their backs. Witnessing this multiple times, I couldn’t help but admire their resilience and determination. It made me wonder if I inherited these traits from them, given my own strong will. I was also surprised that doors were opened for me and my luggage was carried wherever I went. Back home, I have to do these things myself. The striking differences between the two cultures left a lasting impression on me.
During my visit to Ethiopia, I experienced a warm welcome and realised the importance of embracing different cultures. As someone who once experienced ridicule and witnessed xenophobic attacks, I appreciated the hospitality in Ethiopia. Despite the language barrier, I enjoyed joking with the resort staff who were friendly and helpful. I recognise that ignorance can lead to hurtful actions, and I encourage others to step out of their comfort zone, visit neighbouring countries and appreciate diversity.
Ethiopia brings to mind memories of my mother’s love. She spoke of it with such longing that I can only imagine how much she would have loved to visit. My stepfather’s absence made her search for him relentlessly, a testament to her unwavering love. For years, she followed any lead, holding his picture close, hoping to catch a glimpse of him. When her search proved fruitless, she would retreat to the nearby stadium at night, tears streaming down her face. Though she rarely showed her emotions, her love for my stepfather was evident in her tireless search. I want to say to her that I understand and wish she would have cried to me or anyone else. She didn’t have to cry in the middle of nowhere at night.
Last year, Solomon’s close friend told us that my stepfather had returned to his native country. At that time, we were angry, but eventually became indifferent. However, my feelings have changed today. I sympathise with my stepfather more now, realising how difficult it must have been for him to leave without saying goodbye to his love and children for an uncertain period. But, how could he choose to stay in a country that violated his rights and took advantage of him repeatedly? Although there were things that I did not agree with about him, I knew he loved us and my mother. During his years with us, we never experienced any hardships, and my mother never shed a tear for him. I hope he is safe, healthy, and gets the chance to see his beautiful, grown daughters once more. They are intelligent and incredibly unique!
It’s important for him to realise that his loved ones are eagerly anticipating his return, instead of feeling angry, confused, or blaming themselves for his departure. Even if he doesn’t come back soon, his family still holds onto hope that he will return someday. They even dream of visiting their ancestral land in the future, to learn more about their roots and heritage.
P.s Your lover will take you back!