Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Nile River

Ethiopean Virgin blood: A Fiction story?

I had sold my powerful but rickety BMW:  I could no longer afford frequent repairs or filling a quarter of the gas tank.

Having learned to be optimistic, I decided to walk to the near-by private library, 3 miles back and forth.  I love this library, cuddled in a two-story house, and surrounded with a garden.

The library is connected to the internet (pretty slow though) and I enjoy fresh incoming books, magazine, and a Lebanese daily.  I read, publish articles on my blog, and borrow books:  What else can anyone demand?

On my way to the library, I noticed many “imported” Ethiopian girls working as maids; most of the girls are pretty, tall, and connected with a network of other Ethiopian girls. Actually, they managed to build a church for their expanding community in our district.

I had this project of visiting a region in Ethiopia where a tribe still lives in primitive conditions.  The documentary showed a community looking happy and contended.  I have watched a documentary on that tribe and on Ethiopia.

I have read and heard that Ethiopia is a lovely country to tour:  Ethiopia has a diversity of climatic and environmental regions, spanning from virgin forests to desert-like area, from high mountain chains to high plateaus to vast plains.

Ethiopia is certainly rich in water resources:  One of the main sources of the Nile River comes from Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is a very ancient civilization and was practically self-autonomous for millennia until Mussolini of Italy decided to colonize this country in the 30’s.

Ethiopia was ravaged by civil wars since the military coup on Emperor Hela Selassie in the 70’s.  Ethiopia had to wage a protracted war on Eritrea (the only sea port of Ethiopia) claiming independence; and Eritrea got its wishes.

Ethiopia engaged in frequent wars against Somalia:  With the support of the Soviet Union, the Ethiopian troops defeated Somalia and dismantled the independent State of Somalia.

The latest war was last year, supported by the USA, with the purpose of dislodging the extremist Islamists in power, before it withdrew its troops for the overwhelming anarchy established in Somalia.

One morning, I approached a smiling face who returned my “good morning”.  I exposed to the lovely girl my curiosity of knowing the Ethiopian people in a face to face meeting and my project.  I bribed her with two packs of beer.

A week later, I met the girl on my way to the library and she volunteered to extend a date for the meeting.  She said that she will invite 5 of her female friends and that her name is Maria.  I guess she figured out that she will be guaranteed at least two cans of beer.

We met at the basement of a rented apartment and I brought Lebanese beer Almaza (tastier than all the imported beer).  It is not that I wanted to show off that I promote our national products, but I actually prefer this beer to all other imported beer:  Almaza does not have this sweet or the after taste sweetness that imported beer leave.  The meeting lasted an hour.

The first 30 minutes of the meeting generated laughter from the girls whispering to one another.  My pronunciation of Amharic words counted for the remaining giggles.  The second half of the meeting witnessed heated discussions: The girls were not from the same provinces. I didn’t want to impose or embarrass their patience in the first meeting.

The second meeting was at 6:30 pm on a Saturday.

I reckoned that the girls planned to get slightly tipsy before venturing with their Saturday night plan.  One good-looking girl arranged to get singled out from the “crowd” and be noticed.  She volunteered that we meet again on a date.

I am no longer used to dating and this approach frazzled me: I am very apprehensive of getting together with foreign maids, fearing their clever schemes, but I agreed for curiosity sake and defiance of my apprehension.

I prayed audibly: “May this night last very long.  May I be as happy for long time.  May Maria stay happy all night long.  Amen”

Maria said: “Are you into magic? Is that an incantation ritual?”

I said: “This evening feels magical.  You demand to be happy and the night obliges to your orders”

Maria made a face, grinned, and laughed heartily.  We laughed, had tears pouring down our faces, for no good reasons, just willing to be happy. We cuddled softly for a long time: we had nothing more urgent and important than feeling so close and sensing our warmth.

We made love for ever; we were not rushing into anything stupid as intercourse.

I rediscovered every inch of Maria’s body and took my time to visualizing the entire picture in all its perspectives.  I love well-shaped feet, very stable on the ground and having walked bare feet as a child and liking to walk bare feet at every occasion.

We made love: Intercourse felt more like a break to her than constant touching, kissing, and licking.

I asked her to introduce my penis and let her take command of the activities.  Maria circled slowly and I guessed the location of her G-point that coincided with heavy breathing and quick counter-clockwise maneuvers. (The latest notion is that there is no physical G-point: It is mostly a psychological inclination to enjoy love-making…)

We were exhausted. I was exhausted for playing the passive part.  As I felt like coming I asked Maria to take command: Versatility is good in any game.

After sex, I discovered with fright that my penis was painted red and the thighs of Maria were reddish, sort of blood related tanning. Maria comforted me saying:  “Don’t worry.  I am no virgin. It is just betadine.”

I know what is betadine: It is used to disinfect wounds.  I waited for further clarifications.

Maria explained: “You see, I try to get two birds in one shot.  I insert a piece of cotton imbibed with betadine for two reasons. First, it might protect me from bacteria and germs and second, males feel more excited when they see blood after intercourse.  Many times I get bonuses.”

I needed to breath fresh air and calm my fright.

I said: “Let’s go out for a stroll in this full-moon night.”  Maria had remnants of superstition concerning full-moon night: I refrained from asking further explanations:  a few secrets need to remain intact for healthy relationships.

Maria wanted to take a quick shower before going out and I disproved the idea:  I wanted that both of us feel dirty walking out:  It is always a challenge to go counter to our habits. I like to be surprised of discovering new realities that are welcomed unconsciously.

We held hands and smelt the beast in each other.  We almost jogged, holding hands, as if fast swinging arms impute a running pace. Our breathing was light compared to the previous lying position.

We seemed to be walking effortlessly, managing to laugh at every surprise, sound, movement, and scene.

It was night when we fell asleep.  It was night when we woke up. We stank and were ravenous.

We decided to take a long bath first, as if feeling clean is higher in the survival priority scale than eating.

We bathed with stomachs sounds reminding us of reversed priority choices. Nevertheless, I enjoyed taking my time rubbing Maria’s back and many secret corners; she returned the favor and was more mischevous.

Cooking was another project done in common.  I think that I learned one Ethiopean recepe but forgot it:  It was hot.

We write about what we feel and experience.

Wwe write about what we believe we know.

But most importantly, we write of what we think we know will never happen again in our real lifetime.

Sudan’s economy relies 98% on its oil production.  China receives 65% of the oil production and Japan 16% and India 4%.  While the US was prosecuting its preemptive war in Iraq for 9 years, China and India were heavily investing in oil rich African States and exploiting vast regions by major rivers for industrial agribusiness and rice fields.  China was bartering oil for building infrastructures to exporting oil and the natural resources it is exploiting (as in colonial times).  Most of the regions for oil exploration and extraction are located on the bordering line of the prospected partition.

Sudan is bordered by 9 States; all border lines are makeshift borders that colonial powers of England, France ,and Italy drew on “virgin maps”.  The southern part produces 65% of the oil and the agreement is to dividing 50% of all oil production between the two States in 2005, even before the coming referendum. Currently, north Sudan is holding the purse, the locations of the two refineries, and the oil pipeline that serves the major port of export in Port Sudan.

The people in south Sudan are expected to vote on the referendum for either an autonomous or an independent south Sudan in 2011.  A peace agreement signed in 2005 between the State of Sudan and the southern separatist movements put formally an end to an open civil war that lasted 17 years, since 1987, and displaced over 4 million; it is estimated that 2 million perished, mostly from famine, diseases, tribal infighting, and military campaigns.

Sudan is a vast State, as large as the USA (excluding Alaska) but is barely as populated as Egypt, less than 50 million. It acquired its independence from colonial England in 1956. England ruled this vast colony from the Capital Khartoum and totally neglected the southern part; England kept south Sudan in order to securing the sources of the Nile River that start in Ethiopia and Uganda and empty in the delta of Egypt in the Mediterranean Sea.

Foreign media are disseminating wrong information:  They are claiming that the people in south Sudan are Christians and want independence from the Moslem north.  Fact is, most tribes in Sudan, north and south, are animists:  They respect nature, the seasons, the ancestors, and the oral traditions and myths.  The people in Sudan, north and south, have been impoverished and discarded by world communities for 5 decades; they are suffering frequent famine and were plagued by common diseases, and dying from curable illnesses.

If the people in the south decide for independence, the first critical problem to resolving is how the equitable sharing of 50% of the oil agreement can be planned, managed, and executed; the negotiations on the procedures is the main cornerstone problem and it might drag for long time without “independent south Sudan” receiving its due share.

China will make sure that oil production will resume unaffected by internal disagreements and deals will be made with the State of Sudan until “independent south Sudan” demonstrates that it is a reliable State to negotiate with.  How the State of Sudan will reimburse its massive military machinery debts from Russia and China if oil production is disturbed?

The people in south Sudan have no interest in a complete independence:  the history in the last forty years, for third world States that got their independence, demonstrated that the next two decades will be ripe for internal conflicts among the powerful tribes and that most of the oil benefit will be siphoned into private bank accounts and internal leaders receiving handsome bribes from international companies, doing business and plundering the natural resources.  South Sudan will be the scene of camouflaged mandated control and management by foreign nations and regional powers.

The people in south Sudan have interest for an autonomous region.  All the central government institutions in the Capital Khartoum could be duplicated in Juba (the de-facto Capital in South Sudan) for the smooth functioning of the central government in the south.

The State of Sudan, independent for more than 50 years, has already relatively well-oiled army, financial institutions, and foreign ministry that are ready for reform that would satisfy the requirements of a newly autonomous region.  I believe that voting for independence will be a major handicap for any further reforms in north Sudan.

Salva Kir, the leader of the south Sudan movement, has already set the tone for a major phase of terribly discontent with northern Sudan. He blatantly made a  public statesman that he will immediately open diplomatic channels with Israel.  The worst part in the statesman was the announcement that Israel will become a major commercial and supplier of war equipments and training.  Salva Kir thinks that inviting bears in his back yard is normal behavior from intelligent people.

Note:  Satellite pictures of Sudan shows that the line of partition separates the semi-desert region in the north from the greener equatorial region in the south.  If the people in south Sudan opt for independence then, south Sudan will be bordered by the Central African Republic on the west, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda in the south, Kenya, Ethiopia in the east.  It will lack any access to the Ocean and will need to invest heavily for infrastructures to exporting by sea through treaties with neighboring States.  Otherwise, south Sudan will be strongly dependent on north Sudan for exporting its oil production.  Maybe vast underpopulated countries such as Canada, Australia, Argentina, and Kazakhstan should be partitioned too for more effective management and equitable distribution of resources among all ethnic minorities.

Women: Urban and Rural. Part 1 (June 22, 2009)

Egyptian rural women.

Women are not the same; neither are men.

The single main difference among women is the location: urban or rural residency.  Traditions and customs are influenced by opportunities to change; the more the opportunities in quantity and quality the quicker the pace of change.

Since no change is for ever acquired or taken for granted, women have to be more vigilant in preserving the gained rights by more sustained organization and unity: men are always waiting around the bend to usurp any gains that women benefit through legal aspects or State laws.

Men (patriarchal societies are dominant nowadays) rely on the power of religious myths to back their arguments and to hold on and maintain their privileges.

The Internet might bridge the gap to some extent in information, but there is no viable alternative to actual opportunities for diversity in job openings.

This post will report the visit of Laurence Deonna in the Middle East in 1968. The better part of her book “Women: Struggle of the land and of sand” is located in Egypt, in rural Said, thousands of kilometers from major urban centers and the Capital Cairo.

The author takes appointment to join Father Ayrout, a Jesuit Copt, on his regular trip to rural Egypt in the Said. Of the group we find Samira (a young grandmother), Alphonse (a young Jesuit and the designated driver), Farida, and Anissa (a social assistant from Jordan).

Rural Said regions

Knots of urchins gather by the car as it ascends south along the Nile River. The car passes the tiny villages of Beni-Souef and Minia.

The first Christian village they stop at is Manhari. Copt, Catholic, and Protestant cohabit; each sect has its own church.

The “houses” are of mud with no windows; the only entrance could be considered a window; dead wood and straw are saved on the flat roof where the wife and children spend most of their days. On the roof hens are raised, the wash is dried, and cooking done on small petrol stoves.  Inside the only room, the entire family cohabite with a goat, and a few chicken. A large bowl is used to wash cloths and the bodies. As the Nile overflows, it carries away those huts.

Every family cook its own bread; the custom wants that “on bread baking day” the family splash flour on the face as sign of prosperity.

The newly wed bride has to wait to become pregnant before she is allowed to step out the house. Once married, the customs used to be that the wife was not to step out of her house.

Mother-in-law made sure that traditions are observed and honor saved and intact. It was not rare to witness young boy of 14 complaining that their pregnant wives are giving them headaches by frequent complaints.  The wife is to keep the money for selling eggs and vegetables.  Any furniture she carried into the house is hers.

Father Ayrout demands of women to wear long sleeves and cover any mini-skirt with a robe.  You cannot see apparent differences with Moslem villages.

Misery is preponderant as well as odors.  The fellah (peasant) is a carbon copy of paintings shown in Pharaonic times. In church, the genders sit separately; three third of the seating banks are reserved for men; women sit in the back on the floor or stand behind a wooden paravant (separation sliding door) or in the gallery.

Missionaries went as far as offering gifts to encourage women to mingle with men, but the habit of tradition always prevailed.

The group crosses a large canal on an ancient barque carrying donkeys, cows, men, and women to reach the vestiges of a monastery in Deir Abou Phani. This village has been transformed into a necropolis.

Each year, pilgrims of entire families stay for 3 days in chambers inside tombs.  A recently widowed woman keeps her home for months: the more intense her chagrin the longer the reclusive period.

It is a life where people dialogue with the dead and presenting condolences is a central social activity. There are professional women for lamenting, chanting, and crying; they paint their face black or blue and cover their head with mud and clap hands.   The anniversary of the dead is sacred.

The curious little girls wear colorful worn out cloths; their plaits are concealed in handkerchiefs; red or orange colored towels serve as veil.

Women wear long black robes and all the bracelets and necklaces (kholkhal) they own.  Twice a year, henne is applied not only on hair but on hands and feet; apparently, henne takes care of louse, rejuvenates hair and stops its shedding.

Long lines of little girls are cleaning cotton leaves of warms all day long. During harvest periods (September and October),  school classes are empty in the few educational centers. They are relatively freer to move around and dress than in more prosperous villages since survival overtakes the rules of moral.

Contraceptive campaigns are more successful among lower classes since it is a critical matter.  Superstition is prevalent and oral tell-tales of traveling individuals connect the rural people to the urban centers since television and radios are rare commodities.

Girls who terminated high school complain that they have the feeling of being invitees in their homes; they go out together because they are considered different from the lot.

In Sefta, the Sisters of Charity collect abandoned babies in alleys: unwed mothers fear for their lives because “honor” revenge is common and vendettas are carried out from generation to generation.

Women are more severe in observing these tradition; they close the door till the men avenge the dishonor.  Usually, the husband denounces the wife to her family; someone is then ordered the task to kill.  The entire village keeps mute during investigation. 

In rural Said, terror of chastisement pursue girls in their universities; girls are always apprehensive that they are watched when they join universities. After graduation, girls return to their village where no opportunities await them.

In rural Said, women are less affected by the bilharzias disease (affecting the liver) than men; thus they have more energy and vigor.

The newly wed groom has to find excellent reasons, such as the need to search for a job, in order to be relieved of sexual exigencies.  Regular pregnancies render women frail; many of them have trachoma and are almost blind. Many babies die prematurely.

Only male kids are counted; a fellah would say: “I have 3 kids” even if he has four other girls.  Many women wish that the husband is rich enough to marry another wife so that they are relieved of yearly pregnancy.

Sterility is the sole fault of women; they are abandoned to fend for their survival. Giving birth is done at home, the Pharaonic style, in a sitting position.

Superstition demands that no clothes or preparation for the newly born are undertaken for fear of the “evil eye“.  Mothers believe that focusing on beautiful things that interest them will influence the one to be born. Thus, they cut and paste on the wall what they find in magazines.

The newly born is washed for the first time a week later; then he is placed in a sieve and projected three times to the floor; loud noises are produced to accustom the baby to noise.  Five out of ten babies in a family survive.

Excision (mutilation of the clitoris) is practiced among the poorer classes. This custom is African, so that wives would not feel the urge to find pleasure outside her husband.  They say that men smoke hashish to compensate for the lack of sexual desires of their wives and to prolonged intercourse.

Urban Cairo

Women demonstrated along side men in 1919 for self-autonomy of Egypt from colonial Britain. Women snatched the right to walk unveiled on streets in 1923. Women associations attended international forums on women rights in the thirties.

Even in urban Cairo with over 16 millions, women are still superstitious: Many ceremonies, traditions, and practices are pre-Islamic.

Women line up in front of shrines asking favors; stamped letters are also sent to shrines in the present tense with the name of the sender and the name of her mother, as is the Pharaonic custom.  The complaints in the written messages concern mostly the treatments of mother-in-laws.

Many statutes of famous people are wrongly considered as representing saint “sheikhs”.

Note: Read part 2 on urban women in Egypt https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2009/06/23/women-urban-and-rural-2/


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