In March 2011 I was able to take my first trip to Ethiopia. I met distant family, and was able to see the country with my own eyes for the first time. These photographs are my first response to what I understood in this direct experience of Ethiopia.
Often times while I was walking the streets people would shout “Ferengi!” meaning foreigner or someone of European descent - white. My father told me it was a term of endearment, but I began to think otherwise. They are pointing me out as one who does not belong. Likely, no matter how much information I can tout about the country or its people I will always be somewhat of an outsider. Strange to think that in the U.S. my race is in more of an ambiguous state, while in Ethiopia, I am not quite black enough.
Two things happened while I was in Ethiopia that I now take for highly metaphoric events. Firstly, Ethiopia operates on a 12-hour clock, which I was rather confused with at first. Was this with the understanding that it was because I was in such a far away place, that time should actually operate in a slightly different way? The duration of my stay was effected by this fact, and figuratively I must relearn how to tell time in this new place.
The second instance was the fact that during my stay I could not find a detailed map of Addis Ababa anywhere. This also points to the fact that I must relearn how to situate myself in this place on my own accord, exploring, and finding out about the city with my own eyes and experience. Though the culture is relatively familiar to me, there were new things I learned every day that I was there – in regards to my character, its relation to Ethiopia, and the country as a whole.
All photographs made in 2011.