April 10, 2005
Live from Axum
This week, I'm in Axum - the northern Ethiopian town that was once the capital of the mighty pre-Christian Axumite Empire. The main reason is to report on the return of an ancient obelisk that was stolen from Ethiopian by invading Italian troops almost 70 years ago (see past posts).
The Italians are supposed to fly the first part in the early hours of Wednesday morning, although no one is entirely sure of the exact delivery time. The date has been shifting for the past two months. Even yesterday - just after I arrived in town - there were rumours that the whole thing was going to be delayed for 10 days. We shall see.
If it is delayed again (they have already waited 70 years) there will be a huge uproar. Things are already building up in Axum. Most of the shops have national flags up outside. There are banners flying from street corners welcoming the obelisk and thanking the government for bringing it back (an election is coming).
Last night about half the town turned out for a joyful candle-lit march around the town with banners, chanting, singing and dancing. (See pic).
The internet connection is too slow to upload pics. I'll put them up next week back in Addis. (UPDATE: I've now found a faster connection so the pics should soon be appearing on Flickr - see link top right). This morning there was a 10k run. Some time tomorrow there will be a display of traditional dancing.
In short, everyone is getting very excited.
Posted by aheavens at April 10, 2005 12:40 PM