John Cate Photography
ETHIOPIA -- LAND OF WAX AND GOLD
In April of 2018 I spent three weeks traveling through northern Ethiopia with my wife and good friends with deep connections to the country. The visit included a week-long trek in the breathtaking Simien Mountain Park; visits to three ancient capitals, Gondar, Axum and Lalibela; and a week in the sprawling modern capital Addis Ababa.
The Ethiopians, who have had their fair share of modern-day oppression, have a tradition of song and poetry wuth a hidden meaning behind the seemingly benign lyrics; they call it Gold and Wax. In a way, it is a metaphor for this intriguing country; bustling, friendly and social on the surface, but full of desire and unfulfilled promise under the surface.
Ethiopia's history defies history. Their founding myth, the pairing of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon, informs everyone's world view, to the point of challenging the findings of modern archeology. Yet, from the humblest mule driver to the aspiring tour guide to most sophisticated international financier, everyone we met embraces the present with a passion for making life better. Never have I encountered a people, no matter how poor, who have been so positive and friendly.
These few photographs capture only a fraction of the beauty, emotion, irony, passion and aspiration of this amazing country.