There are not many things that have the ability to
put a smile on one's face these days; life has
become a series of morbid observations and events.
Despite all the black and grey though, there is
something in Addis Abeba that never fails to put a
smile on my face. I find it to be the closest thing
to godliness that exists in our decrepit urban
environment. It is the one thing that, perhaps, puts
all the bad in perspective, at least to me that is.
matter where I go, and the time or the
circumstances, I always come across pairs or groups
of male friends. I know that there are groups of
male friends in just about every country or culture
in the world. There is nothing amazing about a group
of male friends hanging out together and doing the
things that typical males do. But abesha men and the
relationships that they have with each other are
more intimate and loving than I have observed in
other men living in other parts of the world.
male friends spend all their free time together.
Some even work together. They are completely into
each other; they have a passion for their
friendships that is so rare, it borders on the
divine. They hang on one another's words, respect
each other and are able to laugh together like no
other segments of society. Most importantly, the
friendships of Abesha males are the most
inclusive segments of the otherwise exclusive Abesha
have been watching groups of male friends wherever I
run into them at restaurants, cafes, at libraries,
at the movies, going to watch the theatre. They walk
long distances just so they have more time to talk;
their conversations range from the serious to the
superficial. But no matter what the subject, they
make it a point to discuss it among themselves.
The groups of male friends that I have observed
outside of the Abesha sort have usually been
groups of A-alikes bunching together. What that
means is that friendships are usually exclusive
clubs. The jocks or athletes hang out with their
kind, just as the geeks do with theirs and the
cheerleaders with theirs. There are cool cliques and
not so cool cliques. The members of the cool would
not be caught dead with the members of the un-cool.
was this way at the elementary level, the high
school level, and to some extent the college level.
People flock to those that are just like them;
forget diversity, forget colourfulness, you only
hang out with the people that are just like you.
have noticed that this is not the case with
Abesha male friendship. Most groups of friends
that I have had the pleasure to observe offer a
plethora of personalities. The geeks, the jocks, the
weirdos, the faithful, and whatever are all part of
the same clique. They applaud each other's
differences and revel in the new ideas that spring
up as a result of the different opinions that are
present in single groups of friends. They are, in
essence, the microcosm of Ethiopian society.
The rich together with the poor, the educated with
the uneducated, the funny with the bland, the boring
with the interesting. There are no membership
prerequisites to being a part of an abesha male
groups. No matter what the differences, Abesha
male friendships have the will and the capacity
to take in just about anyone and make them a member
of the family.
matter what situation I have observed them in, the
love that they have for one another is clearly
manifested. They are open in their expression of
admiration and allow nothing to come in between
their friendships. They need nothing but the
pleasure of each other's company to make it through
the day or the tough times they may be facing. The
bonds of friendship are covenants that are not
also recognize these truths do not hold true for all
Abesha male friendships. There are some
cliques that have been created because of money,
popularity, and others still due to some random bond
that has nothing to do with the fundamentals of a
good friendship. They are the same sorts of cliques
that exist everywhere else.
Exclusive clubs that do not give memberships to
people that cannot fulfil the required criteria of
that particular echelon of people. These kinds of
friendships taint the holy nature of the sorts of
friendships. There are those parading their
superficial bonds ostentatiously, while the real
representatives of Abesha friendships are
sitting in quiet restaurants sharing a large bottle
of water and enjoying hearing about each other's
would be nice if all friendships could be as
beautiful as the ones that I refer to here;
unfortunately, they are starting further and further
away from that essence, especially in urban centres
and the higher up they go on the financial ladder.
Just as innocence is lost when adulthood rolls
around, so then is the beauty of an abesha
friendship lost when external factors come into the