Ethiopia

Addis Ababa
Vase planted by Benti Banach on February 4, 2015

“I’m a tourleader, travelling to Ethiopia with a group of tourists once a year. Ethiopia was still a blind spot on the Vase map, so burying a vase in this at times turbulent country was pretty overdue. Being the only Buddhist around, I had to accomplish it rather secretely and on my own. (By the way, ‘buda’ in Ethiopia means ‘the evil eye’, so better not to mention one is a follower of Buddha).  I had to find a quiet place, most probably undisturbed within the next decades. I preferred the capital Addis Abeba, since this is where all the major decisions for the country are taken – be it environmentally, economically or militarily. But Addis is developing rapidly and construction sites are all over. I chose the Ghion Park, of Ghion Hotel, right behind Meskel Square, the central place where all major festivities, parades etc. take place. Possibly the most famous hotel in the country, Ghion is the venue for concerts, wedding parties, conferences. Being an institute on its own, I guess Ghion and its park won’t easily be demolished. The park, by the way, is only accessible for visitors of the hotel and its’ events.   During the daytime, the park is maintained by several gardeners. One month ago, before my trip started, I asked a guard if I could borrow a spade.  At that time, it was the Ethiopian Orthodox Christmas, so all the gardeners were on leave, and the shed with the tools was closed.

Of course, he asked what I needed the spade for.  “For digging,” I said.  “Ah, you’re an archeologist!,”  since the country is familiar with important archeological sites.”  “Something like that,” I replied.  The next day the trip with my group started, so I couldn’t complete the task. The Vase travelled with me for almost one month, until we returned to Addis Ababa. Before we reached the hotel, I bought a loose blade, and one kilometre further on the road I found a stick to make the perfect spade.  I sneaked out of the hotel at 23.00 hr – after having done some prayers.  It was almost a full moon, so plenty of light available. I was absolutely sure I was alone in this part of the park. I found a remote place, covered by dead leaves. The soil was dry and hard as a stone, and full of sturdy roots. Untouched ground for many decades, I felt. At a certain moment I thought I would dig up the remains of Haile Selassie. I kept digging and digging, and made only slowly progress. But progress I still made. The pit, however became narrower, too narrow for the spade. I continue digging with my room key.  And later on I remember I had a razor knife with which I digged the last stretch. Finally I hit impervious roots, I had to stop at approximately 90 cms depth, which I hope is deep enough. I placed the Vase, took some pictures, filled the pit and covered it with leaves. I sealed it off with a Dedication Prayer and went back to my room.  At daylight, I returned to the spot, saw that my work was totally invisible and took some final pictures.”