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Pole to Pole

Day 77: Shedi to Gondar

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleWe stop at a village for refreshment. We buy some tea while our guards sit talking quietly with colleagues. I'm impressed that they don't swagger or behave loudly or aggressively. They sit there quite gravely, as if prematurely aged by their responsibility as liberators.

There are casualties of war. The children have had no schooling here for several years. A number of them are pitifully thin. Often their heads have been shaved, and their pointed faces and big eyes bring to mind pictures of concentration camp victims. All this in surroundings that resemble Switzerland.

Graham sees cause for optimism, 'The former government structure was one of total control of the whole country . . . they had their cadres in every village . . . neighbours were encouraged to spy on each other . . . these rebels fought to get rid of that. At every level people are more free than they were before.'

By mid-afternoon we have reached the village of Aykel, which is entered through a tall, ungraceful metal arch bearing slogans like 'People's Power' and 'Ethiopia Shall Be the Home of Heavy Industry'. Below them a cluster of wrechedly poor children gather around us.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 77
  • Country/sea: Ethiopia
  • Place: Aykel
  • Book page no: 166

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