“I discovered a mysterious country, Ethiopia”

Why this trip?

In order to discover the Coptic world of Ethiopia, I went to Abyssinia accompanied by about twenty people. We discovered a civilization three millennia old.

Leaving Paris by plane for Addis Ababa (the Ethiopian capital), our group made several visits. The program had been proposed by the pilgrimage service of the Diocese of Vannes.

In what conditions did the stay take place?

Accommodation was at the hotel. The plateau of Abyssinia is between 2,000 and 4,000 m. We passed some passes over 3,000 meters. The trips were by minibus, when the roads were motorable, or by plane to avoid the tracks.

What did you see discovered?

We went to see the monasteries of Lake Tana, at the sources of the Nile. Churches entirely painted with wall frescoes dating from the 16th to the 19th century were admired. A meeting with the peasants of a village gave rise to a nice sharing. They offered us the tef cake, a gluten free local cereal. Their living conditions are particularly rustic.

One Sunday morning, at 5 am, some participants attended the Coptic Mass. It lasted two hours and a half, shared between throbbing melodies and ritual movements. Other visits were planned with Catholic institutions, a training center for young blind people, a mixed secondary school and an orphanage.

The region that most caught your attention?

Lalibela, with its monolithic churches. These are rock-cut buildings, as found in Petra, Jordan. It is the main religious center of Ethiopia.

Further north, the city of Aksum has taken us even further back in history, with traces of one of the first Christian kingdoms in the fourth century. We even walked in the footsteps of even older civilizations in the kingdom of Sheba, with its impressive tombs and megaliths.

What impression did you leave the country?

The cohabitation of two very different worlds. Addis Ababa, with all its modernity, contrasts with a religious universe steeped in history.

The ritual practices seem to go back to the first centuries of Christianity. The Western world fascinates young people strongly tempted by emigration.

I made a documentary of almost an hour which will be screened at the cinema Le Celtic.

Monday, March 19, at 4:30 pm, screening of Jean-Yves Le Guével’s documentary at Le Celtic cinema in Baud. Free.