Ethiopians bloom 2015 as Americans reflect terror of 9/11

Desta Meghoo.
Desta Meghoo.
Photo by Vinette K. Pryce

Two opposing recollections on separate continents will mark Sept. 11 tributes in the United States of America and Africa’s north eastern states of Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The latter nations will welcome Enkutash – ‘gift of jewels’ on that date to usher the new year 2015, a new season and their cultural heritage.

Legend has it that King Solomon of Jerusalem gave the Queen of Sheba jewels during her visit to Jerusalem about 3,000 years ago. Allegedly, her return to Ethiopia after receiving the gifts coincided with the New Year celebration in September.

Wikipedia notes — “Ethiopians believe that the month of September has different sign that explain why it should be celebrated as the beginning of a new year. Blooming flowers, sunny days, and a generally pleasant weather reign during the month.”

“It is a time when people leave the rainy, foggy and thunderous months in Ethiopia’s winter period and move on to better days.”

Ethiopians will usher in the year 2015 which according to the nation’s calendar, dates seven years behind the Gregorian which much of the world ascribes.

In addition, Ethiopia ‘takes its inspiration from the idea that Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden seven years before they were expelled for their sins.”

On that joyous day there, Ethiopians mark the date with revelry, food, family and hope for future prosperity.

However, it is also marked by girls carrying bright yellow flowers known as adey abeba and grows in abundance there to reach full maturity only from September to November.

As a token of appreciation people regularly respond to the girls’ overtures by gifting them bread prepared for the holidays or with money.

At the horn of Africa where the Meskel flower is the daffodil, members of the Ethiopian Orthodox church commemorate the discovery of the True Cross with adornments of the yellow blooms which are in abundance then.

Ethiopian Yeshi Abebe.
Ethiopian Yeshi Abebe. Photo by Vinette K. Pryce

Ironically, since 2001 in the name of the Daffodil Project, more than 400,000 volunteers here have planted more than nine million daffodil bulbs across the five boroughs. It is the largest volunteer effort in NYC history and its mission is to create a living memorial to 9/11 victims.

The intent is also to promote stewardship of parks and civic engagement which seeded in September annually sprouts beautiful yellow blooms in the spring.

Reflections of the heinous attack on America on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001 will recall the terror that consumed the nation when suicide attackers seized four US passenger jets and crashed two into two New York skyscrapers, killing thousands of people.

Reports were that fire and smoke “consumed buildings trapping people on the upper floors and wreathing the city in smoke. In less than two hours two 110-storey towers collapsed in massive clouds of dust.”

On the anniversary, somber ceremonies will dominate activities in memory of the 2, 977 lost souls who perished when hijackers caused the deaths of 246 passengers and crew aboard four planes.

In addition to those casualties 2,606 people died at Twin Towers and 125 at the Pentagon.

Citizens of 77 countries were among the casualties.

And tragically New York City lost 441 first responders.

The attack remains one of the most traumatic events of the century not only for Americans but also for the world.

Twenty-one years later, Americans will remember the tragedy of the infamous date by honoring the deceased with a televised, national, roll call of names beginning at 8:46 a.m. when the first plane hit the North Tower. The second missile crashed into the South Tower at 9:03 a.m.

At 9:37 a.m. the third plane destroyed the western façade of the Pentagon —the headquarters of the US military in Washington D.C. The fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania at 10:03 after passengers fought back. It is believed that the hijackers intended to attack the Capitol Building.

“Everybody in the world knows about the tragedy in America, we all knew when it happened but at the same time I feel sad on that holy day because I am not at home with my family,” Yeshi Abebe, an Ethiopian, who moved to America four years ago said. “My mind is still in Ethiopia where we cook traditional breads and spend time with family.”

Prof. Desta Meghoo, a Jamerican who repatriated to Ethiopia in 2005 and lives in Addis Ababa concurred saying “the date has two separate meanings for me. I can never forget what happened in New York,” she explained.

At the time a Florida resident, she explained — “I was on a plane returning from Durban, South Africa that day when we were hurriedly rushed from changing planes in Atlanta. With no explanations we were forced to exit.”

According to the then delegate to a United Nations conference attended by Rev. Jesse Jackson, Cuban President Fidel Castro, TV host Gil Noble, activist Elombe Brath, Jamaican diplomat Dudley Thompson and world leaders, “it was serious times, devastating! I can never forget.”

The experience “I had that day will never be forgotten.”

“But for me, and the way I deal with it is that Sept. 11 is about Ethiopian heritage and culture, We’ve been celebrating for a couple of millennials. The two are completely different things…not at odds in any way, shape or form.

How can you not remember? It is a new season and about Ethiopia …culturally spiritually and otherwise and doesn’t dampen in any way.”

Here and there, Sept. 11 is a date to remember.

 Catch You on the Inside!

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