Drink the Last Beer: Based On True story

By any measure, Ethiopia is a big country be it historical, Natural resource, population wise, geographically or in whatever measure we take in. Sometimes, it is hard to accept the country stays poor (material wise) given the huge potential we sit on. Labor (a fraction of 100 million people), resource (Land, water) and capital , essentially driven from the first two, are the three most important factors required for development, and we have enough of them. 

Yet, we remained at the rock bottom in the development ranking. Why? 

For example, we proudly claim (rightly so) that Ethiopia is among the top tourism destinations but tourism’s contribution to the country’s GDP is well below the figure in neighboring Kenya. Given its history, there is no doubt that there happen to be foreigners, intellectuals, who explored the country upside down and understands it well more than the nationals think we know our country and ourselves.   There is no question that the likes of Lucy, coffee, athletics, Ethiopian Airlines, the tremendous social values, UNESCO registered historical, cultural and natural sites, the beautiful women,and Adwa are the country’s positive images on the international stages. But ordinary foreign folks could barely locate the country on the global map.    

Whenever I meet a foreigner who come to Ethiopia recently, I have a habit of asking them how they find Ethiopia, trying to understand what their expectation was before they landed and after a few days in the country. Their response is mostly different with a positive outlook and experience once they stayed here.  In fact, the mismatch in the expectation has been a reason to effectively promote the country at the visitors’ own will .

To explain my case, let me introduce you to my colleague, Martin, who came to Ethiopia to support a project where both of us were members.  Martin is a British (white) national but reside in Africa (Botswana) for more than 20 years. Through a recommendation from common acquaintances, the project manager based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, approached him if he can be interested. Before that date, Martin knew Ethiopia from afar. After a few consideration, he agreed to the terms and decided to come to Ethiopia. After his final decision to fly to Ethiopia, he had a get together with his families and friends. As he recalled and told me, ‘have the last beer’ was the catchword as a good by gesture as they were joking and drinking together. 

I asked why? 

His answer, ” I was flying from Botswana and I knew Botswana is relatively a dry and hotter(arid and semi-arid) land and in GDP terms Botswana is much better than Ethiopia and I immediately associated Ethiopia as a country drier than Botswana. Jokingly, my friends were telling me that I might not have beer in Ethiopia and , honestly, I was seriously concerned. I thought I might not see rain until I go back to Botswana”. In fact, he showed me that he came with his many shorts and open pack outs to prove his points. 

He finally arrived Bole international airport and as he passed by the airport, he confronted with many beer advertisements and he started to be shocked perceiving Ethiopia as such a remote place. The third day, coincidentally, he traveled to the Western part of Ethiopia (Nekemte area) to visit the site which was under construction by the time. To his surprise, the heavy rain forbade him getting in to the site and returned to Addis Ababa and it was by then he realized that everything he knew about Ethiopia was disproportionately wrong.   


I also recalled a colleague who came from Egypt with a bag full of medicines for fear of Malaria. He was ashamed to tell me that he perceived Addis Ababa as hot and low land and came with full of tablets, as if he could not find any in Addis. As he walked around the city, he came to see men and women eating raw meat (Kurt), and he immediately shared the picture to his friends back home. Their feedback, ” you are next’, and advised him to fly back home ASAP. 

If a person from a country (Egypt) so close by and where its governement measures every drop of water in Ethiopia’s skies and actively follows every political manuvering in the country (Ethiopia) 24/7 has such minimum understanding, what do you expect from others. Unfortunately, especially in today’s world order, such little knowledges about a country make or break peoples choices to invest or travel across borders and it does matter in economic and political terms.

Such stories are common to hear. Ordinary folks around the world, with an exception of citizens from a few countries, can barely locate Ethiopia on the map, and when they do, it is for the wrong reasons. Most of us, Ethiopians, are not helping either. Although we as people are genuinely proud of our country, we need to recognize that there is a huge mismatch how Ethiopia has been perceived on a global frame limiting its potential be it as an investment (FDI inflow) or tourism destination. The more we enlighten we are, the more we promote the country we love drawing every economic parameter inward.  


Beyond history and natural wonders, we have countless Social Values as a country that we can share to the world, yet diminishing without even recognizing them ourselves.  I am not saying Ethiopia is as such less known at the world stage but sugesting that it does not hold its place  as much as it should and its citizens at all levels need to step up the effort of educating themselves and in consequence others. Because it matters!

End.  One final Thought: What ever we do to succeed,

Showing Up Matters

We write and Podcast on career growth & personal development and inspire the youth to take action. 

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