I will bear your suffering. I have never used a greeting with greater meaning in any of my personal correspondence. This the phrase that the Sidamo people use to greet one another. It is a privilege to expropriate something as simple as a greeting from a culture as diverse as Ethiopias. The Sidamo are neighbours of the Wolaita and live about 100 km from the Wolaita school in Soddo.
I have not heard of a greeting in the Wolaita culture that translates to “I will bear your suffering”. I try to think of my friends and loved ones who I may greet similarly. Are there any? The greeting is always reciprocated. Even if these are just words they still convey a sense of peace and one must not underestimate the depth of their meaning. It is amazing how much beauty there is to be learned from other cultures that we in turn may use at home.
Our weekend in Awassa ended with these thoughts. We made our way back to Soddo with our reclaimed luggage. Business as usual, half an hour of haggling over the price of our luggage, an hour of waiting for the bus to fill up with passengers, then having to switch buses altogether because no one had thought of doing a safety check before the buses departure until the bus was half full. Then to top it all off we had to make sure that we were not charged a second time for the transport of our luggage because the first driver was nowhere to be found and had disappeared with the money and the first bus. We were back in Soddo by eight o’clock that evening.