"Ethiopia, wow! It single handedly changed my perception of Africa. My mind was polluted with experiences of bumpy roads, dry and arid landscapes, and armed ‘corrupt’ police officials. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as that, but it's how my teenage memory chooses to recall it. Ethiopia by contrast was utopia. The roads were smooth and the scenery was beautiful - fertile and green.
My trip, for SOS Children’s Our Africa project, was made even more wonderful by the amazing people I met. Chief Reporters, Addisu and Habtam, honorary driver, Mesfin (who nearly ended our lives after narrowly making a 12+ point turn on the narrowest point of road on the Entoto mountain) and our ‘Captain’, Hunde, were just up my street - full of jokes and were always happy.
Every morning I was up with a burst of energy and enough adrenaline to last a year. The people of Ethiopia are truly kind, patient and beautiful. However, with so much energy, my stamina was put to the test on one particular day, 27th September, the day of the ‘Meskel’ celebration.
Waking up in the morning, I knew there was a ‘party’ later on in the day, but my mind played down what to expect. I anticipated a small-scale local ceremony with a few drumming and dancing performances. I was wrong. Meskel was breathtaking. It’s difficult for me to describe the atmosphere through words and to compare it to anything in the UK is impossible. The Meskel festival is a religious holiday and in Addis Ababa, the celebrations centre around Meskel Square. The show was spectacular, but imagine being right at the heart of it with thousands of people looking towards us.
It meant so much to our chief reporter Addisu, I was so happy for him. Check out this video, Addis Ababa was on fire! Literally!"
So what is Our Africa?
Our Africa is as lively and energetic as Kevin's experiences! It started out as a project designed to show what it's really like to grow up in Africa – the flipside of the coin from the images of drought, famine, disease and conflict we're so used to from the news.
How did we do it? Well, what else could we do but turn to the children who inhabit Africa themselves? That's why we handed out camcorders to children across the continent and asked them to shoot their everyday experiences. We were astonished by what they brought back – and we think you will be too!