10 things that make Ethiopia extraordinary
 Best Italian restaurant outside Italy
According to Bob Geldof, the Buzzing Bedlam on Mahatma Gandhi Street in Addis Ababa is the best Italian restaurant outside Italy. An Italian soldier, Francesco Castelli, founded the modest-looking eatery at the end of World War Two and since then it has gained a global profile thanks to endorsement from celebrity diners such as Bob Geldof, Bono and Brad and Angelina.
 Good coffee
Like great Italian food, coffee is one of the legacies of the Italian occupation of Ethiopia during World war two. Mussolini’s men ensured that an Italian-style espresso machine was installed in most cafes, restaurants and even dilapidated roadside shacks. Ethiopians love their coffee and take pride in the fact that the plant’s invigorating effects were first discovered in the Oromia region of the country.
 Chinese roads
Ethiopia also excels in roads compared with other Africans nations. In Ethiopia, the quality tarmac comes courtesy of huge Chinese investment, as in 2009, it was estimated that China had poured $900m into Ethiopia’s infrastructure. This figure has since increased exponentially. That highway linking Ethiopia with Kenya, via the perilous Marsabit route stands out as an example and Ethiopia’s incredible mountain-top highway vistas are wonderful too.
 Tank remains
More than any other country in the world, Ethiopia is littered with burned-out remnants of the Eritrean-Ethiopian War that raged between 1998 and 2000. Seen throughout the country, these defunct war machines stand as forbidding reminders of Ethiopia’s troubled past and double as fun climbing frames for local children.
 Underground churches
Ethiopia sags under the weight of its cultural treasures, such as those at the Unesco World Heritage site Lalibela. In the late 12th century, Gebre Mesqel Lalibela had 13 churches carved out of solid rock. Ethiopia is one of the oldest Christian nations in the world.
 Martian landscapes
Located in the tumultuous Afar region on the Eritrean border, the Danakil Depression is strewn with volcanoes and salt lakes and is one of the hottest places on the planet. National Geographic called it the cruellest place on Earth. It is also one of the few places in Ethiopia where you shouldn’t travel alone and most people go with an escort or in a convoy.
 Men-only monasteries
Just off the main road between Lalibela and Aksum lies Debre Damo, a monastery that can be reached only by scrambling up a 15-meter-high cliff face. There is, however, a discriminatory door policy as only men are permitted to make the perilous ascent to the monastery. That rule doesn’t apply just to female humans as even livestock of the fairer sex apparently risk distracting the monks from holy contemplation. Men who brave the climb can enjoy stunning vistas, as well as a chance to eye some of the most ancient Christian scripture in Africa.
 The Ark of the Covenant
According to enthusiastic local sources, the historic town of Aksum, which served as the focal point of the Aksumite Empire is the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. Unfortunately, no one is actually allowed to see it. The closest you can get is by paying a few dollars to one of the tracksuit-clad men posturing as guards outside the temple where the ark is purportedly kept. Luckily, Aksum is home to plenty of ancient tombs and other monuments, which makes the drive to one of Ethiopia’s northernmost towns worthwhile, ark or not.
 Roadside Rastafarians
The Rastafari movement is most often associated with Jamaica but it was the Ethiopian Haile Selassie who inspired the religion. Ethiopians are proud of their former ruler’s supposed status as Jesus incarnate and some have adopted the dress and lifestyle habits of their Jamaican counterparts, which makes meeting them in the Simien Mountains all the more bizarre. These roadside Rastas are a friendly bunch, who will happily talk visitors through points of interest in the area. They even narrate tales of high cliffs off which Italian soldiers were thrown during Mussolini’s occupation.
 A fairy tale kingdom
British and Dutch colonial buildings attract the most architectural attention in East Africa but Ethiopia again stands out as the only country on the continent with its own fairy tale castles. Aside from a few eye-catching art deco buildings left over from the Italian occupation, the castles of Fasilides, Iyasu and Mentwab, in the former imperial capital of Gondar, are structures that stay in the mind.
Check all this oput here: http://travel.cnn.com/10-milestones-ethiopian-road-trip-938016
Meanwhile, Nigerian Watch has been looking at the leadership Ethiopia plays on the African continent and it is a first in many ways. Quite ironic that the giant of Africa and the historical capital of Africa got to meet in the world Cup play-off:
10 things that make Ethiopia the pride to Africa
(1) It is the original home of arabica coffee
(2) It is the home of the Marie Theresa coin. Ethiopia was the first African nation to have a formal currency
(3) It is the home of the queen of Bathsheba. Along with Egypt, is the only other African nation to be mentioned in the bible.
(4) Ethiopia has given Africa too many world class athletes who have done us proud on the global stage including Meseret Defar, Haile Gebrselassie, Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba
(5) Ethiopia has always been the headquarters of the African Union
(6) Italy did Africa immensely proud when it defeated the Italians in the Battle of Adowa on March 1 1896. It was the first time ever that an African army routed a colonising European set of usurpers
(7) Ethiopia was the only African nation not formally colonised buy a European power. Yes Italy occupied it between 1935 and 1941 but that was more of an occupation than colonisation
(8) Do you know that during World War Two, black Americans lined up to go and fight for Emperor Haile Selassie? During the occupation, Italian-Americans to their shame lined up to fight for the fascist dictator Mussolini, while negro Americans queued to fight against colonialism. Watch this video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtxL3idYS6k
(9) In 1936, Emperor Haile Selassie became the first African head of state to address the League of Nations (The precursor of the United Nations) when he addressed the assembly on 12 May 1936. Introduced by the president of the assembly as His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor of Ethiopia, his speech made him an icon for anti-fascists around the world and Time magazine named him Man of the Year.
(10) Haile Selassie introduced Ethiopia’s first written constitution on 16 July 1931, providing for a bicameral legislature. This was the first such constitution for Africans by Africans. Not perfect, the constitution kept power in the hands of the nobility but it did establish democratic standards among the nobility, envisaging a transition to democratic rule, saying the status quo would prevail until the people are in a position to elect themselves.