A woman standing in front of a shop and next to a busy road
Menah Pratt (at lower left), the vice president for strategic affairs and diversity and a professor of education, stands along a busy road in Ethiopia. Photo courtesy of Menah Pratt.

The sun is setting over Ethiopia, and Menah Pratt, vice president for strategic affairs and diversity, turns to verse to describe the flurry of activity around her:

The only country on the continent that was not colonized
A place of fields,
Plains of grains,
Expansive yellows blending into sunrises and sunsets.
Teeming with Black bodies, masses moving through streets
With mules,
Carts and cars,
Smells of spices and sweat.
Home to Lalibela, a sacred site of 11 rock-hewn churches,
The vision of one man, born amidst honey bees,
Who took his hammer and chisel, day after day,
Week after week,
Month after month,
Year after year,
For 23 years, digging out churches from solid masses of stone,
Creating a sweetness of holiness,
A flavor lasting for 900 years.
Where Queen of Sheba, like Mary, birthed a nation
Where Emperor Haile Selassie ruling lands and lions
Founding a university at his palace after
Walking the golden fields and
Paying parents to send their children to school
So that minds could be trained, instead of hands for picking grain.
Red, yellow, and green
Shining like a 1000 stars
The humming of prayers rising in the early dawn
Welcomed me, like a child, back to her mother’s womb.