7 Oct 2012

A park and sports ground for the children of Akaki

Going back to the subject of the Mediterránea park and sports ground in Akaki, Ethiopia.

As you may remember, we came up with the idea for this project several months ago. The idea was to build a park and sports ground for the children and young people of Akaki, as there are no facilities of this kind in the area.

In fact, there are no playgrounds for children in the whole country, only a beautiful park in front of the Hilton which children are not allowed to use because, according to some people, there is a risk of terrorism due to its proximity to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Other people say that a small part of the park can be used if paid for in advance, although we have never seen any children playing there.

Akaki is the poorest sub-city of Addis and we launched the idea of the park and sports ground several months ago and we were incredibly lucky to find Marc in Valencia who was more than willing to get involved with the project.
We were also very lucky in that the Woreda (the local authority) have given us permission to use a plot of land of around 16000 square metres which is mostly flat and surrounded by trees – an ideal place.

Marc has really got himself involved and this is not going to be the ordinary standard European park we initially had in mind, but it’s going to be a thematic park based on the story of the Kebra Nagast, book of The Glory of the Kings of Ethiopia.

The Kebra Nagast is considered to be a sacred book, not only by the Orthodox Christians in Africa, but also by the Rastafarians in the Caribbean and all over the world.

In the Amharic language ‘Kebra Nagast’ means ‘The Glory of the Kings’, due to the fact that this ‘Secret Bible’ narrates the love story between King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba: they had a child named Menelik I, destined to be proclaimed the Emperor, but above all he was said to have brought the Ark of the Covenant [called ‘Zion’] from Jerusalem to Ethiopia, where it is still believed to be guarded in Aksum.

The Kebra Nagast is a compendium of diverse transcriptions of sacred Zionist writings based on the Old Testament, along with Rabbinic texts, traditional legends (mainly Ethiopian and Coptic, and also from Ancient Egypt), and commentaries from the Koran and stories from Arabic traditions (from Palestine and Syria in particular).

It therefore reunites the three leading religions of Ethiopia which is a profoundly religious country.

Thanks to the creative genius of Marc – with contributions from his wife Leoni – the park will consist of a zigurat (temple of Mesopotamia, kingdom of Solomon), the castle of Solomon (where the meeting between the Queen of Sheba and Solomon took place, the fruit of which was their son Menelik!) and the Ark of the Covenant, which will all be converted into playground attractions.

Further attractions will include a crocodile pit with a hanging bridge, a maze, the nomadic “blue men” of the desert, singing birds...There will also be a sports area for young people with a football ground, athletics track of more than 800 metres, warming up and stretching area, and an area with fixed board games. And benches so that the mothers or teachers can sit down, and whatever other exciting ideas Marc has for the land.

Marc traveled out on 14th September for a stay of possibly 3 months.

The park is a beautiful project which without a doubt will change the daily lives of the children and youth of Akaki.