BAHIR DAR, ETHIOPIA—We have travelled just a few kilometres outside of town, but it feels like we’ve driven back in time — all the way back to the Old Testament. At first I think we’re looking at some sort of circus or carnival, with people hanging out by a sort of big-top tent under colourfully embroidered umbrellas, but then Tesfaw Girmay, my guide, mentions the Ark of the Covenant.
Once a year, he says, they move it, a hallowed replica of the actual artifact, out from the church across the road and set it inside a white tent emblazoned with a red cross, in this field, where people come to be baptized and pray. Walking closer, I see that a few have white ash on their foreheads.
“It’s a cross,” Girmay says. “People believe it will protect them from evil.” read more