In the Ethiopian coffee ceremony, the coffee is roasted, ground and served in front of special guests. The ceremony is such a sacred tradition that Ethiopians living in Kenya, who make their own coffee instead of drinking local brews, perform it for their families and guests to stay connected to their roots.
NAIROBI, KENYA – Woizero Isul, 31, is a housewife from Ethiopia who lives with her husband and two children in one room in a large, modern flat in Kilimani, a leafy green suburb of Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city. She says they plan to live in Kenya for five years before moving to Germany to join relatives who live there.
Isul barely speaks English, so her husband of seven years, who easily communicates in English, gladly agrees to translate.
“There are lots of Ethiopians living in this community,” she says. “They all seem to concentrate in this neighborhood, possibly why we have several Ethiopian shops, orthodox churches and restaurants such as the most popular, Habesha.”
Many Ethiopians who visit Kenya say that Habesha meals remind them of home because it serves “injera,” an Ethiopian staple food similar to flatbread.
She says that the house her family lives in has five bedrooms, but because of the high cost of living in a foreign country, she and her spouse pay partial rent for one of the bedrooms. The other four bedrooms and living room are rented by other Ethiopians or Eritreans. They share a common bathroom, toilet and kitchen area.
“It’s cheaper this way,” says Woizero Isul’s husband, Isul Bekele Sr., 34. “We would rather share a house with friends and family than live in the slums of Nairobi. We get additional help from our relatives now living abroad. We hope to join them in the near future.”