Richard Dowden

Over the Mountains and Far Away

The Chains of Heaven: An Ethiopian Romance

By

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This is the land where the 1984 famine took place – the famine ‘of biblical proportions’, the phrase that Michael Buerk used to jab the suffering into our souls. It was a resonant allusion. We know this place. Almost every year since then the television cameras have been back to remind us, panning across the vast, harsh landscape of barren mountains, thatched huts and meagre fields. And we know Ethiopians too. Wiry little people dressed in white garments, with wrinkled faces and dark, patient eyes, tending their goats and sheep and hacking the soil with mattocks or ploughing with oxen. That is how Moses, Isaac and Jacob lived, and Ethiopians knew those names before they were known in most of Europe. Biblical is the word. 

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