No, not Lucy, the earliest female for which we have bones, or the Queen of Sheba, or Sahle-Work Zewde, the President of Ethiopia.
Although all are celebrated examples of female power and contribution not just to Africa but the wider world.
No, my first lady of Ethiopia is the first Ethiopian lady I met… the graceful Meseret Tekalign.
Happy New Year
It was, of course Ethiopian New Year, Enkutatash… Happy Newer Year – from Ethiopia
And had we known each other before we would obviously have exchanged compliments… that we were looking years younger.
Seven years, of course, as our calendar is on a different time scale to the Ethiopians.
It was always a high point of the year to spend Ethiopian New Year with Meseret, Ethiopian Airlines’ Country Manager Ireland, and the Ethiopian community.
Hands up for Ethiopia
And eat with our hands, a type of pitta bread to scoop up the meats, rices and vegetables, all washed down with Ethiopian wine.
Before we watched the traditional coffee-making ceremony and sampled the coffee which I now only take out on special occasions.
I was entranced by Meseret as soon as I met her.
And she by me, obviously, and she even invited me to send a writer to Ethiopia to celebrate International Women’s Day.
I’m a woman!
When Ethiopian Airlines https://www.ethiopianairlines.com/aa put an entire female crew on from Addis Ababa to Washington Dulles via Dublin.
Always putting others first I asked if I could blag it, wear a dress and pass myself off as a woman.
After all being of the Scottish variety I’m no stranger to wearing a skirt.
I was, of course, happy to support such a wonderful idea.
A long history
And to promote this land of mystery and awe￼, a country that has no fewer than nine UNESCO heritage sites.
Meseret is heading back to Addis with the good wishes of all who she took to her heart over the past few years.
We’re glad she enjoyed the craic as she revealed:
‘Taking up my first post in Europe was something I relished and will always look back on it fondly.
‘I feel lucky it was Ireland where the people lived up to the hype of being the friendliest in Europe even in business.’
And, of course, she and us feel years younger for the experience.
Pride of lions
And, of course, if all this talk of Africa has tempted you then remember that Ethiopian command’s the lion’s share of the Pan-African market.
And talking of lions and Africa, the two go hand in paw.
I’m working my way up the continent. We’ll meet again, Meseret.