Lions and Other Commonalities

There are more lions guarding buildings of all kinds in Wenzhou China, than in all of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, capital city of the former seat of the Conquering Lion of Judah.

They are usually carved of stone (although a “gold” pair have been seen), of varying levels of detail and grandeur, but always of two kinds. Both have their jaws open, menacingly exposing their stone-sharp teeth. One has a mini-me version of itself resting atop it’s front left paw, and the other holds an orb stopped under it’s front left paw. Same orb has been spotted in its mouth, at another location. It remains to be discovered why many a lion is beloved for so many an entrance.

Addis still has Wenzhou beat when it comes to the broken glass method of guarding your home. Shards of broken bottles, sharp side up, fastened in dried cement along the tops of the thick walls that enclose private homes and compounds. There is really no better way to advertise that you hold much within that is imported and costly.

Hanging laundry is another connecting thread between the two. Though we Ethiopians tend to be a bit more discreet about our undies – not counting the loud red bra hanging solo form the first floor balcony line of a CMC apartment. We can always attribute that to a foreigner. That’s it. When it doubt, chalk it up to a foreigner.

Pedestrian-crossing overpasses. A definite recent export from China to Ethiopia, though the Chinese are less lazy about tackling the many steps involved, not to mention the added mileage, although not when it comes to actual human migration from one land to another. Crossing from one side of the street, however, is another thing. We’ll still take the quicker, deadlier way.

Speaking of such things, I never expected to find so much Africa in China, least of all in Wenzhou. More Ghanians, South Africans, Kenyans have crossed my path than I ever imagined would. I hear of the presence of more – Ghanaians, Nigerians and Cameroonians – in the outskirts of the city. They’re here for business, apparently. No need to inquire exactly what business. It’s always import/export; heavier on the latter than the former, if not entirely so. What is there to import besides your sorry self and your yearnings for home, which begin as soon as you get here, though you may choose to keep them entirely to yourself for the whole duration of your stay, however long that may be.

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