Laska is the administrative centre of the Basketo Special Woreda and the place where I live when I am in the field. This post introduces a new category of my blog. The “Laska” category is meant to present the landmarks of this small town, its central meeting points, hidden spots, frequented sites, buildings that stand out and places that are easily overlooked.
Everybody arriving at Laska will pass by or go across the market square in Laska Simba* – and they might not notice that they are actually about to pass the only roundabout of the Basketo Special Woreda!
It was not until I was once dropped off in Laska by a very sharp-eyed and rule-abiding driver who drove around the fenced circle in the middle of the square that I realised that there is in fact a roundabout. In the middle of the square there is a grassy and, somewhat, circular spot fenced with barbed wire (to protect the grass from hungry goats and sheep). The fence surrounds a painting depicting a Baskeet traditional authority (kaati). As you can see below in the enlarged fragment of the picture, the kaati is accompanied by his assistant (god), who holds a shield (gitimi) above his head to protect him from the sun. Both men carry spears (toora) in their hands.**
If one looks very closely, one can discover (on another picture) the roundabout sign next to the fenced circle:
The Laska Simba market square bustles with activity! The square is the site of the small Wednesday, Friday and Sunday food markets. In the late afternoons, the square is regularly turned into a volleyball field. In the evenings, women and children sit along the edge of the square to sell “fast food“, e.g. roasted maize cobs, boiled sweet potatoes, boiled yam and roasted peanuts. People gather on this square for processions on holidays. The market square is also a place where Isuzu lorries look out for passengers for the trips to Galila, Dime, Malo or Gofa.*** In the early mornings just after sunrise, the square fills with women and children who sell firewood and maize stalks.
The bundles of dry maize stalks are bought by the townspeople: the stalks are used as fuel for the preparation of uupa. (Uupa, or እንጀራ ənjära in Amharic, is a large sour pancake prepared on a clay griddle above an open fire.)