Maskarm Haile is an Ethiopian traveller who crossed from Cape to Cairo overland in approximately 9months. She put her experiences in a book. Here she shares about her experience
Abyssinian Nomad is the first African woman to write a book about her Cape to Cairo journey over land. She shares her experience about love,loss and adventure:
1. Who is Maski and why does she call herself the Abyssinian Nomad?
Maski is a seeker, lifelong learner who truly believes in the magic of the world and human around the world.
2. You traveled from Cape to Cairo, what made you do that?
Growing up in Ethiopia, I was lucky enough to have friends from different parts of Africa which allowed me to dream and also travel through their stories, arts, colourful fabrics and I promised myself one day I’m going to be crossing Africa.
3. During your journey did you ever feel like quitting? What kept you motivated?
So many times…. Life tests you even more harder when you say YES to your dream, but if you keep trusting, pushing and following your heart, life shows you it’s magic!!
4. On your journey what did you learn about women in Africa? How safe did you feel?
Before I came back to Africa to travel, I was just a backpacker travelling around the world. But In Africa, I was suddenly just a woman. My dream, the voice didn’t mean anything unless I fought for it every day. Explaining my intentions, defending my existence, justifying the choice I made in life is truly exhausting but the freedom that comes from that priceless.
How safe did you feel? I feel mostly safe in the world, some places a little more and someplace less. But that doesn’t stop me from venturing out and seeing it for myself. After all, if I watch the news every day, I might just decide to stay in my room for the rest of my life.
5. Most Africans do not travel even inside their own countries citing expensive costs of resorts, but you have been to 16 countries, how much did it cost you?
Resorts aren’t the things that come to my mind when I think of travelling. Travelling is exhausting physically, mentally, financially, spiritually, emotionally, it tests your integrity, your belief system, your world, your ability to think, do, live but that only happens for me when I’m on a dirty bus for over 30 hours with a complete stranger, the lessons from that ride were priceless. I travelled Cape to Cairo 10 years ago, my biggest expense was Visa because I hitchhiked, couch surfed, and ate street food.
I experienced the wonders of the Kalahari Desert, the Okovango Desert, Victoria Falls, the Valley of the Kings, Giza, taking the Tazara train through the Ngorongoro Crater, white water rafting on the River Nile, snorkeling in the Red Sea.Abyssinian Nomad
6. You are the first Black woman to travel from Cape to Cairo and write a memoir, how easy was is it to publish your book?
I lived most of my life wanting to read a travel story written by an African about travelling in Africa. Not only just to read a story but I wanted that woman to give me permission to go out and follow my heart. But the inspiration for me came from women in the UK “On foot through Africa” And then I decided to write the book because I felt responsible for that one girl/boy who is waiting for my story to set them free.
The book writing and publishing world is new to me. I felt if I keep waiting for someone else to believe in my story to publish it, it might take a long time. So I decided to self publish. The same way I din’t wait for someone to approve my dream to travel or find the right person to accompany me.
7. How did you overcome criticism, justifying your absence from family and friends for 9 months?
Unfortunately in our culture to say I’m going to follow my heart, to make my dream come true is considered as being selfish. I’m blessed with great family and friends around the world. But It took lots of heartaches and letting go to create a kind of relationship that was based on love and trust.
8.How have you managed sharing your private life with strangers? (Photos and personal life experiences)
Though I did most of my travelling way before the internet got so popular, my life has been an open book. The world has given me and shown me anything but it’s best through the strangers that are now my friends/family around the world. If I share my true story, that will encourage others to do the same.
9. “So many problems come from these borders,” said Miyere Miyandazi. How did you feel about borders after completing your journey?
Oh, I do have a love and hate relationship with border crossing. I guess I mention that in Abyssinian Nomad. But there is the undeniable truth, if you are a true traveller, you know border crossing is a sacred path on its own.
Border officials accused me of being a spy, believing that the tampons I was carrying were some kind of spying device.Maskam Haile
10. If you met a child and had a few minutes, what would you tell them?
That DREAM you keep having, it’s not crazy!! Keep trusting it!
11. You conquered Africa but yours is a nomadic soul, where to next from here?
I’m only 114 countries which means I still have a long way to see the world. Iran, Afghanistan…
To get in touch with Maski: