Defying the Norm: Embracing Time-Honored Traditions

Dec 30 , 2023
By Eden Sahle

My journey into parenthood unfolded against the backdrop of a culture that values the act of visiting others in moments of joy and sorrow. It was during my postpartum days that I truly experienced the depth of hospitality after my wedding which was shortly after my father's funeral.

The echoes of ululations and heartfelt congratulations reverberated through our home as family, relatives, friends, and neighbours streamed in to celebrate this momentous occasion. The air was thick with the aroma of freshly prepared meals and the laughter of those who had come to share in our joy. The house, once a sanctuary for two, now buzzed with the energy of a community united in celebration.

My husband, a social butterfly by nature, revelled in the joy of gatherings and hosting others. His enthusiasm for communal celebrations was infectious to me, a more private individual. I soon found myself swept up in the warmth of shared moments.

Generosity flowed like a river. Our home was filled with gifts, each one a testament to the love and support that surrounded us. From precious metals to practical baby essentials, our family and friends lightened our load in a way that was both overwhelming and heartwarming. It was as if the collective embrace formed a protective cocoon around our growing family.

Amidst the chaos of visitors and the flurry of emotions that come with a newborn, there was a serene undercurrent of support. My mother-in-law crossed the Atlantic to impart her wisdom while I felt comforted to have my best friend from Europe with me.

Ethiopia is rich with the spirit of community and traditions. However, the road to blissful parenthood was not without its challenges. While some guests brought an abundance of joy, others inadvertently tested the delicate balance we sought. Some expected to be entertained for hours, their enthusiasm sometimes bordering on overwhelming. Arguments about current affairs, topics best left outside the haven of our home, erupted amid our most intimate moments, waking our precious little one from her naps.

The struggle to find a socially acceptable line of communication became a recurring theme, as I grappled with the need for rest and the desire to be a gracious host. As I nursed my daughter, I encountered the complexities of privacy and the expectations of hospitality. A simple request for a moment of solitude was met with varied reactions. Some understood the need for privacy, while others dismissed it, asserting that my daughter should become accustomed to louder sounds.

The tears shed in moments of frustration were balanced by the overwhelming joy that came with each visit. It became a delicate line of setting boundaries and expressing needs, a lesson in navigating the intricacies of cultural expectations and personal well-being.

One particular weekend, our home played host to over 60 people. The once cosy haven transformed into a bustling space which came with a stark contrast to my baby's comfort.

Medical professionals emphasised the vulnerability of newborns, urging caution in the face of infectious risks. The joy of shared moments needed to be balanced with a commitment to safeguarding our daughter's fragile immune system. As we gently communicated our need for limited contact and hygiene practices, we found some guests responding with understanding and care while others challenged our decision.

We embraced the responsibility of setting boundaries to protect the sanctity of our new family amidst the warmth of our community. The joy of newborn snuggles was not diminished; rather, it was enhanced by a commitment to the health and well-being of our baby.

I am filled with gratitude for the rich tapestry of Ethiopian traditions that guided us. Yet, I believe visits need to be kept short, allowing moments of solitude to bond with newborns as new parents need time to rest and adjust.

PUBLISHED ON Dec 30,2023 [ VOL 24 , NO 1235]

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at

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