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The Scent of Eucalyptus: A Missionary Childhood in Ethiopia
by by Daniel Coleman
Binding: Paperback, First Edition edition, 300 pages
Publisher: Goose Lane Editions
Weight: 90
Dimension: H: 0.7 x L: 8.9 x W: 6 inches
ISBN:9780864923745

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Book Description:
A pink skinned, fair haired child of Canadian missionary parents, Daniel Coleman grew up with an ambivalent relationship to the country of his birth. He was clearly different from his Ethiopian playmates, but because he was born there and knew no other home, he was not completely foreign. Like the eucalyptus, a tree imported to Ethiopia from Australia in the late 19th century to solve a firewood shortage, he and his missionary family were naturalized transplants. As ferenjie, they endlessly negotiated between the culture they brought with them and the culture in which they lived. In The Scent of Eucalyptus, Coleman reflects on his experience of 'in between ness' amid Ethiopia's violent political upheavals. His intelligent and finely crafted memoir begins in the early 1960s, during the reign of Haile Selassie. It spans the king's dramatic fall from power in 1974, the devastating famines of the mid 1970s and early 1980s, and Mengistu Haile Mariam's brutal 20 year dictatorship. Through memoir and reflection, The Scent of Eucalyptus gives a richly textured view of missionary culture that doesn't yield to black and white analysis. Coleman has stepped back from the evangelical Christianity of his parents, although he respects their faith and works. At the same time, with unique double vision, he shows their constant negotiation of in between ness. At a simple level, they translated between ferenjie time and Ethiopian time Ethiopians follow the Julian calendar, they count thirteen months in a year, and they number the hours of the day beginning at dawn. At a more profound level, the missionaries' religious certitude assumed their superiority over their Ethiopian neighbours. During the Marxist revolution, diplomatic immunity kept them safe when close Ethiopian friends were imprisoned, tortured, and executed because of their missionary connections. Even the famine relief that poured into Ethiopia was two sided, giving Coleman and his family a taste of luxury in the midst of devastation.


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