Shashemene, the capital of Rastafarianism in Africa, was on route to the Kenyan border. I took the opportunity to check out the Banana Gallery and chat to a few of the residents of the 12 Lions Rasta community.
The Banana Gallery is a simple, rustic one room gallery in the artist, Banda Payne’s house. He left St Vincent in the Caribbean in 1994 and has been a local resident ever since, never having returned home. As Banda says “Africa be his home now”.
He produces all natural art work, creating images using the different colours found in the husk of banana trees. We had a chat on his porch for a few hours as he sat with his corgi named judgment and smoked herb on the hour.
The rusta community in Shashemene has decreased in size, as a lot of them left when times were tough, but the ones left behind are all generally well educated, usually in the uk or the states and live a simple existence in Ethiopia. It was an interesting afternoon and a good stop to make with a couple of good coffee houses in town.