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Maskarm Haile

Maskarm Haile

Montreal, Canada

Maskarm is a travel junkie who has studied, worked, volunteered, and lived in over ten countries. She has travelled the world as a nomad for five years across every continent except Antarctica.

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About the author

MASKARM HAILE is a travel junkie, lover of world cultures, people, food, self-discovery and captivating stories. Her travel passion was ignited when she followed her mother on a humanitarian mission in Ethiopia and by her multicultural childhood friends in Ethiopia. When she is not on the road, you can find her pursuing her other passion connecting with people and making a difference

Following Abyssinian Nomad in Africa, Maskarm Haile will begin work on her next book project, which will focus on traveling around The World. 

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Abyssinian Nomad in Africa

The Story of Love, Loss and Adventure

Maskarm defied all expectations of young African women when she made a solo trip from Cape Town to Cairo. This memoir inspires others to believe in their own ambitions.

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Travel Memoir
63,000 words
100% complete
11 publishers interested


What happens when a girl from Ethiopia finds herself dreaming of traveling the world? 

In particular crossing Africa overland? 

What if her secret dream makes her feel isolated and an outcast from her family and community? 

Abyssinian Nomad in Africa is about one woman’s journey traveling on a budget from Cape Town to Cairo over land. This is my story. 

Hitchhiking, using public transit and surfing couches with strangers while faced with the biggest fear of my life, losing my mother to cancer.

In this book, author Maskarm Haile shares:
•    What it was like traveling in Africa as an African and a solo female traveler.
•    Her mother's breast cancer journey and how it changed her life. 
•    How being in her thirties — not married and with no children — shocked most African hosts and new friends.  
•    How Maski almost ended up in a Sudanese jail on her birthday. 
•    And most of all, how the kindness of strangers provided support and inspiration through-out her journey.


Chapter 1 – Growing up

Maskarm's love of travel was evident since she was a small child, to the alarm of her well-meaning relatives.

Chapter 2 – Big dream

Her "big dream" of travelling felt like a gift from God. It was her dearest secret.

Chapter 3 – Cancer

Maskarm's mother's diagnosis of breast cancer was especially painful because of Ethiopian's culture of secrecy and silence surrounding the illness.

Chapter 4 –Troubled relationship

All at once, Maskarm was faced with many different possibilities: losing her mother, making her biggest dream come true, patching up her relationship, or even losing her life.

Chapter 5 – Trust your dream, it will always send you a sign

Finding the book, On Foot through Africa by Ffyiona Campbell, felt like a sign to Maskarm. Others had traveled this road before - why not her?

Chapter 6 – Earthly angels

Deciding to travel across Africa was a challenging decision, but the support from Maskarm's friends, and even her ill mother, was inspiring to her.

Chapter 6 – Be careful what you wish for – South Africa

Maskarm started her journey across the length of Africa at the Cape of Good Hope, the southernmost part of the continent.

Chapter 7 – God must be crazy – Namibia

Meeting a fellow alum from her alma mater while couchsurfing made Maskarm feel connected, welcomed, and embraced.

Chapter 8 – Under the clear African sky – Botswana

When strangers expressed confusion and surprise when she told them about her journey, Maskarm realized that what she was doing was even more unusual and groundbreaking than she had realized.

Chapter 9 – The smoke that thunders – Zambia

In Zambia, Maskarm fulfilled a lifelong dream of seeing the extraordinary, gorgeous Victoria Falls.

Chapter 10 – The poor billionaire

The people of Zimbabwe welcomed Maskarm with open arms, happily feeding and housing her despite their country's political unrest, food shortages, and lack of access to basic goods.

Chapter 11 – Lost in translation – Mozambique

Mozambique was gorgeous, baffling, and overwhelming in its sheer majesty. Maskarm wasn't sure what she wanted to do there. Soaking up the raw beauty of the land turned out to be enough.

Chapter 12 – Can we pray for you? – Malawi

Maskarm was awed when friends of friends, people whom she barely had a connection to, so readily invited her into their homes and lives.

Chapter 13 – Getting engaged – Tanzania  

Maskarm realized that her partner was somebody she couldn't imagine being without. Even while facing the pain of potentially losing her mother, she decided it was time to embrace the joy of becoming engaged.

Chapter 14 – Chilling truth – Kenya

Maskarm grappled with uncertainty and fear of her mother's illness.

Chapter 15 – Emerging from the ashes – Rwanda

Rwanda, still recovering from a horrific genocide, reminded Maskarm of her own experience as a child in Ethiopia's civil war.

Chapter 16 – Ask and you shall be given – Democratic Republic of Congo

The aggressive border guards of the Democratic Republic of Congo were baffled by Maskarm's explanation of her travels. How could an African woman be a tourist?

Chapter 17 – Are you one of us? –- Uganda

Whitewater rafting in Uganda taught Maskarm that sometimes it's better to let go than to cling to things that make us feel safe. (This applies to paddles in the event of a raft capsizing, but also to most aspects of life!)

Chapter 18 – The Spy with a device – Ethiopia

Resources in Ethiopia were sparse, but Maskarm was glad just to have a door that locked (most of the time) and access to fresh water.

Chapter 19 – Saved by the brother – Somaliland

Running into yet another old acquaintance made Maskarm feel warm and welcomed far from home.

Chapter 20 – Undercover police – Sudan

Things went a bit awry on Maskarm's birthday in Sudan. Jail time was averted, but only barely.

Chapter 21 – Wait, Did I just . . . – Egypt

After the turmoil, wonder, chaos, and triumph of her trip, Maskarm felt overwhelmed when she finally reached Egypt. Her lifelong, unimaginable dream had come true.


“The world is desperate for a travel memoir about Africa by an African”.  Petina Gappah

Abyssinian Nomad in Africa tells the story of one of the millions of African women who have grown up in an economically poor environment, closed culture and religion and decided to dream despite the odds.  

The book is written to appeal to:

1. People who have a dream to accomplish something in their life, despite their economic background. 

2. People who stop themselves from dreaming, thinking their dreams are not possible. 

3. Anyone affected by cancer (as a patient, caregiver, friend of the family, medical practitioner, alternative therapist, etc.). 

4. Hardcore travelers who want to venture into Africa. 

5.  Solo female travelers (newbies, seasoned, women who are just entertaining the idea of traveling). 

6. Millions of African Diaspora and their children born outside Africa, who want to reconnect, connect, and explore Africa.

7. Readers who enjoy travel memoirs. 

Sales figures on travel memoirs and on books that deal with the loss of a loved one to cancer, specifically those written as narrative non-fiction, show that a strong readership exists for this travel memoirs. 

It is also a first ever "Cape to Cairo" travel memoir written by a black, African woman traveler and writer. From African Writing Online: “Western travel writers (and white Africans) have written countless books in which Africa is subjected to the external gaze. Missing from the bestseller lists, from any list, is the internal gaze, a book about travel in Africa by a black African.”


Maskarm Haile  will be extremely active in promoting Abyssinian Nomad in Africa including events like

  • International Tourism and Travel Shows in Quebec

  • AWiB - Association with members 
  • Outdoor Adventure & Travel Shows in Canada

  • African Diaspora conference in USA

  • Travel Shows / Travel Expo - in USA

  • Global Couchsurfing meetings

  • Book Expos  

  • Ethio - North American Soccer - That attracts more than 100,000 Ethiopian and Eritrean from around the world.

  • Additional Author Maskarm Haile will give radio and TV interviews and will make the book available for purchase through her Web site

Summary: The author will promote sales of Abyssinian Nomad in Africa, via her Web site, , public speaking engagements, articles, and excerpts from the book, national television and radio


Competitive Titles

Dark Star Safari : Overland from Cairo to Cape Town

Publisher - Houghton Miffin Harcourt, 2003, 496 pages

Genre - Non-fiction, Travel and adventure 

In Dark Star Safari the wittily observant and endearingly irascible Paul Theroux takes readers the length of Africa by rattletrap bus, dugout canoe, cattle truck, armed convoy, ferry, and train. In the course of his epic and enlightening journey, he endures danger, delay, and dismaying circumstances.

Gauging the state of affairs, he talks to Africans, aid workers, missionaries, and tourists. What results is an insightful mediation on the history, politics, and beauty of Africa and its people.

In a new postscript, Theroux recounts the dramatic events of a return to Africa to visit Zimbabwe.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail 

Publisher - Alfred A. Knopf 2012, 315 pages

Genre - Memoir by Cheryl Strayed 

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia.

Publisher - Penguin Books 2006, 334 pages 

Genre - Memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert 

At 32 years old, Elizabeth Gilbert was educated, had a home, a husband, and a successful career as a writer. She was, however, unhappy in her marriage and initiated a divorce. She then embarked on a rebound relationship that did not work out, leaving her devastated and alone. After finalizing her difficult divorce, she spent the next year traveling the world.

She spent four months in Italy, eating and enjoying life ("Eat"). She spent three months in India, finding her spirituality ("Pray"). She ended the year in Bali, Indonesia, looking for "balance" of the two and fell in love with a Brazilian businessman. ”Love” 

On Foot Through Africa

Published - Orion 1994, 404 pages

Genre - Travel Memoir by Ffyona Campbell 

When Ffyona Campbell vowed to walk around the world, she was only sixteen. By far the hardest stage of this incredible journey was Africa which she completed in September 1993. This personal account of her achievement tells of her relationship with the women of the villages she passed through, how she learnt their traditions and skills; how she was nearly murdered, almost raped, taken for a cannibal spirit, stoned and mobbed when they suspected she was a slave merchant. And it tells how her anger turned to contentment as she found peace within herself and how each evening her campsite became a home when she fell in love with one of her drivers.

Dark Continent, My Black Arse

Publisher - Umuzi- Penguin Random House South Africa 2007, 224 pages,

Genre - Travel Memoir by Sihle Khumalo

Dark Continent, My Black Arse is Sihle Khumalo's personal and often hilarious account of his perception of Mama Africa, based on his journey from Cape to Cairo by public transport - bus, boksie, matola. Celebrating life with gusto and in inimitable style, he describes a journey fraught with discomfort, mishap, ecstasy, disillusionment, discovery and astonishing human encounters; a journey that would be acceptable madness in a white man but is regarded by the author's fellow Africans as an extraordinary and inexplicable expenditure of time and money.

Conclusion: ABYSSINIAN NOMAD IN AFRICA will break new ground by providing public education about traveling in Africa as a solo female through suspenseful, vivid, first-person narration. ABYSSINIAN NOMAD IN AFRICA reveals the story of a young woman's rich heritage, and her physical and emotional journeys. The book has screen potential due to the engaging locations and situations the author finds herself in. Given the subject and the fact that black women do not make this type of journey, this travel memoir will be an important contribution by bringing a new African woman’s voice to the travel world.

11 publishers interested
Black Rose Writing logo Black Rose Writing

500 copies • Partial manuscript • Looking for fiction, non-fiction, and children's book genres, all having one thing in common: an individual's originality and hardship.
Black Rose Writing is an independent publishing house that strongly believes in developing a personal relationship with their authors. The Texas-based publishing company doesn't see authors as clients or just another number on a page, but rather as individual people who deserve an honest review of their material and to be paid traditional royalties without ever paying any fees to be published. We are proud members of IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association), a recognized ITW (International Thriller Writers) publisher, members of Publishers Marketplace, and currently serving on the Ingram Publisher Advisory Board.

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United Kingdom, United States, Canada

Akasha Publishing logo Akasha Publishing

Akasha Publishing is an independent self-publishing company located in London/Surrey. Akasha publishes Trade (fiction and non-fiction), and Young Adult (YA) books, specifically in these subjects: African and Caribbean interest, fantasy, science fiction, spirituality, metaphysical, Mind, Body and Spirit, ancient and classical history, alternative history, economics, biographies and autobiographies.

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United Kingdom, United States, Kenya

Anaphora Literary Press logo Anaphora Literary Press

250 copies • Partial manuscript.
Anaphora Literary Press was started in 2009 and publishes fiction, short stories, creative and non-fiction books. Anaphora has exhibited its titles at SIBA, ALA, SAMLA, and many other international conventions. Services include book trailers, press releases, merchandise design, book review (free in pdf/epub) submissions, proofreading, formatting, design, LCCN/ISBN assignment, international distribution, art creation, ebook (Kindle, EBSCO, ProQuest)/ softcover/ hardcover editions, and dozens of other components included in the basic package.

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Koehler Books logo Koehler Books

250 copies • Completed manuscript.
Koehler Books is an Indie publisher based in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Our team of dedicated professionals promises you a holistic publishing experience where you'll receive our full attention, collaboration, and coaching every step of the way. We offer two publishing models: a traditional non-fee model for the highest quality work, as well as a co-publishing model that includes creative development fees for emerging authors. Our titles are broad-based and include nearly every major non-fiction and fiction genre.

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WiDo Publishing / E.L. Marker logo WiDo Publishing / E.L. Marker

250 copies • Completed manuscript.
E.L. Marker™, WiDo Publishing’s new imprint, is a hybrid publisher established to meet the needs of authors in a changing publishing climate. Now, more than ever, writers are seeking a blend between self-publishing and traditional publishing. They want an option that offers the higher royalties and greater control associated with self- publishing, while enjoying the prestige and quality provided by a traditional publisher.

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Authors Unite logo Authors Unite

250 copies • Partial manuscript.
Authors Unite helps you become a profitable author and make an impact. We take care of printing and distribution through major online retailers, developmental editing, and proofreading with unlimited revisions. We take care of the entire process for you from book cover design all the way to set up your backend so all your book royalties go straight to your bank account. We can also help with ghostwriting if you prefer not to have to figure out all the steps on how to write a book yourself.

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Bookmobile logo Bookmobile

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Chapter 2 – Footsteps

On September 23, 2004, I got a random email from my mother. At least, that is what I thought when I saw the subject ‘Email’ appear in my work inbox. Maybe, I had been expecting, a reply to the long email I had sent to her days earlier. I was quick to drop everything and started reading with excitement. Two days earlier, I had spoken to my mother about a work trip she was planning to take to South Africa. And without any suspicion, I was marveling about her visit to that fascinating country that I, too, dreamed of visiting one day. I had promised to call her once she was there, thinking how wonderful it would be to dial a new country code. 

The email started by thanking me for my last email. Followed by my mother letting me know that she had reached Johannesburg safely and that she needed to be on medication for longer than she had anticipated. And then it said, “Sorry for the bad news, can you call me on the following number?” 

Her sentences were all over the place, mostly misspelled and with the sorts of typos that you only make when you are in shock or in a hurry. Deep inside, I started to tremble. It was as if my body knew a secret that my brain, or even my heart, refused to acknowledge. Hands shaking, I dialed the number my mother had emailed. I felt a heaviness. I could hardly move my body. A feeling of numbness and panic took over my body and mind. My eyes filled with tears. But why? She only said she needed medication. The question was, for what? 

I looked around, just in case my co-workers were looking at me, but everyone was busy. I tried the number my mother gave me, but no one answered as unbeknown to me it was not her room number. I redialed and redialed the number, until, finally, someone answered and transferred my call to my mother's room. At that point, I was crying in a full-blown ugly way in my office. I didn't care. I wanted my mom, and I was thousands of miles away from her. Her email had said there was bad news. My mother was not a woman who talked about bad news on emails or phone. She didn’t even reveal that sort of news in person. 

I was shaking and crying uncontrollably when she finally picked up the phone and said my name. My mom tried to console me, saying it was nothing, that she would be okay once she got the medication and that I had nothing to worry about as she was surrounded by great doctors who knew what they were doing. And, that everything was covered by her insurance. 

Finally, she said that she would be fine and I was desperate to believe her, but for the first time in my life I heard my mother’s voice shaking. I heard fear, and uncertainty as though even she didn’t believe what she was saying. Between sobs, I asked what her diagnosis was. She went silent. I was silent, too because I didn't even want to breathe fearing I might miss the word she was going to say. In that moment of stillness, I hear a voice within myself say, “Cancer. Breast cancer.” 

I buried my head on my office desk and cried some more, I heard my mother saying that the doctors were still doing some tests. Maybe she said more but I was not listening. My colleagues started circulating my cubicle. Although they had no idea who I had been talking to, they overheard words like ‘treatment, doctors, and diagnosis.’ 

I never heard the word ‘cancer’ from my mother’s mouth. But, I repeated the word in my head, CANCER? CANCER! 

I suddenly felt overwhelming guilt with the fear. How could I even think my mother would have cancer? Why would anything like that even have crossed my mind? Cancer? Cancer in Ethiopia? I remembered all the movies I watched growing up and crying my eyes out when a woman was diagnosed with this thing called cancer. Most of those movies showed how she struggled and fought for her life, before dying, and leaving her husband and kids behind. Though I have come a long way now and I have a little more awareness about cancer in general, I never knew anyone who was affected by cancer in Ethiopia. I didn't even know it existed in Ethiopia and if it did what was it called in Amharic. The truth was, I didn't know. That made me feel even more guilty because I felt that I had wished that horrible thing that didn't exist in her culture, on my mother. 

I breathed, I tried to follow what my mother was telling me. The doctors were doing tests; she would soon know the diagnosis. It sounded hopeful and better, I told myself. Minutes later, I called my sister in Ethiopia, and she broke it down for me. “Our mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer, and the doctors have suggested she start Chemotherapy immediately.” 

March 27, 2007. My mother was given the ‘all clear' by doctors in South Africa. She went back to work. I got an email that said, “Call me, I'm in South Africa.” The last time I'd seen my mother was a year earlier. I had spent few days in Addis before I embarked on my adventure in Australia. That visit didn't go very well as we both had different things in our mind. All I wanted to do was spend some time with her. But for her, it was an opportunity to hook me up again with Dave, my, on again-off again, ex-boyfriend from Montreal, a man my family loved and respected. With ‘cancer' a word of our past, I thought that the phone call was going to be another dreaded conversation about my unmarried and childless life and her desire to fix that. Though I didn't want to have that conversation again, I was happy my mother was in a country where I could call her and have a long, uninterrupted conversation. Calling Ethiopia isn’t a pleasant thing to do; the connections are terrible, and there is a good chance of simply not being able to hear each other. 

I waited for the right time to call. I was in Australia, and she was in Pretoria, South Africa with a time difference of over nine hours. When we got a chance to talk, my mother started with her long, never-ending greeting and asked about my trip. She sounded calm and almost happy about what I was doing. I was a little impatient. I have always felt that the long, never-ending greetings are a way of avoiding meaningful sharing and I resent that part of the Ethiopian culture. So, I casually asked why she was back to South Africa. Suddenly, she sounded too tired to talk and passed the phone to my younger sister who was with her in South Africa. Once again, my sister had to break it down for me: the cancer had relapsed, and it had started to spread. 

The doctors had already started my mother on another round of chemotherapy, and it was expected to be a long journey. The phone call was to ask me if I could go back to South Africa to be with her since my sister had to go back to work. Nothing made sense. Everything went dark around me, and I heard myself saying, “But how? Didn’t they clear her, saying, She’s free of cancer?” My mother had even gone back to work. Did the doctors miss something the first time around? I was at a loss for words. My sister asked me again when I could be in Pretoria. I told her that I would be there as soon as possible. 

My time in Australia — a trip that was supposed to be a short, five-week journey around the country — had turned into a one year inner and outer adventure. I had fallen in love with the beautiful country and, it felt that magically, the people and the places themselves, had fallen in love with me, too. My original plan was to go to Japan after Australia. I was already armed with a six-month working holiday visa and a ticket. I was going to arrive in time to attend my best friend’s wedding. But with news like that, the decision was very easy and quick. I bought a one-way ticket to Johannesburg. 

I felt life was being unfair and cruel to my mother. I knew her desire to live and her long ‘to do’ list. Life wasn’t giving her a chance; she needed to get a break, she deserved to be healthy and happy after what she had already gone through. It was a total blow. I wondered how she was taking the news. I ached for her, for the dreams she had to put on hold, once again, until she finished her treatment. 

On my last Sunday with Dave in Port Douglas, we decided to visit a farmer’s market. We both had a thing for strolling around farmers’ markets and trying different local products. But what made that market special was the table for second-hand books. To me a farmer’s market with used books and good coffee is heaven. At the second-hand bookstall, I walked around the table reading the titles, touching and feeling the books and magazines. There is a comfort that comes from being around and holding books. I also have a theory that second-hand bookstore owners are not in the business for the money: they love books and are rare human beings who rescue used books and find them suitable homes.

There is also something else that happens when I pick up a second-hand book and hold it: I long for the story of the person who had just read the book. How did it change their lives? Did it make them laugh? Where were they when they were reading it? I have found a boarding pass used as a page marker, something I, myself, often do. I can imagine finding all those people to tell them I'm reading the very same book they had read once. I imagine asking about where they were to see if our lives were somehow in the same place when we read that particular book. 

One book caught my eye. It was in a box for much older books, and I immediately picked it up and held it close to my heart. The book had a picture of a girl, and the title read On Foot through Africa by Ffyona Campbell. I felt my heart warming as if I were reconnected with a long-lost friend or family member, who was looking directly at me and whispering, “If I can do it, so can you!” Two thoughts cross my mind at that moment. First, a great relief to know that I was not crazy and then that someone else has been living my dream. I bought the book and walked away knowing exactly what I was going to do with it. That book was going to be my travel companion for my long flight, from Melbourne, Australia to Johannesburg, South Africa. 

I read the book fast as if my life depended on it! Unconsciously, I guess it did. I mean, if a white woman from the UK could cross Africa by foot, how hard could it be for an African woman, like me, to do it? I kept thinking that my African background; my skin color would give me leverage, that I would be able to slip in and out of the borders without really being seen. 

While reading the book I felt my excitement rising, my heartbeat was racing. It was one of the most intense books I’d ever read. I was fascinated and inspired by Ffyona’s courage. But it was also sad to read she had to be evacuated twice because of war, and children throwing stones at her. I knew that there were still some countries in Africa that were so unpredictable when it comes to war. In 2002, I’d experienced waking up to find a coup d’état had taken place in Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa, which made me change my entire travel plan. I mentally worked on my own packing list, while reading On Foot Through Africa. It was as if all I had needed was someone's permission to achieve my dream, and with every sentence, Ffyona had written she was releasing me. 

It was a very emotional reunion with my mother. I had asked her not to come to the airport to pick me up, but she was there when I arrived. She looked tired and fragile. I only knew what my sister had told me, and that was that she needed two rounds of chemotherapy which might take about a year. I didn’t have the courage to ask my mother for more information, and she was not volunteering any. 

I convinced myself that it was better that way. That if I didn’t know and acknowledge the extent of the cancer that, maybe, I would remain positive which would help my mother more than if I knew and then wrapped myself in negativity. I was afraid what I might learn if I dug too deeply. I just wanted my mother to be healthy and happy, and I was going to do everything possible — including no more crying or falling apart in front of her. I told myself to put on my brave face and focus only on my mother’s needs. To get my mother's mind off the cancer chemotherapy, hospital trips and anything that involved medicine I tried to keep her busy by sharing pictures, and stories of my travel. Though she didn’t approve of my hitchhiking or staying with strangers, the mood was quite light, and we laughed about the stories most of the time.

When I mentioned On Foot Though Africa, I couldn’t control the intensity of my attraction to the story. It was clear that she didn't like the story or the way I was talking about it. It was as if her motherly instinct had informed her where I was going with it. And she disapproved when I said I was going to send the book to my sister to read. I knew I needed a better time to discuss what I had in mind, but I had started to feel a pinch of resentment toward God, the universe, and life for the miserable timing. Which also made me ask more questions about life: “Why did my mother have to get sick once again? What was the purpose of it? Did she feel fulfilled? How did I feel about death — my own and loved ones’?” I also felt betrayed by life. Suddenly, I had been given an awareness that I could achieve my biggest dream in the world, and it came as my mother was fighting for her life. How was that fair? How could I be expected to make a decision? 

In the past three years before she had developed cancer, I had turned to an online community for open, honest discussion and emotional support because none of those things existed in my own family or culture. Countless women and some men had given me space to share my feelings and fears. They had also given me practical advice on what to expect and how to cope with different situations in the journey. 

When I was in South Africa, I felt far from everything I knew: the talking circles; bodywork to release my stress; therapy sessions and the countless emails I got from strangers who had been my support system since my mother’s diagnosis. At least I was equipped with some understanding of how to be a good caregiver. So, I decided it was the moment for me to give as much support to my mother as she needed. I also felt it was time to work on healing, communications, and forgiveness while I had all that time alone with her. I looked at it as an opportunity, and there was so much to get through. My promise was to address everything and start over with my mother once again. 

I also promised and assured my inner wanderer soul, that I would not forget my dream. I remembered when I was growing up in Ethiopia, in a time of hardship, people would promise something (a candle, money, etc.) to their favorite saint and I remember walking for miles to make a pilgrimage to Saint Gabriel with my family. I loved that trip. I don’t remember if I had a wish granted or not, but I do remember that I was happy to be on that journey. I had walked every bit of it then. And now, I decided, my pilgrimage was going to be Africa. 

Africa would to heal me. If I could travel Africa and survive it, I could survive anywhere else, I thought. It was also going to keep my mind off everything happening around me. I felt there was a higher price in not taking that journey than actually doing the travel and surviving it. There was no time to worry about what was going to happen to me or to entertain my fears. For some strange reason, it was a life or death decision for me. 

Though I hadn’t figured out the how or when yet, I knew deep inside that the journey I was about to embark on was going to be sacred and very different from any of the trips I had taken in my life so far. I also knew that when I said, “Yes” to that dream, it was going to mean a thousand ‘no’s’ to most things I knew in my life. That ‘yes’ was one of the hardest, I've ever said in my life. Every time I braved that ‘yes’ from within and I tried to share it, I felt like I needed to protect it from missiles dropping from every direction. The experience was like being in-between two big rivals, who are pulling for their side to win. The result was exhausting! 

I was not new to defending or justifying what I did or how I chose to live, but that time because of my mother’s situation, it was different, it needed gentleness and compassion. It also felt important to have her bless my journey, but I didn’t want to upset or worry her, given her circumstances. I needed a different approach for the situation. In the past, I would simply plan my journey and say, “Hey I'm going.” I never asked for permission or approval from anyone. I had no idea what this journey through Africa would mean to me. I worried, that if what everyone said about Africa was true and I got killed along the way. I worried that my mother’s illness would change for worse and I wouldn’t be able to get back to her in time. Those fears kept me fully focused on her those first few months when she was going through the chemotherapy. 

In the meantime, thanks to the couch surfing community, I had the chance to introduce my lifestyle to my mother through travelers who came and stayed for a weekend or longer. Initially, she blamed and doubted herself for the way I turned out, but over the months I saw my mother ease into understanding that I was not the only one with a lust for travel. She had felt that she was the only mother who carried the burden of an unmarried daughter; a daughter who wanted to wander the world without the prospect of leaving a legacy, as many women did by bringing a child to this world. But, thanks to people couch surfing, she met and spoke to numerous young, and not so young, people about a lifestyle she never could have imagined. My mother found it interesting how articulate, open and honest we couch surfers were about our feelings. She was surprised at how much we trusted each other with our dreams, emotions, and desires and were able to share at that level. She had never experienced that, ever! Her generation and the ones before never sat around with strangers discussing their personal life. 

It was new to her, magical and at the same time, scary. Through those couch surfing brunches, lunches, dinners, picnics, and drinking sessions, my mother discovered not only a new world but also discovered her daughter. She heard my stories with strangers, heard about my fears, desires, challenges, goals and aspirations. I sometimes saw a touch of sadness in her eyes. I wondered if that sadness was regret that she hadn't had the opportunity I had, to choose a life without marriage and children. In those couch surfing meetings, there was no limit to the subjects we discussed. The topics ranged from trying to find love to break-ups and broken marriages, to LGBTQ rights, spirituality, women’s struggles with wanting to have children (freezing eggs, sperm donation), loss of loved ones… Before those meetings, my mother had no idea where I stood on most of those issues. But I still wasn’t able to tell her I had broken up with Dave. I was afraid she would be disappointed and worried about me. That was a secret my friends, and I had to keep when she was around. 

I also had the chance to spend time with her friends, mostly the UN expats based in South Africa. They gave me the opportunity to learn so much about my mom’s generation and also about Ethiopia as a country. When they talked about Ethiopia, I always felt like it wasn’t the same country I grew up in. It was a different era when there was still a king. There were times I wished I had been born then: they had vision, understanding and a sense of responsibility for the country. 

My travels across Africa would need lots of inner and outer preparation. But the hardest step was simply saying ‘yes’ to the call. Why? That ‘yes’ went against everything my family and friends believed; they thought my idea was the most stupid, craziest thing they’d ever heard. That ‘yes’ went against my entire culture which believed women belonged to their father's or husband's house and kitchen. It went against the media and travel warnings that were given about some of the countries in Africa that I planned to travel to and through. It went against my own fears and the very real possibility of contracting any number of harmful diseases. It also meant going against my own mother who was fighting for her life. So, saying that ‘yes’ was one of the hardest decisions I’d ever made. 

It was as though the entire world had had a meeting to decide my place on earth as an African woman but had forgotten to send me the memo. The result of my saying ‘yes.’ to the call left many people close to me surprised, confused, saddened and frustrated. 

  • Update #3 - Abyssinian Nomad in Africa coming soon Nov. 1, 2017

    Dear Friends and supporters of Abyssinian in Africa, 

    Thank you for your patience and constant support on this journey.  

    The last three months had …

  • Update #2 - Campaign Closed Aug. 1, 2017

    Hello Everyone, 

    I am so grateful for the tremendous support everyone has given me. The campaign ended yesterday with 321 pre-order, what was even more …

  • Update #1 - Thank You! July 2, 2017

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for your support throughout this campaign. Whether it’s through Pre-ordering a book, sharing my link and/or subscribing to my …

Please log in to comment.

  • Eskedar Sahilu
    on June 7, 2017, 6:01 p.m.

    I can't wait to read your book and travel along with your adventures and thoughts. I am so proud of you Maskyie

  • Faheem Judah-El
    on June 7, 2017, 6:33 p.m.

    Please give and support Maskarm as she brings her wonderful world of love, loss, and adventure to our lives... This book is a must read.. please pass it on... Faheem

  • Rose Doll
    on June 8, 2017, 1:07 p.m.

    Looking forward to reading it!

  • Renee Stauffer
    on June 9, 2017, 12:05 p.m.

    Wow, I am super excited to find this! I ordered 2 copies; one for my family and one for the library :)

  • TesfaMichael Andemeskel
    on June 10, 2017, 1:18 a.m.

    Hi Musk, you travelled because it has been your dream and you found the time to sit and write about it to share it with us. Congrats and all the best!!!! Tesfay

  • Sally DeHaven
    on June 10, 2017, 6:13 p.m.

    Kisanet said to check you out; good luck with your book. I look forward to reading it!

  • Ralf Unterstab
    on June 12, 2017, 12:30 p.m.

    Hi Maski, don't spent it all on chocolate! =)
    <3 Ralf

  • Salahadin Khalifa
    on June 12, 2017, 1:49 p.m.

    Congratilations on such an achievemt, will always endeavor to support an Ethiopian by an Ethiopian and I can't wait to read your writing now and in the future.

  • Gelila Tekeste
    on June 13, 2017, 11:45 a.m.

    I'm soooo proud of you Babiye!!! Can't wait to read the book. Hugs 🤗 Gelila

  • Roberto Corona
    on June 14, 2017, 12:15 a.m.

    Lots of love for you my dear friend, looking forward to meet you again somewhere in the world ;)

  • Oshi Mathur
    on June 14, 2017, 6:33 p.m.

    Kudos on accomplishing this mammoth task, Maski! I cant wait to read your book :)

  • Donna Barker
    on June 14, 2017, 9:40 p.m.

    <3 Love your confidence and courage, Maski! <3

  • elias adan
    on June 16, 2017, 9:35 p.m.

    Just pre-ordered my copy. Good luck Maski.

  • Jo Magpie
    on June 19, 2017, 8:34 p.m.

    I'm really excited that you have written a book! In the end, yours will probably be published before mine. I'm really looking forward to reading it :)

  • Nebeyu Shone
    on June 28, 2017, 3:31 p.m.

  • Marci Bravo
    on June 30, 2017, 7:44 p.m.

    Maski, I'm so excited to hear you are working on publishing this amazing adventure! Good luck Darling!

  • Robert Boardman
    on June 30, 2017, 8:57 p.m.

    Encourage people to purchase multiple copies, for gifts, for colleagues, for classmates, for fellow adventurers.

  • Fahad Mir
    on July 3, 2017, 7:13 a.m.

    Hope our paths cross again sometime. Go girl!

  • Erasmus Morah
    on July 3, 2017, 12:23 p.m.

    There is not stopping someone who is motivated, captivated or possessed. I'm with you all the way, and may the spirit of your loving mama abide with you always!!

  • Eden Ayele
    on July 6, 2017, 4:51 p.m.

    I am so happy i helped.will share this on my facebook wall

  • Lezka Rodríguez
    on July 24, 2017, 9:08 p.m.

    What an amazing story, looking forward to reading that book, you've got all my support. :-)