“I think people are amazed at how much Ethiopian culture is in London,” says Sefanit Mengiste, explaining the reaction to her Ethiopian Flavors tour around Shepherd’s Bush Market. With an extensive coffee ceremony and tastings of traditional food such as injera (fermented flatbread) and misir alicha (lentil stew), the two and a half hour long tour is packed with personal stories and golden gems of knowledge.
Mengiste left Gondar in northern Ethiopia at the age of 14 and has lived in London ever since. “When I take people around Shepherd’s Bush and show them my culture, traditions and food, I miss home,” she says. “But there are parts of Ethiopia here that I can still connect with. We have a large community in west London – like the church, a football team and a women’s group. I started the tours because I wanted to be financially independent and an ambassador for with the local community. ‘
She launched the trip in March 2021 after six months of training from social company Women in Travel in collaboration with the travel company Intrepid Urban Adventures. Since the start, Mengiste has been ‘over the moon’ with how the tours have gone. “Before the first one, I was really nervous,” she says. ‘Then I realized I should not be, because I’m just sharing things that I already know.’
The tour focuses on independent businesses such as a juice shop and an Ethiopian restaurant. “I’ve been going to Shepherd’s Bush Market for over 15 years,” Mengiste says. ‘But it’s not as well known as Borough or Camden. I hope the trip will show that Shepherd’s Bush also has a lot to offer. ‘
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