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Last Updated: Friday, 27 May, 2005, 09:10 GMT 10:10 UK
Cafe Africa discussions
The BBC News website chatted to one of the characters featured in the Cafe Africa programme on BBC Radio 4 as part of their A Day in Africa special.

Fayza Hassan (R) with her daughter
Fayza says that her daughter will eventually gain freedom too
Fayza Hassan, a 67-year-old widow, explains why she feels like a star growing old in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

My city is the best place to grow old in because within our society elders automatically command respect.

I have a great social life and can do exactly what I want now.

I feel like a star!

As a widow I can do all sorts of things that other women cannot.

I can't understand why, for the life of me, why a woman would want another man

My daughter is a divorcee and because of it she is always watching herself, but eventually she will gain her freedom.

I enjoy being an old lady immensely. I have real freedom now.

When I was married I could not express myself, always having to be aware of what I said, where I went and who I was seen with in case it hurt my husband's career.

Cafe owner making coffee

But now I can talk freely which is the most wonderful thing.

I can be rude to younger girls if I feel like it, never afraid that they will be rude back.

I can haggle in the market.

I can eat all the beautiful food that I want without worrying about my diet.

I can go alone to the cafes where the men go. And I even socialise with them, if I care to.

If someone in my position wanted another man in their life they would have to be very discreet.

Open air cafe

However I can't understand why, for the life of me, why a woman would want another man after living with one for so long!

I visit Groppi Cafe, in central Cairo, on Fridays when it is very busy.

After discussing the week's events I go to my belly dancing class.

I couldn't spend a week without going.

Moving freely to music makes me feel happy and is great for my moods.

An African Night ended BBC Radio 4's A Day in Africa special.

Can you relate to any of the issues featured? Is a cafe prominent in your daily goings-on? Send us your comments and experiences using the form below.

You can also send us your pictures depicting cafe life.

Your comments and experiences

Significantly, the making of coffee started in Ethiopia, where the coffee plant is an indigenous species. It is therefore good to see another example of African culture and produce being adopted the world over. In Ghana coffee culture barely exists, however persons from neighbouring countries have introduced a roadside cafe culture.

You can witness coffee/tea sellers roaming the streets with their flasks. Pouring intricately from cup to cup to induce air bubbles, making it somewhat like a cappuccino. As a result of this cafe culture can be anywhere any place any time in Africa and not restricted to allotted areas on sidewalks or pavements.
Nana Kwansah, London, UK

In Ethiopia coffee traditionally has a special place in society. After all the origin of coffee is Ethiopia. At some point in history coffee's addictive nature and the multi-theistic spirituality it served had forced the Orthodox Church to ban it amongst its believers. Coffee is served on almost all occasions. The only concern some people have is that many people spend a lot of time drinking coffee in their homes and at their neighbour's homes instead of working.

Coffee is an integral part of Ethiopian life and it probably is the only coffee exporting country where the average person is very happy when international coffee prices go down because of the low prices and high quality coffee beans that they get in the domestic market. It is believed that 50% of Ethiopia's coffee output is consumed in the country helping farmers with price stability when international coffee prices plunge. By the way I don't drink coffee any more. I only smell the beans when they are being roasted.
Woldegeorgis, Nyack, USA

In my native Ethiopia, coffee has a special place almost in everyone's life. All the sorrows, happy events, religious occasions and house wives' gossip are all done through a coffee ceremony. We make coffee from scratch by roasting the beans first.

While that's brewing, we burn frankincense which is so therapeutic. I truly believe the reason we are so resilient to our problems is because of our coffee and the ceremony that comes with it.
Hirut Fajembola, London, England

In Cameroon it is all about beer! Coffee is not so much in our habits. We welcome guests with beer, we eat with beer, we snack with beer, mourn with beer and celebrate with beer. No matter how often the price of beer increases people keep drinking. We may lack money for other things but not for beer. For this reason every street measuring about four hundred metres in my city has at least three drinking spots.

Of course we know it is not good, we know how much each family can save by cutting on the amount of money spent on alcohol but we also think that many may die of depression if they are not allowed to drink. The challenges of life are just too much. A bottle of beer is generally a break from the general drama of suffering for the average person in my part of the world
Eyong, Limbe, Cameroon

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