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Ethiopia Links - History

Ethiopia Links - History



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East African Forum- Ethiopia

Press Digest- Ethiopia Weekly


Ethiopia Links - History

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Ifat, Muslim state that flourished in central Ethiopia from 1285 to 1415 in the fertile uplands of eastern Shewa. Toward the end of the 13th century a ruler whose dynastic title was Walashma gained an ascendancy over the Muslim kingdoms of eastern Shewa. By gradually winning over the newly formed states of Fatajar, Dawaro, and Bale and by subduing various Shewan and Afar regions, including the state of Adal, he finally succeeded in constituting the state of Ifat.

Alternately subject to the pagan kingdom of Damot and to the Christian kingdom of Ethiopia and sometimes independent, Ifat became—as the northernmost of several Muslim states—the buffer between them and sometimes suffered from the advance southward of Ethiopian authority. When its sultan, Hakk ad-Dīn, warring against the Ethiopian king Amda Tseyon, was conquered by him in 1328, Ifat was made tributary to Ethiopia. (At this time Ifat’s dominion extended eastward to the port of Zeila.) Thereafter Ifat was continually in revolt against Ethiopia. It was finally destroyed in 1415, when its last attempt at independence under Sultan Sʿadad-Dīn was foiled by Yeshaq I of Ethiopia, who subsequently annexed Ifat to his kingdom.


Ethiopia in the Bible

Sheba is believed to have been Queen of Ethiopia and it is through her Ethiopian rulers claim royalty. The verses below refer to Sheba's visit to King Solomon in Isreal. The tale is retold in The Second Book of Chronicles, 8:18 (Pankhurst 16):

1 Kings 10, 1-13

[1] And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions.

[2] And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart.

[3] And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not.

[4] And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon's wisdom, and the house that he had built,

[5] And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the LORD there was no more spirit in her.

[6] And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom.

[7] Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard.

[8] Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.

[9] Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice.

[10] And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great store, and precious stones: there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the queen of Sheba gave to king Solomon.

[11] And the navy also of Hiram, that brought gold from Ophir, brought in from Ophir great plenty of almug trees, and precious stones.

[12] And the king made of the almug trees pillars for the house of the LORD, and for the king's house, harps also and psalteries for singers: there came no such almug trees, nor were seen unto this day.

[13] And king Solomon gave unto the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, beside that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty. So she turned and went to her own country, she and her servants.

The Word 'Ethiopia' in the Bible

The word Ethiopia appears in the King James Bible version 45 times. When the word Ethiopia is used in the bible, it most of the time refers to all the land south of Egypt:

[13] And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.

[1] And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.

[9] And when he heard say of Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, Behold, he is come out to fight against thee: he sent messengers again unto Hezekiah, saying,

[3] With twelve hundred chariots, and threescore thousand horsemen: and the people were without number that came with him out of Egypt the Lubims, the Sukkiims, and the Ethiopians.

[9] And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an host of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots and came unto Mareshah.

[12] So the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah and the Ethiopians fled.

[13] And Asa and the people that were with him pursued them unto Gerar: and the Ethiopians were overthrown, that they could not recover themselves for they were destroyed before the LORD, and before his host and they carried away very much spoil.

[8] Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the LORD, he delivered them into thine hand.

[16] Moreover the LORD stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines, and of the Arabians, that were near the Ethiopians:

[1] Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus, (this is Ahasuerus which reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and seven and twenty provinces:)

[9] Then were the king's scribes called at that time in the third month, that is, the month Sivan, on the three and twentieth day thereof and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded unto the Jews, and to the lieutenants, and the deputies and rulers of the provinces which are from India unto Ethiopia, an hundred twenty and seven provinces, unto every province according to the writing thereof, and unto every people after their language, and to the Jews according to their writing, and according to their language.

[19] The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold.

[31] Princes shall come out of Egypt Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.

[4] I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me: behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia this man was born there.

[1] Woe to the land shadowing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia:

[3] And the LORD said, Like as my servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and wonder upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia

[4] So shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, even with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.

[5] And they shall be afraid and ashamed of Ethiopia their expectation, and of Egypt their glory.

[9] And he heard say concerning Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, He is come forth to make war with thee. And when he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying,

[3] For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.

[14] Thus saith the LORD, The labour of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine: they shall come after thee in chains they shall come over, and they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee, saying, Surely God is in thee and there is none else, there is no God.

[23] Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.

[7] Now when Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs which was in the king's house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon the king then sitting in the gate of Benjamin

[10] Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, saying, Take from hence thirty men with thee, and take up Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon, before he die.

[12] And Ebed-melech the Ethiopian said unto Jeremiah, Put now these old cast clouts and rotten rags under thine armholes under the cords. And Jeremiah did so.

[16] Go and speak to Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel Behold, I will bring my words upon this city for evil, and not for good and they shall be accomplished in that day before thee.

[9] Come up, ye horses and rage, ye chariots and let the mighty men come forth the Ethiopians and the Libyans, that handle the shield and the Lydians, that handle and bend the bow.

[10] Behold, therefore I am against thee, and against thy rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate, from the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia.

[4] And the sword shall come upon Egypt, and great pain shall be in Ethiopia, when the slain shall fall in Egypt, and they shall take away her multitude, and her foundations shall be broken down.

[5] Ethiopia, and Libya, and Lydia, and all the mingled people, and Chub, and the men of the land that is in league, shall fall with them by the sword.

[9] In that day shall messengers go forth from me in ships to make the careless Ethiopians afraid, and great pain shall come upon them, as in the day of Egypt: for, lo, it cometh.

[5] Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them all of them with shield and helmet:

[43] But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.

[7] Are ye not as children of the Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel? saith the LORD. Have not I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt? and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir?

[9] Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, and it was infinite Put and Lubim were thy helpers.

[12] Ye Ethiopians also, ye shall be slain by my sword.

[10] From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering.

[2] And to all the governors and captains and lieutenants that were under him, from India unto Ethiopia, of an hundred twenty and seven provinces.

[10] Until ye come beyond Tanis and Memphis, and to all the inhabitants of Egypt, until ye come to the borders of Ethiopia.

[1] The copy of the letters was this: The great king Artexerxes writeth these things to the princes and governours that are under him from India unto Ethiopia in an hundred and seven and twenty provinces.

[1] The great king Artexerxes unto the princes and governors of an hundred and seven and twenty provinces from India unto Ethiopia, and unto all our faithful subjects, greeting.

[27] And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,


Ethiopia Links - History

The term "Ethiopia" was first used by Ancient Greek writers in reference to the east-central African kingdom that they believed to be not only culturally and ethnically linked to ancient "Egypt" (Kemet), but the source of such civilization as well. Contrary to popular belief, the term was not exclusive to the landlocked modern country of Ethiopia. According to early Greek writers, Ethiopia was an empire originally situated between Ta-Seti in Lower Kemet and the confluence of the White and Blue Niles. Centuries later, however, the name became synonymous with a much larger region that included the present-day countries of South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Central African Republic, Chad, etc.

Ethiopia is the English transliteration of the Greek word "&Alpha&iota&theta&iota&omicron&pi&alpha" (or Aithiopia) which originates from the Greek word "&Alpha&iota&theta&iota&omicron&psi" or "aithiops" which literally means "charred or burnt." "Aithiops" is in fact composed of "&alpha&iota&theta&iota&omega" (meaning "I burn") and "&omega&psi" (meaning face or complexion).

Prior to Greek history, Ethiopia was known as "Kush" by the ancient "Egyptians." The Buhen stela (housed in the Florence Museum), which dates from the reign of Sety I (1294-1279 BC), refers to this region as "Kas" and "Kash." Kush is also mentioned as "KSH" in other texts dated between 1550 - 1069 BC.

History of Early Ethiopia or Kush (13,000-7500 BC)

The region known as Kush has been inhabited for several millennia. Royal Ontario Museum and University of Khartoum researchers found a "tool workshop" south of Dongola, Sudan with thousands of paleolithic axes on rows of stones, dating back 70,000 years. As early as 13,000 BC, ceremonial burial practices were taking place at Jebel Sahaba and Wadi Halfa in the northern part of modern-day Sudan (known to archaeologists as the "Qadan" period, 13,000-8,000 BC). At the Toshka site in modern-day "Lower Nubia," archaeologists have uncovered tombs where domesticated wild cattle were placed above human remains, indicative of the use of cattle in a ceremonial fashion. Circular tomb walls with above-ground mounds are further evidence of the beginnings of ceremonial burials.

At other sites nearby, we can see the development of Ethiopian (better known as "Egyptian") civilization. At the Kadruka cemetery, spouted vessels were found, and the tombs at El Gaba were filled with jewelry, pottery, ostrich feathers, headrests, facial painting, etc.--all of which were present in "dynastic Egypt," and are still used today amongst different peoples of modern-day Ethiopia. The neolithic Sabu rock paintings even depict dynastic Egyptian-style boats.

Just west of the city of Kerma lies the site of Busharia, where shards of pottery dating from 8000 to 9000 BC have been found. A nearby discovery at El-Barga shed light on foundations of round buildings, graves and pottery shards from 7,500 BC.

Therefore Kushitic civilization began on the banks of the Nile over 15,000 years ago and was settled at least 55,000 years prior.

Furthermore, based on the traditions of the first settlers and the artifacts found in this region, Kushitic civilization gave birth to that of so-called "Egypt" (see also: Nile Valley Civilization).

Ethiopia in Hebrew History (1200 - 500 BC)

The Torah (Old Testament of the Bible) mentions Ethiopia in its first and oldest book, Genesis (chapter 2, c. 1400 BC), and puts Ethiopia in a geographical context:

"And a river went out of Eden to water the garden and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia."

In the Hebrew book of Numbers (chapter 12, verse 1, c. 1200 BC), Moses, who was born and educated in Egypt, married an Ethiopian woman:

"And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman."

By the 740s BC, the Hebrew prophet Nahum said, "Cush and Ethiopia were her [Nineveh's] boundless strength, and it was infinite Put and Lubim were thy helpers" (chapter 3, verse 9).

Emperor Taharqa, one of the most famous Kushite leaders who ruled Egypt and beyond (photo courtesy of David Liam Moran)

Ethiopia's King Taharqa, who also ruled Egypt (690-664 BC, 25th dynasty), is mentioned in Hebrew texts as having saved Jerusalem from Assyrian destruction (Isaiah, chapter 37, verse 10-11, c. 687 BC):

And when he heard say of Tirha'kah [Taharqa] king of Ethiopia, Behold, he is come out to fight against thee: he sent messengers again unto Hezeki'ah, saying, Thus shall ye speak to Hezeki'ah king of Judah, saying, Let not thy God in whom thou trustest deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria."

Ethiopia in Greek History (800 BC-200 AD).

Few other nations are mentioned in ancient European literature as much as Ethiopia, and even fewer as highly esteemed. Ethiopians are first mentioned in the oldest of Greek texts, Homer's Iliad (circa 800 BC), as a place frequented by the Greek gods. Homer states, ". twelve for Jupiter's stay with the Ethiopians, at whose return Thetis prefers her petition" and "Zeus is at Ocean's river with Ethiopians, feasting, he and all the heaven-dwellers."

In Homer's Odyssey (c. 800 BC), Poseiden also spends time in Ethiopia: "But Poseidon, the earthquake lord, making his return from Ethiopia where he had visited for a celebration in his honor. "

Homer also tells us that an Ethiopian ruled Troy and Arabia:

"Tithonus was the son of Laomedon, king of Troy and the Nymph Strymo. He was an extremely handsome youth, and when Eos (Dawn) first saw him, she fell in love with him and brought him to her palace by the stream of Ocean in Ethiopia. They had two children, Memnon and Emathion. Emathion became a king of Arabia. Memnon took a force of Ethiopians to Troy and died while fighting the Greeks"

Herodotus (Histories, Book II, c. 440 BC) informs us that Ethiopians also jointly ruled over the Siwa Oasis:

"Ammonians [Siwa Owasis], who are a joint colony of Egyptians and Ethiopians, speaking a language between the two. "

Pyramids in Meroe, the capital of Ethiopia in Herodotus' time (photo courtesy of Petr Adam Dohnalek)

The so-called "father of (European) history," Herodotus (490-425 BC), spoke often on the subject of Ethiopia, and places it in geographical context:

"Beyond the island [Elephantine] is a great lake, and round its shores live nomadic tribes of Ethiopians. After crossing the lake one comes again to the stream of the Nile, which flows into it. After forty days journey on land along the river, one takes another boat and in twelve days reaches a big city named Meroe, said to be the capital city of the Ethiopians." and

". Where the south declines towards the setting sun lies the country called Ethiopia, the last inhabited land in that direction. There gold is obtained in great plenty, huge elephants abound, with wild trees of all sorts, and ebony. "

Herodotus describes their physical characteristics and provides great detail about the traditions of Ethiopians in his era, stating,

". and the men are taller, handsomer, and longer lived than anywhere else. The Ethiopians were clothed in the skins of leopards and lions, and had long bows made of the stem of the palm-leaf, not less than four cubits in length. On these they laid short arrows made of reed, and armed at the tip, not with iron, but with a piece of stone, sharpened to a point, of the kind used in engraving seals. They carried likewise spears, the head of which was the sharpened horn of an antelope and in addition they had knotted clubs. When they went into battle they painted their bodies, half with chalk, and half with vermilion. and

"The inhabitants worship Zeus and Dionysus alone of the Gods, holding them in great honor. Among these Ethiopians copper is of all metals the most scarce and valuable. Also, last of all, they were allowed to behold the coffins of the Ethiopians, which are made (according to report) of crystal, after the following fashion: When the dead body has been dried, either in the Egyptian, or in some other manner, they cover the whole with gypsum, and adorn it with painting until it is as like the living man as possible. Then they place the body in a crystal pillar which has been hollowed out to receive it, crystal being dug up in great abundance in their country, and of a kind very easy to work. You may see the corpse through the pillar within which it lies and it neither gives out any unpleasant odor, nor is it in any respect unseemly yet there is no part that is not as plainly visible as if the body were bare. The next of kin keep the crystal pillar in their houses for a full year from the time of the death, and give it the first fruits continually, and honor it with sacrifice. After the year is out they bear the pillar forth, and set it up near the town. "

Herodotus informs us that he is aware of the cultural similarities between the ancient Ethiopians and the ancient Egyptians:

"For the people of Colchis are evidently Egyptian, and this I perceived for myself before I heard it from others. So when I had come to consider the matter I asked them both and the Colchians had remembrance of the Egyptians more than the Egyptians of the Colchians but the Egyptians said they believed that the Colchians were a portion of the army of Sesostris. That this was so I conjectured myself not only because they have black skins and curly hair (this of itself amounts to nothing, for there are other races which are so), but also still more because the Colchians, Egyptians, and Ethiopians alone of all the races of men have practised circumcision from the first. The Phenicians and the Syrians who dwell in Palestine confess themselves that they have learnt it from the Egyptians, and the Syrians about the river Thermodon and the river Parthenios, and the Macronians, who are their neighbours, say that they have learnt it lately from the Colchians. These are the only races of men who practise circumcision, and these evidently practise it in the same manner as the Egyptians.

Diodorus Siculus (60 BC), however, tells us that Ethiopia is the origin of Egyptian traditions and civilization (consistent with modern archaeological discoveries) and that Ethiopians colonized as far as India:

"Now the Ethiopians, as historians relate, were the first of all men and the proofs of this statement, they say, are manifest. For they did not come into their land as immigrants from abroad but were natives of it"

"We must now speak about the Ethiopian writing which is called hieroglyphic among the Egyptians, in order that we may omit nothing in our discussion of their antiquities. "

"They [the Ethiopians] say also that the Egyptians are colonists sent out by the Ethiopians, Osiris ["King of Kings and God of Gods"] having been the leader of the colony . . . they add that the Egyptians have received from them, as from authors and their ancestors, the greater part of their laws."

"Osiris being come to the borders of Ethiopia, raised high banks on either side of the river, lest, in the time of its inundation it should overflow the country more than was convenient make it marish and boggy and made flood-gates to let in the water by degrees, as far as was necessary. Thence he passed through Arabia, bordering upon the Red sea as far as to India, and the utmost coasts that were inhabited he built likewise many cities in India, one of which he called Nysa, willing to have a remembrance of that in Egypt where he was brought up. he planted ivy, which grows and remains here only of all other places in India. "

Like Herodotus, Siculus described Ethiopians as Black and their empire as vast, from central and East Africa to the Arabian penninsula. However, by Siculus' time, the capital had moved away from Meroe to the East where Ethiopians mined gold. This was the same time period in which the ancient Aksum leaders thrived:

"But there are also a great many other tribes of the Ethiopians, some of them dwelling in the land lying on both banks of the Nile and on the islands in the river, others inhabiting the neighbouring country of Arabia, and still others residing in the interior of Libya [the Greek term for interior Africa west of the Nile]. The majority of them, and especially those who dwell along the river, are black in colour and have flat noses and woolly hair. we feel that it is appropriate first to tell of the working of the gold as it is carried on in these regions. At the extremity of Egypt and in the contiguous territory of both Arabia and Ethiopia there lies a region which contains many large gold mines, where the gold is secured in great quantities."

Strabo (63 - 24 AD) provides even further detail on the extent of the Ethiopian empire, which included not just Arabia, but Europe as well:

"However, Sesostris, the Egyptian, he adds, and Tearco [Taharqa] the Aethiopian advanced as far as Europe and Nabocodrosor, who enjoyed greater repute among the Chaldaeans [in modern day Iraq] than Heracles, led an army even as far as the Pillars [Gibraltar]. Thus far, he says, also Tearco went. "

Ethiopia in Roman History (1 - 200 AD)

Later the term "Ethiopia" would become synonymous not just with the Kushites, but all Africans. Unlike the earlier Greek writers who distinguished Ethiopians from other Africans, Claudius Ptolemy (90 - 168 AD), a Roman citizen who lived in Alexandria, used "Ethiopia" as a racial term. In his Tetrabiblos: Or Quadripartite, he tried to explain the physical characteristics of people around the world saying, "They are consequently black in complexion, and have thick and curled hair. and they are called by the common name of Aethiopians."

Ethiopia in Byzantine History (c 700 AD)

Stephanus of Byzantium (circa 700 AD) wrote, "Ethiopia was the first established country on earth and the Ethiopians were the first to set up the worship of the gods and to establish laws."


Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Injera , a spongy unleavened bread made from teff grain, is the staple of every meal. All food is eaten with the hands, and pieces of injera are ripped into bite-sized pieces and used to dip and grab stews ( wat ) made of vegetables such as carrots and cabbage, spinach, potatoes, and lentils. The most common spice is berberey, which has a red pepper base.

The food taboos found in the Old Testament are observed by most people as the Ethiopian Orthodox Church prescribes them. The flesh of animals with uncloven hoofs and those that do not chew their cud are avoided as unclean. It is nearly impossible to get pork. Animals used for food must be slaughtered with the head turned toward the east while the throat is cut "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost" if the slaughterer is Christian or "In the name of Allah the Merciful" if the slaughterer is Muslim.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. The coffee ceremony is a common ritual. The server starts a fire and roasts green coffee beans while burning frankincense. Once roasted, the coffee beans are ground with a mortar and pestle, and the powder is placed in a traditional black pot called a jebena . Water is then added. The jebena is removed from the fire, and coffee is served after brewing for the proper length of time. Often, kolo (cooked whole-grain barley) is served with the coffee.

Meat, specifically beef, chicken, and lamb, is eaten with injera on special occasions. Beef is sometimes eaten raw or slightly cooked in a dish called kitfo. Traditionally, this was a staple of the diet, but in the modern era, many of the elite have shunned it in favor of cooked beef.

During Christian fasting periods, no animal products can be eaten and no food or drink can be consumed from midnight until 3 P.M. This is the standard way of fasting during the week, and on Saturday and Sunday no animal products may be consumed, although there is no time restriction on the fast.

Honey wine, called tej , is a drink reserved for special occasions. Tej is a mixture of honey and water flavored with gesho plant twigs and leaves and is traditionally drunk in tube-shaped flasks. High-quality tej has become a commodity of the upper class, which has the resources to brew and purchase it.

Basic Economy. The economy is based on agriculture, in which 85 percent of the population participates. Ecological problems such as periodic drought, soil degradation, deforestation, and a high population density negatively affect the agricultural industry. Most agricultural producers are subsistence farmers living in the highlands, while the population in the lowland peripheries is nomadic and engages in livestock raising. Gold, marble, limestone, and small amounts of tantalum are mined.

Land Tenure and Property. The monarchy and the Orthodox Church traditionally controlled and owned most of the land. Until the overthrow of the monarchy in 1974, there was a complex land tenure system for example, there were over 111 different types of tenure in Welo Province. Two major types of traditional land ownership that are no longer in existence were rist (a type of communal land ownership that was hereditary) and gult (ownership acquired from the monarch or provincial ruler).

The EPRDF instituted a policy of public land use. In rural areas, peasants have land use rights, and every five years there is a reallotment of land among farmers to adapt to the changing social structures of their communities. There are several reasons for the nonexistence of individual land ownership in rural areas. If private ownership were legislated, the government believes that rural class divisions would increase as a result of a large number of peasants selling their land.

Commercial Activities. Agriculture is the major commercial activity. The chief staple crops include a variety of grains, such as teff, wheat, barley, corn, sorghum, and millet coffee pulses and oilseed. Grains are the primary staples of the diet and are thus the most important field crops. Pulses are a principal source of protein in the diet. Oilseed consumption is widespread because the Ethiopian Orthodox Church prohibits the usage of animal fats on many days during the year.

Major Industries. After nationalization of the private sector before the 1974 revolution, an exodus of foreign-owned and foreign-operated industry ensued. The growth rate of the manufacturing sector declined. Over 90 percent of large scale industries are state-run, as opposed to less than 10 percent of agriculture. Under the EPRDF administration, there is both public and private industry. Public industries include the garment, steel, and textile industries, while much of the pharmaceuticals industry is owned by shareholders. Industry accounts for almost 14 percent of the gross domestic product, with textiles, construction, cement, and hydroelectric power constituting the majority of production.

Trade. The most important export crop is coffee, which provides 65 to 75 percent of foreign exchange earnings. Ethiopia has vast agricultural potential because of its large areas of fertile land, a diverse climate, and generally adequate rainfall. Hides and skins are the second largest export, followed by pulses, oilseed, gold, and chat, a quasi-legal plant whose leaves possess psychotropic qualities, that is chewed in social groups. The agricultural sector is subject to periodic drought, and poor infrastructure constrains the production and marketing of Ethiopia's products. Only 15 percent of the roads are paved this is a problem particularly in the highlands, where there are two rainy seasons causing many roads to be unusable for weeks at a time. The two biggest imports are live animals and petroleum. The majority of Ethiopia's exports are sent to Germany, Japan, Italy and the United Kingdom, while imports are primarily brought in from Italy, the United States, Germany, and Saudi Arabia.

Division of Labor. Men do the most physically taxing activities outside the house, while women are in charge of the domestic sphere. Young children, especially on farms, get involved in household labor at an early age. Girls usually have a greater amount of work to do than boys.

Ethnicity is another axis of labor stratification. Ethiopia is a multi-ethnic state with a history of ethnic division. Currently, the Tigrean ethnic group controls the government and holds the core positions of power in the federal government. Ethnicity is not the sole basis for employment in the government political ideology also plays an important role.


The World Jewish Community

Halevy&rsquos student, Jaques Faitlovitch, was the first Jewish foreigner to work in earnest on improving conditions for the Ethiopian Jewish community. Arriving for his first visit in 1904 and returning several times in subsequent years, Faitlovitch created tiny schools in Addis Ababa for Beta Israel members, hand-picked 25 young leaders for education abroad, and acted as an emissary on behalf of the world Jewish community.

Faitlovich secured two letters from rabbis abroad acknowledging the Beta Israel as fellow Jews. The first letter, written in 1906, called the Beta Israel &ldquoour brethren, sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who dwell in Abyssinia&rdquo and &ldquoour flesh and blood.&rdquo The letter, which promised to help the community in its religious education, was signed by 44 world Jewish leaders including the chief rabbis of London and Vienna and the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem.

The second letter, from 1921, was written by Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the revered Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Palestine. He called on the Jewish people worldwide to save the Beta Israel &mdash &ldquo50,000 holy souls of the house of Israel&rdquo &mdash from &ldquoextinction and contamination.&rdquo

Faitlovich&rsquos work on behalf of the Beta Israel community came to a dramatic halt with the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935-6. Under fascist rule, it became forbidden to practice Judaism in Ethiopia.

Some of Faitlovitch&rsquos work was undeniably controversial &mdash he created a schism dividing the young, westernized leaders he chose from the elders of the rural communities. But, until the 1960s, no one but Faitlovitch took such a dedicated interest in the community, invested in it financially and educationally, and visited with such regularity. Moreover, it was the letters that Faitlovitch brought to Ethiopia from Kook and other contemporary Jewish leaders that allowed the Beta Israel to cling to their hopes of returning to the Promised Land, and, decades later, for world Jewry to readily accept them.


Ethiopia Links - History

Bible Cities : Ethiopia

Ethiopia in Easton's Bible Dictionary country of burnt faces the Greek word by which the Hebrew Cush is rendered (Gen. 2:13 2 Kings 19:9 Esther 1:1 Job 28:19 Ps. 68:31 87:4), a country which lay to the south of Egypt, beginning at Syene on the First Cataract (Ezek. 29:10 30:6), and extending to beyond the confluence of the White and Blue Nile. It corresponds generally with what is now known as the Soudan (i.e., the land of the blacks). This country was known to the Hebrews, and is described in Isa. 18:1 Zeph. 3:10. They carried on some commercial intercourse with it (Isa. 45:14). Its inhabitants were descendants of Ham (Gen. 10:6 Jer. 13:23 Isa. 18:2, "scattered and peeled," A.V. but in R.V., "tall and smooth"). Herodotus, the Greek historian, describes them as "the tallest and handsomest of men." They are frequently represented on Egyptian monuments, and they are all of the type of the true negro. As might be expected, the history of this country is interwoven with that of Egypt. Ethiopia is spoken of in prophecy (Ps. 68:31 87:4 Isa. 45:14 Ezek. 30:4-9 Dan. 11:43 Nah. 3:8-10 Hab. 3:7 Zeph. 2:12).

Ethiopia in Fausset's Bible Dictionary Hebrew Cush. (See CUSH BABYLON.) Isaiah 11:11. S. of Egypt. Now Nubia, Sennaar, Kordofan, and N. Abyssinia. In a stricter sense the kingdom of Meroe from the junction of the Blue and the White Nile to the border of Egypt. Syene on the N. marked the boundary from Egypt (Ezekiel 29:10 Ezekiel 30:6). The Red Sea was on the Ethiopia, the Libyan desert on the W. The native name was Ethaush the Greek "Ethiopia" means the land of the sunburnt. Compare Jeremiah 13:23, "can the Ethiopian change his skin?" "The rivers of Ethiopia" (Zephaniah 3:10) are the two branches of the Nile and the Astabbras (Tacazze). The Nile forms a series of cataracts here. The dispersed Israelites shall be brought as an offering by the nations to the Lord (Zephaniah 3:8-9 Isaiah 66:20 Isaiah 60:9), from both the African and the Babylonian Cush, where the ten tribes were scattered in Peter's time (1 Peter 1:1 1 Peter 5:13 Isaiah 11:11, "from Cush and from Shinar".) The Falashas of Abyssinia are probably of the ten tribes. In Isaiah 18:1, "the land shadowing with wings" is Ethiopia shadowing (protecting) with its two wings (Egyptian and Ethiopian forces) the Jews, "a nation scattered and peeled" (loaded with indignity, made bald) though once "terrible" when God put a terror of them into surrounding nations (Exodus 23:27 Joshua 2:9), "a nation meted out and trodden down whose land the (Assyrian) rivers (i.e. armies, Isaiah 8:7-8) have spoiled" the Jews, not the Ethiopians. Ethiopia had sent her ambassadors to Jerusalem where they now were (Isaiah 18:2), Tirhakah their king shortly afterward being the ally whose diversion in that city's favor saved it from Sennacherib (Isaiah 36:37). Isaiah announces Sennacherib's coming overthrow to the Ethiopian ambassadors and desires them to carry the tidings to their own land (compare Isaiah 17:12-14 not "woe" but "ho," calling attention (Isaiah 18:1-2) go, take back the tidings of what God is about, to do against Assyria, the common foe of both Ethiopia and Judah. Queen Candace reigned in this Nile-formed is land region the name is the official designation of a female dynasty shortly before our Lord's time (Acts 8:27). The "vessels of bulrushes" or papyrus boats are peculiarly suited to the Upper Nile, as being capable of carriage on the shoulders at the rocks and cataracts. Ethiopia" is often used when Upper Egypt and Ethiopia are meant. It is the Thebaid or Upper Egypt, not Ethiopia by itself, that was peopled and cultivated, when most of Lower Egypt was a marsh. Thus Ethiopia and Egypt are said (Nahum 3:9) to be the "strength" of "populous No" or Thebes. Zerah the Ethiopian who attacked Asa at Mareshah on the S. of Israel, and Tirhakah the Ethiopian who advanced toward Judah against Sennacherib, were doubtless rulers of Upper Egypt and Ethiopia combined. Tirhakah's name is found only on a Theban temple, and his connection with Ethiopia is marked by several monuments there being ascribed to him. An Azerch-Amen reigned in Ethiopia, we know from the monuments perhaps = Zerah (Rawlinson). Hincks identifies him with Osorkon I, king of Egypt, second of the 22nd dynasty (See ASA) (2 Chronicles 14:9). Tirhakah was third of the 25th dynasty of Egypt, an Ethiopian dynasty. So or Sevechus or Sabacho was another of this dynasty the ally of Hoshea king of Israel against Shalmaneser (2 Kings 17:3-4). Osirtasin I (Sesostris, Herodotus, 2:110), of the 12th dynasty, was the first Egyptian king who ruled Ethiopia. While the shepherd kings ruled Lower Egypt the 13th native dynasty retired to the Ethiopian capital Napara. Shishak's army was largely composed of Ethiopians (2 Chronicles 12:3). The monuments confirm Isaiah 20:4 Nahum 3:5 Nahum 3:8-9, by representing Sargon as warring with Egypt and making the Pharaoh tributary they also make Ethiopia closely united to Egypt. Probably he was provoked by the help which So had given to his rebel tributary Hoshea. The inscriptions tell us Sargon destroyed No-Amon or Thebes in part, which was the capital of Upper Egypt, with which Ethiopia was joined. Esarhaddon, according to the monuments, conquered Egypt and Ethiopia Meroe was the emporium where the produce of the distant S. was gathered for transport either by the Nile or by caravans to northern Africa compare Isaiah 45:14.

Ethiopia in Naves Topical Bible (A region in Africa, inhabited by the descendants of Ham) -The inhabitants of, black Jer 13:23 -Within the Babylonian empire Es 1:1 -Rivers of Ge 10:6 Isa 18:1 -Bordered Egypt on the south Eze 29:10 -Was called the land of Cush, mentioned in Ge 10:6 1Ch 1:9 Isa 11:11 -Warriors of Jer 46:9 2Ch 12:3 Eze 38:5 -Defeated by Asa 2Ch 14:9-15 16:8 -Invaded Syria 2Ki 19:9 -Merchandise of Isa 45:14 -Moses marries a woman of Nu 12:1 -Ebel-melech, at the court of Babylon, native of -Treats Jeremiah kindly Jer 38:7-13 39:15-18 -Candace, queen of Ac 8:27 -A eunuch from, becomes a disciple beause of the preaching of Philip Ac 8:27-39 -Prophecies concerning the conversion of Ps 68:31 87:4 Isa 45:14 Da 11:43 -Desolation of Isa 18:1-6 20:2-6 43:3 Eze 30:4-9 Hab 3:7 Zep 2:12

Ethiopia in Smiths Bible Dictionary (burnt faces). The country which the Greeks and Romans described as "AEthiopia" and the Hebrews as "Cush" lay to the south of Egypt, and embraced, in its most extended sense, the modern Nubia, Sennaar, Kordofan and northern Abyssinia, and in its more definite sense the kingdom of Meroe. Eze 29:10 The Hebrews do not appear to have had much practical acquaintance with Ethiopia itself, though the Ethiopians were well known to them through their intercourse with Egypt. The inhabitants of Ethiopia were a Hamitic race. Ge 10:6 They were divided into various tribes, of which the Sabeans were the most powerful. The history of Ethiopia is closely interwoven with that of Egypt. The two countries were not unfrequently united under the rule of the same sovereign. Shortly before our Saviour's birth a native dynasty of females, holding the official title of Candace (Plin. vi. 35), held sway in Ethiopia, and even resisted the advance of the Roman arms. One of these is the queen noticed in Ac 8:27

Ethiopia in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE e-thi-o'-pi-a (kush Aithiopia): 1. Location, Extent and Population: Critically speaking Ethiopia may refer only to the Nile valley above the First Cataract, but in ancient as in modern times the term was often used not only to include what is now known as Nubia and the Sudan (Soudan), but all the unknown country farther West and South, and also at times Northern, if not Southern, Abyssinia. While Ethiopia was so indefinitely large, yet the narrow river valley, which from the First to the Fifth Cataract represented the main agricultural resources of the country, was actually a territory smaller than Egypt and, excluding deserts, smaller than Belgium (W. Max Muller). The settled population was also small, since in ancient as in modern times Egypt naturally drew away most of the able-bodied and energetic youth as servants, police and soldiers. The prehistoric population of Northern Nubia was probably Egyptian but this was displaced in early historic time by a black race, and the thick lips and woolly hair of the typical African are as well marked in the oldest Egyptian paintings as in the latest. But by the side of these natives of K'sh, the artist also represents various reddish-brown varieties for from the beginning of historic time the pure Negro stock has been mixed with the fellaheen of Egypt and with the Sere population of the Arabian coast. The rulers of Ethiopia were generally of foreign blood. The Negroes, though brave and frugal, were slow in thought, and although controlled for centuries by cultivated neighbors, under whom they attained at times high official prominence, yet the body of the people remained uninfluenced by this civilization. The country which we now know as Abyssinia was largely controlled, from the earliest known date, by a Caucasian people who had crossed the Red Sea from Arabia. The true Abyssinians, as Professor Littmann shows, contain no Negro blood and no Negro qualities. In general they are "well formed and handsome, with straight and regular features, lively eyes, hair long and straight or somewhat curled and in color dark olive approaching brown." Modern discoveries prove their close racial and linguistic connection with Southern Arabia and particularly with the kingdom of Sheba (the Sabeans), that most powerful people whose extensive architectural and literary remains have recently come to light. The Sabean inscriptions found in Abyssinia go back some 2,600 years and give a new value to the Bible references as well as to the constant claim of Josephus that the queen of Sheba was a "queen of Ethiopia." The Falashas are a Jewish community living near Lake Tsana, of the same physical type and probably of the same race as other Abyssinians. Their religion is a "pure Mosaism" based upon the Ethiopic version of the Pentateuch, but modified by the fact that they are ignorant of the Hebrew language (Jewish Encyclopedia). It is uncertain when they became Jews. The older scholars thought of them as dating back to the Solomonic era, or at least to the Babylonian captivity. Since the researches of Joseph Halevy (1868), some date within the Christian era has seemed preferable, notwithstanding their ignorance of Talmudic rules. However, the newly discovered fact that a strong Jewish community was flourishing at Syene in the 6th century BC makes it clear that Jewish influence may have been felt in Ethiopia at least that early. Although Abyssinians.

Ethiopia Scripture - 2 Kings 19:9 And when he heard say of Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, Behold, he is come out to fight against thee: he sent messengers again unto Hezekiah, saying,

Ethiopia Scripture - Acts 8:27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,

Ethiopia Scripture - Esther 1:1 Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus, (this [is] Ahasuerus which reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, [over] an hundred and seven and twenty provinces:)

Ethiopia Scripture - Esther 8:9 Then were the king's scribes called at that time in the third month, that [is], the month Sivan, on the three and twentieth [day] thereof and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded unto the Jews, and to the lieutenants, and the deputies and rulers of the provinces which [are] from India unto Ethiopia, an hundred twenty and seven provinces, unto every province according to the writing thereof, and unto every people after their language, and to the Jews according to their writing, and according to their language.

Ethiopia Scripture - Ezekiel 29:10 Behold, therefore I [am] against thee, and against thy rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste [and] desolate, from the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia.

Ethiopia Scripture - Ezekiel 30:4 And the sword shall come upon Egypt, and great pain shall be in Ethiopia, when the slain shall fall in Egypt, and they shall take away her multitude, and her foundations shall be broken down.

Ethiopia Scripture - Ezekiel 30:5 Ethiopia, and Libya, and Lydia, and all the mingled people, and Chub, and the men of the land that is in league, shall fall with them by the sword.

Ethiopia Scripture - Ezekiel 38:5 Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them all of them with shield and helmet:

Ethiopia Scripture - Genesis 2:13 And the name of the second river [is] Gihon: the same [is] it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.

Ethiopia Scripture - Isaiah 18:1 Woe to the land shadowing with wings, which [is] beyond the rivers of Ethiopia:

Ethiopia Scripture - Isaiah 20:3 And the LORD said, Like as my servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot three years [for] a sign and wonder upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia

Ethiopia Scripture - Isaiah 20:5 And they shall be afraid and ashamed of Ethiopia their expectation, and of Egypt their glory.

Ethiopia Scripture - Isaiah 37:9 And he heard say concerning Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, He is come forth to make war with thee. And when he heard [it], he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying,

Ethiopia Scripture - Isaiah 43:3 For I [am] the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt [for] thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.

Ethiopia Scripture - Isaiah 45:14 Thus saith the LORD, The labour of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine: they shall come after thee in chains they shall come over, and they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee, [saying], Surely God [is] in thee and [there is] none else, [there is] no God.

Ethiopia Scripture - Job 28:19 The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold.

Ethiopia Scripture - Nahum 3:9 Ethiopia and Egypt [were] her strength, and [it was] infinite Put and Lubim were thy helpers.

Ethiopia Scripture - Psalms 68:31 Princes shall come out of Egypt Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.

Ethiopia Scripture - Psalms 87:4 I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me: behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia this [man] was born there.

Ethiopia Scripture - Zephaniah 3:10 From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, [even] the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering.


Growth and Development in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a fascinating country to use as a case study in economic growth and development.

According to a recent editorial in the Financial Times, "Ethiopia has transformed in 20 years from a famine-ravaged nation into a destination for savvy and well-known private equity groups such as KKR."

Ethiopian economic growth compared to Sub Saharan Africa

Economic growth

  • Over the last decade, Ethiopia has been one of the fastest-growing countries in the world averaging annual increases in real GDP of close to 10%.
  • The pace of expansion is expected to slowdown in the near term but real GDP growth is likely to be around 7.5% in 2014-15, driven by public capital investment in critical infrastructure such as extended road and power networks, which benefit both industry and agriculture.
  • Long-term economic growth potential is boosted by untapped reserves of coal, gold, oil and gas.
  • The country has experienced significant foreign direct investment valued at 2% of GDP in 2014 and this is set to continue growing, through investments in agriculture and manufacturing.

Structure of GDP

  • Ethiopia remains heavily dependent on farming for her economic growth
  • Rain-fed agriculture (accounting for almost 50% of GDP) is the country's main source of employment and export earnings, which results in vulnerability to weather shocks that affect farm yields, incomes, profits and domestic investment.

  • Fast growing countries often experience accelerating inflation rates and Ethiopia is no exception with consumer price inflation measured at 6% on average in 2014.
  • However higher interest rates set by the Ethiopia central bank and a period of lower global commodity prices has helped to prevent inflation from surging into double-digit territory.

External trade, external debt, aid and FDI

  • A key feature of the Ethiopian economy is a persistent large current account deficit on the balance of payments combined with low foreign exchange reserves estimated to be sufficient only to cover the cost of three months worth of imports.
  • The current account deficit may exceed 6% of GDP in 2015 and is structural rather than cyclical, given major capital imports for infrastructure development and low-value exports (20% of which come direct from coffee exports). Major power generation projects are under way and are set to boost exports when completed.
  • At around 30% of GDP, Ethiopian external debt is relatively low as are its servicing costs. Indeed, 70% of the debt stock is public medium- and long-term debt to official creditors, both multilateral and bilateral.
  • The Ethiopian government benefits from large foreign aid inflows – worth 6% of GDP in 2013 and almost 20% of government revenues. They are supported by Ethiopia's geopolitical importance as a key Western ally in the unstable, terrorism-prone Horn of Africa.

Fiscal Position

  • After increasing sharply in 2013 due to high spending on infrastructure (capital spending reached 14% of GDP in 2013), the fiscal deficit is likely to decline to 2.5%-3% of GDP in 2014-15. Public (government) debt is low, at less than 25% of GDP.

Basic living standards and human development

  • GDP per capita is very low (only $570 in 2014) and Ethiopia ranks 173/187 on the UN's Human Development Index.
  • However, the extreme poverty rate drastically declined to 30% in 2011 (from 60% in 1995) and income distribution is relatively even.
  • Institutions are weak as per the governance indicators from the World Bank.
  • The country remains in transition to becoming a more market-based economy

Links for further research

Guardian (October 2014): Ethiopia's 'African tiger' leaps towards middle income: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/pove.

The country has a grand five-year Growth and Transformation Plan which ran from 2010 and is expected to end by 2015 that foresees sustainable means of economic, social and environmental development.


Ethiopian Jewry: Timeline of Ethiopian Jewish History

4th Century CE &mdash Christianity is introduced into the Axum dynasty in Ethiopia.

7th Century &mdash With the spread of Islam, Ethiopia is isolated from most of the Christian world. The Beta Israel enjoy a period of independence before the power struggles of the middle ages.

9th Century &mdash The earliest apparent reference to the Beta Israel appears in the diary of Eldad Hadani, a merchant and traveler claiming to have been a citizen of an autonomous Jewish state in eastern Africa inhabited by the tribes of Dan, Naftali, Gad, and Asher.

13th Century &mdash The Solominic dynasty (which claims descent from Solomon and Bathsheba) assumes control. During the next 300 years (1320-1620), intermittent wars are fought between the Christian kings of Ethiopia and those of the Beta Israel, which finally result in the Beta Israel's loss of independence.

16th Century &mdash Rabbi David B. Zimra, known as the Radbaz, issues a legal response in Cairo declaring that "those who come from the land Cush (Ethiopia) are without a doubt the Tribe of Dan. " He confirms that Ethiopian Jews are fully Jewish.

1622 &mdash Christians conquer the Ethiopian Jewish Kingdom following 300 years of warfare. The vanquished Jews are sold as slaves, forced to baptize, and denied the right to own land.

1769 &mdash Scottish explorer James Bruce awakens the western world to the existence of the Ethiopian Jews in his travels to discover the source of the Nile. He estimates the Jewish population at 100,000.

1855 &mdash Daniel Ben Hamdya, an Ethiopian Jew, independently travels to Jerusalem to meet with rabbis.

1864 &mdash Rabbi Azriel Hildesheimer, the Rabbi of Eisenstadt, Germany, publishes a manifesto in the Jewish press calling for the spiritual rescue of Ethiopian Jewry.

1867 &mdash Professor Joseph Halevy is the first European Jew to visit the Beta Israel, subsequently becoming an advocate for the community.

1904 &mdash Jacques Faitlovitch, a student of Professor Joseph Halevy, makes his first trip to Ethiopia to visit the Beta Israel. He commits his life on their behalf and actively tries to reconnect the community with the rest of world Jewry. He establishes the first "pro-Falasha" committees in the United States, Britain, and Palestine (under the control of the Ottoman Empire) and takes the first Ethiopian Jewish students to Europe and to Israel to increase their Jewish education.

1908 &mdash Rabbis of 44 countries proclaim Ethiopian Jews to be authentic Jews.

1935-1941 &mdash The Italian fascist army conquers Ethiopia and meets fierce resistance from the Ethiopian partisans, including the Jews.

1947 &mdash Ethiopia abstains in the United Nations vote for the partition of the British Mandate of Palestine.

1955 &mdash Israel's Jewish Agency builds numerous schools and a teachers seminary for the Jews of Ethiopia. Two groups of Ethiopian Jewish students are sent to the Israeli youth village of Kfar Batya to learn Hebrew and other Jewish subjects.

1956 &mdash Israel and Ethiopia establish consular relations.

1958 &mdash Israel sends two public health teams to Ambober in the Gondar Province where most Jews are located.

1961 &mdash Ethiopia and Israel begin full diplomatic relations.

1969 &mdash The American Association for Ethiopian Jews is founded by Dr. Graenum Berger.

1970's &mdash ORT (Organization for the Rýehabilitation and Training) sets up schools, clinics, and vocational training centers in Ethiopia.

1973 &mdash Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Israel's Chief Sephardic Rabbi, rules, following the Radbaz, that the Beta Israel are from the tribe of Dan and confirms the Jewish identity of the community.

1974 &mdash Emperor Haile Selassie, ruler of Ethiopia since 1930, is overthrown in a coup. A Marxist regime is established and headed by Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam. This begins a wave of violent acts throughout the country, some severely affecting the Jews.

1975 &mdash Agrarian Reform, meant to benefit tenant farmers, including Jews, creates a violent backlash by traditional landowners and much suffering for all of Ethiopia's citizens. Israel, in an attempt to improve relations with Ethiopia and secure freedom for the Beta Israel, renews military assistance to Ethiopia after Somalia besieges it on the southeastern border. Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren agrees with the 1973 opinion of Rabbi Yosef. Interior Minister Shlomo Hillel signs an ordinance to accept all Ethiopian Jews officially under the Israeli Law of Return. Ethiopian Jews are granted full citizenship and receive the full rights given to new immigrants.

1976 &mdash Approximately 250 Ethiopians Jews are living in Israel.

1977 &mdash Prime Minister Menachem Begin comes to power in Israel. He requests that Colonel Mariam allow Israel to transport approximately 200 Jews to Israel in an empty Israel military jet returning to Israel from Ethiopia.

1977-1984 &mdash Approximately 8,000 Ethiopian Jews are brought to Israel by covert action, most from 1981-84 as part of Operation Brothers.

1980 &mdash Canadian Association for Ethiopian Jews is founded in Toronto, Canada.

1982 &mdash North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry is founded by Barbara Ribakov Gordon, in New York.

1984 &mdash The massive airlift known as Operation Moses begins on November 18 h and ends on January 5, 1985. During those six weeks, some 6,500 Ethiopian Jews are flown from Sudan to Israel. Attempts are made to keep the rescue effort secret, but public disclosure forces an abrupt end. In the end, an estimated 2,000 Jews die en route to Sudan or in Sudanese refugee camps.

1985 &mdash Secret CIA-sonsored airlift brings 494 Jews from Sudan to Israel.

1984-1988 &mdash With the abrupt halting of Operation Joshua in 1985, the Ethiopian Jewish community is split in half, with some 15,000 souls in Israel, and more than 15,000 still stranded in Ethiopia. For the next five years, only very small numbers of Jews reach Israel.

1986 &mdash The United States Congressional Caucus for Ethiopian Jewry is established with over 140 representatives currently listed.

1987 &mdash The Ethiopian leaders in Israel organize an assembly at Binyanei Ha'uma in Jerusalem, where the Israeli public comes together in solidarity for reunification of Ethiopian Jewry. Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, Absorption Minister Yacov Tsur, Knesset Speaker Shlomo Hillel, International Human Rights Lawyer Erwin Cotler, and Natan Scharansky participate in the conference.

1988 &mdash The World Union of Jewish Students holds a conference on Ethiopian Jewry in Ashkelon with a closing ceremony at President Herzog's home. Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations, Pinchas Eliav, makes a formal statement at the United Nations Human Rights Commission for the reunification of Ethiopian Jews in Israel.

1989 &mdash Ethiopia and Israel renew diplomatic relations. This creates high hopes among Jewry for the reunification of Ethiopian Jews in Israel.

1990 &mdash Ethiopia's ruler, Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam, makes a public statement expressing desire to allow Ethiopian Jews to be reunited with family members in Israel.

1991 &mdash With Eritrean rebels advancing on the capital each day, Colonel Mengistu flees Ethiopia. Israel asks the United States to urge rebels to allow a rescue operation for Ethiopian Jews. On May 24-25, Operation Solomon airlifts 14,324 Jews to Israel aboard thirty-four El Al jets in just over thirty-six hours.

2012-2013 &mdash Operation Dove&rsquos Wings brings 7,000 Falash Mura to Israel.

Sources: The Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews (IAEJ). Written by the staff of PRIMER&mdashPromoting Research in the Middle East Region. Sources Cited: &ldquoFrom Addis to Jerusalem,&rdquo Jewish Agency for Israel, Jerusalem, Israel, 1991. &ldquoReunify Ethiopian Jewry: Top Priority,&rdquo World Union of Jewish Students, Jerusalem, Israel, 1989.

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HistoryLink.org

Ethiopians and Eritreans have lived in the Seattle area since the late 1960s, beginning with university students. From 1980 with the passage of the Refugee Act until about 2000, thousands of Ethiopians and Eritreans arrived in Seattle as immigrants and as refugees as a result of oppressive political regimes, drought, and war. In the early twenty-first century, Ethiopians and Eritreans have come to the United States through the Diversity Immigration Visa program, which grants permanent resident cards to potential immigrants based on a lottery system. Both Ethiopian and Eritrean communities have thrived in Seattle, but also face similar challenges. These include preparing the aging first generation of immigrants for retirement and keeping children in school and helping them to become good citizens through after-school programming at their respective community centers. Community centers provide a social space and many programs including those designed to help preserve culture and heritage. The Ethiopian Community Mutual Association welcomes all Ethiopians. (Ethiopians are ethnically diverse and speak different languages.) The Eritrean Association in Greater Seattle serves the Eritrean community.

National Background: Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a large, geographically and ethnically diverse country in Eastern Africa, in a region of the continent known as the “Horn of Africa.” It shares borders with Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, and Sudan. As of 2010, Ethiopia is the 14th most-populous nation in the world, with 85 million people. It is known as a country that exports great coffee, as the site of the hominid fossil “Lucy,” as the supposed site of the Ark of the Covenant, and as the only African country to resist colonization from a European country. Though Italy occupied Ethiopia from 1936 to 1941, Ethiopia had earlier defeated Italy in the 1896 Battle of Adwa and limited Italy's reach to what was then its colony of Eritrea. Since the fourth century, the national religion of Ethiopia has been Ethiopian Orthodox Christian, but for hundreds of years the the country has also had a large population of Jewish and Muslim peoples. Today, Ethiopia is about 43 percent Ethiopian Orthodox and 34 percent Muslim. The country is also ethnically diverse, and is made up of Oromo, Amhara, Tigray, Somali, and other peoples, each of which speak their own languages.

After 33 years of continuous rule by Emperor Haile Selassie I, Ethiopia’s political climate changed dramatically when, in 1974, a communist military junta group called the Derg seized power over the country. The Derg was an oppressive regime that killed students and urban professionals during the Red Terror between 1975 and 1978. During the Derg regime, which remained in power until 1991, one in 20 Ethiopians left the country as a result of political turmoil and wide-scale drought. This number included 55,000 African Jews, part of Beta Israel of Ethiopia, who were airlifted to Israel in 1984 and 1991. In 1991, a coalition of rebel forces called the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) took control and in 1994 adopted a constitution. However, opposition in Ethiopia against the EPRDF still exists, as well as the problems with frequent drought and a poverty-stricken economy. Since 2000, very few Ethiopian immigrants have arrived as refugees. Instead they come to Seattle on Diversity Visas.

Arriving in Seattle

The first Ethiopians came to Seattle as students in the late 1960s and the early 1970s. Most of these students intended to get their education in Washington and then return to work and live in Ethiopia. But in 1974, these plans changed when the Derg ousted Emperor Haile Selassie, bringing instability to the country. From 1974 to 2009, about 2.5 million Ethiopians fled the country in response to the oppressive Derg regime, the EPRDF party, which took power in 1991, war, and famine.

In 1971, there were between 10 and 20 Ethiopians in Washington state by the early 1980s there were about 200 Ethiopians, mostly in the Seattle area. This small community was mostly made up of students and they met with one another at Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church as well as at a Greek restaurant on “the Ave” -- University Way in Seattle. Following the passage of the 1980 Refugee Act, these individuals sponsored Ethiopian refugees, many of whom had already spent years in refugee camps in Kenya, Sudan, and Egypt and who may also have tried migrating to the Middle East and Europe.

In February 1982, four Ethiopian and American families opened Seattle’s first Ethiopian restaurant, Kokeb, in the University District. At first Ethiopia’s most frequently used and important food grain, teff, was not available in the Seattle area, so the injera (sour, spongy flat bread) Ethiopian students could find was not very authentic. By the mid-1980s, Seattle’s Ethiopian population swelled, and teff as well as other products and foodstuffs Ethiopians missed from back home became available.

Ethiopian Community Mutual Association

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Seattle’s small Ethiopian population had tried to organize some kind of community organization to help new immigrants. However, these groups were not knowledgeable enough about how to help, and they were rather ineffective. In 1983, some Ethiopians formed the Ethiopian Refugee Association, which later became the Ethiopian Community Mutual Association, formally incorporated as a 501 C (3) non-profit corporation in 1987.

The initial goal of the Ethiopian Community Mutual Association was to help refugees to become good citizens, find work, send their kids to school, and immerse themselves in the new American culture. Ethiopians who identified as Oromo or Tigray people also opened their own community centers to provide assistance to new arrivals who shared the same ethnic heritage and spoke the same language. As of 2010, there are more than 25,000 Ethiopians living in the Seattle area, making it one of the largest communities of Ethiopians in the United States.

Seattle's Ethiopian Community

Ethiopians own many Seattle businesses, many of which are on First Hill’s Cherry Street. These businesses include a taxicab company, small grocery stores, and Ethiopian restaurants, which have introduced Seattleites to injeraand, the special Ethiopian seasoning known as berbere. Ethiopians work as insurance agents, lawyers, and government employees.

As of 2010, the Ethiopian community had an Amharic language newspaper, three Amharic TV programs, and a radio program run by Ethiopian women in the community. However, many Ethiopian families struggle in Seattle, adjusting to a new life in the United States, learning English, living in low-income housing, and working two jobs in order to support themselves. The aim of the Ethiopian community and the Ethiopian Community Mutual Association is to help these families succeed.

Since Ethiopians in Seattle come from different ethnicities, religions, and, sometimes, speak different languages, there have been some divisions along religious and ethnic lines in Seattle in the past. In addition, Ethiopians tend to distinguish between old immigrants, who came to the United States as students and more recent immigrants who may have come to Seattle as refugees. Despite these divisions, Ezra Teshome, an Ethiopian community leader, maintains that there is mutual respect among the different Ethiopian groups. With the purchase of a new community center by the Ethiopian Community Mutual Association on August 31, 2010, the community will have a greater opportunity to come together and unify, as the center will accept anyone who identifies as Ethiopian. This also includes a group of about 50 American families that have adopted Ethiopian children and don’t want their kids to lose touch with their own culture.

National Background: Eritrea

Eritrea is a small African country on the coast of the Red Sea in eastern African. In an area known as the “Horn of Africa,” Eritrea borders Ethiopia, Sudan, and Djibouti. In 2010, Eritrea had a population of about 5.6 million. About half of its people are Tigrinya (or Tigray) and 40 percent are Tigre. In Eritrea, Islam and Coptic Christianity are the dominant religions. Despite the ethnic, religious, and political diversity in Eritrea, there has been little divisiveness, perhaps in part because Eritreans have had to unify in order to defeat Ethiopia.

Eritrea’s 670 miles of coastline makes the country a strategically important point along the Red Sea and different invaders have sought to control the area for centuries. The Ottoman Empire controlled the area now known as Eritrea from 1557 until 1865, when the Egyptians took possession of the region. Not long after, Italy colonized the country in 1889 and held onto the colony until World War II. The Italians wanted to establish coaling stations for its ships passing through the newly opened Suez Canal. In 1941, the British expelled Italian forces from “Italian East Africa,” a colony created in the 1930s made up of Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Italian Somaliland. In 1952, Eritrea was federated with Ethiopia by a UN Mandate and allowed an autonomous parliament. However, in 1962, Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie annexed the territory and dissolved Eritrea’s Parliament.

This marked the start of a 30-year civil war between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Two Eritrean groups led the effort in the war, the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) and the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF), which split off from the ELF in 1970, reconciled in 1974, and then split off again in 1977. By the late 1970s, the EPLF had mostly taken over the war effort, and many ELF members moved to Sudan as refugees. However, hundreds of thousands of Eritrean civilians also fled Eritrea as a result of conditions during the war and a severe drought. Eritrean refugees usually first came to African countries like Sudan and, in some cases, were able to move to Europe or the United States.

On May 24, 1991, Eritrea announced its independence from Ethiopia, after having driven the remaining Ethiopian army from the region. On May 24, 1993, Eritrea became internationally recognized as the newest country in Africa. From 1998 to 2000, Eritrea was again at war with Ethiopia over a border dispute, meaning Eritreans were again displaced from their home country.

Arriving in Seattle

The first Eritreans to come to Seattle came in the 1960s and 1970s as students on scholarships or, in a minority of cases, jumped ship when their employers’ boats docked in Seattle shipyards. It was not until the late 1970s that the first Eritrean refugees arrived after a change in U.S. policy towards African refugees during the Carter Administration. With the help of a lawyer hired to represent Eritrean refugees in Sudan and later the 1980 Refugee Act, the first Eritrean refugees arrived in the United States in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Individuals and churches in the Seattle area sponsored Eritreans and the community grew quickly. New immigrants faced the challenges of a new culture, language, and different educational systems in Seattle. Most Eritrean refugees came to Seattle between 1989 and 1993.

There are currently somewhere between 6,000 and 8,000 Eritreans living in the Seattle area, most of whom came to the United States as refugees. Though relative to other immigrant groups in Seattle, this number is small, the Seattle’s Eritrean community makes up more than one quarter of the Eritrean population in the United States and is among the largest Eritrean communities in the country.

Seattle's Eritrean Community

The first Eritrean organizations in Seattle were political groups focused on what was happening back in Eritrea. The first, founded by students in the 1970s was the group Eritreans for Liberation in Northern America. By early 1980s, two rival political organizations existed in Seattle for supporters of Eritrea’s two primary liberation armies, the ELF and the EPLF. When the war ended, however, many in Seattle’s Eritrean population realized that it was no longer necessary to back one political organization or another, as the conflict was over.

Eritrean community members debated what the new purpose of their organizations should be -- some were in favor of creating a lobby group on behalf of Eritrea and others pushed for a community organization that would help and support Eritreans in Seattle. The two organizations, the Eritrean Association in Greater Seattle and the Eritrean Community Association in Seattle and Vicinity, created in 1983, transformed into organizations that celebrated Eritrean culture and language and sought to help new immigrants to the Seattle area.

Eritrean Association in Greater Seattle

In 1994, the Eritrean Association in Greater Seattle registered as a nonprofit community organization meant to help Eritrean parents and children in Seattle and King County. In 1996, the association raised $82,000 from its members to purchase a house and small piece of land at 1528 Valentine Place S, just south of I-90. In 2003, the Eritrean Association in Greater Seattle completed an Eritrean community center next door for nearly $1.2 million with the help of public and private grant money and individual donations. Though most members of the Eritrean community work minimum-wage jobs and have little income to spare, the need and desire for a community center was so great that they managed to raise enough money to complete the two fundraising projects.

The association converted the house into an office with meeting rooms and a computer lab, and a community center that provides space for computer classes, tutoring, Tigrinya literacy classes, and other programs. Eritreans can receive help in becoming a United States citizen and in finding jobs and housing.

Perhaps most importantly, the community center gives Eritreans a space to get together, celebrate their major holidays, culture, and local celebrations, like weddings and baptisms. Outside of the community center, community members celebrate at local Eritrean restaurants. Hidmo Eritrean Cuisine, an Eritrean restaurant in the Central District, hosts live African music every Sunday night for anyone within or outside of the community to enjoy.

Two Communities, Shared Concerns

Though the Ethiopian and Eritrean communities are two distinct groups in Seattle, as East African immigrants they face some of the same issues in their communities. Both groups seek to help their first generations of immigrants retire, to help their children become good citizens, and to preserve their culture and identity as the community assimilates into American culture.

The first generation of Ethiopian and Eritrean immigrants, mostly in their mid-50s, will soon reach retirement age. In Ethiopia and Eritrea, adult children house and take care of their elderly parents, a definite cultural difference from much of the Seattle area. Many aging Ethiopians cannot imagine entering a nursing home. Also problematic is the isolation of the elderly, which both Ethiopian and Eritrean community associations hope they can eliminate by letting them share the community center space, either for classes or spending time with other Ethiopian or Eritrean elders. Finally, both communities are trying to raise awareness about health care and nutrition by hosting seminars in their community centers. At the Eritrean community center, Eritrean nurses lead these seminars.

Community Goals and Concerns

Another concern of both communities is the loss of some of their children to gangs, drugs, and jail. In February 2005, police arrested 16 members of the “East African Posse,” a gang that sold crack in the University District. Though these Ethiopian and Eritrean youth represent a minority of the children, teenagers, and young adults in each community, both communities are making a concerted effort to get their children involved in after-school activities. These activities include after-school tutoring, culture and language classes, and fun events. At the Eritrean Community Center, tutors are Eritrean former students themselves, inspiring Eritrean kids to do better in school.

Ethiopian and Eritrean community leaders also hope to help recent immigrants better integrate with the new culture and learn English, so that they can be better involved in the lives of their mostly assimilated children. A final concern of both groups is the desire to both celebrate and preserve the community’s own identity, while integrating and cooperating with other East African immigrant communities, with Seattle’s African American community, and with American culture in general.

On July 12, 2006, in Seattle’s First Hill neighborhood, an Ethiopian cab driver was shot and an Eritrean man was killed in an attack by African American suspects. Though it was not clear whether race was motivated in the shooting, the attack prompted the opening of a dialogue between African and African American community leaders, which did much to defuse tensions. However, many Ethiopian and Eritrean children are growing up identifying as African American, suggesting that the tensions might entirely disappear as the immigrant communities assimilate. Children have done much to evaporate divisions between different East African groups in Seattle by befriending other immigrant children outside of their own communities.

Though assimilation and integration of some kind is beneficial for each community’s growth and development in Seattle, Ethiopians and Eritreans each want to raise their children with an strong identity informed by language and cultural classes, family and community traditions, and community celebrations. As the Ethiopian and Eritrean community associations grow and strengthen, they will be better prepared to help new immigrants integrate into American culture and better prepared as centers of culture and tradition.

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Ezra Teshome on Ethiopian students in the 1970s, Seattle, September 29, 2010


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