From being the origin of mankind to housing several ancient civilizations, Ethiopia features thousands of years of history.
Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee and the source of the longest river in the world, the Nile.
Ethiopia is home to over eighty ethnic groups, more than 200 dialects and languages as well as an immensely diverse cultural scene.
A moment of Ethiopian history that is rarely matched, the battle of Adwa marks the surprising victory of Ethiopians over a heavily armed Italian army during the colonial era. According to historian and social researcher, Donald Levine, “the Black African nation, Ethiopia, irreversibly beat the European power [Italy] ever since the domination of Europe over Africa.”
When Ethiopians remember the victory of Adwa, it is with an immense amount of national pride. It is a reminder of the sacrifices made by our forefathers to defend the sovereign autonomy of the East African nation and an important point of unity for the country.
From Christianity arriving in the fourth century to the first muslims arriving as asylum seekers in 615 A.D, Ethiopia has a long history of religion complemented by tolerance and coexistence. In 615 A.D, it was a Christian king who welcomed Prophet Mohammed’s followers as they fled persecution from the ruling Quraysh tribe of Mecca. Since this first Hegira to then Abyssinia (now Ethiopia and Eritrea), the Christian and Muslim communities in Ethiopia have coexisted for nearly a millenium and half.
The history of Judaism in Ethiopia also dates back thousands of years.
Ethiopia is one of the few nations in the world that has a long history of religious tolerance and coexistence – a truly inspiring example of tolerance!
A common feature of most Ethiopian dishes, Teff (Eragroslis tef) is an endemic cereal, exclusively cropped and consumed in Ethiopia. Teff comes in several varieties and is cultivated in most parts of Ethiopia and Eritrea. It is believed that the name Teff comes from the amharic word “ጠፋ” (Tefa) which translates to mean “lost”. This is because of the small size of the grain of the crop, resulting in it being lost repeatedly.
The flour made from teff is used to make the staple Ethiopian food known as Injera – a unique bread used to eat most Ethiopian dishes. It is also used to make porridge and local drinks such as Tella (local beer) and Areqe (a local alcoholic drink). Teff and its produce, Injera, are hailed for their nutritional value with a quarter-cup of teff containing high levels of protein and iron. The gluten free dish, injera, is quickly gaining traction in the West as well because of this rich nutritional value.
Ethiopian Traditional Textiles
In Ethiopia, traditional clothing is immensely rich. A range of traditional garments with different patterns and cultural, as well as historical, backgrounds are available in the country.
As diverse as its people, each ethnic group has its own traditional garment completed by different cultural music and dances.
While the most commonly known white garment in Ethiopia is the one referred to as Shamma, Ethiopia has untapped potential for fashion which has been increasingly explored in recent times
Grounded in religious and cultural justifications, Ethiopia has a number of local festivals and holidays. With christian holidays like Meskel, Timket, Fasika, and Gena and the national celebration of New Years in September, as well as cultural celebrations such as Irrechaa, Fiche Chambalala, Yahode, and Gifatata, Ethiopia has a vibrant cultural scene.
Almost all of these celebrations are very social as thousands flood the streets of Addis and other major cities in celebration of these religious and cultural events.
UNESCO has recognized the Meskel and Timket celebrations as important cultural heritages of the world.