About Ethiopia

 

Ethiopia a country with a lot of contrast, amazing culture, history and stunning nature. The most beautiful rugged African mountain missives are here, Bale and Simien Mountains with highest peak Ras Dashen (4620 meters), while in northeastern part of the Great Rift Valley sets one of the lowest points in the world, the Danakil Depression (120 meters below sea level).Basically Ethiopian geographical setting is a little bit at the center of the equator and tropic of Cancer and its land are mainly mountainous and deep ravines. The country has varied temperature and rainfall.

 

The culturally varied Ethiopian people are classified in to four major language families or linguistic groups known as Semitic, Cushitic, Nilo-Saharan and Omotic.

The Semitic languages are presently positioned mostly in the Northern and in some central part of Ethiopia. Most of the languages such as Tigrigna spoken in the northern most of the country, Amharic in northern highland/ central plateaux evolved from the ancient language now only used in the churches Ge’ez..

The Cushitic Languages are dominantly spoken in the southern part of the Country. Oromiffa is the most widely spread language of Cushitic family. Gedieo, Hadiya are spoken in the south west, Somali in the east but some Cushitic language such as Afar are also located in the north east.

The Nilo-Saharan groups are found in the south western and western Ethiopia they include Gamblla, Kunama, Berta, Mursi and Surma.
The Omotic groups of languages are diversified ones located in the lower or eastern Omo valley and some parts in the south west part of Ethiopia comprising Wolytta, Gamo, Hamar, Bena, Tsemai, Dasench, Aari, Dizi etc…….

 

The country has most of the oldest archeological findings in the world consequently nicknamed “The cradle of mankind”. The 3.2 million-years-old Australopithecus afarensis Lucy or Dinkinesh is the most complete hominid skeleton to be discovered. Lucy is an important evidence for the existence of ‘the missing link’ or earliest human ancestor in the Ethiopia specially the north eastern part of the Great Rift Valley more specifically known as Hadar in the middle Awash …..Ethiopia is undoubtedly a special place for so many paleontological discoveries reconfirming the origin of humanity.

 

This is the part of Africa known to have ancient relations with pharaohs of Egypt who operated the various expeditions south of the Red Sea or the land of Punt in search of myrrh and spices. Ethiopia is a land of legends; many Ethiopians to this day believe that Axum was the capital of Queen of Sheba besides, it is written in Ethiopian old chronicle that during the visit of the Queen of Sheba to the wise king’s palace in Jerusalem, the Queen conceived a son, named Menelik I and their son then, traveled to Jerusalem and brought the Arc of the Covenant to Axum. Finally he became the founder of the Solomonic Dynasty which lasted 256 years.

The northern part of Ethiopia appears to have contact with the people of Sothern Arabia. These people later controlled the northern counter of the Red Sea coast and intermingled with blacks this resulted in emergence different afro-Asiatic languages and very important civilizations connected to that of Sabeans in Arabia. Today the existence of this very ancient civilization can be testified by Yeha Temple north of Axum. According to archeologists the temple dates back to 5th century BC and it is the earliest settlement in the northern Ethiopia.

One of the oldest African civilization of the Axumite state was believed to be founded as early as 300 BC, Axum controlled over the important places encompassing the Ethiopian highlands up to the red sea coast. Axum was very powerful state economically and strategically, it was very near to the Red Sea Coast hence had a very good trade relations with the outside world. It was also the first African state to mint its own coins. Long before the coming of Christianity, the Axumite state had influenced by Southern Arabian gods equivalent to Greeks’.

The down fall of the Axumite state remains certainly a mystery, scholars give different suppositions but the Ethiopian tradition attribute the Axumite power was finally made to an end by non-Christian Queen Judit-Gudit, who burned and looted down many churches in a series of civil wars around 9th century.

In the early 12th century, Zegwé, a new dynasty had emerged south of Axum and the power was then shifted southwards more specifically to Lasta, a place importantly occupied by the Agew people. The Zegwé Dynasty ruled from 1137-1270 AD. Unlike the Solomonic Dynasty of the Axumite period few written records of the time were found but Kings who belong to this dynasty are notably Lalibela,Yemrhane Kiristos and Na’akuto La’ab have built world famous rock-hewn and Cave-built churches. At the end of the 13th century The Zegwé Dynasty faced oppositions thus was not as legitimate as the Solomonic one. The opposition especially from the clergy made an end to dynasty and Yekuno Amlak, a King of Shoan from the Solomonic line restored the Solomonic dynasty.

 

Ethiopia was introduced to world’s ancient religions through Axum. In early 4th century, Christianity became the Axumite state religion and Axum emerged to be the site for rock-hewn monasteries and built up churches with typical Axumite architectures. In 7th century AD, a group of Prophet Mohammed’s followers were prosecuted in Arabia and made their way to find refuge in Axum where they were welcomed.

The history of medieval Ethiopia is associated with the prosperous written documentations. The most important was Fitha Negest or the royal chronicles also considered as the first constitution by the Shoan kingdom which determined the succession of the kings and series of the power shifts from one place to another. During the first half of the 16th century the advanced Shoan Christian kingdom began to by threatened by the eastern armed Muslim leaders known as Adal state, and Messewa, the important port of the kingdom was controlled by the Ottoman Turks. During these difficulties the Shoan Christian kingdom used to get support from Portugal the then powerful Christian kingdom in Europe. After several warfare involving the two main European powers, the Christian kingdom retained and controlled over the main trade routes.

In 1614, Emperor Susneyos built his castle at Gorgora, the northern shore of Lake Tana and his tendency to the Jesuits to obtain military assistance led him to conversion of Catholicism then he declared the Roman Catholic as a state religion this was result in the wide rebellion and abdication of the king in favor of his son Fasiladas who expelled all the Jesuit missionaries out of the country.

In 1636, king Fasiladas restored the Ethiopian Orthodox Church faith and shifted the seat of power further north of Lake Tana he then constructed castles and founded a new capital by the name of Gondar. Gondar became main commercial center of the king and his descendants and remained the capital of Ethiopia for over 250 years. The Gondarine period was characterized by the development of art and literature in the country. Though the Gondarine monarchy was very strong during the second half of the 18th century, it began to decline and the power was finally disintegrated as a result of this different rivals came up in the region.

Early 19th century was period known in Ethiopian history as Zemen Mesafint Era of the Princes came in to being; this lasted for several decades onwards with no real central authority. Finally the era of rival warlords came to an end around 1855 whereupon the period was a turning point paving the way to modern history of Ethiopia. King Tewodros appeared to claim himself king of kings. Tewodros immediately made decrees on land reforms and tried to bring his deep ambition of modernization in the country thus he sent a letter to queen Victoria of England requesting technical help but, his letter had no response and that made the king angry. Finally he tried to pressurize the British government by imprisoning his British workmen. Meanwhile Tewodros internal rivals began to come forward. In 1868, the queen sent her expeditionary force led by General Napier based in India. This British expeditionary force was well equipped besides it was getting a considerable strategy of help from one of the rivals Kassa Mircha of Tigray, later King Yohannes IV. The invading British force defeated Tewodros’ army and King Tewodros finally preferred to commit suicide than to surrender. The British troop burned and left the seat of Tewodros’ base at Meqdela rewarded Kassa with weapons for cooperation this in the end contributed to his advance to power as king of kings.

Unlike the time of Emperor Tewodros, the time of Emperor Yohannes witnessed more external difficulties consequently, Egyptian were the first to challenge his kingdom to control the Nile from its source but they lastly were defeated in series of warfare in 1875-76. This was followed by the construction of the Suez Canal ensuing the growing strategic interest of the then big European powers mainly Britain and Italy in the region thus Italians backed up by the British rule seized Messewa to halt France, another European rival mobilizing force against Britain. The gradual Italian consolidation and control continued over the areas south of Messewa though warned by Emperor Yohannes IV. Meanwhile, the Mahadists were threatening in the west. In 1889 Emperor Yohannes got wounded and died at the battle of Metema but his army went victorious.

In 1865, Menelik II already became king of Showa province; he gradually advanced his accession to the thorn and crowned King of Kings. The time of Emperor Menelik II was characterized by incorporation of more provinces under his central kingdom beside his reign had also brought several modernization especially following the foundation of Addis Ababa as a capital of the country. Earlier, Menelik had a strong relationship with the Italians and signed the Treaty of Wochali which in end caused controversial article 17 led the battle of Adwa. In 1896 the Ethiopian army defeated the well armed Italian invading force against all odds and that made Ethiopia the only African country not to be defeated by colonizing European powers. The last years of ruling of Menelik marked his sickness and the question of the royal inheritance became serious. Menelik announced his 12 years-old grandson, Lij Iyassu, the son of his daughter Shewaregga to take power and this created a conflict among the royalty. Finally the political settlement of the daughter of Menelik, Zewditu and Ras Teferi, separated the interests of royalty, hence Ras Teferi gradually seized full control of the thorn on 2 November 1930 crowned by the name Emperor Haile Silassie I.

In 1931, Emperor Haile Silassie I introduced the first written constitution of the country brought numerous modernizations but, the victory of the battle of Adwa left Ethiopia in a dangerous position between the Italian colonies, Eritrea and Somalia. Meanwhile, the Italian ambition in Ethiopia grew up and the idea of military operation became fascist strategy from 1933 onwards. The battle of Machew where the Italian had used internationally forbidden mustard gas came in to being. The emperor left Addis fled to Britain where he was given an asylum. On June 1936 he went to Geneva to address The League of Nation about the unfair fascist aggression. The Italian losing control of the Second World War and the Ethiopian patriots played a major role in librating the country from five years of occupation of fascism had played a crucial role in liberating Ethiopia. On 5 may 1941 Emperor Haile Silassie returned to Addis Ababa. Haile Silassie’s reign brought independence to other countries after the establishment of African Union in 1960s. In 1974 country northern part suffered a famine this led to the nationwide strike of workers and taxi drivers finally, the committee of high ranking military generals under the leadership of Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam over threw the monarchy and established a socialite government this was followed by the emergence of ethnically based liberation movements across the country and decades of warfare broke out.

On 21 May 1991, the rebel force of Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Front Liberation (EPRDF) advanced to Addis Ababa from the north and overthrew Mengistu’s regime. Colonel Mengistu fled to Zimbabwe. The new chapter of modern Ethiopia began…

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