Abebe Bikila – A Flourishing Legacy
It was fifty years ago. September 10, 1960. An unknown Ethiopian runner dazzled the world that day by winning the gold medal in the marathon, the crowning sports event of the Olympic Games. History was made in Rome, Italy at a memorable occasion as the XVII Olympiad presented the world with an extraordinary gift: a young Ethiopian athlete by the name of Abebe Bikila. The first African to ever win an Olympic medal —let alone a gold in the marathon— Abebe Bikila became an instant legend as an awestruck world became mesmerized by the African who won the most difficult and celebrated global athletic event –without wearing shoes.
The astonishing victory and the circumstances surrounding it —no shoes, world record— captured everyone’s attention. Newspapers around the world carried the story. ―Barefoot Bikila First at Rome in Fastest Olympic Marathon,‖ declared the headline of an article published in The New York Times. The article’s first paragraph stated:
A skinny, barefooted palace guard in the Ethiopian Army of King Haile Selassie ran the fastest marathon in history tonight.
Africans and people of African descent in every part of the globe rejoiced. And citizens of the world, regardless of their national and ethnic origins, were short of words to express their admiration for the Ethiopian runner. The Times article continued:
A rank outsider who never had run the distance of 26 miles 385 yards outside his own country, 28-year-old Abebe Bikila won the classic race of the Olympic Games . . . .
Thinking about Abebe Bikila’s historic Olympic victory prompted me to re-visit Tim Judah’s Bikila: Ethiopia’s Barefoot Olympian. Judah’s book is a ...
More than 1,000 years ago, a goatherd in Ethiopia’s south-western highlands plucked a few red berries from some young green trees growing there in the forest and tasted them. He liked the flavour and the feel-good effect that followed. Today those self-same berries, dried, roasted and ground, have become the world’s second most popular non-alcoholic beverage after tea. And, as David Beatty discovers in words and pictures, the Ethiopian province where they first blossomed Kaffa gave its name to coffee.
The story of coffee has its beginnings in Ethiopia, the original home of the coffee plant, coffee arabica, which still grows wild in the forest of the highlands. While nobody is sure exactly how coffee was originally discovered as a beverage, it is believed that its cultivation and use began as early as the 9th century. Some authorities claim that it was cultivated in the Yemen earlier, around AD 575. The only thing that seems certain is that it originated in Ethiopia, from where it traveled to the Yemen about 600 years ago, and from Arabia it began its journey around the world.
Among the many legends that have developed concerning the origin of coffee, one of the most popular accounts is that of Kaldi, an Abyssinian goatherd, who lived around AD 850. One day he observed his goats behaving in abnormally exuberant manner, skipping, rearing on their hind legs and bleating loudly. He noticed they were eating the bright red berries thatt grew on the green bushes nearby.
Kaldi tried a few for him, and soon felt a novel sense of elation. He filled his pockets with the berries and ran home to announce his discovery to his wife. They are heaven-sent, she declared. You must take them to the Monks in the monastery.
Kaldi presented the chief Monk with a ...
Brilliant and beautiful, secretive, mysterious and extraordinary. Above all things, it is a country of great antiquity, with a culture and traditions dating back more than 3,000 years. The traveler in Ethiopia makes a journey through time, transported by beautiful monuments and the ruins of edifices built long centuries ago.
Ethiopia, like many other African countries, is a multi-ethnic state. Many distinctions have been blurred by intermarriage over the years but many also remain. The differences may be observed in the number of languages spoken - an astonishing 83, falling into four main language groups: Semitic, Cushitic, Omotic and Nilo-Saharan. There are 200 different dialects.
Regarding the country â€™s nations and nationalities, which is estimated to be around 80 million, the number of ethnic Oromo accounts about 25.5 million (34.5 %) while Amhara is 19.8 million (26.9%), Somali 4.5 million (6.2 %), Tigre 4.4 million (6.1%).
The Semitic languages of Ethiopia are related to both Hebrew and Arabic, and derive from Ge'ez, the ecclesiastical language.
The principle Semitic language spoken in the north-western and central part of the country is Amharic, which is also the official language of the modern state. Other main languages are Tigrigna, Guraginya, Adarinya, Afan Oromo, Somalinya, Sidaminya, Afarinya, Gumuz, Berta and Anuak.
The Tigrigna- and Amharic-speaking people of the north and centre of the country are mainly agriculturalists, tilling the soil with ox-drawn ploughs and growing teff (a local millet), wheat, barley, maize and sorghum. The most southerly of the Semitic speakers, the Gurage, are also farmers and herders, but many are also craftsmen. The Gurage grow enset, 'false banana', ...
Lake Awassa lies to the west of Awassa town, the capital of the Southern Peoples' Region, and c.275 km south of Addis Ababa. The Awassa basin is in an old caldera in the middle of the Ethiopian Rift Valley, between the Abijata-Shalla basin to the north and that of Lakes Abaya and Chamo to the south. The walls of the caldera form steep walls to the north and east of the basin while most of the flatter areas are intensively cultivated.
Lake Awassa is in the lowest portion of the caldera, along with a previously extensive wetland, Lake Shallo and the Shallo swamp. The swamp drains into Lake Awassa through a small river called Tiqur Wuha, which means 'black water'. There are no outlets from the lake, but water may seep away through the underlying volcanic ash and pumice.
Awassa is a freshwater lake, even though the system appears to be closed. The level of the lake varies considerably from year to year and a dyke has been built to prevent the town from flooding. The surface area ranges between 8,500 and 9,000 ha and the maximum depth is c.18-22 m. The shoreline varies between 50 and 65 km in length.
Awassa is the smallest of the Rift Valley lakes, but is highly productive. It has a rich phytoplankton (over 100 species have been identified) and zooplankton that support large populations of six fish species. The most important commercial species is Oreochromis niloticus, but there are also good populations of catfish and Barbus. The shoreline is gently sloping and mostly covered with vegetation that can extend 50 m or more into the lake.
There are extensive beds of Cyperaceae and Typha spp. The dominant floating aquatic grass is Paspalidium geminatum, with other floating plants including Nymphaea coerulea, Pistia stratiotes and the smallest ...
Debre Damo monastery is situated on an isolated mountain in northern part of Tigray. It is unique compared with most Ethiopian monasteries. Debre Damo was built, in the sixth century AD, with curved wood panels, painted ceilings and walls dedicated to the legend of Saint (Abune) Aregawi. The history of Debre Damo is centred on the "Nine Saints" who came to Ethiopia from Syria to spread Christianity in the Tigray region. One of them was Saint Aregawi who settled on the mountain of Debre Damo. The other eight saints settled around Tigray countryside and all have their own church named after them.
Debre Damo is magnificent in terms of its location and extensive collection of priceless manuscripts that have remained intact until today. It has become a prominent monastic and educational centre for the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Many books have been written there and distributed to churches throughout Ethiopia.
Debre Damo is only accessible by climbing up by a rope, which is made of "plaited leather", lowered from the cliffs, which visitors tie around their waist and are then pulled up by a monk at the top of the cliffs. It is only accessible to men and male animals. Women and even female animals are forbidden to set a foot into the monastery, and must remain under the cliffs and pray from there.
The feast of Saint (Abune) Aregawi is celebrated on October 14 Ethiopian calendar (October 24 Gregorian calendar) which culminates in a pilgrimage to Debre Damo from all over the country.
Visit Our Main Sites
Be Our Friend