The Kingdom of Aksum

The Kingdom of Aksum was an ancient state centered in present-day Aksum, Ethiopia. It existed between 100 CE and 940 CE. At its height, the empire stretched across present-day Eritrea, northern Ethiopia, Sudan, western Yemen, and southern Saudi Arabia. Aksum established its prominence as a commercial hub, engaging in the trade of gold and ivory… Continue reading The Kingdom of Aksum

Gadaa: Classical East African Democracy

Gadaa is a historical democratic governance system practiced by the Oromo people of Ethiopia and Northern Kenya. It was developed in the 16th century during the Oromo expansion, to help govern people militarily and administratively. Over time, it evolved into a system for disseminating cultural knowledge, regulating moral responsibility and maintaining peace. The system is… Continue reading Gadaa: Classical East African Democracy

Conceptions of Death Across Nilotic Traditions

The Nilotic people are indigenous to the Nile Valley and speak Nilotic languages, inhabiting a geographic range of South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, and northern Tanzania. As was the case with Bantu people, different Nilotic groups have their own traditions regarding the concept of death: Naiteru-Kop and the Moon (Maasai - Kenya and Tanzania) Though it… Continue reading Conceptions of Death Across Nilotic Traditions

The Ashtime of Ethiopia

Ashtime refers to a third gender role recognised among the Maale, an ethnic group in southwestern Ethiopia. They are also called wobo meaning “crooked.” Though several ashtime were reported prior to the 19th century, they since became a small minority, increasingly considered abnormal. Separate from male, atinke, and female, laali, ashtime has been translated as… Continue reading The Ashtime of Ethiopia

The Bantu Migration

Many historical narratives, consider pre-colonial Africa to be a static continent where not much changed until the arrival of European settlers.  However, the Bantu migration shows that dynamism has defined Africa's history for centuries. The Bantu Migration was the southward movement of peoples from the adjoining regions between Nigeria and Cameroon in West Africa, into… Continue reading The Bantu Migration

Lalibela Churches: Carved from a Single Rock

In the town of Lalibela, in northern Ethiopia stand the largest monolithic churches in the world. The churches were carved out of a single giant (“monolithic”) rock, and have no bricks, no stones and no mortar bond. The Lalibela churches—eleven in total—were built 900 years ago, in the 12th century, during the reign of King… Continue reading Lalibela Churches: Carved from a Single Rock

Somalia: Nation of Poets

For centuries, Somali children have grown up listening to their parents and relatives reciting poetry such that even today, many can recite poetry that is centuries old. Those familiar with Somalia, its history and its lyrical upbringing of children have thus called it a “Nation of Poets”. Poetry permeates Somali society, and has been used… Continue reading Somalia: Nation of Poets