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

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

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

Zera Yacob: The Ethiopian Precursor to Locke, Hume and Kant

Zera Yacob (1599-1692) was an Ethiopian philosopher from Aksum, in present-day Ethiopia and Eritrea. Born into a poor farmer's family, Yacob was educated in the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian faith. Due to religio-political issues, Yacob exiled himself from Aksum with nothing but some gold and the Book of Psalms. While on the journey to the south,… Continue reading Zera Yacob: The Ethiopian Precursor to Locke, Hume and Kant

Teff: Part 2—The Battle for Teff

How did Ethiopia lose intellectual property rights for teff?   There has been a battle for the ownership of teff since 2003, when Dutchman Jans Roosjen registered himself with the European Patent Office and copywriters in the USA and Japan, as the "inventor" of teff flour and its associated by-products. But how could a foreigner… Continue reading Teff: Part 2—The Battle for Teff

The Battle of Magdala and the V&A

Ethiopian officials have demanded the return of all items of Ethiopian origin, from the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum in London. This follows a 2018 exhibition of Ethiopian artefacts at the V&A—the world's largest museum of decorative arts—many of which were looted from Magdala. Fought in April 1868, the Battle of Magdala was between British… Continue reading The Battle of Magdala and the V&A