Black History Month: The Wonders of Ethiopia

Updated: Feb 7

While time traveling might seem like a scene from sci-fi movies, Ethiopia is the only country that offers that luxury of impossibility.

A trip to Ethiopia in 2022 will automatically take you back to 2015.

Mysterious, huh?

The Western calendar is seven years and eight months ahead of the Ethiopian calendar. Not only that – it is the only calendar with 13 months.

Although many claimed colonialisms brought about civilization, Ethiopia was never colonized, yet the country is the 11th most prosperous country in Africa.

Located in the horn of Africa, between Eritrea, South Sudan, Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, and Somaliland; Ethiopia is the heart of East Africa.

Renowned for its unique orthodox Christian traditions, incredible coffee, and fascinating natural landscapes, Ethiopia offers a lot to love.

Whether you’re planning to visit Ethiopia or just curious about one of Africa’s most fascinating and soulful people, we’ve compiled a list of some interesting facts about Ethiopia in this post to celebrate Black History Month.


Boy from the Arbore tribe


The Ethiopian Calendar

The Ethiopian calendar has 13 months. Each month has 30 days, except for the 13th month. The 13th month has five or six days, depending on whether it's a leap year.


Livestock Farming and Veganism

In 2020, Ethiopia accounted for over 65 million cattle, 51 million goats, 8 million camels, and 49 million chickens. Livestock accounts for 33% of the country’s agricultural gross domestic product (GDP) and provides 65% of livelihood in Ethiopia.

Despite their love for meat and such huge livestock, all Ethiopians practice veganism on Wednesdays and Fridays. This is because the Ethiopians follow a particular strand of Orthodox Christianity that prohibits the eating of any animal products on Wednesdays and Fridays.


Gursha

Although many African cultures eat their cuisine with their hands, at the Ethiopian table, there's a twist.

You might find yourself eating from someone else's hand.

The Ethiopian eating culture has a ritual of love called gursha, where you reach across the table to place a piece of food-filled injera (Ethiopian bread) into the mouth of a friend, and then, your friend does the same in return.


Source: Twitter


The First Cup of Coffee

Most times you kick-start your day with a cup of coffee. It does not only increase your brain functionality, but it also boosts your energy level, your mood... Did you know you have got some Ethiopian goats to thank for that magical shot of caffeine?

The discovery of coffee can be traced to the ancient coffee forests on the Ethiopian plateau.

Kaldi, a goat herder, discovered coffee when he noticed his goats became so energetic that they couldn't sleep at night after eating the berries from a certain tree. Kaldi informed the abbot at the local monastery of what he discovered. To investigate, the abbot made a drink with the berries and found that it kept him alert through the long hours of evening prayer. The abbot told the other monks at the monastery of what he discovered, and knowledge of the energizing berries began to spread.

As word moved east and coffee reached the Arabian Peninsula, it began a journey that brought the spread of these mysterious beans across the globe.

In 2019, Ethiopia exported coffee worth a whopping $837 million. It is, therefore, not surprising that coffee is the largest foreign exchange earner for the Ethiopian economy. It is the second most exported good after gold.

The demand for coffee is expected to reach $144.68 billion in 2025. The sector promises a fortune for its relentless workers.


The Goats? Kaldi? Or Baba Budan?

The Arabian wanted coffee to remain a local product, so they banned the export. Until an Indian immigrant, Baba Budan smuggled 7 coffee beans in his beards.

Who do we thank for coffee? Baba Budan? Kaldi? or his goats?


Historical Wonders

Despite being one of the oldest countries in the world, Ethiopia has successfully retained much of its cultural identity – and its story is one of Africa's most fascinating.

The ancients left behind some extraordinary monuments of faith and power, which serve as focal points for tourists.

In 2015, the European Council on Tourism and Trade considered Ethiopia to be the world's best destination for tourists. In 2019, tourism accounted for US$2.4 billion of the Ethiopian gross domestic product (GDP).

Ethiopia is home to nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Simien National Park and half of the mountains in Africa.

Over the years, massive erosion on the Ethiopian plateau has brought about one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world, with deep valley, jagged mountain peaks, and sharp precipices.

From Lake Tana and the Blue Nile to the red-rock Gheralta Mountains, the arid Danakil Desert, and the lush Omo Valley, Ethiopian landscapes are astounding and incredibly varied. Its wildlife riches are diverse, from typical African savannah animals in the south to unique indigenous creatures, like the gelada baboon and Ethiopian wolf.


Home of the Ark of Covenant

Ethiopians believe the sacred ark that carried the Ten Commandments – the same that was given to Moses in the Bible – is well hidden under the majestic structure of the St. Mary of Zion Cathedral, Aksum.

St. Mary of Zion Cathedral
Source: The Guardian
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