Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Millennial Opportunities: Party like its is 1999 Again?

Global Strategic Enterprises, Inc for Peace and Prosperity- www.globalbelai4u.blogspot.com; Www.SolomonicCrown.org

Party like it's Ethiopia, 1999 (again)

Celebrating the last Millennium- the Millennium of the Solomonic Dynasty!

Seven years behind us, Ethiopia celebrates its new millennium on September 11. Bob Maddams offers a guide to a yearlong festival over there and over here
Bob Maddams Guardian Unlimited Monday September 3 2007

New dawn ... religious festivals, such as Timkat at Lalibela, will also take on an extra significance in millennium year. Photograph: Dave Bartoff/Corbis

If you thought Ethiopia was all drought and famine, think again. For the next 12 months the country is going to enjoy a feast of spectacular musical, cultural and culinary events as it celebrates its new millennium on the stroke of midnight on September 11.

Hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians from all over the world are heading back for the biggest party Addis Ababa has ever seen, and Ethiopian communities all over the world will be flying the flag — nowhere more so than in the UK where a small but vocal Ethiopian population are determined to make a big noise. What you won't get is the Dome, and in Ethiopia the only millennium bugs will have wings. Here's what can you expect.

In Ethiopia

The millennium celebrations kick off in Addis Ababa on September 11 with the Millennium Musical Extravaganza and Millennium Eve Concert to be staged in a 20,000-seater venue costing $10m and still under construction.

Billed as being a celebration of both Ethiopian and world music, a galaxy of Ethiopian stars includes Tewodros Tadesse, Hamelmal Abate, Abenet Agonafer, Aster and Ayalew Mesfin. Beyonce is headlining and the Black Eyed Peas will also play live. It is rumoured that Michael Jackson has promised to put in an appearance.

Giant TV screens will link towns all over the country with live broadcasts,
so revellers in Bahar Dar and Aksum can join in with party goers in Addis Ababa and Assosa. This is a first for Ethiopia and, like many of the millennium events, is funded by private donors not aid money.

Prior to that, on September 9, athletics living legend Haile Gebre Selassie will fire the starting pistol on the The Great Ethiopia Run, a 10km run through the streets of Addis Ababa, which promises to be the largest participation road race ever run on African soil.

Come the millennium, every bar and restaurant all over the country will be a blaze of red, green and gold, the colours of the national flag, and the partying will last long into the night — and into the following year as well. The places to head for are "national" restaurants, which are traditional Ethiopian ones, although every type of restaurant in Ethiopia is sure to jump on the millennium bandwagon.

Addis Ababa will be the main focus throughout the year, and you can keep up to date with everything taking place at whatsupaddis.com, and ethiopia2000.com.

Events throughout the year

For thousands of years, Ethiopia was largely cut off from the rest of the world. It was the only African country not to be colonised during the "Scramble for Africa" in the 19th century. Consequently, it has a highly individual culture unaffected by outside influences.

A Buy Ethiopia campaign will promote local products, art and craft works, such as jebenas, Ethiopia's unique coffee pots; netelas, hand embroidered shawls; mesobs, brightly coloured basket tables, paintings and more.

Ethiopia is also known as the Cradle of Mankind, after the bones of the world's oldest hominid were discovered in the Afar region. An Exhibition of Ethiopia's Heritage at the National Museum in the Arat Kilo area of Addis Ababa will showcase artefacts, fossils and archaeological remains that trace the history of mankind from when we first took steps on the earth. (www.lucyexhibition.com)

Coffee was first cultivated in the Kaffa region of Ethiopia, giving the drink its name. Coffee Museums are being opened in Bonga and Chaga that will tell the story of Ethiopia's gift to the world.

Africa Week runs from May 25 2008 and will commemorate Addis Ababa's role as the home of the African Union, which makes it the diplomatic capital of Africa. This will be a showcase for cultural troupes, artists, writers and film-makers from all over Africa.

Millennium celebrations will also be taking place throughout the country. The Muslim walled city of Harer will also be celebrating the 1,000th anniversary of when it was founded.

Religious festivals

Ethiopia's religious festivals will also take on an extra special significance in millennium year. Ethiopia is the second oldest Christian country in the world with a unique brand of worship.

Festivals are noted for priests dressed in rich and colourful robes of gold thread carrying, tabots, symbolic replicas of the Ark of the Covenant, which are covered to protect them from mortal gaze. Huge crowds gather and there is singing and playing of religious musical instruments.

Lalibela, famous for its 11 rock carved churches, and Aksum will attract the biggest gatherings of the faithful.

The theme of the millennium is, "hope, dedication, progress and prosperity for all Africans", and money raised through special events will be used to build new schools and health centres throughout Ethiopia. For details and a calendar of events, see ethiopia2000.com

Ethiopia: Historical Ethiopia

The Reporter (Addis Ababa)

1 September 2007

Posted to the web 3 September 2007

Ethiopia is the epitome of the entire sub-Sahara ecosystem where rare indigenous animals roam free, birdlife abounds and colorful wild flowers and native plants carpet the land.

Ethiopia is a nation comprising more than 80 different ethnic groups, the heritage and traditions of each blending to form a unique and colorful mosaic.

Ethiopia is old beyond imagination, dating to the very beginning of mankind. It is also the land of the Queen of Sheba, a place of legendary rulers, fabulous kingdoms and ancient mysteries.

Ethiopia, the oldest independent nation in Africa, has a heritage dating back to the first century AD. Traders from Greece, Rome, Persia and Egypt knew of the riches of what is now Ethiopia, and by the first century AD, Axum was the capital of a great empire. This realm became one of the first Christian lands of Africa.

Late in the 10th century, Axum declined and a new Zagwe dynasty, centered in what is now Lalibela, ruled the land. Axum, Lalibela and Gonder now provide the greatest historical legacy.

It was in the 16th Century that the son of the great explorer Vasco Da Gama came to Ethiopia. He found a land of many kingdoms and provinces beset by feuds and war.
In the 19th century, under the leadership of the great Emperor Menelik, the country's passage to modernization began. The following are some of Ethiopia's historical attractions.


Axum, Ethiopia's most ancient city, and capital of one of the most glorious empires of the past, is one of the most illustrious links on the Historic Route. The Axumite Empire flourished 3,000 years ago.

Its riches can still be pictured on the magnificent obelisks, the graves of King Kaleb and King Gebre Meskal, and the legendary bath of the Queen of Sheba.

The 16th Century Cathedral of St Mary of Zion was built based on an earlier 4th Century church, and is the holiest church in Ethiopia. In its sanctuary is said to rest the original Ark of the Covenant.

The churches and monasteries of Axum houses are richly endowed with icons, and some of the historical crowns of ancient emperors.

Debre Damo

Some 76 km from Axum is the monastery of Debre Damo, which is said to have the oldest existing intact church in Ethiopia. Local tradition says that Abune Aregawi, one of the nine saints, built the church in the 16th Century. The Monastery of Debre Damo can only be reached by rope pulley. It is worth noting that the monastery is closed to women.


Some 55 km east of Axum is the 5th Century B.C temple of Yeha. Its massive walls house Judaic relics and historic artifacts.


King Lalibela is credited with the founding of the 11 rock-hewn churches in the 12th century. One of the world's most incredible man-made creations, they are a lasting monument to man's faith in God.

These remarkable edifices were carved out of solid rock, in a region where the rugged landscape still protects the churches from mass tourism. The 11 man-made churches are found in and around the town of Lalibela. Other churches are reached by a 45-minute in a four-wheel drive or a three-hour mule ride.

The venue for some of the most famous church festivals in Ethiopia, a visit during the great celebrations of Timket (Epiphany), is particularly rewarding.

Bahir Dar

Bahir Dar is a small town set on the south-eastern shore of Lake Tana, where local fishermen still use papyrus boats. It is just 30 km from the spectacular Tisisat Falls. Here the Blue Nile creates "Smoking Water", an awe-inspiring sight as it plunges into the gorge below.

From Bahir Dar you can explore some of the ancient monasteries that have been built around Lake Tana, or on its many islands. These include Dek Stephanos with its priceless collections of icons, the remains of several medieval emperors, Kebran Gabriel and Ura Kidane Mihret with its famous frescoes. The colorful local market at Bahir Dar is renowned for its weavers and wood workers.


'Fasilidas' Bath' and Gondar was the 17th century capital of Ethiopia and is notable for its medieval castles and churches. The City's unique imperial compound contains a number of castles built between 1632 and 1855 by the various emperors who reigned during this period. These dramatic castles, unlike others in Africa, display richness in architecture that reveals the Axumite traditions as well as the influence of Arabia.

Other treasures of Gondar include the 18th century palace of Ras Beit, the bath of Fasilades, the ruined palace of Kusquam, and the church of Debre Berhane Selassie with its unique murals.

Ethiopia: Historical Ethiopia

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Although Lalibela is unique, it is not the sole site of Ethiopia's famous rock-hewn churches. In Tigray near Makale, over 200 fine examples of these monuments to man's devotion to God, as well as his building skills, may be seen.

The capital of the Emperor Yohannnes IV (1871-1889), Makale is now the main town of Tigray, the northern-most Ethiopian region. The emperor's palace has been turned into a particularly interesting museum, with many exhibits of his time and subsequent history.
The town is also well-known as a transit point for the camel caravans bringing salt up from the arid lands of the Danakil Depression. Intrepid visitors can also make excursions into the Danakil to visit some of the Afar nomads that trek across the region.


Dating back to 1520, the city of Harar is an ancient and holy city. Always an important trading centre, the city is famous for its ancient buildings, its great city walls and with 99 mosques; the town is also known as a centre of Muslim learning.

The city is noted for its superb handicrafts that include woven textiles, basket ware, silverware and handsomely bound books. Harar has been a place of pilgrimage from all over the world for many years.

Harar's attractions:

- The City Walls

The City Walls, and the narrow streets lined with traditional Harari gegar houses.
- Rimbaud House

A fine example of a traditional house, dating from the period when the French poet Rimbaud lived in Harar.

- The Hyena Man
As evening falls, local men attract wild hyenas to the city. In a bizarre spectacle they bravely feed these dangerous scavengers.
Source: the Ethiopian Millennium Festival Secretariat Office

In the UK

Music, performance and the arts in Ethiopia, is the theme of a day's workshop on April 12, 2008 at St Cross College, Oxford.

Descendants of the union of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba ruled Ethiopia up until the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie. Sally Pomme Clayton, will be narrating this story in theatres in London, Newcastle and Oxford. Dates to be announced.

Kew gardens will play host to an illustrated lecture, The Unique Flora of Ethiopia. Dates to be announced.

Party like an Ethiopian

Ethiopia's UK population is largely concentrated around London where practically all of the millennium action will take place in a number of Ethiopian restaurants. Ethiopians love to eat, drink, sing and dance.

Meals are enjoyed sitting round a circular table, everyone tearing off strips of injera bread and dipping it in different highly spiced sauces and meat and vegetable dishes called wats.

Meals are accompanied by tej, a honey flavoured wine, and beer. The meal ends with a coffee ceremony.

Traditional music and dancing is a big part of any Ethiopian night out, such as Iskista, the high energy, shoulder-shaking dance performed by men and women in beautifully embroidered white dresses. Parties don't really get going until around midnight and in Ethiopia don't stop till dawn. Go easy on the tej though, it's got a kick like an Ethiopian mule, and you might just need another thousand years to get over the hangover.

Recommended places to try are Abyssinia, 9 Cricklewood Broadway (020-8208 0110), or there are a number of Ethiopian restaurants scattered around the Kings Cross and Finsbury Park areas.

My favourite is the Marathon, 193 Caledonian Road (020-7837 4499), which has authentic food, imported Ethiopian beers, live music and dance, and on weekends is open till 3am. Go party!

For a list of Ethiopian restaurants in London: http://www.ethioworld.com/Restaurants/Europe/unitedkingdom.htm

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