We asked you five questions about Ethiopia. Here come the answers!
- Ethiopia was the only country in Africa to successfully defend its independence in the imperialist “Scramble for Africa” in the late nineteenth century. Which European colonial power attempted to conquer it?
Italy. Emperor Menelik II signed the Treaty of Wichale with Italy in 1889, giving Italy territory in modern-day Eritrea in return for recognising Ethiopian sovereignty and supplying arms. Before ratifying the treaty the Italians demanded more territory, leading to the Battle of Adwa in 1896 in which Italy’s forces were defeated.
- One of the world’s most traded agricultural commodities has its origin in Ethiopia. Which?
Coffee. Legend has it that a 9th-century Ethiopian goatherd first observed how frisky his goats became when they ate coffee berries. But the first reliably documented use of roasted coffee beans to make a drink didn’t occur until the mid-15th century, when it was taken up in Yemen. It didn’t reach Britain until nearly 200 years later, when diarist John Evelyn recorded drinking it in Oxford in May 1637.
- The Rastafarian religion is based on the belief that an Ethiopian Emperor, born Ras Tafari Makonnen, was the messiah foretold in the Biblical Book of Revelation. Under what name was he better known?
Haile Selassie I. Born in 1892, he became Regent and de facto ruler of Ethiopia in 1916 and Emperor in 1930. Six years later he was forced to flee Ethiopia after the Italians under Mussolini invaded and conquered the country, but returned from exile (spent largely in Bath) upon liberation in 1941. He was deposed by a military coup in 1974 and died the following year.
- In 2017 the Ethiopian New Year’s Day (1 Maskarram) falls on 11 September. What year is it in the Ethiopian calendar?
2010. The Ethiopian calendar is seven or eight years behind the Gregorian (“Western”) calendar because of a difference in reckoning the year in which Jesus of Nazareth was born. The New Year’s Day is derived from the Coptic (Egyptian) calendar, which was set at 29 August in the Julian calendar by the Roman Emperor Augustus in 25 BCE.
- According to legend, which Biblical royal personage was co-founder of the Ethiopian imperial line whose rule ended in 1974?
The Queen of Sheba, named Makeda in Ethiopian tradition. Her visit to King Solomon of Israel is the subject of many legends in Jewish, Islamic, Coptic and Yoruba tradition as well as the Biblical story. But the Ethiopian story is the most elaborate, and suggests that Solomon and Makeda had a son, Baina-leḥkem, who was later to become King David of Israel and Menelik I of Ethiopia.
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