By KUANG KENG KUEK SER
Now you know where exactly is Addis Ababa, let’s find out more about the city.
It is the capital and the buzzing hub of economic, social and political activities of Ethiopia, which President Barack Obama will visit this week, along with Kenya. Despite being home to the African Union, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and many other international organizations, it is less known outside of Africa. The African Union is part of why Obama will become the first sitting US president to visit Ethiopia. He’s expected to have bilateral meetings with both Ethiopia’s government and the African leadership while in Addis Ababa.
Addis Ababa means “new flower” in the African language of Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia, and one of the 88 languages spoken in Ethiopia, according to Ethnologue. The city was founded in 1886 by an Ethiopian emperor named Menelik II whose wife initially built a house for her and friends to take mineral baths there. The vacation house was later expanded to become the Imperial Place, which today still houses the office and residence of Ethiopian prime minister.
Ethiopia has a highly diverse population comprised of more than 80 different ethnic groups. The Oromo are the largest at around one-third of the total population. While a majority of Ethiopians are Christians, Muslims make up a third of the population. There’s an Islamic separatist movement in the Muslim-majority northern region of Afar struggling to establish an Islamic state governed by Sharia law.
For caffeine freaks who venerate coffee as a religion, Ethiopia is the holy land. According to Metasebia Yoseph, an Ethiopian American who authored “A Culture of Coffee,” Ethiopia is not only the birthplace of coffee and the world’s biodiversity source for Arabica coffee, it is also the origin of what Yoseph calls the collective coffee culture — where coffee was once an integral part of spiritual worship, complete with elaborate rituals. Today, some Ethiopians still perform the traditional coffee ceremony for visiting guests, which may take up to a few hours. Here’s a short video about the ceremony from food blog Migrationology:
Now it’s your turn brag about the new facts you found about Addis Ababa and get your friends to try the quiz.
From PRI’s The World ©2015 Public Radio International