Melkam Addis Amet 2014 | Happy Ethiopian New Year!

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 00:00 AM EDT, 09 September 2014

Young Ethiopian Girl with Flower, Photo by Tiffany

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – The Ethiopian New Year, which in Amharic is called Enkutatash, commences on 11 September 2014.  The name of this festival harkens back to the revered Queen of Sheba, who upon her return from Jerusalem where she visited King Solomon, brought with her a wealth of gold and precious stones.

In addition to these gifts, she received jewels from the Ethiopian priesthood to celebrate her safe return. These jewels are known as ‘enku’ hence the eponymous name of the holiday.

The spring festival has been celebrated since Queen of Sheba's times, as it marks the end of the rainy season and the rebirth of the year.  Like the blowing of the Shofar which is a powerful symbol of the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah, which translates as the ‘head of the new year’ and begins about two weeks following; bouquets of yellow flowers symbolize Enkutatash as a holiday that marks springtime and renewal.

The rituals of both holidays include prayers and sermons, but also warm family celebrations replete with food, singing, and joy.

Ethiopia still retains the Julian calendar, in which the year is divided into 12-months of 30-days each and a 13th month of 5 days and 6 days in leap year. The Ethiopian calendar is 8-years behind the Gregorian calendar from January to September and 7-years behind between September 11 and January 8.

Though Enkutatash originated as a primarily religious festival celebrated over a period of three days, and was predominantly characterized by spectacular religious processionals; it is no longer an exclusively religious holiday. Today’s Enkutatash is also the season for exchanging formal new year greetings and cards among the urban professionals, though some in the Diaspora still exchange the traditional bouquet of flowers.

For those travelers able to visit the country during this festival, it is an experience not soon forgotten, especially if invited to celebrate in the Entoto Mountains, which is the region of the country that is resplendent with yellow flowers which have come to symbolize this holiday.

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor-in-Chief: @ayannanahmias

Happy Ethiopian New Year 2012

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 00:48 AM EDT, 7 September 2012

Happy Ethiopian New Year, Photo by Ethiopia ForumsADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – As we near the end of the religious year for Ethiopian Orthodox Christians and Jews, both communities are welcoming the New Year on September 11th and September 16th respectively.

As we have every year, we once again honor our readers of both faiths on this important day that marks the conclusion of their annual calendars.

The Ethiopian New Year, which in Amharic is called Enkutatash, is celebrated concurrently with the Feast of St. John the Baptist. The name of this festival harkens back to the revered Queen of Sheba, who upon her return from Jerusalem where she visited King Solomon, brought with her a wealth of gold and precious stones.

In addition to these gifts, she received jewels from the Ethiopian priesthood to celebrate her safe return. These jewels are known as ‘enku’ hence the eponymous name of the holiday.

Like the blowing of the Shofar which is a powerful symbol of the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah, which translates as the ‘head of the new year;’ bouquets of yellow flowers symbolize Enkutatash as a holiday that marks springtime and renewal. The rituals of both holidays include prayers and sermons, but also warm family celebrations replete with food, singing, and joy.

Enkutatash is celebrated over a period of three days in Ethiopian and is characterized by spectacular religious processionals with individuals dressed in pristine clothing accompanied by colorful umbrellas. The main religious celebration occurs in both Addis Ababa and at Entoto Mountain. This is a region of the country that is resplendent with yellow flowers which has come to symbolize the holiday.

Congregants pray at the 14th-century Kostete Yohannes church in the city of Gaynt, while others convene at the Raguel Church in Addis Ababa. But for those in the Diaspora the Ethiopian New Year is just as vital, vibrant, and festive, and thus we would like to wish all of our friends and family Melkam Addis Amet!

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Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias

Teddy Afro | Les Nubians

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 04:03 AM EDT, 22 September 2009

Teddy Afro, Photo by Mengedegnaw

During my travels in France, I was introduced by my fellow Africans to the political revolutionary music of Teddy Afro and the Afrocentric pride expressed by Les Nubians.

Teddy Afro had been released from prison earlier that year after being jailed by the government on baseless charges which were levied against because the government couldn't risk charging him with sedition.

The politicians behind the move erroneously calculated that imprisoning him would silenced his calls for unity and freedom, but only served to coalesce his followers intent on revolution.  His song, 'Yasteseryal' featured below angered the government because it presented a history of Ethiopia which was unfavorable to the ruler, Haile Selassie

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkWtbaIDnP4

The song from Teddy Afro's interviews is not political but is a call for love of and unity among all Ethiopians. In the song he urges Ethiopians to celebrate their rich, ancient and diverse culture, which should be a source of pride. Though a lot of division and castes exist in Ethiopia, until there is unity the nation will be unable to move forward and deal holistically with the many problems which plague the nation including drought and starvation.

At that time neither Teddy Afro or Les Nubians were as visible in the American popular music scene as they were in Europe. However,find that certain artists, particularly musicians and Indie actors, continue to push against the tides of debasement, and speak the truths that we all seek to hear which is what makes them equally engaging.

Les Nubians wrote and sung the song 'Makeda' which also pays tribute to an Ethiopia and African women. The song is an homage to the great Queen of Sheba. Makeda, is the Amharic name for the Queen of Sheba and in this song by the same title, Les Nubians are paying homage to the great Queen, and to the strength, beauty, integrity and life affirming qualities of all African women.

As I continue to search my soul and hone my voice, I am pleased to highlight the musicians/artists/writers/poets/singers who have had a profound impact on me. The basis of music, at least for me, is poetry and verse.  When I write, I think in visual terms, the words dance in my head, like a jigsaw puzzle of floating petals, that I gently reach up, to pull down, and hook together into soliloquies thoughts which I send out into the universe of my fellow human beings.

We are each here, at this time, and in the space to help the world and make it a better place.  We each have been granted the tools to accomplish our unique missions, and as an artist I have and will continue to explore the full gamut of these giftings.

Makeda, the Queen of Sheba is an integral historical figure in my life as an African Jewish woman.  Les Nubians proclaim that Makeda lives in them, and indeed, Makeda lives in all African females.  As I go into the New Year, it is with great joy and happiness that I can in my own way, pay homage to this greatest of African Queens.

  • Watch the video  Makeda vie en moi here. Though in French it translates to Makeda lives in me.
  • Visit Teddy Afro's Official Website Here.