Sep 9, 2006

Ethiopian political history

I just read another book about Ethiopia and learned some neat stuff about the History of Ethiopia. Here is the basic political timeline:

a) Prehistoric peoples. They found a human skeleton that was purported to be between 2.9 and 3.6 million years old in the great rift valley. The discovery was made by Donald Johanson in 1974, the woman nicknamed "Lucy" because they were listening to a certain Beatles song at the time they discovered her. Because of this discovery, Ethiopia was thought to be possibly the place where humans originated.

b) 5,000 BC: Hunters and Gatherers.

c) 1,000 BC: Semitic Immigration-- people from across the sea on the Arabian peninsula settled in parts of what is now Eritrea/Ethiopia.

d) 900 BC: The legendary meeting of Sheba and Solomon, which resulted in a Son Menelik I, who became King and the first ruler in the Askumite Kingdom. According to legend, he visited his father, King Solomon, when he became of age, and Solomon sent a son of all of the temple priests back with Menelik to Ethiopia, along with a replica of the Ark of the Covenant, which the Ethiopians claim is the real ark, because the disgruntled priests' sons exchanged them before they left.

the Jewish people of Ethiopia are called Falasha, and practiced a unique form of Judaism that only incorporate the first 5 books of the Old Testament.

e) 4,5,6th centuries: Christianity introduced into Ethiopia. It becomes the State Religion of Askum.

f) 615 AD: Islam comes to Ethiopia. They flee from the Arabian Rulers at the suggestion of Mohammed, who declares Ethiopia to be "a land of righteousness where no one is wronged." The Ethiopian Ruler refuses to give these refugees up to the Arabian leaders.

g) between 7-800 AD Yudith (Judith), an Agew Falasha princess, takes over and destroys some churches, as well as the city of Askum.

h) The Zagwe rule for about 150 years. They stay with Christianity, and king Labiela has several churches carved out of rock. These churches are one of those things that are said to be an 8th wonder of the world.

I) In 1270, the Amhara people revolt and instated a new king, Yekutmo Amlak, who claims descent from Solomon and Makeda, the Queen of Sheba.

J)16th century- Muslims come in from the east, The Oromo come in from the south. The portugese assist the Amhara to hold off the Muslim invaders and stop Agew revolts. Emperor Fasiladas builds a new capital city, Gondar.

K) There is a period where separate Ethiopian provinces are ruled and peopled by different cultures/tribes. In 1855, a series of Amhara kings, Theodore II, Yohannes, and Menelik II attempted to unite Ethiopia under one government. Menelik II succeeded. His Nephew, Haille Sellassie, ruled Ethiopia as emperor until 1934 when Mussolini lead the Italian invasion.

L) At the advent of WWII, British soldiers assisted Ethiopian soldiers in reclaiming Ethiopia, and Sellassie came back to rule in 1941. He ruled until 1974 when the Derg took over the government. As a result of some governmental policy combined with drought, Ethiopia was considered one of the poorest countries in the world at this point.

The Derg was a Marxist-Leninist group. The leader, Colonel Mengistu Hile Meriam, executed enemies of the government and instated government farms, forcing farmers to move onto these government-run facilities.

M) by 1985, more than half a million Ethiopian people starved. In 1991, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front began to attack government troops, and had much success. Four months later, President Mengistu resigned, and one week later, these troops seized the capital. They promised to set up a provisional government that included fair representation for all ethnic groups in Ethiopia.

At the same time, The Eritrean Liberation Front set up a government in Eritrea, and asked the UN to vote for Eritrean independence from Ethiopia. They eventually won this independence.

N) In 1994, a constitution was drafted. Ethiopia is now governed by a President (Chief of State) and a Prime Minister (head of government), a 108-seat Council of the Federation who represent regional interests, and a 547-seat Council of People's Representatives who are popularly elected and who are responsible for electing the president. The Prime minister is elected by the party in power.

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