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  • Kulubi Gabriel pilgrimage

    Kulubi Gabriel is near Harar (about 75 km i think) in the middle of the Chercher Mountains, which are like a semi-highland area explaining the fertility/temperate weather of Harar as opposed to Dire Dawa, Jijiga, etc.

     

    The pilgrimage that takes place every year on 26 July, the day it was consacrated (26 July 1892). The story I've gathered as to why it's holy is: after the conquest of Eastern Ethiopia by Menelik II, the Emperor trusted the region to Ras Makonen Woldemikael (father of Haile-Selassie). He became governor of Harar, a Muslim citadel in decline and which had only recently seen the Egyptians move out.

     

    With the Abyssinian take-over, Christian settlers started arriving, and the inevitable tensions arose. More than a simple Christian/Muslim tension, it was actually 3-fold: the Harari urban aristocracy vs. the Oromo peasant-hood which had seen some marginal improvement under the Egyptians vs. the new-comers.

     

    Apparently, Ras Makonnen made a vow to St. Gabriel that if peace was restored in Harar and its surrounding areas, he'd consacrate a church in his honour. All very Ethiopian! And so in 1892, i can only assume that with a semblance of social peace, he decided to follow his word. As to why he chose this location in particular, someone else will have to throw some light on it, i'm at a loss. What i heard is that it already had a small monastery before hand.

     

    Again, as far as i've gathered, no exceptional miracle or event happened which would explain Kulubi Gabriel becoming such a focus of devotion.

     

    The church, however, did gain a prominent role as the resting place of Ras Makonen, who was one the most enlightened leaders Ethiopia had just over a century ago. His respect stretch to a national and international level.

     

    Later on, during the Italian occupation, it became a hot-bed of anti-Italian organization, much like Debre Libanos, and was bombed. Perhaps a reflection of Ras Makonen's influence in this devotion is that the church is considered holy and worthy of pilgrimage by Orthodox Christians and many Muslims in the area. 

     

    It's perfectly possible to visit Kulubi Gabriel, but do be warned that it's extremely crowded around 26 July and 26 december, on St. Gabriel's day. Accomodation in the surrounding area is limited, but transport on to Harar/Dire Dawa is constant.

     

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  • Asmara Became UNESCO’s World Heritage Site

    Eritrea's capital, Asmara, has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list today. The announcement came during the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee that's taking place in Poland. Asmara has been described as a "Modernist City in Africa."

     

    The European Union is contributing to the conservation of Asmara's unique cultural and architectural heritage, in the framework of the EU program for Local Authorities.

     

    The EU has, in fact, signed in December 2016 a 2 year's cooperation program with the Asmara Heritage Project (AHP), part of the Department of Public Works Development of the Central Region Administration (Zoba Maekel) aiming at building the capacity for safeguarding Asmara's historic urban environment.

     

    The EU-funded program included training, capacity building and awareness raising components and will also support the finalization of the Urban Conservation Master Plan, which is among the key recommendations of the World Heritage Committee.

     

    Candidature of the city of Asmara was submitted to the World Heritage List on the 1 February 2016 and Asmara's application has finally approved today on Saturday, July 8, 2017.

     

    Making the respected list is hugely important for Asmara, as it can prompt tourism to the city as well provide financial means for preservation. Nine natural, 16 cultural, and four mixed sites have been nominated for examination this year.

     

    The committee will also inspect the conservation of 108 existing World Heritage sites as well as the 48 sites on the World Heritage in Danger List.

     

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  • Ethiopia: Saudi Arabia Detains 12 Ethiopian Muslims On Hajj and Umrah Pilgrimage

    Twelve members of Ethiopian Muslims who were in Saudi Arabia on Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage were detained by the Kingdom's security on Thursday June 29, according to friends and family members.

    The detainees include Ustaz Abubeker Ahmed and Ustaz Yasin Nuru, prominent members of the Ethiopian Muslim Arbitration Committee, a committee formed by the Addis Abeba Muslim community in the wake of the 2011 rift between the government and Muslims in Addis Abeba.

    However, as the initial rift escalated and sustained anti-government Friday sit-ins by Muslims throughout the country intensified, both Ustaz Abubekr and Ustaz Yasin were detained, subsequently charged and tried for terrorism.

    During a three year trial marked by several inconsistencies, in August of 2015 each were sentenced to 22 years in prison. A year after the sentencing however both were pardoned by Ethiopia's President Mulatu Teshome in Sep. 2016.

    According to this information posted on Facebook, among the twelve detainees are: Aleem Dr. Joylan Khedir, Ustaz Khamil Shemsu, Ustaz Raya Aba Mecha, Ustaz Hassen Ali, Ustaz Abdurrahman Sultan, Ustaz Khedi Kahsay and Engineer Bedru Hussien.

    So far, there has been no official statement both from the Kingdom and the Ethiopian ministry of foreign affairs. But according a report on DW Amharic, some of the detainees were already residents of the Kingdom. AS

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