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Hārer, Harer; Somali:
Adari ) is situated in the Eastern Part of Ethiopia about 54 Kilometers
from Diredawa and about 500 Kilometers from Addis Ababa. The city is located on
a hilltop, in the eastern extension of the Ethiopian highlands with an elevation
of 1885 meters.
centuries, Harar has been a major commercial centre, linked by the trade routes
with the rest of Ethiopia, the entire Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula,
and, through its ports, the outside world.
Jugol has been included in the World Heritage List in 2006 by UNESCO in
recognition of its cultural heritage. According
to UNESCO, it is "considered 'the fourth holy city' of Islam" with 82
mosques, three of which date from the 10th century, and 102 shrines.
is also famous for its distinctive, natural processed coffees which bear the
inhabitants of Harar represent several different Afro-Asiatic-speaking
ethnic groups, both Muslim
and others. Nevertheless, within the walled city, the indigenous Harari
are predominant. The Harari, who refer to themselves as Gey 'Usu
("People of the City") are a Semitic-speaking
people once thought to be descended from an Aksumite
military outpost. Today, they are most commonly classed as a social and cultural
unit rather than as a distinct ethnic group since most families have
intermingled with the neighboring peoples, and were welcoming of foreigners into
their community. Their language, Harari,
constitutes a Semitic pocket in a predominantly Cushitic-speaking
region. Originally written in the Arabic
script, the Harari language has recently converted to the Ge'ez
& completely restored to period. Built as wedding present to Eutermarks
daughter Lucy, it was originally assigned 913 West Fourth Street, but the bride
changed it to 915 thinking it unlucky. 915 West Fourth Street, Millionaires' Row
gates of Harar
in olden days were strongly guarded, and were strictly closed
at night - for no one was allowed to enter or leave the city during the long
hours of darkness. Strangers wishing to enter Harar in daytime had first to
deposit their spears, guns and other arms with the city's guards, who would look
after them scrupulously, and return them when their owners were ready to leave.
The walls had, however, a number of holes placed to allow the drainage of water
and sewage and to enable hyenas, who constituted the principal garbage
collectors, to enter the settlement at night and leave it before the break of
Coffee shop in Adis Ababa
subsequent integration of Harar into the greater Ethiopian realm led to the
construction, in the twentieth century, of two additional gates. To the west,
the Shewa gate, so called because it afforded access to the important Ethiopian
province of that name; and also the Berbere Bari, called after Ethiopia's hot
peppery spice which seems to have been handled in the area. The first of these
gates is today by far the most used, for it links the Old and New Towns, while
the Berbere Bari has long since been closed.
Harar was established by Sultan Abu Beker Mohammed in 1520. Harar, the Holy
City of Ethiopia's Muslim community, is believed to be the forth-holiest city
after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. The old City Wall of Harar is the main
attraction and symbol of Islamic architecture. Harar has approximately 90
mosques, which form the largest concentration of mosques in the world. One of
Harar's main attractions is the hyena man who feeds hyenas on the outskirts of
the town every night.
is known for its turmoil and bloodshed. Ahmed Gragn killed Abu Beker Mohammed
who was the ruler of Harar. Ahmed Gragn was a militant Muslim leader and used
Harar as his base to launch his jihad
and raids against the Ethiopian Christian Empire in 1528. He
destroyed many churches and threatened the complete distruction of Ethiopian
Christendom. He was killed by Emperor Gelawdewos in a Battle near Lake Tana in
1543. The raids continued against the Christians led by Ahmed Gragn's widow Bati
Del Wambara. In 1559, Emperor Gelawdewos marched on Harar with the aim to
eradicate the constant religious sectarianism taking place. Gelawdewos was
killed in a battle and his head was paraded around the city on a stake.
Ali ibn Daud took control the city and established an autonomous administration.
Despite the continuous fighting with Oromo tribes, Harar expanded; it became
well populated, an important city for trade and a centre of Muslim scholarship.
It issued its own currency. After 250 years of autonomous rule, Egypt occupied
Harar and killed the Emir in 1875. The Egyptian action created a strong
resistance in the Muslim community of Harar. Emir Abdullah took control and led
a campaign against the Egyptians, which ended in 1885.
1887, Harar lost its autonomy when Menelik, Prince of Shewa, who later became
Emperor of Ethiopia in 1889, waged war against the army of Emir Abdullah.
Menelik defeated the Emir at the Battle of Chelenko in 1887. Menelik then
established a new administration, including several members of the emir's family
to prevent renewed religious sectarianism, headed by Ras Mekonnen, the father of
Emperor Haile Selassie.
then began to disintegrate and lost its status as a trade centre in the end of
nineteenth century when the railway line was built between Addis Ababa and
Djibouti through Dire Dawa. From 1902, Dire Dawa became the main commercial
centre of Ethiopia.
Harar remained as the spiritual City of Ethiopia's Muslim community, the
political capital of Hararge Province until 1994 and has become a federal
city-state (or kilil ) in its own right.
since 1995.and its environs became an Ethiopian
coffee ceremony is an integral part of their social and cultural life. An
invitation to attend a coffee ceremony is considered a mark of friendship or
respect and is an excellent example of Ethiopian hospitality. Performing the
ceremony is almost obligatory in the presence of a visitor, whatever the time of
day. Don't be in a hurry though - this special ceremony can take a few hours. So
sit back and enjoy because it is most definitely not instant.
homage to coffee is sometimes ornate, and always beautifully ceremonial. The
ceremony is usually conducted by one young woman, dressed in the traditional
Ethiopian costume of a white dress with coloured woven borders. The long
involved process starts with the ceremonial apparatus being arranged upon a bed
of long scented grasses. The roasting of the coffee
beans is done in a flat pan over a tiny charcoal stove, the pungent smell
mingling with the heady scent of incense that is always burned during the
The lady who is
conducting the ceremony gently washes a handful of coffee beans on the heated
pan, then stirs and shakes the husks away.
When the coffee beans have turned black and shining
and the aromatic oil
is coaxed out of them, they are ground by a pestle and a long handled mortar.
The ground coffee is
slowly stirred into the black clay coffee pot locally known as
which is round at the bottom with a straw lid. Due to the archaic method used by
Ethiopians, the ground result can be called anything but even, so the coffee is
strained through a fine sieve several times. The youngest child is then sent out
to announce when it is to be served and stands ready to bring a cup of coffee
first to the eldest in the room and then to the others, connecting all the
generations. The lady finally serves the coffee in tiny china cups to her
family, friends and neighbours who have waited and watched the procedure for the
Gracefully pouring a thin golden stream of coffee into each little cup
from a height of one foot without an interruption requires years of practice.
is taken with plenty of sugar (or in the countryside, salt) but no milk and is
generally accompanied by lavish praise for its flavour and skilful preparation.
Often it is complemented by a traditional snack food, such as popcorn, peanuts
or cooked barley.
most parts of Ethiopia, the coffee ceremony takes place three times a day - in
the morning, at noon and in the evening. It is the main social event within the
village and a time to discuss the community, politics, life and about who did
what with whom.
If invited into a home to take part, remember - it is impolite to retire
until you have consumed at least three cups, as the third round is considered to
bestow a blessing. Transformation of the spirit is said to take place during the
coffee ceremony through the completion of 'Abol' (the first round), 'Tona'
(second round) and 'Baraka' (third round).
find that each region's coffee will taste slightly different, according to the
growing conditions. Kaffa's forested hillsides, at 1,500 feet, provide larger
trees to protect the coffee plants from the harsh sun. Harar is renowned for its
longberry variety with its distinctive wine-like flavour and sharp acidic edge.
And Sidamo's beans, known as Yirgacheffes, have an unusual flavour. The coffee
Arabica strain is Ethiopia's original bean and the only one still grown and
drunk there today. It does not have the excessive pungency or acidity of the
neighbouring Kenyan brands and is much closer in character to the related Mocha
variety of Yemen. The composition of its delicate and strong flavour can be lost
if it is high roasted.
to national folklore, the origin of coffee is firmly rooted in Ethiopia's
history. Their most popular legend concerns the goat herder from Kaffa, where
the plants still grow wild in the forest hills. After discovering his goats to
be excited, almost dancing on their hind legs, he noticed a few mangled branches
of the coffee plant which was hung with bright red berries. He tried the berries
himself and rushed home to his wife who told him that he must tell the monks.
The monks tossed the sinful drug into the flames, an action soon to be followed
by the smell we are all so familiar with now. They crushed the beans, raked them
out of the fire, and distilled the stimulating substance in boiling water.
Within minutes the monastery filled with the heavenly aroma of roasting beans,
and the other monks gathered to investigate. After sitting up all night, they
found a renewed energy to their holy devotions. The rest, as they say, is
holds a sacred place in their country -just the growing and picking process of
coffee involves over 12 million Ethiopians and produces over two-thirds of the
country's earnings. The best Ethiopian coffee may be compared with the finest
coffee in the world, and premium washed Arabica beans fetch some of the highest
prices on the world market. In a world where time has long become a commodity,
the Ethiopian coffee ceremony takes us back to a time when value was given to
conversation and human relations. Perhaps an ancient proverb best describes the
place of coffee in Ethiopian life, "Buna dabo naw", which when
translated means "Coffee is our bread!"
have an NTO (National Tourist Office) driver/guide, Sebsebe. The Institute in
Addis Ababa thought it wiser to have an NTO escort, as there is ethnic fighting
in the area and some resentment towards outsiders, or farengi, which we so
obviously are. Sebsebe organized for a local guide, Abdul, to take us around
our first evening we visit the Hyena Man before dinner. They drive us outside
one of the old gates in the stone walls enclosing the Old Town. Here the Hyena
Man feeds the hyenas at night in a dusty open area. He's dressed in tattered
clothes, his dark-skinned face blending into the darkness. Next to him is a
that sack are rejected pieces of meat and bones from the butcher," Abdul
stops the car, leaving the headlights on, allowing us to see quite well. The
Hyena Man starts calling a wild, high-pitched chant, and one-by-one the hyenas
come, slinking down the hills.
come two hyenas, their red eyes glowing in the headlights. They circle at a
distance, and two more come, then three. The chanting continues until there are
about 20 - all the size of a large heavy dog - with strong jaws and
characteristic sloping shoulders. They come a bit closer and we can see them,
spotted unattractive heads with small ears, salivating at the sight and smell of
the meat. They really are one of nature's ugliest animals.
make an excited yipping noise while others start "laughing". A hyena's
"laugh" is an eerie, primitive sound, and we step a bit closer to the
Hyena Man draws out some scraps of meat, which he flings into the dark. There's
a flurry of rushing bodies. He throws some small bones and we hear cracking,
or four of the creatures come much closer. "They are more familiar with him
and he can feed those by hand," Abdul whispers. The Hyena Man loops a piece
of meat around the end of a long stick. One hyena runs forward and pulls on the
meat. We stand close to the car, taking photograph, impressed in spite of
he holds out a bone, about 12 inches long, and one of the hyenas grabs it
ferociously and runs off. All of the "familiar" ones get a bone in
this way. "He doesn't actually hold out his hand now as he lost one of his
fingers recently," Abdul informs us. Is this man brave or foolish for
feeding these unpredictable beasts, or is he just out to make a living?
amazing spectacle started years ago after some small children and donkeys were
apparently killed and dragged off by hyenas. The people decided to partially
feed the hyenas outside the walls so they don't come into town ravenously hungry
and ready to attack animals or children. It's a strange "night show",
but we're impressed anyway, partly because it tells us more about Harar and
the sack is emptied, the hyenas retreat to the darkness just beyond the light
and Abdul gives the Hyena Man some Ethiopian birr notes. He bobs his head
briefly, picks up the sack, and walks off into the dark.
has trained a hyena to look after his livestock and four hawks to guard his
grain farms from destructive birds.
Hyena and Hawk man lives in the small town of Qabri Bayah about 50 kilometres
from Jigjiga town the headquarters of the Somali region in eastern Ethiopia.
I visited him in his house, he was busy tending crops at his green garden - a
rare sight in this arid neighbourhood.
group of young men were playing with the male hyena, which seemed to enjoy all
the hyena and without any fear, were four cows.
hyena looked so much at home and even licked oil from the head of one of Seyyid
have fondly named the hyena "Ali".
asked Seyyid Abdishakur what led him to tame the hyena and hawks.
have a herd of about 370 goats and hyenas have been regularly attacking my herd.
Then I hatched this plan of taming the animal and I got this one at the age of
two and brought him home," he said.
Abdishakur says he knew hyenas do not come to attack anywhere where their
for the hawks I caught them while they were young and I use them to guard my
farms where I plant grain during the rainy season," he said.
Abdishakur says both the hawks and hyena have been of great use to him.
have saved the funds which I used to hire extra people to guard my crops against
birds and the hyena has become a good shepherd... other hyenas now fear my
herd," he said.
great friendship between the beast and livestock has not come about easily.
Abdishakur says that at first he was forced to hire a vehicle to carry the hyena
around whenever his livestock moved to a new location.
was to prevent "Ali" meeting other hyenas and taking off with them.
the past four years the hyena has stayed with him and served him well.
Abdishakur says that he has never slaughtered a goat within the sight of the
hyena to avoid it seeing the livestock as a source of food.
only give him meat from the butcher," he says.
has he got any fears of the hyena leaving him and going back to the wild?
when the Hyena feels the urge to mate, then there is the danger of it leaving in
search of a female one. But I have already considered this and I now put certain
herbs in its food to reduce its sexual urge," said Mr Abdishakur.
says that he learnt this from his late father whom he says was knowledgeable on
he is philosophical about his success in taming the wild animal and birds
things have the same interests," he said.
Somalis ought to learn a lesson from this. I have brought together hawks, cats,
chicken, cattle, goats and a hyena who are all sworn enemies and they are all
living harmoniously in one place. It's time Somalis reflected and thought of
their interests and stopped feuding."
Abdishakur has also kept the hawks separated in huge cages fearing that they
will mate and breed.
says he does not have the financial ability to support any offspring at the
for now he is the centre of attraction in this village and people from both far
and near come to his compound daily to marvel at his rare catch.
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