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Ethiopia

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Historic postcard of Kevorkoff building in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia

There has long been an Armenian presence in Ethiopia, the biggest community centered in Addis Ababa. The vast majority of the Armenians emigrated in the years following the communist revolution in the 1970s, with the largest number settling in Los Angeles and Melbourne. Ethiopian-Armenian reunions have been held in Los Angeles and Yerevan.

Contents

Ethiopia's Armenians: Long History, Small Numbers

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Aug 2, 2014, 10:05 AM ET By BETHAN McKERNAN Associated Press


The numbers at the St. George Armenian Apostolic Church in Addis Ababa are not adding up. Church records show an average of two funerals a year, but a wedding only every three years and a baptism every five.

"Some people don't come to church vertically. Only horizontally," Vartkes Nalbandian said with a laugh.

Vartkes is among a small handful of people keeping Ethiopia's Armenian community alive. Despite a fall in numbers from a peak of 1,200 in the 1960s to less than 100 people today, the Kevorkoff Armenian school, S. Kevork Armenian church and the social club still open their doors.

"There is more to a community than just statistics. We are proud of the Armenian contribution to Ethiopia. It's worth fighting for," said 64-year old Vartkes, the church's fulltime acting archdeacon since the last priest left in 2002.

But given the shrinking numbers, the fight can feel daunting.

Armenian goldsmiths, traders and architects were invited to settle in Ethiopia more than 150 years ago by Emperor Johannes IV. Buoyed by the ties between Ethiopian and Armenian Orthodoxy, the community thrived.

After the Armenian Genocide in 1915, Haile Selassie, Ethiopia's regent who later became Emperor, opened his arms to the Armenian people even wider, adopting 40 orphans as wards of court. In return, the Ethio-Armenians proved fiercely loyal.

One trader used his European connections to buy arms for Ethiopia's resistance movement against the Italian occupation during World War II. Others ran an underground newspaper. Several gave their lives in service of their adopted homeland.

"Those were the best days," said 61-year old Salpi Nalbandian, who runs a leather business with her brother Vartkes and other family members. "We were valued members of the court. We made the crowns the emperors wore on their heads. We were not like the Italians, we weren't invaders. We contributed."

But the community's fortunes have changed through the years.

Ethio-Armenians had their property and businesses confiscated when the communist Derg seized power in 1974. Many families left then, fearing for their lives. The Nalbandians stayed, determined not to give up on a country they had called home for four generations.

Salpi and Vartkes' musical family has made a lasting contribution to Ethiopia's heritage. Great uncle Kervork wrote Ethiopia's first national anthem, and their father Nerses became well known for his pioneering work in Ethio-Jazz, which blends traditional Ethiopian five-tone scales with the diminished scales of Western jazz.

The pair have become the gatekeepers to a part of Ethiopian culture and history that is in danger of being forgotten.

Ethio-Armenians are gradually resembling a diaspora within a diaspora. Children and grandchildren who live in the U.S. and Canada now make pilgrimages to Addis to see the place where their ancestors grew up.

Most of the Armenian buildings in the Armenian "safar" — or neighborhood — in Addis Ababa's city center are now empty or gone, victim to the city's appetite for high-rise buildings that are beginning to dominate the skyline.

St. George's Church holds maybe 200 people but seems larger because it often stands dark and empty. Golden orthodox crosses are the only objects that catch the light from high small windows in the church's pointed dome. The African sunshine struggles to brighten the church's dark green walls.

The remaining Armenian families are scattered around Addis' outskirts, including the Nalbandians, who were forced to vacate their family home.

The only reason the house, which in a traditional Armenian style has a wrap-round balcony — is still standing is because Salpi is fighting against the local government to preserve it as a museum dedicated to her father's life and work.

She has had some help upholding her father's legacy from Aramatz Kalayjian, an Armenian filmmaker. He has being working on "Tezeta," a documentary about Ethio-Armenian music, since 2012.

"The only remnants of a great cross-pollination of cultures are the few Armenian community members left, the music, history books, and memories that tell of the relationship between Armenians and Ethiopians," Kalayjian said.

Vartkes Nalbandian disagrees with Kalayjian's view that the community is fading. He notes that a Syrian-Armenian man recently visited the Addis community with a view to moving there with his family.

"The school is open, the church is open, the club is open," he said. "It doesn't matter if I open the church on a Sunday and preach to many people or just a handful. As long as our spirit is strong, our identity is, too."


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ARMENIAN COMMUNITY OF ETHIOPIA
Deacon Vartkes Nalbandian, President
ARMENIAN CHURCH PASTORATE OF ETHIOPIA
Rev. Fr. Myron Sarkissian, pastor
16th of JANUARY 2005

Press release

70th Anniversary of the
St. George Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church
of Addis-Ababa

Presided by the Archimandrite V. Rev. Father ASHOT MNATZAKANJAN
Locum tenancy of the Diocese of Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church
of Egypt and all Africa,
and with the
honorary superintendence of H. H. ABUNA PAULOS
Patriarch of Ethiopia, Archbishop of Axum
And the Echegue of the Holy See St. Teklehaimanot
On the 16th of January, 2005
at the St. George Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church in Addis- Ababa
Holy Mass held by the Pastor of the Armenian Church Pastorate of Ethiopia
Rev. Fr. Myron Sarkissian


H. H. KAREKIN II

MESSAGE OF BLESSING TO BELEIVERS OF

ST. GEORGE ARMENIAN CHURCH IN ADDIS-ABABA, ETHIOPIA

We were glad to be notified by Very Reverend Father Ashot Mnatsakanian, Locum Tenens of the Armenian Church of Egypt, that this year marks the 70th anniversary of St. George Armenian Church of Ethiopia, which is a source of great joy for its parish members. On this momentous occasion, we would like to extend our Patriarchal blessings and heartfelt congratulations from the holy shrine of our people, the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, to the trustees of the Armenian community of Ethiopia, to the servants of the church and to all of the faithful.

70 years ago, under the patronage of benefactor Mihran Mouradian, the Armenian community of Ethiopia built Saint George Church with the desire and dream of preserving and promoting the noble spiritual values of Armenians. It is under those hallowed arches that prayers are raised towards God for the prosperity and strengthening of friendship between the people of Ethiopia and Armenia and for the flourishing of our holy apostolic Church. We were especially pleased during our last official visit to Ethiopia to know that Armenian life continues to thrive in the community thanks to your faithful perseverance and that you keep your love and dedication towards the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.

We praise God for giving you strength during times of difficulty. With the Lord’s help you were able to conquer the trials and tribulations that befell you and the God-loving people of Ethiopia, all the while holding steadfast to your Christian faith.

It is because of your dedication to the Church that the Almighty is always by your side along with Saint George you will always be your protector. Dear believers, stay committed to the strong spirit of the saint, so that you can celebrate the 70th anniversary with renewed vitality, keeping with the traditions of past generations and fortifying your patriotism and love for the Church with God pleasing endeavors.

Here in front of the Holy Altar of the Descent, we offer our prayers unto God through the intercession of Saint George, so that he continues to bless us and watches over our Holy Church. It is within the walls of this Church that we shall continue the evangelization of His word and the illumination of our people with the true faith of the Armenian Apostolic Church. We also offer prayers for the soul of the benefactor of Saint George Church, Mr. Mihran Mouradian and also offer our praise to the surviving members of his family, all the other benefactors and those who continue to bring prosperity to the church.

May God grant you health and prosperity and may be continue to bless all of our sons and daughters of Ethiopia.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be unto you and unto all. Amen

With blessings,

Karekin II
Catholicos of All Armenians

January 12, 2005
Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin
Republic of Armenia


Message of Archimandrite V. Rev. Fr. ASHOT Mnatzakanyan

Locum Tenens of Diocese of the Armenian Church of Egypt and all Africa

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Matthew 6:21

Your Holiness, my Brothers in Christ, my dear Armenian faithful,

Reading the Catholicos of All Armenians, His Holiness Karekin II’s message of blessing, you proudly heard the following passage,

“Glory and praise to God for keeping you strong in your time of difficulty. By relying on the Lord, you were able to conquer the trials and tribulations that befell you and the God-loving people of Ethiopia, while remaining steadfast in you Christian faith.”

The Armenian community of Ethiopia, with over 100 years of history alongside the Ethiopians, knew how to make worthy its treasure and build this holy church dedicated to the brave warrior, Saint George. Offers of prayer and incense for the soul of the benefactor of the church, Mihran Mouradian and praise to all of the trustees and servants of the church including benefactors, acolytes and deacons and choir members and conductors.

70 year have gone by and with them there have been times of trouble and difficulty. But in the face of all that, man’s will to survive based on his faith in God always stays strong. The people of Ethiopia also had there share of troubles, natural disasters, wars, etc. However, with God’s strength and the power of prayer it has risen to its feet once again. Their faith has turned into a precious treasure within their hearts.

We, Armenians, have been struggling to survive for centuries and still continue to do so till today. Many wanted the end of us and started by exiling us from our fatherland and destroying our holy shrines and churches. But we, especially Diasporan Armenians, found new places and people to welcome us, where we could build a little Armenia and Holy Etchmiadzin. We returned the respect given to us by our hosts, who embraced us warmly and with humanitarian spirit and turned them into our new brothers and sisters. We placed our treasures not only by building our churches but by helping our hosts in their time of need.

Glory and praise to the Lord for giving us the opportunity to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of St. George Armenian Church here in Addis Ababa. I want to stress to those present that if we send our treasures of faith to the Lord in heaven, we will surely send our treasures of love and friendship to the people of Ethiopia.

On this occasion, like in every celebration, we shall remember our martyrs and the innocent that have lost their lives during centuries of natural disaster and war, and especially during the days of the Armenian Genocide of 1915, which will be remembered by its 90th Anniversary this year. Other nations have also had martyrs and victims. Today we will be unveiling the monument dedicated to the memory of the Armenian Genocide, a monument dedicated to the memory of all martyrs of humanity and especially those who lost their lives in Asia during last months Tsunami disaster. We dedicate this monument with prayers so that natural disasters won’t occure, so that wars cease, and so peoples human rights are not violated. We dedicate this monument today to awaken the conscience of the world to recognize the great crime against the Armenian that took place in 1915 that took the lives of more than 1.5 million Armenians.

My dear Armenian people,

Having arrived in this country on the African continent because of the Armenian Genocide, you must remain steadfast to the Christian faith, to the power of prayer, to the teachings of peace and love, so that you may be worthy of God’s blessing. Keep the fraternal spirit you have towards the God-loving Ethiopian people, who we extend our brotherly blessings to.

We reverently acknowledge amongst us His Holiness Abuna Paulos, conveying the greetings of His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians. We also acknowledge the representatives of our sister Churches, government officials and diplomats wishing you the blessings of the Lord, love and peace.

My dear Armenian people,

In being consistent to what His Holiness the Catholicos conveyed in his message, “70 years ago, the Armenian community of Ethiopia built Saint George Church with the desire and dream of preserving and promoting the noble spiritual values of Armenians. It is under those hallowed arches that prayers are raised towards God for the prosperity and strengthening of friendship between the people of Ethiopia and Armenia and for the flourishing of our holy apostolic Church.” This is the treasure that you have been keeping for the past 70 years. This is your heart. Stay committed to the faith of your forefathers and their love for their nation. Stay true to our Lord’s commandment,

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be unto you and unto all.

Amen


SPEECH OF HIS HOLINESS ABUNA PAULOS
ON THE OCCASION OF THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF
THE SAINT GEORGE ARMENIAN APOSTOLIC CHURCH OF ADDIS ABABA

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit One God Amen.

This is one great day that we give thanks unto God because we are here this morning with the families of our churches, which have been families for 2000 years. Each has pursued in their own countries and has faced many worldly problems and yet they have managed to reach here and so I give thanks. And, I respect my brothers who have found a cause to bring the families together this morning, so that we could refresh our memories and responsibilities towards each other. As we have been informed by the message of His Holiness Karekin II that we should remember all our difficulties that we have endured during the past 2000 years I should say.

This morning we are gathered here because of the 70th anniversary of this particular church whose foundation was laid in 1928 and was inaugurated by His Imperial Majesty in 1934.

So, my brothers and sisters who have endured great problems before and during the First World War in 1915, Ethiopia, particularly Emperor Menelik II did his part to bring our brothers and sisters closer, who have been engaged and participated and shared and did their part during the political turmoil of this country. Armenians have been imprisoned with the Ethiopians and they have suffered with no discrimination and they have been here during natural disasters alongside their Ethiopian brothers and sisters. Somebody might wonder the communality between the Armenians and the Ethiopians. Well, I should mention the families of the early ancient churches, the five sister churches, the Armenians, the Ethiopians, the Coptic Orthodox, the Syrian Orthodox and the Malabar Indian Orthodox churches. These are known to be the most ancient churches. From the very beginning all the churches were together until the 5th century, the Council of Calcedon. The 1st three ecumenical councils have been gathered with the participation of all the Christians throughout the world with no east and west, but all were together in the Council of Nicea in 325 and in the Council of Constantinople in 381 and in the Council of Ephesos in 431.

Than comes the 4th ecumenical council, the council of Calcedon in 451, which these ancient churches do not accept because of the newly introduced views in the dogmas and teachings of the church. The ancient churches adhered to the teachings of the Lord and his apostles because they have not dared to join, so the church separated within itself. So, these five churches today are known as the non-Calcedonian and the western churches are known as the Calcedonian churches. So, what we have in common? All the doctrine of the church and at different times the teachings of the sacraments of the church are commonly understood by this family of churches. And if this is what we have shared, so what is the difference? As you have observed this morning the Armenians and all the members of this family of churches have their own language respectively and their own cultures. The manifestation during their service is expressed in accordance to their local culture, that is the only difference. But that is not the main issue that will make you feel you are different from the other because theses are complimentary or these are some technical matters that come naturally to the local situation even here in Ethiopia, you go to the North, you go to the South and you go East and West you find differences, but they are all Ethiopians and they are all the same Ethiopian church. So, this is the only difference we have seen. Those who have come here for the first time might have felt that, my God! It is different the way they celebrate their divine liturgy, no, it is not different, the main issue is the meaning, the understanding of the doctrine, the teaching of the church, Concept of understanding is the same so, we are the same and therefore we are here. One thing that I have to appreciate this morning most is that our brothers the Armenians, the clergy have made a special effort to bring together the sister churches after so many years, after so many ordeals that thy have been bearing throughout their lives and now they have to remind us, why can’t we get together and share our communalities if we had such things more frequently, even with the other sister churches, we could find some common ground in order to bring together and to get together. I think the Lord Jesus Christ would like to see us finding a common ground, he himself the common Lord to all of us, the teaching of him has to be commonly understood for all of us.

I know as a student of history in the past I remember what divided the church in the 4th and 5th century, it was not even the dogmatic situations, but it was because of the political situation. Politics has been playing a great role in the life of societies throughout the history of mankind. So anyone who had the supremacy or the upper hand by different circumstances did have more followers that the others, but this does not mean that they are right and the others are wrong, it all shows that you are overridden by something or there are always some kind of unfortunate situation to blame.

We cannot finish the history of 2000 years this morning. I would like to repeat that I appreciate and thank once more my brothers and sisters the Armenian Community, my spiritual children whose effort was worthy, it was something rewarding, it was something challenging and refreshing at the same time. Many people nowadays do not think that Christians are together and have a common understanding, because, today everyone speaks for himself or herself making it seem that there has always been and individualistic feeling in the whole world, but this was not the case.

Finally I would like to say the goodness and the best selection id the Christian life. Christian life is a better life as far as I am concerned, I am a Christian and I live as a Christian in this world. I have faced and been challenged by many difficulties and had I not been a Christian I would not have endured. I do not think our churches would have been able to maintain themselves for 2000 years with all the tsunamis; tsunami has been the waves, the storms of the world through the beginning of mankind’s history, so throughout those long years of turmoil, the Christians and the ancient Christians have endured and sustained everything, maintaining themselves up to this time, whether as a community or on an individual level a true Christian has always been able to stand to the challenges and maintain himself or herself within their own position. I am glad I am a part of that, I am part of the Christian body. I am glad that Christianity is such a strong spiritual philosophy that helps man or a human being challenge the history, which is full of turmoil in the world that we live in.

My brothers, as we have done something historical this morning with the Armenian Community, You can see the strength of Christianity or the strength of Christian life, which is full of common understanding, the respect towards each other, the love to each other, this is not the love the world talks about, but it is the true Christian love, regardless of any difficulties it will always remain together.

God bless you and congratulations.

The first monument commemorated of the ninetieth anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia

The first monument commemorated of the ninetieth anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia on the ground of St. George Armenian Church, with presence of Ethiopian Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelic Church leaders and other political guests. The opening ceremony held by the Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarch H. H. Abouna Paulos, Archimandrite V. Rev. Father Ashot Mnatzakanjan, Locum tenancy of the Diocese of Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church of Egypt and all Africa, and the pastor of the Armenian Community of Ethiopia Rev. Fr. Myron Sarkissian. The monument donated by the Armenians in Ethiopia. After the ceremony H. H. Abouna Paulos explained the presence the meaning of the monument and the tragedy of the Armenians in 1915.


Dire Dawa has had from the start a rapidly growing population of highly diversified racial, ethnic, religious and linguistic backgrounds. Attracted by the economic opportunities to be had, people have come thither from near and far and made the town their home. Over the years second and third generation Dire Dawans have come into existence; nevertheless, the number of recent arrivals has always been quite large. By the Italian period the population of the town numbered around 20,000. This had more than tripled by the mid-sixties, turning Dire Dawa into the third largest city in Ethiopia. The 1994 national census showed that the population had grown to a quarter of a million for the greater region and to upwards of 170 thousand inhabitants for the city proper. Amharas, Somalis and Oromos together have from early on made up the bulk of the population. Yet, there has also been the increasing influx of other Ethiopian groups, especially following liberation. A case in point is the Gurages, who now constitute one of the largest and economically most important communities.

The predominant religions have always been Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, espoused by the majority of the Amharas and some members of other groups, and Islam, professed predominantly by the Somalis, Oromos, and Hararis and a section of the Gurages. Even though in rapid decline in terms of membership lately, the Catholic Church has also been around since the beginning of the town; it has catered to the spiritual needs of a much smaller but influential group of motley backgrounds. Protestantism, though introduced considerably later in the prewar period, has, however, shown remarkable expansion after liberation (especially in the last three decades) and has today far surpassed Catholicism as the second largest Christian denomination after the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Until dwindling membership forced their closure, Armenian and Greek churches were also part of the city's spiritual pantheon.


"Abyssinia Swing." The book, written by French music producer and scholar Francis Falceto, documents the development of Ethiopian music from the late 19th century, through the initiative of Emperor Haile Selassie in the 1920s to bring an orchestra of Armenian orphans from Jerusalem to Addis Ababa, and up to the golden age of the 1960s, which produced sophisticated and groovy music such as that of Mulatu Astatke, featured in Jim Jarmusch's film "Broken Flowers."

Ethiopia: Making Strides With New Footwear Engineering Degree

All Africa Aug 6 2014

By Fasika Tadesse

Despite its long history in the nation, Ethiopia's leather industries are currently performing far below their potential

The Addis Abeba Science & Technology University (AASTU) will start enrolling students in footwear engineering in the 2014/15 fiscal year, with a curriculum developed by the Leather Industries Development Institute (LIDI).

Currently, the Addis Abeba University(AAU)'s Institute of Technology (AAIT) has an undergraduate program in leather processing, which includes tanning and crusting raw leather. The AASTU, under the Ministry of Science & Technology, will be a new addition to the field, with more courses to follow at other universities, such as Wolkite, in the Guraghe Zone, according to Wondu Legesse, director general of the LIDI.

The LIDI developed the curriculum in partnership with Indian experts from the Central Leather Research institute (CLRI) and Footwear Design & Development Institute (FDDI) based on the experiences of Indian Universities. The AASTU has approved the content of the curriculum and will use it in a five year course, said Wondu. The curriculum has two years of theoretical study and three years of practical training. The AASTU will take 25 students during the first round.

The AASTU approved the curriculum three weeks ago, according to Berihanu Serjabo, corporate communications director at the institute.

That was also when the House of Peoples' Representatives (HPR) approved the decision to pass the University from the Ministry of Education to the Ministry of Science & Technology. It is located at Kilinto, in the Akaki Kaliti District, on a 150ha plot of land. It has the capacity for 31,000 students, but accepted only 2,015 in 2012/13.

The institute has 32 masters and six PhD holders in footwear engineering, who are going to participate in teaching the courses at the AASTU.

"The training will have a big impact on the sector, providing more experts in the manufacturing industry," said Wondu.

The practical lessons will take place at the premises of the LIDI at Kaliti, using the equipment at the Institute.

"After we see the results, we will reduce the theoretical period to one year and make the practical lessons four years," said Wondu. "We will also increase our capacity."

The new department will train the students to manufacture finished and value added leather products, such as shoes, gloves and garment products.

The leather sector is an area that Ethiopia is yet to fully benefit from. Its history dates back to the 1920s when Armenian businesspeople established the first tanneries and shoe factories. Their legacy still lives on at the Darmar Tannery & Shoe Factory, having split into the Awash Tannery and Anbessa Shoe Factory. The Addis Abeba Tannery is known as the Addis Tannery and the Asco Shoe Factory as Tikur Abay Shoe Factory.

There are now 20 medium and large mechanised footwear factories with five joining soon in the formal sector, as well as 32 tanneries with two more on the way. The shoe factories are currently performing below their installed capacities. Ethiopia's leather and leather products export performance for the 2013/14 fiscal year was only 132.9 million Br - 62pc lower than the planned 347 million dollars. This is despite showing an improvement of 8.3pc from the previous year, according to a data from Ministry of Industry(MoI).

The LIDI, which is under the Ministry of Industry (MoI), is now finalising preparations to initiate a similar course, according to Wondu. The institute offers services to leather manufacturers in the field of chemical and physical testing, supporting, marketing, feasibility studies, education and vocational training.

http://allafrica.com/stories/201408060286.html


This article contains text from a source with a copyright. Please help us by extracting the factual information and eliminating the rest in order to keep the site in accordance to fair use standards, or by obtaining permission for reuse on this site..

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