Neither Here Nor There: Perspectives on Identity by the Young Eritrean and Ethiopian Diaspora in America

July 23, 2009

What IS “Habesha”?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Habesha Diaspora @ 7:07 pm

Habesha: [A] South Semitic-speaking group of people whose cultural, linguistic, and in certain cases, ancestral origins trace back to the tribes of the Axumite (Habasha) and the Da’amat kingdom. Today they include the Amhara and Tigray-Tigrinya ethnic groups of Ethiopia and Eritrea who are predominantly Orthodox Christians, and have been since 332 AD. The Amhara and Tigray ethnicities combined make up about 36% of Ethiopia’s population (ca. 23 million Amhara, 4.5 million Tigray) while Tigrinyas make up about half of Eritrea’s population (ca. 2.25 of 4.5 million). It should be noted, however, that a broader definition of this term may include some segments of the Semitic-speaking Gurage groups (in the southwest) and the Harari (in the east/southeast), as well, because of their strong historical links to the Amhara and Tigray. In the broadest sense, the word “Habesha” may refer to anyone from Ethiopia or Eritrea, while some would exclude themselves from this association.[2]

This definition states what society says Hebeshannet is. However, we feel that it misses the nuances of daily Habesha life.  So we asked ourselves and now ask you to show us what  “Habesha” really look likes.


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