Jan 16, 2017 09:45 PM EST
LALIBELA, ETHIOPIA – MARCH 19: Ethiopian Orthodox clergy members stand outside Bete Giyorgis, also called St. George’s Church, at the Lalibela holy sites on March 19, 2013 in Lalibela, Ethiopia. Lalibela is among Ethiopia’s holiest of cities and is distinguished by its 11 churches hewn into solid rock that date back to the 12th century. Construction of the churches was begun by Ethiopian Emperor Gebre Mesqel Lalibela, who sought to create an alternative pilgrimage site after the Muslim occupation of Jerusalem. Lalibela was the capital of Ethiopia until the 13th century.
(Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
It’s easy to mistake some people’s wide-eyed reaction when one asks them about traveling to Ethiopia. It’s either they don’t know much to form a positive opinion, or they know at least 5 wicked facts about Ethiopia which left their minds blown. Here are the top 5 facts about Ethiopia that prospective visitors ought to remember.
One of Ethiopia’s wicked facts that its countrymen aren’t tired of retelling is how their civilization repelled every known prospective invader. From Ancient Egypt in Classical Bronze Age to Fascist Italy of World Wars I and II, Ethiopians have stood up against oppressors in a drawn-out series of tactical skirmishes that made occupation a very demoralizing prospect.
First African Gold Medalist
Among the top 5 facts about Ethiopia, one of the first monumental achievements that earned the respect of worldwide audience was an Olympic gold medal that landed ‘easily’ hung around the shoulders of the first victorious black African in 1960. From then on, every long-distance runner aspired to be like Abebe Bikila (but none would want to do it barefooted like he did).
Birthplace of Mankind
Darwinian evolution suggests that humanity is a product of eons of biological development. In essence, our earlier genetic version looks a little like ‘something else.’ Everything about evolution was simply a fiercely contested theory until 1974 when an American paleoanthropologist named Donald Johansson discovered a set of Australopithecus bones in the Afar region of Ethiopia. “Lucy” was a quintessential scientific counterpart of the Biblical Eve.
African Vegan Center
One of the many things that make Ethiopia a unique country is that it is a haven for vegetarians. Due to the country’s predominant Orthodox Christianity, old-school abstinence of animal products is observed with extraordinary piety. Ethiopians make spicy dishes so well that one can hardly crave for meat.
Soul of Reggae Music
Among the 5 wicked facts about Ethiopia, the hardest trivia to miss is the fact that this country has single-handedly inspired almost all aspects of reggae culture. If every social clique has to be identified by the color and pattern of a flag, all people sporting reggae colors (red, gold, and green) are virtually Ethiopians!