Ethiopian americans

by Paul S. Kobel


Ethiopia is a landlocked country in Eastern Africa located on the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea to the north, Djibouti to the east, Kenya to the south, and the Sudan to the west. The size of the country is 437,794 square miles (1,133,882 square kilometers), which is roughly twice the size of Texas. Ethiopia is a mountainous region in the East and West highlands divided by the Great Rift Valley. The major cities are Addis Ababa (the capital city), Asmara, Dire Dawa, and Harar. The bulk of the population lives in the East and West highlands, where the tropical climate is broken up by heavy rainfall.

There are many different ethnic and linguistic groups that comprise modern-day Ethiopia. The largest group is the Galla, who constitute roughly 40 percent of the population. The Amhara and the Tigre, who together represent 40 percent of the population, have historically been the most politically influential ethnic groups. The majority of the remaining population is composed of the Walamo, the Somali, and the Gurage.


Ethiopia is one of the oldest kingdoms in the world. Among the first peoples to inhabit Ethiopia were Ge'ez speaking agrarians, who settled in the Tigrayan highlands around 2000 BC. At this time the Da'amat Kingdom was formed. The inland Aksum Kingdom was founded by Menilek I after the fall of the Da'amat Kingdom. Menilek I is believed to be a descendent of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Aksum King Ezana made Christianity the official religion around 700 AD. When Muslims began to occupy much of Northern Africa and the Mediterranean, the Aksum Kingdom was crippled by poor external trade. The kingdom was subsequently replaced by the Zagwe' dynasty in Ethiopia between 1137 and 1270. Their most significant contribution was the creation of eleven churches carved out of stone, which continued to stand at the end of the twentieth century in the city of Roha. In the sixteenth century, several small kingdoms replaced the former Ethiopian empire, which would not be reunified until 1889, when Menilek II gained control. One of the most important accomplishments of Menilek II was the defeat of the Italians in 1896 at the Battle of Adwa. Menilek II then expanded the Ethiopian Empire to nearly twice its size. He also rebuilt the Ethiopian infrastructure, which included the construction of a railway system and the improvement of public health and education institutions.

In the eaerly nineteenth century there was a brief period of internal strife brought on by the weakness of Menilek's successor, Lij lyasu, and Great Britain, France, and Italy were called upon to intervene to resolve the crisis. The modernization of Ethiopia then resumed under Emperor Haile Selassie in 1930. Haile Selassie introduced Ethiopia's first constitution in 1931. In 1935 Italy invaded Ethiopia in an effort to expand its influence in North Africa. Although Italian rule was coercive, many improvements to Ethiopia's infrastructure during this period were profitable to the country. With the help of Great Britain, Ethiopia drove out the Italians during World War II and Haile Selassie was restored to power. In the early 1960s a civil war broke out in Ethiopia instigated by the Eritreans' demand for independence. Eritrea had been taken over by the Italians in the late nineteenth century and reincorporated into Selassie's rule in the 1950s.


After a period of economic stabilization in the 1950s and 1960s, the Ethiopian army overthrew the Selassie government. The provisional military government which took over in 1974 was shortly thereafter replaced by a Marxist regime. In 1984 the Ethiopian Socialist Party consolidated power and became the uncontested political party. In 1987 the country was declared a democratic republic. Ethiopia was ruled by Mengista Haile Mariam (1977-1991), whose tyrannical regime violently repressed any opposition to Marxist rule. In 1978, the Soviet Union and Cuba helped put down a brief uprising led by the Somalians. The military dictatorship that governed Ethiopia between 1974 and 1991 had a tremendous impact on the social and economic development of modern day Ethiopia. The Provisional Military Administrative Council (PMAC), known as Derg to native Ethiopians, was a Marxist regime modeled after the Soviet Union and ruled by military officers. Though a constitution was formally introduced in 1987, the Derg retained centralized power under Mariam. In 1991, a group of insurgents led by Eritreans and Tigreans overthrew the Mariam regime. Eritrea subsequently seceded from Ethiopia, gaining independence in 1993. In 1994 a new constitution was adopted and the following year Ethiopia enjoyed its first multiparty democratic election. The Ethiopian People's Democratic Revolutionary Front, which had essentially run the government since 1991, won the election.

The Ethiopian governmental structure is a parliamentary democracy consisting of a bicameral legislature, a prime minister, and a president. The legislature, called the Federal Parliamentary Assembly, consists of the Council of the Federation and the Council of the People's Representatives. There are 117 members in the Council of the Federation and 548 members in the Council of the People's Representatives. Members of the Council of the Federation are elected by the states and the people elect the members of the Council of the People's Representatives. The head of government is the prime minister, who is elected by the Council of People's Representatives. The president, who is primarily a figure head, is appointed by the Federal Parliamentary Assembly. Members of parliament are elected to five-year terms and the structure of government provides for minimum representation from the major ethnic groups. The constitution of 1995 decentralized power, drew state boarders along geographic ethnic divisions, and granted the states the right to secede.


According to the U.S. Committee for Refugees (USCR), Africans have only recently begun immigrating the United States and their numbers are rather small compared to other groups from Asia and Europe. Ethiopians were among the first African immigrants to voluntarily come to the United States. In 1991 there were an estimated 50,000 to 75,000 Ethiopians living in the United States. Ethiopians began to migrate to America after the passage of the 1980 Refugee Act. The Refugee Act was the first formal policy the United States adopted toward the African refugees. Ethiopians have been the most heavily represented group from Africa admitted to the United States between 1982 and 1994. Only Somalis have exceeded Ethiopians in the numbers of African immigrants arriving in the United States after 1994.


The 1980 Refugee Act set limits on the number of African refugees allowed into the country in a given year. The ceiling was initially set at 1,500 in 1980 and it has grown to 7,000 in 1995. The ceiling does not, however, reflect the actual number of refugees admitted to the United States. Often the actual number of immigrants that come to the United States is lower than the ceiling. For example, in 1986, 1,315 African refugees were admitted in relation to the 3,500 person limit. Ethiopians began to immigrate to the United States in large numbers in large part to escape the repressive political tactics of the Mariam regime. Mariam's government, the Derg, or the "Committee," exercised violent tactics against opposition groups and controlled the media in order to maintain power between 1974 to 1991. The political climate at the time worked in favor of Ethiopians who wished to begin a new life in America. In the early 1980s the United States was being criticized in the international community regarding its commitment to combating the spread of Marxism in Africa. It was at this time that the United States decided to open its doors to African refugees.

In relation to other continents, the number of refugees admitted from Africa has been consistently low. David Haines in Refugees in America in the 1990s: A Reference Handbook cites several reasons that account for the rather tenuous U.S. policy toward the admission of African refugees. First, there is little political capital for U.S. public officials to earn by admitting African refugees. The number of politically active Ethiopians in the United States in comparison to other nationality groups is negligible. There is therefore little pressure among U.S. policy makers to admit Ethiopians in high numbers. Second, when Africans first began seeking asylum in the early 1980s, there was a desire among African governments, the OAU, and the United Nations to relocate African refugees in other African countries. Lastly, the fear of uncommon diseases being introduced to the United States made politicians cautious about opening its doors to Africa.


During the 1980s famine in Northern Africa and during the repressive Marxist rule, many Ethiopians migrated to Sudan. The majority of Ethiopians that ultimately migrated to the United States came from Khartoum, Sudan. The transitional resettlement period for Ethiopians in Sudan during this period was unpleasant for most. The majority of Ethiopians in Sudan were unemployed and relied on financial support from family members in Ethiopia or they lived in resettlement camps. Given the poor economic status of Sudan at the time, Ethiopian refugees would not fare well in the region. When the opportunity to resettle to a third country emerged, most Ethiopians targeted the United States. They believed that they would receive the greatest opportunity to improve their condition as previous refugees in North America had. When the nationalist wars in Ethiopia ended in 1991, much of the impetus for resettlement in the Horn of Africa was eliminated. However the defeat of the Derg led to violent upheaval in Southern Ethiopia which again instigated some displacement.

When Ethiopian refugees arrived in the United States, their first inclination was to emigrate toward regions already heavily populated with Ethiopians. Many Ethiopians therefore targeted Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Dallas, and New York City. Of these cities the metropolis that attracted the most Ethiopians in their secondary resettlement patterns was Washington, D.C. because of its large service sector economy. According to 1992 Office of Refugee Resettlement data, the majority of Ethiopians that were admitted to the U.S. were males (62 percent). The primary reason males far outnumbered females pertains to the patriarchal social structure that exists in many African countries. The social structure enabled men to meet the educational and occupational requirements established by the U.S. government for admittance into the United States. Another factor that related to admission was religion. The majority of Ethiopians admitted to the U.S. were Christian because they were considered the best candidates to easily assimilate into American culture. However the main factor that determined whether an Ethiopian immigrant could enter the United States was educational background. Because the Amharic-speaking Ethiopians had the greatest access to educational opportunities in Ethiopia they were the most heavily represented group of Ethiopians admitted to the U.S. in the 1990s.

Acculturation and Assimilation

According to a 1986 survey in The Economic and Social Adjustment of Non-Southeast Asian Refugees edited by Cichon et. al., assimilation into American culture has not been easy for Ethiopians. According

Berhanu Adanne is surrounded by Ethiopian American friends and fans after his victory in the second largest 10 kilometer race in the United States, the Bolder Boulder in Colorado.
Berhanu Adanne is surrounded by Ethiopian American friends and fans after his victory in the second largest 10 kilometer race in the United States, the Bolder Boulder in Colorado.
to this study, Ethiopians have not adapted well to the fast pace and "fend for yourself" attitude inherent in an advanced capitalist society. This has resulted in an unusually high rate of suicide and depression. Many Ethiopian refugees have managed to find support in areas where there are higher concentrations of Ethiopians. Cities such as Washington, D.C. and Dallas, where previous generations of Ethiopians have established a social and economic foundation, facilitate the transition for incoming Ethiopians. There is also evidence in the same study to suggest that Ethiopians have greater success adapting to their new country when they gravitate to regions heavily populated with African Americans. Some of the activities Ethiopians engage in to strengthen their sense of belonging include playing soccer and joining social and economic support groups called Ekub. Traditionally, an Ekub was an Abyssintine financial group designed to make capital accessible and generate social activity. While some Ethiopians have penetrated middle class American society with little difficulty, others have relied on social organizations modeled after the social structure in their native land.

Book Lakew, an Ethiopian scholar suggested that even though there are now generations of educated Ethiopians in the United States, they still suffer social and economic resistance in American society. Part of the problem, according to Lakew, is that Ethiopians lack valuable exposure to the team work, leadership, and organizational activities that many American children are trained to thrive in at an early age. Lakew claimed that groups like the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and grade school mock elections provide American youth with the skills necessary to work in organizational settings later in life. The inability to flourish in an organizational setting, according to Lakew, prevents Ethiopian immigrants from making career advances in the United States. Lakew stated that this organizational handicap explains why Ethiopians rarely collaborate in business ventures in the United States, fail to form strong social and political organizations that promote the interests of Ethiopians in the United States, and lag behind other groups of immigrants who have graduated to the middle class in America.


Ethiopian cuisine is similar to Cajun and Middle Eastern fare which combine pepper spices with staples such as lentils, potatoes, green beans, and olive oil. Many Ethiopian dishes are made with berbere, or red pepper. Dishes are usually prepared warm rather than hot. A popular Ethiopian dessert is a sweet, but dry, version of the Greek baklava.

Most Ethiopian dishes are eaten without utensils. In place of a fork Ethiopians use bread called injera and their hands to deliver succulent entrees such as Fiftit, Kitfo, and Gored to the pallet. Injera is similar to a Greek pita or a tortilla made from sourdough and soda water which makes for a chewy pancake-like texture. The conventional way of eating Ethiopian cuisine is to place a small portion of the entree on a torn piece of injera and rolling it up like a finger sized tortilla. Many Ethiopian entrees are served in a stew formed, called wot. Some common Ethiopian dishes include alicha-sega wat, consisting of beef cubes in purified butter; doro wat, chicken and egg cooked in red chili powder; misir wat, red split lentils cooked in spices; tikil-gomen, a combination of spiced cabbage, carrots, and potatoes; and Fosoli, spiced string beans, carrots, onions, and garlic sautéed in olive oil.


One form of music popular among Ethiopians is a chant deriving from the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church. Ethiopian tradition holds that a series of chants was revealed to a man named Yared who subsequently transcribed the hymns in the sixth century. The Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church trains chanters who are called debtara. Debtar a, who are not ordained but considered part of the church's administration, lead hymns for the congregation. The system of chants used by Ethiopians, which are written in the mother language of Ge`ez, is called melekket. Ge`ez is easily adapted to melody because each sign represents a syllable. Ethiopians use chants to accentuate different moods and occasions. Araray chants are used to punctuate a joyous occasion and ezel chants are performed during periods of fasting and mourning.


The native Ethiopian dress is a white robe-like garment made of cotton called a shamma. Both men and women wore the shamma. Men traditionally wear tight-fitting white cotton pants beneath the shamma, while women wear colorful dresses that hang down to their ankles. During feast days, the shamma is adorned with a red stripe down the hem, which is called a jano. Men of distinguished heritage or rank wear an embroidered silk tunic called a kamis, which is color-coded in accordance with rank. In the evening, when it is cool, a shawl called a barnos is sometimes wrapped around the shoulders. A hood is usually attached to the barnos, though it is seldom worn. Few Ethiopians dress in their native attire except on special occasions.


Ethiopians generally receive superior health care services in the United States in comparison to their home country. In rural areas in Ethiopia health care is often inadequate, when available. A small percentage of Ethiopians have access to modern health care services. The infant mortality rate in Ethiopia is one of the highest in the world and the life expectancy is one of the lowest (46 years for men and 48 years for women). Because many Ethiopians have entered the service sector in the United States, few have comprehensive medical coverage. Fewer employers are providing health coverage in the United States and wages in the service industries are often insufficient for Ethiopian immigrants to pay for their own coverage. Consequently, many Ethiopian immigrants either rely on subsidized health care assistance programs, holistic practices, or go without coverage.


Ge'ez is the classical Ethiopian language. However, the most commonly spoken languages in Ethiopia are Amharic and Oromo. Amharic is the official language of the country. The majority of the languages spoken in Ethiopia derive from the Semitic languages of Abyssinia. Amharic has been called lesana negus, which means "language of the kings." It is predominantly spoken by Christians. The most idiosyncratic feature of Amharic pronunciation is the use of the pallet and the formation of sentences ending with a verb. The Amharic alphabet is made up of 33 letters and has seven vowels.

Family and Community Dynamics


Ethiopia suffers one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world, over 60 percent. Education is mandatory for six years (to the age of 13), but there is no federal law in Ethiopia requiring attendance. Very few Ethiopians have had an opportunity to expand their education beyond basic literacy. The primary higher education institution in Ethiopia is Addis Ababa University, which did not attain university status until 1961. In the United States, second generation Ethiopians and beyond have access to the same educational services as American children. Although many Ethiopian immigrants have taken advantage of these services, some Ethiopian youths have turned to drugs, crime, and gang membership in Los Angeles and Washington D.C. Racism in the United States and the decline in influence of the Ethiopian Christian Church have been cited as primary reasons as to why some Ethiopian youths have strayed.


Ethiopia is a patriarchal society, with status largely determined by one's class and ethnicity. Regardless of class and ethnicity, however, Ethiopians view women as subservient to men. Women generally have less access to education and fewer economic opportunities in Ethiopia. Coming from a patriarchal society often makes the transition to American culture more difficult, as the culture is more egalitarian. The social, political, and economic freedom granted to women in the United States often causes friction between Ethiopian couples. Ethiopian men, who are accustomed to being dominant and exercising leadership in the family, have a difficult time accepting women as equals. The difference in attitude towards women has resulted in battery and divorce for many Ethiopian refugee households in the United States. In addition to the change in social status that an Ethiopian marriage must adapt to in the United States, married Ethiopian couples are disadvantaged by a general lack of family support through which marital guidance is often provided in their homeland. In the long run, however, female Ethiopian immigrants profit from the elevation in social status.


Marital arrangements are governed under a customary law in Ethiopia called the Fetha Nagast. Polygamy is forbidden under civil law. There are three different types of marriages in Ethiopia: damoz, kal kidan or serat, and bekwerban. A damoz marriage is a temporary contractual arrangement between couples where a women lives with a man for a period of time longer than one month. The kal kidan is the most common form of marriage among Ethiopians. Here, the parents of the bride and groom enter a civil contract where the parents of the bride agree to offer their daughter for marriage sometime after puberty. Marriages are usually celebrated without the involvement of the church and are accompanied by days of elaborate feasting. The third type of Ethiopian marriage is the kal kidan bekwerban, or bekwerban , which is a civil marriage that is administered by the church. This type of marriage is usually entered into by older individuals, and the dissolution of a bekwerban marriage is not permitted. The religious ceremony involved in this type of marriage is the taking of communion by the newly joined couple. Divorces are relatively easy to obtain and can be requested by either the husband or wife. According to Ethiopian customary law, during a divorce property is divided between the couples in accordance with their individual contribution to the combined assets.


Few events are celebrated with greater vigor among Ethiopians than death. Both men and women cry and sing dirges to the deceased. The body of the deceased is washed, wrapped in cloth, and taken to a church to be blessed shortly after death. It is buried a few hours after passing in a shallow grave. In place of headstones, Ethiopians usually mark a gravesite by piling stones shaped in a pyramid. Friends and relatives visit the home of the deceased throughout the first week after death. On the twelfth, fourteenth, and eighteenth days after death, memorial services called tezkar are held.


Ethiopians are aware of racial divisions that exist in the United States, however, they generally try to resist forming an identity out of their ethnicity. Although they generally feel more comfortable interacting with African Americans, they do not feel privy to the historical, political, and socio-economic fight for equal standing held by the African American community. Because Ethiopians were not born to the ethnic tensions that exist in American culture and politics, they do not feel entitled to position themselves within ethnic cleavages in America. Ethiopians are more concerned with satisfying basic needs, such as learning the language, finding gainful employment, and establishing some sort of social network through which they can communicate and seek support when necessary. Second generation Ethiopians seem most at home with the African American community and take advantage of the social support networks established by first generation Ethiopians.


The Ethiopian Orthodox Church, or Ge'ez Tewahdo, is a derivation of the Coptic Church of Egypt, which broke from the Roman Catholic Church over the issue of monophysitism. Monophysitism holds that Christ had one divine nature. The Catholic Church of Rome and Constantinople condemned the doctrine in 451 at the Council of Chalcedon. Christianity was introduced into Ethiopia during the Aksum Kingdom in the fourth century A.D. In the seventh century, Muslim Arabs slowed the spread of Christianity in Ethiopia by cutting off the region from its Christian neighbors. In the twelfth century Alexandria appointed an archbishop to Ethiopia whose title was abuna, meaning "our father." The bishop appointed was always of Egyptian origin. It was not until 1950 that a native Ethiopian was appointed the position of abuna. Ultimately, in 1959, Ethiopia formed an autonomous patriarchate.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has historically been an integral part of Ethiopian political and social life and has been practiced mainly by the Amharan and Tigrayan people of the north. Emperor Haile Selassie used it to solidify his reign. The military regime that took control of Ethiopia in 1974 undermined religious practice, particularly the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, by seizing its land holdings. Despite these efforts to curb religious practice, many Ethiopians held to their religious beliefs during Ethiopia's Marxist period. Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity incorporates many of the conventional Christian beliefs, particularly those advanced in the Old Testament, with beliefs in good and evil spirits. The ark, the remains of which are believed by some archaeologists to be somewhere in Ethiopia, is a popular icon in Ethiopian churches. Both Saturdays and Sundays are considered Sabbath and fasting is common during holy days. Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity also incorporates musical chants into its mass, which are led by debtera.

Today the vast majority of Ethiopians subscribe to either the Christian or Muslim faith. Over time, however, religious practice has waned for Ethiopian refugees in the United States. First generations of Ethiopian immigrants have had a difficult time passing on their linguistic and religious heritage to the next generation. Like many immigrants who are forced to adapt to American culture, Ethiopians have found it hard to compromise between the culture from which they came and the culture in which they must now live. One of the most common casualties resulting from the Americanization of Ethiopian refugees is the loss of religion in second and third generation refugees. Second generation Ethiopians are forced to construct their own identity from the cultural heritage they inherit from their parents and the American culture they are exposed to.

Employment and Economic Traditions

Ethiopia itself functions primarily on an agricultural economy. Agriculture accounts for 90 percent of Ethiopian exports and the vast majority of Ethiopians (80 percent) are employed through this industry. The bulk of the industrial sector, which includes food processing, beverages, textiles, chemicals, metals processing, and cement, is run by the state. This means that very few Ethiopians gain industrial work experience necessary for gainful employment in advanced capitalist economies such as the United States. Only a small percentage of wealthy Ethiopians possess the skills necessary to forge a middle class livelihood in the United States. Many Ethiopians come to the U.S. under the impression that economic success is guaranteed. Unfortunately, very few have realized their dream of blending into middle class America. With the exception of professionals such as medical doctors and academics, the majority of Ethiopians have found work in the service sector of the American economy.

Contrary to their expectations, many Ethiopian immigrants intent on escaping the poverty of their homeland find themselves underemployed after they arrive in the United States. Ethiopian immigrants earn their living in low wage service jobs such as parking lot and gas station attendants, waiters and waitresses, and convenience store attendants. A minority of Ethiopian immigrants managed to open successful restaurants that feature Abyssinian cuisine. This opportunity usually only exists in larger U.S. cities such as Washington, D.C., Dallas, and Los Angeles. In these three cities, where most Ethiopian immigrants are concentrated, the majority of Ethiopians have managed to secure some form of employment. According to a 1986 survey reported in The Economic and Social Adjustment of Non-Southeast Asian Refugees edited by Cichon et. al., 92 percent of Ethiopian immigrants in Dallas, 67 percent in Washington, D.C., and 47 percent in Los Angeles were employed. Although these numbers are promising, many Ethiopians live beneath the poverty level and the unemployment rate among Ethiopian immigrants is much higher than it is for Americans in general.

Those who have been unable to secure gainful employment have participated in state and federal assistance programs when qualified. Those Ethiopians who have migrated to Dallas seem to have been the most successful economically, where there has been no need to participate in welfare assistance programs. However, in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, roughly one half of Ethiopian immigrants have been forced to rely on federal and state assistance programs to survive.

Politics and Government

Because the United States did not adopt a formal policy toward the admission of African refugees until 1980 there has been little opportunity for Ethiopians to offer their services in the U.S. military.


First generation Ethiopian refugees retain a strong sense of kinship toward their native land. Most refugees have, at one point or another, revisited their homeland and relatives, particularly after the nationalist civil war with Eritrea subsided in 1991. The major exception has been the Amharic-speaking Ethiopian refugees, who do not recognize the new Ethiopian government that was established in 1995. The Amharic-speaking Ethiopians have initiated a political movement in the United States, whose activities include operating a radio station and forging ties with dissident groups in Ethiopia. Their goal is to discredit the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) currently in power.

Although most Ethiopians maintain positive sentiments toward their former country, very few opt to repatriate. The primary reason for this, according to a study by Mespadden and Moussa (1995) is that upon revisiting Ethiopia many Ethiopian refugees find that the people and places they left behind have changed beyond recognition. Many Ethiopians therefore choose to resume the life they have established for themselves during their "transitional" period of residence in the United States.

Organizations and Associations

The Ethiopian Community Association of Greater Philadelphia (ECAGP).

Address: 4534 Baltimore Ave. 2nd floor, Philadelphia, PA 19143.

Telephone: (215) 222-8917.

Fax: (215) 382-3608.


Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association.

Individuals of Ethiopian descent; members reside primarily in New York City metropolitan area. To advance the economic and social welfare of Ethiopians living in the U.S. Identifies the needs of the Ethiopian community, particularly regarding immigration and civil rights, and provides appropriate assistance. Works to strengthen communication among Ethiopians; aims to preserve Ethiopian culture as a source of historical identity; promotes understanding between Ethiopians and non-Ethiopians. Operates refugee assistance project that provides newly-arrived Ethiopians refugees or migrants with access to various educational, health, and other facilities; also offers overall orientation, guidance, and job placement assistance. Conducts a community-wide educational/information program with a view to hastening the acculturation and social adjustment efforts of members. Maintains museum.

Contact: Misrak Assefa, President.

Address: 552 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite 209, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139.

Telephone: (617) 492-4232.

Fax: (617) 492-7685.

Ethiopian National Congress (ENC).

Founded on October 10, 1997, its mission is to combat the political crisis in Ethiopia.

Address: P.O. Box 547, Swarthmore, PA 19081.

Fax: (610) 543-3467.

Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Party (EPRP).

Founded in April of 1972 this political organization advocated the overthrow of the Ethiopian Monarchy. It was forced into exile by Emperor Haile Sellaise, who did not allow political opposition.

Address: P.O.Box 73337, Washington DC 20056.

Telephone: (202) 986-2851.

Fax: (202) 986-7098.

Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).

The OLF was established in 1973 by Oromo nationalists whose political objective is to liberate the Oromo people from Abyssinian rule.

Contact: The Department of Information.

Address: OLF, USA Office, P. O. Box 73247, Washington, DC 20056.

Telephone: (202) 462-5477.

Fax: (202) 332-7011.

Tigrian Alliance for National Democracy.

The political mission of the Tigrian Alliance is to establish a multiparty system and implement basic civil liberties in Ethiopia.

Address: P.O. Box 1131, Silver Spring, MD 20910.


Saint Michael Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

Religious organization founded in 1993. Its sole purpose is to provide spiritual guidance and a house of worship for Ethiopian Americans who subscribe to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Address: 3010 Earl P1, N.E. Washington D.C. 20018.

Telephone: (202) 529-7077.

Sources for Additional Study

Ofcansky, Thomas P., and LaVerle Berry. Ethiopia: A Country of Study. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1993.

Ullendorff, Edward. The Ethiopians: An Introduction to Country and People. London: Oxford University Press, 1965.

User Contributions:

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Mar 3, 2007 @ 10:22 pm
this site was very helpfful in allowing me to understand my boyfriend's culture
takele negesse
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Jul 31, 2007 @ 1:01 am
I admire this article;because this shows the unity of Ethiopians abroad. Thank you.
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Aug 8, 2007 @ 9:21 pm
I'm of ethiopian jewish descent on my fathers side on my mother's side is native american and african american . sometimes I wonder where I belong. I always felt a special connection to africa (ethiopia particularly) One that I never could Understand. well a few years ago I found out why that connection was so strong. My father told me the truth about our family heritage and why my Grandfather felt it was important to hide it. Anyway IF ANYONE OF YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE TO GIVE SOMEONE LIKE ME whose literally statring from scratch and learning to embrace my self . I would be more than happy to hear it.
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Apr 8, 2008 @ 9:21 pm
Great stuff in here - I had to write a paper on the experience of Ethiopians in America and Paul Kobel's writings are my main source. Thanks Paul!
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Apr 28, 2009 @ 2:02 am
This article was very helpful to me doing research paper on Ethiopians living in the US but one thing I found is that Somalia is to the East of Ethiopia not Djibouti, we would not want our Somali brothers being upset with us,lol.

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Oct 2, 2009 @ 11:11 am
Dear Paul,

I just want to let you know that the largest group in Ethiopia is the people of Oromo. The word Galla is very derogatory. Please refrain from using such word, you can easily offend many. Thanks!

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Dec 7, 2009 @ 11:11 am
dear Paul
i just want to let you know that the largest group in Ethiopia is the people of Oromo. the word Galla is very derogatory. please refrain from using such word. many can easily be offended. Thank you!

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May 15, 2010 @ 1:01 am
this article gives good image about Ethiopia. it is important to know about thier culture who lives outside even who lives with in the country. thanks but now I found how I get more information about Ethiopians who live in USA and their culture can you please help me?

thanks a lot
R aj Gera
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Aug 12, 2010 @ 10:10 am
Informative.authentic and engrossing. But mine is a specific querry. What happens to the property of the Ethiopian woman getting married to an Ethiopian man? Does it get merged? And how is it devided at separation or divorce, And if the woman(Wife) is unable to bear children, does the man(Husband) have the right to divorce ispo facto. At divorce does the Ethiopian wife get maintenance from her husband? How much?
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Oct 24, 2010 @ 9:21 pm
I want to be able refer to this information which could generally is similar statement for us who live in Europe.
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Jun 19, 2011 @ 4:04 am
VERY GOOD I lake so mach i have not a comment but i give suggestion
to describe by adding photo.tank you.
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Jul 31, 2011 @ 10:22 pm
My biological father is Ethiopian and came to the Dallas area in the 70's. I don't know him at all and would like help if anybody knows how to go about searching for such information.
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Oct 4, 2011 @ 7:19 pm
i am ethiopian and my family and i celebrate all the holidays and events that happen.i am proud to be ethopian!
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Oct 6, 2011 @ 9:09 am
I am looking for more information about Ethiopian domestic violence among their community in both counties USA and Canada. Or where I can able to get more ideas.
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Nov 21, 2011 @ 1:01 am
pleace stand for the further development of our country.we have abundant resources of both human&natural onces therefore let us work together!!!
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Nov 21, 2011 @ 1:01 am
pleace stand for the further development of our country.we have abundant resources of both human&natural onces therefore let us work together!!!
Kebede demissie
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Dec 14, 2011 @ 9:09 am
Realy i'm so happy when i read this history b/s currently we can't get this kind of information abut ethiopia thank you!
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Jan 31, 2012 @ 1:13 pm
I really wish the author or editor of this article/website would replace the racial slur "galla" with the proper ethnic group name "Oromo." It is absolutely unacceptable.
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Feb 14, 2012 @ 12:12 pm
My girlfriend is Ethiopian so this is good for my marrig to her and i love her.
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May 28, 2012 @ 11:11 am
Dear Paul,
I am an oromo-ethiopian and I would like to thank you for sharing the ethiopian cultures and info with everyone because i feel like ethiopia is one great country the world has to hear about.
Marshee' Boateng
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Jul 8, 2012 @ 12:00 am
Best article I've read yet concerning Ethiopian history!
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Dec 29, 2012 @ 5:05 am
Great article though I disagree with some of the initial statements as they might be too generalized. Anyhow I was looking to how Ethiopians start to migrate to the USA and it gave me good material. Ethiopia is one of the ancient nations with an amazing culture and people which was able to defeat the Italians in their attempt to colonize it. A land of variety and a center for African's unity. Thanks for sharing it.
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Feb 20, 2013 @ 2:14 pm
I am looking an article which is how many Ethiopian Immigrate live in united they adopt to the new culture/American culture.are they have organized community in United state. Do Ethiopia American children have their background knowledge.For example most of Mexican kid who live in US can speak,read Spanish.Ethiopian Immigrate how they help each other?
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Mar 7, 2013 @ 11:11 am
I had some Ethiopian refugee friends who worked with me in Khartoum, Sudan in the year 1982-84.,and they migrated to U.S. and Canada. We were working for Six constuct intl.,a Belgian Co. I will be happy to know there where abouts in U.S.If somebody who were in Khartoum that time come to see this, please do send me an Email. so that I may be able to hear news about my old ethiopian friends whom I still like and remember. Thanks,

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Mar 13, 2013 @ 9:09 am
Thank you for the article.
Concerning the statments: "he Ethiopian Orthodox Church, or Ge'ez Tewahdo, is a derivation of the Coptic Church of Egypt, which broke from the Roman Catholic Church over the issue of monophysitism. Monophysitism holds that Christ had one divine nature. The Catholic Church of Rome and Constantinople condemned the doctrine in 451 at the Council of Chalcedon. Christianity was introduced into Ethiopia during the Aksum Kingdom in the fourth century A.D."
There are important corrections. 1) Ethio Ortho Church does not agree with "monophysitism" in addition, we did not agree with the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD not based on the issue of "monophysitism". The church considers its faith as "miaphysim". In addition, Christianity was introduced into Ethiopia soon after 34 AD, upon the baptism of the Ethiopian eunch as stated in Acts 8:24 of the New Testament. The Eunch went back to Ethiopia and started to preach the Gospel. In the 4th century the already existing faith became the official religion of the nation with the introductions of all official Church Sacraments.
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Apr 26, 2013 @ 9:09 am
Thank you for the article. Good job ! I want to know if there is Ethio-American kids cultural center or web.Thank you.
ras mez
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Jun 12, 2013 @ 5:17 pm
this is the best article have ever read concerning Ethiopians and the struggle to be successful in US .good job
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Dec 9, 2013 @ 9:21 pm
yes this is a very good article to start with, but many Ethiopian do write the current living situations of Ethio-Americans. Also, many Ethiopian professionals living in the States also write about Ethiopia and that provides a different cultural lens. Keep in mind that his article was written by an outsider trying to interpret a culture he really doesn't know first hand. So yes some words he used are outdated and offensive and should to be used. Had he been front eh culture and did a better job as knowing the current culture and not just he history he would have given a better insight into it. I want to encourage especially those young people who may have Ethiopian heritage not to this article as gospel but as a beginning and to look for mor in-depth understanding of the Ethiopian culture its so much more richer and deeper than this article provides. God speed!
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Oct 14, 2018 @ 1:13 pm
I'm Ethiopian American and African Americans are the last race I feel comfortable with. Mostly Horners, my own kind, and Asians are the ones I feel comfortable with. Bullshit.
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Nov 6, 2018 @ 2:02 am
This article is very informative and relatable. This information gave me more of an outlook about how Ethiopians started to come to America, since my dad came to America through the refugee act. I do stand on the subject on where I sand with the American culture and Ethiopian culture. Although Ethiopia and America's history isnt the same as other African Americans do with the history part but I do take it to heart when I see blacks live like they/we do.

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