Reggae in Ethopia

Reggae music and Reggae culture have a strong following in Ethiopia. This connection dates back to the year 1960 when Haile Selassie donated land to resettle a group of people who included members of EWF (Ethiopian World Federation) and others in Ethiopia. The resettled community was from Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean and they were settled in a town called Shashamane, located in central Ethiopia. This town grew and now it has a population of a little fewer than 100,000 men and women.

From that time, Rastafarian regarded Haile Selassie as a god and reggae culture has become very strong in Ethiopia. The name “Rastafari” is actually taken from the name and title of Haile Selassie, Ras Tafari which means Governor or Head.

So powerful is this connection that every year, the birthday of Bob Nesta Marley is celebrated in Addis Ababa. In February 5th 2005, the son and wife of Bob Marley, Ziggy and Rita Marley, perform to huge crowds of Rastafarian followers to celebrate the 60th birthday of Bob Marley at Meskel Square in Addis Ababa. The concert dubbed “Africa Unite” attracted big names like Lauren Hill and Benin born Angélique Kidjo to the stage as the crowd chanted reggae tunes.

This is our pilgrimage country," claims an old Rastafarian followers called Jah Eliejah Adanjah, on his very first visit to Ethiopia. "The feeling is so strong that I can't find words to express it," Such statements show just how deeply Ethiopia is regarded by lovers of reggae all over the world.

A fan enjoys the concert, holding up a portrait of Haile Selassie

To the lovers of reggae in Africa and all over the world, indeed Ethiopia is seen their original home and Haile Selassie their god.  The youth have joined this movement, embracing the religion and the music. The dress in the beautiful Rasta colors and many of them sport dreadlock and turbans as an outward show of their inward belief. The Rasta colors used are actually the colors of the Ethiopian Flag.

Teddy Afro, whose real name is Tewodros Kassahun, is one of the reggae musicians in Ethiopia who is making huge impact with his music. Born in a musical family, to a professional dancer mother and a songwriter dad, Teddy stepped into fame in 2001 and has become one the most successful Ethiopian musician and song writer.

Like in most other countries where Reggae is loved, the biggest challenge it faces is the connection is have to drug abuse, especially marijuana. A fun in one of the reggae concerts is quotes saying; “When I smoke the herb, I connect with another world." Many believe that smoking marijuana is a sacred practice.

Regardless of this perception and other challenges facing reggae in Ethiopia, the connection between reggae and Ethiopia will always be there and will keep getting stronger especially among the youth and in towns like Shashamane.  Imani (The Caribbean Current

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