Abba Gebremedhin says 'we were Christians before Christ'

By Gamal Nkrumah, Al-Haram

Abba Paulos“We were Christian for over a thousand years before Christ,” Abba Gebremedhin [formerly known as Abba Paulos], the [illegitimate] Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, declared nonplused.

“We have been Christian since Queen Makeda [the biblical Sheba] visited King Solomon in Jerusalem to partake of his wisdom and returned to Ethiopia with the Ark of the Covenant — containing the actual stone tablets of the Ten Commandments God gave Moses,” he explained.

And herein lies the idiosyncrasy of the world’s oldest church, which distinguishes it from all other churches: the antic relic held sacred, and placed in the Chapel of Saint Mary of Zion, in the ancient town of Axum, the cradle of Ethiopian civilisation, the sellata Muse, is a thoroughly Jewish object. Indeed, the Ethiopian Church is perhaps the only Christian temple in the world to claim as its most sacred treasure a Jewish holiest of holies.

Many suspect that the Tabot of Zion (Ark of the Covenant) is hidden in the altar of the Church of Saint Mary of Zion. “Only I, and a select few bishops, actually know its precise whereabouts,” the Ethiopian Patriarch grinned, gently stroking his salt and pepper beard.

Without batting an eyelid, and perhaps sensing my bafflement, Abba Gebremedhin [Abba Paulos] turned to the crux of his faith. “Religion is the belief in the power of the Almighty. He is the Creator of all. He is the Giver of peace, love and happiness.”

According to traditional Ethiopian lore, Philip the Evangelist baptised a treasurer of the Ethiopian Queen Gersamot Hendeke VII. The New Testament’s Acts of the Apostles corroborate this landmark event in Ethiopian history.

Ethiopian monotheism harks back much further in time, though. Abba Gebremedhin [Abba Paulos] was born in the vicinity of Axum, where gigantic stelae, designed to look like multiple-storey houses, testify to the greatness of a civilisation that in antiquity ranked with Rome, Persia and China as one of the four greatest empires in the world. The Axumite accolade was attributed to the Persian prophet Mani, and is indicative of Axum’s power, influence and grandeur.

Before Axum there was Yeha, a stone’s throw away from Axum. Yeha is suspected to be a centre of D’mt, a kingdom now shrouded in the mists of a distant past. All we know today is that its rulers were bestowed the royal title Mukarrib of D’mt and Saba’ — an ancient southwestern Arabian kingdom. The kingdom most likely incorporated Yemen and northern Ethiopia and Eritrea. Yeha, unlike Axum, is dominated by the pagan Temple of the Moon, dedicated no doubt to the Sabaean moon god Al-Maqah.

There are to be found Musnad(South Arabian) inscriptions, characteristic of the Minaeans, the Qatabani, the Himyarite and Hadrami (of Hadramaut, southeast Yemen) civilisations across the Red Sea from D’mt, and rock-cut monumental structures reminiscent of Ma’rib, the celebrated Yemeni wonder of yesteryear. Indeed, Yeha is Ethiopia’s answer to Ma’rib. Through archaeological excavations the precise nature of the relationship between the two neighbouring mountainous and majestic lands may unfold in the years to come. The main thing is: Abba Paulos is proud of his heritage.

This rugged land of his was the birthplace of a literary masterpiece, the Kibre Negast(Glory of the Kings), that has exerted an unparalleled impact on Ethiopian civilisation and culture as both sacred scripture and historical lore. It also profoundly influenced the course of Ethiopian politics from antiquity to mediaeval times. Today, other no less potent forces are at work.

However, perched on precipitous peaks, the churches that dot the Ethiopian highlands continue to be venerated as they have been for millennia. The wondrous craftsmanship of the scrupulously contrived churches of the then imperial city of Roha, constructed by King Lalibela (literally: “The bees recognise his suzerainty”), and hewn out of the bedrock in a remote backwater that now bears the king’s name, bear tangible testament to the solemnity with which Christianity was revered in this remarkable land.

The Torah, or to be more precise the Pentateuch — Five Books in Greek, is replete with references to Ethiopia and Ethiopians. According to the Torah, the wife of Moses was an Ethiopian. And Solomon courted the Queen of the South, presumably Makeda of Ethiopia, the biblical Sheba (Saba’) — or was she Bilquis of Yemen as stated in the Quran? The New Testament, too, makes frequent mention of the Ethiopians.

The early Christianity of Axum was first codified at specific places in northern Ethiopia, at a specific time. “They were documented in the holy language of Ge’ez, which was once the official language of the land,” the Ethiopian Patriarch extrapolates. Ge’ez, the liturgical language of the contemporary Ethiopian Orthodox Church, harks back to the days of D’mt. It is a Semitic language closely related to Arabic and Hebrew. Today, there are numerous Semitic languages in Ethiopia — Amharic (formerly the official court tongue and now lingua franca); Tigrinya (the native tongue of Abba Paulos and Prime Minister Meles Zennawi, widely spoken in the northern Province of Tigray and in neighbouring Eritrea); the Adari of the eastern Ethiopian Muslim city of Harar; and the Gurage of southern Ethiopia; among others.

“Heading the Ethiopian Church is no laughing matter,” he chuckled. “The 50,000 churches around the country serve the 45 million-strong Orthodox flock representing many different ethnic groups. There are some two million priests, monks and deacons dedicated to pastoral work and delivering services. There are 54 bishops, and 44 dioceses,” he muses.

Abba Paulos, the son of a priest, was dispatched to a monastery at the tender age of five. He is steeped in the religion of his forefathers. The oldest of six brothers and sisters, he knew at an early age that he alone among his siblings was to dedicate himself to monastic life.

Tradition ascribes the official introduction of Christianity to Ethiopia to the moment when the Patriarch of Alexandria Athanasius consecrated a Levantine from Tyre, Frumentius, as the first Patriarch of the Ethiopian Church, thereby establishing a tradition whereby the Coptic Pope of Egypt would appoint the Ethiopian Patriarch. Customarily, an Egyptian monk was appointed as the chief bishop of Ethiopia. This tradition was abruptly terminated in 1959 when the first Ethiopian, Abuna Basilios, was selected for the post. He was, however, to begin with, merely a bishop appointed by the Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa Cyril VI. Ethiopian nationalism was resurging.

In due course, in May 1971 to be precise, the Egyptian Church received a request from the Ethiopian Church to consecrate an Ethiopian Patriarch (as opposed to a bishop). Even more symbolically significant and without any historical precedent, the Ethiopians also requested that their Patriarch’s consecration take place in Ethiopia and not in Egypt as had been the case for two millennia. Since then, the patriarchs of the Ethiopian Church have been consecrated by an all- Ethiopian Holy Synod, with the umbilical chord that bound the Coptic and Ethiopian churches ruptured for good.

The history of Christianity in Ethiopia has often been one of unintended consequences. Ironically, the famous fables of early Christian Ethiopia are Jewish, rather than Christian per se. There is no record of Jewish rulers of Ethiopia, even though the difference between Christianity and Judaism in Ethiopia is often confusingly blurred. It is perhaps more appropriate to speak of a Judaeo- Christian heritage.

Indeed one influential mediaeval monk, Abba Ewotatewos (1273-1352) urged his Christian followers to observe the Judaic Sabbath alongside the Christian Sunday mass. Even so, the Beta Israel of Ethiopia who practised a non-Talmudic form of Judaism suffered persecution in certain periods of the country’s long history. We know that Jewish kings ruled Yemen: Youssef Asar Yathar of Himyar, for example, who was routed by the Christian King Kaleb of Ethiopia.

Be that as it may, the Christianisation of the Ethiopian state in the fourth century, during the reign of King Ezana of Axum, was a turning point. It is important to stress that Christianity in Ethiopia was a state religion, closely affiliated with the monarchy and the court. Ethiopia, nevertheless, was always multi-religious, multi- cultural, and multi-ethnic. Many of Ethiopians are non-Christians — animists, Jews (the so- called Falasha) or Muslims. Indeed, the Arabic name for Ethiopia, Al-Habasha — from which the English Abbyssinia is derived — means Land of Mixed Races. Christians in Ethiopia have long learned to co-exist (peacefully or otherwise) with their non-Christian compatriots.

This historical legacy has deeply impacted the nature of the Ethiopian Church. From the outset it was a political, as much as a religious, institution. To this day the Ethiopian Church is an extremely politicised body, and this extends not only from domestic to foreign politics.

The split between the Coptic Church of Egypt and its Ethiopian counterpart in the early 1970s, and more recently, the split between the Eritrean and Ethiopian Churches are unpleasantly conspicuous examples of this legacy. The ruling cliques of Ethiopia have long interfered with, even dictated Church politics; and the Ethiopian Church has traditionally been subject to the whims of the country’s political establishment.

For instance, when the Derg usurped power, it promptly arrested Abba Tewophilos in 1976 and executed him in 1979. Tekle Haymanot was hurriedly enthroned by the Derg, and after his death an even more compliant Abba Merkurios was made Patriarch of Ethiopia. He was dismissed by many as a Derg puppet. And with the Derg’s demise Abba Paulos was hastily enthroned. His enthronement, however, was sanctioned by the Coptic Church of Egypt.

The incensed former Patriarch Merkurios fled the country and announced from exile that he was forced to abdicate under duress. His followers, mainly ethnic Amhara, still consider him the legitimate Patriarch of Ethiopia and a breakaway alternative synod was formed in exile. A substantial segment of the Ethiopian diaspora in North America and Europe pay allegiance to Merkurios.

The church, therefore, was seen by many as being systematically subordinate to the powers that be. This, however, is an issue that Abba Paulos vehemently disputes.

“Yes, there are those who grumble and complain deriding us as an instrument of state control. They claim that we are an appendage of the state. But we are not. We are completely free,” Abba Paulos insists.

“I came to Egypt with ten bishops. I didn’t ask the government’s permission who should accompany me.”

The adherents of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, like those of the Coptic Church of Egypt, are staunch Monophysites — that is to say they are convinced that Christ has only one nature. In this they differ from other Eastern Orthodox churches — the Greek, Romanian, Russian, Serbian and other Slavic and East European churches, for example.

In many other respects, the Ethiopian Church is like no other. Few other people in Africa have been so intensely self-conscious of their unique documented history, hybrid identity and direct relationship with the monotheistic religions of the Middle East.

Royal propaganda played a pivotal part in perpetuating this tradition. Succumbing again and again to the lure of the monotheistic religions of the Middle East emerged as a peculiarly Ethiopian heritage. Since time immemorial Ethiopian religious lore was grounded firmly in the mythologies of the ancient Middle East.

However, certain Ethiopian potentates are known to have strayed from the path of devotion to the Jewish, and then Christian God. Some kings, such as Lij Iyasu crowned in 1913, had even toyed with the idea of becoming Muslim. Indeed, several of his wives were Muslim. Lij Iyasu, however, was forced to abdicate because his courtiers suspected that he had embraced Islam.

But Ethiopia is a land of contrasts and contradictions. Small wonder then that many of the Solomonic royals also claimed to be Ashraf(descendants of the Prophet Mohamed). “My forefathers in Axum provided a safe haven for Muslims fleeing persecution in Mecca,” Abba Paulos reminded me. He was referring to the first hijra (exodus), when the Sahaba(the Prophet Mohamed’s Companions) fled Hijaz to Ethiopia around 615 AD.

Landlocked Christian Orthodox Ethiopia was for centuries surrounded by Muslim states and conducted its foreign trade through them. At one point, Imam Ahmed bin Ibrahim Al-Ghazi, better known as Gran(The Left- Handed) threatened to overrun the territories precariously held by the country’s Christian rulers, who were reduced to fugitives with moveable tents for courts. Churches and monasteries were sacked and people abandoned their Christian faith. The unique Solomonic Christianity of Ethiopia was all but extinguished.

Portuguese firearms saved the day. Even as Gran beseeched the Ottomans for support, so the Ethiopian emperors called on their Portuguese co-religionists to come to the rescue. Be that as it may, the Portuguese failed to convert the bulk of Ethiopian Christians to Roman Catholicism.

The Solomonic dynasty of Ethiopia has preserved a substantial body of memories in spite of the fact that for centuries the actual power and prestige of the crown waned. As imperial power abated, the zemana mesafint, the era of the princes, was ushered in. The prestige of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church suffered in consequence. A few Ethiopian emperors, under the influence of Portuguese missionaries, converted to Roman Catholicism. Emperor Susneyos was forced to abdicate in 1632 AD because he embraced Catholicism.

The days of the Solomonic emperors are over, but the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has survived. It has overcome many ordeals. Today it faces new challenges: internal frictions, the growth of Evangelical Christianity and a host of socio-economic calamities.

As the interview draws to a close, Abba Paulos dwells on hellishly controversial subjects, most notably the HIV/AIDS pandemic that is ravishing his country and the rampant poverty that plagues many of his compatriots. His flock includes the impoverished residents of the many slums that cling to the hillsides of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. He insists that poverty eradication and fighting HIV/AIDS, unemployment and homelessness are all part and parcel of the church’s mission. “Words and deeds,” he explains, saying they are as important as preaching. Orthodox Christianity has played a central role in Ethiopian history, culture and society. “And it will continue to do so.”

The Ethiopian Church might vie for the sobriquet of the world’s oldest church, but it is a church very much in the making.

Abba Paulos, Patriarch of the Ethiopia, Archbishop of Axum and Echegue of the See of Saint Tekele Haimanot is an imposing man. Last month, in Cairo at the invitation of Pope Shenouda III of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, he was resplendent in glistening white and equally effulgent headgear. He was in Egypt to mend fences. The two “sister churches” have long had a love-hate relationship. Historically, the Coptic Church insisted on posing as the Mother Church; today it has at last come round to the more modest accolade of sister church.

Before Cairo, Abba Paulos visited the Sudanese capital Khartoum, to foster closer ties between Muslims and Christians in Africa. In his capacity as president of the World Council of Churches — an international body that groups together Orthodox and Protestant Churches — he met Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir. “I feel honoured to have the opportunity to make a deliberation on the most pertinent issue of Muslim-Christian dialogue,” he told the Sudanese president. His express aim, as he explained to his host, was to unveil a roadmap for peaceful co-existence between Christians and Muslims in Africa generally, and the Horn of Africa and the Nile Basin in particular.

Abba Paulos eschews ideological and religious fanaticism, for which Ethiopia is particularly badly prepared. It is surrounded by predominantly Muslim nations like Djibouti, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen. It is also a country that has been ruled by a Christian elite traditionally for at least two millennia, even though roughly half of its 70 million people are Muslim.

The official Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is according to its adherents the oldest church in Christendom, a claim disputed by some other churches. The Ethiopian Church has long been inextricably intertwined with the fortunes, and catastrophes, of the Ethiopian state. Church and state, down the centuries, have served each other well.

However, Ethiopia has witnessed dramatic upheavals since the once “hermitic empire” was invaded by the forces of the Fascist Italian dictator Benito Mussolini in 1935. Ironically, Ethiopia was conquered by a European power at precisely the moment when the first fruits of modernisation instituted by Emperor Menelik II (1889-1913) were beginning to be harvested during the reign of Emperor Haile Sellassie (1930-1974).

A violent, quasi-Marxist revolution, ensued; and the last of a long line of Ethiopian emperors for some 2,500 years was summarily and unceremoniously executed. A military junta (the Derg) ruthlessly ran the country, meddling in Church affairs. Throngs of victims were packed into detention centres where they were routinely tortured; many perished or disappeared without trace.

Abba Paulos was incarcerated, but he managed to flee the country. A resourceful man, he made good use of his exile: he studied theology at Princeton and Yale. His sojourn in the United States abruptly ended when he was hand-picked by the new regime of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zennawi and appointed Patriarch of Africa’s most ancient church. Abba Paulus is acutely conscious that radical changes in his country are currently underway, and that the pace of change is certainly poised to quicken in the 21st Century

32 thoughts on “Abba Gebremedhin says 'we were Christians before Christ'

  1. Aleqa on

    ወይ ጉድ! ቀሰ ብሎ ድግሞ ‘ከወያኔ በፊት ወያኔ ነበርኩኝ’ ሊለን ነው ይህ ጉደኛ ቄስ::

  2. Jonathan on

    The coptic church leader should not be hand-picked,
    big mistake. This is not politics, this is religion issue.

  3. Tassew on

    You guys are reaching now.. What is left for the extreme Diaspora is to shout.. and shout.. and attack everything and anything.. there is nothing scared any more. You have lost your culture and your identitiy you have truley became a Sedetgna. Nothing but a faded memeory of your country. What a pity!

  4. Anonymous on

    አባ ጳውሎስ እኛ ከክርስቶስ በፊት ክርስትያን እንባል ነበር አላሉም::እያስረዱ ያሉት ክርስትናችን መሰረት ያለው ከአዳም; ከሙሴ እስከ ክርስቶስ ድረስ ያለውን አምልኮተ እግዚሕአብሔርን ተንተርስሶ ጌታ ያስተማረውን አንዱንም ሳያስቀር የሚቀበል መሆኑን ነው::በዚህም ፍጹም እግዚሕአብሔርን የምናመለክ መሆናችንን ያሳያል::የአለሙ ፍልስፍና ያልጠለፈውን እውነተኛውን ቃለ እግዚሕአብሔር ክርስቶስ በደሙ በመሰረታት እውነተኛይቱ ቅድስት ቤት ክርስትያን ውስጥ ሆነን እናድምጥ::ወስብሀት ለእግዚሕአብሔር ወለወላዲቱ ድንግል::

  5. abba gebremedhin we know him in USA what he was , what he did , he can say whatever until he get what he did
    when woyane there he will be there but he doesn’t stay long with a double face or crime he will go down hell with meles.

  6. AleQa Bru on

    (ኦርቶዶክስ) ቤተ ክርስትያን እና መንግስት መች ነው ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ የሚለያዩት?
    – በዘመነ መሳፍንት አልተለያዩም ነበር
    – በአጼዎች ዘመን አልተለያዩም ነበር
    – በደርግ ዘመን አልተለያዩም ነበር (ህገ-ደርግን በመጣስ)
    – በወያኔ ዘመንም አልተለያዩም (ህገ-ወያኔን በመጣስ)

    ደርግና ወያኔ “ህገ-መንግስታችን” ቤተክርስትያንና መንግስት ራሳቸውን የቻሉ ናቸው:: አንዱ ባንዱ ጣልቃ አይገባም እያሉ የሚሰሩት ግን ተቃራኒውን ነበር/ነው::

  7. Yaman Galam GURU on

    My favorite quote of all time goes like this: “ኣባም ሰው ሆኑና ሺፍታ ገደላቸው” which, when translated in to English, means “killing the already dead”.

    Who is the author of that big an article about Aba? My friend, you wasted your time.

  8. Ashenafi on

    Lets forget this dude (Paulos) and just appreciate our unpoisoned religion.
    God Bless Ethiopia!

  9. mekar binor on

    እባካችሁ በሚበጀን ነገር ላይ ብንወያይ ይሻላል::
    በሰው ሃጢያት አንግባ:: ለኢትዮጵያ የሚበጃትን
    እግዚአብሔር ይስጣት:: እሱ ያመጣብንን እሱ እስኪ
    መልስልን ድረስ ሁላችንም በጸሎታችን እንትጋ

  10. Doctor on

    Was there christianity before the death of christ???If so may be another christ had been in axum!!!!

  11. Alula on

    “we were Christians before Christ”


    You thought you score a point but this shows how retarded you are. We were indeed Christians before Christ! Do you really doubt this or you thought every one comes to your site are retarded like you, can be fooled by any thing you post. I feel sorry for all your fans, man.

    Yes and Yes

    “We were Christian [charitable and monotheistic] for over a thousand years before Christ,” Abba Paulos, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, declared nonplused. “We have been Christian since Queen Makeda [the biblical Sheba] visited King Solomon in Jerusalem to partake of his wisdom and returned to Ethiopia with the Ark of the Covenant — containing the actual stone tablets of the Ten Commandments God gave Moses,” he explained.

  12. addibalen on

    መጀመሪያ ሰላም ለሁላችሁም

    ለምን ከጥላቻ አነወታም??

  13. kuku on

    It seems to me that the author is out of the path. no christian ethiopian will say “We were Christian for over a thousand years before Christ”. this is abvious! no body believed christanism before christ came to this world to save the world. infact the coptic ethiopian church teaches christianity arrived in ethiopia at the 4th century. This doesn’t contradict with his holyness saying, cause, Ethiopia worshiped Abreham’s God before Christ too. Our ancient ethiopian fathers were following the old testament, the directives given to us through Christ’s prophets such as Isayas, mosses, Daniel….This is not politics guys. No place to muddle in religion affairs. the house of christianity is not built in sand unlike the current Diaspora politics. It has been for centuries and will be forever as its frame is Christ himself.

  14. sinkisar on

    This is the best article i have read ! Thanks ER for posting in your web site ! Please read it all with your heart, My respect and love grows for our patriarch – Abune Paulos with this aricle !

    God bless you, whatever is your inention !

  15. bezuneh on

    This man abused christianity and diserves what ever the worst punishment to be. We are al siners, but he not only ordinary siner but …(Juda). This is not politics only but also religion. Get this man out of the church and protect our church!!!!!!!

  16. gashe on

    አቶ ኤልያስ ክፍሌ የጻፉት የ ፕ ሮተስታንቶችን ስብከት ነው:: አባ ጳውሎስን የጎዱ እየመሰላቸው ጥንታዊቷን ቤተክርስቲያን እየተሳደቡ ነው::

    ክርስቲያን የሚለው ቃል የተገኘው በክርስቶስ , ከ ክርስቶስ በሁዋላ መሆኑን እንኩዋን ፓትርያርኩ ቀርቶ ተራው ሰውም ያውቀዋል:: ያላሉትን, እንደፈለጉ ተርጉሞ መሳደብ ራስን ማዋረድ ነው::

    በፖሊቲካ እምነት ልንግባባ እንችላለን:: ይህ ግን ሃይማኖት ነው:: አቶ ኤልያስ የራሳቸው ሃይማኖት ላይኖራቸው ይችላል:: የሌላው ን ሃይማኖት መሳደብ ግን አይችሉም:: ይህ ደግሞ ለ ኦርቶዶክስ ተከታይ ህዝብ ንቀት ነው:: ሁልጊዜም በአንዳንድ ቤተክርስቲያኖች ሰበብ እያደረጉ , ኦርቶዶክስን መሳደብ ቀጥለዋል:: ይህ የትም አያደርስም::

  17. Concerned Ethiopian on

    Please, do not mix-up religion with politics. I feel like majority of the diaspora is losing their logical thinking. I believe the article is base-less and is writen with some predefined setting in the mind of Gmamal. What I would like to ask Gamal is to ask himself ” AM I DOING THE RIGHT THING?” and I am sure he will learn a lot from himself, as long as he a man of logic rather than emotion.

  18. brad on

    u guys are way over boared wit name callin and talkin trash,why dont u atleast respect the man as a human being? just trsahing some one juct cos u dont like him dont make u smart but a rude and stupid arrogants who are confusing innocent poeople,please have some shame and some sense, IGGNORANT sidetgeghna

  19. Abel on

    Pray to ‘Mimi and Meron’ who are victims of diasporan hate politics. This is not politics guys. This all about our history and our faith. Though editors in ER twisted what his holyness said, it is fact our fathers were humane and so kind unlike the fragile today’s love. Please lets try to be rational. I urge Mr. Elias not to muddle politics and religion, both of them are north and south,

  20. Asmamaw on

    Police detain author critical of Woyanne patriarch

    EthioMedia, Oct 5, 2006

    ADDIS ABABA – Dr. Begashaw Desalegn, author of Ye Meskelu Sirr KumarteGnoch የመስቀሉ ስር ቁማርተኞች (Gamblers Under the Crucifix), a book which passes touching the real life of Abba Paulos, Woyanne-installed Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, was detained on May 6 from Arat Kilo area in Addis Ababa.

    Dr. Begashaw appeared before court on May 8 but was sent back to Maekelawi Prison as hearing was adjourned for May 15, 2006. Observers connect Dr. Begashaw’s arrest to being critical of Aba Paulos, who is widely condemned in Ethiopia as being an accomplice of the ruthless tyrant, Meles Zenawi.

  21. Asmamaw on

    ‘ደጉ የሃይማኖት አባት’ ምን አሉ ይህ ሲፈጸም?

    Police open fire during Chrisrian fiesta

    Jan 19, 2006 (AFP – ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia) — Police shot and wounded at least one person and injured three others with batons on Thursday during disturbances at celebrations marking the Orthodox Epiphany, or Timkat, in Addis Ababa, participants and hospital sources said.

    Police said they had no reports of injuries but acknowledged they had moved to restore order after members of crowds celebrating the baptism of Jesus Christ became unruly and began throwing stones.

    One of those wounded, however, said there had been no disturbances although some in the crowd of revelers had been chanting anti-government slogans amid continuing tension over disputed elections last year and a crackdown on the opposition after two explosions of deadly violence in the capital.

    “I was shot by the police while we were celebrating Timkat,” said Pedros Gizaw, a 24-year-old market vendor who was being treated for a gunshot wound to the hip at Addis Ababa’ s Menelik Hospital.

    “Some people were chanting anti-government slogans, we weren’ t doing anything wrong when I was shot, we were just dancing and chanting,” he said, adding that he had heard between seven and 10 shots.

    Hospital sources said three other young men had been admitted for treatment for injuries caused by being beaten with truncheons or sticks.

    Police said they had been forced to act when Timkat celebrants became unruly in three parts of the city.

    “In three areas, some agitators tried to disturb the crowd by throwing stones,” an official said. “Without a significant intervention of the security forces, peace was restored.

    “The celebration was peaceful and calm,” the official said, adding that police had “received no report of injuries.”

    An AFP correspondent said streets in some parts of the capital, particularly those near Addis Ababa University, were littered with stones and that hundreds of riot police were deployed in various parts of the city.

  22. Lulit on

    እሳቸው [አባ ጳውሎስ] ፈዴራል ናቸው
    ሽጉጥ አላቸው

  23. YANI on

    It is wise for anyone of us to let religion out of politics. What will the world say about Ethiopian Christianity, if we say “Ethiopia had been a Christian nation befre Chrisr?”. It amplies that the Christ Ethipoua follows is not the Christ the wold follows. The one who was born of Mary 2000 years ago. We don’t make Ethiopia fame, instead we make Ethipia isolated from the Christian world – when we make statemnts like the one claimed to be said by an authority figure of The Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Where does fear of God went away from Ethiopians? Pleas don’t defend the wrong, and don’t reject the right, especially when it comes to faith.

  24. girma on

    If you want us to read this article, why you kept the picture of this pagan with it.

  25. milke on

    ok what ealse why he does not say he is the christ
    that could be better what could i expect from this guy he is a poltician not a chirch person
    so do i expect any thing more from a pagon not @ all where did the name christianity came from?????????? does he blive with son father abd holly esprit,,,,,, does he understuned what it means when God say let us creat??????? whom did he say it to wasn’t it to christ and holly esprite even before any person was created so how did this pagon says we where christian before christ he knows nothing he does not deserve even to be in the chirch even muslim person knows about christ much more than this moron.

  26. Gudayen on

    ወይ ጉድ! መቼስ ዘንድሮ የማንሰማው ጉድ የለም:: ታጋይ ጳውሎስ ማለቴ አባ ጳውሎስ አወቅሽ አወቅሽ ሲሏት መጸሐፍ አጠበች እንደተባለው እንግሊዘኛ አወክ ሲባል ከክርስቶስ በፊት ክርስትያን ነበረን ብሎ ቁጭ አለ!! ክርስትያን ማለት ክርስቶስን የሚያምን ማለት ሆኖ እንዴት ነው ከክርስቶስ መምጣት በፊት ክርስትያን የሚኖረው?

  27. እባካችሁን በጨለማ ውስጥ አትደናበሩ አለበለዛ መብራት ይዛችሁ ለመራመድ ሞክሩ። መጀመሪያ ጳጳሱ ምን ለማለት እንደፈለጉ እወቁ ኢትዮጵያ ከክርስትና በፊት እግዚአብሄርን የምታመልክ ሃገር ነበረች፡ ሃገራችን ስርአተ ኦሪት (ሙሴ) የሚፈጸምባት ሃገር ነበረች፡ የክርስቶስን መምጣት በተስፋ የምትጠብቅ ሃገር ነበረች፡ ክርስቶስ ያለ እና የነበረ ነው። ክርስቶስ ከአለም በፊት ነበረ ከአለም በሓላ ይኖራል። ጳጳሱን በግል መውደድ ወይም መጥላት ሌላ ጉዳይ ነው። እውነትን ለምጣመም አትሞክሩ፡ ታሪክ ራሱ ይፈርድባችሓል። ሳይበር ላይ ምንም ነገር ከመለጠፋችሁ በፊት እባካችሁን አንብቡ ።
    ኢትዮጵያ እጆቻን ወደ እግዝዚአብሄር ታነሳለች

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