In Eritrea/Ethiopia (the ethnic group Tigrinya, Tigray and Amhara) tradition bride and groom wear a black velvet cape (called “Ghaba”) and crown with gold broidery to symbolize that they are the king and queen of their household. In this picture the Bride is muslim, which probably makes her part of the Jeberti (the muslim Tigrinya). It is uncertain if the man is muslim or christian. But that wouldn’t matter, would it.

Via randomhabesha


My paternal line!! Haplogroup T!!!
In human population genetics, mitochondrial (mtDNA) haplogroups define the major lineages of direct maternal (female) lines back to a shared common ancestor in Africa.
Its highest frequencies are in two Semitic speaking peoples: the Amhara and the Tigrai

Elite endurance runners!!!
Possible patterns between Y-chromosome and elite endurance runners were studied in an attempt to find a genetic explanation to the Ethiopian endurance running success. Given the superiority of East African athletes in international distance running over the past four decades, it has been speculated that they are genetically advantaged. Elite marathon runners from Ethiopia were analysed for K*(xP) which according to the previously published Ethiopian studies is attributable to the haplogroup T[178] and specifically to the T1a1a* (old T1a*) subclade, according to further studies.[1] T1a1a* was found to be proportionately more frequent in the elite marathon runners sample than in the control samples than any other haplogroup, therefore this y-chromosome could play a significant role in determining Ethiopian endurance running success. Haplogroup T1a1a* was found in 14% of the elite marathon runners sample of whom 43% of this sample are from Arsi province. In addition, haplogroup T1a1a* was found in only 4% of the Ethiopian control sample and only 1% of the Arsi province control sample. T1a1a* is positively associated with aspects of endurance running, whereas E1b1b1 (old E3b1) is negatively associated.
Haplogroup T is common in northern Somalia and in the Somalis of Ethiopia. It is found in frequency of greater than 10 percent in populations of Kenya Tanzania and Cameroon. It is notable for being widespread in Tanzania where it is more common than Kenya . It has also been detected in the limba populations of Zimbabwe Malawi and South Africa. The distribution of this haplogroup has been suggested to be associated with mtdna haplogroup M1 as the two tend to be common in the same regions.



The Haitian Revolution

The Haitian Revolution, which began in 1791, was one of the largest slave revolts in history and it was the only one to result in the founding of a state. The revolution took place in the French colony of Saint-Domingue and was the key to putting an end to slavery there. This defining moment in both European and American history proved to be one of the most successful uprisings by enslaved Afrakan people.

First North American Revolt by Enslaved Afrakan People

In 1526, nearly four decades before the first permanent European settlement, North America saw its first uprising by a group of enslaved Afrakan people. Spanish explorers, led by conquistador Lucas Vazquez de Ayllon, brought enslaved Afrakan to what is now the Carolinas. But in the midst of unrest and widespread sickness, they were able to successfully pull off a massive revolt.

The Hyksos vs. Ancient Egyptians

The battle between the Hyksos and the ancient Egyptians was a fight to reunite the country after the Hyksos took northern Egypt. To this day, it isn’t exactly clear how the Hyksos managed to take Northern Egypt, but there is a little more research about how the ancient Egyptians fought back and reclaimed their land. King Tao of Thebes led the efforts to reclaim Northern Egypt, and his son Kamose took over leadership after Tao was killed in battle. The Hyksos were eventually forced to barricade themselves in their city of Avaris before they were finally seized and expelled. Eventually they returned to Egypt again only to face a brutal defeat by Kamose’s son Ahmose I who pushed the Hyksos out of Egypt again.

The Triumph of the Accompong Maroons

The triumph of the Maroons of Accompong is a part of Jamaica’s history that is still celebrated today. The Jan. 6 celebration commemorates Maroon leader Kojo’s victory over the British in 1738, which ultimately resulted in a peace treaty between both parties.

Nzinga vs Portuguese

Queen Nzinga (Nzinga Mbande), the monarch of the Mbundu people, was a resilient leader who fought against the Portuguese and their expanding slave trade in Central Africa. - 

Despite repeated attempts by the Portuguese and their allies to capture or kill Queen Nzinga, she died peacefully in her eighties on December 17, 1663. 

Battle of Adwa

The battle of Adwa of 1 March 1896 was a stunning victory for Ethiopia but a rout and a disaster for Italy.  Adwa – the story of Africans seeing to their own freedom – played out against a background of almost unrelenting European expansion into Africa.  The success of Ethiopia’s forces assured that Ethiopia would be the only African country successfully to resist European colonization before 1914.  It also resonated powerfully in post-Emancipation America where hierarchies of race and ethnicity were only beginning a process of challenge and renegotiation - 

Shaka Zulu vs British

When discussing the most bone-crushingly badass military empires of Sub-Saharan Africa, there is really only one word that comes to mind – Zulu.  Of all the myriad tribal leaders, tyrannical despots, and vicious totalitarian warlords that have exerted their will across this war-torn region from pre-history until the modern day, no power-hungry madman has been able to surpass the ass-kicking legacy of the Zulu Empire and its fearsome ability to carve out a mighty empire one impaled corpse at a time.  The utterly-fearless warriors of this 19th century powerhouse made a name for themselves by ferociously charging lance-first into combat anywhere they could find it, massacring their foes with machetes and spears, and even sticking it to the world’s most advanced European powers when they came around for a heavyweight title match of badassitude.  Of all the Zulu leaders who commanded the Empire during this period, one man stands sack-and-shoulders above the rest when it comes to unrivaled badassitude – the infamous Shaka Zulu.  The military mastermind behind the Zulu Empire, and one of the most hardcore tyrants who ever lived.

The Zanj

But who exactly were the Zanj? Some identify them specifically as black slaves from east Africa—think Zanzibar—but it was a much looser term than that (“Zanj,” an Arabic word, is often translated as “dark skin”). The best book on the subject is The Revolt of African Slaves in Iraq in the 3rd/9th Century by Alexandre Popovic. (I had the pleasure of writing the introduction to the French-to-English translation in 1999.) As Popovic explains, Zanj was a label used for black slaves, specifically those tasked with the hardest, plantation-style work.  Key information on the Zanj work sites within Mesopotamia comes to us through Popovic by way of ninth-century Arab historian al-Tabari, who remembered the Zanj as Afrakan slaves who were forced to undertake the massive field project to drain the salt marshes of Lower Mesopotamia. It was backbreaking work, and the men were underfed and stuffed into labor camps of 500 to 5,000. While most slaves in Islamic countries were domestic workers, the Zanj toiled at the bottom of society at the bottom of the Arabian Peninsula.Over time, their presence reinforced Arabs’ negative stereotypes of blacks in general. Davis explains:[R]egardless of their continuing enslavement and purchase of European Christian infidels, medieval Arabs came to associate the most degrading forms of labor with afrakan slaves—with the Zanj whom the medieval Arab writer Maqdisi described as ‘people of dark color, flat noses, kinky hair, and little understanding or intelligence.’ In fact, the Arabic word for slave,abd, came in time to mean only a dark slave and, in some regions, referred to any Afrakan person whether slave or free. Many Arab writers echoed the racial contempt typified by the famous fourteenth-century Tunisian historian Ibn Khaldun when he wrote that afrakan people ‘are, as a whole submissive to slavery, because Negroes have little that is essentially human and have attributes that are quite similar to those of dumb animals.’

You can read more about these historical debates in a useful survey by Emily Martha Silkaitis, “Modern Takes on Motivations Behind the Zanj Rebellion,” in the spring 2012 issue of the Lights journal.

One thing, however, is certain. The Revolt of the Zanj was violent. It involved beheadings, enslavement, sacking and burning, and it was particularly gruesome after the Zanj massacre in Basra, where the starving survivors resorted to cannibalism. You can read all of the grisly details in Popovic’s book. Suffice it to say, the revolt brought out the worst on both sides.

And, in the aftermath, did slavery persist? Of course it did, but there were important temporary consequences. As Krause explains:

Despite its ultimate fate of the rebellion, the Zanj uprising had a lasting significance. The work camps of southern Iraq were abandoned and the living conditions of slaves in the region improved. The large-scale Abbasid importation of slaves from East Africa was effectively halted. Moreover, those Africans who had defected to the caliph’s army were not returned to slavery. A precursor to the slave rebellions in Latin America and the Caribbean centuries later, the Zanj rebellion demonstrated the powerful potential of a captive population that rises up in solidarity.

Other consequences were damaging and long lasting, I’m afraid, well after the Mongols sacked the caliphate in the 13th century. Davis puts it this way: “While much further research is needed, it seems probable that racial stereotypes were transmitted, along with afrakan slavery itself, from Muslims to Christians and from the eastern Mediterranean to that melting pot of religions and cultures, the Iberian Peninsula.” And as we learned in last week’s column, the Portuguese and Spanish had no qualms about exporting race-based slavery to the New World.


Healing scroll, Amharic, Ethiopia, 19th century

Gallery note:

In Ethiopia customized protective scrolls that interweave sacred imagery with textual prayers have been prescribed by traditional healers for over two thousand years. These were carried on the person of the individual to whom they were specifically dedicated to shield them from harm. 

Often the customized content of a scroll is astrologically determined. In Ethiopia as in ancient Greece, each human being has a corresponding zodiac sign associated with a particular destiny and talismanic character. The iconography of the scrolls thus alternate between talismanic “seals” and representations of saints, angels and archangels shown in the act of fighting demons. The seals are modeled on the seal of God that was revealed to King Solomon and feature geometric patterns intertwined with stylized representations of multiple visages and eyes that indicate prayers for divine intervention.

This is the Church of Saint George, one of the so-called Eleven Monolithic Churches in Lalibela in the Amhara region of Ethiopia. The Church of Saint George, which in the Amharic tongue is called Bete Giyorgis (translit.), is carved in situ, which means “in place”, without the intention of relocation. The church is carved out of a single block of solid rock in the shape of a cross, and have sometimes been referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World. They are believed to have been created in the 12th century AD.


Double Diptych Icon Pendant, Amhara peoples, Ethiopia, early 18th century

Met Museum notes:

In the seventeenth century, Ethiopian artists were increasingly exposed to forms of expression from Europe. During this period, double-sided diptychs became popular among the nobility as pendant icons worn suspended by a cord around the neck. The subject matter depicted on this example is a standard program for this genre of personal icon, as are the intricately carved cruciform designs that enhance the exterior surfaces of the protective covers.

This icon is a classic example of the painting style developed during the late seventeenth century at Gondar, the trading center where King Fasiladas (r. 1632–67) established his capital. Portrayed frontally with slightly turned heads and simple, iconic gestures, the figures are superimposed upon neutral backgrounds. Bodies are delineated with thick black outlines, while faces are composed of flat areas of pink and orange. Curving lines and attenuated arcs are employed to evoke the folds of draped robes and mantles.

The double-sided pendant contains four painted surfaces depicting Christian subject matter. On one side of the main panel, the Virgin Mary appears seated, holding Christ and flanked by archangels carrying swords. Grasping the Book of the Gospel and making a gesture of benediction, the Christ Child gazes lovingly at his mother, who in turn stares out toward the viewer. On the outer panel (the interior surface of the cover), Saint George appears on horseback slaying the dragon. This combination of saints was extremely popular in Ethiopian religious painting, and served to emphasize the close relationship between the Virgin Mary and Saint George, the soldier of God who was her constant companion. The opposite side of the icon illustrates the Crucifixion, with Mary and Saint John standing sorrowfully to either side of Christ. The outer panel illustrates the Resurrection, in which a monumental Christ raises the diminutive figures of Adam and Eve by their arms. A flag of victory to Christ’s right indicates this triumph over death.