Ethiopian Armenians: Armenian life in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Azad-Hye, Dubai
May 28 2005

In the 29th April 2005 issue of "Addis Tribune" (a publication of
Tambek International, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, established in 1992)
printed an article by Garbis Krajian, under the title: "Genocide 90
years ago - and Denial"

Garbis Kradjian is a graduate of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government
and a teacher of ethics courses. His current assignment is in Ethiopia
and Zambia.

The article was more than a tribute to the memory of the victims
of the Genocide. It was a blend of memories on personal, communal,
national and trans-national levels, all intermingled in an interesting
way. After all, our life is a reflection of the reality within those
four circles.

The article begins with the following statement:

As a form of introduction, I was born in Ethiopia from Armenian
parents. My family's history in Ethiopia goes back over 150 years.
>>From my father's side, I am fortunate to trace my genealogy back
five generations. From my mother's side, I am only able to go back
as far as my grandfather. Nonetheless!

I grew up in the Arat Kilo region and still remember many of my
childhood friends. I became fluent in Amharic [the majority language
in Ethiopia] and loved doing everything a child would do in our
neighborhood. Ethiopia became my home country and home to almost all
Armenians who live in Ethiopia. Right after the fall of the Emperor
I left Ethiopia for Canada.

After living abroad for thirty years, I have returned to Ethiopia
as an educator. Upon my arrival I learned that the once vibrant and
prosperous Armenian community that numbered around 1,500 has dwindled
to less than one hundred. The remaining twenty families still run
the community school, a club and a church.

On April 24th, like it has been done for the last 90 years, I also
went to my church to pray for the soul of my ancestors.

It is estimated that over ten million Armenians and friends in one
hundred fifty-two countries gathered in churches, community centers,
and national assembly halls to commemorate the 90th anniversary of
the Armenian Genocide.

I was one of sixty Armenians who congregated at St. George (Kevork)
Armenian Church [in Addis Ababa, capital city of Ethiopia] to pay
tribute to my ancestors who were victims of the atrocities committed
by the Turkish Ottoman Empire during the First World War.

Needless to say, I could not think of being anywhere else in the
world at this particular moment than this sacred place in Addis which
is still situated in the same setting where I regularly prayed as a
child until I was 19 years of age. This was the same site, where every
year, on April 24th, a thousand or so Armenian-Ethiopians gathered
to remember their ancestors, the children, and the elderly who were
slaughtered by the Ottoman Army. In fact, what makes my conviction
so much stronger is that I am the grandchild of one of the Forty
Orphans, the "Arba Lijoch," who survived the genocide and escaped to
Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, these forty orphans were given shelter at
the Armenian Monastery later to be adopted by Emperor Haile-Selassie.

The Emperor brought them to Ethiopia, where they made this lovely
country their home. These forty young men, who were a band had
impressed the Emperor with their musical skills. Upon their arrival
to Ethiopia, they were commissioned, under the directorship of Noubar
Nalbandian, uncle of Nerses Nalbandian, to compose the National Anthem
of Ethiopia. It remained as the anthem, "Teferi Marsh" or "Ethiopia
Hoy," until the arrival of the Dergue [military committee formed in
1974 after the overthrow of Emperor Haile Sellasie].

Before I move to the topic of my immediate concern, I pay much
gratitude to all Ethiopians, present and past, for giving the Armenians
a home for the last 100 years.

Garbis Krajian then gives a summery of the Genocide explaining why
Turkey should recognize it.

He ends the article by borrowing Reverend Martin Luther King's "I
have a dream" speech:

I have a dream that one day little Armenian boys and girls will be
able to join hands with little Turkish boys and girls as sisters
and brothers without having to bring up the past. I hope one day,
my daughters Sara and Ani will be able to play with the children of
my very good Turkish friend Serdar, without even going there...there
...there, to the past, a very sad past that is inevitable to surface
when an Armenian and Turk meet.

You can reach Garbis Krajian at the following e-mail.

Complete text available online.

70th anniversary of St. George (Kevork) Church in Addis Ababa.

On the 16th January 2005, the Armenian Community in Ethiopia witnessed
one of its memorable days, the celebration of the 70th anniversary
of St. George (Kevork) Armenian Apostolic Church of Addis Ababa,
the capital of Ethiopia.

The celebration was presided by Archimandrite V. Rev. Fr. Ashot
Mnatzakanyan (Locum Tenens of the Diocese of Armenian Apostolic Church
of Egypt and all Africa), Rev. Fr. Myron Sarkissian, Pastor of the
Community (and other nearby countries such as Sudan) attended the
ceremony. The celebration enjoyed the support of His Holiness Patriarch
Abouna Paulos, the Head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. This fact
in itself was a proof of ages old friendly relationship between the
Oriental Orthodox Churches of both countries: Armenia and Ethiopia.

Catholicos Aram I helps the Ethiopians of Lebanon build their first
church.

Antelias, Lebanon (10 February 2005)- His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos
of Cilicia, has contributed to the church-building efforts of the
Ethiopian community of Lebanon. The community will soon construct its
first church in the Ainaar village, located in Mount Lebanon. The
land was registered as a property of the Catholicosate of Cilicia
[donated by a Lebanese Christian benefactor].

His Holiness Patriarch Abouna Paulos, the Head of the Ethiopian
Orthodox Church, had visited the Catholicosate two years ago and asked
Aram I to assist the Ethiopian Community of Lebanon. Upon his request,
Catholicos Aram I closely followed the religious activities of the
community during the last two years. The Ethiopian Patriarch's visit
has paved the way for continual cooperation between the Catholicosate
of Cilicia and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

You can reach Rev. Fr. Myron Sarkissian, Pastor of the Community at
the following e-mail.

http://www.azad-hye.com/nuke/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=187