Ethiopian People Culture


From pagan religions of pre Judaic and pre Christian periods to the introduction of Islam Ethiopia remains most rich in religious wealth including indigenous faiths. And lately in the 20th Century Ethiopia has become the Holy Land for the Ras Teferians. Zab Tours Have helped on the Production of the famous series called Around The World in 80 Faiths by the BBC.

If your interest is to study superstition or what people value to worship or take part on famous religious festivals Ethiopia should be your choice. Some of the religious events are Timeket Festival (Ethiopian Epiphany), Ethiopian Christmas, Ethiopian Easter, Palm Sunday, Ethiopian New Year, Meskal Festival, Ethiopian New Year which is September 10/11, Muslim Pilgrimages to different holy shrines etc. Some of the indigenous faiths might impress you of human’s deep rooted need for worship.


Coffee ceremony

Coffee – Nu Buna Tetu – Come Drink Coffe with us.

Who does not know that Coffee is Ethiopia’s Kind gift to the world? Well if you do not now you know. It is only in Ethiopia where you find Forest Wild Coffee. Even the name coffee comes from the home of coffee growing region in Ethiopia, Kaffa. We all advise to all coffee lovers not only to enjoy Ethiopian coffee during their stay in Ethiopia but to buy some to take home. As it is cheaper here in Ethiopia and also you contribute to the economy and support the fair trade of coffee by buying it locally. Ethiopian Coffee is the most expensive type of coffee in retail shops all over the western world.

The coffee ceremony is our complimentary offer to all those who book package tours with us. Nu Buna Tetu we welcome you to the three steps coffee ceremony with the sweet smell of the incense in the burner and watching the roasting and grinding of coffee while you watch it. It takes half an hour to an hour but you will see the social culture of Ethiopia through the coffee ceremony. Neighbors are invited, snacks will be served, either a popcorn, roasted barley or pieces of bread to enjoy the coffee moments. Do not miss it.


Ethiopian Languages

Ethiopia has many indigenous languages (some 84 according to the Ethnologue, 77 according to the 1994 census), most of them Afro-Asiatic (Semitic, Cushitic, Omotic), as well as some that are Nilo-Saharan.Charles Ferguson proposed the Ethiopian Language Area, characterized by shared grammatical and phonological features (1976). This language area includes the Afro-Asiatic languages of Ethiopia, not the Nilo-Saharan languages. More recently, Mauro Tosco has questioned the validity of Ferguson's original proposal (2000). There is still no unanimity among scholars on this point, but Tosco has at least weakened Ferguson's original claim.

English is the most widely spoken foreign language and is the medium of instruction in secondary schools and universities. Amharic was the language of primary school instruction, but has been replaced in many areas by local languages such as Oromifa and Tigrinya. After the fall of the Derg regime in 1991, the new constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia granted all ethnic groups the right to develop their languages and to establish mother tongue primary education systems. This is a marked change to the language policies of previous governments in Ethiopia.


Traditional musical instruments

Traditional musical instruments in widespread use include the massinko, a one-stringed violin played with a bow; the krar, a six-stringed lyre, played with the fingers or a plectrum; the washint, a simple flute; and three types of drum - the negarit (kettledrum), played with sticks, the kebero, played with the hands, and the atamo, tapped with the fingers or palm. Other instruments include the begena, a huge, multi-stringed lyre often referred to as the Harp of David; the tsinatseil, or sistrum, which is used in church music; the meleket, a long trumpet without fingerholes, and the embilta, a large, simple, one-note flute used on ceremonial occasions.

Though often simply made, the massinko can, in the hands of an expert musician, produces a wide variety of melodies. It is often played by wandering minstrels,particularly near eating houses, where the musicians entertain the diners. The rousing rhythms of the negarit were used in times gone by to accompany important proclamations, and chiefs on the march would be preceded by as many as 30 men, each beating a negarit carried on a donkey. The tiny atamo is most frequently played at weddings and festivals, setting the rhythmic beat of folk songs and dances.

Modern-style bands have come into existence in recent decades, and there are noted Ethiopian jazz musicians.


Traditional Foods

Ingera is made from a cereal grain that is unique known as Tef. Though t'efs is unique to Ethiopia it is diverse in color and habitat. Tef is a member of the grass genus Eragrostis or lovegrass. T'ef will grow in many areas it is not an easy crop to farm. One problem in particular is that the weight of the grain bends the stem to the ground. Fortunately for the Ethiopian Jews ( and all Ethiopians) depends on Tef Ingera, as a staple of their diet. Tef is nutritional miracle food. It contains two to three times the iron of wheat or barley. The calcium, potassium and other essential minerals are also many times what would be found in an equal amount of other grains. Tef has 14% protein, 3% fat and 81% complex carbohydrate.

Tef is the only grain to have symbiotic yeast. Like grapes, the yeast is on the grain so no yeast is added in the preparation of ingera. Tef is milled to flour and made into batter. the batter is allowed to sit so the yeast can become active. When the batter is ready it is poured on a large flat oven and allowed to cook. This process is much harder than it sounds and it is recommended buying from an Ethiopian Market or Restaurant in your area. Make sure it is Tef Ingera not a substitute Western grains.

The cuisine of Ethiopia is one of the world's best kept secrets. Ethiopian food is a spicy mix of vegetable and lentil stews and slow simmered meats. This country in East Africa has been called the "Land of Bread and Honey." Ethiopia, once known as Abyssinia, is a place of high plateaus and low-lying plains. The northern high country is populated mainly by Christians, while the plains are home to Muslims and animists. Dietary restrictions in religions have given rise to a wide variety of both meat and vegetarian dishes. While most Ethiopian cuisine is indigenous, certain ingredients such as red chilies, ginger, and spices have enriched its flavors. Grains like millet, sorghum, wheat and ancient teff form the basic breadstuffs of the diet. Most farming in Ethiopia is subsistence, so the vegetables and animals are often grown and raised at home. The ancient practice of beekeeping produces exquisite honey. It is fermented to make tej, a honey wine.

Essential components of Ethiopian cooking are injera bread, berbere, a spicy red pepper paste, and niter kibbeh, a spice-infused clarified butter. Most foods have a stewy consistency. Alicha indicates a mild stew. Wats are stews with the spicy flavor of berberé. An essential spice in Ethiopian cooking is fenugreek. This hard seed gives a unique flavor to Ethiopian food. Desserts are not really served in Ethiopia, but iab, like a mixture of cottage cheese and yogurt, is traditionally the final course of a meal.