Ethiopia : The Promised Land

Drive 155 miles south from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, and you’ll find yourself in a little patch of Jamaica, where dreadlocked Rasta settlers, many born in the Caribbean, have now made their home. Welcome to the community of Shashemane—Ethiopia’s version of “Amish country.”

From left, Ras Hailu Tefari and musician Sydney Salmon. Tefari is from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent and runs the “the world’s only banana-leaf art gallery” in Shashemane.
From left, Ras Hailu Tefari and musician Sydney Salmon. Tefari is from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent and runs the “the world’s only banana-leaf art gallery” in Shashemane.

By Tom Freston

(Vanity Fair) You do not have to look far in Africa to see the influence of reggae music. Once I met a Tuareg tribesman in the Sahara Desert who proudly played me a Bob Marley ringtone on his cell phone. Reggae music swept ’round the world in the 1970s, then receded a bit in most places. It still lives large in Africa. There is great reverence for the Jamaican classics, but there are also many lively local scenes. Reggae is music for the dispossessed, and Africa itself plays a leading role in reggae’s narrative. In reggae mythology, Africa is the Promised Land, the destined homeland where the African diaspora will someday be repatriated. Africa—and Ethiopia in particular—is the “Land of Zion” sung about in so many reggae songs. Read more…

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