Ethiopia celebrated epiphany – it is locally known as Timkat – amid political tension in the country after months under the brutes of exceptionally repressing state of emergency legislation.
Conceivably, the celebration was markedly different from the way it used to be due to political tension in the country. While people in the capital Addis Ababa celebrated it in Jan Meda, it was not celebrated as colorfully as it used to be in the parts of Ethiopia that used to be tourist attractions for their elaborate celebrations. Gonder is a case in point. Residents in Gonder resolved to stay at home in protest of recent killings and mass arrest in the city. The memory of the grief is to fresh. Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) report indicated that government officials were mobilizing residents to come out and celebrate holiday and it proved to be futile.[adToAppearHere]
Apart bringing a sense of normalcy (without even ending state of emergency), the intention of the regime in power is to revive tourism as it is cash strapped.
The situation in Bahir Dar, capital of Amhara regional state in north west Ethiopia were there has unprecedented killings of civilians and mass arrest, was somewhat similar. Residents were not in celebratory moods.
It is to be recalled that there was grenade attack in both cities just a week ago.
For followers of Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Timkat is one of the holiest festival. It is a commemoration of the baptism of Christ at the Jordan river in the hands of John. However, the holiday is in some cases celebrated even by Muslims as there is a cultural element to it.
Under normal circumstances, Timkat attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists but this year the number plunged to an all time low as many countries issued travel advisories due to the political tension in Ethiopia.
The regime is in a sort of undeclared chronic financial crisis following the collapse of tourism and other businesses so much so that it is thinking in terms of national assets and preparing to sell treasury bonds.