Only five thousand people celebrated Meskel bonfire in Addis Ababa – unprecedented in many many decades.
September 26, 2020
Ethiopian Meskel bonfire is celebrated in the capital Addis Ababa. The Patriarch of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church Abune Mathias presided over the ceremony. President Sahle-Work Zewde and Addis Ababa City Mayor, Adanech Abiebie were also in attendance.
Normally, Meskel is one of the most colorful religious festivals of the Ethiopian Church that attracts millions of people that is celebrated across the country; it is registered as UNESCO’s world heritage.
However, this year only five thousand people could celebrate it at Meskel Square in the capital Addis Ababa due to the Coronavirus prevention measures in place.
Political Challenges Ethiopian church is facing
Apart from the Coronavirus disease, political pressure in different parts of the country against the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church made the celebration difficult in some places outside of Addis Ababa.
In Adama (Nazret) for example, which is only 100 kilometers to the southeast of Addis Ababa, the city administration did not allow the Ethiopian Church to use the traditional place which the church used for ages to celebrate festivals like Meskel. The mayor of the city reportedly passed the decision for the Ethiopian church not to use the place.
In Hosaena, in Southern Ethiopia regional states, the church is experiencing similar challenges.
The last Ethiopian year (2012) was full of challenges for the Ethiopian church. It has lost hundreds of its followers in the Oromo region of Ethiopia, among other places, as radical ethnic Oromo nationalists orchestrated savage attacks in multiples of cities in the region.
During the celebration at Meskel square in the capital Addis Ababa today, Patriarch Abune Mathias said “In order to overcome the various hurdles in our country, intellectual, politicians and media need to be patient and wise.”
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