Ethiopia: Its People, Its Society, Its Culture

Ethiopia: Its People, Its Society, Its Culture

Ethiopia: Its People, Its Society, Its Culture

Ethiopia: Its People, Its Society, Its Culture

Excerpt

The empire of ethiopia occupies a unique position on the African continent in that it has maintained itself almost continuously as an independent political entity for at least fifteen hundred years. Its traditional political institutions have manifested an impressive capacity to meet the special challenges of the twentieth century, and the culture of the Amhara-Tigrai people, dominating an empire of varied ethnic composition, has likewise demonstrated a marked survival value. These qualities together with Ethiopia's location in northeast Africa have enabled it thus far to exert a strongly moderating influence on the ferment and revolutionary violence which has engulfed so much of the continent and to give substance to the expectation that Ethiopia will play a strong role in the emergence of a new Africa.

In spite of the high degree of social and political continuity, Ethiopian society today is nevertheless undergoing certain fundamental changes that have produced conflicts between traditional and modernist forces. Even where source materials are ample, such a transitional phase is at best difficult to describe. In Ethiopia where information on many subjects and areas is often not only meager but also contradictory the problems of evaluating available data for the present volume have frequently been acute. The authors have had the advantage, however, of consultation with persons both in Ethiopia and in the United States who have had long, varied, and professional experience in appraising Ethiopian affairs. In the field, the personnel of the International Cooperation Administration, WHO, and University College, Addis Ababa, are deserving of special reference as having contributed generously and courteously of their time and knowledge. The entire list is long. From it the following persons should be given special mention: Donald N. Levine, longtime student of the country, who drew generously on materials he had been collecting for his forthcoming book, Wax and Gold, and helped us especially . . .

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