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  • Kulubi Gabriel pilgrimage

    Kulubi Gabriel is near Harar (about 75 km i think) in the middle of the Chercher Mountains, which are like a semi-highland area explaining the fertility/temperate weather of Harar as opposed to Dire Dawa, Jijiga, etc.


    The pilgrimage that takes place every year on 26 July, the day it was consacrated (26 July 1892). The story I've gathered as to why it's holy is: after the conquest of Eastern Ethiopia by Menelik II, the Emperor trusted the region to Ras Makonen Woldemikael (father of Haile-Selassie). He became governor of Harar, a Muslim citadel in decline and which had only recently seen the Egyptians move out.


    With the Abyssinian take-over, Christian settlers started arriving, and the inevitable tensions arose. More than a simple Christian/Muslim tension, it was actually 3-fold: the Harari urban aristocracy vs. the Oromo peasant-hood which had seen some marginal improvement under the Egyptians vs. the new-comers.


    Apparently, Ras Makonnen made a vow to St. Gabriel that if peace was restored in Harar and its surrounding areas, he'd consacrate a church in his honour. All very Ethiopian! And so in 1892, i can only assume that with a semblance of social peace, he decided to follow his word. As to why he chose this location in particular, someone else will have to throw some light on it, i'm at a loss. What i heard is that it already had a small monastery before hand.


    Again, as far as i've gathered, no exceptional miracle or event happened which would explain Kulubi Gabriel becoming such a focus of devotion.


    The church, however, did gain a prominent role as the resting place of Ras Makonen, who was one the most enlightened leaders Ethiopia had just over a century ago. His respect stretch to a national and international level.


    Later on, during the Italian occupation, it became a hot-bed of anti-Italian organization, much like Debre Libanos, and was bombed. Perhaps a reflection of Ras Makonen's influence in this devotion is that the church is considered holy and worthy of pilgrimage by Orthodox Christians and many Muslims in the area. 


    It's perfectly possible to visit Kulubi Gabriel, but do be warned that it's extremely crowded around 26 July and 26 december, on St. Gabriel's day. Accomodation in the surrounding area is limited, but transport on to Harar/Dire Dawa is constant.


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  • Asmara Became UNESCO’s World Heritage Site

    Eritrea's capital, Asmara, has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list today. The announcement came during the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee that's taking place in Poland. Asmara has been described as a "Modernist City in Africa."


    The European Union is contributing to the conservation of Asmara's unique cultural and architectural heritage, in the framework of the EU program for Local Authorities.


    The EU has, in fact, signed in December 2016 a 2 year's cooperation program with the Asmara Heritage Project (AHP), part of the Department of Public Works Development of the Central Region Administration (Zoba Maekel) aiming at building the capacity for safeguarding Asmara's historic urban environment.


    The EU-funded program included training, capacity building and awareness raising components and will also support the finalization of the Urban Conservation Master Plan, which is among the key recommendations of the World Heritage Committee.


    Candidature of the city of Asmara was submitted to the World Heritage List on the 1 February 2016 and Asmara's application has finally approved today on Saturday, July 8, 2017.


    Making the respected list is hugely important for Asmara, as it can prompt tourism to the city as well provide financial means for preservation. Nine natural, 16 cultural, and four mixed sites have been nominated for examination this year.


    The committee will also inspect the conservation of 108 existing World Heritage sites as well as the 48 sites on the World Heritage in Danger List.


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  • Uganda’s Government Issues Strict Dress Code For Civil Servants

    Public servants in Uganda are facing a strict dress code after the government issued a circular warning them to “dress decently”.


    Female staff have been told that dresses or skirts that are above the knees, sleeveless blouses or any clothing made out of see-through material will not be allowed.


    Braids and extensions have also been banned.


    Men must wear long-sleeved shirts and ties and not brightly-coloured clothes.


    The guidelines, issued by the Ministry of Public Service apply to all non-uniformed civil servants. But there is a feeling that female staff are the main focus on the new rules.


    While women will be allowed to wear pant-suits, they have been warned not to wear any tight-fitting clothing or show cleavage.


    Flat, open shoes are also ruled out, except in cases where one can prove that it is for medical reasons.


    The circular is derived from Public Service Standing Orders on dress code, put in place in 2010.


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