Orthodox Christianity among the Gedeo, Southern Ethiopia: Inception and Development to 1991

Sintayehu Demeke Kassa, Buruk Wolde-Michael Jima, Tsegaye Zeleke Tufa


The seed of Orthodox Christianity sown on the land of Gedeo in the late 19th century following the state expansion to the south could survive the assault of the Fascist aggressors and could bear its fruit during the post-liberation period. The time witnessed a large-scale evangelization and the subsequent mass baptism of the local population. This was to be followed by the increasing number of newly constructed churches and expansion of their services in the region. The 1975 land nationalization policy of the Derg, however, demolished all these achievements of the EOC by dismantling the base of its economy, ye samon maret. The clergymen who based their life on the cultivation of these church lands deserted their church in search of any other means of economic survival and this was to threaten the existence of the Orthodox church among the Gedeo let alone its growth and development in the region. Though the Derg tried to mitigate this economic crisis of the church through financial subsidy, the support could not bring a meaningful solution since the amount was insignificant as compared to the large number of clergymen the church was administering by then. The problem was, therefore, to wait for its answer through the free market economic order of the post 1991 political era.


Orthodox Christianity; Holy Arks; Clergymen; Expansion; Land, Economy; Subsidy

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I. Unpublished Sources

1. Archival sources available at Gedeo zone office of the diocese

A letter from Sewasew Birhan Sibkata Wongel to [Sidama Teqlay Gizat, dated Tahisas 10, 1955E.C. with Ref.No.149/35/55.

A letter from [Sidama Province to Gedeo Awraja office of the diocese dated Tir 1972E.C. with Ref. No.384/136/72.

A letter from [Sidama Province to Gedeo Zone office of the diocese dated Miyazia 18,1985E.C. with Ref. No.456/1/361/85.

A letter from Gedeo Awraja office of the diocese to Gebez of Dibandibe Abuna Gabra Manfaskidus dated Nehassie13, 1967E.C. with Ref. No.313/67.

A letter from Gedeo Awraja to [Sidama province office of the diocese (List of churches) dated Pagumie 03, 1962E.C. with Ref. No.491/62.

A letter from Gebez of Debeka Teklehaimanot to Gedeo Awraja office of the diocese dated Tikimt 30, 1969E.C. with Ref. No.4/67.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18415/ijmmu.v7i5.1873


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