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History of Harar
By Ahmad Zakarya (1995)
Historian and Anthropologist

The ancient metropolis of a once mighty race, the only permanent settlement in Eastern Africa, the reported seat of Muslim learning, a walled city of stone houses, possessing its independent chief, its peculiar population, its unknown language and its own coinage; the emporium of the coffee trade and the head-quarters of the slave trade and the great manufacture of cotton cloths, amply it appeareddeserved the trouble of exploration.

Richard Burton( xxvi, 1894)

Before the recent rise of Addis Ababa and Nairobi was the only city worth of the title in east Africa between the Ethiopia city of Gondar, to the north of Lake Tana, and the Arab city of Zanibar, on the island off the east Africa coast.

Arnold J Toynbee(1965)

ETHIOPIA, the cradle of mankind, one of the crossroads of civilization, and a mosaic of nationalities, has much to offer to the world heritage. It has already registered six centers in the UNESCO World heritage list. This prehistoric and natural sites are comparable with some of the moat famous world monuments. Hadar, the birth place of Lucy. Lalibela, and the archaeological site of Tiya are some of the wonders of Ethiopia. There are still more place to be considered for the World Heritage list; Harar located in south Eastern Ethiopia about 526 kms from Addis Ababa, should be one of them.

Harar is among those cities in Africa that enjoy a mild climate throughout the year. The well-known 19TH century traveler, Sir Richard Burton, who was the first European visitor to enter what he called "forbidden city " left us a vivid memorable ten days in Harar. In his own words " Harar is not hot, cool but not cold" quoting a description of heaven-favoured city, according to a Persianpoet. He also compares it with the climate of the Italian city of Tuscany. Butchlozer(101,1955) a traveler who visited a century after Burton, has this to say about the natural beauty of Harar;

It doesn't matter you go there when the coffee bushes are in flower andthe air is heavy with their strong bitter scent, or when the ripe fruit of theOrange trees glow in the sunlight, it is always lovely in Harar; there is always something blooming, always being harvested.

At least seven settlements are mentioned as the precursors of Harar according to a popular legend. These were esshkanti gai (gai means "city" or "settlement"). Fereka gai, harawe gai. Hassen gai; Ruhuk gai; Sammti gai; and Tuhkungai. All this sites are now awaititng archaeological excavation to tell their stories, except Hasseb gai wich still keeps the name north Harar. These settlement resolved their enmity and agreed to establish their center in Harar. This center had fertile soil with abundant water to establish a sustainable agriculture system: it was also a healthier location, being free from the common tropical diseases, such as malaria, which are rampant in surrounding lowland.

There are many legends related to the foundation of the city. However, shakih Abadir, " the patron Saint" comes first when the name of Harar is mentioned. He is said comes with his entourage in the tenth century from Arabia. It is belived that he was the one who organised the administrative system of the city and also gave Harar its name. With its numerous mosques and shrines, Harar is considered the "fourth holy city of Islam" after Mecca, Mediana and Jerusalem.Perched on a gentle hill, drained by network of rivres, Harar is an ancient walled city. It was founded a millennium ago, between the seventh and ninth AD, by a Semitic- speaking people. The agricultural system of Harar was effective and efficient. Using terracing and irrigation as well as intercropping which is useful for tropical soil and a symbolically correct practice, the harar farmers were able to produce grain and cash crops in adequate supplies for local consumption and export. It is also considered as the original cultivation center of the world famous coffee arabica and the mild stimulant leaf called (cath edulis). Both are lucrative export items, which provide the Ethiopian economy with substantial financial resources.

Harar was not dependent exclusively on agriculture, but also benefited from carvan trade, since it was geographically a half way house of extensive trade between the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean littoral and the vast Ethiopian hinterland .To facilitate the international trade of those days, Harar had to mint its own coinage. In the whole of Ethiopian Region, it was the second center after Axum to produce coins since at least the Middle Age on. Harar also played a role bridge between the old Axumite coins and the modern ones since the first coins of Menlik were struck in Harar. This broad and stable economic base helped Harar to become one of the leading center of learning in the horn of Africa and to develop a unique urban culture uninterrupted through the centuries.

The shift of the capital city of the Adal State from Deker, an old settlement, to the city of Harar in 1520 brought about the heyday of Harar. The new capital become the springboard for Imam Ahmed Gragn, to incorporate to the Horn of Africa. However, the leading role of Harar did not last long. After the wars of Gragn, Harar was exposed to frequent attack from different sides.Nur, the nephew of Imam Ahmed Gragn, built the remarkable defensive wall popularly known as jugal. This wall warmly engulf the city which is confined within 48 hectares and 362 narrow lanes. The circumference of the wall 3,348 meters; with five traditional gates. These five gates demarcate the administrative as well as the socio-zones of the old city. Jugal gives a sense of direction and belonging to harar. This wall, therefore, defines the major cultural texture of holistic fabric of the harar. Without it, the native feels as if the link with social and cultural environment is missing.

The social system is governed by gai a da the culture of Harar communicatedthrough a unique language which is a mixture of Cushtic and Semitic languagesknown as gai sinan, the language of the city. The hala mahal etiquette, of the city is a binding force to enhance urban culture. After its heyday as the center of the mighty Adal state, Harar gradually declined and become a small city- state ruled by the dawoodi dynasty from 1647 to 1875. The occupying force of Egypt interrupted the rule of the dynasty between 1875-1885. The closed gates to European travellers were wide open during the Egyptians occupation. Rhmbaud, Paulischke (1888) and many other came to Harar. The last Amir, Abudullahi, took over the mantle power for less than 2 years, but was defeated by Menelik at the Battle of Chelenqo in 1887.

Thereafter, Harar was incorporated into greater Ethiopia, which was then inthe process of formation. Although it lost its independence, Harar remained one of the most important economic emporia of the new empire ofthe new empire of Emperor Menelik. The occupation of Harar is considered oneof the major turning point for the success of Menelik against his rival powers, both internal and external. In fact, "it would be impossible to write the history of Modern Ethiopia without reference to Harar" [Henze,188,1977]

Addis Ababa, the present capital of Ethiopia, which was established at the time of the Battle of Chelenqo, benefited from Harar experiecne. Surveyors, masons, bookkeeper, peace keepers called yaradda zebegn, tailors and similar professionals who were beckoned to Addis Ababa, contributed and disseminated their skills in the building of the national preparation of the famous Battle of Adawa of 1896.

Just before the coming of the Italian Fascist invasion and occupation of the 193, two journalist, Waugh[1934] and Frago[1935] visited Harar. Both of them were impressed with cultural life of the city. Cerulli [1936 and 1971] who was first class Italian scholar of Semitic studies joined the invading army and administered Harar for sometimes. His books are still the best reference work on the history of city. As the result of the invasion, Harar expanded greatly and is now quite often referred to as "the great harar." The Italian destroyed the northern farmland and established their administration headquarters called Butega without affecting the old walled city. Within a walking distance one can easily transcend space and time to pass from a medieval pre-industrail realty to modern city. The old city, with its traditional rectangular stone house, winding narrow lanes, abundance of mosques and shrines as land marks, perpetually enchants its visitors as well as its residents; in contrast, the modern quarter is characterized by wide asphalt roads and concrete buildings.

Currently, Harar is one of the nine national of states of Federal State, encompasses about 400 sq. Km. With a population of more than 120, 000 is ready to encounter the twenty first-century with self assured strides to fulfill its responsibility of integrated development in all sphere of life. The age old metropolitan Harar has already achieved impressive results in various fields of activities. This old city which claims more than a millennium of history is happy to share its mystic knowledge and is ready to learn from others.

Moving from a macro to micro view of the city reveals an abundance of aesthetic traditions that echo this beauty. Many compound had courtyard with green plants, pots, benches and that sense of peace and order in a small space which is so often characteristic of traditional Islamic life according to the observation of Henz. The Harari house reveals a sense of proportion and mastery of building technology, perfected over the centuries, that is both warm and inviting. Inside the house, on the walls of the living room, one is overwhelmed by the balance and color composition of the display of baskets. The colorful dress of Harari women is anther dimension of the aesthetic beauty that permeates Harari life. Indeed, Harar the jewel of east, has earned many names; ‘Abadir,' Medinet al Awlia's, ‘Jebel al Awlias', ‘ the fourth Muslim City', ‘The Timbukutu of the East" and many others. Still, it radiates as a historical, cultural as well as social peg which should be reserved for posterity without affecting new innovative trends. The maze narrow lanes and the unforgettable colorfull market scenes, added to the uniquely structured houses, give the city the touch of a living museum. The recent conservation attempt is encouraging, but it is not enough.

In conclusion, this is a glimpse of the beauty of the walled city. A mountain top view of Harar reveals a mosaic of diverse scenery. One sees great natural beauty in contrast to the beauty of the human built environment. The colours are remarkable. Outside the city walls the lush green foliage with meandering steams reminds one of Persian carpets. The prolific writer on Ethiopian affairs, Henze, compare this beauty with an illustration of medieval manuscript. In contrast, inside the old wall the colors and shapes change, one sees primarily whites and grays and diverse ranging of geometric shapes of varying sizes. The hill on which the old city resists is a constantly changing organic form, shaped and reshaped by the hands of masons for over a millennium. The house, mosques, the two churches, the market places and the narrow streets from this magnificent work of art.

History of Harar Medhane-Alem Secondary H.S.
By Yared and Lemma Getachew
Columbus, Ohio

Before the Second World War, modern education was not that much expanded in Ethiopia. But after the end of the Second World War, the rise in demand for skilled workforce necessitated the establishment of modern educational institutions and that led to the establishment of Harar Medhane-Alem Academy in 1941 E.C. (1948 European). Located in the Northeastern part of the city, also known as Adere Tiko, the school has been instrumental for providing educational opportunity for so many young Ethiopians. At the beginning, the school was functioning under the supervision of Americans, then Canadians and later by Indians. Harar Medhane-Alem Academy comprised of secondary school, commercial school, and teacher training school. After the commercial school and the teacher training school were discontinued, the name was changed to Harar Medhane-Alem Comprehensive High School.

At the beginning, the school had only 100 students and now the number of students has increased to more than 4000. Throughout its history the school had produced so many highly influential Ethiopians both nationally and internationally, to name a few, the late Dr. Admassu Teferra and Dr. Aklilu Lemma.

In mid 1960 E.C, as the number of students increased, it became necessary to open a second high school. Accordingly, Harar Junior High School was established in 1961 E.C (1968 European). This school, located near Aratenga area has been serving as a sister school since then.

History Harar Junior Secondary H.S.
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History of Harar Teacher Inistitute (TTI)
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