Golden Jubilee of Arba Minch, Ethiopia



The city of Arba Minch, one of Ethiopia’s secret destinations for nature enthusiasts from around the world, will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding with a two-day festival scheduled on September 4-5, 2014. According to organizers the entertainment line-up at the “Golden Jubilee of Arba Minch” includes musicians Neway Debebe, Aregahegn Werash, Fikreadis Nekeatibeb, as well as comedians, dancers and various other performing artists.

The program will highlight speeches by local and high federal officials as well as invited guests both from Ethiopia and abroad including family members and relatives of the city’s founder Amero Sellasie Abebe, who was then known by the title Dejazmach and was the governor of the region.

“Arba Minch is one of the most beautiful and densely forested areas in Ethiopia where fruits grow naturally,” says Denver-based Ethiopian-American businessman and documentary filmmaker Mel Tewahade who is one of the guest speakers from the United States who will be in attendance. Mel points out that Lake Chamo, home to diverse wildlife such as the Nile perch, hippos, and crocodiles, is only a five minute drive south of the city. “Ethiopians call it Azo gebeya, says Mel. “Because it really looks like an outdoor market except those gathered are crocodiles.”

According to Wiki: “Arba Minch {‘አርባ ምንጭ’} (Amharic, “forty springs”) is a city and separate woreda in southern Ethiopia; the first common name for this city called Ganta Garo. Located in the Gamo Gofa Zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region about 500 kilometers south of Addis Ababa, at an elevation of 1285 meters above sea level. It is the largest town in Gamo Gofa Zone and the second town in SNNPR next to Awassa. It is surrounded by Arba Minch Zuria woreda.”

Mel notes that the city’s founder Amero Sellasie Abebe had initially faced stiff opposition from “the local business elite” who argued the relocation of the capital of what used to be called “the province of Gemu Gofa” from Chincha to Arba Minch was a deterrent to trade. “They even sued him and took their suit to the Emperor,” says Mel. “To be fair to those who were against the move, I think they were also scared of the mosquitoes.” Mel adds: “Mosquitoes love lowlands and these people lived up in the mountains. Nestled between two major lakes, Chamo and Abiyata. Arba Minch is a key location for water, rail, air and ground transportation.”

Arba Minch – also home to Arba Minch University – was founded in 1964 (1956 Ethiopian calendar) and as to the founder Amero Sellasie, he was unfortunately executed by the Derg regime a decade later. “He was one of the first sixty to go,” Mel says. “He was the only guy that Mengistu is said to have regretted killing.” Mel emphasizes that Amero Sellasie is survived by “several amazing children” including Abebe Aemro Selassie, Deputy Director at IMF’s African Department.