The Harari people inhabit mainly the cities of Harar and Dire Dawa in eastern Ethiopia. Some Harari are also scattered in several other main urban centres of Ethiopia as prominent traders and shop owners. They are devoutly Muslim, and there are few known believers among this largely unreached people group.
Until 1974 the Harari were almost uniquely found in the city of Harar, and the city is at the centre of so much of their lives. They refer to themselves as “the people of the city”. They call their way of life “the etiquette of the city” and their language “the city language”.
Geography and Political Importance of the Harari people of Ethiopia
The city of Harar is situated in the mountainous area just east of the Rift Valley and to the west of Somaliland (Somalia). Harar is a “holy” Islamic, walled city, and as recently as 1887 non-Muslims were forbidden to enter. It has now become a popular tourism site. Originally the 16th-century walls of Harar had five gates, symbolizing the Five Pillars of Islam. “The city had its own language, Harari or Adare, which was spoken only within its walls, and issued its own currency.” (Quotation taken from www.ethiopiaonweb.com.) The city has a population of 150,000, of whom about 10,000 are Adare-speaking Harari.
Because of its geographical location and political-religious importance, for centuries trade routes linked Harar with the markets in the Ethiopian highlands and with Arab merchants on the coast. After its decline as a political force in the 17th century, Harar city-state remained the chief centre for dissemination of Islam throughout southern Ethiopia. Harar’s population also includes Oromo, Amhara, Somali, and Afar people groups. More details are available on the website www.ethiopiatravel.com/Harar_eng.htm.
The Gospel to the Harari people of Ethiopia
The Harari people have had little opportunity to respond to the Gospel. There are few Christian resources available to them. The Jesus film and the Bible have not yet been produced in the Harari Adare language. The Harari are strong oral communicators, and missionaries must adapt their methods to work with this people group by developing their ability to tell Bible stories orally. There are few, if any, Christian groups focused on reaching the Harari.
Pray for the Muslim The Harari of Ethiopia:
* Pray for God to raise up Harari men and women who are respected in their culture, are open to the work of the Holy Spirit, and will one day be able to lead their people to Jesus.
* The Muslim peoples in Harar are generally suspicious of outsiders. Pray for creative access to these peoples – that national and expatriate Christians will be able to live among them and share the Good News of Christ.
* Harari Muslim women are isolated geographically, linguistically and socially from the outside world. Few among them get a chance to hear and believe. Harari women are being cheated of their spiritual birthright by Islam, which tells them their souls are of little value. Pray for creative ways of reaching the Muslim women of Harar with the Gospel.
Background on Ethiopia (World Factbook)
Unique among African countries, the ancient Ethiopian monarchy maintained its freedom from colonial rule with the exception of the 1936-41 Italian occupation during World War II. In 1974, a military junta, the Derg, deposed Emperor Haile SELASSIE (who had ruled since 1930) and established a socialist state. Torn by bloody coups, uprisings, wide-scale drought, and massive refugee problems, the regime was finally toppled in 1991 by a coalition of rebel forces, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). A constitution was adopted in 1994, and Ethiopia’s first multiparty elections were held in 1995. A border war with Eritrea late in the 1990′s ended with a peace treaty in December 2000. Final demarcation of the boundary is currently on hold due to Ethiopian objections to an international commission’s finding requiring it to surrender territory considered sensitive to Ethiopia.
Economy of Ethiopia
Ethiopia’s poverty-stricken economy is based on agriculture, accounting for almost half of GDP, 60% of exports, and 80% of total employment. The agricultural sector suffers from frequent drought and poor cultivation practices. Coffee is critical to the Ethiopian economy with exports of some $350 million in 2006, but historically low prices have seen many farmers switching to qat (a mild drug) to supplement income. While GDP growth has remained high, per capita income is among the lowest in the world.
Statistics on Ethiopia
Population: 91,195,675 — see notes below (July 2011 est.) World Rank #14
Life Expectancy at Birth: 56.56 years. World Rank #196
Ethnic Groups: Oromo 34.5%, Amara 26.9%, Tigraway 6.1%, Somalie 6.2%, Guragie 2.5%, Sidama 4%, Welaita 2.3%, other 11.3%
Religions: Christian 60.8% (Orthodox 43.5%, Protestant 18.6%), Muslim 33.9%, traditional 2.6%, other 0.7%
Languages: Amarigna 32.7%, Oromigna 31.6%, Tigrigna 6.1%, Somaligna 6%, Guaragigna 3.5%, Sidamigna 3.5%, Hadiyigna 1.7%, other 14.8%, English (major foreign language taught in schools)
Literacy: 42.7% male: 50.3% / female: 35.1%
School Life Expectancy: 8 years
Population notes: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (World factbook)
Video: BBC Christianity
Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity via the BBC. An interesting if not different view of Ethiopia