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Project to Document History of Armenian-Ethiopians

(The following article appeared in the August 2 edition of the Tadia Magazine in New York)

In the early 1900s, when Armenians were faced with genocide orchestrated by the Ottoman empire, scores of families escaped and some arrived and settled in Ethiopia. Armenians make up one of the oldest immigrant communities in Ethiopia.

Vahe Tilbian, a 4th generation Ethiopian-Armenian, told TADIAS magazine that “historically Armenians worked as goldsmiths, carpenters, builders, teachers, embroiders, silk makers, and carpet makers.” His great grandfather Tavit Aslanian was a carpet maker in Empress Zewditu’s palace, his paternal grandfather was a tailor in Addis and his maternal family members were cobblers.

Armenians have likewise contributed heavily to Ethiopian modern music. Kevork Nalbandian was an Armenian who composed the first national anthem for Ethiopia as well as served as the musical director of Arba Lijoch. His nephew Nerses Nalbandian was involved in the founding of the famed Yared Music School as well as led the Municipality Orchestra.

A kickstarter campaign has now been launched to produce a documentary of the unique history and contributions of Armenian-Ethiopians. The Tezeta campaign is directed by Aramazt Kalayjian.

Photo: The Boyadjian family / Facebook

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