“In modern times, Habesha has become a complex phrase that has specific social, geographical and sometimes political connotations. Its lack of a consensus definition leaves it quite vulnerable to constant modifications and interpretations.”
For over two millenniums, the word ‘Habesha’ and its numerous variants (Habashat, Habasa, Habesh, Habeshi, Abesha) have been used to name geographical pockets of territory and people extending from the Arabian Peninsula to the furthest limits of the Horn of Africa region. Although the word is of great antiquity, there is no consensus on what it actually means. In order to understand why this is the case, we must first look back at its origins.
Most of the earliest inscriptions mentioning Habesha deal with wars, alliances and peace treaties among rivaling Yemeni kingdoms – this reference below is no different:
“Shamir of Dhu-Raydan and Himyar had called in the help of the clans of Habashat for war against the kings of Saba; but Ilmuqah granted … the submission of Shamir of Dhu-Raydan and the clans of Habashat.”