The term #Habesha is a preferred word for those who do not want to acknowledge the #Independent #EritreanIdentity
By Weyni Kahsay
As Eritreans we constantly face the challenge as identifying ourselves to others. Identifying ourselves as Habesha is done more out of convenience and puts us in a broad category including more than just Eritreans thus not allowing Eritrean culture or history to be glorified on its own the way it should be. But to identify ourselves as Eritreans allows us to single out our amazing rich culture and history that we should feel honored to represent. Calling ourselves Eritrean an identity we would not have without our martyrs bravery is something special that only an Eritrean can understand. Here is the story of 3 young Eritreans who face the challenge of identity in their lives.
Habesha is an all-inclusive term referring to Ethiopians and Eritreans. Its true definition excludes several ethno-linguistic groups in Eritrea and Ethiopia. As Tom Killion (author of the Historical Dictionary of Eritrea) suggests, “Habesha defines the culture that was produced by the fusion of Semetic and Cushtic elements in the Eritrean-Tigrean highlands”. Killion adds, that it is “a self-descriptive cultural definition derived from Abysinia, today applied to members of the Tigrinya ethno-linguistic group, as well as Tigrinya – and Amharic-speaking Christians in Ethiopia”. It excludes several ethno–linguistic groups in Eritrea and hence should not be used as a blanket term to refer to Eritreans or Ethiopians.
“The term ‘Habesha’ is particularly a preferred word for those who do not want to acknowledge the independent ‘Eritrean’ identity.” – this is because among those who do not recognize Eritrea as a sovereign state separate from Ethiopia, the use of the term was an attempt to dismiss Eritrea’s right to self-determination. That being said, there are those who use the term with no malice in their heart but simply as a term to refer to both peoples; our hope is that we can bring awareness to the true meaning of the word.