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As the case in point one may site an issue of a celebrated  National Master Plan of 1985 (p. 90 # 524) in which it was asserted, in flagrant opposition to realities, that Harar was inhabited exclusively by non- Hararis and non-Muslims. This if anything attests to a premeditated and concerted effort to cleanse the city of its native social component. In a glaring example of what a modest effort would have done long time ago to achieve international recognition for Harar as a significant heritage site, one need not look further than this  Unesco document which describes Harar as a fortified historical town of significance and puts it in World Heritage List.

The Hararis, however, did not accept this assault on their right to self-assertion and human dignity without a fight. The signs of this were first evident in 1948 as the political suppression of Hararis culminated in announcement of Hailesellasse's government to abolish "the Diwan", the Harari institution of shari'a court epitomizing the only remaining symbole of  cultural soverienty from the Amirat times.

The result was arguably the first public protest demonstration held in Ethiopian history, instigated by the so called '"Club" movement which aimed at independence. This was opposed by the anti-secessionist "wataniyya" moveemt whose strategy it was to safeguard Harari interests by peaceful means of realizing ambitious goals of economic and educational advancement within Ethiopian nationalism (= Ar. wataniyya).  Read more

                                       Eventhough lack of viable national policy for heritage preservation played a role, there was a delibrate policy of negligence at work with regard to Harar that targets its heritage. The exuberant heritages of the city, starting from its defensive walls, and ancient residential buildings to its coins, artifacts and archival documents were left to perish in a kind of covert action underpinned by the so called  "wiste demb (= Amh. hiddeen rules). 

The city was thus excluded from official list of Ethiopian historical sites. That deprived it benefits of international aid for renovation and other promotional venues like tourism in total contrast to policies towards, for instance, Gondar. It is in line with this that an active campaign of misinformation about Harar was made in anticipation of eventually distorting if not erasing the historical entity of Harar in memory. Thus, both school curriculums and university cource materials were void of the facts that matter for the national integration. That the policy was against conventional wisdom in the face of Somalia's claim of Hararge and the Hararis commitment to Ethiopian nationalism was not lost from some university professors that they started to express some reservation towards it.

An example of this policy is seen, among other things, in history books, where Ahmad Gragn is depicted as an infidel and foreign invader (aremene) in contrast to Menilike, a national hero in a civilizing mission (ager aqni) as well as books of geography and statistical reports, where ethnic and confessional distributions were utterly distorted if not totally misrepresented.


An ancient cradle of civilization in the Horn of Africa, Harar was founded by a Semitic speaking people, probably from Yemen, about one thousand years (ca. 980 A.D) ago. In the 13th century the settlement is believed to have matured to a full-fledged city state led by the community elders like Aw Abadir, the celebrated father of the Hararis.The role of Aw Abadir in establishing Harar (Tuxun gey) as a capital city of other Harari settlements like Harawwe-Gey, Hassan-Gey, Lam-Gey and Isxanti-Gey is described by oral traditions and various manuscripts.

The most significant of these is a work in Arabic by a certain Yahya bin Nasr Allah entitled "Fath Madinat Harar", translated and edited in German by Prof. E. Wagner. The various tribes of these early Hararis are still remembered by some of the family names which are known to be carried to-date, namely, Harla, Abogn, Qaturi, Sem, Wabar, Adish.

By the 15th century Harar became the capital city of a powerful empire covering an area amounting to two-third of today's Ethiopia. This is, as it were, the first major attempt by an [East African/ Abyssinian] monarch to create a unified or greater Ethiopia by means of feudal conquest. His name was Imam Ahmed Ibrahim al-Ghazi, best known as Ahmed Gragn. The nation-building efforts of Ahmad Gragn are accentuated by his efforts to introduce local administrative structures whereby, however, Islamization of the populace was at the heart of his policy.

Thus, Harar is to date associated with the spread of Islam throughout Ethiopia. History of Ahmed Grain's conquest is documented by a monumental work entitled "Faith al-Abash" written by a contemporary eyewitness called Shihab ad-Din best known as Arab faqih

The period following lmam Ahmad's rule (1526-43)

Injustice and Uprising:

The period was characterized by the increasing decline of Harar as a political power, an Emirate. However, various Arabic manuscripts including those edited by Dr. Enrico Cerulli reveal beyond doubt that Harar continued to be most important center of trade, politics and Islamic learning in the Horn of Africa. Most important aspect of Harari History is the continuous minting and use of coin currencies called Ashraf and Mahallaq. This together with a system of viable fiscal, commercial, social, diplomatic and defense policies, which are vividly described by the archival documents of the city's Diwan (Ar. Ministry), explain how Harar, in spite of its dwindling. Geographical extension was to last as the region's defacto administrative center without major interruptions till the latter quarter of the 19th century.

Conquered by Minilik in 1887 Harar was made to join the then emerging Empire of Ethiopia on the conditions spelled out by a peace treaty that the native people of the city would continue to handle matters of cultural significance, whereby the Diwan was to be maintained as an organ of local administration in matters pertaining to shari'a (Islamic law).

History of  Sovereignty
This arrangement of self-administration was soon jeopardized by the insurgence of hordes of civil servants appointed from other regions with no ethnic or cultural affiliation to the city, which - as an administrative capital of Harar-ge province - came to be governed by a succession of the so called "Inderases", Amh. For king's direct representatives.

Even though this is no place to talk about atrocities of the bygone days, mention should be made for the record that at no time during the period following Miniliks rule up to the demise of the dergue regime (1887-1991) did Harar boast of a Harari national appointed as a city's mayor not to speak of the more powerful position as the provincial governor. This is by no means to deny that Hararis benefited from the relatively numerous educational and medical facilities that were established in the city as well as getting high ranking government positions including as ministers and deplomats, the later mainly in Middle Eastern countries as they were well versed in the Arabic language.
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