NYC Book Talk: Barara (በራራ), Addis Ababa’s Predecessor, by Habtamu Tegegne

The online book talk, open to the public, is being hosted by the Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association (ECMAA) and will be held on Sunday, September 6, 2020. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: August 31st, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — This week an online book talk is scheduled in NYC featuring author Habtamu Tegegne’s newly released book titled Barara (Addis Ababa’s Predecessor): Foundation, Growth, Destruction and Rebirth (1400 – 1887).

Habtamu’s book brings alive Ethiopia’s lost medieval capital of Bärara, “whose enormous significance has scarcely been touched upon by modern historians,” notes an highlight of the publication. “By exploring and revealing the city s importance as a major ecclesiastical and political capital, the book challenges traditional historiography that until now undermined the significance of medieval Ethiopian urban culture.”

The virtual gathering, which is scheduled for Sunday, September 6th, is being hosted by the Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association (ECMAA). Organizers share that guest speakers Dr. Aklog Birara and Professor Haile Larebo will join the author during the online book talk and subsequent discussion session.

While Bärara is far from unknown to scholars.. this book historicizes the city by situating its role within the much larger political and cultural contexts of Ethiopian and world history, contesting the assumption that the Ethiopian middle ages featured unsophisticated roving capitals that functioned as such only while local or regional rulers were in residence. While the book’s central focus is Bärara, it is broadly conceived as an ambitious reinterpretation of Ethiopian history during the medieval and early modern periods. The book uses the city’s development, destruction, rediscovery and re-foundation as a lens through which to view larger developments in Ethiopian history notably the political and cultural regeneration of the early Solomonic era (1270-1529), Ahmad Ibrahim’s (1529-1543) short-term empire and its long-term consequences. By reading modern Addis Ababa as Bärara reborn, the book argues that the medieval history of Bärara was a crucial factor in founding Ethiopia s modern capital, as well as motivating military campaigns of Emperor Menilek II (r. 1889-1913) to eastern, southern, and western Ethiopia. The book may add depth and a new layer of meaning to the very contentious political debate concerning contemporary Addis Ababa.”

If You attend:

ZOOM MEETING ID: 813 2588 0476
HTTPS://US02WEB.ZOOM.US/J/81325880476 OR CALL IN:+1 646 558 8656
Click here to purchase the book at amazon.
You can learn more and contact the organizers at

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