Last updated
Gojjam Province in Ethiopia Ethiopia - Gojjam (1991-1995).svg
Gojjam Province in Ethiopia

Gojjam (Amharic: ጎጃም Gojjām or Goǧǧam, originally ጐዛም Gʷazzam, later ጐዣም Gʷažžām, ጎዣም Gožžām) is in the northwestern part of Ethiopia with its capital city at Debre Marqos. Lake Tana is the source of the Blue Nile and is the largest lake in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia Country in East Africa

Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country in the northeastern part of Africa, known as the Horn of Africa. It shares borders with Eritrea to the north, Djibouti to the northeast, Somaliland and Somalia to the east, Kenya to the south, South Sudan to the west and Sudan to the northwest. With over 102 million inhabitants, Ethiopia is the most populous landlocked country in the world and the second-most populous nation on the African continent with a total area of 1,100,000 square kilometres (420,000 sq mi). Its capital and largest city is Addis Ababa, which lies a few miles west of the East African Rift that splits the country into the Nubian and Somali tectonic plates.

Debre Marqos Place in Amhara Region, Ethiopia

Debre Markos (Amharic: ደብረ ማርቆስ, romanized: Däbrä Marḳos is a city and woreda in northwest Ethiopia. Located in the Misrak Gojjam Zone of the Amhara Administrative Region, it has a latitude and longitude of 10°20′N37°43′E, and an elevation of 2,446 meters.

Lake Tana lake in Ethiopia

Lake Tana is the source of the Blue Nile and is the largest lake in Ethiopia. Located in Amhara Region in the north-western Ethiopian Highlands, the lake is approximately 84 kilometres long and 66 kilometres wide, with a maximum depth of 15 metres, and an elevation of 1,788 metres. Lake Tana is fed by the Lesser Abay, Reb and Gumara rivers. Its surface area ranges from 3,000 to 3,500 square kilometres, depending on season and rainfall. The lake level has been regulated since the construction of the control weir where the lake discharges into the Blue Nile. This controls the flow to the Blue Nile Falls and hydro-power station.


Gojjam's earliest western boundary extended up unto the triangle to ancient Meroë in Sudan. By 1700, Gojjam's western neighbors were Agawmeder in the southwest and Qwara in the northwest. Agawmeder, never an organized political entity, was gradually absorbed by Gojjam until it reached west to the Sultanate of Gubba; Juan Maria Schuver noted in his journeys in Agawmeder (September 1882) that in three prior months, "the Abyssinians considerably advanced their frontier towards the West, effacing what was left of the independent regions." [1] Gubba acknowledged its dependence to Emperor Menelik II in 1898, but by 1942 was absorbed into Gojjam. [2] Dek Island in Lake Tana was administratively part of Gojjam until 1987.

Sudan Country in Northeast Africa

Sudan or the Sudan, officially the Republic of the Sudan, is a country in Northeast Africa. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea to the east, Ethiopia to the southeast, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the southwest, Chad to the west, and Libya to the northwest. It has a population of 39 million people and occupies a total area of 1,886,068 square kilometres, making it the third-largest country in Africa. Sudan's predominant religion is Islam, and its official languages are Arabic and English. The capital is Khartoum, located at the confluence of the Blue and White Nile. Since 2011, Sudan is the scene of ongoing military conflict in its regions South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Agawmeder was a historical state and region in the northwestern part of Ethiopia. Its most likely etymology is from Agew, a people living in the area, plus meder (land), thus meaning "Land of the Agaw". The western neighbor of Gojjam, it was located where the Agew Awi Zone now lies.

Juan Maria Schuver Dutch explorer

Juan Maria Schuver was a Dutch explorer who was a native of Amsterdam.


The ancient history of Gojjam is mostly associated with religion. During the pre-Christianity era Mertule Maryam and Gish Abay, which were located in the eastern and central parts of Gojjam respectively, were places of worship. Along with Tana Qirqos on Lake Tana, the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Tigray, and Tadbaba Maryam in Wollo Province, Mertule Maryam was a place where animal sacrifices were made for worship. Gish Abay is also considered a sacred place for being the source of the Blue Nile or Abay, also called Felege Ghion in Geʽez. Ghion is believed to be the Biblical name of the Abay mentioned in the Book of Genesis as one of the four rivers which flow out of Eden and encompasses the land of Ethiopia. Considering its location within the bend of the Abay River, the province of Gojjam is also referred to, especially by the church community, as Ghion or Felege Ghion.

Gish Abay Place in Amhara Region, Ethiopia

Gish Abay is a town in west-central Ethiopia. Located in the Mirab (West) Gojjam Zone of the Amhara Region, it is the administrative center of Sekela woreda. The town is named after the nearby Mount Gish and the Abay River whose source is in the foothills of the mountain. It is the administrative center of Sekela woreda.

Tana Qirqos is an island in the eastern part of Lake Tana in Ethiopia, near the mouth of the Gumara River, having a latitude and longitude of 11°51′49″N37°29′27″E. It is considered a holy island, and only monks of the Ethiopian Church live there.

Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion Ancient church in Axum, claimed location of the Ark of the Covenant

The Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion is an Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Ethiopia. It is claimed to contain the Ark of the Covenant. It is located in the town of Axum, Tigray. The original church is believed to have been built during the reign of Ezana the first Christian ruler of the Kingdom of Axum, during the 4th century AD, and has been rebuilt several times since then.

The first church in Gojjam was built at Mertule Maryam, which became the first church in Ethiopia, next Axum Tsion continued after 400 years as it was written by graham Hancock or ancinet books that are available in Axum and Tana monastery. Tradition relates that Christianity then spread from Tana Qirqos, Gish Abay and Mertule Maryam to different parts of the province. Gojjam then became home to some of the finest liturgical schools in Ethiopia. Other schools worthy of mention include Washera Maryam, Dima Giorgis, Debre Elias, Debre Werq, Amanuel, Tsilalo, and Gonji. These schools are generally credited for developing a sophisticated genre of expression called Sem'na Worq ("Wax and Gold") which is distinctive to Ethiopia. The tree from which Moses cuts the walking stick and with which he kick the red see, when he passed from Egypt to Israel, is found in Ethiopia, Gojjam, Debre Elias districts. In the 20th century, the people who are living there believe that the tree is a true story and monks of this century carry walking sticks from the Moses tree. Debre Elias district is a place where the people living there practice the Jewish culture that was before Jesus. It is an ancient place in which the ancient bible which was written manually is found.

Dima (ዲማ) is a village in west-central Ethiopia. Located in the Misraq Gojjam Zone of the Amhara Region, it has a latitude and longitude of 10°0′N38°29′E and an elevation of 2076 meters above sea level. It is one of three settlements in Enemay woreda.

Debre Werq Town in Amhara, Ethiopia

Debre Work is a small town in western Ethiopia. Located in the East Gojjam of the Amhara Region, it has a latitude and longitude of 6°52′N35°31′E with an elevation of 2489 meters above sea level. The settlement is known for its church and a hilltop monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary, around which the community grew. It is the larger of two towns in Enarj Enawga woreda.

The earliest recorded mention of Gojjam was during the medieval period, in a note in a manuscript of Amda Seyon's military campaigns there and in Damot in 1309 EC (1316/7 CE), during which time it was incorporated into Ethiopia. It was also referenced on the Egyptus Novello map, (c. 1451), where it is described as a kingdom (though it had by this time long been subject to the Emperor of Ethiopia). Emperor Dawit II, in his letter to the King of Portugal (1526), also described Gojjam as a kingdom but one that was part of his empire.

Amda Seyon I Emperor of Ethiopia, 1314-1344

Amda Seyon I was Emperor of Ethiopia, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty. According to the British expert on Ethiopia, Edward Ullendorff, "Amde Tseyon was one of the most outstanding Ethiopian kings of any age and a singular figure dominating the Horn of Africa in the fourteenth century." His conquests of Muslim borderlands greatly expanded Ethiopian territory and power in the region, maintained for centuries after his death. Amda Seyon asserted the strength of the newly (1270) installed Solomonic dynasty and therefore legitimized it. These expansions further provided for the spread of Christianity to frontier areas, sparking a long era of proselytization, Christianization, and integration of previously peripheral areas.

Damot former kingdom and region in Ethiopia

Damot was a medieval kingdom in what is now Ethiopia, and neighbor to the Ethiopian Empire. Originally located south of the Abay and west of the Muger River, under the pressure of Oromo attacks the rulers were forced to resettle north of the Abay in southern Gojjam between 1574 and 1606.

The Ethiopian calendar or Eritrean calendar is the principal calendar used in Ethiopia and also serves as the liturgical year for Christians in Eritrea and Ethiopia belonging to the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Eastern Catholic Churches, the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, and Ethiopian-Eritrean Evangelicalism. It is a solar calendar which in turn derives from the Egyptian calendar, but like the Julian calendar, it adds a leap day every four years without exception, and begins the year on August 29 or August 30 in the Julian calendar. A gap of 7–8 years between the Ethiopian and Gregorian calendars results from an alternative calculation in determining the date of the Annunciation.

At least as early as Empress Eleni, Gojjam provided the revenues of the Empress until the Zemene Mesafint ("Era of the Judges"), when central authority was weak and the revenues were appropriated by Fasil of Damot. [3] Gojjam then became a power base for a series of warlords at least as late as Ras Hailu Tekle Haymanot, who was deposed in 1932.

Eleni or Helena also known as Queen of Zeila was an Empress of Ethiopia by marriage to Zara Yaqob, and served as regent between 1507 and 1516 during the minority of emperor Dawit II. She played a significant role in the government of Ethiopia during her lifetime, acting as de facto co-regent or advisor to a number of emperors; one testimony of this is the manuscript Bruce 88, which states that she had been in the palace of three illustrious Emperors: Zara Yaqob; his son by another wife, Baeda Maryam I, and Na'od.

Zemene Mesafint 1769–1855 period of Ethiopian history

The Zemene Mesafint was a period in Ethiopian history between the mid-18th and mid-19th centuries when the country was de facto divided within itself into several regions with no effective central authority. It was a period in which the Emperors from the Solomonic dynasty were reduced to little more than figureheads confined to the capital city of Gondar.

A warlord is a leader able to exercise military, economic, and political control over a subnational territory within a sovereign state due to their ability to mobilize loyal armed forces. These armed forces, usually considered militias, are loyal to the warlord rather than to the state regime. Warlords have existed throughout much of history, albeit in a variety of different capacities within the political, economic, and social structure of states or ungoverned territories.

During the Italian occupation, Gojjam came to be the home of armed bands who resisted the Italian occupiers, whose leaders included Belay Zelleke, Mengesha Jemberie, Negash Bezabih and Hailu Belew. These resistance fighters, known as arbegnoch (or "Patriots"), limited the Italians to only the immediate areas around heavily fortified towns like Debre Markos. Belay Zelleke was even able to fully liberate and run civil administrations in the eastern part of Gojjam and some adjacent woredas in South Wollo and North Shoa. Since the Italians were unable to bring Gojjam under their control, the province was finally chosen by Emperor Haile Selassie as the safest way to return to Ethiopia. During his return, he was supported by the combined forces of the British army, Gojjamie Patriots, and other Ethiopians living abroad before then in fear of persecution by Italians. During the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie, however, the inhabitants of Gojjam rebelled several times due to resentment over ill-treatment of patriots and increased taxes, the latest occasion in 1968—about the same time as the Bale revolt. [4] Unlike in Bale, the central government did not use a military solution to end the revolt, instead replacing the governors and reversing the attempt to levy new taxes; in response to the 1968 revolt, the central government went as far as waiving tax arrears back to 1950. [5]

With the adoption of a new constitution in 1995, Gojjam was divided, with the westernmost part forming the majority of the Metekel Zone of the Benishangul-Gumuz Region, and the rest becoming the Agew Awi, the West Gojjam and the East Gojjam Zones of the Amhara Region.

See also

Related Research Articles

Gideon Force

Gideon Force was a small British and African special force, which acted as a Corps d'Elite amongst the Sudan Defence Force, Ethiopian regular forces and Arbegnoch (Patriots) fighting the Italian occupation in Ethiopia, during the East African Campaign of World War II. The leader and creator of the force was Major Orde Wingate. At its peak, Gideon Force had fifty officers, twenty British NCOs, 800 trained Sudanese troops and 800 partially-trained Ethiopian regulars, a few mortars but no artillery and no air support except for intermittent bombing sorties.

Bahir Dar City in Amhara, Ethiopia

Bahir Dar is the former capital of Gojjam province and the current capital of the Amhara Regional State in Ethiopia. Administratively, Bahir Dar is a Special Zone. Bahir Dar is one of the leading tourist destinations in Ethiopia, with a variety of attractions in the nearby Lake Tana and Blue Nile river. The city is known for its wide avenues lined with palm trees and a variety of colorful flowers. In 2002 it was awarded the UNESCO Cities for Peace Prize for addressing the challenges of rapid urbanization.

Amhara Region Regional State in Ethiopia

Amhara Region is one of the nine ethnic divisions of Ethiopia, containing the homeland of the Amhara people. Previously known as "Region 3", its capital is Bahir Dar. Ethiopia's largest inland body of water, Lake Tana, which is the source of the Blue Nile river, is located within Amhara. The region also contains the Semien Mountains National Park, which includes Ras Dashan, the highest point in Ethiopia. Amhara is bordered by the state of Sudan to the west and northwest, and in other directions by other regions of Ethiopia: Tigray to the north, Afar to the east, Benishangul-Gumuz to the west and southwest, and Oromia to the south.

Zagwe dynasty dynasty centered around Lalibela, ruling large parts of the territory from about 900 to 1270

The Zagwe dynasty was the ruling dynasty of a Medieval kingdom in present-day northern Ethiopia. The kingdom itself was perhaps called Begwena, after the historical name of the Lasta province. Centered at Lalibela, it ruled large parts of the territory from approximately 900 to 1270, when the last Zagwe King Za-Ilmaknun was killed in battle by the forces of the Abyssinian King Yekuno Amlak. The name of the dynasty is thought to derive from the ancient Ge'ez phrase Ze-Agaw, meaning "Dynasty of the Agaw" in reference to the Agaw people that constituted its ruling class. Zagwe's best-known King was Gebre Mesqel Lalibela, who is credited with having constructed the rock-hewn monolithic churches of Lalibela.

Yohannes I Emperor of Ethiopia

Yohannes I, throne name A'ilaf Sagad, was Emperor (1667–1682) of Ethiopia, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty. He was the fourth son of Fasilides.

Iyasu I emperor of Ethiopia

Iyasu I, also known as Iyasu the Great, was nəgusä nägäst, r. 19 July 1682 – 13 October 1706 of Ethiopia, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty. He was the son of Yohannes I and Empress Sabla Wangel.

Yekuno Amlak Emperor of Ethiopia

Emperor Yekuno Amlak was an Amhara prince from Bet Amhara province who became king of kings of Ethiopia following the defeat of the last Zagwe king. He was nəgusä nägäst of Ethiopia and restorer of the Solomonic dynasty. He traced his ancestry through his father, Tasfa Iyasus, to Dil Na'od, the last King of Axum.

Tekle Giyorgis I was Emperor of Ethiopia intermittently between 20 July 1779 and June 1800, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty. He was the youngest son of Yohannes II and Woizoro Sancheviyer, and the brother of Tekle Haymanot II.

Salomon II was nəgusä nägäst of Ethiopia. He was the son of Abeto Adigo. He may be identical with the Emperor Solomon whom the traveler Henry Salt lists as one of the Emperors still alive at the time of his visit in 1809/1810.

Debre Tabor Place in Amhara Region, Ethiopia

Debre Tabor is a town and a woreda in north-central Ethiopia. Located in the Debub Gondar Zone of the Amhara Region of Ethiopia, about 100 kilometers southeast of Gondar and 50 kilometers east of Lake Tana, this historic town has a latitude and longitude of 11°51′N38°1′E with an elevation of 2,706 metres (8,878 ft) above sea level. The presence of at least 48 springs in the area contributed to the development of Debre Tabor.

Ali II of Yejju was a Ras of Begemder and Enderase (Regent) of the Emperor of Ethiopia. He was the son of Alula of Yejju and Menen Liben Amede and nephew of Gugsa of Yejju.

Sayint is one of the districts of Ethiopia in the Amhara Region. It is named after the historic district of Amhara Sayint. Part of the South Wollo Zone, Sayint is bordered on the south by Debre Sina and Mehal Sayint, on the west by the Blue Nile that separates it from the East Gojjam Zone, on the northwest by the Bashilo River that separates it from the South Gondar Zone, on the north by Magdala, on the east by Tenta and on the southeast by Legambo. The major town in Sayint is Sayint Ajebar. Mehal Sayint was created by separating it from Sayint.

Mota, Ethiopia Place in Amhara Region, Ethiopia

Motta is a town in north west Ethiopia. Located in the Misraq Gojjam Zone of the Amhara Region, and on the secondary road that links Dejen with Bahir Dar overlooking the Abay River, this town has a latitude and longitude of 11°5′N37°52′E with an elevation of 2,487 meters above sea level.

Dengel Ber Place in Amhara Region, Ethiopia

Dengel Ber is a town in western Ethiopia. Located on the south-western shore of Lake Tana in the Semien Gondar Zone of the Amhara Region, this town has a latitude and longitude of 11°57′N37°00′E. Access to this town includes track roads to both Shawra and Kunzela and weekly service by the Bahir Dar-Gorgora ferry on Lake Tana. While the name of the town is indisputably Amharic, there is some disagreement over the meaning of its name: while "Pass of the Virgin" has been the most common interpretation since at least the days James Bruce visited Ethiopia, Huntingford and Beckingham state that it means "pass of canna plants".

Hailu Tekle Haymanot, KBE (1868–1950), also named Hailu II of Gojjam, was an army commander and a member of the nobility of the Ethiopian Empire. He represented a provincial ruling elite who were often at odds with the Ethiopian central government. Hailu Tekle Haymanot was an independent-minded potentate who, throughout his life, was mistrustful of and mistrusted by the Emperor.

Tekle Haymanot of Gojjam King of Gojjam and Member of the nobility of the Ethiopian Empire and military leader

Tekle Haymanot Tessemma, also Adal Tessemma, Tekle Haymanot of Gojjam, and Tekle Haimanot of Gojjam, was King of Gojjam, a member of the Solomonic dynasty of the Ethiopian Empire. He later was an army commander and a member of the nobility of the Ethiopian Empire.

Gugsa Wale's rebellion of 1930 was a rebellion raised by Ras Gugsa Wale and by supporters of Empress Zewditu to rid her of the Crown Prince and heir apparent, Negus Tafari Makonnen. With Tafari gone, Zewditu would be the sole claiment to succession as the ruler of the Ethiopian Empire. As the husband of Empress Zewditu, Gugsa Wale expected to become Emperor.

Belay Zeleke Ethiopian freedom fighter

Belay Zeleke was an outstanding leader of the patriots in Gojjam and Wällo, who participated in the resistance against the Italians during the occupation. He emerged from a brigand leader to become a national hero with his five-year struggle against Italian rule in Ethiopia.


  1. Gerd Baumann, Douglas H. Johnson and Wendy James (editors), Juan Maria Schuver's Travels in North East Africa 1880-1883 (London: Hakluyt Society, 1996), p. 212
  2. Donald L. Donham and Wendy James (eds.), The Southern Marches of Imperial Ethiopia (Oxford: James Curry, 2002), p. 122.
  3. James Bruce Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile, selected and edited with an introduction by C.F. Beckingham (Edinburgh: University Press, 1964), p. 130.
  4. Gebru Tareke, Ethiopia: Power and Protest (Lawrenceville: Red Sea Press, 1996), at p. 167 enumerates two other occasions -- in 1942-44 and 1950.
  5. Zahru Zewde, A History of Modern Ethiopia, second edition (London: James Currey, 2001), pp. 216ff, and Gebru Tareke, Ethiopia, pp. 160-193.

Coordinates: 11°00′N37°00′E / 11.000°N 37.000°E / 11.000; 37.000