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Gondar-Town in Decline

 A History of The City of Gondar

By  Solomon Getahun,The Red Sea Press, Inc 2006 . Pp 298 .

 This book is a chronologicalHistory of the City of Gondar survey of the history, genesis and evolution of Gondar town, strarting from its foundation in 1620 Ethiopian calender to the present.It is a revised M.A dissertation the author completed in 1994. It is the first major study  of its kind written by an Ethiopian, and furnishes an important synthesis of the processes of political and social change the town has gone through the centuries.                                               

 Solomon who is currently assistant professor of History at Central Michigan Univeristy was born in Gondar town and this has given him an insight into both past and recent history that many others have lacked.He has engaged in conversation a wide range of people, consulted municipal and other archival material and a wealth of secondary references. Like all good history books, this one offers the reader the opportunity to benefit from knowing history so as to better understand the present.

It brings you into close contact with a town that has evolved from an obscure 17th cent. market town into the flourishing capital of the Ethiopian monarchy, passed through an era of decline and destruction andd underwent a slow renaissance in the mid-20 century.During all these, the town witnessed the evolution of various quarters such as Echage Bet, Abun Bet,Kayla Meda, Islam Bet (Addis Alem) and Dingaya.The author also relates about the new quarters like Cha-cha- la that were added during the Italian occupation of Ethiopia, 1935-1941. it also treats the political scenario in the city in the immediate aftermath of the war, infrastructural developments and economic activities.With all its fascinating history and a rich legacy of unique architecture, Solomon’s book tell us how the town’s economy failed to prosper in recent years.It is caught in a spiralling decline and the once glorious palaces are ruined, buildings are aging and crumbling. Though it is a tourist destination,govermnets in the past and today have neglected the town.Periodic water shortage are a chronic problem.The water supply and sanitation are inadequte.

Gondar faces all of these difficulties and more. How sad for a city that has served as a permanent seat of goverment for about four centuries.

Solomon’s book provides a valuable summary of exsting studies, while ading some interesting inside analysis that is helped by the benefit of hindsight.I just wish the book were translated into amharic and widely disseminated among the public.                        

Categories: Books
  1. Dagmawi Getnet.
    July 12, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    Nice post!Keep up the good work.

  2. Tsehay
    July 13, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    I thought people from Gondar who are in America are sending lots of money home and in turn making the town better.

  3. Arefe
    July 13, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    Yes, the author raises this issue of remittances into the city clothing the town with a sense of betterment.But he also says a close scritny reveals that except for the growth of conspiousconsumption,dependency on remitance,a false sense of prosperity,neither the goverment nor the expatriates have broght any substantial change.

  4. Akalu Haile michael
    July 14, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    Just discovered this blog, and thought of letting you know my appreciation of not only what’s inside, but also the very idea itself.It’s a novel idea and important to our society in many ways.Among which the enhancement of reading culture and let know about the books that are available in the market.Just congratulations for your innovative and inspiring job.

  5. Aster
    July 15, 2007 at 7:30 pm

    I read a similar story at the Ethiopian Portal websites a while ago;

    You might want to search the article at http://www.EthioPortal.com

  6. Hubert
    July 18, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    I had a chance to visit Gondar a copule of times.For those who don’t know it, it is situated in a fantastic landscape.It is high time to use all these sources for the town,its population and the whole country.

    It is not enough to love the town and the country, necessary is to spread knowledge about the beauties of architecture and nature, the old culture to favour tourism and support.In the town national and international cultural events should be organized (with the background of the castle). Gondar could become a cultural centre of Ethiopia. The historical places should be built up. The suppositions are best equipped hotels and polyglottic guides. Gondar merits to get more interest of the Europeans too. A visit to Gana could be combined with a trip to the Lake Tana (visiting the monastries at the islands) and the old church in Gorgora.

    I hope the newly founded University will give a new and strong impetus also for the general development of the town. A students´choir, a theatre group and a dancing group could be the first steps to activate the common cultural life.

  7. Getnet
    July 24, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    I am carrying out research for a book on the history and geography of Ziquala.Any unpublished material on these subjects would be much appreciated, and any information or stories regarding other churches and sacred sites.any reader willing to assist can e mail me at getchloco@yahoo.com

  8. Yewunetu
    June 3, 2009 at 6:16 am

    This is a good start everybody should follow. Keep it up!

  9. Eyayalem from AAU
    May 9, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    Just let’s get togethr think as one persone to grow up Gondar please.When I visted gonder in every year it is declining.Oh! but was the leader.

  10. S
    September 16, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    I speculate that the growth & prosperity of Gondar needs the overall effort of its society.

    Melaku Adane from BDU

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