Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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SAMUEL Kidane, Aksum University, Ethiopia
TSEGAY Berhe, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
YOHANNES Gebreselassie

The province of Agame has been a melting pot of different cultural groups in Tigray. As the seat of prominent provincial leaders, Agame, hosted a catholic sanctuary place at Gual’a next to Fremona in Adwa. Catholic missionaries who embarked up on the establishment of a Catholic Church in Agame purchased land at Gual’a, in the capital Adigrat, through their native ally Abbā Takla Haymanot. In spite of this, the Catholics in Agame have continued to be religious minorities. This was manifested in the prevalence of love and hate relation between the Catholics and the state qua the Catholics and the ruling houses in Agame/Tigray. Their conflicts at times include persecutions and devastation of catholic holdings located at Gual’a (in 1847), Alitena (in 1851) and Aigā (in 1901) respectively. In the attempt to legitimatise catholic holdings at Enda Mukneyto, Aigā and Alitena, different correspondences exchanged between the catholic fathers and state officialdom indicates that there was an issue of territoriality, identity and legitimacy against stiff sense of local resistance in various levels. Besides, the issue has also drawn the attention of a foreign power, Italy as the work-horse of the Catholics in their endeavors to secure their holdings in Eastern Tigray. Thus, the study attempts to revisit the history of the catholic communities in Tigray by analyzing different letters which were produced during the period in settling the litigations over legitimatizing catholic holding in eastern Tigray.