What is Ethiopianism?

Ethiopism is a movement born out of necessity to press for political and religious freedom with a broader vision of restoring the dignity of Africa and inculcating a sense of patriotism in Africans. It dates back to the modern colonial era and occurred in sub-Saharan countries. The movement was a channel through which members of sub-Saharan countries used to support better treatment by their colonial masters. The movement was a way that Africans used to express their complaints and frustrations about how they were treated; in particular to be against any form of segregation by colonial rulers.


Ethiopism as a movement was started in the early 1880s with the main forces behind it, the South African workers who were doing missionary work. They gathered and unanimously started forming independent churches composed of African members. Among the pioneers of using the term was Mangena Mokone who formed the Ethiopian church in the year 1892. Other pioneers were people like Edward Wilmot Blyden and Joseph Ephraim who were passionate about African culture and ideologies. This movement was justified by the fact that the word Ethiopia could be traced in the Bible where it was called Cush or Kush. The start of the movement triggered similar developments in the region with parallel developments in areas such as Nigeria and Cameroon. In Nigeria,

The evolution of this movement has seen political activities become political parties and unions with each organization that has its own members and its own guiding principles to guide their businesses. This was around the year 1920. Later, the movement shrinks and is now associated with a section of independent religious movements such as the Zionist church. Gradually, the name Ethiopianism became weaker and weaker to the extent that around the 1970s, the term was rarely used beyond southern Africa.


The movement, just as initially perceived by the owners, has served its purpose to a large extent. He saw that Africans were freed from the harsh treatment of colonial leaders and made sure that backward issues like racial segregation went extinct. The movement played a key role in helping the Zulu rebellion to become a major success in 1906 under the leadership of John Chilembwe. The movement also saw that Africans could now take leadership positions especially in churches, enabling them to make influential decisions. The movement assured that the slogan “Africa for the Africans” would take place with full inclusiveness across the board; religion, political and social established in the colonial era.

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