There had been Armenians in Ethiopia starting from the 13th century. However, as a community, Armenians appeared around the last decades of the 19th century when they left their ancestral homes during the Ottoman Empire and found a secured place in Ethiopia escaping genocide.
Subsequent waves happened later on even after the genocide. Many of those who came to Ethiopia during this time were traders and others were equipped with different skills like that of jewelers, artisans, carpet-makers, and tailors. Accordingly, Armenians were able to be well respected in Ethiopia specifically in Addis Ababa as a result of their dedication and skillful lifestyle.
Of course, they had a very important role in Ethiopia specifically during the reign of Menelik II and Haile Selassie I even though they had a relation with other prior regimes as well. The contribution of the Armenians of Ethiopia to the country’s development was very huge and significant. Not only their contribution but also their love for Ethiopia is very solid and deep. However, there were challenges and problems during all these last one hundred and plus years of history.
Vartkes Nalbandian, one of the prominent Ethiopian-Armenian personalities, shares his lifetime experience in his extraordinary work from first-hand information in Ethiopia. Vartkes Nalbandian is a 3rd Generation Ethiopian-Armenian who has seen and experienced different regimes that have different political ideologies. As a dedicated family man who has worked in different sectors and businesses in Ethiopia, Mr. Vartakes put the experiences of Ethiopian-Armenians in a very interesting manner.
In the last one hundred years and above, Armenian communities ran huge industries of the country and trading businesses. As a result of their closeness and loyalty to the then emperors of Ethiopia namely Yohannes IV, Menelik II, and Haile Selassie I, they were delegated with sensitive duties to perform significant high profile tasks including the assumption of government positions in the public office.
In line with this, the recently published book of Vartkes Nalbandian, which is known as “I Want to Die With a Flag” puts the citizenship issues of Ethiopian-Armenians by applying the writer’s own experiences and dedications. The book further comprised untold facts of painful and funny moments. It further refers to the interesting history of Armenians in Ethiopia and their significance in the advancement of their motherland – Ethiopia.
Source: Further Africa