This past September 11, 2007 marked the official date of the new Millennium in Ethiopia. Yes, you read correctly. The present year in Ethiopia is 2000 and seven years behind most of the world. This is due to the fact that Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar.
As Ethiopians everywhere celebrated the Millennium on September 11th, 2007, New York City had its own celebration on September 29th. Brought to you by The Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association (ECMAA), the Millennium celebration featured live acts and dances from the Washington D.C. entertainment group known as Tayitu. These acts were brought to the forefront of a multitude of about two hundred and fifty people.
The president of ECMAA, Maidot Meherka, stressed that the present goal of ECMAA is, “To create a community center where everyone can come whenever they need assistance or want to get information such as health, housing, etc.” Ultimately, “ECMAA’s future goal is to collaborate with other professional communities to create a bigger community,” she added.
ECMAA was first established on July 10, 1981 and one of their main objectives, as listed on their website states, “To bring together all Ethiopians into a voluntary union to represent and collectively advance the economic and social well-being of our community.” Indeed, this is what they did exactly on that Saturday of September 29th.
While people entered the hall of Our Lady Queen of Angele Auditorium, located at 221 East 112 street in New York, each were given an Ethiopian flag and taken to their seats. All of the tables had a bottle of champagne decoratively placed in the center and one could easily notice the striking art work that hung on the walls.
The Millennium celebration consisted of three major elements. There was a history lesson on not only the uniqueness of the Ethiopian calendar but also on Ethiopia’s contribution to the world. There were comical acts performed by the Tayitu group as well, one of which featured a hysterical feud between a married couple. The wife was particularly upset at the husband for coming home late, leaving her responsible to carry out his duties. Since she did his part, she forcefully-with a knife in hand-ordered him to sit on the floor and peel onions. During this event, DJ Sirak was on-hand providing Ethiopian sounds from various parts of the country to which the Tayitu group dancers performed to.
Meherka, during her speech, spoke of other people who inquired as to why ECMAA was celebrating the Millennium seventeen days late. Her response was “The whole year is a celebration.”