Ethiopia Cultural Sports: Reviving Ye Gena Chewata

Addis Ababa – During Ethiopian Christmas, Gena, celebrated on January 7, ‘Ye-Gena Chewata’,  which is related with the holiday, is also played.

The game, which looks a little bit similar to hockey, has been played for centuries, according to ancient manuscripts. The exact time of its origin is, however, not known.

Ye-gena chewata is played by using a crude hockey stick, ‘Gena’, and some kind of a small wooden ball, ‘enkura’. Men and young boys participate in the game. But it is only rarely that the rivalry can be fierce.

In relation to the origin of the game, there are different legends which have been related from one generation to another. Solomon Getachew, vice president of Cultural Sports and Festival bureau, says that when Jesus Christ was born, the news was heard all over the world and when the shepherds heard it they started jumping with joy and throwing things around and that’s how the game was started.

The other myth which seems horrific is that when the ‘Sebasegels’,  the three Melchior King of Arabia, Caspar the King of Tarsus and Balthazar King of Ethiopia, led by the star, found out that Jesus was born, on their journey back from Bethelhem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, they found a man who denied the birth of the Savior. Disappointed by his denial, they beheaded the man and played with his head.

Whatever the origin, the game was very popular especially during the reign of Emperor Menelick, And, as the saying goes, ‘begenna chewata aykotum geta’, meaning  the lords will not hold grudges if he gets hurt while playing which shows the different classes coming together and  the rivalry being mild. Read Full Report

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