Sululta, Ethiopia – It was customary for ancient Ethiopian warriors, patriots and heroes to assume the name of their horses. These iconic figures were named after their loyal steed which they rode in a battle or on other landmark occasions. And most of these names came with the prefix “Abba” referring to the people who own the animals.
Among some of the renowned horses which belonged to kings or war generals of the past are included Ras Mekonnen’s Abba Kagnew, Emperor Tewodros’s Abba Tatek, Emperor Yohannes IV’s Abba Bezbiz, Alula Nega’s Abba Nega, King Sahleselassie’s Abba Dina, Emperor Haileselassie’s Abba Tekel.
According to oral tradition, horsemanship in Ethiopia dates back to ancient times. Some have written about the medieval kings like Zera Yaeqob (1434-1468) being one of the best horsemen of the time. It was believed that when his palace at Debrebirhan was built, it was structured so that he can ride in and out of the palace easily. Emperor Susenyos was also believed to have four to five thousand cavalrymen.
Horses were not only confined to the royalty; in fact they were very much present in the lives of ordinary people as it was a show of “manhood” and was a means of transportation at the time.
With urbanization those generation of horsemen appear to be getting scarce around cities. Nowadays urbanites consider horseback riding as something that belongs to the rural areas. With the exception of a few occasions like Epiphany and going to Janmeda the urbanites of Addis and horses seem to prefer to stay alien to one another.
Present-day Addis Ababa is filled with cafes and going from one to another all day long seems to be the trend. Getting away from the hustle bustle of the city and going to places like Langano, Sodere and to most such resorts is considered to be a luxury.
Located a few km away from Addis, the township called Sululta is one place that is relatively gaining prominence as an-out-of-town outing for urbanites of the capital these days. The fresh air as one approaches the township is quite relaxing. Especially on weekends, people frequent the place for its special tej and meat. But for someone who cares to take a look around in Sululta, there is another excellent means of entertainment -horseback-riding. Read full story here.