Little Ethiopia is located in the heart of Los Angeles and yet sprawl it does not. Even Washington D.C.'s acclaimed Adam's Morgan, the unofficial seat of Ethiopian diasporadom, cannot boast of having the same number and variety of businesses on a street less than a fifth of a mile (0.8 km) long. Fourteen Ethiopian-owned businesses - six restaurants, two travel agencies, two markets, one hair salon, one insurance company, one café and one boutique - flank Fairfax Avenue between Olympic Boulevard and Whitworth Drive. Three other Ethiopian businesses on Pico Boulevard - a restaurant, a printer and a grocery store - add to the tally. - Branna Mag - 2002.
Little Ethiopia -
LA officially recognized the Little Ethiopia area in 2002.
More pictures of Little Ethiopia in Los Angeles at www.littleethiopia.com
The City of Los Angeles, widely known by its abbreviation L.A., is a large coastal metropolis in Southern California in the western United States. The Los Angeles metropolitan area (frequently termed the "Southland") includes Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange and Ventura counties, and is home to more than sixteen million people of diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds. Flag of Los Angeles resembles Ethiopian flag very much, although there is not connection.
Ethiopians make home in L.A.
By Natalie Banach, The Daily Bruin
LOS ANGELES, July 5, 2005 -- Nestled between a small Rastafarian music shop and a Starbucks, a little ways down from the Miracle Mile, is a row of restaurants and stores which speak to an immigrant community that maintains one of the largest political exile populations of its kind.
Known as Little Ethiopia, the stretch of ethnic establishments is just one sign of Los Angeles' large Ethiopian community, a diaspora which spreads throughout the sprawling city. Even UCLA has become a place for Ethiopians to gather, study and celebrate their heritage.
Hosting the second largest Ethiopian political exile community in the country, Los Angeles has welcomed the immigrants in much the same way the Ethiopians themselves have opened their arms in invitation.
"The Ethiopian community in California and elsewhere is a very civic-minded group of people, whether it's talking about the politics of their own country or anything else. That's why you can have the creation of a part of town called Little Ethiopia. ... They're proud of their heritage, and also proud to be Americans. That's what strikes us here," said Edmond Keller, professor and director of the UCLA Globalization Research Center of Africa.
On the university campus itself, Ethiopians from the political exile community, as well as international students and second-generation Ethiopians, often interact with the rest of the campus, telling others about their country's 1,600-year-old Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the food uniquely spiced with indigenous ingredients.
"With places like Ethiopia, people always talk about Africa - the country of Africa, even. ... People don't understand that it's a place of many nations, and that (Ethiopia) is extraordinary," said Wendy Belcher, a lecturer at UCLA who spent three years of her childhood growing up in Ethiopia, and has visited sporadically since then.
The rise and fall of Ethiopian governments
Often pointed to as a country with an ancientness about it, Ethiopia's large waves of exile have only occurred over the past 30 years.
The 1970s were a time of turmoil for the Ethiopian people and their Emperor Haile Selaisse. The imperial regime witnessed a collapse in the hands of a military junta with Marxist leanings.
"You got a military government that dramatically changed the political landscape," said Shimelis Bonsa, an Ethiopian international graduate student studying the country's modern political history at UCLA.
That change in the political make-up of the country brought about Ethiopia's Red Terror, which entailed the government's brutal victimization of its own people and widespread repression. It also resulted in the first large wave of Ethiopian emigres arriving in cities such as Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
Subsequent waves of migration also occurred in the 1990s when the military regime gave way to another group of rulers.
When this new government took power it promised democracy, but as soon as it gained authority, political dialogue was quashed and many freedoms were revoked, said Elias Wondimu, an Ethiopian political exile living in Los Angeles and founder of Tsehai Publishers and Distributors, an independent publishing company in Los Angeles.
Wondimu, a journalist, was visiting the United States in 1994 with a delegation of Ethiopians. During his trip, the political atmosphere became tense and several journalists were attacked. Wondimu realized he couldn't return, so he remained in the United States and started an Ethiopian magazine to educate people about his country's politics.
While many of the immigrants in the 1990s came mainly for economic reasons, the majority of Ethiopians living in Los Angeles have nevertheless emigrated for political reasons. >> read more