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Celebrating Ethiopian New Year

– Happy Ethiopian New Year!

I am still the engagement manager on the tax transformation work we are doing in Ethiopia—six months and counting. It’s been such a great opportunity to learn more about the country, its rich history and traditions. A month ago we celebrated Ethiopian New Year with our clients—Ethiopia’s New Year is held on September 11 or 12 every year. It is a lively festival full of lots of music, dancing, colorful traditional clothing, and lots of coffee ceremonies.

Despite Ethiopia being a short two hour flight from Kenya and my love for injera and Ethiopian food in general, there is so much about Ethiopia that I didn't know until this project. In between lots of meal-time conversations with our clients, many, many nights out on the town, travelling around the country and reading a number of books (I highly recommend King of Kings: The Triumph and Tragedy of Emperor Haile Selassie I, written by his great nephew Asfa-Wossen Asserate), I was able to better understand a number of the traditions I took part in during the new year celebration.

New Years lunch planned by our client Taika

The first major learning I experienced was about the Ethiopian calendar versus the Gregorian calendar. Ethiopian New Year is in September because the country uses the Ethiopian calendar that is a derivation of the Julian calendar (of Julius Caesar, then modified by the Coptic Calendar...it is complicated). New Year marks the end of the rainy season, and has been associated with the return of the Queen of Sheba to Ethiopia following her visit to King Solomon in Jerusalem ~980 BC. This calendar is seven years behind the now more commonly used Gregorian calendar. So, we began the year 2010 this September. This dating convention has significant impact for our work—the months, years, financial years, and even time follow a different convention...we have to be extra careful when building our Excel models. I will note that fluency with the Gregorian calendar for most Ethiopians is a must, so as to transact with other countries and visitors / investors to the country.

In my next post, I’ll share a little more about my experiences celebrating Ethiopian New Year!

Amandla

ABOUT THE BLOGGER

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Amandla

Amandla originally joined the firm as a summer business analyst in Minneapolis. She spent her third BA year in Lagos before departing to earn her MBA/MPA at Harvard University. She recently returned to her home country and re-joined us in our Nairobi office, where she works on an exciting mix of private and public sector projects.