Visit the castle of King Abba Jifar in Jimma

26.05.2009 // Abba Jifar II was king of the Gibe Kingdom of Jimma (reigned 1878 - 1932).   Today his castle (see picture) is being rehabilitated and is well worth a visit. You find Jimma 335 km southwest from Addis Ababa in a beautiful, fertile area at the end of a very good road (read more)

King Abba Jifar had several wives: Queen Limmiti, who was the daughter of the King of Limmu-Ennarea; Queen Minjo, the daughter of the King of Kaffa; and Queen Sapertiti, also from Limmu-Ennarea.

In the 1880s, Kin Abba Jifar, said to be 204 centimeter high, conquered a portion of the Kingdom of Janjero which lay east of Jimma, along the Omo River, and incorporated it into his kingdom.

Due to the advice of his mother Queen Gumiti, he agreed to submit to Menelik II, negus of Shewa in 1884. In 1886, he paid tribute consisting of slaves, ivory, bamboo, jars of honey, localy made cloth, spears, shields ornamented with silver plates, and objects of wood (including stools). Because of these "shrewd politics" (Herbert S. Lewis' words), which included providing military assistance to Menelik in conquering the neighboring kingdoms of Kullo(1889), Walamo (1894), and Kaffa (1897), he was able to preserve the autonomy of Jimma until his death. On the other hand, when Jimma was annexed to Ethiopia, Emperor Menelik imprisoned Abba Jifar "for inspiring excessive enthusiasm in his own standing army and trying to entice Abyssinian soldiers to his own service" in Ankober for a year. When he was freed, Abba Jifar again received the throne of Jimma from Menelik, and after that lesson became one of the most obedient of vassals and one of the most regular in paying tribute to the Emperor.

Queen Gumiti also advised him to expand the cultivation of coffeein his kingdom, which provided increased revenue for him and his subjects. Today you find a monument of "the birth place of coffee not far from Jimma. Jimma is the place where the effects of coffee was first detected, and coffee comes from Kaffa (Kaffa province).

Towards his later years, he became senile and his grandson Abba Jofir attempted to take control and re-assert Jimma independence. However, Emperor Haile Selassie responded quickly and sent military forces against Abba Jofir, and brought Abba Jofir back to Addis Ababa, where he was imprisoned.

In 1930, Haile Selassie removed a feeble Abba Jifar II from power and replaced him with his son-in-law, Ras Desta Damtew. Desta Damtew ruled as Governor of Jimma while Abba Jifar II was allowed to remain as King (Negus) in a powerless position as titular head. When Abba Jifar II died in 1932, the Kingdom of Jimma was officially absorbed by the Ethiopian Empire.

Bookmark and Share