Ruled by King Ezana II in the fourth century AD, the Aksumite Kingdom was the perfect location for trade. Positioned in what is now parts of Eritrea and Ethiopia, along major international trade routes through the Red Sea, it’s believed that merchants introduced Christianity to the powerful nation.
To solidify his trading relationship with the Roman Empire, King Ezana adopted Christianity. But, more importantly than this, he used it as a way to unify the diverse ethnicities within the Aksumite empire.
To unite these diverse groups, King Ezana declared Christianity the State religion, making Aksum one of the first Christian kingdoms in the history of the world. Later it would influence the traditions of European Protestantism.
Christianity in pre-colonial Africa wasn’t used to oppress people. Instead, it was fused with the customs and cultures of the Aksumites. Thus Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity was born.
Today, one of the oldest Christian cathedrals on earth, Saint Mary of Zion, dates back to King Ezana’s time. This Christian monument, the oldest in Africa, stood thousands of years before Christianity was reintroduced by European missionaries, untainted by the colonialism to come in other parts of Africa.
Now, as we fight for our liberation, let’s remember the strength we have been endowed with as people. Our power is in our unity and in our faith.
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