It is our pleasure to accompany roasters like you to Ethiopia each year. We notice that visits to coffee’s birthplace broaden people’s perspective on coffee, culture, and people – an invaluable experience for everyone involved in coffee.
As much as we like to invite you to Guji, Sidama, and Yirgacheffe this harvest, we are forced to put all travels to the South on hold. Reasons are the growing tensions within the country due to the Sidama Referendum. The unrest poses a threat for travelers, either locals or foreigners.
Ethiopia has divided its nine states based on an ethnic federal system. The four larger ethnic groups within the country all have an autonomous state. A state can choose its official language and has more influence over education, health, taxation, and land administration.
Although the Sidama people are the fifth largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, they do not have a state of their own. In 1995 the Sidama zone was compressed into the Southern Nations, Nationalities Peoples’ Region State (SNNPR) together with four other zones. The Sidama people have always been unhappy about this decision.
But hope sprang when Abiy Ahmed was elected as Prime Minister of Ethiopia in April 2018. After the election, Sidama activists demanded that a State referendum take place as soon as possible. The government agreed to organize this in July of this year but unfortunately were too late with launching the vote on the promised date.
In response, Sidama activists hit the streets in protest and rioting – resulting in several deceased. Large-scale violence was avoided when the government and the opposition groups agreed to schedule a new date for the long-awaited vote; November 23rd – when the coffee harvest is in full swing.
Because of the tensions surrounding the vote and the campaigning towards the referendum day, the Ethiopian government has issued a travel warning to everyone who plans to travel to, or through, the Sidama region.
As Trabocca, we have also been advised to put travel plans on hold until after the vote. And as safety is our first concern during origin trips, we advise you to put travel plans on-hold, as well.
Please reach out to your trader, or contact us via the form you find below, if you have scheduled trips and want more information about this advice.