|The late Sultan Ali Mirah Hanfere of Afar (WIC Photo).|
Sultan Ali Mirah Hanfere, spiritual leader and traditional king of the Afar people, passed away on April 24. Enthroned in 1945, he was ruler of the Afar Kingdom of the Ethiopian Empire until 1974 when the military junta of Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam forcefully abolished the monarchy. The Sultan of Afar left to exile in Saudi Arabia while leading the Afar Liberation Front, a coalition member that helped topple Colonel Mengistu's brutal government in 1991.
Interestingly, most people do not know much about Sultan Ali Mirah Hanfere. Admittedly, neither do I. Upon hearing of his death, I did a quick google query to learn as much about him. The Sultan was a staunch Ethiopian patriot, a defender of the people. On a recent email listserv, I said the following on his death.
It is high time we chronicle our history and learn from religious, political, social, economic and cultural leaders about our past. People such as the late Sultan of Afar are crucial in our quest to continue our discovery of Ethiopia. It strikes me as being odd why we Ethiopians don't engage in oral and written history projects that can be archived for future generations.
This is yet another Ethiopian gem lost.