Shashamane: The Small Jamaican Town in Ethiopia

Abiata-Shala National Park. Image via Ninara/Flickr

Ethiopia is an incredible destination in Africa. The Simien Mountains in the north are known as one of the best multi-day treks in the world and the old towns of Axum, Gondar, and Harar tell the story of religion and history older than most countries. Some of the oldest fossils and bones have been found in Ethiopia and it is a great, safe destination for travelers.

If you are looking for an out of the box thing to do, you can spend a day in this small unique town. Shashamane is located only a few hours south of Adis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, and has a unique story. In 1948, the Ethiopian emperor Hailie Selassie donated 500 acres as a land grant to Jamaicans of African descent to return to African land. This was part of the “Back to Africa” movement.

At its peak, Shashamane had more than 2,000 Rastafarian residents who happily returned to Africa, but nowadays there are less than 300. Although the movement didn’t particularly take off, it left a very interesting culture and is a great place to visit.

You can spend a few hours at the Wondo Genet, the natural hot springs located among beautiful forests and banana trees close to Shashamane. If you want a taste of the Caribbean, try the Bolt House, a Caribbean cuisine run by a nice Jamaican couple with excellent stews, fish dishes, and fresh fruit juices.

Don’t miss a visit to the famous Banana Art Gallery, the only art gallery in the world made exclusively from banana plants with no additional coloring. Ras Hailu Tafari has been working on it for decades and is an incredibly interesting man originally from St. Vincent in the Caribbean.