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Ethiopia ‘promises ID cards for Rastafarians’

Ethiopia’s foreign ministry has said it will issue identification cards to Rastafarians, reports AFP news agency.

The Rastafarian community who emigrated to Ethiopia has long complained of living in limbo in their so-called promised land.

Foreign ministry spokesman Meles Alem told AFP that Rastafarians will now be eligible to receive ID cards that will allow them to reside and have most legal rights in the country.

However, they are still not considered citizens.

Under the revised guidelines, the cards will also be available to foreigners who have contributed to the country’s development and to Israelis of Ethiopian descent, Mr Meles said.

Rastafarians revere Ethiopia’s former-Emperor Haile Selassie as a god.

This started after the black consciousness leader Marcus Garvey’s prophecy: “Look to Africa, when a black king shall be crowned, for the day of deliverance is at hand”.

Selassie gave land on the outskirts of the town Shashamene to black people from the West who had supported him in his struggles with Mussolini’s Italy.

In 1963, a dozen Rastafarians took up the offer and those numbers swelled to around 800 today.

But residents complain that they can’t own property, send their children to university or work because they’re not Ethiopian citizens.


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