The City of Harar

A Museum is an institutional depository for collecting and displaying objects having scientific, historical or artistic values. Heritages found in museums demonstrate with their physical form life styles, traditions, practices and artistic inventions of a society. These heritages illustrate a society`s identity, history, establishment, civilization, artistic sensibility, history of development and transformation, basis of religion, historical achievements and drawbacks, technological makeovers etc. and, they are given due emphasis in social studies.

Since museums enable us to find the whole stature of a society at one place, they are considered as decisive facets to measure a society`s magnificence. At global level, museums are found widely in great ancient cities and international tourist destinations.

In this vein, the existence of the four museums that are found in the capital of the region indicates the preeminence of the history, civilization and culture of its people. Nationally, it comes next to the country’s capital, Addis Ababa in having many museums. Among these, three are administered by the government, and the other managed privately. This makes the historical Harar the only city in East Africa with a private museum.

Harari Cultural Center

The Harari Cultural Center (Ada Gar) is located at a distance of 200m from the Jami mosque on the alley down to Argo Beri. This museum was established in 1979 with the purpose of preserving the Harari cultural heritages. The museum had been administered by the public for over two decades, currently, the administration of the museum is taken by the government.

During the establishment of the museum, the construction of the building and its interior were executed with the utmost care in order to reflect the identity and life style of the Harari. For this reason, it was designed by a native, and the whole construction process was in line with the customary way of building Harari houses. As a result, the temperature of its interior remains almost constant. On top of that, it is well ventilated to control humidity; which resulted in preserving the artifacts and utensils in it in good condition. The museum itself is visited as a heritage since it reflects the Harari culture and way of living, in addition to the collections in it. Traditional handicrafts, ancient books, jewelries, clothes and armaments are among the principal collections found in the museum.

Harari National Museum

The Harari National Museum is located in front of the Harari Culture, Heritage and Tourism Bureau, on Emir Uga street, and it is one of the three museums that are directly administered by the regional government. The museum was established during the 10th year anniversary of the Dergue regime in 1984. The building had been a chamber of Ras Mekonnen, and then Lij Iyasu was using it as a store. It was built during the period in which construction with wrought timbers was prevalent. In earlier times, the building had been also serving as office of Islamic court (Kadi) and regional court.

The museum was renovated with the support of the French government and, currently, it consists collections that reflect history and culture of Nations and Nationalities of Ethiopia, in general, and Harari, Oromo, Somali, Afar, Amhara, and Argoba in particular. The whole assortments in the museum include tools of the middle age, clothes and jewelries, armaments, farming and handicraft tools as well as musical instruments.

Sheriff Harar City Museum

Sheriff Harar City Museum is the only private museum in the country. It was established on the 25th anniversary of a group of Harari singers named “Hayiwa Nach” in 1990/91. The museum was established in Abdullahi Ali Sheriff’s (the founder of the museum) house with the aim of collecting the Harari music repertoires.

Currently, it is situated around “Mekina Girgir” conventionally known as “Teferi’s house” (the house of Haile Sellassie I). This edifice was built during the reign of Ras Mekonnen while Teferi Mekonnen had been with the title of Dejazmach. In note of this, there is an inscription on the door: “Dejazmach Teferi M., Ruler of the Harari Region 1903”.

The building has extensive architectural features; it has a stair and a number of rooms that are used for different functions. The construction of the building was executed with architectural style of the time, and it is decorated with carved stones, wrought timbers and colorful glasses. Particularly, the various carvings made on doors reflect Hindu religious icon, which signify the involvement of foreigners during the construction process. Throughout its long history, the building had been used for different services from a government office to private residence.

The museum has been renovated to its current state with the fund obtained from the Harari People’s Regional State and support from the USA government.

Expanding its first objective, the Sheriff Museum currently contains archaeological, historical and anthropological collections, age old manuscripts written in Harari, Oromo, Amharic and Arabic languages, constitutions, ancient coins, traditional clothes of different nationalities, and other antiquities. In addition to this, it has a workshop which carries on the legacy of Harar in bookbinding. It also provides services by digitalizing old manuscripts and reproducing music repertoires.

Arthur Rimbaud Museum

The museum was established as a cenotaph for the famous French poet Arthur Rimbaud who lived in Harar from 1881 to 1891 and had great affection for the city. It is located at the place called “Mekina Girgir”. The building of the museum was built by an Indian merchant with British nationality, Jiwaji Nazir Ali. Documentary evidences show that he had brought the construction materials from India, and the edifice was built with the modern architectural style of the time having two stairs, wide ground floor, its own balcony, a floor that has additional rooms and a terrace with spectacular panoramic view of the city.

The building serves as a museum after it was renovated by the endowment of the French government in 2000. Thus, it has been made to serve various functions. The ground room serves as research documentation archive center consisting of documents about Harar and the Harari. On the first floor, there are various photo assortments that reflect the view of the ancient city of Harar. The walls and ceilings of the second floor are decorated with mosaic art.

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City of Hareri

In the last two and half decades of self-administration, Harari People’s Regional State has exerted every effort to maintain, develop and promote the culture, language and heritage of its people.

H.E. Ato Murad Abdulhadi  

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