Rastafarian Community

Southern Ethiopia

Shashemene’s Rastafarian community, known locally as Jamaica, straddles the main road just north of town. It’s readily distinguished by its tri-coloured buildings, dreadlocked inhabitants and rounded vowels of Caribbean English. If you want to really meet and learn about the ‘Jamaicans’, the Zion Train Lodge and Banana Art Gallery are two good places to start.

Various local teenagers (none of them real Rastas) serve as unofficial, and often unwelcome, guides. They’ll take you to see some churches and the defunct Black Lion Museum, which is just a family’s home with paintings of the Emperor on the walls, but their real aim is to sell you ganja (marijuana), which is held sacrosanct in Rastafarianism but is illegal in Ethiopia. You’ve been warned.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Southern Ethiopia attractions

1. Banana Art Gallery

0.78 MILES

This place is the home-cum-workshop-cum-museum of Haile Selassie medals and memorabilia of Ras Hailu Tefari (Bandy), originally from St Vincent in the…

2. Wondo Genet

8.66 MILES

The name of this hot springs resort 16km southeast of Shashemene translates as ‘Green Heaven’, which was more applicable before the hills were cleared of…

3. Mosque

14.03 MILES

Awasa's largest mosque and an important local landmark.

6. Sidamo Monument

14.42 MILES

Awasa's most prominent landmark, this cylindrical monument lies on a large roundabout east of the main avenue. It is said to represent the leaf of the…

8. Lake Awasa

14.68 MILES

With its mountainous backdrop, Lake Awasa is a lovely sight. You could easily spend a few pleasant hours strolling the lakeshore trail at the end of town,…