By its dramatic remote venue, the Biblical quaint antics of pilgrims, the religious, quasai-religious and magico – religious performances that takes place for seven or eight day festival. Sheik Hussein has been one of the most revered public manifestations in Ethiopia, Particularly among the Muslims.
The shrine and celebrations are dedicated to the Muslim Holy man Sheik Hussein (coming from Harar) who had led a hermit’s life at the present festival site. Pilgrims to Sheik Hussein drawn from all over Ethiopia including the neighboring countries of Djibouti, Kenya and the Sudan, walk for months since using transport is ‘haram’ (not acceptable) for all pilgrim.
Sheik Hussein Dire, the town, when the shrine is located and where the celebrations take place, is some 140 km from the city of Bale Goba and some kilometers from the caves of Sof - Omar (another Muslim shrine) and a spirits loci for pilgrimage. Note that it is difficult to know exactly, when the festival happens every year as the time of Islamic holidays do not fall on pre-determined regular dates. The two annual celebrations of sheik Hussein lie at the end of August or early September, and in March- April.
Harar is one for the National Regional States of Ethiopia. In the centre of Harar, you will find the old fortified historic town of Harar, which is named Jugol. Jugol was the seat of an old Islamic sultanate reaching back at least the 10th century. Hara can be divided in two parts, as there is Jugol, the historic centre and before reaching there you will find the new Harar town.
The walls surrounding this sacred Muslim city were built between the 13th and 16th centuries. Hara Jugol, is said to the fourth holiest city of Islam. There are 82 mosques, and 102 shrines in Jugol, three of which date back to the 10th century. The urban architectural form of Jugol is similar to those found in Muslim countries, but it is unique in Ethiopia. Harar in its present form was established in the 16th century as an Islamic town characterized by a maze of narrow alleyways and forbidding facades.
The impact of African and Islamic traditions on the development of the town’s specific buildings types and urban layout make for the particular character and even uniqueness of Harar. The Harari people are known for the quality of their handicrafts, including weaving, basket making and book-binding, but the houses with their exceptional interior design constitutes the most spectacular part of Harar’s cultural heritage.
The typical Harari Traditional House is called Ge abad, of which about 1,800 are to be found inside Jugol, each part, each room, each ornament and each piece of decoration or niche has its own meaning, style and purpose.
Places You Should Visit while you are in Harar
Arthur Rimbaud House
The Arthur Rimbaud House was rehabilitated by the support of the French Embassy. On the ground floor there is a library about Jugol history, rehabilitation, UNESCO nominations etc. Above on the gallery you will find an exhibition of historic pictures about Jugol and from there you will have a nice view over the historic town to take beautiful pictures.
Sherif Harar City Museum
The museum developed from the collection of its first curator, Mr. Abdulahi Ali Sherif who, since the early 190s painstakingly acquired objects related to the material of culture of the region.
A significant part of the collection was donated by members of the Harari community. Permanent exhibits of the Sherif museum include items from Harari, Oromo, Amhara, Gurage, Somali and Argobba groups living in the region. The collection shows every items as textiles, jewelry, coins, basketry, weaponry and much more. Several objects belonged to prominent historical figures. A rich archive of historically significant manuscripts and music recordings are also on display.
Harari Cultural Museum
This center is on the one hand a museum showing the way of living in Harari traditional houses and on the other hand a place for temporary exhibitions, which can take place in the main hall.
The Historic museum, showing the different cultures of the region by handicraft artifacts today is located in the basement of the buildings of Harari Cultural Office.
The Hyena Place (Man feeding Hyena)
Hyenas are playing a very specific role in Harar. Historically they have accepted to clean Jugol during night. The Jugol Ramparts have several special openings, named Hyena Doors. Every evening at sundown there is a spectacle of feeding Hyenas. The Man feeding Hyena has prepared meat and will feed it to them by a stick. This way the Hyenas come very, very close to people. If you like you can feed them as well.
Babile Natural Park and Elephant Sanctuary
The Babile Elephant Sanctuary is a protected are encompassing 6,982 square kilometers. It was created for the conservation of the native elephant sub-species (Loxodonta africana oleansie) and is also home for the black-manned lion.
After driving 7km from Babile town, you will arrive at Dakata village. From there, the trip will continue on foot for another 2-3km to arrive at a very nice view point with the possibility of seeing many animals especially many different birds.
In Babile itself, every Monday and Thursday they hold a huge camel market. If you want, you can take a camel ride in the camel market.