Greek Republic of Ethiopia
|National motto: Ενωμένοι στην πολυμορφία (Unity in Diversity)|
|Others:||Somali, Yiddish, some Kordofanian languages, maybe Chinese|
|Other:||Nea Almyrida, Nea Kissonerga, Kibbutz Selanik, Kibbutz Montefiore, Alkazar|
|Population:||approximately 235,000 (250,000 including nomads)|
|Currency:||Birr; 1 Ethiopian birr (ብር1) = 100 santim|
|Organizations:||Federation of Ethiopia|
New Notes The Greek Republic of Ethiopia is one of Ethiopia's most eccentric states.
The history of the GRE lies not with the modern Greek state, but instead ironically with the Ottoman Empire. What is today modern Greece in the late 19th Century was still mostly under Ottoman rule. However, that does not mean that Greeks were relegated to the background of Ottoman national & international affairs. On the contrary—while Greeks (including Hellenized Albanians & Slavs) as Christians were second-class citizens, they were integral parts of the Ottoman political and especially economic system. Some of the Empire's wealthiest subjects were Greeks found throughout Constantinople & Thrace, Anatolia, the Pontus, & the Levant. The foundation of the Greek Republic of Ethiopia lie within backroom deals and secret societies within the Fanari district of Ottoman Konstantiniyye and across Europe. One of the primary backers of a Greek colony so far away from home was the secret-society known as the Friendly Society (“Φιλική Ἑταιρεία”), founded in the Russian city of Sebastopol in today’s Crimean Republic (bit different from OTL just for fun) by five initial members (four members from Greece and one local Orthodox Goth). The initial purpose of the Friendly Society was to liberate all of the Greek-speaking world from Ottoman rule and essentially bring back the Byzantine days of old, but after several attempts were foiled in Greece by the Ottoman state and its allies, the members (which had grown to several hundred based in Sebastopol, Constantinople, Torino, Paris, Castreleon, Amsterdam, and others) shifted to a new idea—find a place where Greeks can have absolute freedom or die trying. Russia had already done enough and gave no preferential treatment to Greeks (as the leading pan-Slavic power), and the Western nations were unwilling to help the Greek cause. As such, the members of this secret society looked further abroad. It was no secret that the Empire of Ethiopia had been inviting Greeks and Armenians chaffing under Ottoman rule into its borders for centuries. Greeks (and Armenians) had been loyal silversmiths, engineers, doctors, shipbuilders, and traders and were beloved in Ethiopia for being loyal and fellow Orthodox Christians (never mind that Greeks were a different kind of Orthodox Christian). Indeed, when the first agents of the Friendly Society left Sebastopol in 1861 and travelled overland to Ethiopia by way of Konstantiniyye and Egypt, they were met by entire families of Greeks who had been there since at least the 17th Century (the lion’s share were Smyrniote Greeks who fled their native homeland in the 1730’s). The agents were instructed to meet the Negus (Emperor) of the land, and once word spread that Greeks had come to seek the Emperor, he received them with open arms. When they asked for safe passage to his nation and a place to call their own, the Negus Abebe II was incredibly receptive. He saw these fellow-Christians as potentially useful in his struggles against the Somalis, Ottomans, and Ethiopians, but he was less than enthused about ceding land to them, especially when he had to be weary of imperialism. He asked them to spend time in his land first and especially interact with their fellow Greeks before negotiations could begin. The sixteen agents sent were given a royal tour of the country, spending several months seeing every province. They were taken to the border with the Somalis and the Chinese and shown how dangerous of a place that the borderlands could be. The Abyssinian-Greeks were enthused to see their people, but many could not understand why they would need their own special land especially when the best business opportunities were to be found in the cities in the Ethiopian heartland, which the Emperor certainly would not cede to these newcomers. The old Greeks urged their fellow Greeks to stay in order to grow the community, and promised that all the freedom they would have to speak, worship, and and trade what and how they wanted would outweigh the benefits of their own sovereign nation. In the end, after two years’ time, fourteen of the agents decided to pack up and return to Constantinople to give their collective report to the leaders of the society (one died in a hunting accident and one stayed behind, content with what he saw).
When these men returned safely to Alexandria, they returned to a changed world. In the two years that they had been gone, revolution broke out and Achaia, Crete, and many islands were given independence. A new age was dawning—a new Greece had risen from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire, and these men had missed out on it. The Friendly Society had absolutely played a role in the revolt against the Ottoman Turks, having acquired key funding from abroad and organized military units. When they returned, their mission was immediately disregarded; while they presented their findings to the society’s leaders, the next phase of the struggle began, with the Ecumenical Patriarch murdered and pogroms against Christians (and some Jews) had begun anew in the Ottoman Empire. It would be many years until the report on Ethiopia was even discussed and before the new Greek state even cast its eye on Ethiopia, and Ethiopia its eye on Greece. More than twenty years later, the Friendly Society had transformed itself. After the revolution was won for Greece, the members of the society pooled their wealth together and used their influence in Greece, the Ottoman Empire, and Russia to start business ventures and essentially run the economy of the fledgling statelet (did not occur in our world). However, the Friendly Society was one of many factions in the Greek government vying for control for the heart and soul of Greece. The Russians, English, French, and numerous other aristocratic families from all over Europe had converged on Nafplion to start a grand experiment in rehabilitation. As such, the F.S. looked for other places to make money as its members felt as if they were being crowded out of Greek economic life. Many members had used their Russian connections in order to further their group’s (now more like a joint-stock company) drive for setting up business. But shipping magnates and farm owners were numerous, and the Society coped with ways to adapt to the increasingly changing Greek landscape. In the late 1880’s, a younger and more energetic member of the Friendly Society, Stavros Kobenos (Σταύρος Κομπένος), was taken under the wing of a clique within the group, the aging and irrelevant 14 agents tasked to assess the possibility for a Greek homeland in Ethiopia. Stavros’ grandfather (also Stavros) was a member of the Friendly Society in the early 19th Century who contributed much to the cause of the quelled uprising of 1821. The Kobenos family moved around frequently from Komotini in Thrace to Botoşani in Moldova, and young Stavros had decided to bring his new family to bustling Konstantiniyye. Using his grandfather’s and father’s connections, Stavros entered into the ranks of the Friendly Society and immediately set to work growing his family’s fortune and capitalizing on their presence back in Komotini and Romania. Stavros was quite a shrewd businessman, but above all, he was a dreamer and an idealist like his grandfather who lost his life after being discovered aiding rebels in Epirus by the Turks. When he learned of several members’ adventures in Ethiopia and their kind reception by Emperor Abebe II, Stavros realized that these men had uncovered a vast land of riches ripe for exploration and perhaps even exploitation/capitalizing on. The Kobenos family immediately began a drive for funds to return to Ethiopia, personally soliciting funds from rich Greeks in Romania and southern Russia, and writing to others abroad, imploring them to send what they could to make the Friendly Society great again and pave a way for an era when Greeks set sail into the unknown to make their fortune. Perhaps his most ambitious request was to the Patriarch of Constantinople himself for a donation of several hundred piasters so that the Friendly Society could send clergymen with the Greek retinue both as spiritual guides for the Greeks abroad and in order to convert the people “in the land of heretics and pagans.” His request was accepted (although the Patriarchate only gave around half of what was asked and sent four archimandrites as chaplains and missionaries, two of which were Arabic speaking), and the Ecumenical Patriarch would personally bless the ship that the Friendly Society sent out from Kyklovion (Zeytinburnu) in early June of 1885. At this time, there was a canal that connected the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, so the second voyage was much easier than the first one. When they landed on the coast of Eritrea, they found a new Ethiopia. Abebe II was dead—Abebe III was in power, and he was already giving land away to other Europeans. Horrified at the news, the Greeks rushed to the capital (some stayed behind on the coast with their ship) and demanded an audience with the emperor. After several days anxiously waiting in the royal palace, the Greeks were given their audience. Abebe III was weak-willed and believed these Greeks when they said that they were different from the other Frankish powers coming into the empire and would have no such dreams as independence. They simply wanted a place where they could thrive and worship in peace. The Negus eagerly accepted their proposal, asking for several weeks’ time to draw up an alternate one and several more weeks for rounds of negotiations. On the one hand, Ethiopia was in dire straits. The Somalis, Egyptians, and Europeans were making a mockery of the sovereignty of the Ethiopian Empire, and Abede and his court realized that they needed help if they expected to modernize and stave off foreign invasions coming in from all sides. On the other hand, what was to say that these meant weren’t foreign spies or proxies, or equally as capable as exploiting Ethiopia’s dire situation as the French were? In the end, the court decided that the tiny state of Greece was too small and poor to be a threat to the Kingdom, and so, after nearly two years of negotiations and back-and-forth journeys between Constantinople and Addis Abeba, the Greeks were allowed to stay. The Friendly Society’s agents were given several conditions that they could not violate. The first was they would be sent wherever the Negus decided that they should go, that they must pay taxes to Ethiopia and Ethiopia alone, they must help the Ethiopians’ in their struggle of Christianization of the country and against other Europeans, and that all Greeks recognize the Negus as their sovereign and solemnly swear to him an oath. In the end, the Greeks were given a limited say in where they could be settled, and they were allowed to split a token amount of their taxes with Nafplion (which was completely oblivious to the deal until it was presented to them by the council of the Friendly Society). The region chosen as both mutually beneficial for the Greeks and Ethiopians was the Shebelle Valley in Somalia. In March of 1893, just in time for the Feast of the Annunciation, the Greek flag was flown over the tiny city of Merca/Marka, which was made the regional capital. The Greek state was not confident in its capacity to set up viable, overseas territories like the Greeks of old or colonial powers like the Federated Kingdoms or France. As such, most of the running of the colony was done by the Friendly Society, which had started to place itself on top of the economic pyramid of daily life in Marka (now known by the name “Sarapion” in Greek after a city mentioned in Ptolemy’s Geography although there is absolutely no proof that the trade center of antiquity was founded on or near Marka). Now, all goods could not flow in or out of the country without the stamp of the Friendly Society specifically designed by the Ethiopian court. After the initial celebration of the acquisition of the city of Marka/Merca, life in Greek-administered Somalia was difficult (brutal, even). By October of that year, a local man and a Greek entered into a bitter argument that ended with the Somali man physically striking the Greek bureaucrat in the face with his wooden walking-stick. When the Greek was knocked over and head his head against a wall, dying, the man was immediately taken in by a mixed force of Ethiopian and Greek port-authority guards and beaten. The man’s family tried to physically break him out of prison, and a small-scale riot erupted which was only ended by Greeks firing into the air and turning their guns on the mob. For fear of the riot getting out of hand, the man was flogged and released back into the custody of his family, who all swore death upon these newcomers and their Ethiopian handlers. The news shocked Constantinople and Nafplion, and from them on in, the Kingdom of Greece agreed to send in an actual gendarme force to patrol the city. Because of how tense the political climate was in Addis Abeba, the Ethiopians themselves could not spare any troops.
Within one year’s time, the Kingdom of Greece had largely taken responsibility for the newborn colony. Greek consumers were hungry for tropical crops and other exotic goods from Africa and from Sarapion, Greece became a ready buyer of Somali bananas, cotton, and sugarcane. Cretans and Cypriots had limited experience in growing the first of the crops, and as such, dozens of farmers were recruited from both islands to supervise banana farms along the banks of the Shebelle River, bringing with them dried seeds. Local Somalis were recruited for their expertise in harvesting bananas, although they were not paid much at first. Within the first years of setting up the colony, Sarapion was a money-sink. Ethiopia took perhaps more of a protective role in the quasi-colony, because it realized without a local proxy to keep rebellious Somalis in line, its efforts would be wasted. Whatever little funds they could spare, the Ethiopians did. Ironically, a small percentage of money coming into Addis Ababa from other European port-cities was sent back to Somalia for investment in the Greek lands. A slim plurality of the money came from the Friendly Society, unwilling to lose its greatest gamble since the Greek Revolution of 1863. Greek families in Ethiopia (who for the most part did not move to the area and preferred to stay in the Christian lands in the cities) also sent charity to the struggling people, especially to its lone Orthodox parish in the town square of Sarapion (which had two permanent priests while the other two travelled through the hinterlands with armed guards for fear of robbery or worse). Some of these family’s well-renowned silver products even passed through Sarapion for sale in the Far East. Russia took a passive interest in the area because it felt in the future it could be used for Russian ends, so Russian and Ukrainian partners invested in the setting up of the port city of Sarapion. Finally, Greece contributed only a token amount of funds for irrigation and soldiers’ wages; the country’s greatest gift to its pseudo-colony instead was that ships laden with goods from there did not pay tariffs when entering Greek ports. Compounded with a resentful native population, Greek Somalia’s existence was meager. The neighboring Sicilians, English, and French laughed at the venture; the English governor of Jamaame even mockingly sent charity in the form of several hundred pounds, a significant amount that the Greeks accepted but was meant to show off the richness and overabundance of the English empire and its proper port-colony. It would not be until Greece’s partial acquisition of formerly-Ottoman Libya that this region would see any sort of success. Libya became the crown jewel of the Greek overseas territories and would generate much wealth for the country. As such, funds generated from Libya would be invested into Ethiopia. The pride of Greeks in their new colony (but not really) of Libya was a boon for the Greeks in Somalia. Strangely enough, Greeks brought Libyans down into Somalia, thinking that these Africans might be useful intermediaries between Europeans and Africans. Indeed, several hundred black Africans who had converted to Orthodox Christianity and were learning Greek en-masse were settled in the growing capital town (still not a proper city yet) in the year 1914. They had little effect on the population, however; these Africans knew nothing of Somali customs nor the Somali language and had to compete for the same jobs in the agricultural sector that the natives did. Many of them had never been trained in combat and now were expected to take up arms for the first time and join the military. Indeed, the position of colonial enforcer was the best jobs these “Black Greeks” could probably get, and many rose to the highest ranks in the gendarme because of Greece’s desperation for manpower (something that rarely happened in Libya). Now for the first time, in the year 1912, Christian Ethiopians began to move into the area after Greek ships now regularly made the journey from Nafplion and Ermoupoli to the Far East and southern Africa by way of Sarapion. Incense from Chinese E. Africa and teak wood from Ethiopia began to make its way up to Greece and then onwards to the Ottoman Empire and Russia. The Russian Royal Family was particularly impressed with the strength and texture of teak and began to buy it for constructing chalets and resort homes and paid top ruble for wood by the ton. Likewise, churches in the Orthodox world were able to purchase cheaper than ever before, and began to buy frankincense and myrrh by the bulk. Perhaps, though, Greek Ethiopia’s single greatest wave of colonization came from the wave of Ashkenazi Jews. In the year 1911, Greece acquired Thessaloniki and coastal Macedonia from the Ottoman Turks. The city at the time was majority Jewish, and these non-Greeks were indifferent and even upset at the change of leadership. These Sephardic Jews took little notice of the more cosmopolitan Jews that settled in Nafplion who came from Denmark or Germany, seeing them as just as bewilderingly foreign as the new Greek administration. Because a loss in Jewish (and even Turkish) landowners and businessmen would mean a loss in economic productivity, the Jews were implored to stay, and stay they did. The older Jewish families in Nafplion made connections to their Ashkenazim brethren in the city (who were vastly outnumbered by Sephardim and Romaniotes), and a Jewish relief society was founded in Thessaloniki in 1913. Pogroms were also kicked off in the late 19th-early 20th Centuries that sent many thousands of Jews out of Russia and abroad. Nearly 5,000 made their way to the borders of Greece by 1914, hearing that Jews were given toleration and allowed to prosper. They were quickly settled not in Nafplion, but in crowded Thessaloniki with its narrow streets. These rural poor were now trapped in an urban setting, poorer than ever and now regretting their decision to leave Russia. Many turned to radical groups within the city for help (like the socialists), although many more turned to the Jewish Relief Society who was all too happy to help. Eventually, the Montefiore Family of Greece (who came to Nafplion by way of Savoy and were given an estate of 200 hectares in Attica and a useless noble title), esteemed benefactors of the JRS, saw an outlet for the Jewish farmers. In the year 1917, Thessaloniki suffered from a fire that was contained mostly to the lower city, but one that was nevertheless very brutal. Not much of any historic value was lost, but many homes of Greeks and Jews alike were burned to the ground. Many Greeks from this part of the city were relocated either to the Upper City to the few manors left by fleeing Turkish landowners and some were relocated to the outskirts of the city to counterbalance the numerous Circassian and Sandžak refugees who did not follow their Ottoman overlords across the border into Ottoman-held Thrace. The Sephardic survivors were mostly relocated down south to the city of Nafplion and the surrounding Peloponnesian countryside, much to their chagrin (some instead chose to pack up and walk across the border into the Ottoman Empire instead). The Ashkenazim, however, were widely recruited by the Jewish Relief Society (which was working around the clock to find adequate housing and supplies for Jews who lost their homes in the fire) and settled much farther abroad, in the Shebelle Valley of the far-flung Ethiopian land-deal. These men and women had previously been farmers in their native Russia, Wenedia, Lithuania, and Germany, and now they would return to life on the farm and leave behind their brief stints as unskilled laborers or as unemployed refugees. Many thousands of pounds were settled in brand new farms along the banks of the Shebelle River. New farming technology was delivered to Sarapion by way of Nafplion and for the first time, tractors were being used in Somalia by 1921 (however steel and even wooden plows pulled by horses, donkeys, and mules wouldn’t be replaced for another two decades). Cotton fields were refurbished to feed Greek textile factories in Macedonia and the Peloponnesus, and bananas and sugarcane plantations were set up as far as the eye could see, and didn’t rely on a single African worker like the Greeks plantations did (the Jews mostly kept to themselves). The word for these vast plantation-communities was “kibbutz,” from the Hebrew word meaning to gather. As long as they kept ships in Sarapion harbor well-stocked and paid taxes, the Ashkenazim were given their privacy. The Ethiopian representative in the capital, when he found out that Jews were being settled in a land which remembered well the Jewish occupation, demanded that they be forced to leave immediately. The Greek representative, however, reminded the Ethiopian minister that these were Greek citizens, and thus they were left to themselves unmolested. Initially, these people had no experience in the tropics or with harvesting tropical crops, and the death was regrettably as high as it was for Christian Greeks (if not higher), but within a few decades time, these kibbutzim as they were called produced a surplus of not only sustenance crops for themselves and for sale at market, but cash crops destined for newly liberated Constantinople and all Greece. Unfortunately, the Second Great War changed a great deal for the tiny state-within-a-state. The Greeks were staunch allies with the Ethiopians, and as such they were tasked with attacking the other European port cities in the area by Addis Ababa. Realizing that such move would be suicide, the Greeks instead chose to police the area from Somali insurgents (who they had fought with for decades) and keep the area safe for Ethiopians and Greeks alike. This unfortunately gained them the ire of Somali people, and quickly the Greeks found themselves bunkering down in a defensive position as opposed to an offensive position. A bomb went off in Sarapion harbor and while it did not do more than a few days’ cleanup worth of damage, it sent a clear message—Christians and Jews were not welcome in Somalia. The physiological toll this took on the colonists was profound, crippling even. Farms now began to erect great wooden fences or brick walls around their estates, and many Somali workers’ contracts were terminated. Many more Black Greeks were brought in from Cyrenaica to pick up where the Somali farmworkers left off, and these scared recruits were instructed on how to fight as much as how to harvest cotton, bananas, and sugarcane. While a wave of anti-Somalia feelings were crippling the tiny semi-colony, race relations amongst “White” Greeks, “Black” Greeks, Jews, and new Chinese workers brought in from down south greatly improved. For the first time in the quasi-colony’s history, Christians and Jews were working together. In order to defend East Africa, many troops were brought in from Greece and Libya, and Sarapion harbor soon became a battle ground. Trade with Greece all but stopped; now supplies had to come in from land by an Ethiopia under siege. During the Second Great War, Greek Ethiopia suffered dearly. Whole warehouses along the pier were filled with cotton waiting to be sold abroad, and huge stockrooms of bananas and sugarcane rotted. Many people began to grow more practical crops they were given by their Ethiopian allies, and sustenance farming on individual plots of land stifled the agricultural economy for years to come. For the first time, Greeks and Ashkenazim were eating sorghum and other formerly disregarded crops, and a famine was barely averted by Henuan ships that pulled into harbor loaded with fish and grains purchased abroad. The final two years of the war saw Sarapion blockaded by the FK, and by 1948, Sarapion was occupied by English troops. It was the Allied Powers’ decision that this tiny colony be politically separated from the Greek state. The English stayed for several years because they realized that there would be counterattacks from Somalis that would completely destroy this tiny island of success in a sea of turbulence and chaos. Greeks could no longer be armed in public under the orders of the British governor, so Indians and soldiers from nearby Jamaame were brought in. While some Greeks did return to Greece never to return, some Greeks from Libya who had grown too attached to Africa had decided to move there and almost no Jews from the kibbutzim left. Finally, local government, never an issue before, was necessary. The FK helped set up a regional assembly for Greeks, Jews, Ethiopians, and even Somalis. Now, all politicians had to swear an and the Negus alone (no longer also the King of Greece), and this tiny federal territory now could have a say in Ethiopian manners. In fact, a member from the newly named “Greek Republic of Ethiopia” was guaranteed a seat in the Parliament in Addis Ababa. Matters were complicated when Somalia declared independence and land routes from Sarapion to Addis Ababa were cut off, so this encouraged crops and cattle to be sold out east or sent around the Horn back to Greece once more for the first time in ten years since 1945. Indeed, although the two entities were completely separate, the Kingdom of Greece still is the Greek Republic of Ethiopia’s largest trading partner to this day. Strong mules bred from hardy, native donkeys and European draft horses and new beef cattle bred from native cows and European bulls were being sold to Thousand Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Samraj, and even as far away as Australasia and to Beihanguo where the meat of the donkey is prized as a dainty delicacy. As of 2012, roads from Sarapion have been successfully relinked to Ethiopia-proper, and the city’s population reached 35,000 (the entire subdivision itself having about 230,000 non-nomadic residents). Like in Greece, tourism has been capitalized on. One would not realize that they were in East Africa if they looked at the harbor of Sarapion, with its long boardwalks and fish markets and tavernas and ouzeria and mezedopoleia (places where ouzo and mezedes are served), white washed buildings with blue roofs (only painted blue in the last two decades for tourism purposes), and strategically located gaslight-lanterns and benches overlooking the bay. The Greek Republic of Ethiopia leads the Somali Coast in tourism and is truly a Greek island of calm; the worst has long been behind the Greco-Ethiopians.
- 235,000 people
- 24% Amhara (56,400)
- 30% “White” Greek (70,500)
- 15% Jewish (35,250)
- 12% “Black Greek” (28,200)
- 18% Biamal, Dir Somali (42,300) + additional 20,000 seasonal nomads (62,300)
- .57% Chinese (1,350)
- .43% other (1,000) (mostly Lithuanian, Maasai, Bugandans, English, & French)
Q. What is it like, today, to be a citizen of the Greek Republic of Ethiopia?
Q. What legal status do the colonists have?
A. The citizens of the republic are Ethiopian. Maybe some citizens might have citizenship elsewhere, but anyone born to citizens from the GRE is automatically Ethiopian.
Q. Do they feel more Greek, or more Ethiopian?
A. That's a tough question.
The Flag of the GRE
Pre-GWII, their flag was basically the Greek flag with two menorahs in the top left and bottom right, however, though they were despised by the ruling African nobility in the capital, they brought needed money and possibly man-power for the army, and so the emperor decreed there was to be The Flag of Africa in the upper left quarter.