By Dagnachew Teklu, APA correspondent in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — APA-Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) The price of chicken in Ethiopia is up by 100% this week while the country is gearing up to celebrate the Ethiopian NewYear-Enkutatash (gift of jewels) on Thursday.
Ethiopia, which follows its own calendar, will officially celebrate its New Year (2001) on Thursday-11 September 2008.
However, the price of various commodities remains a challenge for the majority of the people, particularly for the poor who constitute around 40% of the estimated population of 80 million.
However, only the price of chicken has dince Monday registered a dramatic increase of 100%. The new price is $8, when it was only $4 a few days ago.
“We are really confused as to what to do. The price of chicken has become almost equal to a price of sheep. This is really worrying,” Almaz Mitiku, 45 told APA.
Like Mitiku, many people are complaining about the sudden rise in the price of chicken for the New Year holiday.
“This is a New Year and the end of our New Millennium celebrations. That is why these merchants are making things expensive. The government should do something to control the market. How can I pay $10 for a chicken?” Meheret Bekalu complained.
She said that she was considering buying meat for the holiday if the situation continues like this until Wednesday evening, the eve of the New Year.
Chicken is one of Ethiopia’s traditional foods along with raw meat. “Many people have been forced this time to buy chicken due to the rising price of meat. That is why these chicken merchants have also increased the price by 100%, which is a bad omen for this New Year,” Bekalu said.
One kilogram of meat currently costs between $6 and $7 in many parts of the country, when it was $4 less than a month ago.
“We have no alternative for the New Year. The prices of both chicken and meat are up by 50 and 100 per cent respectively. We are really confused as to what to buy,” Tesema Mamo, 67, and a retired man told APA.
For the majority of Ethiopians, it is a must to have raw meat at home for the holiday, as people have the habit of eating raw meat in normal days.
However, the rising cost of food still continues to be the major challenge for the majority of the poor people.
The government is distributing subsidized wheat, edible oil and other food items for the poor in many districts in the country.
Ethiopia will also end its yearlong celebrations of its New Millennium, which was declared by the African Union as an African Millennium, which has been celebrated in and outside the country for the past 12 months.
Based on the Orthodox Julian Calendar, which is different from the Western or Gregorian calendar, the new Ethiopian year of 2001 begins on September 11, 2008.
On Wednesday 10 September 2008 (on the eve of its new year-2001), Ethiopia will officially end its New Millennium celebrations with various ceremonies across the country.
The Ethiopian calendar consists of 12 months of 30 days and the 13th month, called Pagume, has only five or six days depending on whether or not it is a leap year.
The Ethiopian calendar is seven years and eight months behind the Western calendar.
Enkutatash, which means “gift of jewels,” occurs in September with the clearing of the skies following three months of heavy rains.
The highland fields, covered with Meskal daisies, become golden. Meskerem (September) is a month of celebrations in which Ethiopians transition from the old to the new, expressing their hopes and dreams of the future.
On the first day of the New Year (Enkutatash), children usually in groups of five to ten visit their neighbors, wishing them a happy New Year. They sing a New Year song with cultural drums, who in return give out various gifts to the visitors.