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Woven Voices: Habsha (“ቀሚስ”) Kemis Speak Out

By LJDemissie
August 25, 2023

Dear Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed,

I am writing to you as a concerned citizen of Ethiopia, who loves my country and its rich and diverse culture. I am writing to you to express my admiration and support for the brave and beautiful women who have used their traditional Habsha Kemis (dresses) as a means of conveying a powerful political message. These women have shown their creativity and courage by weaving ወልቃይት የ ጎንደር (“Welkait is Gonder’s”) on their Kemis, in a way that has never been done before in Ethiopian history. They have used their bodies as a super elegant billboard, to draw attention to the plight of the people of Welkait and Gonder, who used to suffer under the illegal occupation and annexation of their lands by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) for almost thirty years.


These women are not only displaying their cultural and historical identity as Amhara people, who have been living in Welkait since ancient times, but they are also challenging the TPLF’s attempts to erase their Ethiopian identity, culture, including their Amharic language and names from the region and replace them with Tigrigna. They are demanding that you, as the leader of the Ethiopian government, respect the wishes of the people of Welkait and Gonder and restore their constitutional rights to self-determination and self-administration. They are also reminding you of your responsibility to uphold the unity and sovereignty of Ethiopia, which is threatened by the secret agreement that you allegedly signed with the TPLF, granting them the right to administer Welkait and other disputed territories in the Amhara region.

I urge you to listen to these women and their message, and to act in the best interest of Ethiopia and its people. I urge you to revoke any rumored agreement that violates the territorial integrity and national interest of Ethiopia, and to hold the TPLF accountable for its crimes against humanity. I urge you to recognize and respect the legitimate claims and aspirations of the people of Welkait and Gonder, and to ensure their participation and representation in any political dialogue or decision-making process that affects their future. I urge you to protect and promote the cultural diversity and heritage of Ethiopia, which is embodied by these women and their Habsha Kemis.

I hope that you will receive this letter with an open mind and heart, and that you will respond positively to my appeal. I hope that you will honor your oath of office, and that you will fulfill your duty as a servant of the Ethiopian people. I hope that you will be inspired by these women and their creativity, and that you will use your own creativity to find peaceful and lasting solutions to the challenges facing our country.



A concerned citizen of Ethiopia

The writer LJDemissie can be reached at



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