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Kaffa

KAFFA, a country of N.E. Africa, part of the Abyssinian empire. Kaffa proper (formerly known also as Gomara) has an area of little more than 5000 sq. m., but the name is used in a general sense to include the neighbouring territories of Gimirra, Jimma, Ennarea, etc. In this larger acceptation Kaffa extends roughly from 6 to 9 N. and from 35 to 37! E. It forms the S.W. part of the great Abyssinian plateau and consists of broken table-land deeply scored by mountain torrents and densely wooded. The general elevation is about 8000 ft., while several peaks are over 10,000 ft. From the western slopes of the plateau descend headstreams of the Sobat. The principal river however is the Omo, the chief feeder of Lake Rudolf. Kaffa proper is believed to be the native home of the coffee plant (whence the name), which grows in profusion on the mountain sides. The principal town was Bonga, 75 N., 36 12' E., a great trading centre, but the Abyssinian headquarters are at Anderacha, about 12 m. S.S.W. of Bonga. Jiren, the capital of Jimma, 60 m. N.E. of Bonga, is a still more important town, its weekly market being attended by some 20,000 persons.

A great variety of races inhabit these countries of southern Ethiopia. The Kaficho (people of Kaffa proper) are said to be of the same stock as the northern Abyssinians and to have been separated from the rest of the country by the Mahommedan invasion of the 16th century. Thus Jimma, immediately north of Kaffa proper, is peopled by Mahommedan Gallas. The Kaficho, though much mixed with Galla blood, retained their Christianity and a knowledge of Geez, the ecclesiastical tongue of Abyssinia. The ordinary language of the Kaficho has no outward resemblance to modern Abyssinian. Their speech was, however, stated by Dr C. T. Beke (c. 1850) to be cognate with the Gonga tongue, spoken in a portion of Damot, on the northern side of the Abai. Kaffa, after having been ruled by independent sovereigns, who were also suzerains of the neighbouring states, was about 1895 conquered by the Abyssinians. The first European explorer of Kaffa was Antoine de'Abbadie, who visited it in 1843. Not until the early years of the 20th century was the country accurately mapped.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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