Located far from Africa’s Atlantic shore, where international slavery flourished, Ethiopia did not play a part in this sad saga. Nevertheless, it has acquired a symbolic, religious and racial symbolism and has featured prominently in the collective thoughts and social practices of black people in the Americas. The term Ethiopia first travelled to the Americas on slave ships, in the hands of missionaries and the Holy Bible in its first official English version, the King James Version, published in 1611. In the Bible, Ethiopia represents a territory (Genesis 2:13), a race (Jeremiah 13:23), and a people chosen by God (Amos 9:7). The verse most often used to illustrate the prophetic destiny of Ethiopia is “Ethiopia shall stretch forth her hands unto God” (Psalm 68:31).

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