Ethiopia will issue national identity cards for the nearly 1,000 Rastafarians who long have been seen as stateless in the East African nation, the government announced Thursday.
The decision means they can enter without visas and live without residence permits. The move also affects Ethiopian Jews and foreign nationals who have made positive contributions to the country.
These individuals have long been unable to enter and leave the country easily,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Meles Alem told The Associated Press. “In the case of Rastafarians, we have three generations of people residing here that have blended well with our citizens. But sadly they were neither Caribbean nor Ethiopians so were somehow stateless. This national ID will address this problem.”
“We are overjoyed,” said Ras King, a prominent member of the Rastafarian community who first came to Ethiopia in 1982. “We are extremely happy because this has fulfilled our confidence in our forefathers’ vision of a united Africa and black people from the West. As usual, Ethiopia has led the way and set the example for the rest of the continent in recognizing the Rastafarian movement.”
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