Neil on Africa: One of the most traded commodities was discovered by a goat herder

Neil de Beer, president of the IFA who advises numerous African states on economic development. File Photo: IOL
CAPE TOWN – One of the most traded commodities in the world, which has been very lucrative, came into being after it was discovered by a goat herder.

Kaldi, a goat herder from Ethiopia, noticed his goats “dancing” after eating bright red berries off a certain bush. He took the berries to an Islamic monk in a nearby Sufi monastery who disapproved of the berries and threw them into the fire, from which an enticing aroma billowed and coffee was born. The name coffee came from the region in which the berries were discovered, Kaffa.

Ethiopia, formerly Abyssinia, is a country in East Africa with the fastest growing economy in the world, and the only country in Africa that has never been formally colonised. It is also the second most populous country in Africa, with an estimated population of 109 million people (2018).

With a population that big it is characterised by dozens of ethnic groups with competing claims to land, resources and influence. Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmedc has struggled to contain ethnic clashes.

In 2018, nearly 3 million Ethiopians were displaced by conflict, the highest figure recorded worldwide, with Islamist militant groups al-Shabaab and Islamic State planning attacks on the country recently.