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Mixed in with these Ethiopian restaurants are a handful of Eritrean-owned businesses, such as the family-owned and -operated Selam Restaurant and Harambe African Café. Eritrean cuisine, similar to Ethiopian, consists mainly of stews, with beef or lamb, lentils, fava beans and spices. While most stews contain meat, the many nonmeat options make Ethiopian and Eritrean restaurants popular choices for vegetarians.

Once an Ethiopian province, Eritrea declared its independence in 1993 after its citizens voted overwhelmingly for self-rule in a U.N.-supervised referendum. Both nations are ethnically and religiously diverse, divided largely between Orthodox Christians and Sunni Muslims, with Animist, Catholic, Jewish and growing Protestant minorities.

Relations between the nations’ political leaders soured in 1998, and war broke out over disputed territory along the border. Though the war technically ended with a peace agreement in 2000, the two sides have yet to agree on the disputed territory and many fear renewed conflict.

Seven thousand miles away in North America, individual Eritreans and Ethiopians — Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim — may eat and drink together at restaurants and cafes, but their communities interact and cooperate much less frequently.

“On an individual level, I don’t think Eritreans would have any problem going to Dama and having a cup of coffee or some cake,” said Dr. Teferra. “But if there was a community-wide function, you would not see that kind of interaction. If there were a rally called by Ethiopians, you would not see an Eritrean organization coming to that rally.”

In his many years of working with the community, he has never seen any major effort by any group to bring reconciliation among Eritreans (who may number as many as 50,000) and Ethiopians. And tensions between the natives of each country are only the beginning of the many divisions afflicting the people of the Horn of Africa.

“It is very confusing,” he said, adding that among Eritreans and Ethiopians are groups that support and oppose the current governments in each country.

“Each has its own following, and the churches are divided accordingly, the restaurants are divided accordingly, the businesses are divided accordingly.”

“Then there are religious divisions,” he continued. “You have Catholics, evangelicals, Orthodox and Muslims. Then, within the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, there are those who follow the hierarchy in Ethiopia and those who are opposed to it.”

Eritrean Orthodox parishes in North America — which until 1993 formed part of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church — are also divided into several groups, typically along political lines.

Many of the divisions in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church stem from 1991, when the then patriarch resigned after he was accused of collaborating with the Communist regime. In 1992, the synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church elected Abune Paulos patriarch, but the Ethiopian archbishop in the United States did not recognize his election and subsequently broke communion with the patriarchate. Now, some parishes are in communion with the patriarchal church in Addis Ababa, some are in communion with a recently established synod in North America and some function independently of both.

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Tags: Ethiopia Cultural Identity Emigration Horn of Africa