Megadolls paper doll Zula comes from a country in the Horn of Africa. She is strong and independent and loves to make your other Megadolls feel welcome.
Eritrea is a country nestled in the Horn of Africa. This country covers a total area of nearly 45,406 square miles. The Red Sea surrounds Eritrea on the east and northeast sides. The country also borders Ethiopia on the south, Sudan on the west, and Djibouti on the southeast.
Eritrea includes parts of the Dahlak Archipelago and Hanish Islands. It is a multi-ethnic and multi-lingual state (that means they speak many different languages). People in Eritrea speak Tigrinya, Tigre, Afar, and Arabic. English is also widely spoken and quickly becoming the main language for business and education.
Zula shares her home country with around five million people. There are nine different tribes in Eritrea, each with its own unique language, music, food, clothes, culture, and traditions.
The country's coastal location has long been important in its culture and history, reflected in its name. Eritrea is the Italianized version of Mare Erythraeum, Latin for "Red Sea." Asmara, the country's capital, is also referred to as "The New Rome" or "Africa's Italian City." That is because many monumental structures and old buildings in and around Asmara feature Italian architecture.
The country's Italian roots can be traced back to the 19th century when the Italians created Eritrea's colony around Asmara. However, after World War II, it became a part of Ethiopia. In 1991, the Eritrean forces toppled the communist Ethiopian government and gained independence.
In 1998 a conflict erupted between Eritrea and Ethiopia. The two countries fought over control of a border town called Badme. Eritrean women played a significant role in the liberation of Eritrea in 1991 and again during the struggle that lasted from 1998 to 2000.
Because of this, the government of Eritrea has made efforts to ensure that women have full and equal participation in society and the country. One of the ways Eritrea has done this is to appoint more women to high political positions. These positions include ministerial positions. The government of Eritrea also focuses on providing women with education and skills training.
More than that, many systems and processes have been put in place to focus on women's issues and how to make their lives better.
People in Eritrea usually shake hands to greet each other. They also do an interesting shoulder shake. An Eritrean shoulder shake looks a bit like a shuffle or scuffle. Two people bump their shoulders together three times while holding each other's right hands. This symbolizes their friendship and camaraderie and is often used between war veterans.
Eritreans love coffee. Inviting someone to have coffee with you is a show of hospitality and a way to honor them. 'Having coffee' in Eritrea isn't just a quick thing. In fact, it is a ceremony, and it often takes up to an hour to prepare the coffee. Preparing coffee for a guest starts with roasting raw coffee beans over a small charcoal fire. Once roasted, the coffee beans are ground with a mortar and pestle. Then the coffee grounds are slowly boiled in a clay pot with a long neck. When the coffee is ready, it is poured into small cups and mixed with plenty of sugar.
Traditional custom requires you to have three cups of coffee to complement its taste before leaving. Women are the head of nearly half of all households in Eritrea. They are allowed to own land and make up a large part of the Eritrean workforce.
Perhaps one of the year's most significant events is the Eritrean National Festival. This festival celebrates the cultural diversity of Eritrean people while cultivating solidarity amongst the different cultural groups. It usually starts on the last Friday of July.
The Eritrean National Festival is often called Expo Festival or Festival Eritrea for short. It was first held in Bologna (Italy) during Eritrea's liberation struggle. It has since been moved to the capital, Asmara. The Expo Festival symbolizes the Eritrean people's capacity to stand together and fight for independence.
During the Eritrean National Festival, people participate in recreational festivities like watching cultural shows, playing sports, telling and listening to traditional stories, and singing.
The 24th of May is Independence Day in Eritrea. On this day in 1991, the people of Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia after fighting for their freedom for thirty years. Although Independence Day is celebrated all over Eritrea, Asmara puts up quite a show. Here the celebrations continue for a week. Cultural shows are played in cinemas, carnivals are held in the streets, and live music is played everywhere. On the 24th of May, there is a massive, colorful celebration at the Asmara Stadium.
On the 20th of June each year, Eritreans come together to remember those who died during the liberation movement that ended in 1991 and the more recent struggle between 1998 and 2000. Eritreans light candles on this Martyr's Day and visit the graves of those who had fallen fighting for their freedom.
Traditional Eritrean Clothing.
Eritrean women and girls like Zula love to dress simply but beautifully. They often dress modestly and don't show too much skin. Most traditional clothing covers the knees and shoulders. Many Eritrean girls and women don't like wearing make-up or strong perfumes. But they love wearing pretty clothes and jewelry and styling their hair elaborately. While they sometimes wear western clothes, they also like to wear more traditional clothing.
The most common traditional outfit that Eritrean women and girls wear is called a habesha kemis. A habesha kemis is a long dress that reaches the ankles with a fitted bodice and long or short sleeves. It is usually made from light-colored chiffon (white, grey, or beige). Sometimes these dresses are decorated with colorful embroidery on the hem and sleeves. A shawl called a netela can be worn with a Habesha kemis when attending formal occasions and weddings.
A zuria is also a long dress. It is usually worn with a gauze hood that covers the shoulders and head.
Men and women often wear trousers and shirts called a kidan habesha when attending cultural events and festivals. A thin fabric is wrapped around the shirt, chest, and shoulders.
Rashida women wear Burqas. A burqa is a long garment that covers a person's entire body, including their head and face. This face veil is only removed at home. The burqas worn by Rashida women in Eritrea are often black and red with delicate embroidery. This embroidery is often done with silver thread, beads, and seed pearls.
Here are some more facts about Eritrean people and their country:
· Thirty percent of Eritrean freedom fighters were women during the country's war of independence. Women of Eritrea are most certainly strong.
· The currency of Eritrea is Nakfa. It is named after the town with the same name. Nakfa was an important battle site during the war and represented freedom and resilience.
· The Tekeze River is the longest in Eritrea.
· The major religions practiced in Eritrea are Christianity and Islam.
· The water surrounding Eritrea is home to over 14,000 species of fish.
· The most common types of fish found in Eritrea are Lake Abaeded fish, cyprinid Garra fish, Gobius fish, and tilefish.
· Eritreans are passionate about cycling. They have a cycling race that runs through hairpin bends and steep slopes along the Asmara-Keren Road. This cycling race is tough, and the winner gets to represent Eritrea in international cycling competitions.
· Children in Eritrea don't take their ancestral name as their surnames like many western cultures do. Instead, they will be given their first name and use their father's name as their surname. They keep this surname their entire lives.
· Eritrean families usually eat from one communal platter (instead of each person having their own plate). This platter is often re-filled during the meal.
You can find Zula in our online store. If you are up for fun and creativity, download a blank outfit to create a fabulous dress for Zula, or you may download a colored outfit for her and enjoy dressing her right away.
With Megadolls, may we all inspire, encourage kindness, experience creativity, and promote meaningful play with awareness and compassion for others.