Cannabis Travels No. 2 Shashamane: the Rastafarian Dream in Ethiopia
An African country which prides itself on never having been colonized, Ethiopia embodies the “promised land” for Rastafarians; in other words, the myth of Zion, in its most perfect sense.
It was in 1935 that Jamaicans had opportunity to help the mystical country, with donations that helped to expel the invasion of Italian fascists. As a token of appreciation, Emperor Selassie wanted to reward their efforts by offering a few exiled believers the opportunity to return Mother Africa.
The chosen area was Shashamane, 250 kilometers south of Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital. Many Jamaicans moved there 50’s and 60’s. However the settlement program was halted in 1974, when the emperor was deposed by the Communist regime led by Mengistu Haile Mariam.
The Rastafarians never fitted very well among the local Ethiopians because of their extravagant habits, which included the sacramental use of marijuana.
Today, the diverse inhabitants who live in several communities in Shashamane barely exceed 500 people, and very few are descendants of the original Jamaicans. However, the decline of Shashamane may yet be overcome thanks to tourism. The area’s powerful link with the rastafari people is a huge attraction to travellers from around the world.
The Jamaican Rastafarian Development Community was formed in 1992 with the aim of stimulating the development of the region. It is an organization very active in social and educational matters, which counts on the support of The Shashamane Settlement, a foundation that is responsible for raising funds among the large Ethiopian community living in the USA.
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Could Shashamane Sativa be The Rare Lambs Bread?
Shashamane sativa from Ethiopia is really popular in East Africa. Some seasoned stoners even rank it at the same level as Malawi Gold. Well, is this strain a true landrace of Abyssinia or did the Jamaicans invited by Haile Selassie introduce it in East Africa?
What is Lamb’s Bread?
When Bob Marley released Ganja Gun in 1977, he was paying an ode to his favorite cannabis strain-Lamb’s Bread. Cannabis historians believe that it’s a landrace sativa from an undisclosed location in Jamaica. A true landrace known for its earthy and citrus flavors.
This strain got popular around the 70’s and 80’s but disappeared around the 90’s. Some people believe that the rise of heavy hitters such as Jamaican Dream and Marley’s Collie overshadowed its popularity.
How does it look like? It has dense midsize nugs that are light green in color. You’ll also notice red hairs covered with trichomes all over the buds.
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How did Jamaicans settle in Shashamane?
In 1955, Haile Selassie , a respected deity in the Rastafari religion invited Africans living in Carribean Islands to settle in Ethiopia. This was a form of repatriation from centuries of slavery in America. Droves of Jamaican Rastafari hopped on planes and eagerly relocated to the promised land.
Shashamane, located in central Ethiopia ended up being the perfect spot. Settling here made sense because the soil is really fertile and rainfall is sufficient. Also, the local communities helped these Rastafarians build new homes and till their farms.
Is Weed Legal in Ethiopia?
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Possession, cultivation, and consumption of marijuana is illegal in Ethiopia. Although, just like most East African countries, police won’t rush you to the station when they catch you smoking. You’ll just pay a “fine” and get away with a slap on the wrist.
Who Grows Weed in Ethiopia?
It’s believed that cannabis made its way into Ethiopia as early as 1320. This could be as a result of the Red Sea Trade with eastern nations that have the earliest history of marijuana use. During this period, people mixed ganja with tobacco in traditional smoking pipes.
Owing to the close relationship with Haile Selassie and goodwill of neighboring communities, the newly relocated Jamaicans cultivated their ganja without police interference. You’ll find weed cultivation taking place in eastern districts of Ethiopia but the Shashamane region consistently ranks in both quality and quantity.
Are there similarities between Shashamane sativa and Lamb’s Bread?
Let’s compare four main characteristics of each strain.
Ethiopia’s Shashamane sativa contains THC levels ranging from 10-15%. This characteristic puts it in the same category of daytime sativas as Lamb’s Bread that reaches up to 18% THC.
Cannabis connoisseurs have noted that Lamb’s Bread has distinct herbal and citrus flavors. The terpenes are so strong that some people prefer smoking this strain using a bong.
Shashamane sativa also features a combination of similar flavors. These flavors come out strongly after a week or two of curing the buds in an airtight glass jar. You can taste them by inhaling a joint before lighting it up.
Shashamane sativa comes in light green colored nugs that are quite dense. You’ll notice red hairs and shiny trichomes that make it quite appealing. Take a look at the pic below
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It can be hard to distinguish a Shashamane nug from Lamb’s bread due to their similarities in color, shape, and red hairs.
Here’s a pic of Lamb’s Bread nugs for you to compare and make the judgment.
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Lamb’s Bread is a landrace strain from Jamaica. On the other hand, when comparing Ethiopia and Jamaica’s climate, you’ll notice similarities in average temperature and rainfall patterns. So, it could be highly possible that the Jamaican Rastafarians settling in Shashamane during 1955 carried some Lamb’s Bread seeds from home.
Since their arrival, these groups of Rastafians known for their ganja cultivation rarely experience police home invasions or drug busts. It’s also no secret that Shashamane district is Ethiopia’s largest producer of cannabis since the 70’s.
What’s the verdict?
Shashamane and Lamb’s Bread seem to share important aspects such as physical appearance, THC levels, and long history with Jamaicans. Could it be that the current Shashamane sativa growing in Ethiopia actually be the long lost Lamb’s Bread? You be the judge.
Shashamane sativa from Ethiopia is really popular in East Africa. Some seasoned stoners even rank it at the same level as Malawi Gold. Well, is this strain a true landrace of Abyssinia or did the Jamaicans invited by Haile Selassie introduce it in East Africa? What is Lamb’s Bread? When Bob Marley released Ganja Gun…