September 30, 2020

Remembering Sultan Hanfareh: The Spiritual Leader of the Afar People

Obituary

One of the few EPRDF coalition members to lose in the 1995 elections, the Afar Liberation Front -…

Remembering Sultan Hanfareh: The Spiritual Leader of the Afar People

One of the few EPRDF coalition members to lose in the 1995 elections, the Afar Liberation Front - led by one of the most powerful families in Afar, the Sultanate of Auss - was shocked by the results of the elections. Due to quarrels surrounding late prime minister Meles Zenawi, the ALF was only able to win 12 seats out of 48 seats in the Regional Council. At the time the Sultanate of Auss, one of the four sultanates of the Afar people was led by Sultan Ali Mirah, the thirteenth sultan of the Afar people.

Sultan Hanfareh Alimirah, the fourteenth sultan of the Sultanate of Auss, passed away at the age of 74 on Monday, September 20, 2020. The body of the late Sultan Hanfareh Alimirah was laid to rest at Hadele Gera, Afar State earlier this week. The sultan was on the verge of celebrating his ninth year as the sultan of the region since his public coronation ceremony held in the region’s capital Asayta on November 10, 2011. 

Sultan Hanfareh Ali Mirah was born in Asaita in 1946 from his mother Mariam Ali Omar and his father Sultan Ali Mirah. The Sultan was raised in the city of Asayita, the capital of the Afar Regional State where he attended school. He later moved to Addis Ababa to continue his studies. The late Sultan Hanfareh also studied in Cairo as well as attending the American University in Washington D.C in the 1970s. 

A member of one of the most powerful families in Ethiopia, Sultan Hanfareh Ali Mirah was one of the sons of Sultan Ali Mirah, the spiritual chief of the Afars and founder of the Afar Liberation Front (ALF). Upon the death of his father on 24 April 2011, Hanfareh Ali Mirah succeeded his late father to become the spiritual chief of the Afars. He was crowned on November 10, 2011 at an outdoor coronation ceremony that was held in Asayta, capital of the Afar region. Here the Sultan assumed a very important responsibility at both regional and national levels. 

The Sultan served as the spiritual leader of the Afar people for nine years, some of which he served in exile as a political target of the EPRDF. The sultanate left the country in March 2016 fearing assassination attempts on his life. He later returned to Ethiopia in August 2018 after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office. Sultan Hanfareh is survived by his two sons and five daughters.

This Obituary was written by Bruck Negash Teame and Barsenet Biyayelgne Mesele.