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The main cause for the foundation of Hawassa town is the natural beauty of Lake Hawassa and the area around. The name of the lake “Hawassa” means “big” in Sidamigna language.  In earlier times the place was not inhabited by many people, but pastoralists used to graze their cattle around the lake.


In 1949 E.C, when Ras Mengesha Siyoum was the governor of Sidama, Emperor Hailesilassie permitted and ordered the preparation of suitable master plan for the foundation of a town for tourist attraction on the land along the shore of Lake Hawassa.  Moreover there was a strong interest to make Hawassa center of industry.  Especially agro-processing industries were largely expected to be established.  This was in fact proved with initial plantation of wide agricultural farming in Hawassa.


Accordingly, seven experts have started the planning work in coordination with Italian engineers.  Hawassa was the only former town of Ethiopia founded on the basis of a plan.


In 1951 E.C. a person named Ato Kassahun Tefera was assigned to Sidama province especially to lead the task for the foundation of Hawassa town and the plantation of agricultural sectors.  After the survey had been completed in 1952 E.C, the people were provided pieces of land and the house construction begun on the basis of the plan.


Before 1954 E.C, the on going process and the foundation of Hawassa had been supervised by different high ranking officials including the Work Minister of the time.  Then the municipality was found in 1954 E.C.  The area of the town was only 48 Gasha (Hectare) by then.  “Abbat Turetengoch Sefer”, Arab (Serategnoch) Sefer, and Mehal Ketema (Piazza) Sefer came in to being in the immediate periods of the foundation of the town.


Hawassa town has got its name from the name of “Lake Hawassa”.  Before the establishment of the town the land along the edge of the lake was named “Ada’are” which means “a field of cattle” in Sidamigna language.  The existence of water through out the year and the availability of grass for grazing the cattle gradually attracted the highlanders to visit the area constantly and at the same time people from different area begun to settle in the area.

Lake Hawassa


The beautiful tabor hill previously had been two names.  The rear part of the hill is known as “Tilte” which means a plate on which cultural food is served in Sidamigna language.  The front part of the Hill at the side of the town is known as “Dume”, it means “Reddish” in Sidamigna language.

Tabor Mountain

In 1951 E.C. when the king came to Hawassa for the inauguration of his palace, he visited the peaceful and beautiful Lake Hawassa and the mountain. The emperor was surprised by the nature and said “it seems like Debre Tabour mountain of Israel”.  It was just after then that the hill is renamed as Tabour Mountain.

The Earliest Villages


During his visit, Emperor Haile Selassie gave order that the former “Adaare” jungle to be replaced by modern farm, and the mission was given to General Mulugeta Bulli, the then Minister of Community Development.  To the effect of the mission 404 commissioned soldiers were brought to Hawassa from various parts of the country.

They came and settled in their newly named and set up villages: “Addis Ababa” Sefer, “Harer” sSfer, “Korem” Sefer and “Wukiro” Sefer.  The naming of these villages was directly related to the places where the soldiers came from.  It was deliberately done in remembrance of the settlers.

Among the 404 expatriate soldiers, 80 of them arrived in Hawassa in May 1952 E.C. from Addis Ababa.  The remaining from Harar arrived in December and from Korem and Wukiro in May 1953 E.C.


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