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Gojjam (Ge'ez ጎጃም gōjjām, originally ጐዛም gʷazzam, later ጐዣም gʷažžām, ጎዣም gōžžām) was a province in the north-western part of Ethiopia, with its capital city at Debre Marqos. This province is distinctive for lying entirely within the bend of the Abbay River from its outflow from Lake Tana to the Sudanese border.
Gojjam's earliest western boundary was undefined. By 1700, Gojjam's western neighbors were considered to be Agawmeder in the southwest and Qwara in the northwest. Agawmeder, never an organized political entity, was gradually absorbed by Gojjam until it reached west to the Sultanate of Gubba. Gubba acknowledged its dependence to Emperor Menelik II in 1898, but by 1942 was absorbed into Gojjam. Dek Island in Lake Tana was administratively part of Gojjam until 1987.
The earliest recorded mention of Gojjam was a note in a manuscript of Amda Seyon's military campaigns there and in Damot in 1309 AM (AD 1316/7), during which time it was incorporated into Ethiopia. It was also referenced on the Egyptus Novello map, (c.1451), where it is described as a kingdom (though it had by this time long been subject to the Emperor of Ethiopia). Emperor Lebna Dengel, in his letter to the King of Portugal (1526), also described Gojjam as a kingdom but one that was part of his empire.
At least as early as Empress Eleni, Gojjam provided the revenues of the Empress until the Zemene Mesafint when they were appropriated by Fasil of Damot. Gojjam then became a power base for a series of warlords at least as late as Negus Tekle Haymanot.
The inhabitants of Gojjam (known as "Gojjame") rebelled twice in recent times over increased taxes, the first time in 1950, and the second time in 1968 about the same time as the Bale revolt. Unlike in Bale, the central government did not use a military solution to end the revolt, instead replacing the governors and reversing the attempt to levy new taxes; in response to the 1968 revolt, the central government went as far as waiving tax arrears back to 1950.
Gojjam was divided in to western and eastern portions during the time of the Derg military regime, with Debre Marqos remaining the capital of East Gojjam while Bahir Dar became the capital of West Gojjam. With the adoption of a new constitution in 1995, Gojjam was divided with the westernmost part forming the majority of the Metekel Zone of the Benishangul-Gumuz Region, and the rest becoming the Agew Awai, the Mirab (West) Gojjam and the Misraq (East) Gojjam Zones of the Amhara Region.
- Donald L. Donham and Wendy James (eds.), The Southern Marches of Imperial Ethiopia (Oxford: James Curry, 2002), p. 122.
- James Bruce Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile, selected and edited with an introduction by C.F. Beckingham (Edinburgh: University Press, 1964), p. 130.
- Zahru Zewde, A History of Modern Ethiopia, second edition (London: James Currey, 2001), pp. 216ff.