The Ethiopian Postal Service which celebrates its centenary this year was established in March 1894 by an Imperial Edict during the reign of Emperor Menelik II. Before then correspondence in Ethiopia was exchanged by special couriers, called “MELEKTEGNAS”.
personal, business and official correspondence was essential 100 years ago as it is today. To meet this vital need letters and parcels were transported by special couriers who travelled by mule, horse, camel or on foot. These men carried letters visibly attached to a cleft stick (still the emblem of the Post Office) so that they could be readily recognized by government officials and the community. To ensure their safety from attack by wild animals and hostile tribesmen, they were armed with guns, sabers and lances.
This mode of transporting mail was slow, evidently the greatest drawback was the absence of swift and organized transport facilities. The first and most significant step to solve this problem was the construction of a railway from the coast of Djibouti to Addis Ababa which was strengthened by the introduction of modern means of land, aviation and maritime transport in the country.
From the foot-borne courier and the drum beat system, the Post Office has evolved over 100 years into a modern administration. Various techniques in the field are also introduced. One is Express Mail Service (EMS) which is different from other mail services on the fact that it highly emphasizes on speed, reliability and security.
As stated above, state postal service dated from 1894. The first postage stamps, comprising seven values; four with the effigy of Emperor Menelik II and three with a drawing of the Lion of Judah were issued in the same year. For these 100 years, Ethiopian stamps have moved from a small beginning to become one of the most fascinating collection of stamps known to philatelists.
At present five stamps and souvenir sheets depicting the development of the post in the past hundred years are issued. It is hoped that these stamps and souvenir sheets can satisfy the interests of philatelists.