Introduction / History The Sidama live between Awasa town in the north and Dilla town in the south, spread out in a cone-shaped area of the middle of southern Ethiopia. A major asphalt road stretches from north to south in Sidama and the remaining roads are dirt/rock. Sidama is generally a fertile area, varying from flat land (warm to hot) to highland (warm to cold). Economically, most are subsistence farmers. Cattle especially, are a measure of wealth. Sidama is a major coffee growing area with it's prized coffee found on the world market. The false banana or "enset", along with maize, as well as fermented cows' milk and butter, are the major staple foods of the Sidama and are found in most yards. Awasa, the people group's as well as region's main center, is the largest city, with a population of about 300,000 people. Since the end of the Communist regime in 1992, the population has grown tremendously and there is a resulting considerable strain on schools and job availability. There is also a pattern of urban migration, especially to Awasa and even abroad, in search of education and jobs.
The Sidama were evangelized in the early-mid 1900s by Kambata Christians and later, by Norwegian and Danish Lutheran and SIM missionaries. The first Kambata missionaries were martyred by the Sidama, but the Kambata persevered and finally, a small group of Sidama Christians resulted. Now, Sidama is largely Christian including a number of Orthodox. Nearly a tenth are Muslim, non-Christian cults, and traditional religionists. The main churches, in order of size are: Mekane Yesus (Scandinavian Lutheran roots), Kale Hiwot (SIM, Baptist roots), Orthodox, Hiwot Birhan (Swedish/Finnish Pentacostal roots), Mulu Wengel (Full Gospel roots), and Catholic.
Over the past 10-15 years, most Protestent churches have adopted a charismatic/pentecostal, style of worship. Youth choirs are influential in the church and keyboards are the choice of musical instruments of church worship.