The mass settlement of Armenians in Ethiopia began shortly after the massacres of 1915. Many people were able to move there thanks to their relatives. Initially, there have been around 1,500 Armenian refugees in Ethiopia.
In 1924, the future emperor of Ethiopia Prince Ras Tafari Makonnen (crowned Haile Selassie I) on his route to Switzerland to represent his country at the assembly of the League of Nations visited Jerusalem with the assistance of the Armenian Patriarch.
In Jerusalem, the prince learned about the brass band of 40 Armenian orphans. Inspired by their activities, the emperor adopted them and invited to Ethiopia along with the head of the orchestra Kevork Nalbandian. The “Arba Lijoch” (“forty children” in Ethiopian) would become the first official imperial orchestra of the country.
The orchestra would be exceptionally successful. In 1925, the whole funds raised by the orchestra during the New Year’s Eve in Addis Ababa were transferred to the orphanages under the Armenian General Benevolent Union.
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