Hyenas howl and feast on flesh every night outside the ancient walls of Harar — one of Islam’s holiest cities that is holding out against the pressures of the modern world. But change is coming, and campaigners are working hard to preserve the gated Ethiopian city’s unique history, cultural and religious traditions. Inside the thick stone walls modern influences abound: beer signs propped on crumbling old buildings, Chinese electronics in shop windows and shiny trucks on the main road alongside ageing Peugeot sedans. But despite the encroachments from the outside world, a generation of cultural campaigners are determined to preserve ancient customs — from clothing to bookbinding, to dance and song. “Because of globalisation, you can’t prevent all changes, but the culture, the religion, still survives,” said Abdela Sherif, owner of a museum housing the largest collection of Harari cultural relics in the world.
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