Eau sale / Dirty water

Eau sale / Dirty water

Impossible de nettoyer l’eau sale (Proverbe Galla – Ethiopie).

It is impossible to clean dirty water (Galla Proverb – Ethiopia).

Empress Taytu Betul of Ethiopia

Empress Taytu Betul of Ethiopia

After learning about the origin of the name Addis Ababa, from Empress Taytu Betul‘s visit to its location, I could not help but talk about the Empress herself.  Who was Taytu Betul?

Well, Taytu Betul was Emperor Menelik II‘s third wife and was thereby Empress of Ethiopia.  She was his confidante, a loyal wife, a commander, and a brilliant military strategist.

Taytu Betul (also Taitu Betul), whose name Taytu means Sunshine, was a sunshine for her nation when it was about to fall into the hands of the Italian colonizer.  Perhaps, there would not have been the famous Battle of Adwa on March 1, 1896, which marked the Ethiopian victory against colonialism, without Empress Taytu, for she inspired it.

Emperor Menelik II, of Ethiopia

Emperor Menelik II, of Ethiopia

Empress Taytu Betul was born in Wollo from a Christian and Muslim family.  She had a comprehensive education and was fluent in Ge’ez, the classical Ethiopian language; which was a rare achievement for a woman at the time, as education was mostly reserved for boys.  Taytu was the third of four children in an aristocratic family related to the Solomonic dynasty of Ethiopia.  Her uncle, Dejazmach Wube Haile Maryam, was the ruler of Tigray and much of Northern Ethiopia in the 1840s, and a rival of Emperor Tewodros II.  Her father’s family were the ruling family of Semien province, claiming descent from Emperor Susenyos I.  Her grandfather was Ras Gugsa, a member of the powerful ruling family of Yejju, of Oromo origin, which had ruled as Regents in Gondar during the Zemene Mesafint (“Era of the Princes”).  After four failed marriages, Taytu Betul was married to Emperor Menelik II (he was still King of Shewa at the time) in 1883 in a full communion church service and thus fully canonical and insoluble, which Menelik had not had with either of his previous wives (whom he had divorced).  Their marriage was not just about romance but was also a political marriage sealing alliances with the northern regions of Begemder, Lasta, Semien, and Yeju.  She remained his wife until his death in 1913.

The Battle of Adwa, 1896

The Battle of Adwa, 1896

Empress Taytu was a loyal and respectful wife to her husband Emperor Menelik II.  According to royal historians, she was co-equal with Menelik, who always consulted her prior to making important decisions.  She was the one who pushed him to declare war against Italy at the Battle of Adwa—tearing up the 1889 Treaty of Wuchale between the Ethiopian Empire and Italy, a treaty whose article 17 had two different meanings in Amharic and Italian versions: The Amharic version recognized the sovereignty of Ethiopia and its relationship with Italy as just a diplomatic partnership, while the Italian version made Ethiopia Italy’s protectorate.  The moment that discrepancy was uncovered, Empress Taytu was the first to agitate the hesitant Emperor and other men to stand up for liberty, dignity and against Italian aggression. 

Edition of the Petit Journal of August 1896 titled: "Negus Menelik II at the Battle of Adwa"

Edition of the Petit Journal of August 1896 titled: “Negus Menelik II at the Battle of Adwa”

Empress Taytu, as a military strategist, facilitated the downfall of Italy at the Battle of AdwaShe had her own battalion, which she bravely commanded in the battlefield, fighting in the frontline and motivating men against retreat.  She also mobilized women, both as fighters and nurses of wounded soldiers.   At the Battle of Mekelle, she advised Ras Mekonen to cut off the water supply to the Italians in order to disgorge them from their entrenched and heavily fortified positions at Endeyesus Hill on the eastern part of Mekelle City.  Taytu was also the receiver and analyzer of intelligence information collected by spies, which historians have characterized as of crucial importance to the Ethiopian victory at the battleThis information enabled Menelik to attack the Italians, at a site of his choosing, at Adwa instead of Adigrat, near the Eritrean border where the Italians expected to have a relative logistical advantage.  The Italians were hoping that Menelik would meet them in Adigrat, close to where they had a well-protected military base.

Empress Taytu Betul in Le Petit Journal of March 1896

Empress Taytu Betul in Le Petit Journal of March 1896

Independence and cooperation defined Taytu’s relationship with Emperor Menelik II.  Their marriage was that of equals characterized by trust, respect and reciprocity.  After Menelik was incapacitated due to strokes in 1906, she essentially governed the country, angering all the rivals to the throne.  She was ousted from power in 1910.  After Menelik II’s death in 1913, she was banished to the old palace at Entoto.

Taytu Betul was an authentic Ethiopian leader.  Her deeds at a critical moment in Ethiopian history not only saved Ethiopia from European colonization, but it also paved the way for the decolonization of Africa.  Her advice and action resulted in the defeat of the Italian army at the 1896 Battle of Adwa, a mighty European army defeat at the hands of Africans.  Taytu strongly defended national interests by overcoming challenges both from within and from without.  Just as there was no Menelik II without Taytu Betul, there would have been no Ethiopia without Taytu’s great strength, courage, devotion, and determination. Taytu Betul was truly Ethiopia’s sunshine, and should forever be remembered as one of the greatest empresses of Ethiopia and of Africa as a whole.  Please check out Tadias.com which has outstanding information on this great empress.  Enjoy this video about the Battle of Adwa.

 

 

Posted by: humilityjoy | October 22, 2014

Proverbe Batabwa on Patience / Batabwa Proverb on Patience

Du bois / Logs of wood

Du bois / Logs of wood

Liane / Rope

Liane / Rope

Si vous n’avez pas encore coupé du bois, ne cherchez pas une liane (Proverbe Batabwa, République Démocratique du Congo et Zambie). –  Chaque chose en son temps.

If you have not yet cut the wood, do not look for a rope (Batabwa proverb, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambia). –  Everything in due time.

Posted by: humilityjoy | October 20, 2014

Why the Name: Addis Ababa?

Map of Ethiopia

Map of Ethiopia

I have often wondered about the meaning of the name Addis Ababa or Addis Abeba, the capital of Ethiopia.  The name always sounded so poetic, and full of beauty somehow.

You can imagine my surprise when I found out that the name of the largest city of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa or Addis Abeba, actually meant “New Flower.”  No wonder the sound of it was always so pretty.

The region where Addis Ababa is founded is called Finfinne, or Natural Springs, by the local Oromo population; it is an area rich with fauna and flora.  In the southwest, can be found Mount Wachacha, and in the north Mount Entoto.  Before the foundation of Addis Ababa, Emperor Menelik II and the empress Taytu Betul were installed in the area of Mount Entoto as it was used a military base for operations in the south of the realm; however that area had a rude climate, was cold, and very windy.  So the imperial couple used to visit the thermal sources of Filwoha, hot mineral springs, located at a lower altitude.

Empress Taytu Betul

Empress Taytu Betul

In 1886, while Empress Taytu Betul was admiring the landscape, she saw a flower of rare beauty.  Enchanted by the nice climate, she asked her spouse, Emperor Menelik II, to build her a house in the area.  Menelik II agreed and promised Taytu to build her a residence there.  The choice of the precise location of Addis Ababa followed the prophecy of Menelik II’s grandfather, Sahle Selassie, Negus of Shewa from 1813 to 1847.  During a game of chess, Sahle Selassie declared: “This country is covered with scrub and vegetation, but the day will come when my grandson will build a house here, and will found a city.”  Menelik II founded the city at the exact location where his grandfather was practicing fencing.  The name was Empress Taytu’s choice: she had been stunned by that beautiful flower she had never seen before, hence she named the city Addis Ababa, or “New Flower” in Amharic.

Emperor Menelik II

Emperor Menelik II

Menelik expanded his wife’s house to become the Imperial Palace which remains the seat of government in Addis Ababa today.  Addis Ababa became Ethiopia’s capital when Menelik II became Emperor of Ethiopia.  The town grew by leaps and bounds.  One of Emperor Menelik II’s contributions still visible today is the planting of numerous eucalyptus trees along the city’s streets.  The city lies at an altitude of 2300 meters, and is a grassland biome.

Following all the major engagements of their invasion, Italian troops from the colony of Eritrea entered Addis Ababa on 5 May 1936.  Along with Dire Dawa, the city had been spared the aerial bombardment (including the use of chemical weapons such as mustard gas) practiced elsewhere and its railway to Djibouti remained intact.  The city served as the Duke of Aosta‘s capital for the unified colony of Italian East Africa until 1941, when it was abandoned in favor of Amba Alagi and other redoubts during the Second World War‘s East African Campaign.  The city was liberated by Major Orde Wingate‘s Sudanese and Ethiopian Gideon Force in time to permit Emperor Haile Selassie‘s return on 5 May 1941, five years to the day after he had left.

Emperor Haile Selassie

Emperor Haile Selassie

Following reconstruction, Haile Selassie helped form the Organisation of African Unity in 1963 and invited the new organization to keep its headquarters in the city.  The OAU was dissolved in 2002 and replaced by the African Union (AU), also headquartered in Addis Ababa.  The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa also has its headquarters in Addis Ababa.  It is home to Addis Ababa University.  The Federation of African Societies of Chemistry (FASC) and Horn of Africa Press Institute (HAPI) are also headquartered in Addis Ababa.  Ethiopia has often been called the original cradle of humanity due to various humanoid fossil discoveries like the Australopithecine Lucy.  Recent DNA evidence have suggested origins in south central Ethiopian regions like present-day Addis Ababa: after analyzing the DNA of almost 1,000 people around the world, geneticists and other scientists claimed people spread from what is now Addis Ababa 100,000 years ago.  Enjoy video about the new flower, and all its cultural wealth.

Posted by: humilityjoy | October 15, 2014

Thomas Sankara: the Speech he would have given on 15 Oct 1987

Thomas Sankara

Thomas Sankara a Ouagadougou

Here is the complete text of a hand-written speech that the revolutionary Burkina Faso President and African statesman Thomas Sankara was set to deliver on the evening of the day he was assassinated, October 15, 1987.  Enjoy this rare jewel!  The original in French is on ThomasSankara.net, while the translated English version appeared on Pambazuka.

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Dear Comrades,

The Revolution’s prestige, and the confidence with which the masses have devoted themselves, has suffered a serious shock. The consequences are a remarkable decline in enthusiasm for the revolution amongst activists, a serious decrease in the commitment, determination, and mobilization of our grassroots base; finally, distrust and suspicion everywhere and factionalism amongst our leadership.

What are the causes of this?

Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso

There are, on one hand, significant questions which could divide us pertaining to the operating structures and the internal functioning of the CNR based on ideological positions.  On the other hand, there are questions regarding the relationships between the principal actors, as each of us is a leader.  However, as important as ideological and organisational questions are, they are shown to be less important in our current situation.  Indeed, at the soul of any organisation, there is a clash of opposites followed by union of these same oppositesThe unity of these opposites is always academic, it is never absolute; it is both relative and temporary.  “The unity of opposites is consequently an absolute, exactly as development and motion are absolutes”.  This is why balance itself is temporary.  It can be questioned at any time.  It is our responsibility to preserve it as long as possible, to restore it each time it has been threatened or broken.  In the case of organizational and ideological questions, we have benefited each time that someone considered it necessary to raise an opinion different from mine, to defend a position different than mine; you did this with freedom and confidence.  These I have adopted and implemented, along with advice, suggestions, and recommendations. Moreover, resolution of disputes between men is always simple when trust exists.  This means that as long as the revolution is governed by principles, open debate, criticism and self-criticism, it will succeed in resolving any misunderstandings, provided that trust is maintained. Read More…

Posted by: humilityjoy | October 10, 2014

Proverbe Bahaya sur la prudence / Bahaya Proverb on Caution

mouth4Un visiteur prudent et bien avisé ouvre les yeux, mais n’ouvre pas la bouche (Proverbe Bahaya – Tanzanie).

A prudent and wise visitor opens his eyes, but not his mouth (Bahaya Proverb – Tanzania).

Posted by: humilityjoy | October 8, 2014

Poem by Dennis Brutus on Friendship

Dennis Brutus

Dennis Brutus

Friends, today, I want to introduce you to a poem by the great South African author Dennis BrutusDennis Brutus broke rocks next to Nelson Mandela when they were imprisoned together on the notorious Robben Island.  He spent 18 months there.  His crime, like Mandela’s, was fighting the injustice of racism, and challenging South Africa’s apartheid regime.  His weapons were his words: soaring, searing, poetic.  He was banned, he was censored, he was shot.  However, this poet’s commitment and activism, his advocacy on behalf of the poor, never flagged.  Brutus inspired, guided and rallied people toward the fight for justice in the 21st century; his poetry was his way of protesting against the injustices of the apartheid regime and the world, while celebrating the freedoms all men deserved.

The poem below poem is a call to friendship without borders, freedom, love, and peace.  Enjoy!!!

There will come a time
There will come a time we believe
When the shape of the planet
and the divisions of the land
Will be less important;
We will be caught in a glow of friendship
a red star of hope
will illuminate our lives
A star of hope
A star of joy
A star of freedom

by Dennis Brutus

Posted by: humilityjoy | October 6, 2014

Horse cursed by Sun

Horse

Horse

IT is said that once Sun was on earth, and caught Horse to ride it.  But it was unable to bear his weight, and therefore Ox took the place of Horse, and carried Sun on its back.  Since that time Horse is cursed in these words, because it could not carry Sun’s weight:

Le soleil / The sun

Le soleil / The sun

From to-day thou shalt have a (certain) time of dying.
This is thy curse, that thou hast a (certain) time of dying.
And day and night shalt thou eat,
But the desire of thy heart shall not be at rest,
Though thou grazest till morning and again until sunset.
Behold, this is the judgment which I pass upon thee,” said Sun.

Since that day Horse’s (certain) time of dying commenced.

South African Folk Tales, by James A. Honey, 1910, Baker & Taylor Company.

Porte / Door

Porte / Door

Celui qui est dans la maison d’un autre, laisse ses défauts à la porte (Proverbe Rwanda).

Whoever is in another’s house, leaves his faults at the door (Rwanda proverb).

Posted by: humilityjoy | October 1, 2014

Une Chimiste dans vos portefeuilles / A Chemist in Your Purse

Mrs Dicoh Mariam Konan, first female chemist of Cote d'Ivoire, on the currency with her pipettes

Mme Dicoh Mariam Konan, 1ere femme chimiste de Cote d’Ivoire, sur la piece de monnaie avec ses burettes

Je suis sûre que si vous êtes de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, et de la zone CFA, vous êtes certainement tombée sur cette pièce de 25FCFA sur laquelle une femme est representée.  Eh bien cette femme-là est la toute première femme chimiste de la Côte d’Ivoire, Mme Konan née Dicoh Mariam.  Elle est gravée sur la pièce de 25f CFA avec une burette de chimiste.

On utilise cette pièce sans même se demander qui est cette personne qui se trouve dessus… ou même ce qu’elle fait, ou ce qu’elle tient en main.
Mme Konan, une brillante chimiste qui a su manier plein de formules chimiques est le genre de personnes dont on doit parler; elle mérite bien plus qu’un prix d’excellence.  C’est un exemple pour toutes les filles de l’Afrique, et du monde entier, parce qu’elle a su briller par son ambition et sa motivation.  Chapeau à elle et à toutes les autres femmes en Afrique qu’on ne nomme pas, car elle est une femme très battante et remarquable.  Un modèle de femme dont on doit se souvenir dans le futur de génération en génération.  Waou… premiere femme chimiste de tout un pays… quel merveilleux exemple de détermination!
Aujourd’hui, Mme Konan est propriétaire de l’espace gastronomique ” La Gorge d’Or,” à Abidjan.  Elle est une fierté pour toute l’Afrique.  Longue vie à cette femme intelligente et nous espèrons en apprendre plus sur toutes les femmes brillantes du continent.
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25FCFA coin

25FCFA coin

If you are from West Africa, and from the CFA economic zone, you have probably come across the 25 FCFA coin on which a woman is engraved.  That woman happens to be the first woman chemist of Côte d’Ivoire, Mrs Konan Dicoh Mariam.  She is engraved on the 25 FCFA coin with a burette.

People use this coin without wondering who is on it, or even what she is doing, or even what she is holding.
Mariam Dicoh Konan

Mariam Dicoh Konan

Mrs Konan, a bright chemist who was able to handle a lot of chemistry formulas, is the kind of people we should be talking about; she deserves an excellence prize.  She is an example for all the girls and women of Africa, and the world, because she was able to shine by her ambition and motivation.  I raise my hat to her and all other women who remain unnamed, because she is a strong and remarkable woman.  She is a model who should be remembered in the future by all generations.  Wow… first female chemist of an entire country… such a marvelous example of determination!

Today, Mrs Konan is the owner of a gastronomical space ‘La Gorge d’Or‘ in Abidjan.  She makes all Africans proud.  Long life to this intelligent woman, and we hope to learn more about all the other bright women of the continent.

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