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The victory celebration over the Empire of Kaffa


1463923_542550499168631_1966500783_nThe year 1897 goes toward its end: November! From the stone-stairways of the Gibi, the emperor-palace in Addis Ababa, the view is beyond the green crowns of the long eucalyptus-trees, over the countless roofs of the round-huts far out on the steep dark mountains, that mighty arc limits the wide horizon, and protect the capital of the country like loyal guards.

Here happens today, on the day of the victory celebration over the Empire of Kaffa, the Emperor of Ethiopia, surrounded by his princes and dignitaries, receives, sitting on his throne, the subjugated Gaki Scherotschos, the last emperor-God of Kaffa. Outside, in front of the emperor-palace on the big field, the people waits closely packed. Moreover, in long rows, the troops of Menelik’s stood in form of espalier and on guard. In the emperor-palace, in the stretched throne-hall, the selected ones, who got Menelik’s high-level permission, wait to be witness to the unique sovereign act of subjugation. The big, richly ornamented king-Kettledrum stands in front of the throne-hall. In addition, the first and second outer court of the emperor-palace is fully closely packed with people; mainly they are soldiers, who have proven themselves in particular, in the campaign against Kaffa. A broad alley is freed and leads through the gathered mass that crowded the yards, up to the higher steps into the throne-hall. The princes, the generals and dignitaries clothed in their colourful, rich-embroidered garments, with their golden shields and the lion-manes around their heads, and the people, usually wearing white shamas with glaring, red strips, that are held together with precious pearls or silkenlacing, offers an even colourful picture. It is a wonderful, multi-coloured mosaic of biggest Oriental splendour. On this festive ostentation, the hot sun of Africa shines down from the blue tropical-sky. As if prearranged, the rain has stopped to rain starting from the preceding day of celebration.

The big throne-hall is today especially decorated festively. Around the high, extremely richly carved throne-hall embellishes with gold and becomes green and red velvet, hangs heavy, gold-sewed velvet curtains. At the end of the high armchair of the throne was the crown of Ethiopia placed. Right and left behind the throne-chair and near the wall, especially selected boys from the most noble families of the country, the pages hold guards. Now, motion comes into the awaiting crowed. The beats of the emperor  kettledrum booms Hollowly. They announce the coming closer of the emperor. They announce the coming closer of the emperor. They announce the coming closer of the emperor. In addition, few moments later appear, surrounded by his closest followers, his majesty. Immediately, big, white curtains, that hide the throne from any transparency, are stretched over the golden throne by the palace-servants. It indicates that Emperor Menelik occupies his seat. The strict etiquette requires that the public never gets to see its sovereign when he sits down or when ascending or descending from the horse. The emperor always ought to be in exactly calculated, more picturesque only, indeed visible to his subjects, in a majestic position. Already the servants remove the white sheets again. The imperial-crown on his head, the emperor sits motionlessly and gracefully on his golden throne. Moreover, to the sign of his high imperial dignity, four pages held ornamented red baldachin with gold above him. On the right side of the emperor, his victorious general Ras Wolde Giorgis sits in full war-decoration. In addition, all other princes, generals and dignitaries, the officials and courtiers of the country gather around the two. There, the emperor-kettledrum vibrates with deep sounds. In powerful, long beats, it announces the beginning of the big event. Moreover, a strange procession appears before the first gate of the emperor-palace, which is now closed. Dressed with a green, heavily with gold embellished robe and the golden sword for the last time with the jewel of his demystified crown, the last emperor-God of Kaffa, Gaki Scherotscho steps, wrapped with a dazzling white shama, surrounded by his priests, to the abdication, to his subjugation. In slow steps, the procession has reached the first gate of the emperor’s palace. The big priest of the Emperor-God, at the top of the small procession, now calls three times audibly loud and far over the place for admittance. He knocks with his fist in long intervals three times at the big powerful gate. Short time later this opens slowly. The chamberlain of the Emperor Menelik appears and now learns out of the mouth of the big priest that the emperor-God of Kaffa, Gaki Scherotscho, craves admittance in order to offer Emperor Menelik his abdication, to carry out the subjugation of his country and to beg for the emperor’s kindness…

The chamberlain, escorted with some palace-servants, hurries to report the arrival of the emperor-God of Kaffa to Emperor Menelik. In gracefully weighed steps, the group of the priests together with Gaki Scherotscho in the middle traverses the first courtyard and reaches the heavy gate, that gives admittance into the second atrium of the palace. Then the same ceremony repeated again. Again admittance is granted to the priests and the Emperor-God. Again, at the entrance of the third gate, the grand-priest calls the chamber lain of the emperor and begs him the third time, to open the gate. Moreover, once again, the unique, oriental ritual recurs. Then finally, the priests together with the fully covered Emperor-God stood in front of the great Negus Negesti, King of the Kings, Emperor Menelik II. Deep silence now reigns over the massive hall-all stands under the ban of the great event. Hardly, even the breathing of the people is to be heard. Now, the priests stepped aside. In addition, the white cloths held around Gaki Scherotscho falls to the ground. Now, that has always been excluded from human gaze, stands Gaki Scherotscho alone, displayed freely to the curious, secular stares of the mass. However, Gaki Scherotscho doesn’t feel this humiliation. Only his body endures the humiliation, which is now done to him in front of all people. His soul is distant; his entire ego is at home in Kaffa. Does this Emperor-God appear with his tight appearance and stiff stare demonic or to be pitied? The silence has become even more scarier.

In graceful posture, Ras Wolde Giorgis now raises himself and approaches slowly towards Gaki Scherotscho. He takes the ancient imperial crown of Kaffa from the head of the Emperor-God that green, gold-embroiders Emperor-Mantel from his shoulders, the sacred, golden sword from his side and hands over ceremonially this Jewels of the Empire of Kaffa to his sovereign the Emperor of Abyssinia.

Gaki Scherotscho now stands bareheaded, almost completely undressed there. His appearance is painful. His look seems almost unearthly, his whole being from another world. He is without crown, everything royal is taken from him, but an awesome dignity transmits from him, the secret about the knowledge of his divine mission, which can never get lost from him. Although now dethroned, deprived, imprisoned, the awareness of his past power and authority still lives in Gaki Scherotscho. Therefore, his personality towers like a monumental ore in the reception hall and his stare goes without looking only one single human being far over through the high walls of the auditorium of the palace. Patiently, he anticipates everything further… One of the pages has given Ras Wolde Giorgis a big black Schama, the cloth of the subjugation, that he now going to dress Gaki Scherotscho, the deprived Emperor-God. Moreover, it is all at once, as if an angel of sadness floats through the room. It hasbecome dead silent… While the breathless silence prevails, the priests gather around Gaki Scherotscho again and lead him out through the two courtyards, out on the site in front of the Emperor- Palace. There, a mule waits for him since long while. He must mount it. Now, he is more dressed with the black cloth of his subjugation, bareheaded, and on his bare-neck, he carries a stone. The stone as a sign of his subjugation. In addition, it seems that the gathered people at the big site are overwhelmed themselves by this big tragedy, by this humanely event itself. The humiliation is immense, unbearable agony this human being to endure. In spite of all, Gaki Scherotscho still bears his head high-raised and with pride on his mule. Now the second part of the big sovereign act of the subordinations ceremony starts. Gaki Scherotscho is now alone. His priests have left him, has had to remain in the first courtyard of the Emperor-Palace behind. He now knocks three times at the first gate of the emperor-palace and calls for admittance. Asks the chamberlain of the Emperor, to report, that he, the Emperor-God of Kaffa, wants now to submit. Gaki Scherotscho steps down from his mule and bends deeply toward the ground. The chamberlain appears after a while again and gives Gaki Scherotscho the admittance. Again, the silent sufferer climbs the mule and rides slowly through the gate into the first courtyard of the Emperor-Palace. Now, he is in front of the second gate. Again, he steps down from the mule and knocks at the big, heavy, wooden gate three times, and asks the chamberlain for admittance. Again, he remains for a very long time deeply bowed towards the ground, until the chamberlain delivers him the imperial permission to raise himself and to enter the second atrium of the Emperor-Palace. Gaki Scherotscho raises himself, climbs his mule again, rides through the second courtyard, and before the third gate he carries out this painful ceremony for the third-time. The chamberlain appears for the last time and then takes him to the densely with people filled throne-hall of the Emperor. A virtually alarming silence weighs over the hall, which is illuminated by the many burning candles. Emperor Menelik has now risen himself from his throne. The entire officials raise themselves with him in an eager expectation.Gaki Scherotscho stands straight, few steps further from the adversary Emperor. Now, with his bare shoulder and with a stone of subjugation on his neck, he throws himself towards the floor. Menelik looks measuring at the Emperor-God; which is now lying in front of him. Now Gaki Scherotscho must remain lying on the ground for a very long time, until Emperor Menelik has pronounced his big decision on him and simultaneously the subjugation of the conquered Empire. With few words, Menelik asks Gaki Scherotscho to raise himself and to throw the weighing stone away from his neck. With this sacred act, the Emperor-God of Kaffa is the last from the dynasty of the incredible ruler Minjo, a subject of Abyssinia. The Empire of Kaffa, since ancient times free and undefeated, lose now all of its rights and get absorbed into the big Abyssinian Empire. Emperor Menelik has taken his seat again. Also all invited guests of the Negus. But still he will face difficult times. To symbolize the final subjugation, a slave is now led by a palace-servant into the big throne-hall; Ras Wolde Giorgis approaches Gaki Scherotscho again and puts a silvery heavy chain around the neck of the dethroned Emperor-God. Then the other end of the chain was put on the wrist of the slave Araru, who is the future guard of the dethroned Emperor God. Therefore, Gaki Scherotscho, the last emperor- God of Kaffa, walks towards his humiliating confinement… Few months later, a big excitement has developed in the Gibi palace. Everything is like being in fever and in hopeless dismay. Last night the Emperor Crown of the Kaffecho, the green with gold embroidered robe of the sovereign und the sacred golden sword of Gaki Scherotscho, which one thought to be in safe place, was stolen. It has now become obvious for Menelik that fearless Kaffechos are at the work again to revive the sacred Empire of Kaffa. It is clear to Menelik, that the loss of the Jewels of Kaffa could ruin all successes of the victorious campaign of his efficient army commander, Ras Wolde Giorgis. He knows that the Kaffecho, as soon as their Emperor Crown is in Kaffa again, even if Gaki Scherotscho stays imprisoned in Addis Ababa, they will restore their old Empire of Kaffa a new. Thus the one, who possesses the crown, is Emperor and God of Kaffa. In his highest rage. Menelik calls his general Ras Wolde Giorgis and gives him his instruction to bring the crown, under any circumstances and fastest, back to Addis Ababa again.


Ras Wolde Giorgis gathers his soldiers, and in feverish rush, he moved towards the borders of Kaffa. He possibly takes the normal advance-route, lets however simultaneously many troops advance on side ways through the jungle towards Kaffa. They could not find a track of the runaways anywhere. Two weeks have passed, since Ras Wolde Giorgis has left Addis Ababa. It is in the evening and late; one of the many squads already still hastens, despite the late hour, on the dark narrow jungle-way, on ward. A young Oromo has told Gobena, the leader of this squad, that few hours before, he has observed a few Kaffechos has moved in biggest rush southwards. Gobena suspects that the Imperial Crown of Kaffa is in the holding of these runaways. With the instinct of a child, Gobena has tracked down the rest-camp of the Kaffecho. He gives his instructions. According to his instruction, his people distributed themselves and creep up increasingly nearer towards the unsuspecting Kaffitchos. Then suddenly, they break from all sides and attack the small Kaffechogroup. The struggle is short. Only a few shots whip through the deep silence of the night. However soon thereafter, the echo of the Abyssinians joyful-cry was to be heard. The Imperial-Crown of Kaffa together with the other valuables is captured again. Still in the same night, without taking rest, Gobena hurries with his squad and the precious loot towards Ras Wolde Giorgis. In the east, the dawn is already in the coming. However still before the sun immerse the country into its embers, Ras Wolde Giorgis, appoints Gobena to be the temporary guardian of the loot and the jewels of the Kaffa-Empire, until their arrival in Addis Ababa. Weeks later, Ras Wolde Giorgis hands over the Abyssinian Emperor, through his capable and cunning soldier Gobena the Imperial Crown of Kaffa with the other valuables of the Kaffa-Empire for the second time. On the same day, Menelik makes a quick decision: In order to avoid any eventual capture of the crown by the Kaffitchos, taking it back to Kaffa and try to re-establish their Empire again, the crown should be sent to Europe. He orders one of his most trusted adviser and friend, the Swiss Alfred Ilg, to come to his private-audience. To be thankful for all his past services, he gives his advisor the said crown and other valuables with a tied condition. To put these treasures safe into a European bank. The scanty news, reports about the annihilationcampaign Menelik’s, against the proud Empire Kaffa, that had closed itself since ancient times from the outside world, got also to Europe, Friedrich Bieber, who hangs after this Kaffa since his early youth, had only one objective before him to travel to this country and make research, is profoundly shaken. He fears that with the destruction of Kaffa, with its incorporation into the big Abyssinian Empire an ancient culture has gone under. He fears that with the destruction of Kaffa, with its incorporation into the big Abyssinian Empire, an ancient culture has gone under. From the compiled reports- at home in his modest Viennese apartment- shapes itself in him slowly the picture, that Menelik armies, must have gone through a hard work of war. And he is traumatized with the thought that the little still remaining, which the warriors Menelik’s have left of the culture of this country, the overgrowing vegetation of the jungle could destroy within a short time for ever. Bieber is inspired from one single thought after all, finally to reach Africa, Kaffa… —

withMengistu Mamo.

Posted By: Kumilachew Gebremeskel Ambo

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