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Bulatovich: Noble Kaffas, Oromos, Sidamas vs. Evil Amhara, and the Forthcoming End of Abyssinia


Continuing the series of articles on the insightful documentation provided by the Russian Military Officer, Explorer, and Orthodox Monk in his books about his deeds and excursions, observations and explorations in Abyssinia (undertaken over three years 1896 — 1899), I herewith republish a third part from his second book titled “With the Armies of Menelik II”; the part covers the Kingdom of “Kaffa”.

three princes of Gimiro tribes

In this unit, there are many mistakes and misperceptions in non descriptive parts of Bulatovich’s text; the Kaffa are not Semitic and they never amalgamated with any Semitic tribes and peoples, who never inhabited Africa — with the exception of the Abyssinians. But the times of Bulatovich were characterized by a Pan-Semitic delusion of many Orientalists who acted not as free scholars dedicated to the search of Truth, but under full Freemasonic and Zionist guidance in order to deceive the global academic community and promote the political interests of the Freemasonic, Zionist, colonial powers, namely England and France.

Every effort undertaken by Bulatovich in order to associate Kaffa words to Abyssinian vocabulary is a failed attempt of etymology. It was due to Abyssinian misinformation, and to the aforementioned Pan-Semitic trend of those days. Useless to add that the term Hamito-Semitic languages simply does not exist; like the other, most recent, falsehood of ‘Afro-Asiatic’ languages, it was created in order to promote the Pan-Semitic (Pan-Freemasonic and Pan-Zionist) fallacy and to subordinate the Hamitic and Kushitic families of nations and peoples to the Freemasonic — Zionist version of History.

In this part, Bulatovich offers a superb insightful into the last moments of the great African Kingdom of Kaffa which was destroyed in the evil process of colonial expansion, and due to the criminal alliance of the barbarous, alien and incestuous Amhara Abyssinians with the English and the French who provided the monstrous Amhara gangsters with the arms needed to exterminate the Kushitic African kingdoms of the Oromos, the Afars, the Sidamas, the Kaffas, and others. Through Bulatovich’s narrative, the noblesse and the genuine royalty of Chenito, last Kaffa King, appear in striking contrast with the lewd, vulgar and disreputable attitude, behaviour and mind of the non African Amhara and Tigray Abyssinians (although Bulatovich is relatively favorable to the latter due to the political interests he served).

The barbaric act of invasion and destruction of the Kaffa Kingdom is a sacrilege for which the Amhara and Tigray Abyssinians will pay dearly and up to extreme regret. But what awaits them is far worse that the genocide they appallingly and inhumanly applied to the Kaffa nation over the past 110 years.

The liberation of Kaffa, Sidama, Oromia, Ogaden, Afar Land and all the other subjugated and tyrannized Kushitic and Nilo-Saharan nations will herald the final and irrevocable dissolution of the incestuous Amhara society, thus putting an end to Africa’s most cannibalistic shame.

In several forthcoming articles, I will publish other parts of Bulatovich’s second book, and in addition, I will extensively comment on parts of his first book (notably History, Religion, Conclusion).

All the Oromos, Ogadenis, Afars, Sidamas and others, who fight for their independence, and all the neighboring countries, not only Egypt and Sudan but also Somalia and Eritrea, which are threatened because of the evil, eschatological dreams of Greater Ethiopia, must study, understand and diffuse the insightful documentation available in the two books, which were published by the Russian explorer before 110 years; in and by itself, this documentation constitutes good reason for the world to be preoccupied with the source of every regional trouble and instability: the Amhara and Tigray (Tewahedo) Monophysitic Abyssinians who rule tyrannically over the lands they invaded and the nations they subjugated.

Ethiopia through Russian Eyes

An eye-witness account of the end of an era, 1896-98 consisting of two books by Alexander Bulatovich:

From Entotto to the River Baro (1897)

With the Armies of Menelik II (1900)

Translated by Richard Seltzer, Hidden Email Addresswww.samizdat.com

Copyright 1993 by Richard Seltzer

With the Armies of Menelik II

Journal of an expedition from Ethiopia to Lake Rudolf

By Alexander K. Bulatovich

With four diagrams, three maps, and 78 photographs by the author and Lieutenant Davydov; Saint Petersburg, “Artistic Press” Publishing House, 28 Angliyskiy St., 1900, 271 pages

Published with permission of the Military Science Committee of the Chief of Staff

Reissued in 1971 as part of the volume With the Armies of Menelik II, edited by I. S. Katsnelson of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R. “Science” Publishing House Chief Editorial Staff of Oriental Literature Moscow 1971.

Translated by Richard Seltzer

III. Kaffa

Kaffa is located on the middle part on the eastern and western spurs of a mountain range that serves as the watershed between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.30 The elevation of the mountain range makes Kaffa open to the southwest and northwest winds, which bring it abundant rain periodically twice a year (in February to March and August to September). However, rain also falls often the rest of the year, and in all of Ethiopia Kaffa is the place with the greatest abundance of precipitation. They never have droughts here like those in the northern part of the Ethiopian highlands. The rivers are exceptional for having such an abundance of water, and Kaffa itself is covered with rich vegetation. To the east from the mountain ridge flow the rivers Gojeb, Adiya, Gumi, Wosh and others which flow into the Omo, and from the western slopes the Menu, Bako, Baro and others, which serve as tributaries f the Juba or the Sobat.31 All the numerous rivers are fed by a countless number of streams and small brooks that start in the main mountain range and its spurs. The water basin, serving as excellent irrigation, is distributed evenly across the whole expanse of Kaffa, which benefits the fertility of its soil, the like of which I have never seen. The moderate elevation of Kaffa above sea level — on the average not higher than 2,000 meters and not lower than 1,600 meters — also has a favorable influence on vegetation. However, separate summits, like Gida-Shonga, Gonga-Beke, Bacha-aki-Kila, Geshe, attain an elevation of 3,000 meters.

In the middle of rich black earth, clay is encountered in places. Whatever space is entirely free of cultivation is covered with forest, which grows amazingly fast and mightily. Just neglect some plot of ground, and in two to three years it turns into an impassable thicket. Here man must fight with the forest like those who live bordering on deserts must fight with sands covering the land.

The predominant kind of rock is a red porous sandstone. One rarely comes across granite.

With such an abundance of forests, one might presume that the country is likewise rich in their usual inhabitants — wild animals. However, there are almost no predatory species of animals here (which is explained by the standard of culture of the country and its former density of population). You rarely encounter wild goats, antelope, or chamois; and only in the crown forest reserves are buffalo and elephant found. It is strictly forbidden to hunt them. There are also very few birds in Kaffa. I never heard a single song-bird. They say that predatory birds appeared only recently, with the arrival of the Abyssinians.

Related to the Abyssinians and similar to them, the populace of Kaffa, represents a mixture of the tribes which originally inhabited Ethiopia with Semites.

Undoubtedly, the percentage of Semitic blood in the Kaffas is less than that in the Abyssinians. However, all Kaffa people are not all of the same type. Rather, there are two varieties of Kaffa: the type which is purest and close to the Abyssinians — their aristocracy; and the lowest class of the populace — descendants of slaves from all the neighboring tribes, who resemble on the surface the Sidamo people, having mixed the least with other offspring of the generation of the original inhabitants of Ethiopia.32

Until recently, Kaffa was still a powerful southern Ethiopian empire; but in 1897, it was conquered by Abyssinia.

It is very difficult to reconstruct the history of Kaffa since, aside from several legends, there are almost no data. From Abyssinian sources it is known that the Ethiopian Empire was powerful, Kaffa formed with it one indivisible whole.

By legend, Kaffa was conquered in the fifteenth century by Atye (Emperor) Zara Yakob. The name of “Kaffa” is attributed to him. After his death, one of the sons of the Ethiopian emperor reigned in Kaffa.33 Under Lyb-na-Dyngyl or David II, the king of Kaffa was considered the first vassal of the emperor of Ethiopia. At times when the King of Kaffa visited the court of the Emperor, he was shown the greatest honor: the Emperor himself went to meet him and the King of Kaffa sat on the right side of the throne.

The invasion of the Gallas and the wars of Gran (sixteenth century) separated Kaffa from the rest of Abyssinia and for many centuries isolated it. Because of this, Kaffa preserved domestic and cultural relationships in the same form as there were when the Galla invasion occurred. However, much was lost, including the Christian faith, which they had professed before the invasion, and literacy.

Populated by a strong people, imbued with love for their fatherland and an enterprising, war-like spirit, occupying an advantageous central position, protected by forests and mountains, Kaffa subdued the neighboring states, and formed out of them a powerful southern Ethiopian empire, known formerly under the general name of Kaffa. This empire included the following six main vassal kingdoms: Jimma, Kulo, Konta, Koshya, Mocha and Enareya.

Jimma was populated by Gallas. In Enareya, also known as Lima, lived tribes which were a mixture of Gallas with the original inhabitants of the country34 (kindred of the Kaffa). Mocha has the same origin as the Kaffa. In the kingdoms of Kulo, Konta and Koshya kindred tribes live, who are very similar in type, having a common language, culture and customs. Explorers of Africa called these people “Sidamo.” (This name is unknown to themselves.) I will adhere to this nomenclature.35

These subdued lands, however, did not lose their independence: Kaffa did not interfere in their internal affairs, demanding only payment of tribute and acknowledgment of their suzerainty. At the time of the death of Zara Yakob, his dynasty ruled in Kaffa. The kings of Kaffa — tato (from the word atye — “emperor” in Abyssinian) — styled themselves as Kings of Kaffa and Enareya. But discord, the time of which is difficult to determine even approximately, led to separation of their thrones. The ancient dynasty of Zara Yakob remained in Enareya, while in Kaffa the house of Manjo reigned. The disintegration of the empire did not destroy the ties between both states. On visiting Kaffa, the King of Enareya received honors even greater than its own ruler: for instance, the King of Kaffa rose to meet his guest and had his guest sit with him on the throne to the right side.

After Enareya was subdued by the Limu Galla tribe, it lost its significance, having been made subject to the Galla prince who conquered it. But the dynasty of the king of Enareya continued to exist up until recent times, and up until the very end of the independent existence of Kaffa, Kaffa showed the kings of Enareya royal honors.

The dynasty of Manjo, apparently, does not differ from Kaffa in its governmental structure nor in court etiquette: as they are written in the ancient Abyssinian books Kobyra Negest, so exactly they remain. In its structure, culture, and class distinctions, Kaffa is indebted entirely to Abyssinia.36 At the head of state stood the autocratic tato (king, emperor), who had unlimited authority. His person was considered holy and inviolable. He surrounded himself with great honors and was inaccessible for his subjects. At his court, the strictest etiquette was observed. With the exception of his seven advisors and several retainers, none of his subjects dared look their sovereign in the face. When he appeared, his subjects prostrated themselves, snapping at the earth with their teeth, and in this manner literally fulfilled the common salutation, “For you I gnaw the earth.”

Special roads were built for the king, along which no one else could go. The tato had several residences in various places and lived in them for those times of year which for that particular place were considered the healthiest. The main capital was the town of Andrachi, in which an enormous palace was located: the span of each of the columns that support it was several times the reach of both extended arms. The Abyssinians, having torn the city asunder, had to spend a long time trying to destroy this colossal building, until they finally succeeded in burning it down. In front of the palace, there was a large open space. Those who came to court had to dismount here and go the rest of the way by foot.

Sometimes the tato would appear in the court of justice. There he sat silently, with his face covered, up to the eyes, with a shamma. Those who were being tried stood with their backs to him.

The dinner of the king was accompanied with great ceremonies. The only person allowed to go behind the curtains, where the tato made himself comfortable, was the one who had the responsibility to feed him and give him drink. The sovereign himself would not exert himself at all. The gentleman carver brought everything to him and placed it in his mouth. This post was considered very important in the court hierarchy. This dignitary had to be distinguished for the best moral qualities so as not to in any way harm the king. During the time when he was away from his main duties, his right arm was tied in a canvas sack, in order that this arm, which fed the king, not contract some illness or be bewitched.

Originally, the tato was Christian. But the last six kings formally renounced Christianity, having banned Christian priests from the palace and having replaced them with pagan priests. Each week the tato locked himself up in the temple together with the head priest of Merecho and spent several days there with him, telling fortunes and conjuring.

For discussion of the most important matters, the king appointed a high council, for which only representatives of five families could be selected: Hio (two people), Amara, Argefa, Machya and Uka.37 From among the seven councilors (usually from the Hio family) one, named katamarasha, was the main spokesperson and announced the will of the king. This council served as the highest court of law.

For administrative purposes, the whole country was divided into 12 regions: Bimbi, Gauta, Beshe, Bita, Oka, Dech, Adda, Kaffa, Gobe, Shashi, Wata, and Chana. Each of these was entrusted to the management of a governor — waraba or rasha (this name derives from the Abyssinian word ras), who had an assistant — guda. Warabas were appointed by the king, independent of what family they belonged to. Their responsibilities included administering justice and inflicting punishment, and, in time of war, assembling and supplying provisions for the militia.

The regions, which derived their names from the families which inhabited them, were, in turn, divided into smaller parts or parcels. The eldest man of the eldest line in the family was considered the local chief. Consequently, at the foundation of the state there lay a tribal, aristocratic origin, on which class distinctions were also based. After the first subjugation of Kaffa by Abyssinians (in the fifteenth century), to consolidate his realm, the reigning king distributed to his fellow fighters both the conquered lands and the inhabitants, who had been turned into slaves. Those native families who voluntarily submitted or who performed some service for the Abyssinians kept their freedom and privileges. Thus the descendants of the Abyssinian new-comers who had settled in the country and the privileged natives formed a class which enjoyed the advantages of freedom and landownership, but which in return was obligated on the one hand to defend the state from external enemies and on the other hand to keep the subdued region in hand.

The closest advisors of the king were selected from several families who perhaps had blood ties with the ruling dynasty or whose ancestors distinguished themselves by some special outstanding deeds. As a consequence of the tribal nobility that emerged in this manner, the older lines constituted the ruling class, and the younger lines were free nobles, obliged only for military service.

My assumptions are confirmed by the existence up until now of a dependent populace which is conditionally free, which is not exempt from military service, and likewise the fact that among the names of the clans are found family names of Abyssinian and non-Abyssinian origin. For instance, “Amara” is undoubtedly an Abyssinian name, and “Hio” is probably local.

As a consequence of new conquests, captive slaves, merging with the subdued populace, increased the number of the dependent class.

In Kaffa, aside from these two basic classes, there also exist free merchants and pagan priests. The first are former local merchants and new-comers; the latter, in view of the strict succession of their religious order, also constituted a separate class. However, only one of the sons of a pagan priest was obliged to succeed to the profession of the father — the remaining children of this priest had free choice in this regard. Similar to Abyssinians in all other respects, the Kaffa are only lower than the Abyssinians in the level of their culture: letters are completely unknown to the pagans.

The Kaffa dress the same as Abyssinians. Men of the higher class wear the shamma — a wide piece of thick cotton material which is thrown over the shoulders, and the free ends of which fall back. They also wear short, very wide trousers which do not extend to the knees and are made of thick cotton material with beautiful patterns woven on the edges.

The lower class does not have the right to dress themselves in cloth and wears only leather. The entire costume of a man consists of a leather apron on the hips, and, in cold weather or rain, they throw over their shoulders a cape made of huge half-leaves of a banana-like (musa enset) tree, laid upon one another. The wide part of the banana-like tree leaf is like fringe attached to the main stem of the leaf and falls in long ribbons.

Women of the higher class wear long shirts, and those of the lower class wear leather skirts. Headgear is the same for both classes. In addition, cone-shaped caps made of those same banana-like tree leaves are also seen.

Men, as well as women, adorn their arms and legs with bracelets, rings, ear-rings, and beads.

The Kaffa differ from other tribes in their hair-style. Men grow long hair which, for instance on the king, stands up in a shock or is braided in plaits that hang down to the shoulders. Women have the same kind of hairstyle.

In former times, the food of the Kaffa consisted of meat, milk, and porridge made of the seeds of various bread-grain plants. Nowadays, they eat almost exclusively bread made from the roots of a banana-like tree (that same musa enset), since that is the only food stuff they can obtain after the general destruction.

This bread is prepared in the following manner: once a tree has attained four years of growth, they dig it up and strip off the leaves; then they bury the thick lower part of the trunk in the ground and leave it there for several months. After this time, it begins to rot and turn sour. Then they extract the buried tree from the ground, clean off the spoiled outer layer, and scrape and grind the part which has turned sour and soft. Then they bake it in large earthenware pans. This bread is not very nutritious. It is unsavory and has an unpleasant sour smell. If you add flour to it, then the bread is somewhat improved.

As a supplement to this food, they serve various roots, cooked in water, and also coffee, which they drink several times a day, up until and after eating. They boil coffee in earthenware vessels and pour it out into little cups made of ox horn.

The favorite drinks of the Kaffa are beer and mead. The beer is very thick and strong, but prepared without the stupefying leaves of the gesho, in only one malt. The beer is also very thick and sour.

Household utensils are the same as those of the Abyssinians — except for earthenware jogs, which are oblong and similar to ancient Greek vessels, and are of a more beautiful form than those of the Abyssinians.

The buildings of the Kaffa are very similar to those of the Abyssinians, but they are made more carefully and more elegantly.

The Kaffa bury their dead in very deep graves at the bottom of which they make a cave. They usually wrap up the corpse in palm branches, and, at the burial, lower coffee, money, and ivory together with it into the grave. Close relatives of the deceased, mourning his death, dress in rags, scratch their faces until they bleed, and tear out hair. They stay in mourning for a long time.

The Kaffa are bold, dashing horsemen. Their horses are rather tall and, judging by those which I saw, cannot be called bad, even though the climate and character of the place do not favor horse breeding. Only the upper classes have horses, and horses serve exclusively for military purposes. The Kaffa saddle differs from that of the Abyssinians in that it is smaller, covered with leather, and the pommel is much lower. The bit is the same as that of the Abyssinians. The saddle is adorned with metal decorations, but differently from the Abyssinian.

The weapons of the Kaffa include a throwing spear, which has a very beautiful form and is sometimes decorated with an intricate point; and a dagger worn in the belt. Round leather shields serve for defensive armaments. There are no bows and arrows.

Women in Kaffa are in a more dependent position than in Abyssinia. Wives are bought and become the slaves of their husbands, and do not have the right to divorce.

Although the Kaffa language differs sharply from the Abyssinian, it has many roots in common with it.

Their religion is a strange mixture of Christian, Jewish, and pagan beliefs — a conglomerate of all possible superstitions. The highest deity is called Iero or Ier (in all probability, this name derives from the Abyssinian word egziabeer, which means “god”).39 Deontos is honored in parallel with Iero. They make sacrifices to both deities. According to the beliefs of the Kaffa, Christ, Mary, and Satan (the devil), and simply a kalicha or bale (pagan priest) can help in case of misfortune.

Very few traces of Christianity remain here. They only left a few churches whole. Priests who came from Abyssinia sometimes served in them. And up until most recent times several fasts were observed by the king and the aristocracy. For example, they had a 50-day fast which coincides with the time of our Lent, and a thirty-day fast which falls in autumn. Of the Christian holidays, the Kaffa honor Holy Cross Day, which is Mashkala in their language (Maskal in Abyssinian) and shanbat (sanbat in Abyssinian) — Sabbath [Saturday]. Friday is considered a holiday. And with that is exhausted all connection of the religion of the Kaffa with Christianity.

From Judaism, they adopted the ceremony of circumcision of babies and the method of slaughtering cattle (which, as is well known, Jews perform in accord with strictly defined ritual). The paganism of the Kaffa appears most strikingly in the fact that, from their point of view, all success and failure in life, all disasters and averting of disasters depend on a deity who is in each separate case either merciful or inflicting punishment. In order to dispose this deity favorably toward oneself and to propitiate him, one must make sufficient sacrifice. The mood of the deity and the answer to the question of which of the gods to address oneself to is only known to a pagan priest, a sorcerer — bale. He sacrifices an animal supplied to him for this, then tells fortunes by its innards and… gives advice. But there are other means as well at the disposal of the bale: various incantations, medicines, etc. If prayers do not succeed, the pagan priest is never to blame, but rather the client was not able to propitiate the deity sufficiently, or did something contrary to the deity or was “bewitched” again by some evil man after the sacrifice.

Formerly, sacrifices were frequent and national and done in mass. These sacrifices were performed on days which corresponded with several of our holidays (for example, Holy Cross Day, etc.) and also on especially important occasions of state life. The place of sacrifice was Mount Bonga-Shanbata, i.e. Sabbath Bonga, on the summit of which a temple was built. According to old-timers, on days of national sacrifice, hundreds of bulls were slaughtered. Their blood flowed from the mountain in a stream, and tens of thousands of men ate the sacrificed animals.

However, despite the fact that Christianity is almost completely forgotten, there remain here several families who still firmly adhere to it and who therefore received with joy the missionary Massai who visited the capital of Kaffa and the surrounding area. This missionary succeeded in converting several hundred people to Catholicism.

In the far distant past, before its destruction and conquest by the Abyssinians, Kaffa was the industrial and commercial center of Ethiopia. Thanks to its wealth, to the fertility of soil etc., it had the reputation of being an almost fairytale country. It abounded in bread, mead, cattle, and horses, and with its tributaries, it gathered a huge quantity of ivory.

A large part of the musk exported from Ethiopia was obtained in Kaffa. Excellent cloth and the best iron articles — spears and daggers — were made in Kaffa. But circumstances changed, and the once flourishing and busy state is now completely destroyed and an almost deserted country…

During the time when Kaffa, isolated by the Gallas, it did not change its internal structure at all and got hardened in the old forms of life, Abyssinia recovered from the blow the Gallas had struck, quickly grew, got stronger, and developed. In its wars, Abyssinia acquired guns. Abyssinia subdued one after the other the peoples who surrounded it, under whose power it had temporarily fallen. Finally, expanding its borders, it became a neighbor of Kaffa. Having gone through so many revolutions in this time, tempered in heavy conflict both with external and internal enemies, once it had gotten stronger, Abyssinia really couldn’t stop on the way to fulfillment of its cultural-historical mission — the union and development of the Central African tribes who inhabit Ethiopia.

The collision of the two tribal states became inevitable, even though all the chances for victory were, evidently, on the side of Abyssinia. To Kaffa, as the weakest, there remained only to submit voluntarily or be subdued. But Kaffa decided to defend its independence to the very last. Wars began which struck a terrible blow to the prosperity of the country, gradually reducing it to complete collapse and destruction. Despite the desperate resistance, it ended in the complete subjugation of Kaffa and the annexation of it to the Ethiopian empire (1897).

The first campaign against Kaffa was carried out by Ras Adal, the ruler of Gojjam, in 1880. He ravaged one of its districts. At the same time, Kaffa lost one of its vassal states — Jimma — the king of which recognized the power of Ras Adal over him.

The campaign into Kaffa, a warlike country which was inaccessible due to mountains and forests, was considered by contemporaries as an outstanding feat. As a reward for this success, Emperor Yohannes made Ras Adal the Negus of Gojjam and Kaffa. He has reigned in Gojjam up until the present time, under the name of Tekla Haymanot. In 1886, conflict arose between Shoa under Menelik and Gojjam under Tekla Haymanot, over the division of southwestern Ethiopian lands.

Having utterly defeated the king of Gojjam in a battle at Embabo, Menelik took in his hands all the land to the south of the Abbay River, despite the fact that they were at that time independent. Kaffa was among the regions seized by Menelik. It was then that began the gradual conquest of the Kaffa empire by Menelik’s leaders.

Hard times now ensued for all the states which made up the southern Ethiopian empire. A new phase in their history began. Up until this time, they were isolated and closed off. Now they gradually merged into a continuous whole with the entire united Ethiopian highland. Such revolutions don’t happen easily.

Regions that did not want to submit voluntarily Menelik turned over to his most talented commanders, whom he let have the opportunity to conquer them and “feed off” them. However, once these regions had been completely destroyed by war, they could not supply provisions for all the troops that had conquered them, which gave rise to the conquest of neighboring lands which were still free. Thus, little by little, the domain of Menelik grew, and the borders of Abyssinia expanded.

On the southwestern outskirts, three Abyssinian leaders operated: Dajazmatch Tesemma, Dajazmatch Beshakha, and Ras Wolda Giyorgis (at the time still a dajazmatch).

In 1887, Menelik turned over Goma to Dajazmatch Tesemma, Gera to Beshakha, and Lima to Ras Wolda Giyorgis. The tribes who inhabited these lands, especially the Goma, put up a desperate resistance against the Abyssinians. More than once, Tesemma had to turn to Wolda Giyorgis for help, and he quickly gave that help. Once when Tesemma, with an insignificant detachment, was besieged in his fortress by superior forces of Gallas and his military and food supplies were exhausted, only the timely arrival of Wolda Giyorgis with his army saved Tesemma from inevitable destruction.

In their military actions, these leaders stuck to a single tactic. When they arrived in a new land, each of them would choose the most advantageous strategic point and build a fortress or, more correctly, a camp there. Then they would begin to carry out raids on the surrounding area until the inhabitants who were bravely defending were finally convinced that further defense was unthinkable and useless, and submitted. Those who submitted retained their self-government and ruler. But the Abyssinians took the ruler’s children and those of prominent families to raise as hostages. The area was divided for “feeding” among units of the army. They allotted land to those soldiers who wished parcels of land, and gave them some of the defeated inhabitants as serfs.

For the sake of popularity with the troops, the military leaders, in times that were free of military action, arranged endless, abundant feasts. Bulls taken from the enemy were slaughtered daily by the tens, mead flowed in rivers — the fame of the leaders grew with each day; and together with their fame, the quantity of their troops increased… Of course, the means of the conquered region were drained.

The most popular of these commanders was the Ras, at that time still Dajazmatch Wolda Giyorgis. Having received from Menelik permission to conquer Kulo and Konta, which are found on the other side of the Gojeb River, he carried out his plan in a single campaign, as follows. He smashed the feudal Kaffa states of Gofa and Kyshya, then crossed the River Omo and conquered Melo, Boko, and others, having extended his domain almost to Lake Stefanie.

At the same time, Dajazmatch Tesemma subdued all the lands which border Kaffa on the north, and likewise its ally Mocha. As a result, at the beginning of 1896, out of the large Kaffa empire only Kaffa itself still remained independent. And it was already surrounded on three sides by the domains of its bellicose neighbor. On the southeast was Ras Wolda Giyorgis with a fifteen-thousand-man army, half of which was armed with guns. On the east was the feudal king of Jimma. On the northeast was Dajazmatch Demissew, who after the Italian campaign had been made commander of the 8,000-man corps of men from Gondar who were stationed in Leka, Gera, and Guma, and who were armed with guns. On the north was Dajazmatch Tesemma with an 8,000-man army, also armed with guns.

These three leaders repeatedly tried to take possession of Kaffa, but, acting separately, did not have any success: the first campaign of Ras Wolda Giyorgis against Kafa ended without result, and failure befell both Dajazmatch Tesemma and Dajazmatch Demissew.

Due to the stubbornly held belief in the impregnability of Kaffa and the desperate bravery of its people, the Abyssinians set out on these campaigns reluctantly. The difficulty of mountain roads and the humidity of the climate had a disastrous effect on the health of people and horses. In addition, little plunder was expected there: dense forest and mountainous country served as an excellent means for concealing both livestock and property, as well as the inhabitants themselves.

Having decided to break the resistance of Kaffa and annex it, once and for all, to the Ethiopian empire, Menelik in 1896 gave orders to attack it from three sides at once. He entrusted the overall leadership to Wolda Giyorgis, to whom he had granted the right of ownership of all the lands he conquered.

The King (Tato) of Kaffa at this time was Chenito, who had ascended the throne in 1887 on the death of his father, Tato Galito.40 Young, brave, energetic, he, knowing the people’s love for the fatherland and devotion to him, decided to fight to the bitter end.

Foreseeing all the burden of the upcoming resistance, Chenito thoroughly prepared for it and actively took measures for the defense of the country. Along the borders he built a series of frontier posts in order to get advance notice of a surprise attack. He considered the destruction of grain supplies to be the main means of fighting. Knowing very well that the Abyssinians during campaigns supplied themselves exclusively with the provisions of the region under attack, Tato Chenito issued an edict which prohibited producing any crops, even planting. He hoped that the lack of provisions would force the Abyssinians to retreat, and that only the Kaffa, who were used to it, could nourish themselves. To this end, word was spread among the people that a revelation had come to the high priest that by exactly this means the Kaffa would defeat the Abyssinians.

The fact that in the upcoming war the king intended to hold to an exclusively defensive form of action was also from the fact that he himself taught his beloved wife to ride on horseback in case of flight.

The character of their main enemy, Ras Wolda Giyorgis, was well known to the Kaffa. And they didn’t entertain any illusions with regard to the battle that was in the making and its possible outcome. The anxiety which reigned among them gave rise to several different rumors. For example, it was said that, at one of the dinners in the presence of Menelik, Ras Wolda Giyorgis solemnly swore that he would subdue Kaffa and take its king prisoner. And as if to confirm his oath, he in one swig drank a huge goblet, which he then threw up with such force that it broke into smithereens when it struck the ceiling.

But, nevertheless, neither the evident inequality of forces, nor the insignificance of the chances for success, nor the undoubted destruction of the country in the unlikely case of victory could stop the king and his people in their unshakable determination to fight to the very end.

In November 1896 Ras Wolda Giyorgis, the first of the three participants in the campaign, marched into Kaffa from Kulo with 10,000 men and, putting to fire and sword everything on the way, arrived at the city of Andrachi, the capital of Kaffa, where he built a fortified camp. Tato (King) Chenito retreated, continually harassing the rear and flanks of the Abyssinians with his cavalry detachments, such that the first days were marked by continuous skirmishes of small parties, in which the Abyssinians, thanks to fire-arms, always had the upperhand.

Having consolidated his position in Andrachi, Ras Wolda Giyorgis divided his army into large detachments, and sent them out in various directions. These detachments laid waste the country, ravaging it for a radius of many tens of versts [seven miles], taking prisoner the women and children who were hidden in the forests, and setting fire to everything that could burn.

But the destruction of the country by far still did not lead to its submission: as long as the king was alive and free, the Kaffa cause could not yet be considered lost. The Abyssinians had already destroyed parts of Kaffa many times, but in the end almost always the conquerors retreated, forced to do so by the fatigue of the of the troops, the lack of provisions, and the bad climatic conditions (two rainy seasons per year). When the enemy left, the king, who had been hiding, again appeared in the capital; women and children came out of the dense forest and caves; and the cattle were driven home again. The people made sacrifices of thanksgiving, rebuilt houses that had been burned down — and… Kaffa healed as before.

In order to avoid this, Ras Wolda Giyorgis decided to exert all his force and use all possible means to either kill the King or take him prisoner. With this aim, he organized secret reconnaissance and espionage, mainly by means of prisoners. They paid the spies large sums and, by order of Wolda Giyorgis, set the prisoners free.

As soon as he received word of the location of Tato’s sanctuary, Wolda Giyorgis quickly set out towards there with significant forces. The king fled to another place, but Wolda Giyorgis found this place as well and pursued him in this manner, indefatigably, five times.

The position of the king became even more difficult when the detachments of Tesemma and Demissew appeared and began to take action on the western and northern borders. Demissew entered Kaffa from Guma in February and in March joined forces with Wolda Giyorgis and set up camp in the town of Bonga.

The forces of Tato Chenito soon were completely shattered. Scattered and deprived of their main leader, finding themselves in complete ignorance regarding his fate and not knowing where he was, the Kaffa could not rally for his defense. Each of the survivors could only think about saving himself.

Staying in the center and moving from there in all directions with “flying detachments,” Wolda Giyorgis with part of his army surrounded the area where the King was located, having seized with separate detachments all the main routes to the south, to the Negro lands, and having put a series of guard posts in place on all paths and tracks. Each guard post set up an abattis at the narrowest place on a protected route — narrow gates and beside them a small fortification in the form of a high fence surrounding a guard house. This system gave fine results.

The wives of the King, all his property and regalia fell into the hands of the Ras at the very beginning. The only one who was still free was the favorite wife of Chenito, who had not parted from him; but in the sixth month of the blockade she, too, was taken prisoner.

The King did not give up his freedom easily. The rest of his suite was scattered; he even lacked horses, but, in spite of this, he continued to skillfully hide himself, accompanied only by several faithful servants.

Now the life of the King was not at all like the pampered and luxurious life he had led up to that time. Surrounded on all sides by secret and obvious enemies, forced to suffer all possible deprivations, with difficulty obtaining scanty food for himself, not having even shelter for several months (and that at the very worst time of year), Chenito, however, displayed such will power and such courage, amounting to daring, that he astonished his enemies. According to stories, he sometimes appeared in the very camp of the Abyssinians in rags, dressed as a simple Kaffa, and successfully went through their hands.

But the Ras did not easily give up the pursuit. When at the end of February, the first rainy season started, mud became deep, and roads impassable, the troops began to feel the absence of provisions and as a result of poor food an epidemic of dysentery began, which claimed many victims, especially among the irregular forces, consisting of Galla and Sidamo. To all this was added still the loss of livestock, and the fact that corpse flies appeared in abundance in the vicinity of the camp.

A murmur arose among the troops, and all surrounding the Ras began to insist that he go back to Kulo. They demonstrated to Wolda Giyorgis that hope for capturing the King was lost and that to stay longer in the plundered and finally drained region was pointless and disastrous. The Ras gave evasive answers, promised to leave, delayed fulfillment of his promise from week to week, but strongly, in his soul, decided to not leave Kaffa until it was completely subdued. In order to in some way entertain the troops, he undertook a small raid on Geshe, a Kaffa region which was previously untouched (which lies on the summit of a mountain ridge that rises up to 3,000 meters above sea level). And Dajazmatch Demissew decided to move against the southern Gimiro territory. But the guard posts and a small reserve stayed in place to continue to blockade the place where the king was located.

This was the time of the spring rainy period, and the troops strongly suffered from the cold.

The invasion of Geshe had a positive effect on the situation, since it raised the spirits of the soldiers which had previously been falling. It also made it possible for them to obtain some food supplies. Returning to Andrachi, the Ras took pepper seeds and cabbage sprouts and ordered the soldiers to plant them.

After Easter, which arrived in the most difficult circumstances, the summer rainy season arrived, when there wasn’t any talk either about the pursuit of Chenito nor even about leaving. The king was still free. The troops of the Ras were totally worn out by hunger and disease. There arose an intolerable stench from the quantity of corpses in Andrachi. It appeared that the Ras, despite his strength of spirit, would have to give up his well-conceived plan; but fate decided otherwise. On August 14, 1897, in the main camp of Wolda Giyorgis a message was received from Fitaurari Atyrsye41, who occupied the southern guard posts with his regiment — they had taken Tato Chenito prisoner.

Chenito, for whom staying among the Abyssinian guard posts was becoming every day more dangerous, had intended to flee to the southern lands belonging to the Negroes. He decided to break through the guard posts, at night, dressed as a simple Kaffa, accompanied only by a single servant. They noticed him and raised the alarm. Chenito ran into the nearby forest, which the Abyssinians quickly surrounded. In the morning, they passed through it several times in a chain, but did not find King; and only at night, one soldier, searching in a thicket for a missing mule, accidentally stumbled upon Chenito. The king threw two spears at the soldier — silver and copper — but missed, and having no hope for being saved, gave himself up. The Ras ordered the captured Chenito to dress in his best clothes and showed him royal honor. The first meeting between the conqueror and the conquered was remarkable. Both bowed to the ground to one another, and Tato Chenito, having taken from his arm three gold bracelets, asked the Ras to accept this gift, saying the following: “I give this to you, man among men. Neither Ras Gobana, nor Negus Tekla Haymanot, nor Tesemma, nor Demissew ever succeeded in subduing me; but you have done so. If you refuse to wear these bracelets, then I will despise you.”

News of the capture of the King was announced to the scattered people, and the war ended of itself. Captured Kaffa were set free; and through them the word was spread that all, not fearing for their lives, could return to their lands; and that the elders should assemble in the town of Andrachi. For the most part, the leaders of regions remained as before, and individuals who were well known for their services to Abyssinia were named to prominent posts. On the restoration of peace, the Ras, together with Chenito as prisoner, set out for Addis Ababa, having entrusted to his wife and a small detachment the job of guarding the territory. The other troops were given furlough.

Footnotes to Armies

B: = Bulatovich, author
K: = Katsnelson, editor of Russian reprint
S: = Seltzer, translator

30 B: This mountain ridge, unknown up until now, was discovered by me. See more lower.

31 B: See lower.

32 K: Originally a region in the southwest of Ethiopia where the Sidamo people, including the Kaffa, settled. This was taken by Negroids, who, up until the present, remain in part on the Ethiopian-Sudanese border and are known under the general name of “Shangalla” (from the Amharic word for Negro). The Negroids were gradually forced out or absorbed by Cushitic tribes, which consequently received the name “Sidamo,” speaking Semito-Hamitic languages. (They have no written language.) Apparently, they settled the whole region between the Blue Nile and Gojeb, but in the fourteenth century were driven away by Galla to the mountains of the southwest. For classification of Sidamo languages see: M.M. Moreno, Manuale di Sidamo, Milano, 1940. Kaffa or Gonga is in the Gonga language group, towhich also belong the languages Shinasha, Bosha or Garo, Mao, and Sheka or Mocha.

33 K: This legend is not in keeping with the oral tradition established by F. Bieber. The population of the country of the Minjo tribe, from which the king’s clan derives, is imputed to be Kaffa. In agreement with this tradition, up until 1890, there were 19 kings who had succeeded one another from the first — Minjo (1390). The version about the descent of the dynasty of the kings of Kaffa from Zara Yakob, cited by A. K. Bulatovich is unconfirmed. (See, F. Bieber. Kaffa. Ein altkuschitisches Volkstum in Inner-Afrika, vol. II, Modling bei Wien, 1923, pages 494-533). About the time of government of separate kings, also see: C.F. Beckingham and G.W.B. Huntingford, Some Records of Ethiopia, 1593-1646. London, 1954, Pages LVII-LVIII.

34 B: The double name of the country indicates the origin of this tribe. The more ancient name — Enareya (which means “slaves”) — was given to it by the Abyssinians who conquered it. The more recent name — Limu — it obtained from the name of the Galla tribe which took possession of it afterwards.

35 K: The name “Sidam” first occurs in Ethiopian literature in the sixteenth century. It is possible that it originated from the western Semitic root “sid,” “sad” meaning “to travel” and the suffix -ata, where of course a was transformed into o. See, E. Cerulli, Peoples of South-West Ethiopia and its Borderland, London, 1956.

36 K: In actuality, in Kaffa right up to its conquest by Ethiopia, the people preserved many of their distinctive peculiarities, in particular in the political and social structure of the country. (See, F. Bieber, Kaffa…, and also G.W. Huntingford, The Galla of Ethiopia, The Kingdom of Kaffa and Janjero, London, 1955, p. 103).

37 K: Members of this council were called “Mikirecho.” The clans A. K. Bulatovich writes about were called Hiyo, Amaro, Ako (Ukko), Mechcho, and Minjo. The king belongs to the last of those. In the opinion of F. Bieber, the general number of clans attained 37. (F. Bieber, Kaffa, Ein altkuschitisches Volkstum in Inner-Africa, Volume II, Modling bei Wien, 1923, pages 53-55). E. Cerulli counts only 25 (E. Cerulli, Etiopia Occidentale, volume 1, Rome, 1932, chapter 20). Apart from those indicated, the following clans were considered privileged: Girgo, Argeppo, Dingerato, Yachino, Kalichcho, Kullo, and Matto.

38 B: One of the regimental commanders of the Ras.

39 K: A.K. Bulatovich’s guess about the origin of the name Iero is not confirmed. Iero or Yaro was originally the god of the sky, the representation of which after the spread of Christianity in Kaffa in the sixteenth century was combined with representations of the Christian God.

40 K: The last king of Kaffa, Gaki Sherocho (nicknamed Chenito), ascended the throne on April 6, 1890 after the death of his father Gali Sherocho (nicknamed Galito), who had reigned since 1870.

41 B: One of the Ras’s regimental commanders.

Note
Picture:
 Three Gimirro princes
From: http://www.samizdat.com/bulatovichphotos/illustrations/three%20princes%20of%20Gimiro%20tribes.jpg

Posted By : Kumilachew Gebremeskel Ambo 

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