By: Otto Bieber
THE BATTLE FOR KAFFA
ADDIS ABABA 1896
On the seventh day after the return of his army commanders and warriors from the big battle of Adua against the Italians, emperor Menelik II celebrated the significant victory in Addis Ababa, the capital of his empire. Innumerable runners have spread the message in the whole country for days that emperor Menelik II expects his people to the great victory celebration. Today, he wants to appear in front of his people, and honour his army commanders and warriors in the presence of his subjects. From near and far are young and old, the warriors with their wives and children got together for days to the big celebration in Addis Ababa. They all want to see not only the victorious generals but also above all their big, illustrious Emperor Menelik; they pay him homage and praise him. Hours have passed, since the first group arrived, and still new guests were coming. The sun is coming closer to the Zenith.
It goes towards noon. Outside before entering the city, on a wide square of a natural stadium, the people are gathered. It is a colourful mixture of individuals, races, people and tribes. In addition, one loud tumult shouts and screams goes through the big mass. Like the colourful game of sea waves, plays the active chaos flood with the spending variety of the most different traditional costumes back and forth. A fascinating sight similar to thousand and one night.
Suddenly, the thunders of cannons vibrate with deep sounds from the many mountain peaks, which evade the city in the wide circle. A deep scaring goes through the people; a deep scaring goes through the people; most had not yet heard such a sound in their life. The brave, victorious warriors certainly had shown off with the cannons, against which they had to run in the battle at Adua and which they have captured from the defeated Italians. To the celebration of the day, Menelik had ordered today the shooting of cannons, which give the sign of salute and the beginning of the big state occasion. The thundering and rumble of the cannons, the echo of the walls of the mountains falls silent and only
after echo reverberates still from the distant. The murmur of the people is lost into a deep, solemn silence. From Gibi, the imperial Palatinate Menelik’s, a fanfare sound to the sign that Negus has just left the palace and is now on the way to the big victory celebration.
Moreover, already appear the countless warriors, marching in well-arranged formation, at their top many drummers. Then in colourful, crimson and emerald, gilded uniforms, with the lion-manes on the head and the gold-plated swords and shield at the side of the victorious army commanders of the emperor. All on splendid, lavishly amassed horses. The ministers – after the strict rules of the Abyssinian etiquette – follows in the prescribed distance. They were elegant in manner, and noble in their clothing. Once again a big number of drumbeaters and fanfare-blowers! Drum-whirls and fanfare-blows announce the people arriving of the emperor. And now a confusion of innumerable pages and courtiers, then the officials and priests, all on foot, but everyone a big gentleman with a big suite. Finally the many princes of the wide Ethiopian empire, in their middle, high- raised head, on a magnificently decorated white horse the king of kings, Negus Negesti, emperor Menelik II. The procession forms around the width of the site, everybody descends from the horses. Only the emperor remains sitting on his horse. Drums and fanfares fall silent, and the large crowd awaits the weighty words from his lips expectantly. Drums and fanfares fall silent and the large crowd awaits the weighty words of their master and ruler expectantly.
Then, the Emperor speaks into the breathless silence. The words his lips fall like a sounding brass.
He celebrates his generals and his brave, above all superior soldier, in loud, pithy words. Menelik portrays the gathered people the big, unparalleled victory. The victorious African people can defeat a European power. The victorious battle at Adua. Never, so Menelik speaks, an African people had been able to defeat an European power until now.” My army commanders, my soldiers have accomplished the great victory. The fight was unequal – therefore the victory is worth immensely high to be evaluated. Our warriors were since ages, for the most part, armed only with lances, daggers, arrows and bows. The single protection existing seems to be the shield. However, the enemy fought with its strong European arms. With the guns, that made our warriors from a big distance powerless, with the cannons whose projectile effects damage into our ranks. Nevertheless, no arms, against which there was no protection, could force our brave solders to surrender. The heroism of our warriors has proven itself, and the well-deserved singular victory was at the end, ours.” Now Menelik thanks his army commanders, his warriors in the name of his people, in the name of the Abyssinian empire for this unparalleled achievement. Hardly Menelik has finished, the big crowd begins already to applaud in wild joy and also to dance and in praise the big emperor in spontaneous chants.
And again the cannons crackle from all mountain peaks, roar and rumble, and again the various echo response from the mountains.
New drum-whirl! The indication that the emperor wishes to speak again. The large crowd falls silent immediately. Again the emperor speaks. With highly raised voice, he announces his people an important message. He commands his warriors a new campaign. The Empire of Kaffa, this country, until now invincible and not surrendered, his victorious army commanders and soldiers should now wage war on them and should subjugate them. Because this last independent power in the highland is a continuous threat to the new Ethiopia. However, until now you were not successful in achieving victory. Even our ancestors have already attempted to subjugate the Kaffa Empire in innumerable wars. I order you today, in the name of our big empire, in the name of my people: move against Kaffa and conquers this empire “! A breathless silence lies over the place. Only the wind strokes over the mass quietly and gets caught itself in the puffing of the garbs. Devoutly and faithful have the people heard the words of their sovereign. Once again begins Menelik to speak. “Ras Wolde Giorgis” – the emperor called him with a loud voice- “you the most faithful, you the most proficient among my tested soldiers, I have chosen you to the first warrior for the coming battle against the big Kaffa Empire. Take your brave soldiers and bring me the victory over this country”!
Ras Wolde Giorgis has stepped with few steps before his emperor. With short, loyally devoted words, the celebrated army commander promises the coming victory. Graciously replies Menelik. He hands over Ras Wolde Giorgis for the forthcoming battle the arms captured from Italians in the battle of Adua.
Again, the gunshots roar approximately around the mountain peaks. A salute to Menelik, to the great emperor, to his army commanders and warriors. It is an elated moment… they all feel that… Now a solemn crowd forms alike as at the beginning of the state occasion again. The festivity of the victory over Italy, the declaration of the coming battle against Kaffa is over. Months later, Ras Wolde Girogis has finished all preparations for the coming campaign.
Then – shortly after the Easter 1897 – the day, at which Ras Wolde Giorgis moves, started at the top of his great army, towards south after which until now unconquered Kaffa Empire.
WAR DRUMS IN THE JUNGLENIGHT
At the border of Kaffa. Marvellously beautiful sunny-day ends. The glowing sun sunk itself behind the dark mountains. Here in the highland, the night closes quite suddenly over the jungle-landscape.
At the borders of Kaffa, the border protection is very well fortified and examined. Selected warriors guard border-gates and ditches. Since Minjo, that first sovereign of Kaffa, before hundreds of years enacted ordinance is also valid still today. No stranger can come closer to the borders of the country; if this rule infringed, the stranger shall be mercilessly, and without leniency killed. In the light of the campfire, the contours of one of many high – and border – towers are visible, on which at any given time tow warriors day out day in – with their face towards the hostile country – holds guard. They have to report everything immediately as soon as the empire is in danger.
Their arms, lances, arrows, bows, clubs and protective shield, which is out of hippopotamus-skin lie anytime available beside them. Therefore, it is the strict instruction, that innumerable warriors at the long border of the country protect the great, divine empire of the Emperor – God.
Mystical secrecy lies over the country. Into the demonic darkness of the jungle penetrates the wild brouse and rustle of the waters of the border-river. Unapproachably the high mountain tower towards the sky, steeply the abysses and canyons fall down toward the valley-base and riverbed. From the jungle come a scout running his face covered with sweat.
In a fragmented, excited words, the outpost reports the oldest person of the guard an important, disastrous message from the enemy-camp: In big swarms, innumerable soldiers with wild war-crying come closer from the wide Ethiopian empire to the border of Kaffa! It will be a horrible-night. Messenger after messenger arrives with the same bad news at the borders of the Kaffa-empire. Like a wildfire, the news from the hostile war-camp goes from one sentry to the other. In a noisy discussion and under wild gestures a crucial decision is set: And indeed the eldest person hurries into the darkness of the jungle to the nearer border-drum. Now his strong and bulky hands grab the heavy wood-club, and he beats the drum in practiced and long intervals.
The hollow sound booms into the jungle-night. Moreover, hollowly the various echoes resounds from mountain and valley. Hardly the sound of drum and echo have died away, the many war-drums relay the message deeply within the country through the canyons and mountains from place to place. Within the shortest possible time, the information of the big danger arrives in the capital of the Empire of Kaffa, so immediately begins an unusual and busy activity despite the late night-hour in the ancient, sacred city Anderatschcha.
The emperor, that embodies the highest power in Kaffa and admired as God, leaves his palace by night only in quite exceptional cases. Now, however, he hurries with his priests into the sacred temple of the sun god Ekko in order to question Ekko through prayer, and then to give special instructions to his people. Ghastly he hurries almost, covered as always with swirling white cloths, invisibly for his subjects, passed the excited gathered mass. Short time later the Emperor-God of Kaffa, Gaki Scherotscho, after his big prayer and after the consultation with the first-god Ekko has met his decision: The Abyssinian shall find the country of Kaffa armed and mostly ready for any defence. Now, he is in his swirling covers again and surrounded by his priests, returned back to his palace. The people wait before the gates of the palace patiently.
There, the big-priest appears in the company of the head-and sub-priests. With quick moves, he steps towards the old, powerful drum, that was already beaten during the rein of the first sovereign of Kaffa, the fabulous Minjo, who has lived before primeval times, and calls the gathered people and all subjects in the wide country Kaffa through certain, measured drum-beats calling to the sacred war. Thus, the big-priest declares the big war at the instruction of the emperor-God Gaki Scherotscho. It is the old, divine formula of the public call to the arms:
“Woyebote! Listen! All males, irrespective of their age, are called to the arms. Everyone, that has reached the eightieth year, also the boys up to the eighth year, shall and can remain at home. You all others however shall come. Listen! We move into the fight, into the sacred war against the Ethiopians, who comes again to defeat, submit, destroy and subjugate us. Listen! We move into the fight, into the sacred war against the Ethiopians, who comes again to defeat, submit, destroy and subjugate us. Listen! We move into the fight, into the sacred war against the Ethiopians, who comes again to defeat, submit, destroy and subjugate us. We will however fight in the spirit of our forefather, Minjos, in his honour, and to the salvation of our empire. We will fight until the holy war is completed with our glorious victory”!
In addition, everything further happens according to ancient, divine ordinance: The burning torch, that has been ignited at the divine fire of the Emperor-God in the basin of the Emperor-Palace, is delivered from the High Priest to his Superior Priest. He swings the burning torch in his rights hand, now strides from the gate of the emperor-palace into the centre of the place, and ignites the tall piled wood in front of the silent mass. Brightly blaze the flames. And already the runners kindle the torches dipped in oil on the high- priest and went out into all directions towards the next jungle, carries the big public notice of the emperor-God into the whole country and to the summits of the next mountains. Therefore, immediately the woodpiles prepared for emergency time flare up in the country everywhere. Few hours later, the blaze of the holy war fires was on all mountain-heights of Kaffa, around the whole empire. Therefore, the emperor-God calls his people to take up the arms in order to protect the country from the warlike Amhara tribes. Still in the same night, the fires put out again slowly. It is most sacred law since Minjos time that the victory-drum vibrates with deep sounds and the fire on the summits of the mountains are lighted. After the Kaffa army is victorious. The new day starts and the entire Empire of Kaffa finds itself in the middle of the preparations to the holy war against the Ethiopians. Throughout the cities and villages, the small and big communities, in each farmstead, in the smallest cottage, the Kaffechos are busily occupied. Throughout the cities and villages, the small and big communities, in each farmstead, in the smallest cottage, the Kaffechos are busily testing and repair their arms, and the elderly brew the poisons to smear the top of the arrows and lances with it.
The bravest of the Kaffecho-Warriers display their previous heroic deeds in the repeatedly flaring up battles, above all against always pressing Abyssinian at the borders of the country. Golden phalluses are it signs of the manhood, awarded for exemplary courage – which they together with the white, vibrating feather-buses bound around their foreheads. The golden decoration, since early days of the olden times, symbol of the bravery and the invulnerability of its bearers. In early morning-dawn, the warriors gathered themselves together from the cities and villages, the farmsteads and the huts, from fields and jungles, from the mountains and valleys. They are in thousands, they look furious, with lances, arrows and wedges, very well armed, with protective shields, accompanied from their young sons, who carried their arms towards the war area, around the bravest, the bearers of the golden phallus-signs, they moved against the long-stretched borders of their sanctifies empire…
Thus, the war begins against Kaffa: four big armies of the Abyssinian move forward at the borders of the Kaffa land. It is an almost inestimable mass, which comes closer and closer over the mountains, valleys and canyons. This war against Kaffa, that begins after the Easter in March 1897 and in which the Abyssinian for the first time in their history uses captured European firearms, turns into one of the most shocking tragedies of a people. This unequal fight seems to be similar to the incident that has happened to Montezuma. On the first day of the horrible fight, that should have now commence, it rained and heavy fog-vapors pulled from the height of the mountains until deeply down into the steep valley-gorges. But already in the previous night, the Kaffecho, that have gathered themselves everywhere in the dense jungle, close to the border, sees the appearance of the countless camp fires from the distance and can hear the noise of the approaching adversary.
The enemy held a short and strengthening rest after the hard marching-days. Everywhere in the Abyssinian camp, everybody is preparing himself for the coming fight. Rage Wolde Georgis gave the last commands. The Kaffischos were ready for the reception of their enemy-they wanted to fight as they always did, with lances, clubs, dagger-knives, swords, bow and arrows, protected through their defending shield. The front stood like a brazen Phalanx. They heard the archenemy already advancing closer and closer Shouts and commands were to be heard. It was a picture like in the old days, the days of the ruler Minjo. Expectantly, the bravest of the warriors, the examples of the strength and heroism, were decorated with the golden sign of invulnerability, embellished with the shining feather-bushes and surrounded by the flock of loyal followers. They are guarantors of strength, courage and confidence to the coming fight. Suddenly there was a scream, which was brief and dreadful, like the sound of a beast wounded to death. Immediately thereafter, the group of heroes assigned to this fight has collapsed. Murdered from an invisible and demonic power to his forehead. The chosen fighter, the model of bravery is dead. – Immediately thereafter, the same short sound again. Another falls and then again, the tone, the deafening sound and one of the fighters falls down. Short time later laid numerous Kaffechos dead on the ground. Moreover, they all are dead… Other warriors jump in their place to fight. After all, no one comes to it. Other warriors jump into their place to fight. After all, no one comes to it. One fighter falls after the other. Over there, beyond the border-river, the Abyssinian lie in the jungle, protected behind the trees. Invisibly for the Kaffechos, which are placed to the fight. Only the piercing, whipping shot flashes in the firing, and then the whistle of the balls is to be heard. Therefore, the Abyssinian shoots from the ambush into the open big masses of Kaffechos that have paraded from the state border to the fighting place. Like paralysed from horror the Kaffechos stood in front of their dead.
As this first day of the unholy war had finished, the Kaffechos had still held the border of their country and had not retreated an inch from the enemy. A panic-stricken scare had seized all the tried combatants of the Kaffecho. It didn’t recognize the arms of the opponent too little or not at all, was completely helpless from horror paralysed, and even some believed in magic. During the night when the fight has subsidized, the awful situation in the camp of the Kaffecho was discussed in an agitated manner. Forthwith the last dispatch-runners were with the sad report over the first day war to the capital, where the emperor-God awaited for them.
After arriving of the awful news, the emperor-God immediately ordered all dignitaries into the holy temple in order to obtain advice and consultation from the great ancient god Ekko. Moreover, after an fervent prayer, he gave through the big-priest the awaiting runners his salvation and promising command.
First, ordered the Emperor-God, the bravest warriors, those bearers of the sacred, golden signs, to remove these signs from themselves immediately, and until the war ends, hide them in proper places. All warriors at the borders of the country should move to the interior of the country. Not all at once, but slow, without the guards of the enemy could notice it.
Even though this time it will be much more heavy and under bigger sacrifices than otherwise, only tricks could bring the coming victory over the Abyssinian forces. These, according to the prophecy of the emperor-God, would force the enemy into retreat, and they will be attacked from all sides. His trusted fighters behind protective trees, in pits and troughs, also high on top of trees, protected well, awaits the approaching enemy. When the enemy comes nearer, they will be surprised with well-aimed poisoned arrows, lances from all sides, valleys, pits and from the high protective treetops downward. The runners had to relay this message.
Still the Emperor-God gave another especially meaningful command through his big- priest. He appointed Gabado Rascho, one of his trusted priests, for the duration of the war to be responsible to be the protector of the ancient golden crown of the country: He immediately has the sacred emperor crown, that insignia of the empire, green, the heavy gold embroidered coat of the Emperor-God and the golden sacred sword now at secured place, in the deep jungle, possibly near the sacred mountain, where the emperor-God since the time in memory were buried.
Therefore, they believed to protect the crown, from which the prophecy of the first sovereign of Kaffa, Minjo, announced: That the Kaffa-Empire will remain free and strong, as long as the sacred Imperial-Crown with the golden triple phallus, the sign of the courage, power and invulnerability, that remains in the country. That, as long as the remained precious jewel of the empire is in the possession of the Kaffecho, no stranger will control the country, and nobody will be subjugated by them. For that reason, since Minjos time the Imperial-Crown was considered sacred. Only who possesses it is Emperor and God of the big, fertile Kaffa-Empire. Still before beginning of the new day, the runners had delivered the strict command of this new stratagem of the Emperor-God Gaki Scherotscho to the fighters. As ordered, they hid their sacred signs. They buried it under the earth of the jungle. Slowly, they retreated into the interior of the country. Therefore, the Abyssinian moved then everywhere, first very carefully, over the border. However, as they have come the Kaffechos closer, they began to shoot down their poisoned lances and arrows, on a secret sign from their secured hiding places, against the unprotected Abyssinian. Now, a terrible turmoil emerged amongst the adverse crowds. The victims were numerous, their closed array strongly thinned. However, after the first shock was over, the Kaffechos had not calculated with the vast mass of the enemy, that now advanced along. Repeatedly the enemy renewed its rows, soon the arrows and lances of the Kaffecho were exhausted, and it remained no time to collect the used arrows and lances, because the enemy was too fast to pour forth the mass of its army, over the border, into the interior of the country. Again began the buns of the Abyssinian to crack from all sides, the shots shrilled, the fighters screamed and the jungle reverberated from the wild noise of war. Again, the situation of the fight for the Kaffechos, against the end of this war-day, had deteriorated itself. They had lost also the second day of fighting. They had lost also the second day of fighting. Thousands of them covered the Walstatt.
Only the good, exact knowledge of their own country, the knowledge of all hiding places and only the cunning tricks could help against the foreign invaders. Instead of taking rest for the next day fight, the Kaffechos still retreated, again more deeply, towards the interior of their country, during the night. From the third day of the war on, the warriors of the Emperor Menelik had to realize now, that no Kaffecho expected them to the fight any more. So, they moved more deeply after the tracks of the withdrawing Kaffecho into the big, open country Kaffa, and everywhere where they came, the locations, the villagers and farmsteads burned, cities went up in flames. The fertile fields, over which the war went, turned into desert. However, on the mountains, valleys and in canyons, there was certainly still some bloody bouquet for the Abyssinian. Nevertheless, Meneliks warriors advanced into the interior increasingly deeper, in pursuit of the adversary. Daily, the Emperor-God had been informed himself through the runners, over the horrible events, on the escape o f his warriors. The wise Gaki Scherotscho realized soon, the desperate situation of his country. So, he gave the strict command, that immediately all women with the children, all men over eighty and all boys up to the eighth year, that had stayed at home, with the livestock and all, which they still consider important to have them with themselves, to withdraw to the jungle, before, the Abyssinian arrive.
Along the lonesome paths, a big mass of people moved toward the interior, into the wide protective bamboo-jungle. That was the forest of the Emperor-God. There, one was protected. Even Gaki Scherotscho, the Emperor-God himself, together with his priests and hundreds of his best fighters, had hidden deeply in the jungle. All, that had not escaped and had been surprised by the penetrating and unstoppable Abyssinian victorious-force, however, have given up themselves to the enemy, that has flooded further and further into the big sacred empire of the Kaffecho. The unholy war had already lasted five months. The Abyssinian had lost all mules through diseases. Therefore, they remained in the city Anderatscha, until reinforcements, new provision and means of transport came. The imperial palatinate went up in flames. After organizing his army into fourteen units, Ras Wolde Giorgis started to attack. District after district got lost. The cities Dulla, Golla, Addo, Tatmaras fell, Boschos, Boreto and Detscha were occupied. Then the big misfortune happened in Schubbo; it was 11 September. The enemy had discovered the well-protected hiding place Gaki Scherotschos in the forest, at the Woscho River. With hundred selected warriors, the Emperor-God wanted to change his hiding place. As he approached the bridge over the Woscho-River, the Abyssinian under the Fitaurari, the vanguard-colonel Adessyeh penetrated the small group together with the Emperor on all sides. They captured Gaki Scherotscho on the bridge.
Sie nahmen Gaki Scherotscho auf der Brucke gefangen. Moreover, while they take hold under wild joy-reputations of their precious spoils, human-hands of the enemy tore the mantles of the superior emperor-God from his body. The Emperor God, that had always been invisible to his people, the Kaffechos, that now surrounded him, threw down themselves to the earth. They hid their face, because their Emperor, their God stood there undisguised. In addition, in this position, their face quite close to the ground, they remained for a very long time, until the Abyssinian had withdrawn with the imprisoned Emperor-God and his priests. Nevertheless, the war had not yet finished with the capture of Gaki Scherotschos. Now, the whole people began to fight. Even the women, the children and even the quite elderly fought against the advancing enemy, and died for their homeland. Meanwhile, the Abyssinian had advanced towards the ancient, sacred city Schadda. The warriors of Menelik’s burned the old venerable palace of the emperor-God, damaged the temple that had been dedicated by Minjo and his priests before the ancient time of Ekko. In addition, during guns and cannons of the Abyssinian truly decimated the Kaffechos, who were fighting with lances, daggers and swords, these remained full with confidence. Still they had their sacred Imperial Crown; still they possessed the other jewels of the empire… Only whoever possessed the crown, was the master of that country. Therefore, the people of Kaffa were certain, that it was still free. From the sacred city, the Abyssinian, which their marching has stirred a smoke of dust that rose to heaven, moved towards the sacred mountain, the mountain of the Emperor-God of Kaffa. They stormed the mountain, that – except for a chosen few – no Kaffecho had set foot on in the time of his life and ever had been allowed to enter, without fear and reverence. They opened the tombs of the dead Emperor-Gods. Possibly, the Abyssinian found some treasures. But what they were looking for, the holy crone, they could not find. Anyway, how could that have been, the guardian of the jewel of the empire, Gabado Rascho, who was appointed by Gaki Scherotscho with his precious treasure, had eluded the enemy through his escape; without rest, only accompanied to his protection with few warriors, he was day and night on his way. Through weeks and months, he wandered with the sacred crown, chased from the Abyssinian. From time to time, and every time he is near the Abyssinian, he buried, as ordered by the Emperor-God, the crown and the other jewels into the ground of the jungle. Soon however, the tragedy of the people should end itself. Some warriors of Menelik’s had observed Gabado Rascho during his work out of a secure hiding place. Scarcely he had hidden his treasure; the Abyssinian shot him and his few escorts down. Therefore, the Amhara captured the sacred crown of Kaffa with the other jewels of the empire…
Ras Wolde Georgis, in the name of emperor Menelik II, took the Emperor of Kaffa’s Crown, deeply in the jungle of Kaffa into his possession. Only now, his victory was complete. Now, the old prediction had confirmed itself. Only now, also the end of the empire was sealed with the loss of the crown. Only now, after all hope was gone and more than half of their warriors were fallen, the Kaffechos submitted the superior power of the Abyssinian. The war had raged, eight long and dreadful months, mercilessly in Kaffa. The once unspoiled landmass lay there burned-out and devastated. The winner, Ras Wolde Girogis however put on his nine victorious laurels and returned home with his victorious warriors, the captured crown and the Empire Jewels of Kaffa to Addis Ababa. The imprisoned Emperor-God took his priests with himself…
STONE ON THE NECK
The 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 silken- lacing, 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 has become 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 Kaffecho- group. 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 annihilation- campaign 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…
Posted By: KUMILACHEW GEBREMESKEL AMBO