We toured with our group for two days, while in the capital city. On the first day, January 17, we headed up into the Intoto Hills, which is the highest spot in town where Emperor Menelik (more about him later) established his base, and where he was coronated in the Intoto Maryam Church in 1892. In 1897, he established Addis Ababa (which means “new flower”) as the capital of Ethiopia. It was a pretty barren area, and may have been passed over as the capital, except that a Swiss man had planted some eucalyptus from Australia in the hills, which flourished here. While heading up to the church, we passed many local women carrying bundles of this eucalyptus down to the market to sell as fuel, as a way of supporting their families.
The Intoto Maryam Church is still a functioning church…
,,,with the church’s namesake represented on this hanging outside. The woman shown here was a nun who was there to do her prayers….
….genuflecting several times while doing so…
There were other nuns who were sifting through teff, a grain which is used to make an Ethiopian mainstay, injera. Injera is like a crepe with which they pick up different foods (such as dal which is made with lentils or wat which is like a stew) with the fingers of their right hand only (sorry to you lefties).
There were other buildings located around the church, of surprisingly modest construction, which were used by Menelik as a banquet hall and living quarters….
On that day we also visited the Postal Museum, where we saw many of their historical stamp collection. Then we proceeded to the old railway station, which is currently not in use (although it was being prepared for a wedding which was to be held there)…
The railway was introduced by Menelik in 1929, and provided transport to Djibouti for exporting of goods via the sea. The line was discontinued in 2007, although a new railway is under construction by the Chinese. Outside the station was more commerce being conducted by the Ethiopian women….
Menelik was one of the last emperors to rule in a long line of “purported” descendants of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. From the first century through the reign of Haile Selassie (who reigned after Menelik), there were “purportedly” only a couple of hundred years when the Solomonic dynasty was not ruling the country. I use the word “purportedly” because many Ethiopians believe that Solomon’s descendants ruled for this much of their history, but many historians are not convinced that all of such rulers were in fact Solomon’s descendants.
Menelik’s reign was from 1889 to 1913. During his reign, he was responsible for modernization, such as electricity, telephones, schools and hospitals. But he was most revered for unification of the country, and the defeat of the Italians in 1896 at the Battle of Adwa, driving them out of Ethiopia, at a time when the Italians were moving towards colonization of Ethiopia. This is said to be one of the proudest moments in their history.
More tomorrow of the capital city…….
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