Ethiopia: Historical Wonders of Entoto

Entoto, an ancient area in the northern part of Addis Ababa hosts a number of historical relics of the country. The area carries the Ethiopian history since the late 13th century. It comprises the Entoto Menelik II Palace, Entoto St. Mary Church, Entoto St. Raguel Church, Empress Taitu home, Emperor Dawit cave, the place where king Menelik-II and Etege Taitu's wedding was held.

The two churches (St Mary and St Raguel) have a museum each with historical heritages.

According to documents and experts, the political history of Entoto started during the reign of Emperor Yekuno Amlak in the late 13th century. According to Entoto Raguel Church Museum tour guide Deacon Yohannes Woldegiorgis, Entoto area's political history began during the era of Emperor Yekuno Amlak in 1270's as he used it as his second palace next to his main palace in Wollo.

After Yekuno Amlak, Entoto's political role was mainly raised during the era of Emperor Dawit, father of Emperor Zerayacob, since 1378. When he made his palace at Entoto, Emperor Dawit built two caves from single rock to put his precious objects like gold, silver and other tools, the tour guide told The Ethiopian Herald.

The two caves were built seven hundred years ago. The first cave has three parts and separated from single rock using traditional tools. In the first cave it has a paint more than 135 years old painted by Ethiopians. According to the tour guide the caves are cold in day time and hot at night time.

According to Deacon Yohannes the process of importing the true cross which is found currently in Geshen was started by Emperor Dawit even though it was finalized by his son Emperor Zerayaecob. At this time, Emperor Dawit went to Egypt to facilitate the process and he used the cave to protect his precious tools from theft. The cave is now open for tourists.

After Emperor Dawit, his son Zerayaecob changed his palace from Entoto to Debreberhan which served as the dynasty's capital until the reign of Emperor Libnedingle. In 1515 Emperor Libnedingle became a king and again made his palace in Entoto. In 1534 when Gragn Ahmed came to the place through war with Emperor Libnedingle he burned the palace. Gragn Ahmed made the place war camp and he changed the name Entoto to Dildila for five years. After Gragn Ahmed left the place, King Minas, Libnedingle's son made his palace in the area for seven years, Yohannes said.

After that the dynasty's palace was again changed to Gonder until Menelik-II became King of Shoa in 1865, the tour guide stated. In 1865 Menelik was crowned as king of Shoa in Ancober Holly savior Church. After he became king of Shoa, he searched for the location of his grandfathers' palace and reached up to Zeway and a monk who takes Emperor Libnedingle's Kibrenegest book told him that his grandfathers' palace is at Entoto Mountain.

A Monk told Emperor Menelik that "if he made his palace at Entoto, his grandfather's origin and build a church for the Angel St. Raguel, his power remains safe up to his life and he will unify Ethiopia based on Kibre Negest" the guide said. Subsequently King Menelik returned to Ancober and with many people, he reached Entoto on October 1877. For seven years, he used Emperor Dawit's cave as temple for the Ark until he built the current St. Raguel Church in early 1880s.

The emperor used wood and stone from the area and the roof came from France to build the church of St. Raguel in unique structure within five years, Yohannes said.

In Raguel Church site there is also a museum consisting more than 200 ancient, traditional and historic heritages which indicates the period's activities. There are also more heritages within the church, Yohannes told The Ethiopian Herald. The heritages found within the museum are Emperor Menelik's tools starting from 1865 from Ancober up to Entoto including his first cloak when he became king of Shoa.

Ancient parchment books such as Webster Raguel, "Sinksar", Miracle of Mary, Kibre Negest and other sacred books which were written during Emperor Menelik-II period are also found within the museum.

The museum also contains gifts by different local kings and foreigners given for Emperor Menelik-II.

Yohannes said that Menelik left Entoto in mid 1880s when he founded Addis Ababa and built his palace here. Entoto is the reason for the foundation of Addis Ababa and carries Ethiopian centuries' history and is among the tourist destination places of Ethiopia. But still there are many constraints due to the absence of hotels, resorts and other facilities. The historical palace, the historical places and the available homes also are not protecting like the Taitu homes are endangered to breakthrough.

Yohannes stated that Emperor Menelik's palace was safe until Italian invasion of 1933. But the Italians burned some part of Entoto Menelik-II palace due to the anger of its defeat at the battle of Adwa in 1896 and the palace is still alive, but not open for tourists.

The area still suffers poor in frastructure. The area needs resorts, hotels, modern museums but still it didn't get an attention. Except the effort of the churches, there is no activity to make the historical area tourist attraction and promote its historical values. Due to these reasons the flow of tourists, especially foreigners is declining from time to time.


Keep walking: Living in the era of Medemer

Beyond personal interests and ambitions for self-development, one could see people in different paths of life or cultures sharing a common value that brings them together. That is the love and respect they have for their heroes. The love and respect have also been the inspiration for many to try every chance and become one of the heroes of their time.

However, the tough realities of this world are cruel enough to let us know that we could never be anything we want and only some are born to be heroes. In this case, there is one thing that would give us the relief to ease the bad feeling of not being what we wanted to be. If we cannot be heroes, we can at least say that we livid in the times of a certain hero. We can tell that we were part of a crucial time of history. One could proudly say "I lived in the time of... (someone).

Such thing is not difficult to observe. Most of us seen people saying that they were there even if what happened or who did what was just a simple phenomenon.

This experience is so important for people so that we can create stories after stories. We all want to satisfy our selves with the thought of being heroes and we could relate ourselves to whatever special happens to our surrounding.

This would happen in a sudden when someone that we didn't notice for a long time does something strange. And as long as we want to be part of the story, we would narrate the event in different ways.

"I was there when that crazy woman burnt up the whole block. Hours before the incident, I have heard her saying the houses would burn to the ground! The villagers have also heard her but they left the place saying that woman was just talking as usual. But she wasn't kidding. I have seen the anger she felt when they ignored her and left the village. And then she said ... Kumalo is the king and lighted up the whole village."

"Who is Kumalo"

"You don't know Kumalo? Man where have you been? Kumalo was the... "

Another story could begin but no matter how the facts are twisted, this guy still wants his privilege of being a hero as a bearer of information and the listeners want to hear what happened next for they have to make their own heroic story. At the end we all would like to say "I have been there or my friend/ brother/ sister have been there" and there is no shame on that.

The "want to be" attitude would let us exaggerate situations but the truth is that we have love and respect to all heroes. And saying that we were there or have lived in the times of somebody is nothing but a respectful way of life.

These days the youths in Ethiopia are heroes greater than any generation of the past for the fact that love and forgiveness have become their slogans in every situation in the past two years. And they brought a Prime Minister whom most of the citizens claimed to be a heaven sent!

A young (to me) Prime Minister who puts love, unity and forgiveness first have come up and turned everything up side down for the sec of the people and peace for long standing prosperity.

Millions have went out to Maskal Squer to show their love and respect for their new Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed. Everything is going great except some incidents which could not stop the premier from his aspirations of reforming the country with his surprising measures.

Well, now both chances of being a hero or to say I was there are in our hands now! We could say "I have lived in the times of this humble Prime Minister" or we could be heroes by paying great role for the new principle of unification that the premier called converging.

He tells his people to converge and be who they are whenever he spoke. He advocates to keep the best historical and cultural values. This approach of the new Prime Minister seem to buy him acceptance from the international community and event Ethiopian diaspora society.

Meanwhile if we have to become the heroes we want to become, unity is not something that we have to put in to negotiation and as they premier said we have no choice except converging.

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