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Archive for the ‘Visitors’ Category

The 18th century Scottish “explorer” James Bruce, who lived in Ethiopia from 1769 to 1774, was one of the great European travellers to Ethiopia. His famous five-volume work Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile – in which he explains his greatness and proudly quotes his allegedly important conversations with Ethiopian kings, queens and other historic figures – was first published in 1790. It created much controversy – with many readers taking it as Gospel truth, while others believed it to be very largely fictitious. The book was nevertheless almost immediately translated into French and German, and was subsequently reprinted, both in complete and abridged versions.
But how, dear reader, did Ethiopians evaluate their Scottish visitor?

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Not all scholarship is worth the name, as this week’s Pankhurst’s Corner explains. Bigotry, racial prejudice and sheer ignorance are reflected in the writing on Ethiopia by an otherwise accomplished artist. Enjoy this rather unique fourth installment of Professor Pankhurst’s running series of chronicles and other literature on Ethiopia.

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My old friend Senator Berhanu Tessema, sometime Ethiopian Consul in Kenya, Ambassador in Liberia and Turkey, etc., was in his day a great book collector.

One of the books he obtained was Clements Markham’s well-known account of the British expedition to Maqdala, of 1867-8, entitled The History of the Abyssinian Expedition, which appeared in 1869.

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Early Ethiopia lured countless historians, writers, artists and itinerant wanderers, drawn to its enigmatic and ancient past. One such was Henry Salt who visited Ethiopia during the infamous Era of Princes which was characterized by disunity. Professor Pankhurst reveals more in today’s Corner.

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