October 19, 2001
First, To Denmark ...
by Harley E. Tillitt
Assembly Room, A. K. Smiley Public
A story has been told about a
world-famous writer who, during an interview, was asked if he ever had any difficulty in
deciding about the structure of sentences in his work. He said that he did have problems
from time to time and, in fact, just the day before, he said he had spent the entire
morning deciding whether or not, in one sentence, to retain or to remove a certain comma
The interviewer asked about the outcome. The author said that, at last, he decided to
remove the comma. And what did you do in the afternoon, asked the interviewer. The author
replied that, after lunch he went to work again. It was about five oclock, he said,
when he replaced the comma. So, to the readers of this paper: caveat emptor. And now, the
From time to time, some individuals, when they consider their past
life, may wonder why certain events seem to fall into an identifiable sequence, as if
there were some cause and effect relationship. That is, one event appears, logically, to
This might suggest to some people that there is a Grand Plan, under the
control of an Intelligent Being, and that the Plan is merely unfolding into its
pre-conceived order. Others may think just the opposite. They believe events are happening
in a order dictated by chance, and that whatever connectedness is observed is merely a
coincidence, perhaps augmented, in the retelling, by the individuals own ingenuity
The objective of this paper is to present such a sequence.
It will identify a selection of events and it is hoped that the reader
or listener will enjoy contemplating the composite collection. . .without considering the
possibility of any cause or related effect.
Although the paper is written as if a starting point were identified
and, upon that, the rest of the sequence was built, the reverse is what actually happened.
There was a recent event, during the spring of 2001, which was of interest to me. The
question was: What event had just preceded that one and seemed to have a possible
connection? Then, having identified a related previous event, what had preceded that one,
and so on, back to a beginning?
Accordingly, what is referred to the starting point in the paper was
actually the stopping point as the retrograde sequence was constructed. This stopping
point was selected after no other preceding event, which seemed to be related, could be
FIRST, TO DENMARK. . .
In creating this sequence one difficulty presented itself: How to
select a starting point, (or perhaps it should be called an ending point), since there
might be other events which have an adjacent time-wise connection.
To solve this problem it was decided to use a maxim once offered to me
by a former boss. I had gone to him for advice on making a decision. After some discussion
he said that, when one has weighed all of the evidence, and it is still not clear which
way to go, to remember that there is no substitute for an arbitrary decision.
Thus, this sequence was initiated.
In this connection, notice this chart showing several names. These
comprise what might be called, in the order of their appearance, the cast of characters
for this exercise.
Neva and Chick
Herdis and Leon
Abrehazion and Abraham
Asmeret and Habte
Jan and Art
The first name shown is John. It was he who mentioned the maxim
referred to above. He was a chemist, in charge of a Research Department. He was a very
quiet man who exercised his authority in a pleasant way and was always fair and square in
his dealings with the people in the organization. He was a good boss.
NEVA and CHICK
The next two names on the list are Neva and Chick. Chick was a
technician in the assembly of complex electronic devices. One felt that "if Chick
worked on it, it would be done correctly." His wife was Neva. She was employed as a
clerk with a group which managed the acquisition and disbursement of various supplies for
a large organization She had a Danish background and had many family members still living
Neva and Chick come into this scenario in about 1950-55. At that time
they were very active in organizing tours of Europe. It was common then for an organized
group, such as from a church, or service club, or one especially formed for the purpose of
travel, to charter an airplane for a particular itinerary. Often their trips would include
Denmark because of Nevas family connections. Invitations were often extended to me.
I never participated, but often heard about the trips at a later time. As a consequence I
became somewhat familiar with parts of Denmark and some of Nevas family. Our own
family visited Denmark in 1959, but not with a charter group sponsored by Neva and Chick.
Making use of Johns maxim, 1959 was established as the starting date for this
HERDIS and LEON
As mentioned above, we had heard the names of several of Nevas
family. One couple was Herdis and Leon. Leons father was a brother of Nevas
father. They were about one generation younger than we, and had one child named Kate. We
first met them in 1959.
Herdis, a nurse, was employed in one of the care facilities which the
Danish government maintained for senior citizens. Leon worked in a distribution office for
a German company called Bayer Leverkuzen. We, in the United States, know the name of the
company as it is associated with Bayer Aspirin.
We had many good times with Herdis and Leon. Often we would go on boat
rides in the sea which separates Denmark from Sweden. They liked to purchase cigarettes
while touring in the international waters since the price was less than if they bought
them in Denmark. Leon died of lung cancer about 25 years later. Herdis is retired and
lives a short distance north of Copenhagen.
In 1963 another child came into the family of Herdis and Leon. Her name
was Gitte. In 1979, when she was sixteen, Gitte came to the United States to see Neva and
Chick, and to visit us, in Redlands. She was a very attractive young woman with blonde
hair and blue eyes. Since we had known of her before she had been born, we thought it
would be a nice gesture to have a party in her honor. We knew several Danes in the
Redlands area and extended invitations to them for an afternoon gathering.
One day, while preparing for the party, we went to the grocery store,
where the Savon Drug Store is now located, on the corner of Orange and Citrus, in
Redlands. While circling the parking lot looking for an empty space, we happened to fall
in behind another car whose driver was apparently doing the same thing. There was one
person in that car and I caught only a glimpse of him, in profile, and noticed that he was
wearing a full beard. We did notice that on the rear bumper of his car there was a small
oval sticker with the letters DK printed on it. This pair of letters stands for Denmark.
We wondered, would he be a candidate for an invitation to the party ?
In time we found a parking spot and entered the grocery store. At one
turn, while pushing my shopping basket, I came upon a rather tall man who was wearing a
full beard. I stopped him and said, something like, "You look like you might be from
Denmark." He responded by saying, "I am from Denmark. What of it?"
The story of the party for Gitte was explained. I invited him and his
wife, if he had one, to the party. He said he did have a wife, whose name was Yette, and
when he got home they would look at their calendar to see if they could accept the
invitation. A short time later we received a telephone call. They would be glad to come to
the party. They did. Thus began a friendship which is still active. They have three
Steen, a physician, trained in Denmark, was then in practice, in
rheumatology, at the Loma Linda University Faculty Medical Center, on Barton Road. His
wife, a nurse, was also trained in Denmark. For nine years she was employed in the Loma
Linda University Medical Center. Later, for two years, she was the Head Nurse at the Loma
Linda Community hospital. Still later, for one year, she was associated with a senior
citizen health care establishment in Yucaipa.
An interesting coincidence discovered at the party was that both Gitte
and Steen, although at different times because of the difference in their ages, had both
attended the same school, in a town named Holte, north of Copenhagen, during what might be
referred to as their respective middle-school years.
Regrettably the family is no longer living in Redlands. They moved to
the Midwest where Steen functions as the Director of a rheumatology clinic.
The two were not Seventh Day Adventists. They were very active in the
First Lutheran Church located at the southwest corner of Cypress and San Mateo Streets, in
Redlands. Yette, besides developing a nursing care unit in their church, was known for her
skills as a baker. Each Easter she would make about 1000 hot cross buns for church
In time, Steen invited me to attend a breakfast at the church, on a
Saturday morning. I was not a member of the church and was invited as a guest. About
fifteen men met every Saturday. They prepared their own breakfasts and afterwards
participated in a discussion of some topic. These forums varied widely from week to week.
Most of the time the conversations were pertinent to some religious theme, but other
subjects were discussed as well. Subsequently I attended many of these sessions.
These Saturday morning events led to my making the acquaintance of
Frank, the Pastor of the church, who usually attended. Frank had become the Pastor of the
church after the retirement of the previous pastor, John Foerster, now deceased, who had
been a member of the Fortnightly Club of Redlands.
Through Frank I became aware of the efforts of the worldwide Lutheran
Immigration Service to assist some of the oppressed people of Eritrea. This international
effort resulted in several Eritrean families coming to the Inland Empire, some of whom
became affiliated with Franks church.
Eritrea has had a troubled history. On January 1, 1890 Italy set
boundaries and ruled the territory as a colony until 1941 when the British defeated the
Italians, in Africa. At this juncture the British became the Administrators of the region.
The British continued this administrative role after the Italians were defeated in World
War II, until 1952, when a decision was made by the United Nations to federate Eritrea to
Ethiopia. This relationship was doomed to failure since the government of Haile Selassie
did not follow the dictates of federation which had been set down by the United Nations.
The result was that the Eritrean government was dissolved and, in 1962, the federation
became the fourteenth province of Ethiopia.
However, it was in 1961 that the efforts to establish Eritrean
independence had begun. For thirty years the fighting continued. In May 1991 the
Provisional Government of Eritrea was established. Later, in 1993, the United Nations
sponsored a Referendum for Independence. As a part of the referendum process individuals
from around the world had the opportunity to cast their vote relative to their wishes for
or against the independence of Eritrea, from Ethiopia. For individuals living in the
Inland Empire area the voting place was at the First Lutheran Church, in Redlands. As a
consequence of the referendum, Eritrea became an independent and recognized nation on May
24, 1993. May 24 is now celebrated as National Day.
To illustrate the intensity of feelings among Eritereans relative to
Ethiopians, which led to the referendum, was the adoption, by Eritrea, of an official
language called Tygrigna. It uses the same alphabet at Amharic, the official language of
Ethiopia, and has some similarities, but is also distinct.
What is now Eritrea is located in east Africa in the region known as
the Horn of Africa with Sudan on the north and west, Ethiopia on the south, Djibouti on
the south- east, and Red Sea on the north-east.
It was from these troubled times that some families came to Redlands.
Since Eritrea did not officially exist until May 24, 1993, it is important to understand
that the individuals who, prior to that date, came to Redlands from the region which was
to become Eritrea, were actually refugees from Ethiopia. Some arrived from Sudan where
they had been living since escaping from Ethiopia.
Frank pointed out that these families had many difficulties to
overcome. In many cases the wife and children still might be in Eritrea, or perhaps Sudan,
where they had fled for their lives, while the husband had escaped and was residing in
America. Some of the Eritrean families in Redlands were in this separated existence for as
many as ten years before being brought together again.
In time an acquaintanceship developed with two of these families who
were living in Redlands and are still in the area. Their adjustment to their new
surroundings was often filled with difficulty. For example, some did not have an
automobile for transportation.
Since the parents were often going to school, to prepare themselves for
future emloyment, and perhaps at different schools and on different schedules, this was
not an easy situation to manage. Also, there must have been difficulties while they were
becoming acquainted with the social structure in their new country.
To some modest extent we, along with several others, who were members
of the church, tried to be of assistance. One example had to do with a family buying a
house, their dealings with real estate agents, and the location of a carpenter to modify
the front porch of the house before purchasing it.
These small gestures on our part brought some nice unexpected rewards.
ABREHAZION and ABRAHAM
The next two names on the list are Abrehazion and Abraham. As a couple
they were separated for about ten years before being rejoined in America. We were invited
to the marriage of their daughter. It was an arranged marriage and Abraham personally
delivered the printed invitation and took the time to give an explanation of some of the
social and cultural aspects of Eritrean society. It was an elaborate wedding with a
reception for about 200 people enjoying food prepared by friends of the brides
Sometimes Abrehazion and Abraham bring me injera, a large round flat
bread made from teff, a cereal grain. It is quite thin, in the shape of a circle about
eighteen inches in diameter, and chunks torn from it are covered with tsebhi derho, a
thick spicy stew of chicken and vegetables. The injera is then wrapped around the filling
to make what, in some respects, looks like a burrito. The taste of course, is very
Another way of eating it is to cover the top layer of a stack with the
sauce and then put the meat and bones between some of the lower layers. When the sauce
layer has been consumed the rest of it is eaten. According to some tradition it is so good
that in Bible times it was used as a bribe to corrupt judges. Other traditions pertain to
it as well.
Another favorite item often brought to me was hembasha, a round,
somewhat sweet and decorated, leavened, cake-like bread, made of wheat, about one inch
thick and fifteen inches in diameter.
Abraham is now a respiratory therapist and works in several hospitals
in the Inland Empire. Abrehazion, formerly a teacher in Eritrea, now fills the role of
housewife. They have four adult children.
ASMERET and HABTE
The next two names on the list are Asmeret and Habte. They have five
children, the youngest of whom was born in Redlands. This family had spent several years
in Sudan before arriving in Redlands. From time to time Asmeret , a housewife, like
Abrehazion and Abraham, has also brought me injera. During a recent hospital episode, in
February, she and two of her daughters visited me in the hospital and later, while
recovering at home, came to see me.
Through these several acquaintances, some interest was developed in a
lecture, which was to be offered during the spring of 1991, on ancient Ethiopian culture,
and to be given at the First Lutheran Church, in Redlands. The name of the speaker was not
known to me.
The setting, as well as can be remembered, was that the speaker, in the
sanctuary of the church, displayed a panel about three feet wide and four feet tall. This
panel, which rested on an easel, was covered with many small colored pictures, in rows,
each about three or four inches square.
The lecture consisted of the speakers going from one picture to
the next, in sequence, left to right and top to bottom, and explaining what each one
It is important to keep in mind that the art piece used in the lecture
depicted only ancient Ethiopian history and culture, before modern day political
boundaries and turmoil were known. It pertained only to such then-timely events as the
journey of the Queen of Sheba from Ethiopia to visit King Solomon in Jerusalem, and the
saga of the Ark of the Covenant, both of which, however, are still important as part of
the history of the region.
The pictures were too small to be seen, in detail, but appeared to be
clear and in a simple style as if done by an inexperienced artist.
After the lecture was completed I thought it was quite interesting to
see some aspects of the history of a civilization, Ethiopia on this case, displayed in
such a way. The lecture all but disappeared from my mind as time passed.
Ann is an artist, an excellent chef, and a special friend. It was
during 1999, shortly after she moved to Redlands, that I first became acquainted with her.
This was about eight years after the lecture which was given on Ethiopian history,
culture, and religion, by the person referred to as Unknown Speaker. From time to time Ann
and I have gone places together and I have met some of her family. On occasion she would
invite friends she had known before moving to Redlands to visit her. One of these friends
Lee is also an artist. Ann and Lee are friends and had been
near-neighbors at an earlier time. Lee, like Ann, subsequently changed her place of
residence. At the time of this story Ann had not seen Lees new home. One time, in
2001, when I was invited to Anns home, Lee was also invited and brought some
photographs of her new residence to show to Ann. One of these photographs was of
Lees fireplace. On the mantle, above the fireplace, was a painting which had been
done by Lee. It appeared to be about two and one-half feet square. Vertical and horizontal
lines, in the center of both dimensions, divided the whole picture into four sections.
Each section was, as I recall it, a distinctly separate part of the whole painting.
The figures in the four sections were quite small in the photograph so
that little detail could be identified. However, the impression I got was that the four
separate paintings, by Lee, were reminiscent of the style displayed in the art piece which
the Unknown Speaker had shown about ten years before.
Lee did not comment on the material she had used as the inspiration for
her painting. I decided to see if I could locate a copy of the art piece the Unknown
Speaker had used to see if there were any relationship between it and what Lee had used as
a source for her painting.
How to start ? It turned out to be an interesting search.
My first telephone call was to Frank, mentioned earlier, the former
Pastor of the First Lutheran Church, in Redlands. He was now retired and lived in the San
Diego area. He recalled the lecture, in general terms, but did not have any details
relative to the art piece. However, he did refer to the former member of the church who
had given the lecture. He also mentioned a book which might be pertinent. The title of the
book was Kebra Nagast.
JAN and ART
At the time of the lecture the speaker who had made the presentation
was a professor of music at a nearby university.
He had since died, said Frank, and his widow had moved away from
Redlands to the state of Washington. With the help of some current members of the church
the widows address and telephone number were obtained. Her name is Jan.
A telephone call was placed to Jan and the situation was explained. She
remembered the lecture and thought she might be able to find a copy of the art piece as
well as a book pertinent to the story it told, all related to her then-husbands
lecture. His name was Art. I wondered if the book to which she referred was the same one
that Frank had mentioned to me: Kebra Nagast.
In subsequent conversations with Jan I learned that neither she nor her
husband were Ethiopian. However, they had been interested in the country for some time and
when her husband had taken a sabbatical leave from his university position, they spent the
time in Ethiopia.
In a later conversation with Jan she reported that she had been unable
to locate the book to which she had referred. Also she could not remember its title.
However, she thought she might have a copy of what had been the art piece her husband had
used when he gave his lecture. It turned out that she could not locate what she had in
mind, but did find something similar. It was a very good copy, said she.
It was a single piece of paper, about thirty inches square, which
advertised Ethiopian Airlines, and was somewhat rough in texture. It was about the size of
what might have been used for wrapping paper for souvenir gifts. She sent it to me. As far
as I could recall, the item Jan sent to me included the same material as had been used in
the lecture. Of course, not being able to compare the two items, I could not be sure. With
the expertise of a Redlands photography shop attractive copies were made.
The art piece which Jan sent had thirty-six small pictures within it.
Each one had a pertinent caption which would need to be translated into English. Telephone
calls were made to Abraham, mentioned earlier, and to the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington
D.C. for suggestions. The Embassy provided the name a candidate for translation. His name
was Tsehaye. Abraham said he would look at the material.
Items pertinent to the art piece are assembled in Appendix I. A small
copy of the art piece is included with the Appendices.
Sometime later a copy of the Kebra Nagast was located. On its cover was
"The Lost Bible of Rastafarian Wisdom and Faith from Ethiopia
and Jamaica." It was edited by Gerald Hausman with an introduction by Ziggy
Marley. A copy of the book is in the collection of the Smiley Library, in Redlands.
The publisher is listed as St. Martins Press, New York.
Material associated with the Kebra Nagast is collected in Appendix II.
Some of it is taken from the Internet.
How, I wondered, if at all, were the two items, the Kebra Nagast and
the art piece related ?
A step to find out more about this relationship will be to compare some
parts of Appendix I with parts of Appendix II.
First, to Appendix I.
The Ethiopian art piece, as mentioned
earlier, consists of thirty-six small pictures. Each one of these has a small caption on
top of it to explain its meaning. These captions are written in Amharic, the official,
day-to-day language of Ethiopia. Tsehaye mentioned that there are 88 different dialects
used in Ethiopia today.
He pointed out that Amharic is a distinctly different language than
that named Geez, which for centuries has been, and still is today, used by the
Church for religious writing.
This was a situation of interest because one might expect the captions
for the pictures to be in Geez since the art piece pertains to some of the
historically religious aspects of the country. On the other hand, by having the captions
in Amharic there might be a greater possibility of a broader understanding of the story
across the total spectrum of individuals who use the several languages.
As mentioned, two individuals participated in the translation of the
captions: Tsehaye, who was recommended as a translator by the Ethiopian Embassy, in
Washington, D.C., and Abraham, a resident of Redlands.
The translations provided by Tsehaye and Abraham are, in general, the
same. However, in some cases there are slight variations between the two. Accordingly, in
the following pages, both translations are included, in small frames. The top line in each
frame is that provided by Tsehaye, and the bottom line is that provided by Abraham.
In addition, Tsehaye, as well as Abraham and Abrehazion, provided
special explanations for the some of the pictures. These are printed beneath the
appropriate frames, and are identified by their names.
The following five paragraphs were offered, in addition to the specific
translations of the picture captions, by Tsehaye, as a summary of the story which the art
piece is intended to convey.
"Legendary and archeological history of ancient Ethiopia offers a
grotesque representation of the Ethiopian Monarchy as being strongly linked with the
ancient Jerusalem millennium years prior to the advent of Christianity.
"The art work pictorially addresses the relationship of the
legendary "Queen of Sheba", known also as "Makeda" in Ethiopian
manuscripts and historiography, with the Biblical King Solomon.
"The Queen, whose empire extended to the Red Sea and the
Mediterranean Sea, had a strong armada and she led a diplomatic expedition to Jerusalem.
"In her royal voyage she took riches and animal games, as
presents, including ivory and gold, to the King Solomon. It was during this historic
visit, according to legend and biblical anecdotes, that Makeda, or Sheba, as the Queen is
popularly referred to, that Solomon fell in love, and subsequently got his first son,
"In the later years of her reign the Queen encouraged her son to
visit his father. Whence he was given all sorts of appreciation and gifts from the king
father as well as the Holy Covenant, which is still believed to be housed in one of the
sacred ecclesiastical places in Axum, the then-capital of Queen Sheba and the center of
the Axumite Empire and Ethiopian Christian and Muslim civilizations up to the eleventh
century A. D."
This marks the end of Tsehayes contribution.
A copy of the art piece will now be
distributed to each person here today to make it easier to discuss its meaning.
For ease in discussing the small pictures they will be referred to by
their row number and column number. For example, the top left corner picture will be
referred to as 1-1, meaning row one and column one. Likewise, the picture at the bottom
right corner will be referred to as 6-6, standing for row six and column six.
The name of the son of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba is spelled in
different ways. Some examples follow: Menilek, Menelik, Menyelek, Menyelek I, and perhaps
others as well. Also, there is what appears to be a plural form in the captions, Meneliks,
which is used when both of the sons of Solomon are considered together.
As noted, Appendix I is about the art piece, and the discussion of it,
which follows, would be a suitable stopping point for this sequence. However, in pursuing
this endpoint, two other steps emerged as possible extensions along the pathway. They are
addressed in Appendices II and III.
Except for brief references to these two extensions, they will not be
read as parts of this paper. Instead, copies of Appendices II and III will be distributed
to those in attendance today. They may be topics of future interest for some individuals
who have followed the story this far.
Row 1-Column 1
The serpent was offered an animal to feed and feast on.
They were feeding the snake.
Row 1-Column 2
He killed the serpent and demonstrated his bravado to the public.
He was showing the people after he killed the snake.
Row 1-Column 3
He killed the serpent and was crowned as the King.
He became King after he killed the snake.
[Note by Tsehaye] Tradition has it that the serpent referred to in the
first three pictures was really a dragon and in the ancient days of Axum, people were
superstitious and used to worship supernatural beings. In this case the dragon was
entitled to a gift. This gift was a way to ask for mercy from the power that possessed the
dragon. During those days the gift was every first child, if it were female. This child
was to be eaten by the dragon. This was thought to guarantee that society would be allowed
to live in peace. Otherwise the wrath of the supernatural force would spell doom and
horror on the people. In the particular instance referred to in the pictures, the father
of the child refused to give his daughter to the dragon. To the people this was an
anathema. But the father did not change his mind. Instead he decided to fight the dragon.
When the day came for the duel the father killed the dragon. This was a miracle in the
eyes of the people and they revered the newly born female baby and believed that this was
a message from God. She should rule, not the dragon. So the legend claims that the baby
girl, who later became the Queen of Sheba, instituted a monarchy that continued for
millennia, until the last Emperor, Haile Selassie, was killed and deposed by the military
[Note by Abraham] The Queen of Sheba is also known by the name Makeda.
Row 1-Column 4
The death of the father of Makeda.
Makedas father died.
Row 1-Column 5
Makeda was honorably crowned to be the Queen.
Makeda became Queen with honor.
Row 1-Column 6
The merchant of Jerusalem.
A trader from Jerusalem.
Row 2-Column 1
Makeda sends perfume to King Solomon.
Makeda sent perfume to Solomon.
Row 2-Column 2
The merchants carried the perfume and left for Jerusalem.
A trader took away the perfume.
Row 2-Column 3
They handed over the perfume to King Solomon.
The trader handed over the perfume to Solomon.
Row 2-Column 4
The voyage of Makeda to Solomon.
Makeda on the way to Solomon.
Row 2-Column 5
Makeda cruising in a boat.
While Makeda was on the boat.
Row 2-Column 6
Makeda near the compound of Solomons palace.
While Makeda was waiting outside of Solomons house to get in.
Row 3-Column 1
Makeda and Solomon meet.
Makeda met with Solomon.
Row 3-Column 2
Makeda and Solomon at luncheon.
Makedas reception with Solomon.
Row 3-Column 3
Solomon proposed to Makeda to sleep together.
Solomon asking Mekada to spend the night together.
Row 3-Column 4
Solomon and Makeda on sexual foreplay.
Solomon touching Makeda.
Row 3-Column 5
The sign of gold and silver.
The sign of gold and silver.
Row 3-Column 6
Makeda in the boat.
Makeda was on the boat.
Row 4-Column 1
Makeda on her way from Solomon back home.
Makeda traveling toward home.
Row 4-Column 2
The birth of Menyelek I.
The Meneliks were born.
[Note by Abraham and Abrehazion] This picture shows two children.
Menyelek I, son of the Queen, in red, who was born in Asmara, which is located in what is
now Eritrea. At the time of the birth, those attending the Queen were calling "mybella,
mybella" meaning "bring water, bring water", a need not to be denied.
To this day, that part of Asmara is still known as Mybella. The child at the left, in
white, is also a son of Solomon whose mother was a servant of the Queen.
Row 4-Column 3
Menyelek I playing a traditional Xmas game called Gena.
The Meneliks playing together holding their sticks.
[Note by Tsehaye] Gena is an ancient game played by adult men. Although
traditional and old, it is still being played, most often in the Christian highlands of
the country. It is played in an open field, the boundaries of which have been informally
agreed upon in advance, by the two teams. There are about 20 players involved, half on
each team. The number of players depends upon availability at the time. The area is
divided into two parts. Each player has a stick selected from the surroundings. The game
starts with a ball being placed in the center of the area. The point of the game is to
strike the ball, which is made of a soft wood, into the other teams territory. The
team in whose territory the ball is at a given time, is losing. Each team is striving to
force the ball of other team across its rear boundary. That is, that team has been unable
to resist the advance of its opponent. If the ball is knocked out of its side boundaries
it is returned again to the center starting point, and play is continued. There is no time
limit, but playing sessions may take one or two hours. There are few rules, if any, other
than those mentioned above.
[Note by Abraham] The picture in Row 4, Column 3 shows two sons of Solomon, Menyelek I,
the son of Makeda , and the unnamed son of the Queens servant, each holding a stick.
Does this suggest that they are playing Gena ?
Row 4-Column 4
Menyelek I asks his mother to tell him who his father was.
Menelik asked his mother who his father is.
Row 4-Column 5
She explains to him about the looks of his father.
Makeda telling and showing her son what his father looks like.
[Note by Abraham] The Queen is holding a mirror for Menyelek I to look at himself as if
"When you look in the mirror and see yourself, you will know what your father
Row 4-Column 6
Menyelek I and his entourage on their voyage to Jerusalem.
The Meneliks were traveling toward Solomon.
Row 5-Column 1
Menyelek Is Royal maritime voyage.
The Meneliks were traveling by boat.
Row 5-Column 2
Menyelek I at the doorstep of Solomons palace.
The Meneliks outside of Solomons house waiting to get in.
Row 5-Column 3
Menyelek I was introduced to Solomon and recognized his father.
Menelik figured out who his father is.
[Note by Abrehazion] Solomon wanted to be sure which of his two sons
who had come from Ethiopia was the son of the Queen. Accordingly, Solomon dressed himself
as a regular citizen and had another person wear what he would ordinarily wear as king.
Each son was then asked to identify his own father. Menyelek I, having been told by his
mother how to recognize his father chose the person wearing ordinary clothes. The other
son, having been told by his mother only that his father was a king, chose the person
wearing the kings garments. Thus the correct identification was made by Menyelek I.
Row 5-Column 4
Menyelek I attending school.While the Meneliks were in school.
Row 5-Column 5
Menyelek I accepted the Holy Covenant.The Meneliks received the Ark of the Covenant.
Row 5-Column 6
Menyelek I on his way back to Ethiopia with the Covenant.The Meneliks with the Ark of the Covenant on the boat.[Note by Abraham] Solomon also sent skilled craftsmen and artisans back
to Ethiopia with Menyelek I to assist in developing the country
Row 6-Column 1
A Royal butler informed the Queen of the arrival of Menyelek I.
The Meneliks arrival.
Row 6-Column 2
Menyelek I submitted the Holy Covenant.The Meneliks hand over the Ark of the Covenant.
Row 6-Column 3
Menyelek I was crowned the Emperor.Menelik crowned with honor.
Row 6-Column 4
The Queen handed over her emblem and stamp to Menyelek I.
Makeda gave a seal to Menelik.
Row 6-Column 5
Makeda made her last statement on her deathbed.
Row 6-Column 6
Menyelek I erected a monument for his deceased mother.
The Meneliks erected a monument.
[Note by Abraham] These monuments may have been constructed with the
help of the artisans and skilled craftsmen referred to in Row 5, Column 6. During the time
was in power at least one of the monuments made for the Queen of Sheba
was moved to Rome, Italy.
Pertinent to the material just presented, is an article in the National
Geographic Magazine for July, 2001. The article, which begins on page 110, is titled "Keepers of the Faith. The Living Legacy of Aksum." It is about Ethiopia. Some
excerpts follow which relate to the discussion of the art piece.
Excerpt No. 1, page 114: Aksumites claim that the biblical Queen of
Sheba reigned here in the tenth century B.C., but it wasnt until the third century
A.D. that Aksum really began to thrive. At that time it ranked with the empires of Persia,
China, and Rome. In the fourth century Aksums king, Ezana, converted to Christianity
and transformed his kingdom into one of the worlds first Christian states. It was
during Ezanas reign, legend says, that the fabled Ark of the Covenant - the gilded
wooden chest that held the stone tablets on which God gave Moses the Ten Commandments -
was brought to Aksum. And it is here, some believe, that the Ark resides, a symbol of
Excerpt No.2, page 116: In legend the story of Aksum begins 3000
years ago, when the Queen of Sheba is said to have ruled the land. According to the Old
Testament, the Queen, known to Ethiopians as Makeda, traveled to Jerusalem to visit King
Solomon. The Ethiopian chronicle The Kebra Nagast says that when she
returned home, she was pregnant with Solomons son, a child she named Menelik.
Menelik is known as the originator of the Solomonic dynasty, a nearly
uninterrupted line of emperors said to have ended only 27 years ago with the fall of Haile
Selassie. Perhaps more important, Menelik is believed to have brought the Ark of the
Covenant to Ethiopia.
Excerpt No. 3, page 120: When Menelik grew to be a man, he went to
Jerusalem to meet his father, King Solomon. He stayed for three years, and when he left,
Solomon ordered the firstborn sons of his noblemen to accompany him and sent the Ark of
the Covenant to protect them. For safekeeping, Menelik brought the Ark to Tana Kirkos,
where it stayed until King Ezana sent for it. The Ark is said to be hidden now in a small
chapel in Aksum. It is guarded by one man - a monk named Abba Mekonen.
Excerpt No. 4, page 121: Known as the Atang, the Keeper of the Ark,
Abba Mekonen is bone thin, with soft, watery eyes and a shy smile. I (the author of the
article) asked him if he was happy to be the Atang, which is a great honor and the most
solemn post in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
"No, he said, "This is not a job of easy happiness. It is a
heavy burden." Abba Mekonen, age 69, has shouldered the burden for three years and
will continue to until his death. He never leaves the chapel compound, and he is the only
person to see the Ark.
Abba Mekonen gently refused to explain this centuries-old tradition.
But at Tana Kirkos (a near-by monastery) when I (the author) had asked Abba Baye (an
historian at the monastery) why I could not see the Ark, he had shrugged and said simply : "Who can look on the face of God?"
Excerpt No. 5, page 125: As I (the author) wandered through the
pink-hued passageways that wind from one church to another, ancient Geez, still the
liturgical language, echoed around me. The heavy scent of frankincense, one of
Axsums earliest exports, billowed through the cross-shaped windows in gusts so thick
that the churches seemed to be burning.
Note: Recall that the translations, by Tsehaye and Abraham, for the
caption for the picture in Row 2 Column 2, said "The merchants carried the perfume to
Jerusalem." Perhaps this was frankincense from Axsum ?
There are some differences between the stories as depicted by the
captions for the pictures, and those as written in the Kebra Nagast. Two of these
variations pertain to:  The encounter between Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, and 
The moving of the Ark of the Covenant to Ethiopia. Some of these variations will be
pointed out in Appendices II and III, which follow.
As mentioned earlier, some material pertinent to the Kebra Nagast, was
taken from the Internet. It is collected in Appendix II.
Now, to Appendix II.
To many, the Kebra Nagast is not a well known book. However, it has a
very long and colorful history. There are several translations of it including, among
others, Arabic, English, French, German, and Spanish. There are also several commentaries
on it. They reflect on a variety of subjects: its oral history, its folklore, its legends,
its antiquity, its having been banned, in 1611, from the King James Bible, and that it is
still not allowed in certain countries.
There are two principle points of emphasis: First, the encounter
between Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, when she visited Jerusalem. From this event came
their son, who later became the Emperor of Ethiopia, and second, the movement of the Ark
of the Covenant from Jerusalem to Ethiopia.
Relative to the first point: One narrative is that when the Queen
arrived in Jerusalem she and Solomon agreed that neither one would take anything from the
Kingdom of the other. When her stay was about to end Solomon expressed interest in whether
or not she would be willing to attend a meal, in her honor, with him. Since she felt that
she had gained much from his wisdom during her visit, she agreed. Accordingly, there were
great plans made and Solomon had elaborate foods prepared. After the meal Solomon invited
her to stay until the morning. Her reply was that he should promise not to take her by
force. He did make that promise provided she would promise not to take any of his
possessions by force. She thought such a promise was not necessary since she had no need
for his possessions, being wealthy herself, but she did make that promise.
In time they went to their separate beds, but Solomon kept himself
awake, although very quiet and still. Unbeknownst to Makeda, the foods, by Solomons
order, had been made very salty, and later her thirst became strong. Thinking Solomon was
asleep, she quietly started to take a drink from a container of water which had been
placed nearby. He, observing this, interrupted her action with a comment that she had
broken her promise of not to take anything of his. Her response was to ask if even taking
a drink of water was to be regarded as the breaking of the promise. He replied by alluding
to the viewpoint that nothing under heaven was more important than water. She agreed that
she had broken her promise. Accordingly, she said that he was free from his promise. They
Relative to the second point: There are several interpretations of the
story, about removing the Ark of the Covenant from Jerusalem to Ethiopia, which vary in
detail. One of these was referred to in the National Geographic article, mentioned
earlier, in which Solomon arranged for the firstborn sons of his noblemen to accompany his
son, when he returned to Ethiopia, and to take the Ark of the Covenant with them for
Another story relative to the Ark of the Covenant is that while the son
was in Jerusalem he managed to have a copy made of it. This copy was placed in the Temple
after the real Ark had been hidden elsewhere in the city. When the Temple was destroyed it
was thought that the Ark was also destroyed. Later, however, the real Ark was retrieved
from its hiding place and taken to Ethiopia.
The Internet is a good means to obtain information about the Kebra
Nagast since it contains many references to the volume. For example, included in this
Appendix II is a page from the Internet, showing 10 results, located by the Search Engine
called Google. It indicates a total of 629 references were located in a search using two
words, KEBRA and NAGAST, as the selection criteria.
There are other references found on the Internet copies of which are
included in this Appendix II in the original paper. One of these, [K3], says:
"According to the Kebra Nagast, the Israelites Ark of the Covenant was spirited
away to the ancient kingdom of Ethiopia by wise King Solomons own son."
A different one, [K5], says: ". . . and how the son visited his
father and abducted the Ark of the Covenant, which was taken to Aksum, the
It is not the purpose of this paper to discuss the merit of these
specific situations, but to bring the book to the attention of any individuals who may not
have known about it earlier.
The Kebra Nagast has much to say about Solomon. It emphasizes his
wisdom, as well as his greatness as a ruler, an historian, a poet, and a man of God. It
also acknowledges his weakness for women. At one time he married the daughter of the
Pharaoh. During this episode, and at her insistence, he undertook the practice of
worshipping her Gods, which were golden insect idols. As a consequence of this,
Solomons own God brought down His wrath. This led to his disgrace and the fall of
On the other hand his actions did bring him a son, by Makeda, and named
Bayna-Lehkem. Solomon, however called his son David because he seemed to be so much like
his own father, King David. Solomon regarded his son as a person of great virtue who would
extend his own lifes work. It was later that the son became known as Menyelek I.
Within this narrative is the thread of thought that blackness is
interwoven into biblical history. For example, not only was Makeda thought to be black,
but so was Ham, Noahs son. And perhaps Moses was married to a black woman. The story
includes the concept that Israel itself, at the time of Solomon, was comprised of many
disparate groups including those which were black. Likewise, by some, Jesus also was
thought to be black.
It is not surprising therefore that the Kebra Nagast conveys the idea
that it is not just about Ethiopia, but all of black Africa. Accordingly, with this
background of thought, Marcus Garvey, the great Jamaican liberator developed a movement,
both political and religious, to include all black people, worldwide. He considered Haile
Selassie to be the last of the Solomonic line. All of this grew into a religion now known
Now to Appendix III which pertains to Rastafarianism. It includes
several items taken from the Internet.
It was mentioned in Appendix II that Rastafarianism, which was
officially founded in 1930, grew out of the efforts of Marcus Garvey, the Jamaican
liberator. Most historians agree that the movement originated in Jamaica, but some
indicate an African origin. It is now active in many parts of the world. Individuals who
follow the tenets of Rastafarianism are referred to as Rastas.
For many who are not Rastas, however, Rastafarianism is considered to
be a cult which brings to mind several things. A few of these, which are written here, may
have other interpretations than the following versions.
 Rastas believe the Bible is a cornerstone of their lives but that
when it was translated into English its presentation was twisted to the detriment of the
 Rastas believe that the use of marijuana, called ganga, in their
religious ceremonies and in other gatherings is biblically justified. For example, Genesis
1:12 says, "And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after
his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind:
and God saw that it was good." Other similar references are Genesis 3:18,
Exodus 10:12, Proverbs 15:17, and Psalms 104:14.
 Rastas believe that the wearing of dreadlocks is also biblically
justified. For example, Leviticus 21:5 says, "They shall not make baldness upon their
head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in
 Rastas believe in the superiority of the black race above all
 Rastas believe in the ultimate return of all black people to Africa
with Ethiopia being considered as their heaven on earth.
 Rastas believe that Haile Selassie, also known as Jah, the
Rastafarian name for God, was out of the line of David, and for black people, their only
true Ruler. A related view is that Selassie was, like Moses, Elijah, and Jesus, an avatar
linking man and God. He was also referred to as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.
Even though he did not endorse Selassie, Marcus Garvey could identify
him with the substance of Revelation 5:5 which says, "And one of the elders saith
unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath
prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof."
 Rastas believe that the music form known as Reggae, which is
associated with Bob Marley and Jamaica, was greatly influenced by Rastafarianism.
 Rastas believe in the adherence to a diet known as I-tal which
depends upon rather simple food, which might be classified as a kind of strict
vegetarianism, and which is prepared in special ways. Cookbooks are available to help in
preparing I-tal food.
There are several items about Rastafarianism which were taken from the
Internet and collected in this Appendix III.
The story started in about 1950-55 during which time, for several
years, some California friends made frequent trips to Denmark to visit their relatives.
Through this connection, in 1959, an acquaintanceship was established with some of our
friends Danish families. In 1979 the second daughter of one of these families
visited Redlands. She was then sixteen.
In attendance at a party, held in Redlands in her honor, was a Danish
couple. They were members of the First Lutheran Church in Redlands, and they extended an
invitation to participate in future activities of their church
One such activity was to attend a lecture about Ethiopia. This lecture
was offered because among the churchs membership were several refugee families from
the region which was, before May 24, 1993, Ethiopia, but is now Eritrea. To illustrate his
lecture the speaker used a piece of art work depicting some aspects of Ethiopias
history and culture. The lecture was given during 1991.
In the spring of 2001, while visiting a friend in Redlands, a
photograph of a painting which had been done by another guest was shown. It seemed to have
some of the characteristics of the art piece used in the earlier lecture.
A question came to mind: Was there some kind of a connection between
the art piece and the painting ?
The attempt to answer this question led to a search for materials
considered to be related. There were several steps which followed, each seemingly
connected to a previous one.
As yet, there has not been an opportunity to compare the two items, the
art piece and the painting, and it will be interesting to do so sometime in the future.
For this paper a comparison was not necessary since the motivation for the effort was
simply the formation of a path, however initiated.
As it turned out, the item mentioned in the Prologue as a recent
event of interest, initiated the search and led to the translation of captions, shown
on another art piece. This second art piece seemed to be similar to the one used in the
lecture. The captions were written in Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia.
Information about the second art piece is assembled in Appendix I. That was my next step
along the path.
There were, for me, two other steps, both unexpected, which followed.
These were being introduced to:  the Kebra Nagast, and  Rastafarianism. Some data on
each of these are collected in Appendices II and III.
Anyone choosing to read the Appendices will find references to a person
named Marcus Garvey who was a Jamaican-born black nationalist leader whose Universal Negro
Improvement Association, (UNIA), was the most prominent black power organization in the
1920s. He was an important political figure and predicted that, sometime in the future, a
black leader would rise in Ethiopia and bring about justice to the oppressed.
When Haile Selassie came to power some Jamaicans thought that
Garveys prediction had come true with the result that he was, by many, considered to
be a prophet. Strangely, the fact that he did not endorse either Haile Selassie or
Rastafarianism, did not diminish his reputation as a prophet.
Other references in the Appendices are to Bob Marley, now deceased. He
is very well known in Jamaica as the originator of the music form known as Reggae. His son
David, known as Ziggy, is following in his fathers footsteps.
By some, Bob Marley was also considered to be a prophet. Much has been
said about his having been given a ring which had belonged to Haile Selassie, and which
depicted the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. A picture of Bob Marley is included with the
Now we are at a stopping point along a path which started in Denmark
and ended in Jamaica.
To clarify my position, the entire sequence was not to advocate either
the acceptance or the rejection of the art piece, the Kebra Nagast, or the Rastafarian
religion. The whole venture was merely to see what was taken to be a series of steps along
To date, for me, there has been little more done, beyond obtaining the
translations of the art piece captions, than the collection of information relative the
Kebra Nagast and Rastafarianism.
Not much more is expected to be done.
However, will Jamaica be the end of the path? Or, perhaps some day will
it lead to still another step along the way?