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Above: (Doubleday 2004), I write: “…As I waited at the Addis Ababa airport for a glimpse of arriving dignitaries, my attention was pulled from the action around the arriving airplanes to a group of men making their way across the tarmac.I could sense the power of one man in particular before I could even see him.” Although he was of such small stature that he was dwarfed by the others alongside him, something about his aura so profoundly moved me that I lowered the camera so I could see him with both eyes.The Rastafarian Movement’s efforts to re-define the sanctity of Ethiopia and re-cast Emperor Selassie in a sacred light caught the imagination of young people as they swayed to reggae music.A new light had come out of Africa, but the beam started in the diaspora, this time in Jamaica. D., an unknown merchant recorded details of the Red Sea trade, and mentioned Adulis, the harbor of “the city of the people called Aksumites” to which “all the ivory is brought from the country beyond the Nile.” The ruler of Aksum, he wrote, was Zoskales, who was “miserly in his ways and always striving for more, but otherwise upright, and acquainted with Greek literature.” Just two centuries later, the philosopher Mani (ca. And in 274, envoys from Aksum took part in the triumphal procession staged by the emperor Aurelian when he paraded the captured Queen Zenobia of Palmyra, fettered with gold chains, through Rome. 210-276) included Aksum as one of the four great empires, along with Rome, Persia, and Sileos (possibly China).
If people have heard of it, perhaps it is on account of another queen: the Biblical Sheba.Here, too, Emperor Ezana converted to Christianity in 324 CE.The richness of the historic and photographic appeal of Ethiopia is revealed for me especially in the ancient monolithic stone churches of Lalibela and the more ancient Moon Temple in Yeha.In July 1992, I returned to Ethiopia with my son Damani as my photography assistant.As I wrote in my book (1994), “The memory of being in his [Emperor Haile Selassie I] presence has remained an inspiration in my personal life.
In the Bible, ‘Ethiopia’ is a place of refuge, an amazing mystical land.