However excited Kebede Mikael was about the unique opportunity, he could not make use of it because he fell ill at that time. Kebede Michael was an avid reader. Upon hearing his employment at the occupying fascist government, his incarcerated uncle Lij Seifu wrote: "he is an ailing, frail, weak boy who stood no chance in guerilla warfare; let him make use of his brains to assist the resistance. He reached Addis Ababa four months before the liberation and was ordered to stay under house arrest at his own residence. Even though Kebede could not go to France and pursue his studies because of the Italo-Ethiopian War , Kebede Mikael spent a lot of time reading in the library founded by Mr. LeMoins, one of the French instructors of Prince Makonnen.
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He is widely regarded as one of the most prolific and versatile intellectuals of modern Ethiopia — he was a poet, playwright, essayist, translator, historian, novelist, philosopher, journalist, and government officer belonging to the Shewa Amhara nobility and member of the Solomonic dynasty. He is well known as one of the mid-twentieth-century Japanizing Ethiopian intellectuals.
In about , when his mother and grandmother moved to Arusi, todays Arsi for work, he went instead to his uncle Lij Seifu Mikael in Addis Ababa where he joined the Catholic Cathedral School as a boarding student. It is said that he grew tired of the punishments by teachers at the school, and thus switched to Lazarist Catholic Mission School for some time.
In between, upon his uncles appointment to administer parts of Harer, the 13 year old Kebede Mikael befriended Prince Mekonnen and was tasked with tutoring him.
The lessons were given in French , and Kebede Mikael proved to be highly proficient and hard working. During his student years, Kebede Mikael proved that he was highly receptive to learning: he had a strong affinity for the French language, and earned high grades in his French exams.
Taking note of his apt command of the French language and his high potential, his school officials recommended him for a scholarship opportunity under the then monarch, Emperor Haile Selassie I. Also impressed by his abilities, the Emperor granted him a full scholarship to go to France and pursue his studies.
However excited Kebede Mikael was about the unique opportunity, he could not make use of it because he fell ill at that time. The plan to send him to France for further French instruction was thwarted by the onset of the five-year war with Italy — , particularly because of the declaration of the Battle of Maychew It would be the second time for Kebede Mikael to tutor Prince Mekonnen. Kebede Michael was an avid reader.
Although his formal education did not extend beyond high school, his writing was informed by his vast reading, as he revealed in an interview with Yekatit, a widely read Ethiopian newspaper, in September At the behest of his stepfather, he was employed in the fascists government as a liaison between the Italian officials and the Ethiopian nobility as well as in their department of information, then called "Office of Propaganda".
Upon hearing his employment at the occupying fascist government, his incarcerated uncle Lij Seifu wrote "he is an ailing, frail, weak boy who stood no chance in guerilla warfare, let him make a use of his brains to assist the resistance". He reached Addis Ababa four months before the liberation and ordered to stay under house arrest at his own residence.
Even though Kebede could not go to France and pursue his studies because of the Italo-Ethiopian War , Kebede Mikael spent a lot of time reading in the library founded by Mr.
LeMoins, one of the French instructors of Prince Makonnen. It is reported that one of the books he most frequently read was Napoleon because he had a great admiration for Napoleon Bonaparte. He also picked up Italian during those years of extensive reading and learning. That was only one of the many languages he spoke.
He wrote Berhane Helina The Light of the Mind , which is largely considered his debut, during these years. Official positions After the defeat of Fascist Italy, Kebede Mikael served in the government in several capacities between and when Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed. Kebede Mikael also participated in important international conferences as a special representative extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Ethiopian government. He was a regular Ethiopian delegate to numerous international conferences at the United Nations in New York.
Even while holding these positions, Kebede Michael did not stop writing. He published a total of 26 books during these thirty-three years of government service. Later Life and Death It is said that Kebede Mikael faced many struggles after the revolution of when the Derg toppled the imperial monarchy headed by Haile Silassie. His extended family members were either in the derg prison, executed or fled the country. Some sources also claim that he faced some discrimination based on rumors of mental illness in his late years.
Kebede Mikael died at the age of 82 on November 12, June 28th has been designated as a memorial day in Ethiopia to commemorate him. In November , Kebede Mikael received an Honorary Doctorate Degree from Addis Ababa University for his unparalleled excellence in literature and his role as an inspiration to generations of Ethiopian authors and writers.
Those who knew him closely say that he loved to go to church and was a very polite and spiritual man. The contents of his books touch upon history , education , development , philosophy , religion , culture , science, ethics and morals, and so on. About five of his books have been translated into the French and English languages. In all his works Kebede Michael used simple Amharic words that can be comprehended by anyone with basic schooling.
His translated works presented new, foreign concepts in localized and contextualized words that any Ethiopian could easily understand.
He also wrote in or translated from these languages. He produced a plethora of original and translated works — ninety of them published and two hundred unpublished. Later on, in the time of the Derg military regime , it is said that Kebede Michael was so frustrated with the tyranny and harassment of the state that he burned a lot of his unpublished works.
At least two of his works, Berhane Helina and YeQine Wubet, were written during the Italo-Ethiopian War, but the majority were published after the war.
Some were reprinted four times and more due to popular demand. This Amharic version of the play was composed of rhyming verses. He received great acclaim for this work because not only did he show his linguistic competence, but he also combined his poetic talent and play-writing prowess into a single text that flowed beauitfully.
From to , Kebede Michael wrote Amharic-language textbooks in which he provided several generations of Ethiopian students with literature covering a wide range of issues and disciplines. Below is an incomplete list of his works. Japan Indemin Seletenech? Politically, both countries were isolated from the world for about years during the medieval period and both states were feudalistic with steep hierarchies.
Kebede Mikael wrote that Japan had charted its own course and had maintained its independence in the world, through education. Just like other Japanizers before the Italian invasion, he hoped that Ethiopia would learn from the Japan model. He also pointed out the differences separating the two countries: Japan was more developed relative to Ethiopia even before its contact with the West, especially in shipbuilding and arms manufacture, and Japan had adopted European ways with remarkable speed, while Ethiopia was much slower.
There were several attempts to emulate the Japanese economic model in Ethiopia, including the crafting of the contents of the first constitution of Ethiopia in after the Japanese constitution.
Though these efforts were interrupted by the Italo-Ethiopian War, it was scholars like Kebede Mikael who kept the dream of Japanization alive after the Italian invasion was over in Keeping the hope of Japanization alive even after the expulsion of the Italians and the Second World War, there was not much progress made before the dictatorial military regime took over in , and negatively impacted the economy with population growth surpassing expansion in food production, agricultural productivity decreasing, and the country experiencing a severe famine in Legacy and influence Kebede Mikael has influenced Ethiopian thought, identity, and government through his writing and service in office.
His textbooks and general knowledge works have informed the values of young Ethiopian students, and widened their literary understanding. The play was written and staged by Kebede Mikael His contributions to the development of education and literature in Ethiopia were significant. Thus Fantahun criticizes Kebede Mikael for his inconsistencies.
Some Ethiopians, including the famous scholar Mesfin WoldeMariam , claim that Kebede Mikael was unpatriotic, and criticize him for holding office in the propaganda section of the Italian occupiers during the five-year Italian occupation of Ethiopia.
However, others defend him saying that he was forced to do it, and would not have labored to produce so many books for the advancement of his country and been so frustrated with the oppression of the Derg had he not been patriotic.
Notes and References.
Kebede Michael Explained
Vujin He is no less prolific than he is versatile; he has dozen of works to his name, most of which has been published and reprinted several times during the last five decades. Inhe received an Honorary Doctorate from Addis Ababa University for his unparalleled excellence in literature, and kebede michael poems inspiring pkems of Ethiopian authors and writers. He wrote a total of 26 books including a wide range of translations from various languages. His writings were in both prose and poetry and his poems follow rhyming and writing styles of his own. He called Monkey to account: Hyena sidled mchael to answer the same question. He wrote Berhane Helina The Light of the Mindwhich is largely considered his debut, during these years. Once upon a time, God ordered all the animals to gather in a field: Century old pictures of my grandfather, his brothers and sisters in traditional Ethiopian attire.
He wrote a total of 26 books including a wide range of translations from various languages. From to, he wrote Amharic school textbooks in which he provided generations of Ethiopian students with enlightening ideas about a wide range of issues and disciplines. His writings were in both prose and poetry and his poems follow rhyming and writing styles of his own. The contents of many of his books are on history, education, development, philosophy, religion, science and so on. He was also delegated to many international conferences including at the United Nations in New York.