Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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BELAY Desalegn, Aksum University, Ethiopia
DANIEL Alemshet, Aksum University, Ethiopia

Despite some research carried out by by Ethiopians on the life history and contributions of Saint Yared, all in all little is known about traditional Ethiopian views on Saint Yared, officially called Yared the Mahletay. The overall image that the literature gives so far is rather unclear and doubtful. This study recovers some of the views about Saint Yared, as formulated by Ethiopian audiences, through qualitative interviews with 4 church leaders living in Aksum and Mekelle towns. An analysis of these interviews makes the priests' thoughts clear and in some cases challenge widely held assumptions about the history and works of Saint Yared. Yared is seen as an iconic, known scholar, head professor, composer, producer, poet and dedicated orthodox who exemplifies a habesha (Ethiopian highlanders) sentiment throughout his life. Undoubtedly, he was an important Ethiopian cultural leader and his sacred music, hymns, musical notations, literature and scriptures are the results of a brilliant indigenous thinking and philosophy free from alien influence. The stories add important nuances to our understanding of who Saint Yared was in the history of Ethiopia in general and of Aksum in particular. This study is a result of a growing body of research on local and intangible heritages which are important for both federal and state government bodies to support the fast and double-digit growing economy through smokeless industry. In using largely untapped sources of church history, religious books, including oral sources and interviews with church scholars (merigetas), this research wishes to inspire future research on similar topics.