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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SIRGIW Gelaw, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia

The river Gihon is well documented in Ge’ez literature.. That is the case for those who believe the Ge’ez literature is part of the Bible and Gihon and the Nile are synonymous (Gen.2,13). And in a number of Ge’e Books like Matshafa Tefut and the Hagiography of St. Merqoreos, various attempts to build dam on the river Nile by various Ethiopian emperors including Emperor Seyfa Ared (1327-1355) and Emperor Dawit II (1365-1395) is also well chronicled. During the reigns of these emperors, Egypt, the neighboring was engaged in massive Islamization Agenda the whole Egypt. To that end, the regime levied heavy tax on the Coptic Christians even jailed religious leader the Coptic patriarch of Alexanderia, who was also the religious leader of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church. It was disappointed with this move that Emperor Seyfa Ared and Emperor Dawit II intended build to a dam on the river Nile. While Ethiopia was threatening to build the dam, Egypt on its part was entertaining not send its assign Abuna to Ethiopian Orthodox church. It could thus be said that the move to build the dam had more of political implication than an economic one. In addition to Matshafa Tefut and the Hagiography of St. Merqoreos the river Nile well cited in some other Ge’ez books. St Yared, for example, in his book Digua says as follows. “ Holy and blessed land (Ethiopia), the land of God, where holy people and children of peace reside and land in which springs Gihon and Hiddekel part right and left. Pison is wine and Euphrates is oil. They are inheritance of martyr”. Unlike Ge’ez literature in which the attempt to build is well documented, we have no Ge’ez Qene about efforts to construct Nile dam . That is probably because, by its nature Qene poetry is oral. Otherwise it is very unlikely for knowledgeable clergy not to praise which are probably composed the attempts made by Emperor Seyfa Ared and Emperor Dawit to build the Nile Dam. As saying goes `የቅኔ ቋንጣ የለውም” (which roughly means Qene should always be fresh and impromptu). Cognizant of this gap (i.e. absence of Ge’ez Quene), the present study has encouraged some well versed poets to express their feelings on the Renaissance Dam on the river Nile. To that end, over a hundred Ge’ez Qene (poems) composed on the Renaissance Dam have been collected, analyzed and interpreted. From these Ge’ez Quene we will try to understand what the present Ge’ez Qene poets feel about the Renaissance Dam.