Thursday, June 27, 2013

Addendum to NEVIS Review Ref# 19.1

Addendum to NEVIS Review Ref# 19.1

In NEVIS 19.1. we have presented Dr Alemayehu Geda's analysis/modelling of Negadras Gebrehiwot Baykedagn and contemporaries model of development.
 In this update, we want to provide you with a brief biography of Gebrehiwot Baykedagn which we got from the eminent Ethiopian historian, Prof Bahiru Zewdie.

  “[…..] The most celebrated of the early twentieth-century intellectuals; Gabra-Hewyat Baykadan led a life that has perhaps been the least documented. His lifespan was also one of the shortest, lasting barely 33 years. He was born on 30 July 1886 in the village of May Mesham in the district of Adwa. His father, Shaqa Baykadan, was in the service of Emperor Yohannes and died with the emperor at the Battle of Matamma on 9 March 1889. The early 1890s were a period of exceptional turbulence in Tegray, where the political disintegration and psychological void created by the death of the emperor, the ravage of one of the longest and most devastating famines the country had ever known, and the depredations that attended Menelik's campaign of 1890 to assert his new imperial authority, all combined to produce great instability.
It was in these circumstances that Gabra-Hewat fled with some other companions to Eritrea at the age of seven. According to Richard Caulk, Gabra-Hewat joined the Swedish mission school at Menkullu, on the mainland off Massawa. A trip to the port of Massawa that he subsequently made with his friends was to change decisively the course of his life. Gabra-Hewat and his friends got permission from the captain of a German ship docked there to go aboard and look around. When time came for the ship's departure, Gabra-Hewat stowed away. When the captain eventually discovered his 'guest', it was too late to do anything. On arrival at the destination, he entrusted the young boy to a rich Austrian family, which adopted him. Under the benevolent patronage of his Austrian sponsors, Gabra-Hewat learnt the German language, and is said to have gone on to study medicine at Berlin University. After completing his studies in Germany, he returned to his country. In the Ethiopian court, he had the good fortune of winning the friendship of Dejjach Yeggazu BeHabte, who assigned someone to teach Gabra-Hewat Amharic. After seven months of studious application, he was able to master the language to such a degree that he was to emerge as one of the finest writers of Amharic prose. It was also Dajjach Yeggazu, along with Naggadras Hayla-Giyorgis, who recommended Gabra-Hewat to Menilk.

  Gabra-Hewat was reportedly made private secretary and interpreter to the emperor. Apparently in his capacity as interpreter, he also accompanied an official mission to Germany led by Dajjach Mashasha Warqe in the summer of 1907. As in the case of Hakim Warenah and the British, the illness of Emperor Menilek lent him some diplomatic utility to the German government. He was attached to the German doctor Steinkuhler, and detailed to treat the ailing emperor and thereby promote the fortunes of German diplomacy. Again, like Warqenah, Gabra-Hewat failed to win the confidence of Taytu, who reportedly forbade him to touch the invalid. The acrimony that subsequently developed between the empress and the German doctor, who provoked the controversy about the poisoning of the ailing emperor, could only have reflected badly on his Ethiopian associate. In the potent article "Ate Menilek-na Ityopya', there is an allusion to
the German minister, Dr. Zintgraff, and his interpreter instigating the nobility against Taytu's ambitious designs on the throne. It was probably under these circumstances that he chose to exile himself to the neighboring British colony of the Sudan sometime in November 1909.

Gabra-Heywat fell critically ill on his return from the Sudan and was hospitalized in Massawa. As the brief preamble suggests, it was apparently while he was convalescing--and not, as Tegabe claims, while in the Sudan that he wrote 'Ate Menilek-na Ityopya'. In the preamble the author pays a glowing tribute to his lifelong friend, Pawlos Manamano, to whom, next to God, he says, he owed his life. Pawlos was to render Gabra-Hewat an equally worthy service a few years later when he published posthumously his major work, a treatise on political economy, Mangest-na Ya Hezb Astadadar[….]

( Source- "Bahru Zewde, PhDPioneers of Change in Ethiopia",)