Tag Archives: Anglo-Ethiopian Society

Anglo-Ethiopian Society events – King of Kings book launch

If you are learning Amharic in London, you may be interested in Ethiopian-related events too. Learn Amharic UK is proud to be a member of the Anglo-Ethiopian Society (www.anglo-ethiopian.org), which organizes excellent networking and events. Here are a few highlights of their upcoming events for the rest of 2015:

book - The Last King of Kings of Africa

2 Nov (Mon) Book Launch “The Last King of Kings of Africa: The Triumph and Tragedy of Haile Selassie I”. Prince Asfa-Wossen Asserate in conversation with Anthony Mockler, at SOAS, Russell Square from 19:00-21:00 (7-9pm). Haus Publishing have organised the book launch to coincide with the 85th anniversary of Haile Selassie’s coronation. Emperor Haile Selassie was a descendent of King Solomon and a forerunner of African unity and independence. He fought with the Allies against the fascist Axis powers during the Second World War and was the messiah of the Jamaican Rastafarians. He was a reformer and an autocrat, who was assassinated in a communist coup. He was an equally formidable and iridescent figure, who is brilliantly portrayed by his great-nephew.

Asfa-Wossen Asserate was born in 1948 in Addis Ababa as a member of the Imperial House of Ethiopia. He read history and law at Cambridge University and at the University of Tübingen, and received his PhD at the University of Frankfurt. He now lives in Frankfurt where he works as a consultant on African and Middle-Eastern Affairs, and as a political analyst. He is a bestselling author in Germany and has been awarded the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize and the Jacob Grimm Prize, two of the country’s most prestigious literary prizes.

This event is supported by the Royal African Society, the Anglo-Ethiopian Society and the Global Heritage Fund UK.
The event is free, but places are limited and must be reserved via Eventbrite, go to the link here. The event includes a standing reception and book signing. Copies of the book will be on sale.

17 Nov (Tues) Book Club – The Danakil Diary – Journeys Through Abyssinia, 1930-34, by Wilfred Thesiger. At the National Theatre. This was the earliest and most influential expeditions of one of the great explorers of the 20th century. Thesiger regarded his 2 journeys into the Danakil country in 1930-34 at the age of 24 years as the most dangerous he undertook. It was a remarkable achievement, he travelled in country that had wiped out 2 Italian expeditions and an Egyptian army before him, discovered what happened to the Awash River (one of the area’s last geographical mysteries to be solved) and managed to survive amongst the Danakil, to whom a man’s status depended on the number of men he had killed and castrated. People learning Amharic may enjoy Thesiger’s descriptive genius including the beautiful, savage landscapes and their wildlife as well as youthful evidence of his fierce motivation and uncompromising will. The book club gathers in the Long Bar on the ground floor, but if you to attend, or want further information, please email the Book Club.

Danakil Diary can be found at Amazon here:

25 Nov (Wed) Lecture – Witnessing the birth of an ocean: Rifting in the Afar Depression, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti by James Hammond at The Warburg Institute, Woburn Square. The East-Africa rift is the world’s premium natural laboratory for studying how continents break apart. Here, over the last 30 million years, a new tectonic boundary has been formed giving rise to the volcanoes and earthquakes that make up one of the world’s most dramatic landscapes. The Afar Depression is the northernmost extent of the East Africa Rift, where it meets two other rifts that form the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. This so called triple junction is where the final stages of continental breakup are occurring.

In September 2005 some earthquakes culminated in a small volcanic eruption, which masked much bigger changes deeper in the Earth’s crust. A 60 km long sheet or wall of magma (a “dike”), had been injected into the Earth from depth in just 2 weeks, causing the ground to deform including 8 metres of sideways movement. It was the first time in the era of satellite and modern day geophysics. In response a UK/US/Ethiopian/Eritrean team led an 8-year study to monitor and understand the driving forces behind this region.

In this talk Dr. Hammond will provide an insight in what it is like to work in one of the world’s most inhospitable deserts, a tale of camels, volcanic eruptions and science diplomacy and he will present some of the key results from their work. Hammond is a Research Fellow at the Department of Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College, London. Capacity is limited, so please reserve your place soon at Eventbrite to avoid disappointment.

The AES also organizes supper clubs and other social events.

footage.framepool.com has great Afar desert video
footage.framepool.com has great Afar desert video

Royal fanfare: Ethiopia’s 40 Armenian orphan musicians

Talk: 5 March at 7pm
Organized by: Programme of Armenian Studies and the Centre of World Christianity at SOAS
At SOAS, Vernon Campus (not the main campus)

The Arba Lijoch, photographed by Haigaz Boyajian, royal photographer of Ethiopia. Source: The Armenite
The Arba Lijoch, photographed by Haigaz Boyajian, royal photographer of Ethiopia. Source: The Armenite

Several of our students of Amharic in London have interest in Ethiopian music, and this talk promises a fascinating spotlight on a key development.

In 1924, the Ras Tafari, Crown Prince of Ethiopia (later known as Emperor Haile Sellasie), went to Jerusalem where he met with a marching band of 40 Armenian orphan boys and was deeply moved by their musical talent. He talked to Patriarch Turyan who told him of the financial strain of raising the boys and the future Emperor offered to adopt them and bring the band to Ethiopia.

The boys arrived on 6 Sept 1924 which Father Hovhannes Simonian and were officially known as Arba Lijoch (“40 children”). They formed the royal imperial brass band and played the official music of the court, forming the Royal Fanfare and the Ethiopian Government Fanfare. Their musical director, Armenian musician Kevork Nalbandian, was asked by Ras Tafari to write the first Imperial Ethiopian national anthem “Teferi Marsh, Ethiopia Hoy” (“Ethiopia, be happy”) performed for the first time by the Arba Lijoch during the crowning of Emperor Haile on 2 November 1930.

The boys had survived the genocide which began in 1915 and saw the Turkish Ottomans kill 1.5 million, forming most of the present Armenian diaspora communities. They were described as “diligent, abstemious and honest”.

Tracing the history of Armenians in Ethiopia, historian Boris Adjemian casts new light on these legendary events in the lecture. Boris Adjemian is curator of the AGBU Nubar Library in Paris. In 2013, he published La fanfare du négus : Les Arméniens en Ethiopie (XIXe-XXe siècles), Paris: Éditions de l’EHESS.

The Programme of Armenian Studies and the Centre of World Christianity at SOAS are jointly hosting his lecture: “The Kings and the Forty Orphans: Looking for Armenians in Ethiopia”. It is chaired by Erica C. D. Hunter, Head of Department for the Study of Religions and co-chair of the Centre of World Christianity at SOAS, University of London.

It starts at 7.00pm on Thursday 5 March in Room V211, SOAS, Vernon Square, London WC1X 9EW – all welcome. Please note that the lecture does not take place at the Main Campus of SOAS, but at the VERNON SQUARE CAMPUS (which is about 10 minutes walk from Kings Cross).

Musical influence

Before their arrival, prominent musical instruments were mostly wood and string although there were some brass musicians. The Arba Lijoch and Kevork Nalbandian were hailed as helping modernization as they trained other bands and performed in public. Kevork Nalbandian, with Greek and Ethiopian musical colleagues, also helped found the Yared School of Music at Addis Ababa Univeristy in 1954 and led to “a stately brand of jazz-funk” or Ethio-jazz which developed in the 1950s and reached its height in the late 1960s and Kevork’s nephew Nerses Nalbandian helped drive the genre and influenced great musicians such as Mulatu Astatke, father of Ethio-jazz.

The Ge’ez alphabet, diligently studied by students of Amharic in London in their Amharic language lessons, apparently also influenced the creation of the Armenian alphabet due to historic links said to go back to the Trojan War and well established as the Orthodox Christian Church grew in both countries from the early centuries after Christ.

Source: Ani Aslanian writing in The Armenite blog and alert mailing from the Anglo Ethiopian Society.