"Aleqa Tekle-Iyesus (1868-1936) was born in Albasa, Kutay, in northeastern
Wellega, to parents Waqjira and Gelené. He was taken captive at the age of
six in a raid by Dejjazmach Elémtu Goshu, the uncle of King Tekle-Haymanot
(1875). His captor-cum-guardian brought him up with church education having
sent him first to his own father confessor, and later on to the monastic
school at Dima Giyorgis. It was when his guardian had him baptized that his
original name, Negero, was changed to Tekle-Iyesus. Tekle-Iyesus, Oromo by
birth, grew up with strong Gojjamé identity and devoting a huge part of his
life to record its regional history and its ancestral traditions. His artistic
talent earned him fame and royal patronage. Admired for his illuminations
of manuscripts, for church murals and for engravings to the court and
churches/monasteries of Gojjam, and created as Aleqa with the benefice of
the church of Zebéch Iyesus, he was at the height of his fortune in the last
decade of the 19 century..."
"My mother’s name was Trunesh Welde Mariam. She was the
daughter of a farmer in Bale known by the nick-name Minjare
Weldemariam. He was a very enlightened person. All his
children including the girls were taught how to read and
write. In those days (about 80 years ago) very few people
used to teach their male children let alone the female
ones. So my mother was my first teacher. I learned how to
read and write Amharic at home. I do not know where she got
it but my mother knew some basic arithmetic too...."
"At the third time, for refusing to comply with the
wishes of the authorities, Haleka Tewolde Medhin was
sentenced to death. Twice, they took him to an infamous
old warka tree in Adwa to be hanged, (a very common
spot for hanging bandits, murderers, and criminals
of similar caliber,) and twice he narrowly escaped
death by miraculous coincidences..."
"...But after living in Ethiopia for
awhile, and after my first couple of fieldtrips in the Afar,
there was no way I would consider returning to the U.S. Ethiopia
impressed me greatly--an extraordinary country with a remarkable
history and culture, and of course the potential of the Afar to
science was unlimited."
"When the Italians left, I came to Addis Ababa where I found my
father in the compound of the old Trinity Church in one of the
one-room shelters built to protect a grave. (I never asked who
was the guy on whose grave I slept for several years before we
moved out. His people never came to disturb us.)..."
My interest in Ethiopia - and Africa (we were all Pan-Africanists
in those days!) led me in 1956 to travel to Addis Ababa, to teach
at the then new University College of Addis Ababa, which became
the nucleus of Haile Sellassie I (later Addis Ababa) University..."