‘Haile Selassie! do not be surprised…’
~ Aleqa Araya Woreta, trans. by Chris Beckett
Translator’s note: Aleqa recited this prophetic poem to Haile Selassie as a 14 year old boy, when no-one expected him to become emperor. Aleqa was inspired by an incident that same day when Selassie and his cousin and rival Lij Iyasu (Emperor Menelik’s grandson and heir) went diving in Lake Alemaya near Harar: Selassie disappeared underwater for one and a half hours before resurfacing unscathed. He was obviously destined for greatness!
‘The man who leaves his church…’
~ Getaw Ras Gugsa Wollie, trans. by Chris Beckett
Translator’s note: Gugsa was ruler of Begemder, an important province by Lake Tana. He was a bitter opponent of Haile Selassie and died at the Battle of Anchem in 1930. He recited this poem at a feast for the Annuciation, where 52 famous religious scholars sang praises accompanied by the sistrum.