April 19, 2005
The obelisk has landed
This is a very quick note to say that the first part of the obelisk has arrived in Axum. We were all at the airport at 5am, waiting for the light to come and the Antonov cargo plane to arrive. When it did turn up, there was a spontaneous round of applause from the crowd - ministers hugging ministers and a bit of gentle ululating.
In a way, the chaos of the past few days did some good. There was no time to organise a formal welcoming reception with prime ministers and presidents. Instead, it just happened. Everyone just hung around on the edge of the tarmac and rushed over to the plane when it landed - despite the best efforts of the guards.
Then it was a four-hour wait for the joint Ethiopian-Italian team of engineers to roll the obelisk section down a ramp and then hoist it up in the air with the help of two 60-tonne cranes and on to a flat lorry. It was quite a technical feat - as the engineers kept assuring everyone. As far as it was possible to tell, the obelisk was in good shape after its long trip. It is now under guard at the airport waiting for the other two pieces to arrive.
If all goes to plan, they should all be paraded through town in 10 days or so. Then we can start the long wait to find out how and where it will be re-erected. I'll post more stuff tomorrow, including an article which should be in The Times. I have also uploaded some pics on Flickr - see link top right.
Posted by aheavens at April 19, 2005 4:37 PM
Dear MESKEL SQUARE:
First of all, wonderful website. Really great.
I thought you might like to read a poem I recently wrote on the looting of the Maqdala treasures. However, on the preview, it does not line up in stanzas. You'll have to follow the rhyme scheme. Or I will email to you personally, plus some more poems on Ethiopia, if you're interested.
I have sent to AFROMET, of which I am a supporter and to which I am soon to be a contributor, and the British Museum.
Please feel free to publish and distribute in any way that you see fit. Perhaps some musicians could set it to music, or translate into Tigrinya or Amharic for me. That would be splendid!
My website is tanata.squarespace.com.
I lived for a year in Ethiopia from 1973-74, at the time when Haile Selassie was arrested. I have fond memories of Eritrea and Ethiopia and would love to return one day to study, paint, write and teach.
Best of luck,
Randall Carter Gray
Signal Mountain, Tennessee USA
"LIONS OF THE PARADOX"
by Randall Carter Gray
The poor man glories only in the paradox:
He learns humility and grace ... living in a box.
The proud man comes and takes his treasures away,
Never fearing the poor man will ever have his day.
In Maqdala, in eighteen-sixty-eight,
Imperialistic islanders came to fill their plates.
They stole from Ethiopia its treasures of antiquity,
Never fearing recompense for such inequities.
Crowns of gold, tabots, ancient manuscripts,
Crosses, scrolls and statues were loaded onto ships.
An obelisk from Axum vanished, wrapped in mystery;
Proud Romans and their children robbed Sheba’s history.
Now the Lions of the Paradox want their treasures back;
But the proud men refuse to unload their packs.
Wisdom in Amharic sealed under lock and key
Sings out to Scotland, Britain: Reverse your infamy!
Protected, they believe, by island walls,
The thieves don't heed when conscience calls:
They ignore the poor, assuming they lack power --
And they do ... until this the eleventh hour.
At midnight God brings a new day, in the end;
The friendless and the hungry ... at last will find a friend.
Spirits of ancient kings, the rush of Eden’s fount
Rise anew in Ethiopia from God’s holy mount.
Imperialists laugh and cling to loot they’ve taken;
They live on borrowed time and sleep ... but soon they’re awakened:
Ethiopic fathers: Adam, Enoch, Judah, Solomon
Will steal the souls of proud men ... and sell them every one.
The paradox that governs life: evil cloaked in good ...
Explains why good and humble men are nailed to planks of wood.
Did you think, proud man, your fortunes would not turn,
So humble souls could own the treasures for which they've yearned?
Posted by: Randall Carter Gray at October 1, 2005 3:44 PM