and cultural exchanges with the region that stood between it and central Africa, as well as the trade with Arabs from the Red Sea island of Dahlak and the sea port of Adulis. Nubians patronised the cultic temples at Philae (Aswan). Archaeological evidences of Egyptian cultural presence in the interior of the Nubian region abound. Meanwhile, the Blemmyes, ancestors of the Beja of modern Sudan, constantly raided the southern Egyptian regions around Thebes and Philae. It is said that the rich Nubian kingdom of Meroe was once located around Napata; when the Nubians attacked Egyptian towns, the latter took revenge, sacked its capital and forced its relocation down the Nile. The treasurer to the Queen Mother, Candace of Meroe, made it into the pages of the Bible as Philip met him returning from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.6 He was reading the Septuagint.

Matters darkened as the translators of the Septuagint Bible in 300 bc mistakenly translated the Hebrew Kush into the Greek, Aithiop, a word that the Greeks used for any country south of their known world and derived from their word for black face, aithiops. The entire region from Egypt to Ethiopia/Abyssinia thus became known as Ethiopia. This explains how 'Ethiopianism' as a movement sought to re-create and moor itself onto the prideful, golden age of African civilisation, the splendour of the kingdoms of Meroe and Aksum that survived the Islamic onslaught of the seventh century and retained the pristine traditions of early Christianity. In European imagination, this was the kingdom of Prester John, whose myth lured many crusaders into arduous sojourns and served as a key component of Iberian voyages of the fifteenth century. Ethiopia was an enchanted place, whose monarch claimed to be the Lion of Judah, a scion of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon; whose land is said to hold the ark of the covenant and who defeated the Italians at Adwa in March 1896 to prove that the whites were not invincible. Ethiopians maintained their independence into modern times, though Nubia collapsed into Islamic embrace in the fifteenth century. 'Ethiopian' passed into the nineteenth-century imagination as a generic term for blacks, the descendants of Ham and Cush. The Rastafar-ians of the West Indies equally celebrate this conflation of myth and historical memory because the movement was, like Ethiopianism, a form of cultural appreciation, a social and historical excavation, a recovery and recontextual-isation of black traditions of emancipation hidden from consciousness of black peoples by colonial hegemony.

However, recent archaeological literature on the alluring Queen of Sheba, whose image rivals that of Delilah and of Cleopatra, locates her in south Arabia

0 0

Post a comment