A Life of Too Many Ups & Downs
pages 1 & 2
I’m embarrassed to say how long ago I began this translation of my maternal grandfather’s memoir. Something like 10 months ago. I should have finished by now. But, you know, two podcasts and a blog/newsletter and a planetary pan dulce. Anyhoo, I will begin slowly serializing it here, giving away the first 18 pages for free 99, in English and Amharic, and putting the rest behind a paywall, with further plans of print, ebook, and audiobook formats in Amharic, English, and Amharic and English.
The TL;DR version is that his family background includes high-born and low-born aristocrats, peasants, and clergy. He gave up his aristocratic holdings, only to increase them by the end of his career through the meritocracy under regimes of monarchy and communism. A communist official tried to publicly execute him. It didn’t work.
A Life of Too Many Ups & Downs
Dañew Weldesilasé Reta, I am called. I was born Tahisas 20, 1920 in the year of mercy, in the State of Gwender, specially named Wegera County, in the district of Dabat Gabriel.
The Country of my Birth and My Growth from 1920-1937 in the year of mercy
My parents are called Commander of the Right (Flank) Weldesilasé Reta and Mrs. Ijigeetu Tedla Mekwenin. Right-Commander Weldesilasé is from his father’s side Welqayit Tegedé and the warm lowland Wegera; and from his mother’s side he’s a northerner (within Gwender). The country of his mother’s mother is Gwejam. My mother was born in the State of Gwender in Gayint, and one of her grandparents are from Mount Tabor County from an area called Vulture Ravine.
These parents of mine, born from northern and southern Gwender, are also the parents of my younger brother Demisé Weldesilasé.
I would like to register and explain my parents’ genealogies. My father Right-Commander Weldesilasé’s father Front-Commander Reta is born of Tegedé and is the son of Gate-Commander Kinfu. His mother Heerut Tiso is born of the warm lowland Wegera and she is the younger sister of Gate-Commander Tiso Gwebezé. From this marriage a lot of children were born, and my grandfather Front-Commander Reta Kinfu is the first-born.
My father’s mother Mrs. Tirunesh Gebremedhin is the daughter of Duke Gebremedhin Haylemaryam of the North. Duke Gebremedhin Haylemaryam has numerous brothers and sisters. His father Gate-Commander Haylemaryam Gebré’s first-born is Gate-Commander Wibé Haylemaryam. Later he married Mrs. Heerut Gugsa, born of Weresheek, and they had Gate-Commander Mereso Haylemaryam, Gate-Commander Bitul Haylemaryam, and Mrs. Yewbdar Haylemaryam. Duke Gebremedhin Haylemaryam is the youngest of all, and from his mother who is Wegeran and a grandaughter of Gate-Commander Amsalé, he has plenty of genealogies of the North and Wegera.
What makes Duke Gebremedhin Haylemaryam distinct from his brothers and sisters is that it is said he had 45 children, and that exceedingly elevates the number of his seed. My grandmother Mrs. Tirunesh Gebremedhin’s mother brought her from Gwejam and only gave birth to her. Mrs. Tiurnesh Gebremedhin married my grandfather Front-Commander Reta Kinfu and gave birth to four children called Weldesilasé, Ayalnesh, Zewdu, and Zenebech. My father, Right-Commander Weldesilasé Reta died when I was a two-year old child and my younger brother was a one-year old child. Since the other child called Zewdu Reta, my uncle, died in the months of his youth, a heavy sorrow beset my grandmother and she took monastic vows at age 40. After that, the Italian War came, and seeing her country enter into troubles, the bitterness of her sorrows exceedingly increased, so she despised the world of the fleshly and entered the Waldiba Siqwar Monastery.
I have pointed out that my mother Mrs. Ijigeetu Tedla Mekwenin was born in the State of Gwender, in the counties of Gayint and Mt. Tabor. Her father Right-Commander Tedla Mekwenin was born in Koréb across Mujan, Semada, and Beshlon. Right-Commander Tedla Mekwenin was born from a family of farmers. His grandfather Habtu Gebremedhin was well-known and honored for agriculture, but even more so for having 40 children. There is a saying about him in our country, his seed encompasses Welo, Mujan, and Simada so much that “Habtu Gebremedhin’s seed could be found by uncovering any rock.” It is said, all born of this seed could bend over and drink water without disappointment. His grandson Tedla Mekwenin disappeared from shepherding in his youth, and went to Adees Abeba to become Empress-Consort Taytu’s bondservant. This guy was so alert and slick that Empress-Consort Taytu kept adding authority upon authority to him till she got him to an elevated place. It is said Right-Commander Tedla Mekwenin used this opportunity to put great effort into helping many people.
My grandmother Mrs. Zegeyech Lema is Gayint from her mother the granddaughter of Front-Commander Merewa and the cousin of Gate-Commander Birlé Mekwenin, and she grew up in Gate-Commander Birlé’s house. Her father is called Feeder Lema, she is the daughter of Bethlehem’s Feeder. Gate-Commander Birlé was called to Adees Abeba, and Zegeyech Lema went with him. She was married to Right-Commander Tedla Mekwenin and had one daughter and one son. Right-Commander Tedla got sick with a surprise sickness and died, so Mrs. Zegeyech Lema took her two children and grabbed her movable property to return to her country of Gayint. On the go, she abandoned her inheritance that was in every which place and the sprawled out place she had in Adees Abeba, and since she did not return, she missed out on the partitioning of her uncultivated ground prior to the Italian War. It doesn’t appear to me that Mrs. Zegeyech Lema valued her Shewan inheritance much, since she had a sprawled out inheritance in Gayint, Sedé, and Bethlehem.