The Capital and Entoto's Contemporary History


                                                     The Capital and Entoto's Contemporary History

Emperor Menelik (Minilik) Entoto Palace Addis Ababa


'' From the late 1870s, Menelik began to show an increasing interest in the region in which Addis Ababa is situated and headquartered the royal camp at several sites in the area.

His first major settlement was established on the slopes on Mount Wuchacha, west of the present settlement, but he soon moved northwards and set up his camp near the summit of Entoto Mountain, a choice determined by strategic considerations. Here he erected a palace''...

''The next important building to be constructed at Entoto was the church of Maryam, a circular structure, the foundations which were laid in 1885.

Menelik, it is said himself participated in the buildings work, and on occasion travelled with his consort, Queen Taytu, to Mount Managacha to the west where he helped to prepare massive squared roof beams which were then carried dozens of kilometres by groups of four or five soldiers.

It was at this church of Maryam that Menelik was crowned Emperor of Ethiopia in November 1889, and an effigy of the old monarch can still be seen on its walls. ''(Hancoch et al. 1983, pg102.)

But the establishment of the capital on the slopes of Mount Entoto did not turn out well: ''Entoto, as Menelik's capital, rapidly acquired a considerable population.

At the beginning of the century, the British game-hunter and ethnographer, P.H.G. Powel-Cotton, described it as ''a populous city'', while his compatriot, Herbert Vivian, believed that it ''must have comprised 50 000 souls.

''The site, which had initially been selected as a fortress, was not suitable as a capital for more peaceful times. Being situated on a rugged mountain, it was poorly supplied with provisions which could be brought up only after an exhausting walk.

Food, as Ilg reports, was often scarce, and wood and water were also difficult to obtain. Entoto's climate during the rainy season was moreover far from pleasant, for it suffered from many storms.

A French traveller, Jules Borelli, states that it was a place of much lightning, thunder and fog, while his compatriot, Charles Michelli remarked that, ''exposed to the wind, difficult of access, and without drinking water'', the town was ''an impossible capital''.'' (Ibid, pg 103)



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