The departure of the British from Makdala showed that the queen of England had no intention of occupying Abyssinia or of interfering in the political affairs of the country, and each of the governors of the three great provinces of Tigray, Amhara and Shawa (Shoa) began to take steps to make himself Negusa Nagast, or King of kings of Abyssinia. Menyelek, king of Shoa, who belonged to the Solomonic line of kings, considered that he had the best right to the throne, and he at once proclaimed himself king. Satisfied with that act for the moment he devoted himself to consolidating his kingdom and prepared to make the best use of his independence when an opportunity offered. The most powerful Ras was, at the time of Theodore’s death, thought to be Gobaze, governor of Amhara and Wag and Lasta, the son of Gabra Madhanl. He was a very able man and a great, though possibly over-cautious, soldier, and he was one of the first and best friends of the British captives in Makdala. Sir Robert Napier thought very highly of his ability and character, and, as we have seen, offered to transfer the fortress of Makdala to him; and when he was leaving the country he made over to Mashesha, Gobaze’s general, 200 of Theodore’s muskets. Sir Robert and Gobaze exchanged greetings by letter, and the former invited the Ras to visit him at some place to be decided upon on his way to the coast. Gobaze did not decline the invitation, but he neither accepted the invitation nor came; in his letters to the British General he ignored it. Gobaze knew well that at that time he was the greatest chief in the country, and he felt that a visit paid to Sir Robert would be regarded as an act of sub mission to the hated foreigner by the unconquered representative of the Abyssinian nation. And knowing that Sir Robert was on friendly terms with Kasa, Ras of Tigray, he probably doubted the good faith of the foreigner. Kasa, commonly called the “ R ed”
K aiy the son of Goldja, and a kinsman of Ube, was born in 1839. His father was made Ras of Tigray by the pretender Negushe, and when the rebel was defeated Goldja was killed by Theodore’s command. Kasa served for a time under Theodore, his father’s murderer, and when he saw that the tyrant would never recover his position, he transferred his allegiance to the British,
and so assumed without opposition the governorship of Tigray. Markham tells us (p. 381) that “ the weak-minded Kasa went about with a sort of crown upon his head, which was always coming down over his eyes, and gazed with stupid wonder at the rocket practice of the Naval Brigade. He is evidently a tool of the more powerful chiefs, whom accident has pitchforked into supreme power, and who may or may not be allowed to retain i t ; but in any case little good can be expected from so poor a creature.” Sir Robert gave him a battery of mountain guns and mortars, and smooth bore muskets for one regiment. It was intended that this supply of arms should enable him to hold his own against the possible attacks of the Wakshum Gobaze.