chapter
Ledj Īyāsū, Wasan Sagad
Pages 7

The Abuna, the ’Etchege {i.e. head of the monks) and all the princes, soldiers and people rejoiced to do the bidding of their beloved king, and every care was taken to provide for the welfare of the soul and body of Iyasu. As long as the Regent Ras Tasamma lived he devoted himself to the education of the prince, but when he died Iyasu, under the less strict supervision of the Council who became the Regents of the kingdom, obtained greater freedom of action, and his tastes led him to associate with a gang of dissolute young men who feared neither God nor Devil, and whose sole object was to enjoy themselves at all costs. When Menyelek died the Abuna and the governors proclaimed Iyasu king, according to the dead king’s instructions, and all the people were ready to swear, and did swear, allegiance to him. The true disposition of the new king revealed itself very soon. He wept no tears for the man who had given him everything, but in the same week of the king’s death he and his friends mounted their horses and rode away to enjoy themselves at picnics. The Abuna was obliged to bury Menyelek privily and in a secret place, fearing that Iyasu would make a disturbance if the king was given a public funeral, and not a single candle was lighted in honour of the dead, and not a grain of incense was burnt. Menyelek had established a service of night police in Adis Ababa, and when these tried to check the disgraceful behaviour of the king and his friends they were shot dead by them. Iyasu rejected the Christian Religion and swore that he was not descended from Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, but from Muhammad the Prophet. And he made the Muslim fakirs construct an Arab genealogy proving this for him. He re­ jected his Christian wife Rumana, and he married many Arab women, viz. the daughter and niece of Abba Jifar, the daughter of

Abd-Allah, and the daughter of Muhammad Abu Bakr, and he kept scores of concubines. He consorted with Muslims who detested Christianity, and rejoiced when a marabout told him that the Religion of Christ was doomed in Abyssinia. In Harar he wor­ shipped in all the mosques and saints’ shrines, but never entered a church. He also robbed the Christians of their houses in Harar to give them to the Muslims. When the Galla rebelled he refused to allow an expedition to be sent against them, and gave them his support, and when a body of Somalis who had murdered some 45 Abyssinians were brought to Adis Ababa to be tried, he bestowed decorations on them and set them free. He built a mosque in Dire Dawa and cast aside his ordinary apparel and arrayed himself in the garb of a Muslim, turban and all. On sites which were provided for churches, he built mosques, notably at Djedjega

on the frontier, and he wished to replace the church of the Redeemer at Harar by a mosque. He next disgraced the flag of Abyssinia, and grossly insulted the great Christian people whom it represented by writing upon it in Abyssinian letters a translation of the Muslim phrase: “ There is no god but Allah. Muhammad, the Apostle of Allah” * A/uAAa •* ?i AOss. This done he gave the flag to the Turkish Consul, who received it with great enthusiasm and served champagne *, and said that the gift of the flag indicated that the Abyssinians were subjects of Turkey. The Consuls General protested, and pointed out the diplo­ matic difficulties that would certainly arrive, but Iyasu refused to withdraw it, and recited the shahada and declared that he was a Muslim. At Djedjega he assembled the Wegazna and the Somalis and bestowed military decorations upon them, and then he gave them twelve flags with the inscription: “ There is no god but Allah,” etc., written upon them, and worked with the figure of a Muslim, turbaned, holding a scimitar.