African History 3: From Aksum to Ethiopia
Today we're learning about an Aksum—er, awesome warrior woman, and the many rises and falls of what is now known as Ethiopia.
|World History||African History|
And civil wars, coups, and rebellions ensued.
Legend says that the death knell for Aksum was a rebel warrior woman named Gudit [Gudit fighting king]
It’s said that she overthrew the Christian king in the 900s CE and basically wrecked
History is a little foggy on whether this really happened—she supposedly got rid of
the record-keeping bureaucrats.
But there probably was a queen ruling the land around that time, and it's a cool story,
so, uh…we're going with it. [Gudit sitting on throne]
With Gudit and her descendants in charge, Ethiopia entered a Dark Age where everybody
said…meh...to writing things down.
But every age has to end.
The Ethiopian Dark Ages ended in 1137 when the last of Gudit's descendants got the boot. [Boot kicks away Gudit]
Who were the new rulers on the block?
A Christian dynasty called Zagwe which founded the new Ethiopian Empire.
The Zagwe Dynasty whipped the land back into shape. [Woman performing sit ups]
And along the way, they built some pretty impressive monuments: the rock churches of
Lalibela Major pilgrimage sights to this day, these
churches were carved directly from the stone of the earth. [Man carving church]
Which is an insane way to build something.
But TOTALLY awesome.
Of course, like every dynasty the Zagwe eventually lost their grip. [Zagwe drops Ethiopia]
Talk about butterfingers.
The Zagwe were replaced by the Solomonic Dynasty, which claimed to be descended from [Solomonic king and soldiers appear]
King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.
Nobody knows if that was true or not, but again…it sounds good, right?
Rule of the Ethiopian Empire changed hands plenty over the next 500 years. [Kings tossing Ethiopia]
But the thing that makes Ethiopia truly remarkable is that, for the most part, it kept itself
free of foreign rule.
Muslim invaders tried to step in, but no dice. [Muslims attempt to enter Ethiopia]
Throughout the ages, Ethiopia stayed…Ethiopian.
It wasn’t until 1935 that the Italians under Mussolini got close to taking over.
Still, after a relatively short occupation, the Ethiopians kicked out the Italians with [Boot kicks away Mussolini]
the help of the British.
Yeah, modern Italians are good at making pasta, but not so good at… empiring. [Woman holding bowl of pasta]
Somewhat miraculously, the British actually didn’t stick around…instead letting Ethiopia
continue to rule itself.
Ethiopia’s last ruling emperor was Haile Selassie who claimed
to be descended from the Solomonic Dynasty.
Oh, and he also managed to inspire the Rastafarian religion, which still worships him as a messiah. [Rastafarian man worshiping Selassie]
In the 1970’s, Haile was deposed and possibly murdered in a socialist coup, sweeping Ethiopia
violently into the modern age. [soldiers firing cannons]
You have to hand it to the Ethiopian Empire, though.
Despite all the odds against it, it was the longest-lasting African empire, next to Egypt. [Ethiopia on stage]
And sometimes second place is…still pretty darn impressive. [Audience giving round of applause]