Colonial powers and Ethiopian frontiers 1880–1884 is the fourth volume of Acta
Aethiopica, a series that presents original Ethiopian documents of
nineteenth-century Ethiopian history with English translations and scholarly
notes. The documents have been collected from dozens of archives in Africa and
Europe to recover and present the Ethiopian voice in the history of Ethiopia in
the nineteenth century. The present book, the first Acta Aethiopica volume to
appear from Lund University Press, deals with how Ethiopian rulers related to
colonial powers in their attempts to open Ethiopia for trade and technological
development while preserving the integrity and independence of their country. In
addition to the correspondence and treatises with the rulers and representatives
of Italy, Egypt and Great Britain, the volume also presents letters dealing with
ecclesiastical issues, including the Ethiopian community in Jerusalem.
., 15 March 1880
Shaykh Duran, 15 May 1880, Glory be to God.
Be it notified to those concerned, that this day, the 15th of the month of March 1880 and the 3rd day
of the month of Rabī’ al-ākhir of the year 1297 according to the Muslim era, I, Burhān Muḥammad,
Sultan of Raḥayta, sovereign, absolute master and proprietor of the territory surrounding the village
of Aseb, of Italian property, by virtue of a traditional and uncontested right declare that I stipulate,
deliberately and with complete freedom (lit. spontaneity), on my own account and on that of my
Document no. 152
Maḥammad Ḥanfadhē to Giovanni Branchi, 28 Jan. 1884
RUBENSON TEXT.indd 200
To His Excellency, the most noble and most honoured, the beloved and respected Consul of Aseb.
May God Almighty lead him. Amen.
If you ask about us and those who take refuge with us, we are well and healthy, and we are not
concerned about anything except you and your well-being which is the ultimate aim and desire of
the Lord of the faithful. These lines are dispatched from Sinkara, the protected; all the information
we have is good and
Document no. 105
Ḥamad La’īta to Giulio Pestalozza, 9 Jan. 
And now, the message comes from Ḥamad La’īta to Mr. Pestalozza, the Governor (ḥākim) of Aseb,
if you inquire about us, we are well. We would like to inform you that we are sending you this
letter to announce that the delegation to Sultan Maḥammad Ḥanfadhē has left. Until I came to you
a monthly payment has to be made for the months I have been away from you, counted according
to the rules kept by you. And my arrival shall be soon, after our work is finished, and our money
is collected from [the
Pietro Antonelli, 28 May 1882
To His Excellency, the respected friend of His Majesty King Minīlik, Count Pietro Antonelli. I wish
you good health, and as for us, we are, thank God, very well.
We have received your letter of the month of March, and we have acquainted ourselves with it.
As for the merchandise for King Minīlik, have no fear; when it comes to Aseb, you will consign it to
Gebre Sillasē and ‘Abd al-Raḥmān, who will inform me as soon as they have received it, and from
that moment on it will be my responsibility and it will be my task to protect it till it is
they would bring them did not bring them.
Now, send me 2,000 Remingtons which I will purchase. These rifles can come from Your
Majesty’s country as far as to Aseb, and from there I will bring them here. If this is done, we will
with the help of Your Majesty set the route in order, and it will be possible to come and go regularly
from my country to Your Majesty’s and vice versa.
Written at Debre Birhan on the 22nd of Meggabīt 1873 (March).
ASMAI 36/1–6, Italian translation. No Amharic original in the archive. L’Italia in Africa, I.2 no. 176, p. 172