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.
French to have passports
when they come. If they do anything wrong, I will send them back to you. If they have no passports,
I will punish them according to our laws. Those who come without papers or recommendations will
be treated as Abyssinians. I have sent letters through Awsa, and I have been told that these letters
were given to Arnoux and that he has kept them. If this is true, ask him to send them.
Seal: Minīlik, King of Shewa. The Lion of the tribe of Judah has prevailed.
29th Yekkatīt 1874.
AECPC, Angleterre, Aden, 1858–1884, 57, fols 252
RUBENSON TEXT.indd 124
Document no. 106
Burhān Muḥammad to Giulio Pestalozza [Jan. 1883]
Praise be to God alone.
To His Honour, the dear and beloved, His Excellency, the pure friend, governor (bir ṣāḥib) of
Aseb, Giulio Pestalozza. May God Almighty lead him. Amen.
The peace of God Almighty and His mercy and His blessing is what we bestow upon Your
Excellency. What we tell you is that Count Antonelli is travelling to Abyssinia (al-Ḥabasha) by the
route of Awsa with the authorization and protection of Sultan Maḥammad Ḥanfadhē. We
absolutely necessary that you get it, [since] it is something the king has long desired.
Regarding the rest, you know it from my brother Gīyorgīs Nigusē who comes to you. From a year
ago to today many changes have occurred; I have worked much, God knows how much. After God,
King Mīnilik and you know all my work.
There is a complete rupture with the French. All your friends in Shewa expect you impatiently.
Franzoi has given us much trouble. He has refused to take the bones of Chiarini by way of Awsa.
From Aseb a written explanation was sent to you by the king. All the
, Abyssinie 3, fol. 519, Arabic original; fol. 520, French translation. The letter is undated, but
annotated “reçue le 27 Juin”. The author, Maḥammad Ḥanfadhē, was the Sultan of Awsa from 1862 to 1902. Fighting
against the Egyptians and their ally, Abū Bakr Ibrāhīm, he was responsible for the attacks on the caravans of Arnoux
and of Munzinger in 1875 (see Acta III, no. 125 and 179). For details on him see EAE 3, pp. 647–648. Since Brémond
stayed at Obok it was most probably written a week or two earlier. ‘Abd al-Raḥmān Yūsif was the trusted agent of
undertake to defend by all possible means in his power the Italian possessions in the bay
of Aseb, the entire littoral acquired by the Rubattino Co. [and] the Italian agents or caravans
staying in or crossing the territory of the sultanate;
5. to undertake to assist efficiently the Italian colony in the intent which the same has to open all
the most convenient routes for putting Aseb in direct communication with Abyssinia, whether
by Awsa or by Kwalima (?), or any other localities;
6. to undertake not to sell or transfer any part of his dominions and territories without