Dreams in Amharic Prose Fiction

ዋና ገጽ | የኢትዮጵያ ታሪክና ሥነጽሑፍ የምርምር ሥራዎች /Researches on Ethiopian History and Literature/
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Dreams in Amharic Prose Fiction

By Taye Assefa - Institute of Ethiopian Studies -

Dreams are regarded as important indicators of good or bad fortunes to come by a very large section of the Ethiopian society. Since such prophetic dreams are believed to divinely inspired, they are often taken seriously by all concerned and acted upon in waking life . This situation can easily be illustrated by an anecdote in Mängestu Lämma's biographical work.

A housemaid of the chief-priest of the church of St.Michael in Ankobärr tells her friends that she saw in her dream the sun coming out of her womb. News of this reaches the chief-priest who recommends that she . join the palace staff. As the Aläqa's pronouncements are seriously taken by the parish, news of the dream and his comment come to the attention of the wife of Sählä Sellassé who happily takes the maid into her household. Being very desirous that the prophesied "sun" in the dream should be born to her favourite son Säyfu, the mother advises him to sleep with the maid and sends her to his place.

As Säyfu happens to have an appointment with his lover on that night, he passes over the maid to his brother Haylä Mäläkot,who sleeps with her on that and the following nights. Many months later the maid gives birth to Menelik, the future emperor of Ethiopia who is symbolized by the sun in the dream. 3 There are many such accounts of prophetic dreams seen by Aläqa Lämma himself and other people cited in this biography: Abba Täsfa's dream about the birth of Wäldä Tâklé (pp. 62-63), Mârigéta Yânénâh's dream about the coming of the four new students to his school (pp. 73-75), Aläqa Lämma's dream about his falling ill and recovering (p. 113), about his getting married and begetting children (p. 165), and about his deceased wife's soul entering paradise (p. 197).

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By Taye Assefa - Institute of Ethiopian Studies -
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