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Chinese is now being taught in Ethiopian schools

By Legesse Allyn

As I sit here reading report that China may be investing in and unfairly influencing Ethiopia, even too much for Ethiopia’s own good, I reflect on my research of 20 years into the ancient Ethiopian investment and importation of goods and technology into ancient Gebts that led to my recent book. Like cheap Chinese-made goods available today in Ethiopia, 5100 years ago it was Ethiopia food crops and goods that were exported to and sold in Gebts by ancient Ethiopian businessmen and women. Not only were crops and goods sold in ancient Gebts markets, but as Chinese are doing in Ethiopia today, 5100 years ago it was Ethiopians investing technology into Gebtsawian infrastructure that led to the very large-scale farming and production, first ever of it’s kind, that called for record keeping that finally became writing — the first written language of business and commerce.

Egyptologists will claim it was Ethiopians who “colonized” ancient Gebts, but far from it was Gebts “colonized” by Ethiopians. As just like with China being handed local Ethiopian commercial opportunities, some might say on a silver platter, it was the Ethiopians 5100 years ago who were handed administration of the ancient Gebts land by whoever controlled that region 5100 years ago, because it was Ethiopians who were providing the food to the Gebts population and that food was increasingly depended on. And with farming and production exported to Gebts shortly after the handover of administration, ancient Ethiopian technology provided the local Gebts people with farming and manufacturing jobs in the ruling Ethiopian farms and factories.

Though I do not get involved in Ethiopian politics, having been born in the USA and never yet having lived in Ethiopia (the land of my grandfather), I find it so interesting how many fear investment in Ethiopia by foreign societies like the Chinese. Especially when 5100 and for the nearly 3000 years that followed, it was Ethiopia that was investing in and influencing the societies of others not only in Gebts, but around the world. It makes me wonder if those foreign ancient societies expressed the same fears of takeover that Ethiopians might really have of the Chinese taking over influence of Ethiopia today.

After I published my book on the ancient Ethiopian involvement in ancient Gebts this past August of 2009, entitled “Amarigna & Tigrigna Qal Hieroglyphs for Beginners” (, now being kicked around like a soccer ball in some Ethiopian circles, Ethiopians regularly ask me what influence the ancient past could ever have on Ethiopian society today. I often answer to beware of the past, because one who forgets the past is doomed to repeat it. And in this case with the Chinese, it looks like the past is repeating itself in reverse, with Ethiopia the one being influenced. Back 5100 years ago when Ethiopia was influencing the world, it was Amarigna that was learned in ancient Gebts and other far away lands, just as Mandarin is said be to taught as part of the curriculum in a Chinese-financed school in Ethiopia, this according to an article entitled “China’s Massive Investment in Ethiopia at What Cost?”

So, while those complain that what my book reports is unbelievable, the Chinese are not sitting on their haunches, but are repeating the very history begun by Ethiopians thousands of years ago in ancient Gebts and spread throughout ancient Europe, India, Asia, and the Middle East. Now the inventors of foreign investment, Ethiopians, whose society and culture is in fear of being unduly influenced this time. Like my book or not, it is our past that we have forgotten and now we might be suffering from, now paying the price according to those who complain about the Chinese investment into Ethiopia. It seems to me I would say to those with such fears to look to the past to capture your future and my book merely is the messenger of what we forgot to remember. After nearly 3000 years of Ethiopians influencing foreign politics, economies, languages, religion, and culture of foreign countries around the world, why are we now not the leaders — at the very least participants — in this very animal that we ourselves invented?

But even if we believe that Ethiopians actually “colonized” ancient Gebts as Egyptologists say instead of it being handed to Ethiopians, as ancient Gebts inscriptions state, it is at least something to think about. This is because if my research reported in my book is true, it is Ethiopians who today have the most to lose, having forgotten itself and its powerful past on its own. With some refusing to believe my account of Ethiopia’s past is true, even willing to try to block my book from ever being read and allowing others to decide for themselves by saying it is garbage or fantasy. But as I posted as a reply to one of these trashing my book and research on a message board thread about my book somewhere in Internetland, “There’s my truth, your truth, and THE truth.” Make sure that ignoring THE truth does not come back to bite you one day.

More information about “Amarigna & Tigrigna Qal Hieroglyphs for Beginners,” along with a sample page from the book, is available at, with copies of the book available from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and many other booksellers.

(The writer can be reached at [email protected])

12 thoughts on “Chinese is now being taught in Ethiopian schools

  1. Amarigna has only been officially adapted in 1500, some 500 years ago. How could you claim Amarigna was being taught 5100 years ago??? Do yourself a favor and make a correction or else we will think your book is full of hot air.

  2. Legesse Allyn,

    Keep it up.

    There are three levels of writers’ skills.

    1. Following/chasing the readers with ideas that are not relevant or interesting in present time and certain places.
    2. Is guiding by the present circumstances and it looks like giving the right food and drink to the hungry and thirsty just for limited times.
    3. Leading or waiting the readers to become to the level of the ideas the writer is using them to write.

    I think your thinking and work is categorised with the 3rd one. Keep on thinking and writing. The next generations will benefit from it. The generation we have is not what we want them to be.

    * What I’m very much disagree is that the idea of Tigry/Amhara or Amharic or Tigrigna. These people were speaking the same language for thousands years, which is Geez. These people have always including today almost identical culture, tradition, habits and customs.

    Go to the rural area in Tigry and elsewhere the Amharas are living. These people have no radio, TV, Internet, Road or the likes to connect them. Yet, they have similar culture, Tradition, and habit. Therefore, if we are talking about the past/ history, we have to understand that before the Arabs started to affect Ethiopia in the name of Islam since the 7 century, there was only one people-Habesha/Abesha. Until woyane came to power (to divide/Kilil Ethiopia unlawfully and without taking history even to the very limited level including what happened in Ethiopia since the Ahmed Gragn religion war 1529-1543), village people were identifying each other saying, “are you Islam or Amara?

    The Tembien tradition, custom and culture in Tigry is more identical to those in Gonder than the rest of Tigry. The Meqelle area is more related to wollo than the rest of Tigry. The difference between these two is almost none existence. Blacks are speaking English. But they are not English. Tigrigna and Amharic are not two language but the Geez dialects. If you are speaking Amharic mainly rural amharic, you would understand the concept when anyone around you is speaking Tigrigna. They have a 99% similarities and we have to concentrate on that.
    The Tigre(in Eritrea), Guragee including Silte, Adere/Harari and others languages issue also is the same.

    I’m very much welcome china investing and building Ethiopia. It is their strength. We need to heal from our weakness and learn from them to become enough for ourselves. Instead of blaming them we have to ashamed of ourselves and being enough to take care of our matter by ourselves. We have to do our jobs instead of hammering one another on the Internet and elsewhere. We have to adopt the idea of respect among each other, being brave, hard/good working and with anything the time is asking as to be.

    Continue with your good work. You may not get a financial and moral reward for your job. But believe me, we Ethiopians are not equivalent to dirty paper money and what others are saying especially the bad western media (CNN is not included).

    The most genius thinker ever in human history (according to the millennium ranking), Dr, Karl Marx (a German born Jewish) gave up his publishing house in Berlin and moved to London. It took him 20 years writing the most fascinated book “Capital”. His book “Capital” is equivalent to the Bible, Qoran, Torah, Hinduism, budism and any human activity all together. It is a combination of body, soul and mind in one home, the earth.

    Yet, in financial and moral term, he got nothing at the time. He lived as poor and died that way. His 5 children did swim in a poverty ocean because of the choice he mad.

    But, his job (capital) will live on as far as human being lives. So, we have to put our standard high and valued ourselves with our good job rather than with dirty cash and none sense talk from people when they see it is for their advantage at the expense of others.

    Hearing many saying that “we Ethiopians as writers, Musicians, artists, actors and the likes are not getting our rewards back in the form of money or/and admiration/Fame. There fore it must be a curse to stop us progressing with the job we can and love to do. Instead we have to take other jobs with no love for it but for the matter of surviving/for money.”

    I said to them and to myself. “This must be a blessing not a curse.” Because I know the general level of the vast majority of our society the way it is thinking, doing, living and the likes. Knowing people are not/cannot pay money for it gives freedom, motivation and strength to the maximum level to do the best things based on the right way. Money is influencing the job we do and that would lead to loose the real being deep inside each of us feeling about being a true human being.

    There fore as a historian/writer/thinker continue with your good job without expecting something extra from others. Not good people to motivate but bad people to criticise you as a human being and to trash your job in order to stop you from doing good things to your people will come first, stay there and act boldly as if they are right. Don’t give any attention to these kinds bad people. Learn from good people if it is necessary.

    Sorry mr. Elias for long comment and thank you for allowing me to use your blog.

    Keep it up. You are one of the few braves we have. Our short hand may not give, our tongue may not speak but our mind and heart know it.

  3. very unfair article! first of all what did you contributed to bring amharic language, why you write your article in english?

    I think, we shouldnt build our country on the basis of old map. so wake up, move with the world, it is not only amharic language is ancient, but many countries adopt english and sometimes chines, but when i say this , we shouldnt ignore our values and language, but it can be given side by side, i dont see any problem with it.

  4. Wondim Legesse,

    Do not ever be distracted by some critics. You have unravelled a true history of Ethiopia that many come to accept as time progresses. Those who claim that is is too good to be true” say so because they have never been taught in schools. As most of our school books are written by foreigners, Europeans in particular. When generations are brought up with “Euro-centric” point of view, it uses Europeans books as a term of reference. We never had enough opportunities to reseach and publish. Previously written accounts of Amharic & Tigrigna have to be revised in light of your discovery. You have already changed some expert minds, based on my reading in Maat discussion forum. Ethiopians should read the book first. You evidence was not assumption or hypothesis but translation work. You took your time to learn hieroglyphics and learnt what it means. To critic that says otherwise, what do you want him to do other than bring you hard evidence, written at that? If you want to challenge, challenge him with a counter evidence, if you have.

  5. There is nothing harmful in learning a foreign language. Chinese language in partticular should be learned given business opportunities in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. Kudos for those who are learning it.

  6. Dear Kber Temesgen,
    I just want to thank you for quoting the work of Karl Marx. (Des Capital) You must be the fruit (product)of EPRP or EPLF of the 70’s.
    Glad you are alive, keep on breathing venting th true nature of our world.
    Direct them to the real litrature which afect their existance.
    Once again thank you.

    The most genius thinker ever in human history (according to the millennium ranking), Dr, Karl Marx (a German born Jewish) gave up his publishing house in Berlin and moved to London. It took him 20 years writing the most fascinated book “Capital”. His book “Capital” is equivalent to the Bible, Qoran, Torah, Hinduism, budism and any human activity all together. It is a combination of body, soul and mind in one home, the earth.

    Yet, in financial and moral term, he got nothing at the time. He lived as poor and died that way. His 5 children did swim in a poverty ocean because of the choice he mad.

    But, his job (capital) will live on as far as human being lives. So, we have to put our standard high and valued ourselves with our good job rather than with dirty cash and none sense talk from people when they see it is for their advantage at the expense of others.

  7. 1. Using latin alphabets does not, and can not, make us cool and civilized. It only makes us nech amlaki self-proclaimed slaves, because we have our own character well suited for our own language and waz of speech, and which existed long before the latin became what it is.

    2. Learning chineese or whatever language does not hurt. But we must use those languages to take/learn whatever we can from the others, and not end up their mental slaves. The rest of Africa can teach us a great lesson; their languages along with their old values are dying out, thanks to colonization. This ill fate is now creeping towards our land as well, and it is time to stop it. Whether we spean english or chineese or whatever, we can not become englishmen/women or chineese men/women. Thez would always consider us black puppets…. Moving with the rest of the world does not mean dropping your language and following the culture of the rest of the world, but dynamizing yourself to fit with the rest and making the rest influenced by yourself

    3. It is very unlikely that Amharic was thought in Gebts 5100 years ago. But it could well be possible that Sabean language or early forms of Geez were well spoken in the area. This should not be surprizing as our ancestors used to rule very influencial kingdoms…

    4. I look forward to read your book and assess your research methodology.

    thanks for reading :)

  8. Selam and thank you all for your comments. If I can, I’d like to just clarify one thing about my article…

    The article does not say Amarigna and Tigrigna were TAUGHT in ancient Gebts. Rather, it states that the languages were LEARNED, the Amara and Akele having been the administrators and founders of the ancient nation that ushered in civilization to the world 5100 years ago. The two languages, Tigrigna in the Gebts northern division and Amarigna in the Gebts southern division, are the dual languages of the hieroglyphs.

    For people who were native to that desert region, it was natural to learn the language of the Amara and Akele merchants who were suddenly providing them jobs in large-scale farming and production after being handed administration of the entire region.

    Thank you and I welcome both arguments for and against my 20-year research findings about Amarigna and Tigrigna being the founding languages of ancient Gebts.

    Legesse Allyn
    [email protected]

  9. it is a good article but i doubt amarigna was taught in gebts since amarigna came into being during yikuno amlak’s rule(1200’s) and frankly ethiopians did not export manufacturing jobs and farming since egyptians were very skilled and they had their own independent civilization but infact punt(present day eritrea and ethiopia) exported ivory,gold,frank incense

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