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The Legend of Queen Sheba, the Solomonic Dynasty and Ethiopian History: An Analysis

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Abstract:

The legend of Queen Sheba is undoubtedly one of the oldest legends, producing the oldest monarchy in Africa comparable, perhaps, only to the imperial dynasty in Japan or the Seifuwa dynasty in the Lake Chad basin. It is clearly one of the most accepted, believed, pervasive and resonant among all the legends of origin in Africa, today. The legend is still widely believed by the majority of Ethiopians and is reflected in their day to day daily lives. The existence of the Orthodox Tewahido church and other religious ceremonies, the presence of Beta Israel, the names of people like Makeda or Sheba and organizations such as the Sheba Miles are all testimonies to the legend living in the present Ethiopian communities. It purported to explain how the Ethiopian ruling dynasty ‘the Solomonic dynasty’ was descended from Solomon and through him from Abraham and the early patriarchs. The dynasty followed a succession of rulers from Yekunno- Amlak in circa 1270AD to the last emperor in the person of Haile- Selassie 1 who was deposed in 1974. This has lasted for a period close to a thousand years and making the dynasty to be one of the longest and oldest monarchies anywhere in the world. This paper is intended to look more closely at some of the claims made by this legend and its implication on the Ethiopian peoples, their heritage and identity. It is strongly argued that the legend is only legendary and a historical travesty. It cannot be proven historically. The paper concluded by examining the political as well as the socio-economic significance of the legend in contemporary discours.

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