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Atse Menelik and photography

November 1, 2012 7 comments

Emperor Menelik II (1844-1913), one of the most documented and beloved figures in Ethiopian history, made an impressive attempt to change Ethiopia and its feudal system for ever. From his capital of Addis Ababa, founded only a few short years before he became emperor, Menelik directed the process of changing Ethiopia from a traditional to modern polity. His period of rule saw the introduction of electricity, telephone, telegraph, cinema, public schools, printing press, and hospitals. The Emperor employed European advisors to modernize his army, to introduce modern communications and transportation. He was savvy enough to embrace the new technology of his time—photography— as he was well aware that a picture with the insignia of his office could only enhance power. The emperor was introduced to the new technology by his Swiss councilor, Alfred Ilg. Read more…