Abyssinian Women


Sacramento Daily Union, 21 May 1897)
Abyssinian Women.
One of the Italian officers who lately returned from captivity in Abyssinia has published a book, in which he describes the kindness Of the Abyssinian women with the deepest gratitude. It is pleasant to have this testimony. Those who remember Bruce’s travels have found it more and more difficult to reconcile the enthusiastic, account which he gives, with the report of modern explorers. In the first place, all the “ladies” whom he mentions with any detail appear to have been lovely, if young. Some of them he sketches with an enthusiasm sufficient for Venus herself. The criticism of Major Gamerra’s book does not refer to this point. But Bruce represents the goodness of his heroines as equal to their beauty, and here the Italian bears him out to the fullest. The very first Abyssinian woman whom Major Gamerra met, after the battle, was a slave. He had no shoes, and he suffered terribly. The slave girl took off her headdress of white linen, cut it in two, and bandaged his wounded feet—it was no small sacrifice to humanity, for white linen is a treasure in those parts. There was one woman, old and ug!y. who devoted herself to the group Of prisoners among whom the author was numbered. She not only nursed and tended him, but did her best to cheer them up by shouting “Agari. Agari.” in their ears when they seemed unusually despondent. “Agari” is Abyssinian for “Italy.” It was an artless form of consolation, but goodwill is everything in such a case. We bear without surprise that these kindly and estimable women are badly treated by their male kind —it is in suffering that they have learned compassion. At the same time. Bruce gives us the idea that they are not so angelic as to refrain from avenging themselves upon their brutal husbands.
—London Standard.
(Photo: “Ethiopian slave at Khartum” | Description and image taken from a 1892 Wood engraving.)


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