Academic journal article The International Journal of African Historical Studies

A Victorian Gentleman and Ethiopian Nationalist: The Life and Times of Hakim Warqenah, Dr. Charles Martin

Academic journal article The International Journal of African Historical Studies

A Victorian Gentleman and Ethiopian Nationalist: The Life and Times of Hakim Warqenah, Dr. Charles Martin

Article excerpt

A Victorian Gentleman and Ethiopian Nationalist: The Life and Times of Hakim Warqenah, Dr. Charles Martin. By Peter P. Garretson. Woodbridge, Suffolk UK: James Currey, 2012. Pp. vii, 320; maps, photographs, bibliography, index, glossary. $95.00.

Peter P. Garretson has produced a detailed biography of imperial Ethiopia's cosmopolitan and enigmatic humanist, Warqenah Eshate, who served as the official doctor for Ethiopia's modernizing emperors of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Born in Gondar in 1865, and found abandoned on the battlefield of Magdala in 1868 during the Napier Expedition, he was taken to Rawal Pindi, India, by Colonel C. Chamberlain of the 23rd Pioneer Regiment. Educated by Anglican missionaries, he was re-baptized as Charles Martin at the age of seven and successfully pursued a medical career after his training at Lahore Medical School and the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. He returned to Ethiopia, for the first time, in 1896 in the aftermath of the Battle of Adwa and again in 1899 at the invitation of Emperor Menelik. Warqenah's diary, in which he meticulously records half a century of life, provides invaluable insights into his transformation from a British subject to one of Ethiopia's foremost modernizers, an advocate for the eradication of slavery, an educator, and the empire's defender against Italian fascism.

Garretson's in-depth study of the man and the tumultuous international and domestic events that shaped his life has interesting details of imperial politics as well as the establishment of concessions of gold and platinum in Southern Ethiopia, the socioeconomic legacies of slavery, and the role of elite women. …

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