Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Unlike most of my readers, I do actually know God. We were at Eton together. I'm referring of course to His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Zere-Yacob of Ethiopia, who would be emperor if there were still an emperor, and, at least according to some Rastas, has inherited his grandfather's divinitas as well the imperium. I haven't seen him for something like forty years, but I particularly remember that once, the owner of a small grocery store nicknamed "Tudor Hole" on the Eton High Street invited us both to tea, because we were at that exact time the only two foreigners in the entire school. At least, the only two people who weren't white. He was a charming, slightly chubby boy. Perhaps he was as weirded out by the tea party as I was. Still, I think we liked each other.
I found myself thinking about him again last night. I don't know why, really; perhaps it was from a desperation born of having so much to do one just wants to procrastinate everything. But in the twenty-first century one can always google, so I decided to start hunting down my erstwhile schoolmate, post-apotheosis. I soon stumbled on an Imperial Ethiopian College of Heraldry (which was a bit of surprise — I hadn't realized that Ethiopia went in for any of that mediaeval pageantry) — operating out of Maryland! — and learned of many fascinating things, including the (alleged) fact that HIH had founded a knightly order which foreigners could join if they did something for Ethiopia. A few mouse-clicks later, I landed on the home page of some American guy who was an actual member of this order, and who revealed that "doing something for Ethiopia" was only to the tune of a $500 "passage fee" followed by an annual "oblation" of $250. Now at first it might seem outlandish that a knighthood could be purchased so cheaply, but then I got to thinking how many starving third world families $500 could actually save from death and I thought to myself, why not? If you rescue lives at the cost of puffing up someone's vanity, why not?
After all, I reflected, there are dozens of purveyors of titles on the web, offering duchies for dough, and this looked like something real that would actually benefit a country that needs help.
So I thought to myself (at 3 am), I mean, hey, why not. I'll bite. Then I started clicking around so more, to see where the money should actually be sent to ....
It was this point in my internet stalking that I came across a bitter online feud and the pointed use of the word "allegedly" to describe this too-good-to-be-true order. Someone said they had gone to see His Imperial Highness personally in Ethiopia, and the prince apparently didn't realize half of what had been going on in his imperial name. Bummer!
Well, I've often dreamed of visiting Ethiopia, so perhaps one day I will be able to call on the divine one himself, who, I am sure, has completely forgotten me. After all, he's had dynastic upheavals and revolutions to deal with. But if not that precise god, there's always James Earl Jones dressed as a giant bug, playing an Ethiopian Locust God in Exorcist II - The Heretic.
Posted by Somtow at 6:28 PM