Death of Abouna Salama - Sketch of his Life and Career - Grievances of Theodore against him - His Imprisonment at Magdala - The Wallo Gallas - Their Habits and Customs - Menilek appears with an Army in the Galla Country - His Policy...
This victory was shortly afterwards followed by the complete submission of Shoa to his rule; chief after chief made their obedience, and all acknowledged as their king the grandson of Sahela Selassi. Once his rights admitted by his people, he led his army against the numerous Galla tribes who inhabit the beautiful country extending from the south-eastern frontier of Shoa to the picturesque lake of Guaragu. But, instead of plundering these agricultural races, as his father had done, he promised them honourable treatment, a kind of mild vassalage, on the payment of a small annual tribute. The Gallas, surprised at his unexpected generosity and clemency, willingly accepted his terms, and, from former foes, enrolled themselves as his followers, and accompanied him on his expeditions. Theodore had left a strong garrison on an almost impregnable amba, situated at the northern frontier of Shoa, commanding the entrance into the pass leading from the Galla country to the highlands of Shoa. Menilek, before his campaign in the Galla country, had invested that last stronghold of Theodore in his own dominions, and, after a six months' siege, the garrison, who had repeatedly applied to their master for relief, at last gave in and opened their gates to the young king. Menilek treated them exceedingly well, many were honoured with appointments in his household, others received titles and commands, or were placed in positions of trust and confidence.
Menilek owed much to Workite; without her timely protection he would have been pursued, and as Shoa had shut its gates upon him, his position would have become one of great difficulty and danger. He could not forget, either, that to save his life she had sacrificed her only son and lost her kingdom: his debt of gratitude towards her was immense, and nothing he could do could adequately repay her for her devotion. But if he could not give her back her murdered son, he would, at all events, march against her rival, and restore by force of arms the disgraced queen to the throne she had lost on his account. At the end of October, 1867, Menilek, at the head of a considerable army, computed at 40,000 to 50,000 men, composed of 30,000 cavalry, some 2,000 or 3,000 musketeers, and the rest spearmen, entered the Wallo Galla plain: he proclaimed that he came not as an enemy, but as a friend; not to destroy nor to plunder, but to re-establish in her rule the deposed and lawful queen Workite. She was accompanied by a young lad who, she asserted, was her grandson, the child of the prince who had been killed more than two years before at Magdala. She stated that he had been born in the Wallo country, before her departure for Shoa, the result of one of those frequent casual unions so common in the country, and that she had taken him away when she sought refuge in the land of the man whom she had saved. To avoid any attempt being made by her rival to secure the person of her grandchild, she had until then kept the matter secret. However, her story was but little credited: I know on the Amba the soldiers laughed at it; still it offered an excuse to many of her former adherents for again joining her cause, and if they did not credit her tale they pretended at least to do go.
The Galla chiefs for some time remained undecided. Menilek kept to his word; he neither plundered nor molested any one, and, before long, he reaped the reward of his wise policy. Five of the tribes sent in their adhesion, and recognized Workite as regent for her grandson. Mastiate, in presence of such defection, adopted the most prudent course of retiring with her reduced army before the overwhelming forces of her adversaries; they followed her for some days, but without overtaking her. Menilek, believing that they had nothing more to fear on that side, settled as he best could the claims of Workite, and, accompanied by a large force of his new allies, marched against Magdala.
Menilek had evidently placed much confidence in the well-known disaffection of the garrison, and he expected that, through the influence of the Bishop (of whose death he was not aware), of his uncle Aito Dargie, and of Mr. Kassam, he would find on his arrival a party in his favour, who would materially assist him, if not make over the Amba to him at once. No doubt, had the Bishop been still alive he would either have succeeded by promises, threats, or force in opening the gates to his beloved friend. Aito Dargie, I believe, contrived to secure a promise of assistance from a few chiefs; but they were not powerful enough, and at the last moment lacked courage.
As for Mr. Rassam, he adopted the most prudent course of suiting his policy to the movements of Menilek; too much caution could not be used, as there was much reason to fear that the great deeds about to be achieved would end in empty boasting. To Menilek he gave great encouragement, offered him the friendship of England, and even went so far as assuring him that he would be acknowledged by our Government as king, should we be indebted to him for our deliverance; he requested him to encamp at Selassie, fire his two guns against the gate, and should the garrison not give in, to encamp between Arogie and the Bechelo, and keep Theodore from reaching the Amba until the arrival of our troops.