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The rise and fall of Saveloy Selassie

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Tutorial #1 for 2014.  Copyright; The Bucket History Academy


Saveloy Selassie was born in the Abyssian (now Ethiopian) village of Dabora  in 740 B.C., the only child of peasant farmers Bradworz and Awina.  We know very little about his childhood except that he had very large flat feet (a genetic inheritance, possibly from his maternal grandfather) and recurrent inflammations of the septum.

An itinerant tutor arrived at Dabora in 722 B.C. and recognised a studious intelligence in Saveloy so he taught him how to write in the Semitic boustrophedon style. (First line from right to left, and the next line left to right…etc ) but it soon became apparent that the young man was more interested in physical activities.

The Semites had only recently brought news to Dabora that the Greeks were conducting the Olympian Games at the Sanctuary of Zeus in the Peloponesus, so in 720 B.C. Saveloy set his heart on competing in the Dolichos, a race run over a distance of 15120 feet.

He started training immediately.  Wearing the brand new pair of over-sized sandals woven by his mother from papyrus reeds he ran all the way down to the headwaters of the Blue Nile and began to wade across it.  To his utter astonishment he found that he was able to walk across the surface of the water.   Science had not yet come to understand the principles of buoyancy afforded by air trapped within the cellular structure of papyrus, but it must have felt exquisitely uplifting so Saveloy continued his way across the river.

A group of women who were washing loincloths on the opposite bank  could hardly believe their eyes as they watched him striding athletically toward them barely creating a ripple. The village elders had always spoken of a man with supernatural powers who would one day come back to their village and lead the people to Elysium, their legendary paradise.  The women gathered around Saveloy with awe and anointed him with oil of cloves before decorating him with garlands made out of orchid and lablab flowers. Then they escorted him back to their hamlet of Drodo.

After hearing the women’s story, everyone in the village milled around Saveloy, some reverently bowing down before him and others dancing and chanting incantations and festooning him with gilded silk scarves and shiny trinkets.

The elders had been right.  This was the Promised Man and He had returned to them, the chosen people of Drodo.

Word of His arrival soon reached all the neighbouring villages. Men, women and children came and sat cross-legged before him, awestruck by his presence and the timbre of his sonorous voice.  Teenage girls swooned. The infirm and insane gathered in the hope of being healed. The elders then promised Saveloy ‘three fatted virgins and a sacred jade tiara encrusted with diamonds’  if he would just show them one more time how he was able to walk on water.

And so it came to pass that Saveloy, accompanied by hundreds of adoring followers, walked with saintly gait back down to the Blue Nile, stepped off the bank and sank in twenty feet of water.  He was never seen again.

The women wailed and wept as they returned to the village.  They gathered up the moist clay from where they had so recently washed and kissed Saveloy’s feet and they moulded an ornate altar from the very earth where he had been sitting.  The men built a shrine around it and blessed it with sprinklings of holy water distilled from hippopotamus urine.

Then on top of the altar they reverently and respectfully mounted the sandals which Saveloy had forgotten to put back on.

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About GOF

"Life is like a sewer. What you get out of it, depends upon what you put into it." (Tom Lehrer)

14 responses »

  1. You had me at “Saveloy Selassie”. This is a master piece of exquisite literature.

    • Thank you very much FD…..I do believe you’ve just caused me to sprout a literary halo. Mrs GOF doesn’t like my halos very much so I’d better go out to the workshop and hacksaw it off. 😉

  2. I’m overwhelmed, GOF. I think I’ll point those people who come knocking on my door in your direction to learn the real story.

  3. You have finally found a use for hippo pee. Congratulations. That’s skill right there 🙂

  4. You’ll have to repost this come Easter.

  5. Are those sandals snow proof too? Putin could stand a visit…….

  6. Lol!
    A wonderful tale!


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