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(Ethiopia has been Christian since the early 4th century, rivalling Armenia as the world’s oldest Christian nation.) In the 1620s, a Portuguese Jesuit convinced King Susenyos to convert to Catholicism, which soon became Ethiopia’s official religion.Persecution of free thinkers followed suit, intensifying from 1630.Haile Selassie during a state visit to Canada in 1967.
In short: many of the highest ideals of the later European Enlightenment had been conceived and summarised by one man, working in an Ethiopian cave from 1630 to 1632.The press release also notes “a special feature program for the last emperor, H. Classical Antiquity is inspiring, but a world away from our modern societies.The Middle Ages was more reasonable than its reputation, but still medieval.Immanuel Kant’s argument in the essay ‘Perpetual Peace’ (1795) that ‘the human race’ should work for ‘a cosmopolitan constitution’ can be seen as a precursor for the United Nations.As the story usually goes, the Enlightenment began with René Descartes’s (1637), continuing on through John Locke, Isaac Newton, David Hume, Voltaire and Kant for around one and a half centuries, and ending with the French Revolution of 1789, or perhaps with the Reign of Terror in 1793. What if the Enlightenment can be found in places and thinkers that we often overlook?
Yacob built a fence of stones, and lived in the wilderness to ‘front only the essential facts of life’, as Henry David Thoreau was to describe a similar solitary life a couple of centuries later in (1854).