Common heritage between Ethiopia and Azerbaijan

By Andualem Sisay Gessesse – Centuries before the word globalization was coined people from one corner of the world have been mingling, marrying and with people from another corner of the world. In those days where there were no trains and airplanes and before cars were invented, people have been travelling across oceans and seas to trade with people on the other end using traditional transports.

Such interactions have enabled people to know and understand different culture and beliefs of other people far from where they live. The interactions at times lead some people to get even married to the people from other part of the world with different religion and race.

Some of these relationships are sometimes captured by historians and documented properly, especially when the people are influential. Take for instance how the followers of Prophet Mohammed came to Ethiopia and mixed with the dark skin people of Ethiopia and today became Ethiopians. Another example can be Alexander Pushkin of Russia, whose great-grandfather is African origin.

But historians not always capture such historical people to people close relationship. Recently during my meeting with the Ambassador of Azerbaijan in Addis Ababa, I come across a book that where Ethiopia is mentioned. The part of the book that caught my attention talks about a famous Azerbaijani poet of the medieval period.

Born from an Ethiopian (Habesha) mother and Azerbaijani father, Mujiraddin Beylaqani, was born in 1130 in one of the oldest cities of Azerbaijan, Beylaqan. Mujiraddin then became one of the famous poets of the 12th century. As the name of the mother of Mujiraddin was not mentioned in the book, I asked Ambassador Elman T. Abdullayev of Azerbaijan in Ethiopia if it was a legend or true history.

“Most of such ancient histories passed to generations verbally. I think at that time people more focus on him and his poems than his mothers name. But because his mother’s name is not mentioned by historians, does not disqualify the history of Mujiraddin,” said Ambassador Elman T. Abdullayev.

The book states that the ideas in Mujiraddin work reflect the literary, cultural and socio-political environment of the renaissance era. In his work he shows a positive attitude towards people of other faiths and nationalities. His brief bio also indicates that before he passed in 1194, for a time Mujiraddin has lived at the palace of the Shirvan Shahs and Eldaniz and wrote odes to the rulers of that period.

The poet spent his latter years in Tabriz. Giving poetic expression to his attitude towards, Jesus Christ, he contributed to interfaith relations through one of his poetry as shown below.

“He’s still turning like milestones,
Crushing me like a mule who senses hay and water,
OH if I could escape these milestones,
I could flee to the heavens, like the Messiah”

I think in this age of religious, racial and ethnic intolerances here and there, bringing to the world histories and works of multicultural personalities like Mujiraddin is important. In addition, using such historical blood ties and common heritage between Ethiopia and Azerbaijan can help the two countries to deepen the ties in social, economic and political frontiers.