Repatriation of eleven Ethiopian manuscripts from Johannesburg…

Robyn Howes, Steve Delamarter, Kaleab Demeke, Yikunnoamlak Mezgebu Introduction (Yikunnoamlak Mezgebu)

We are here today to witness the repatriation of a collection of eleven manuscripts to Ethiopia. They have been absent from the country for more than sixty years. Ms. Robyn Howes of Johannesburg, South Africa, has owned the collection for six years. She took the manuscripts back to Addis Ababa to hand them over to the National Archives and Library Agency. It is appropriate today that we recount the origin of these manuscripts, how they fell into the hands of a German family in Ethiopia in the 1950s, how they were transferred to South Africa, how they were finally purchased by Mrs. Howes. , and why she wants to return them today to Ethiopia.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Ms. Robyn Howes.

The provenance of the collection with Robyn Howes, 2016 to 2022 (Robyn Howes)

Hello ladies and gentlemen and future researchers. I am the one who is honored to present to you today (along with my colleagues Prof. Delamater, Mr. Kaleab Demeke and dignitaries from NALA (Mr. Yikunnoamlak Mezgebu).

I was born in Durban, South Africa in 1971 and grew up in Pretoria in a large Anglican family. We were raised as part of a Christian church community that had no meaning other than to be immersed in community service and respect for the efforts of others. My parents had always instilled in us children that you are here in the service of

Repatriation by Robyn Howes of eleven Ethiopian Mrs. from Johannesburg to the Ethiopian NALA

others in everything you do. So I moved on with my life as a young adult and progressed into a career in in vitro medical diagnostics that continues to fill my life today. The only thing I kept with me during my young years and throughout my life was a simple bible which was the mark of my small contribution to our community church under construction in Pretoria (South Africa, Corpus Christi Anglican Church ). My brother Vernon Foster is now an Anglican priest and so has been a great resource in understanding the role of bibles and prayer books used during church service, and his reluctance to change using digital platforms.

So I was very surprised at my response when I was presented with the opportunity in 2016 to “take a look” at this bible that my friend Doron Locketz1 had in his library. Doron has always known the particular interests of his customers and always let you have a “first look” at the treasures he had hidden behind his counter. I had already collected rare books about the KoiSan people to keep and give away later. Both Markus Reichardt and I happen to be special collectors. Walking through his little bookstore was like visiting a living museum. During those years (2015 – 2019), I had started to feel like all those precious books and collections would soon disappear and be eternally lost in time. I had the impression that as the older generation died, their children would throw boxes on the doorstep of the bookstore. The number of bookstores has declined rapidly over this very short 5 year period as well as antique collections at an alarming rate.

Read the full story in a PDF format HERE

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