Hylander, Onesimus Nesib

Hylander, Fride. “Onesinus [!] Nesib: Some Remarks on Cerulli’s ‘The Folk-Literature of the Galla’,” Journal of Ethiopian Studies 7, no. 2 (1969), 79-87.

Source: Hylander family

Note: Hylander’s article refers to

  • Cerulli, Enrico. “Folk-Literature of the Galla of Southern Abyssinia,” Harvard African Studies 3 (1922), 9-226. [Online version at HathiTrust].

(1) At age 24, Cerulli had not yet visited ‘Abyssinia.’ He obtained most of his songs from “Loransiyos Walda Iyasus,” an Oromo who had “enlisted in the Italian colonial army and fought in Libya” (p. 14). Cerulli frequently visited the military hospital in Naples around 1916 and had Loransiyos dictate to him the Oromo orature he published later.

  • Cp. A. Triulzi, “Across the Mediterranean: Acknowledging Voices and Silences of (Post) Colonial Italy,” in Colonialism and National Identity, edited by P. Bertella Farnetti and C. Dau Novelli, 161-177. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2015. [See p. 162-63; view online at Google Books]

(2) On p. 16, Cerulli expresses his gratitude to “Senator Y. D’Andrea, President of the Italian African Society” – a corporation that promoted the colonialization of Eritrea and Libya.

  • On p. 16, Cerulli refers to an article on Amharic songs he wrote in 1916, claiming “great losses of the Abyssinians in the battle of Adua.” From 1915-25 the Italian rulers strictly limited the work of the Swedish Ev. Mission in Eritrea (cp. K.J. Lundström / Ezra Gebremedhin, Kenisha: The Roots and Development of The Evangelical Church of Eritrea 1866-1935. Trenton etc.: Red Sea Press, 2011, p. 365ff). Cerulli’s misleading remarks about the Swedish Mission therefore come as no surprise.

In 1937, Cerulli was appointed Vice-Governor General of Africa Orientale Italiana and in 1939 Governor of Harar Province. This political commitment led to his being banned from entering Ethiopia after 1941, although Cerulli continued to be one of Europe’s most prominent scholars in Ethiopian studies.