Addis Ethiopia Weblog

Ethiopia's World / የኢትዮጵያ ዓለም

  • January 2014
    M T W T F S S
  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Recent Posts

Archive for January 12th, 2014

The Real Middle-earth: Ethiopian Origin of Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings”

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on January 12, 2014

Rohan = Roha

Gondor = Gondar

Harad = Harar

My Note: this is a re-blogged book review of Michael Muhling’s “The Real Middle-earth – a new book on J. R. R.Tolkien’s inspiration for ‘Middle-earth.’ According to the author striking similarities are to be found between the real historical world of Ethiopia and the major elements that form the backbone of Tolkien’s novel. I’m very curios to find out from the book why we were not able to know about these similarities up until now. Let’s be serious here, we’re not talking about some no-name novel or book, rather about the most popular book of the current era that has changed the world of fantasy, having sold more than 100 million copies and given birth to countless fans over multiple generations. The movie adaptation of “The Lord of the Rings” became a massive fan and critical hit, earning altogether nearly $3 billion, more than 250 film awards (including 17 Oscars) and being hailed as the greatest film trilogy of this generation.


Back to the great review:

real-middle-earthI was privileged enough to be approached by author Michael Muhling and asked to do a review of his new book on Tolkien’s inspiration for Middle-earth. I jumped at the opportunity and after having read the work, I can now share my thoughts on it here.

The Real Middle-earth: Discovering the Origin of The Lord of the Rings, by Michael Muhling is an in-depth analysis into the history and central figures of Abyssinia (modern-day Ethiopia); reflecting on these aspects as being a possible source of inspiration for the major locations, cultures (and characters) in The Lord of the Rings.

At first glance, the topic may strike an unaware reader as odd or out of context. Indeed, after so many years of research and analyses on one of the most famous and important works of the 20th Century, a completely new insight might seem daunting to tackle at first – or even to accept.

We’ve already been exposed to a wealth of other works, going over in detail every nut and bolt of Tolkien’s massive narrative – but finally, something fresh and new emerges from the rest.

Once you delve into the book and begin to see striking connections and similarities, Mr.Muhling’s “Abyssinia Theory” will make its way to being amongst the other Tolkien-centric reflective works.

Mr. Muhling introduces his book by laying out all the known sources (confirmed or speculated) that inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to create his Secondary World.

You may all have read or heard about Tolkien’s encounter with a tarantula as being a possible influence for creating Shelob; or the strong impact of Beowulf and the Anglo-Saxon world in bringing to life the culture of Rohan …

The Real Middle-earth explores all these sources of inspiration in its introduction, paving the way towards the primary goal of the book: how Abyissinia may have inspired Tolkien in writing The Lord of the Rings.

Readers are also introduced to some of the issues concerning news-reporting of the African Continent to Europe – during the first half of the 20th Century. Mr.Muhling cleverly places the central events surrounding Abyssinia during the 1930s, and how Tolkien (at that time already a professor at Oxford University), would easily have had access to the evolving situations of this country.

As it progresses, the main bulk of the book concentrates on some of the most important Middle-earth habitats: Númenor/Gondor, Rohan, Mordor, Isengard, Harad & Rhûn. Carefully dissecting each of these locations – their histories, way of life, conflicts – and examining the historical events (and major figures) of Abyssinia, Michael Muhling provides us with a fascinating journey into the striking similarities to be found between the real historical world of Ethiopia and the major elements that form the backbone of Tolkien’s novel.

TsadeqeMariyamBut the author is quick to note, before embarking on his analyses, that nothing has been (or can be) confirmed as fact when it comes to Tolkien’s sources of inspiration.

Rather, he suggests that these influences may have been part of the author’s own unconscious – his recollections of the events happening at that time in Ethiopia, which may have “seeped through” and provided the basis for many important aspects in The Lord of the Rings.

That said, it would be good for a reader to give this book a broad-minded approach – not expecting to find every possible intricacy from Middle-earth to be an exact copy of Abyssinia’s past. Indeed, as much as Mr. Muhling’s arguments are remarkable in their close connection to Tolkien’s writings, certain aspects of these comparisons naturally pass as a ‘possible speculation’ – rather than a definitive argument.

Nevertheless, the contents of the book are as worthy as any other researched book – on par with other, more famous works written by renowned Tolkien scholars. The Real Middle-earth promises to become another piece of the puzzle in unlocking one of the primary mysteries for the author’s inspirations. The book taps into a source of knowledge yet to be fully embraced by the Tolkien fandom and accepted as another piece of accompanying literature to the novel itself.

Mr. Muhling also delves into the striking linguistic similarities between place names: Rohan/Roha, Gondor/Gondar, Harad/Harar – among others. Furthermore, readers are informed of the complex and detailed history of Abyssinia and its major historical figures which may have been an inspiration for primary characters in The Lord of the Rings, such as a possible figure for Gandalf or the Nine Saints of Abyssinia as the Five Istari Wizards.

The book goes so far in fleshing out the remarkable connections of the Númenórean/Gondorian lineage and its close associations to those of Abyssinia itself.

Suffice to say, many of the connections and similarities are astonishing – making us wonder why no one has ever brought these ideas to light before (to which the author also dedicates the last chapter of his book in an attempt to answer this question: “Why Didn’t We Know About It?”).

The book is very easily accessible, flowing cohesively from one subject to the next; at the same time, Mr. Muhling provides, when required, the necessary background information on Abyssinia before tackling another comparison.

If, like me, you’re deeply interested in anything by and about Tolkien, I strongly recommend you read this book. Apart from exposing yourself to a new, fascinating theory on Middle-earth’s source of inspiration, you will also gain access to a country’s rich history – which has, as of yet, remained undiscovered by many people around the world.



Posted in Ethiopia | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Destabilization of Africa. A Machiavellian Intrigue of Colossal Proportions

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on January 12, 2014

AfricanWarsOn December 24th 2013, the United Nations Security Council voted to increase peacekeeping forces in South Sudan, whose independence from the North US-NATO powers celebrated only recently.  Democratic elections in South Sudan did not, however, lead to peace and stability.  Now, two ethnic groups, in South Sudan, the Dinka and Nuer are slaughtering each other.  UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated:

We have reports of horrific attacks.  Innocent civilians are being targeted because of their ethnicity.  This is a grave violation of human rights, which could fuel a spiral of civil unrest across the country.”

South Sudan, which contains vast oil reserves, borders Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Spread of its crisis would further destabilize a significant part of Africa.  Clearly, Western-style “democratic elections,” the panacea touted by Western agencies such as National Endowment for Democracy, and related Western NGOs, have not only failed to provide stability and enhanced standards of living for many countries where they have been implemented  (or imposed, militarily by US-NATO intervention, such as in Iraq and Libya and Afghanistan), but are beginning to appear to be the precursor of ethnic and social violence and disintegration in many notable instances in Africa, and not only in Africa.

On September 20, 2013, at the opulent Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya endured a deadly terrorist attack that slaughtered more than 40 people, including several Europeans.  The Al Qaeda affiliated Shabab, the Islamic jihadist group based in Somalia took responsibility for the attack, ostensibly in reprisal for Kenya’s participation in the African Union’s mission to combat Shabab’s domination of large areas of Somalia.

Less than two months later, in Security Council action – or more accurately described – inaction) on November 15, the Security Council failed to support a resolution submitted by the African Union, in accordance with Article 16 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, to defer, for 12 months, prosecution of Kenyan President Kenyatta and Deputy-President William Ruto.  The deferral would enable President Kenyatta to concentrate his efforts on combating the terrorism that is destabilizing Kenya, terrorism by the jihadist group who imposition of barbaric Sharia law includes the burial of young girls up to their necks in sand, and then stoning these innocent children to death.

The African Union pleaded for this deferral to prevent the serious distraction of the Kenyan President’s attention from his efforts to combat this recent upsurge of terrorism in Kenya.  The Security Council failed to adopt this resolution, thereby abdicating its primary responsibility to protect peace and security.  The Security Council’s failure to adopt this African Union resolution could also be perceived as a “double message” in the effort to eliminate terrorism.  Following the vote, in explanation, each country spoke.

Not only have democratic elections failed to enhance the quality of life and standard of living in numerous African countries – and elsewhere;  Kenya is a country in which democratic elections in December 2007 unleashed horrendous inter-ethnic slaughter and violent destabilization in a country that had hitherto been a model of stability and economic and social development for Africa and the developing world.  How can the sudden eruption of such clan and tribal warfare be explained in a country that had, for decades, not undergone such violent inter-ethnic conflict and destabilization?

Recently a highly placed diplomatic source accredited to the United Nations observed a pattern emerging in African countries where western NGOs with links to U.S. intelligence were based and operating:  previously non-existent inter-ethnic violence suddenly erupted, and this phenomenon was occurring in even the most stable countries.  One of these western NGOs, in particular, was based and operating in Kenya since 2003, a full four years before the sudden eruption of inter-ethnic warfare and violent destabilization that followed the December, 2007 democratic elections.

One can only question the “coincidental” nature of these violent inter-ethnic occurrences in many previously stable African countries. Recalling that Russian President Putin prohibited USAID and particular Western NGO’s  from operating in Russia, one can only conclude that he was trying to spare Russia from the fate observed in too many African countries, and elsewhere.

This “indirect exercise of influence on dependent foreign elites” could be the hidden trigger provoking and inciting the violent ethnic and political conflict that appears to be rapidly spreading, undermining previously functioning economies and national structures and institutions.

Who benefits?  A substantial part of China’s oil supply comes from Africa.  Chinese contracts with African nations are more equitable than those of US-NATO countries, and therefore have preferential status in many African countries, with China contributing to the construction of infrastructure, and offering considerably higher payment for oil extracted.  It is, however, very much in China’s interest that internal stability prevail in these African countries, in order to perpetuate this arrangement.  Chaos, spreading terrorism, civil conflict disrupt the functioning of these arrangements, and may ultimately serve the purpose of driving China out of Africa.

In the corridors of power at the United Nations, and elsewhere, is whispered that it is part of large-scale geopolitical engineering to to disrupt and deprive China of its oil supply in Africa, thereby implementing the first part of “hegemony of a new type.”  What follows this “new type of hegemony” is a Machiavellian intrigue of colossal proportion.



Posted in Ethiopia, Infos | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

%d bloggers like this: