TO FILIPINOS forever enthralled by Hollywood, Africa is the darkest continent, uninviting and impenetrable, and Ethiopia, probably the oldest civilization in the world, the dimmest and most mysterious of countries.
It doesn’t help that Bible-crazy Born-Again Christian Filipinos associate Ethiopia with the Old Testament figure of Queen Sheba whom they further associate with the downfall of King Solomon of Israel.
But nowhere in the Bible does it state that the Ethiopian queen corrupted Solomon so that he lost his wisdom and his kingdom.
Solomon, according to the First Book of Kings, fornicated with “many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites,” but no mention is made of the Ethiopian queen.
But alas, there’s Hollywood with its sensationalism that Filipinos equate with biblical truth!
In the famous 1959 King Vidor movie, the fabulous Gina Lollobrigida is the crafty Queen Sheba conspiring with the Egyptian pharaoh to bring about Yul Brynner’s Solomon’s downfall.
Even National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin may have based his famous poem, “The Innocence of Solomon,” on Hollywood: “Sheba, Sheba, open your eyes!/ The apes defile the ivory temple/ the peacocks chant dark blasphemies/ but I take your body for mine to trample /. . . (and) chaliced drowsily in your ample/ arms, with each brief bliss that dies/ my own deep sepulcher I seal.”
Bible and Hollywood, however, agree on one thing—Ethiopia’s fabulous riches.
Sheba was supposed to have arrived in Jerusalem “with a very great retinue, with camels bearing spices, and very much gold, and precious stones” (I Kings 10:2). “Never again came such an abundance of spices,” seconds the Second Book of Chronicles.
The riches of Ethiopia—natural, cultural, and over all—this writer was able to confirm when Ethiopian Airlines brought a media delegation aboard its Dreamliner to Addis Ababa and several sites recently.
Horn of Africa
A landlocked territory of more than a million square kilometers in the northeast continental region known as the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is rich in mineral resources with huge deposits of iron ore and potash as well as impressive holdings of copper, gold, silver, nickel, petroleum and natural gas.
Ethiopia has extensive hydroelectric potential as illustrated by the Blue Nile Falls, 70 percent of which is used to generate electricity.
Twenty percent of the