Arts of Ethiopia
Audience with the Emperor
(P151 – 152)
"THE SUN BROKE THOUGH THE THINNING CLOUDS TO CHEERFULLY
brighten the morning. John took it as a good omen on the day he
was to meet Haile Selassie. The rain had turned the streets to mud but
nobody seemed to notice. Robinson picked his way carefully trying to
keep his shoer and pants clean until he reached the paved street that ran
past the Arat kilo Ghibi Palace, built by King Menelik in the late nine-
teenth century. The emperor lived in the Guenete Leul Palace but worked
in the Imperial Ghibi Palace. The gate leading onto the palace but worked
was guarded by two armed soldiers wearing greenish-khaki uniforms like
those of the Belgian army. The smartly uniformed palace guards were
special members of the seven thousand strong Imperial Body Guard, the
most well equipped military unit in Ethiopia. The members of the palace
guard itself were handpicked from a northern tribe noted for their height.
Most of them were nearly seven feet tall. John presented the formal invitation
he had received the royal seal, it requested his presence at the palace.
The ranking guard examined the card. looked Robinson over carefully,
motioned for him to wait just inside the gate on the palace grounds, and
proceeded to the palace.