Queen Sheba’s palace at Dungur, Axum city, Tigray Province, Ethiopia
Around 2005 an idea for a story came to me. Nothing more than a concept, except that I was visited by the the main characters and immersed in an ancient world. The first few paragraphs came seemingly out of nowhere – or a distantly remembered past.
“Jaya’s drum rips the quiet hour apart and Mo-monka awakens from his slumber. Slowly Mo-monka slithers his way across grandmother trees largest branch. He slides his old body towards the beat of Jaya’s drum. The warmth that awaits him excites his soul as he aims directly for the clearing.
At the far end of the clearing Jaya sits with Patu, his beloved drum. Earlier he felt a calling while gathering the berries outside his hut. He gathered the food carefully and placed it in the pot that sits at the entrance of his fathers’ home, then picked up his Patu and determinedly set off on the path from the village to the clearing.”
I put the story away, never forgetting it. In 2016 I pulled it up, it was calling to me. Around page 19 I realized I needed to have a clear idea of what part of ancient Africa it was set in. I started research and fell in love with an ancient city called Aksum. It is alleged to be the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant and the purported home of the Queen of Sheba. It would be the place to which the dwellers would travel when they left their village. I read everything I could about the plants, food, religions of the time.
April of 2016 I was in Colorado with a group of friends attending a conference. We were seated at our hotel for breakfast when a kind looking waiter approached.
Noticing his name pin I asked “Melaku, where are you from?”
With a huge smile his answer was: “Guess!”
My fun button was turned up high. “Near Morocco.”
“No, not Morocco.”
“I said near Morocco. Axum!”
“How did you know? No one guesses right away and you said my name correctly.”
“Do you know the ancient language still in practice Ge-ez?”
“It’s not used by everybody.”
“Yes, I know, it’s the church language.”
“I know it, how do you know of it?”
I told him about my story, took his photo, and promised to send him my books. I wanted to know this man whose bloodline clearly stretches back a few thousands years. His birthplace frames my vision of this story.
Now I ask you, what would you call this weave of connections?