Ethiopia Unbound

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Ethiopia Unbound: Studies in Race Emancipation is a novel by the Ghanaian writer and politician Joseph Ephraim Casely Hayford ; it was first published in 1911. The work is considered the first English-language novel in African literature . A second edition appeared in London in 1969, edited by Frank Cass; it was supervised by EU Essien-Udom and contains a foreword by F. Nnabuenyi Ugonna from June 1966.

The description of the work as a novel is only approximate, as the plot takes a back seat towards the end and extensive documentaries on African nationalism and Pan-Africanism come to the fore.


The protagonist is Kwamankra, a member of the Fante tribe in the Gold Coast . The action begins in London , England , where Kwamankra, a law student, befriended the Englishman who is aspiring to ordination , Silas Whitely. The two move into an apartment that is furnished in an "oriental style" and compare Western and African ideas about God . After Whitley congratulated Kwamankra on behalf of the Africans, how successful they are in preserving the "eternal truths", Kwamankra brings in the thesis that God and Jesus could have been of Ethiopian (here in the sense of African ) origin.

Three years later, shortly after into a Bar Association was appointed, he meets at a Shakespeare -Theatervorstellung compatriots from his home; He meets the music student Mansa at a theater performance and falls in love with her. They get married shortly before their return to the Gold Coast and Mansa gives birth to a son. Five years later, Mansa dies giving birth to a second child, a daughter who also dies after giving birth. Kwamankra remains widowed with his son, but becomes seriously ill. During an operation he has a dream vision where he finds himself in a beautiful city in heaven. He meets Mansa, now a goddess, and his little daughter. Mansa teaches him to return to earth as God's messenger in order to found a kingdom in Ethiopia (again in the sense of Africa), which differs from all other kingdoms.

Meanwhile, Silas Whitely, now a pastor , has arrived in the Gold Coast to take the post of colonial chaplain in the city of Sekondi . He was warned by his Scottish friend Kennedy Bilcox not to support the "silly gang of progressives" in their call for equality for black locals. As a result, he fell out with his assistant Kwah Baidu, a Fante native, over the establishment of a racial segregated cemetery and dismissed it. Whitley does not revive the friendship with Kwamankra and convinces himself that their previous relationship was only a casual acquaintance. Both meet for the first time at an official dinner , where the mayor announces fears about Whitely's plans for a segregated cemetery.

At this point the plot loses its narrative character; A series of conversations, readings and newspaper articles now come to the fore, through which Kwamankra as a family patriarch and prophetic public intellectual develops his ideas about religion , marriage , upbringing , racial emancipation and African nationalism. He leads discussions with his now young son, which he explains with examples and parables from Greek mythology . Kwamankra is later invited to a US university, where he gives a speech on the merits of Edward Wilmot Blyden ; with that the book ends.


  • JE Casely Hayford: Ethiopia Unbound. Studies in Race Emancipation [novel]. In: Cass Library of African Studies. Africana Modern Library . 2nd edition [with a new introduction by F. Nnabuenyi Ugonna], F. Cass, London 1969 (first edition by: CM Phillips, London 1911), ISBN 0-7146-1753-9 (English)
  • Tom Lodge: Writings of Ekra-Agiman (JE Casely Hayford). Thoemmes Continuum, Bristol 2003, ISBN 978-1-8437-1059-2 .

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