Giuseppe Sapeto

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Giuseppe Sapeto (around 1870)

Giuseppe Sapeto (born April 27, 1811 in Carcare , then French Empire , † August 25, 1895 in Genoa , Kingdom of Italy ) was an Italian missionary from the Lazarist order and Italian agent in Assab .


At the age of eighteen he entered the order of the Lazarists . As a missionary he traveled to Lebanon and Egypt in 1837 before traveling to Ethiopia . There he spent the next ten years and traveled inland. He joined an Italian mission, fell seriously ill, and returned to Italy. After his recovery, he returned to Africa. He studied the Cushitic language during three trips . In 1858 he returned to Europe. He was a translator for Agaw Negussé, who rebelled against the Ethiopian ruler Theodor II . There were encounters with the Pope and Napoleon III. After the rebel's return, he was defeated and killed in Ethiopia. Sapeto was captured but later released. He went to Paris and became a curator of oriental manuscripts at the National Library in Paris. He also taught Arabic at the universities in Florence and Genoa .

After carefully exploring the area around Massaua on the Red Sea coast opposite Yemen , he had a concession in the Bay of Assab transferred to him in 1869 on behalf of the Rubattino shipping company . In March 1882 this company ceded all of its rights to the Italian government. The transfer was ratified by the Roman Parliament on July 5th of that year. This event, which went completely unnoticed at the time, marked a complete turning point in the history of the peninsula . The Italian policy of expansion in Africa began.

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