Ethiopian Garden

Martin Luther King Jr Dr, Cleveland, OH 44106 - Between Wade Park and Superior
Architect: Zerihun Yetmgeta, Artist: Ernesto Spinelli
Dedication Date:
Sponsoring Organization:

Menelik Hall Foundation

Ethiopian History Mural
Ethiopian History Mural
History & Design:

The first structure in this garden is a five-paneled ceramic mural, 12-feet-high by 15-feet-wide. Each panel depicts a broad period of Ethiopian history:

Panel One: The Cradle of Humankind.

“Lucy,” found in 1974 in the Hadar region of Ethiopia by Dr. Donald Johanson of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.  Since then, Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie, now the museum’s paleoanthropoligist, has made several more equally stunnign hominid finds in Hadar. Also depicted are ancient cave paintings from Dire Dawa that are 4,000-years-old.

Panel Two: The Southern Peoples and All Other Ethnic Groups.

Typified here by the Konso, who developed terraced farming, antedating the Axum Empire. There are an amazingly diversified 77 linguistic groups in Ethiopia, all descended from one “Afro-Asiatic” tribe of 3,500 years ago, just to the north of Ethiopia. This was the origin of the origin of the Omotic, Cushitic and Semitic languages, which spread across the Red Sea to the Arabian Peninsula.

Panel Three: The Early Civilizations of Axum and Lalibela.

Represented in this panel are the Aksum civilization to the north (200 BC to 1000 AD) and the Lalibela civilization, circa 1200 AD.  

Panel Four: The Succession of Emperors.

There was a succession of four emperor after the time  of Menelik I. Thee four were Tewodros, Yohannes, Menelik II (with Empress Taytu) and Haile Selassie, all of whom helped preserve Ethiopian independence from colonialism.  The Battle of Adwa in 1896, when the Ethiopians defeated the Italians under Menelik and Taytu, was particularly important for all Africans and other subjugated people around the world.

Panel Five: The Modern Period.

This panel depicts the rise of knowledge and science in the modern era, and hopes for wisdom to accompany knowledge. The first eye in the panel, is the “Eye of Wisdom.” The second eye is a globe, signifying globalization; a moon represents technology that allowed humankind to travel there.  

Back Panel: “When the Sun Gets the Moon.

This painting by Zerihun Yetmegeta from 1987 carries an environmental message. He says: “Despite modern technology, the earth is being devastated. This painting takes us full circle; from the dawn of mankind, great ethnic diversification, national unity and independence under emperors, to heights of technology by an overpopulated humankind, to this age where everything has global effect, and now to the unthinkable possibility of the collapse of civilization and the extinction of the much of the natural world.” This painting is a plea from Ethiopia, where the human race began, to do better and avert this collapse.