The Italians took this obelisk as prey of war for roughly 60 years after their occupation of Ethiopia beginning in the late 1930s. The obelisk now located in Axum was returned and installed in 2005. The source photograph for this print was taken when the monument was situated in Rome’s Porta Capena square. Additionally, the pigment used in the creation of the print is ground soil from Ethiopia. The soil makes a picture of an object not actually located in Ethiopia. There is a shift in ownership and right to this object. The Italians, through their colonial occupation claimed Ethiopia and its artifacts as part of Italian East Africa. I also stake claim to this soil, both literally in my father’s heritage as well as figuratively – what meaning lies in dirt anyway, if not my own self-inscription. Two things are returned here, both the monument to its proper place, as well as me to experience Ethiopia first hand. A lesson remains, is how can it be possible to imagine the existence and importance of something from such a distance?
© Zacharias Abubeker 2013