“I met at Abbi-Addi the late King Johannes’ jester, a very small dwarf, only 3 feet 5 inches in height, with a very well proportioned body, but with a very large head quite out of proportion to his size; my No 7 helmet was a great deal too small for him. He was over 50 years of age and a very interesting well informed little man when not jesting, and was a great source of amusement to me both at Abbi-Addi and Macalle.


He was enormously powerful, and on festal occasions when he used to get a little drunk, very quarrelsome; and then he used to pick out the biggest man of the crowd that was annoying him, to go for. If he could once make good his charge and get between their legs, over they used to go, and while they were down he would get them round the neck with his powerful little arms and nearly strangled them. The fall of the giant at the hands of the Midget, used always to be well received and there were then shouts for Barrambaras Marou, by which title he was

known. If he failed in his charge, and was lifted off his feet and put under the man’s arm and held head downwards, he used to scream like a naughty child, and promised to be good.

He was greatly distrusted by some people, as he used always to tell his present master, Ras Mangesha, everything he heard, and he had found out many conspiracies during his life. On one occasion he told me he had hidden in a sack of grass, and listened to a meeting of conspirators and when they had gone to sleep, he went off and told King Johannes, and they were all arrested the same night, and all accused each other of treachery.”


(Modern Abyssinia (1902) is the account of Wylde’s  travels through the country we today call Ethiopia. A vice-consul in Suakin, Wylde knew Abyssinia and the Sudan very well, and was a member of a family that traditionally served in the Foreign Office. His route takes him as far as Addis Ababa, and is precious for its inclusion of many vignettes like the one above, about a court jester.)