The ancient kings of Africa — like Shaka Zulu and Mansa Musa — are often seen as powerful, wealthy, and resilient. These kings fought great battles and leading their people with fear. Even though powerful, very few were kind. But Ezana of Axum was different, he was the king of kindness.
Who Was Ezana of Axum?
Ezana ruled the Kingdom of Aksum — which is today located in Ethiopia, Yemen, Eritrea, and Sudan. He was born into a royal family in 325 AD and succeeded his father, King Ella Amida, also known as Ousanas. After his dad’s death, he became king even though he was still a child.
The Reign of The Kind King
Before the 12th century, Ethiopian history is not well documented. But the reign of Ezana of Axum is surprisingly well documented. After his father’s death in the early 4th century, Ezana became king. He was still a child when this happened, but his mother, Sofya, supervised him until he was old enough to rule. As a young boy into his adulthood, Ezana his father's counsellors tutored him. His tutors included Frumentius who played a critical role in Ezana’s life. Frumentius converted him to Christianity. He was the first monarch the Axum to follow Christianity.
During his reign between 330 AD to 356 AD, Ezana of Axum planned and fought many battles. He did this to win power over land including the Kingdom of Meroë. Ezana of Axum’s name does not appear on the King Lists, but his Christian name of Abreha appeared instead.
Why Was He So Kind?
Ezana of Axum conquered many lands, but it is what he did after this that showed his kindness as a king. Instead of oppressing or enslaving the people from these conquered lands, he wanted them to become wealthy and prosper. To do this, he moved them to fertile land where they could peaceful live their lives, making money off the land. During this time, this was unheard of as many kings would enslave people and make money off them.
He showed his kindness, concern, and responsibility for his people in all aspects of his reign, including coins. On coins uncovered in the late 1990s at archaeological sites in India, the Greek phase ‘TOYTOAPECHTHXWPA’ can be seen. In English, this means, ‘May this please the person’.
As a king in the 4th century, Ezana of Axum showed kindness which was rare for that period. He treated people as people and did not only see them as a way to increase his wealth. He understood his responsibility as king was to proper and to allow all his people to do the same. Anyone who came under the ruling of Ezana of Axum was treated with equal opportunity and respect.
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