The Life of Teachers in Qəne

10      The Life of Teachers in Qəne


Qəne teachers, as wandering scholars, spend most of their working years trying to learn the different Qəne genres and techniques. Since they didn’t have time to make a living, their income is usually much less than the uneducated farmer. Most of these Qəne teachers overlook their financial situation and are the happiest when they have a large group of students and they are able to pass on their knowledge. Other teachers migrate to the big cities (especially Addis Ababa) in order to make a living. Here are some Qənes that discuss this topic.


ሀ. Mäwädəs of ʾäläqa Mänbäru (lʿäläm)(ከመሪጌታ ይቻለዋል ጎሹሜ የተገኘ)፤ (ቁ.19)

ደመወዝሂ ትንሹ እረኛ ለእመ ኮነ ገርባባ፣

ቀለም ትንሹ በሬ በሸዋ ላይ ገደል ገባ፡፡

ደግሞም አነሳችው በጧት እንዳይጎነባ፣

ትንሽ ትልቁን አሳዳጊ ወይዘሮ አዲስ አበባ፡፡


        The young shepherd / salary being too small

        The Young ox / education fell in the ravine in Shewa

        And it was picked up before rotting in the morning

        By Lady Addis Ababa, the one who raises the young and the old.


(Säm) A young inexperienced shepherd, not taking care of his flock properly, loses one of his oxen to a fall in a ravine. And before the meat rots, those with experience (education) will retrieve the remains. (Wärq) When the teacher’s salary is too small, the teacher (symbolized as a young ox) who could not support himself abandoned his students and migrated to the city. Since Addis Ababa supports one and all, the teacher is able to make a living in his profession as well as keeping to his spiritual life.


Tarik: ʾäläqa Mänbäru was visiting his local parish clergy to talk about his financial problems. Instead of asking for an increase in salary, he composed the above Qəne to tackle this national problem.


ለ. Gubaʾe Qana of  Zrʾä Dawit  (ቁ.20)

ጋይንት እምየ ተርእየተኒ ሐዚና፣

እንዘኒ ትደግም እስመ ዘርዐዳዊት ማሰና፡፡


        I saw my mother / Gayənt mourning

        Because while praying she jumbled words from the psalms

        (Because Zrʾä Dawit has been lost)


(Säm) A mother praying is saddened when the words of the psalm she is reciting is jumbled. (Wärq) The BaläQəne Zrʾä Dawit has left his Qəne school at Gayənt for the greener pastures of Addis Ababa. Because of his departure his students and people of Gayənt are unhappy and he is also displeased about the situation.


(Tarik) The BaläQəne Zrʾä Dawit, after studying with his teacher Yared, opened his own Qəne school at Gayənt. Due to a good reputation, his fame spread far and the number of pupils increased. But since he wasn’t making enough money for a living, he closed his school and left for Addis Ababa.  




ሐ. Mäwädəs (3ኛ መጽሐፍ ገጽ 235)


ምንት ውእቱ ፍድፋዴ ዚአሁ፣

ለመመህረ ቅኔ እምላሕም ወበግዕ ዘይትረዐዩ፣

በግዕ ወላሕም ሐሠረ ከመ ይሴሰዩ፣

እስመ ለዐቢይ መምህረ ቅኔ፣

ሕሡር መብልዑ ወኅ ሙግ ስታዩ፣

ወይሰክብ ከመ እሉ፣

ዘርቤታተ ሣዕር ነፂፎ ውስተ ልገተ ቀምሕ ምስካዩ፡፡

ጽድቀሃ ከመ ያእምሩ እመ ሰብአ ጽድቅ ኀለዩ፣

ላሕም ወበግዕ እምነ መምህር የዐብዩ፣

አኮኑ መምህር ወአርዳኢሁ ዘጎዩ፣

እመራዕየ ላሕም ወበግዕ ክዳናቲሆሙ ይትዔሰዩ፡፡


    How is he better

    The Qəne teacher compared to a cow or a sheep?

    Just like the cow and sheep eat hay

    The great Qəne teacher

    Eats scraps and drinks muddy water

    And he sleeps like them

    Inside his cottage on a hay mattress.

    But to tell the truth

    The cow and sheep are better than the Qəne teacher

    Since the teacher and his departed students

    Get their clothes from the cow and the sheep.


መ. Amharic and Gəʾəz blend Qəne1


ካህነ ቀላዋጭ ኢትናቅ ምጥዋ ነጋዴ፤

ወኢትስደብ ካዕበ ገበራርተ ዐራሽ በበሬ፣

አምጣነ ትትቀሠፍ አንተ በቀጠና ረኃብ ማሰሬ፣

ወኢይኩን ሰማዕተ ሐሰት ኤልያስ ነገሬ፣

ናሁ እንበለ ፍሬ፣

በእሳተ ረኃብ ውዕዩ አኀዊከ ደቂቀ ቆሬ፣

አነሂ ሰማንያ አንድ መጻሕፍተ አበው ተምሬ፣

አመልክ በነጋዴ ወእሰግድ ለገበሬ፣

እስመ እምዘደንቢያ ዐራሽ ወእምነጋዲያን ዘትግሬ፣

እቀላውጥ አንድ እንጀራ ወእለምን ድርጎ ጥሬ፡፡


        Freeloader Priest, do not look down upon the merchant of Məts’wa

        And do not insult the farmers who plough with oxen

        Because you will be smitten by a state of hunger/switch

        And let my concern/ Elijah not become a false witness

        Now without any fruit

        Your brothers/sons of Qore were scorched by the fire of starvation.

        And I after learning the entire Bible and Patristic books

        I worship the merchant and bow down to the farmer

        Because from the peasant of Dämbəya and merchants of Təgre

        I will sponge an ʾənjära and beg for cereals.


Even though the BaläQəne has studied all the 81 books of the EOTC bible, he doesn’t earn enough through his education to make a decent living.  That is why he is saying, “Transgressing God’s command not to worship anyone else, I will bow down and worship the merchant of Təgre and the farmer of Dämbəya so they can give me cereals and ʾənjära, respectively.



ሠ. Märigeta Täklä Wäld of Däbrä Tabor


መርድአ ምድረ ግብፅ ዮሴፍ እንተ ይፈደፍድ ሀውኩ፣     

ለአዝማዲሁ ይብሎሙ እምከመ ወጠንኩ፤                 

ስደተ እስራኤል ትምህርተ ቅኔ እንተ ድካመ ደከምኩ፣   

ሀበ ሀበወደይኩ ወተንሣእኩ፣                    

ውስተ ጉባኤ ግብፅ ስፍህት ምንዳቤ ዘበሥጋየ ሀለፍኩ፣ 

ዘመንየ ወመዋእልየ በርሀብ ፈጸምኩ፡፡                   



Joseph of Egypt / Student whose worries have multiplied

Told his relatives, “Since I have started

My exile from Israel / Qəne education, I have been really tired.

Falling down and getting up

I suffered a lot inside the vast Egypt / School

And wasted my years in hunger.”