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A Brief Guide on the ‘Hatetas’

October 22, 2013

In this short blog post, I try to introduce the works of Zar’a Ya’aqob the Philosopher and his dispel Walda Heywat  and commentaries on their work. No detailed analysis is implied. Yes, there was/is a controversy over the identity of these two philosophers. There are some European like Carlo Conti Rossini who doubt Zara Yaqob Ethiopianity and argues ‘Zar’a Ya’aqob is not Ethiopian or there was no such philosopher called Zar’a Ya’aqob, it is a pseudonym by 19th c  Freemason European who wrote the Treatises/Hatetas.” And recently we got some Ethiopian who doubts Zar’a Ya’aqob’s Ethiopianity for a very different reason.

However, from the Hateta’s themselves to scholars who study Zar’a Ya’aqob in detail, we got  an absolute majority of Zar’a Ya’aqob’s Ethiopian Citizenry.


As I said in the beginning my motive in this post is to share some eye-opening resources on The Hatetas. According to the Hateta’s we can understand If Zar’a Ya’aqob was Socrates Walda Heywat is Plato. Walda Heywat’s Hateta looks like a sequel to Zar’a Ya’aqob’s work. Many writers wrote about these two works.

Zar’a Ya’aqob in his Hateta briefly stated his life as ‘I was born in the land of the priests of Aksum. But I am the son of a poor farmer in the district of Aksum; the day of my birth is 25th of Nahase 1592 A. D., the third year of the year of [King] Yaquob. By Christian baptism I was named Zar’a Ya’aqob, but people called me Warqye.’ However, There is no such Autobiographical explanation on Walda Heywat’s Hateta but some peoples indicate WWalda Heywat’s  first name as Melaku.

Even if Walda Heywat’s Hateta have many pages than Zar’a Ya’aqob’s Treatise, scholars are sticking with criticizing and praising Zar’a Ya’aqob’s work. Among much praises:

“If the Frenchman René Descartes  is regarded as the pioneer of “Modern Philosophy”, if many believe that Kant – the philosopher who borrowed the concept of the “Thing in itself” or “Noumenon” from Amo, the philosopher of Guinea in Africa – is the “greatest philosopher” of the “European Enlightenment”, then all those who´re hep to and familiar with the treatises of Zera Yacob  or Zar´a Ja´aqob would argue with me that the works of this East African philosopher represent the climax of both “Modern Philosophy” and the “Age of Enlightenment”.  Mathias Victorien Ntep

And an Ethiopian scholar states:

‘Zar’a Ya’aqob is the founder of rationality in Africa. He was a contemporary of Rene Descartes, the founder of rationality in France.” Tedros Kiros

Here in below I share the treatise of Zar’a Ya’aqob and Walda Heywat in different languages and some follow-up works on the treatises.

The Hatetas

Hateta Zar’a Ya’aqob: Ge’ez [Original]  Amharic [Translated By: Zemenfes Kidus Abraha] English [Translated By: Claude Sumner]

Hateta Walda Heywat: Ge’ez [Original] Amharic [Coming Soon] English [Translated By: Claude Sumner]


Critics and elaborations on the Hatetas by Claude Sumner

Introduction to the Treatise of Zar’a Ya’aqob and Walda Heywat

Ethiopian Philosophy, vol. II: The Treatise of Zara Yaecob and Walda Hewat: Text and Authorship

☞ Ethiopian Philosophy, vol. III: The Treatise of Zara Yaecob and Walda Hewat: An Analysis

☞ Classical Ethiopian Philosophy

☞ ‘The Light and the Shadow: Zera Yacob and Walda Heywat: Two Ethiopian Philosophers of the Seventeenth Century,” Page 172 -182


Critics and elaborations on the Hatetas by Tedros Kiros

☞ Zera Yacob and Traditional Ethiopian Philosophy Page 183-191

The Meditations of Zara Yaquob

Zara Yacob: Rationality of the Human Heart

Seventeenth century Rationalist: On the rationality of the heart  [ A Speech made By: Tedros Kiros]


Other works by different scholars

‘The Ethics of Zär’a Ya’eqob’ By:  Dawit Worku Kidane

☞  Review on Tedros Kiros’s ‘Ethiopian rationalist philosopher of the seventeenth century, Zara Yaqob’ By: Andrej Krause

☞ ‘Zara Yacob’s theory of truth‘ By: Abel Cherinet

☞ ‘Zar’a Ya’aqob: The ethiopian philosopher founder of “Hatataism” By: Mathias Victorien Ntep

☞ ‘Zar’a Ya’eqob’s Argument For The Existence Of God‘ By: Chemeda Bokora

☞ ‘Philosopher Zereyacob‘ By: Habte Churnet

☞ ‘The Contribution of Native Ethiopian Philosophers, Zara Yacob and Wolde Hiwot, to Ethiopian Philosophy‘ By: Tassew Asfaw


A 15 Minute Vedio on Zar’a Ya’aqob


And at last, In the Video game Civilization IV: Beyond, Ethiopia is led by Zara Yaqob and here is how the game depict Zar’a Ya’aqob:

3                                                                                                                                                     🙂

To be updated….


From → መጽሀፍት

  1. geezonline permalink

    And there is this by someone who “studied (mostly moral) philosophy at Harvard”:

    But I have never come across anyone who “studied in Debre Tabor or Akusm” and is aware of ZY’s and his disciple’s existence, let alone their works!

  2. belew! permalink

    The video game is not about Zar’a Yakob the philosopher but Atse Zera Yakob the magnificent.

  3. baba nana permalink

    The philosopher zara yaqob and emperor zara yaqob (which is you posted on the video game) are two different people aparted by more than thousand of years.

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