Selwanos, Abba (perhaps fl. 13th century A.D.), was a disciple of Abba ‘Iyäsus-Mo’a, and is said to have understood the language of the birds and beasts. While on a journey during the closing years of the Zagwé dynasty, he stayed in the house of a wealthy man where the child and future Emperor, Yekuno-‘Amlak, was living. There Abba Selwanos heard a cock crowing and interpreted its cry to mean “whosoever eats my head will become king.” Yekuno-‘Amlak ate the head which had been thrown aside by a careless maid-servant and the prophecy was of course fulfilled. In later traditions, the last Zagwé king, Yetbaräk or Zä-‘Elmäknun, is said to have heard and understood the crowing of the cock and to have sought the advice of St. Täklä-Haymanot.
S. Kur (ed. and trans.), Actes de Iyasus Mo’a, Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, Scriptores aethiopici, t. 49 and t. 50.
C. Conti Rossini, “La caduta della dinastia Zagué e la versione america della Be’ela Nagast,” Rendiconti della Reale Accademia dei Lincei, Vol. XXXI (1922): 300 ff.
G. W. B. Huntingford, “The Wealth of Kings’ and the end of the Zagué dynasty,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Vol. XXVIII (1965): 12 ff.
This article is reproduced, with permission, from The Dictionary of Ethiopian Biography, Vol. 1 ‘From Early Times to the End of the Zagwé Dynasty c. 1270 A.D.,’ copyright © 1975, edited by Belaynesh Michael, S. Chojnacki and Richard Pankhurst, Institute of Ethiopian Studies, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. All rights reserved.