Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Mystery: Mishka Babitchef

I'm looking for information about the first Ethiopian pilot, Mishka Babitchef, a descendant of Russian emigrants. According to the website MediaEthiopia, he received his pilot license in the presence of Emperor Haile Selassie in October 1930. He had a sister, W/O Atsede Babitchef, who was married to the nobleman Dejach Nessibu Ze-Ammanuel.
The Russia-Ethiopia connection is of more interest than a mere historical curiosity - since Pushkin's great-grandfather, Major-General Abram Petrovich Gannibal, was said to have been an Ethiopian (altough this is disputed; at any rate, he was from the East of Africa). Anyway, it tickles one's imagination to know that Russian emigrés in turn arrived in Ethiopia and assimilated.
I have very little knowledge of Ethiopian history, and I would be grateful for any further information on the background of these interesting persons. Google is not very helpful at this point - the spellings of the names only occur on MediaEthiopia's site. The whole thing is complicated by the fact that there's a contemporary Russian actor with the name Михаил Бабичев... Perhaps there are other spellings that are in use. I would also like to know more about the Japanese artist Fumio Mizuno (水野富美夫, 1917-1994), who lived in Ethiopia for 25 years and painted beautiful portraits of women. (some photos from an exhibition in Japan 2005)
If anyone knows where to search, or what to look for, I would be grateful for a tip.


Kalle Kniivilä said...

Mishka Babichevs father Ivan (Vanya) Babichev was a Russian officer at the diplomatic mission in Addis Abeba. He arrived there 1898, deserted from the military, participated in a geographic expedition, married a local woman, served in the Abyssinian army, was pardoned by the Russian emperor 1904 but stayed in Abyssinia, and died there 1955, at the age of 84 years.

More information here and here.

ainur said...

Impressive, I never expected to get replies so fast. Thank you so much for the help! Paljon kiitoksia - tusen tack!

inafricatoday said...

Hi there! I was just in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and witnessed a ceremony by the Russian diplomats to honor his life. His niece is a good friend and lives in Addis. If you send me your info I can put you in touch with her. I know she would be happy to give you info as she is very proud of her uncle.