Hemingway talked about a leopard, frozen in the ice near Kilimanjaro’s peak, which trekkers have been looking for ever since, but there are stranger things rumored to be buried deep beneath Kili’s snows.
Things like the legendary Seal of Solomon, the ancient King’s ring rumored to possess magical powers.
To understand how a mythical artifact might have made its way to Kili, we need an (apocryphal) history lesson.
During his reign, Solomon was visited by the Queen of Sheba, and some legends say he fathered her child, the ancient Ethiopian king, Menelik I.
When Menelik reached adulthood, he visited his father in Israel, and was said to have received both a replica of the Ark of the Covenant (which some legends say was switched at the last minute for the real deal, which Menelik hid in Ethiopia) and Solomon’s famous seal ring, both of which he brought back with him to his dominions in Northern Africa.
Menelik’s reign was incredibly successful (and the dynasty he established in Ethiopia lasted, with only one interruption, nearly 3,000 years). Late in life, after a successful conquest of lands to the South, Menelik was returning to his own kingdom. On the way, he passed Kilimanjaro and, for no apparent reason, decided to climb to the top, with all his kingly jewels in tow.
When he reached Kibo’s peak, Menelik suddenly fell ill and died (there’s a reason we tell trekkers to give themselves acclimatization time!). His attendants buried his body—with Solomon’s infamous seal ring on his finger—in one of the snowy craters, high upon the mountain.
Legend has it that only Menelik’s true heir will find his body. When that person puts on the ring, he or she will be suffused with all of Solomon’s wisdom and Menelik’s bravery, and will restore the glory of the ancient kingdom of Ethiopia.
So keep your eyes peeled on Kili; you never know what you might find…