Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lagwen, Eritrea and Vilnius, Lithuania : A Connection?

Vilnius, Lithuania.
I'm sorry that I've been away for so long. I went to Lithuania at the beginning of July 2008 for work related business.A tee-shirt that I bought in Vilnius (the capital city of Lithuania) asks, "where the heck is Lithuania?" And you might say, "who cares?" Hold on. But, did you know that there is a connection between Eritrea and Lithuania, but specifically between Lagwen, Eritrea and Vilnius, Lithuania? I didn't think so!

What's Lagwen, a small village outside Asmara (the capital city of Eritrea) got to do with Vilnius, Lithuania? It's not because of sister-cities or sister-city/village connection. And the connection is not now. Let's say the connection was in 1705 AD. And 1705 isn't a typo. In other words, what's Lagwen and Vilnius, a city founded by Gediminas, Grand Duke of Lithuania (who based on a dream of an iron wolf that howled like hundred wolves) have in common? In short, Abraham Petrovich Hannibal.

You might ask who was Abraham P. Hannibal. Even though many countries claim him to be from their respective countries (Cameroon is the latest addition to the list: Eritrea, Ethiopia and Chad also claim him) but the strongest evidence places Eritrea as the birth place of Abraham P. Hannibal. Many renowned biographers of various nationalities of Alexander S.Pushkin (the great grand son of Abraham Hannibal) also support Eritrea as Abraham's birth place. In short, Abraham was kidnapped from Lagwen, Eritrea and was taken to Turkey and later to Russia. In Russia he became a general and became the maternal great grand father of Russia's greatest poet: Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin. I wrote a five parts series on this subject a while back on, and Using this article as a spring board, I will re-post the previous five parts soon.

I started writing this article from Hotel Narutis, which claims to be the oldest hotel in Vilnius (ANNO 1581) and finished it in the United States.

Hotel Narutis on Pilies Street, Vilnius, Lithuania.

Old town section of Vilnius is full of rich history. Tomas Venclova's City Guide is an excellent source about the richness of the city. Each building in the old section carries a multi-layered rich cultural and historical secret. Walking down the narrow alleys and roads, one feels like a time traveler. While I stayed in the old town, I dined at various Gothic cellar restaurants. The thought of Abraham Hannibal, who might have dined in one of the cellars, or who might have walked down one of the alleys of old Vilnius sent shivers down my spine.

Hotel Narutis is located on Pilies Street. It faces St. John's church: the church of Vilnius University (one of the oldest and most famous universities in Eastern and Northern Europe which was established in 1579). From Hotel Narutis going north on Pilies Street, there is a square where vendors sell their products. It is at this square that Pilies Street turns into Didzioji Street. On the left hand side is an old Russian Orthodox Church of Paraskeva (Piatnica). It was in this church in 1705 that Czar Peter I of Russia baptized Abraham P. Hannibal as his god-son. Every time I passed by the church, I got a sense of awe. A sense of tingling. Just think about it. In 2008, I knew how I got there and why I was there, but for a small boy who was kidnapped from Lagwen and ends up in Vilnius in 1705 to be the Son-in-Christ of a Russian czar is mind boggling!

Pilies Street, Vilinus, Lithuania.

Pilies Street turns into Didzioji Street

The Russian Orthodox Church of Paraskeva where Abraham Hannibal was baptized in 1705.

A plaque outside the Russian Orthodox Church indicating that Abraham Hannibal was baptized there in 1705. General Abraham Petrovich Hannibal.

At the main door of Vilnius University.

Inside St. John's Church of Vilnius University.

Formerly the summer home of one of Alexander S. Pushkin's descendants. Now Pushkin Museum, Vilnius, Lithuania.

The statue of Pushkin in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Narrow alleys and roads.

Examples of some of the magnificent buildings of Vilnius.

Finally, as I've mentioned earlier at the beginning of this introductory article, this will be a segue to re-post the previous five articles that I wrote about Abraham Hannibal and his descendants, soon.

As a footnote, however, I would like to add the following. Vilnius is not the only city that Lagwen, through Abraham Hanni
bal, had a connection with. Reval (now Tallinn the capital city of Estonia); Pernau, Estonia; Amsterdam, Holland and Paris, France were also some of the many other connections. General Abraham was a military commander of Reval for ten years from 1742-1752. Lagwen, through General Ivan, Abraham's oldest son, had also a connection with Kherson in Ukraine. General Ivan was one of the founders of the city of Kherson. Through the descendants of Alexander S. Pushkin, Lagwen's connections with other countries include Germany and Great Britain.