Hakim Wärqenäh Eshäté's life was one full of change, often dramatic change. A statesman, administrator, author and Ethiopia's first western trained physician, he was a major progressive influence on modern Ethiopian history. He played a significant role in influencing twentieth century medicine, education, diplomacy and economic development in Ethiopia. His appointment in 1935 as Ethiopian ambassador to London marked the climax of his career. Although born an Ethiopian, he spent most of his life outside his home country. He was a product of his Victorian upbringing and the British educational system - more international than national, living in many different countries but never wholly belonging in any of them. His search for his identity, and how he and others defined it, played a significant part in his life.
Wärqenäh was born in Gondar, Ethiopia on October 22nd, 1865, a member of the northern Ethiopian elite who were in the process of being overthrown. As an infant he and his parents were imprisoned by Emperor Téwodros on an isolated plateau, Mäqdäla, in central Ethiopia. In 1868 when Britain invaded Ethiopia to free western hostages taken by Téwodros, the three-year-old Wärqenäh was abandoned on the field of battle. Colonel Charles Chamberlain of the 23rd Indian Pioneer Regiment of Rawalpindi, India picked him up and took him to India where he was brought up and educated. Colonel Chamberlain died three years later leaving the young boy in the care of another military figure, Colonel Charles Martin, who paid for his education at various missionary schools in India.