Ethiopia has always held me in thrall. It is a cradle of prehistoric humankind. It embraced Christianity long before the missionaries arrived. Its people carved subterranean churches out of solid rock and built mysterious towers of stone. The country’s mythology included serving as keepers of the Ark of the Covenant (the legendary chest containing the Ten Commandments) and the biblical story of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. And in the modern era it was the only African nation to repel a European colonial invasion (by Italy in 1896).