Queer tales began to circulate about Tafari’s boyhood, the most notable concerning his supposed ability to speak to animals. During his youth, it was claimed, he had on several occasions been seen conversing in the bush with leopards and lions, the fierce jungle beasts becoming docile at his feet, much as they had responded centuries before to the fabled Ethiopian hermit, Saint Abbo.
Further, it was said that as a young student Tafari was quite bright and competent at his lessons, but that he had truly astounded the priests with the depth of his knowledge concerning religious and mystical matters. Not only could he quote freely from the Kebra Negast, but also from the Book of Kufale, the Book of Enoch, the Shepherd of Hermas, Judith, Ecclesiasticus, Tobit, the Matshafa Berhan (Book of Light), the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses, the Books of Eden (Secretly deleted from Genesis during the Dark Ages), all thirty-one books of the Hebrew Bible, the twenty-one canonical books of the New Testament and numerous other apocryphal and pseudepigraphic works.
According to one story, a local priest in Harar had visited the young Tafari shortly after the death of his father and asked him where he had gained such vast knowledge. Tafari replied that much of it had come to him at the moment of his baptism, conducted according to tradition on the fortieth day of his life. The priest who presided at the ceremony had opened Tafari’s eyes with the first touch of holy chrism, and everything that ensued was as comprehensible to the infant as if he had been an adult. The priest pronounced his surname, he remembered, and next his baptismal name, and then of course he blew softly in Tafari’s face to drive off the evil spirits. At that instant Tafari claimed, he felt himself enveloped by a golden glow, and as the priest began to anoint him, water touching his forehead, breast, shoulders and all of the other thirty-seven prescribed places, he felt his knowledge increase, filling him up like a vessel and endowing him with a great sense of clarity about creation and the final purpose of man.
However, in the weeks afterward, the knowledge and this special sense of lucidity seemed to ebb away. When did it return? The priest inquired. When the birds and the beasts and even the insects began to greet him and speak to him, reminding him of what he already knew, Tafari replied.
Which was the first creature to speak to him? Tafari requested a sheet of paper and some pastels and began to draw, with extraordinary facility, a picture of a bird. It resembled a dove, but with exotic, multicolored plumage. The priest was about to ask Tafari what sort of bird it was when he was dumbfounded o see the bird fly off the page and out through the nearby window, disappeared into to the sky”.
These paragraphs were quoted from the Catch A Fire Book by Timothy White.