Although little studied or understood, the black impostor occupies an important place in the history of the African diaspora. The present essay examines the imposture of Prince Thomas Mackarooroo, aka Prince Ludwig Menelek of Abyssinia, as an avatar of Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia, whose military victory over Italian forces at the Battle of Adwa in 1896 made him the black culture hero par excellence at the height of the imperialist era. The black impostor, it is argued, represents a political actor of a certain type.

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