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Highly-Successful Visit by Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie to Jamaica
The historical bonds between Jamaica and Ethiopia were profoundly strengthened by a Formal — but private — Visit to Jamaica by His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie between April 21 and 30, 2016, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the State Visit to Jamaica by His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I in April 1966.
Prince Ermias, after completing the visit, said that he warmly thanked Prime Minister the Honorable Andrew Holness; Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment, and Sport the Hon. Olivia “Babsy” Grange; the Government, the Leader of the Opposition, and the People and media of Jamaica for the overwhelming kindness and hospitality he and HIH Princess Saba Kebede were shown during the visit.
Prince Ermias and Princess Saba were met on arrival by Minister Grange, Minister of Transport and Mining the Hon. Michael Henry, and the Ethiopian Consul to Jamaica. Minister Grange, the Consul, and the Chief of Protocol, Her Excellency Ambassador Elinor (Phillips) Felix of the Jamaican Government, kindly supported the visit throughout. Prince Ermias said that his visit to Jamaica was, like the visit of his late Grandfather, the Emperor, in no way political, but was to strengthen the cultural and human bonds between the two nations.
The Prince thanked the Jamaican People for their unstinting support for the Ethiopian People over the generations, and particularly thanked the Jamaican educators who have volunteered over the years to serve as teachers in Ethiopia. He and Princess Saba visited the Haile Selassie School, in the marginalized and economically challenged St. Andrew area of Kingston, for the annual Founders’ Day celebrations, and was there presented the Keys to the City of Kingston by Mayor Dr Angela Brown Burke. The Emperor had broken the ground for the school during his visit in 1966.
As a gesture in remembrance of the founding of the school, and the continued bonds between Ethiopia and Jamaica which the school represents, His Imperial Highness presented a donation of US$5,000 (Jamaican $600,000) to the school. He said later: “This small gesture was in part thanks for the great donations the Jamaican People have made in financial and human terms to their adopted cousins in Ethiopia. I put my countrymen at home in Ethiopia above all other priorities, and it was because of the unstinting loyalty of the Jamaicans to Ethiopia that we must show thanks and respect.”
Since his return from Jamaica, Prince Ermias was also working toward the provision of a bust or statue of His Imperial Majesty for the Haile Selassie High School, which was graciously being created and bestowed by an Ethiopian sculptor to commemorate the 50th anniversary visit
Education, in fact, was one of the key points of the visit, and Prince Ermias and Princess Saba visited a number of academic institutions, apart from the Haile Selassie High School, including the University of the West Indies and Jamaica College. Former Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding had been Head Boy of Jamaica College in 1966 when the Emperor visited, and met the Emperor. Mr Golding noted: “Your visit at this time is something that we regard very highly, something that we cherish and we welcome you in the same spirit and in the same generosity of heart and the same warmth that we welcomed your grandfather 50 years ago.” Acting Principal of Jamaica College, Mr Rohan Wong, said the institution was honored to host the Prince, in what he described as “a milestone event”.
The visiting couple were greeted by large crowds on arrival at Norman Manley International Airport, and throughout their visit to Jamaica. Prince Ermias said that he was grateful for the enthusiasm shown for the visit by Jamaica’s large Rastafari community which has, over the decades since the Emperor’s visit, shown increasing support for the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
Prince Ermias noted: “There is no doubt that the veneration shown to His Imperial Majesty by the Rastafari community conflicted with his strict devotion to the Ethiopian Church, and he was anxious that the Rastafari People — as much as he loved them — should come together with our Holy Mother Church. The Emperor would, I believe, have been proud to have seen the progress of the Rastafari People of Jamaica today, and the fact that they have honored him by their respect for the Ethiopian Church.”
He also noted how much he had learned from his visit to the Maroon community of Jamaica.
Ethiopians Give Thanks for Egypt’s Courageous Support for Ethiopians
His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, has made the following statement:
Ethiopians have witnessed the start of a new era in their relationship with Egypt, with the courageous efforts this month of the Egyptian Government to save 27 Ethiopian Christians who had been working in Libya and who had been at risk from the so-called “Islamic State” extremist group.
The efforts of Egyptian President Abdul Fatah Saeed Hussein Khalil al-Sisi to ensure the safe rescue and return of our Ethiopian brothers was something which the Ethiopian People will not forget. Neither will they forget the fact that President al-Sisi personally welcomed the rescued Ethiopians onto Egyptian soil when the mission was accomplished.
At the same time, we mourn the loss of some 30 of our Ethiopian Christian brethren, all workers in Libya, who had earlier been murdered by the perverted religious extremists of the so-called “Islamic State”, and for the 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians who had been brutally killed by IS before that. The Egyptian and Ethiopian churches have been closely related for more than 1,500 years.
It is clear that Ethiopia can now have a great and supportive ally in Egypt. The nature of the strategic position on the Red Sea and Nile has changed toward stability, cooperation, and prosperity with the election of Pres. al-Sisi in 2014. We are aware that there have been many issues, particularly with regard to the Nile waters and the Red Sea, which for some time divided the two great popu-lations of the region, Egypt and Ethiopia. However, we now see that Pres. al-Sisi has begun to view these things, which once divided our two nations, as things which, in fact, can unite us.
There will always be issues to resolve between two neighboring states, but, with goodwill, the chance to achieve greater things through friendship and co-operation must always be the preferred route. Pres. al-Sisi has demonstrated that he can work with Ethiopia on a range of issues, from the Red Sea and Nile to the security and stability of the region.
Ethiopia is poised once again to begin its economic rise as a state with rights and influence in the Red Sea, and we hold great hope that the governments of Ethiopia and Egypt can work together in increasing harmony.
In the meantime, we must express our gratitude and debt of honor which we owe to the Egyptian President and the Egyptian People for their humanitarian and brotherly act in saving our brothers who had been working in Libya.
Crown Council Statement on the Unlawful Murders of 21 Egyptians in Libya
The President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, today expressed his and the Council’s sorrow and anger at the unlawful killing of 21 Egyptian workers on February 15, 2015, by a group claiming to represent the Islamic State in Libya.
Prince Ermias noted: “It is difficult to adequately express the concern we have for the rise in violence in our region in the name of religion, but we wish at this time to express our great sense of grief, and our sympathy to the families of the 21 murdered men, and to the Coptic community in Egypt, as well as to the Government and People of Egypt. This was a crime of hatred against innocent people, solely on the basis of their Christianity.”
“We are greatly encouraged that the Government and the Church in Egypt, as well as People of all faiths in Egypt, have come together to condemn this barbarity. We hope that, through the pain, this episode has at least one benefit in building even stronger bonds between the Muslim and Christian communities of Egypt.”
“As well, we are highly conscious of the fact that Ethiopia, too, represents a society in which Christians and Muslims live together, and have done so, for the most part harmoniously, for centuries. Libya, the scene of this barbarity, has itself historically displayed great moderation in its society, particularly with the Senussiyah branch of Islam welcoming guests into the country. It is sad to record that this tolerance was put aside with the removal of the reign of King Idris I in 1969. We pray, as do most Libyans, for a return to that sense of tolerance and harmony in the country, and for the removal of alien forces there.”
“It is time for the People of the Nile, and their neighbors, to stand together for peace and cooperation.”
August 29, 2012
Our heartfelt wish for the well-being and development of Ethiopia compelled us to realistically assess the progress which has been made by the Government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, and to compare it to the conditions he inherited after 17 years rule under the Military Government of the Dergue. This led us to recognize, appreciate, and give credit for the contributions made to promote the healing of our traumatized people; for rebuilding the broken name of our historic nation; for reinstating Ethiopia as a leader in African affairs; and for enabling our people to regain their place amongst respectable nations.
Having said so, the Crown Council of Ethiopia would like to first extend its sincere condolences to the family of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, and to all the people of Ethiopia. As already testified by many world leaders and as history will later prove, Ethiopia, Africa, and the World have lost a gallant servant of the people.
Secondly, we are duty bound to put on record our recognition and sincere appreciation for the love of his country that had led the young Meles Zenawi to take arms at the age of 19, and to fight for 16 years against the atrocities which our nation suffered under the Dergue. At a time when there was no help in sight for Ethiopians to overcome the power of a well backed Military Government, Meles Zenawi and his fellow fighters sacrificed their youth and talent, in their determination to alleviate the suffering of our people. As a leader, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s courage, tenacity, and above all his “can do” spirit, was like that of our forefathers who fought and won two wars against overwhelming odds.
Prime Minister Meles, who himself was a Haile-Selassie I Prize Scholar, very much like his benefactor, recognized the importance of education in national development. He became exemplary by making time, despite his overwhelming duties, to complete his University education after he became Prime Minister. He facilitated the establishment of many Universities and the expansion of education throughout the country. In recognition of the benefits of educating women, he donated his well-deserved prize money to extend Secondary Education to girls in rural areas. Furthermore, he was an ardent promoter of women’s rights.
We sincerely believe that it is the recognition of and respect for human dignity, rather than the widely suspected intent to divide the people of Ethiopia that had led the Government of Prime Minister Meles to respect ethnic identity. The elimination of the requirement to conform has enhanced self-confidence, unleashed a great deal of talent, and has manifested in expediting the cultural, social and economic development of our country. Furthermore, unlike the Dergue which stifled economic development in the name of communism, the Government of Prime Minister Meles instituted an open economic policy which enabled the economy of Ethiopia to flourish and accelerate to an unprecedented level.
In the spirit of the well-established belief that was upheld under Emperor Haile Selassie, which stated that “A country is a shared entity, but religion is a private matter”, Prime Minister Meles allowed all religious groups to practice their respective religion freely. Thus, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church was able to reclaim Church property which had been confiscated by the Dergue, and to once again use it to continue its well established religious teachings and provide much needed social services.
Above all, the diplomatic skills of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, and his ability to have convinced donor Governments to provide development assistance rather than perpetually be dependent on emergency aid, has enabled Ethiopia to build a firm foundation to set itself free from the chain of eternal dependency. This major contribution and the fact that Ethiopia has once again set an example for others in similar situation, is worthy of recognition. The mammoth task to develop the Nile for regional benefit is also unmatched, and needs the support of all Ethiopians.
Furthermore, we need to put on record the fact that whereas the Dergue would have found all members of the Royal Family, and the children of former officials who had served under Emperor Haile-Selassie, guilty for having been born, and sent them all directly to prison, the Government of Prime Minister Meles allowed them to return home, to live there undisturbed, and to take part in national development. As this kind of consideration is relatively rare in countries previously ruled by Monarchs, it is worthy of recognition and deep appreciation.
In conclusion, we recognize that no human being, and certainly no form of Government, can be said to be totally good or totally bad. Whether it is one or the other has to be judged in the context of the period in which one lived, the material and human resources which were accessible at that time, and the relative weight of the positive and negative contributions which were made.
We are cognizant that there were controversial issues which had transpired while Prime Minister Meles was in power, but this is not the time for such a debate. At this juncture, we should acknowledge with honesty, and praise him for his outstanding contributions, and take the opportunity to identify where we can give support to ensure that Ethiopia continues on the accelerated path of development. This will enable us to prevent our country from reverting to the stage where the Dergue had dismantled the foundation which had previously been built, which almost led to the total disintegration of Ethiopia. In due course, we will have ample time for civilized and open dialogue in the interest of our nation.
Today, we salute the spirit of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi for his outstanding contribution for the development of Ethiopia. We express our deep respect for his stand to always put the interest of our country first. We admire his intellectual honesty, and his exemplary maturity which had compelled him to acknowledge the contributions made by Emperor Haile-Selassie and Colonel Mengistu Haile-Mariam to support African Independence and Unity, despite their political differences. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has amply demonstrated that when we acknowledge and build on the positive achievements of former leaders, we succeed in expanding, and accelerating the development of our nation.
Since we still have major challenges ahead such as strengthening our democracy, and upholding Human Rights throughout our country, we pray for God’s guidance to help us find a way to manage our differences in a spirit of tolerance and reconciliation so that we may work for our common good.
Long live Ethiopia, our beloved country!
On The Passing Of Our Patriarch His Holiness Abune Paulos, Fifth Patriarch and Catholicos of Ethiopia, Ichege of the See of St. Tekle Haymanot, Archbishop of Axum and serving President of the World Council of Churches
We would like to express our condolences on the sudden and unexpected passing of our father, scholar, internationalist and tireless advocate for peace, Patriarch Abune Paulos.
As the spiritual guide of Ethiopia’s 40 million Orthodox Christians, The Patriarch suffered much spiritual and personal hardship and abuse during the 1970s in the jails of Colonel Mengistu Haile-Mariam and the Derg Communist Junta. Having watched the Church he was devoted to being persecuted and the then Patriarch Abune Tewflos being executed, the Patriarch was released from prison in 1983. There followed a period of exile and continuing study in the United States until his election as Patriarch in 1992-the year following the overthrow of the Communist government.
Born in Adwa, Tigray Province, Patriarch Abune Paulos was distinguished as the first member of his ethnic group to become Church Patriarch. Abune Paulos was only the fifth Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church since Emperor Haile-Selassie secured the Church’s independence in 1959 from the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt.
Having personally presided over the re-interment of Emperor Haile-Selassie in 2000 at Addis Ababa and the subsequent burial of other members of the royal family at the Holy Trinity Church, Abune Paulos retained an unabashed and life-long fondness for and attachment to the venerable history of the Ethiopian Empire, its people and its royal family.
The Patriarch’s personal valor, international regard and tireless spiritual diplomacy resulted in his recovering substantial church properties and assets seized previously by Ethiopia’s communist regime.
These scarce and valuable resources were immediately deployed in the service of the Ethiopian people.
The Abune was also a tireless advocate for the preservation of Ethiopia’s spiritual and cultural heritages.
Abune Paulos was also the first Church leader to bravely challenge deep seated social and cultural taboos to draw awareness to our nation’s devastating HIV-AIDS rates-and the immediate and critical need for treatment and preventive education.
Through trying and at times controversial circumstances the Patriarch’s spiritual leadership and prodigious efforts on behalf of peace, pragmatic internationalism and humanitarian leadership have shepherded Our ancient and venerable Church into the 21st century.
“No one loves Africa more than Africans,” said Abune Paulos, and only an “African solution” will solve African problems-two of the Patriarch’s more succinctly profound dicta that Ethiopians and Africans alike should cherish and always remember.
With the passing of Our venerable spiritual leader, we must now humbly seek the divine guidance of Almighty God to secure a wise and steady hand for our precious Church and people.
God bless the Ethiopian people and the Church. The Abune’s unique blend of spirituality, pragmatism, personal humanity, scholarship and international perspective will long be remembered and surely missed.
March 17, 2012
His Holiness Pope Shenouda III
It is with deep sadness we mourn the passing of a great Christian Leader, His Holiness Pope Shenouda III. His Holiness was a humble servant of the Coptic Church, a man of deep faith, firm principles and real love of his fellow man.
His Holiness's connection to Ethiopia and the Imperial Family blossomed when he first visited Ethiopia as Pope in 1971 for the enthronement of Patriarch Abune Theophilos. The execution of Empeor Haile-Selassie, Defender of the Faith and Abune Theophilos Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church following the coming of the Derg regime in 1974 left a deep scar on His Holiness who was not to return to Ethiopia until 2008. Throughout the darkest days of the Derg rule, His Holiness faithfully visited the Imperial Family in exile.
On his first return to Ethiopia in 2008, when he received a massive welcome Pope Shenouda traveled directly from the airport to the Holy Trinity Church where he proceeded to place wreathes on the tombs of Emperor Haile-Selassie and Empress Menen, and proceeded with prayers for the repose of their souls.
Pope Shenouda was a champion of Non-Violence and a great believer in facilitating dialogue between religions.
We pray that may the Almighty rest the soul of His Holiness in peace and give strength to the people of Egypt, the Coptic Orthodox Church and all those who love the Pope throughout the world.
Let us remain true to our history
A statement by His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, on the subject of the opening of the new African Union Headquarters.
The recent inauguration of the new African Union building in Addis Ababa is one step forward in fulfilling the prophetic words of Emperor Haile-Selassie I, when he said that Africa was looking towards the future, confident in her destiny to achieve unity of pur-pose.
It was Emperor Haile-Selassie who stated in his address to the Conference of Independ-ent African States in Ghana in 1958: “Ethiopia looks with pride to the role which she has played in the history of the development of Africa and looks forward with confidence to the future of this great continent.”
While it is befitting to honor Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, a proponent of Pan-Africanism and Ghana’s first President, with a statue in the forecourt of the new African Union edifice, other African giants, such as Emperor Haile-Selassie and Nelson Mandela, will have to wait to have their legacies honored, through additional statues and monuments.
The Emperor’s contributions to the establishment of the forerunner of the African Union (AU), the Organization of African Unity (OAU), cannot be forgotten. History has rightfully recorded that it was Ethiopia’s and the Emperor’s tireless contributions which established the OAU with its headquarters in Addis Ababa in 1963.
In 2002, when African leaders met in South Africa to charter the newborn AU out of the OAU, Ethiopia again had to defend its legacy of service to the Continent to maintain the Headquarters of the newly found Organization in Addis Ababa. The very fact that the African nations voted to keep the headquarters of the Organization in Addis Ababa is a testament to the accomplishment and vision of our Nation and that of the Emperor.
Emperor Haile-Selassie inspired African leaders of his generation to forge a common sense of unity. Today’s new buildings housing the AU, a generous gift by the Government and People of the People’s Republic of China, will hopefully translate the vision of the forefathers of the Organization into greater works of accomplishment by a new generation of leaders for the years ahead.
Let us look forward confidently that the Emperor’s contributions to the Continent will continue to be rightfully recognized and remembered by coming generations of Africans.
There is room at our beautiful new complex for more statues. Let us honor Emperor Haile-Selassie as the great champion of pan-Africanism and as the great inspiration be-hind the OAU, and let us remember Nelson Mandela as a great champion of the OAU’s transition to the African Union.
Africa’s multicultural tradition and the possible interaction with the current Arab trends
HIH Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, Chairman - Crown Council of Ethiopia
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, friends and distinguished guests. It is an honor to be among such noted and informed scholars and intellectuals, here at the venerable Institute of World Politics. I want to especially thank Professor Juliana Pelon of the Institute for her efforts in organizing this event, and also acknowledge, my old friends, John Lenczowski, Ambassador and Margaret Melady — thank you for coming.
This evening’s topic: Africa’s multicultural tradition and its possible interaction with the current Arab trends in the so-called Arab Spring, has proven challenging and in many respects, far too finely drawn. While considering the matter, it has become obvious to me that Africa’s multicultural traditions, when juxtaposed against history and the realpolitik of today, are small — but nonetheless important — component parts of the unique, infinitely complex and substantially unknowable socio-cultural-political-economic dynamic, driving the people and institutions of modern Africa, and of its regional neighbors, towards change. Consequently, and I trust that you will understand, I want to briefly present what I view as primary drivers and relevant history affecting social and political change in Africa and the Arab world. Hopefully later, when considering my comments in perspective, you will draw your own informed inferences as to how this confounding tapestry of history and happenstance is woven together. And then perhaps, if you would be so kind, you can tell me what you have discovered — it will be much appreciated.
Finally, when addressing such obviously motivated and well informed scholars as yourselves, it is my custom to present select thoughts and concepts to stimulate and encourage your questions later in the Q&A period following this talk.
Let me begin with a simile. The historic record of actions toward Africa, undertaken both by Africans and extra-territorial players most prominently, is much like a situation where one has fallen victim to a vicious assault, and the police have arrived after the fact to take a report. While the victim’s account substantially satisfies the concerns of the constabulary, the reality is that the victim’s predicament remains unimproved; that which was done cannot be undone.
It seems to me that the global policy establishments’ disappointing after-the-fact institutional tendency to ascribe linear cause-and-effect relationships in defining the complex historic, social and political reality driving the Arab Spring uprisings is naïve and overly simplistic. In Washington, for example, the US policy establishment holds more fractious tribes than Iraq, each with its own political agenda and media/congressional constituency. How one wonders, can actionable truth ever be discovered in such a contentious interplay?
From a personal perspective, the most cogent and elegant explanation of the general principles fomenting and underlying the current tumult may well be offered by best-selling author and Risk Engineering Professor Nicholas Taleb.
Professor Taleb points out that virtually all major scientific discoveries, historical events, and artistic accomplishments are representative of specific anomalous phenomena that he terms "Black Swans”. According to Taleb, “Black Swans” or “statistical tail-end events” possess the following attributes:
Taleb explains that virtually all complex systems - social, economic and otherwise - that have artificially suppressed volatility tend to become extremely fragile, while at the same time exhibiting no visible risks. “In fact”, says Taleb, “they tend to be too calm and exhibit minimal variability as silent risks accumulate beneath the surface. Although the stated intention of political leaders and economic policymakers is to stabilize the system by inhibiting fluctuations, the result tends to be the opposite. These artificially constrained systems become prone to ‘Black Swans’ -- that is, they become extremely vulnerable to large-scale events that lie far from the statistical norm and were largely unpredictable to a given set of observers.”
“Such environments” he continues, “eventually experience massive blowups, catching everyone off-guard and undoing years of stability or, in some cases, ending up far worse than they were in their initial volatile state. Indeed, the longer it takes for the blowup to occur, the worse the resulting harm in both economic and political systems.”
“What the world is witnessing in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and elsewhere,” Taleb concludes, “is simply what happens when highly constrained systems explode.”
Viewing a contemporary map of African countries shows the borders imposed on the African continent by the European colonizers during German Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck’s Berlin Conference (1884). A map of Africa's tribal or cultural groups, however, reveals much more complexity. European colonists in 1884 were wholly indifferent to existing groups and cultures as they laid down the State borders, and most of these borders still exist today.
A modern map of Nigeria, for instance, neglects the fact that there are over 250 different languages in use in Nigeria today.
Pre-colonial Africa was dominated by tribal religions. Islam subsequently spread into Africa from the northwest, while European colonizers brought Christianity to much of Sub-Saharan Africa. Whereas a process of acculturation occurred in the Islamic areas (Islam completely replaced earlier religions), transculturation occurred in many of the European controlled areas as Christian beliefs blended and combined with existing tribal religions creating different, unique, Christian, or African-Christian, religions.
The colonial boundaries imposed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries have become the State boundaries of today. These artificially created structures, surrounding and concentrating large numbers of dissimilar cultural groups (tribes), have tended to breed and exacerbate inter-group tensions and rivalries, and larger inter-country conflicts — Sierra Leone, Sudan, Angola, Dem. Rep. of the Congo, and Rwanda being contemporary examples of this dynamic.
Considerations for Africa’s rapidly evolving future must now include a new element that we have not seen before on the continent: a younger, globally aware generation, with increasing social expectations and demands, and a willingness to militantly take matters forcefully into their own hands. The recent events of the revolutions of the so-called Arab Spring graphically demonstrated the inspiring and sometimes tragic spectacle of youthful activist willing to suffer grievous injury and even death for their social aspirations. Whether the end result will be good or bad is unknowable at this juncture, however, one can state with confidence that the probability for continuing and increasing social protest and unrest in 21st century Africa (and within the region) is substantial.
In considering contemporary multiculturalism and the nascent democratic institutions which are presently being forged in the crucible of revolution, it is critical to remember that one shoe does not fit all — never has, never will. In every state and region, the introduction of Democratic institutions will inevitably produce varied and unexpected outcomes. Further, there always exists the possibility of “Democratic Paradox” — when democratic institutions and traditions choose to freely embrace something less than, or other than, democracy. While ideally, the hopefully democratic institutions evolving will encourage and empower recognition of minority rights, cultural pluralism, gender equality, and equality under the law — this has not always been the case. The persistent challenge always remains — even in the developed nations with democratically selected institutions — how to protect the rights of minorities and other marginalized groups, from both democratically imposed “tyrannies of the majority” and the frequently intolerant and authoritarian tendencies of absolutist religious belief.
My wish for Africa and Ethiopia in particular, is a more stable, participative, prosperous and tranquil future. Previously during the Cold War period — Russia and America’s brutal African proxy wars more pointedly — if an African sought to remove himself from the horrors of war, conflict, poverty, etc. there was always the emergency escape-hatch of out-migration to the developed world, or at least, to a less chaotic world. Today, for the people of Africa and others, this option has been severely restricted and effectively no longer exists. Immigrants are frequently no longer welcome.
Paradoxically, the African continent’s revolt against colonial powers provided a centralizing common cause to which all Africans could rally and feel committed. In the Post-Colonial period this boundless font of hope and energy has morphed into a less focused, less cohesive, and energetic phase in a general war against poverty. Yet it is possible perhaps, that the seminal and rapidly unfolding events of the Arab Spring will prove a catalyst for something else.
EXTRA-TERRATORIAL ACTORS: AFRICA “IN PLAY”…
Post-colonial Africans have unwittingly, in many instances, become pawns of extra-territorial players in power games they have neither fully understood, nor benefitted from. Proxy wars and cross-border conflicts abound — Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Somaliland, Sudan and Egypt among some of the more prominent.
We Africans have unfortunately seen this scenario before — various nation states increasingly viewing our continent as an area of major geopolitical importance and contention. By the end of the decade, for example, sub-Saharan Africa is likely to become as important a source of U.S. energy imports as the Middle East. China, India, Europe, and others are aware of this and are all competing with each other and the United States for access to Africa’s abundant oil, natural gas, and other natural resources. The world’s major powers are also becoming more active in seeking out investments, winning commercial contracts and markets, and building political support on the continent.
European countries and Brazil are stepping up their aid and investments as well.
Due to China’s pragmatically inspired and highly effective non-interventionist approach on African issues of governance, human rights, and economic policy, China’s activities on the continent are increasingly characterized by Washington as being a particularly important challenge to U.S. interests and values. For example, China has combined its large investment in Sudan’s oil industry with protection of the government of Sudan from UN sanctions for the ongoing attacks in Darfur.
From Washington’s perspective, Africa has also assumed crucial strategic importance in the war on terrorism. Terrorist cells struck U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. More recently, terrorist organizations are said to have established footholds in West Africa’s Sahel region. Africans, we are told, have also been recruited for terrorism in Iraq and implicated in the Subway bombings in London.
Another reason for Africa’s increasing global importance is its being the epicenter of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which is rapidly reaching the stage where it not only produces a steadily rising death toll but could also undermine social and political stability, as well as the prospects for economic progress on the continent. What the United States (and others) learns from public health and epidemiological investigations in Africa will be critical to whether it is possible to stem this nascent pandemic from spreading across Asia and into Russia.
THE ARAB SPRING
US: While the end result of the dramatic political transitions presently underway in the Middle East and Africa remains unclear, it is crucial to understand that these events have not occurred in a vacuum, and contrary to the belief of many, history did not begin yesterday. All these occurrences, to one degree or another, are the result (intended or otherwise) of the convergent and cumulative manipulations of myriad domestic and extra-regional players, in frequently brutal pursuit of their individually perceived regional (and personal) interests.
In Tunisia, the most recent developments could provide a catalyst for robustly proliferating democracies across the Maghreb, Africa, and indeed, the entire Arab world, or it could deteriorate into a situation like that of Algeria in the early 1990s, where democratisation was abruptly halted, and the country plunged into a murderous civil war, when it became evident that a democratically elected Islamist government might legitimately come to power.
Despite Washington’s obvious prior knowledge — at least in 2009 — of Tunisia’s blatant human rights violations, abuse of power and the existence of a police state, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress June 30 (2010) of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Tunisia for the refurbishment of 12 SH-60F Multi-Mission Utility Helicopters, being provided as Excess Defense Articles, and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $282 million.
In justification, the DSCA request offered (in part) the following comment:
“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that has been and continues to be an important force for economic and military progress in North Africa.”
In mid-April, The New York Times reported, “even as the United States poured billions of dollars into foreign military programs and anti-terrorism campaigns, a small core of government-financed organizations” channeled money to democratic movements within these countries. The Times quotes Stephen McInerney of the Project on Middle East Democracy explaining, “We didn’t fund them to start protests, but we did help support their development of skills and networking.”
Clearly, the recent onset of anti-government demonstrations against US client states, across Africa and the Middle East, has brought the blatant hypocrisy of U.S. foreign policy into uncomplimentary and certainly undesired focus and Washington’s foreign policy inconsistencies, in Africa and the Middle East most prominently, stand exposed.
Fundamentally, while various powerful elements of U.S. influence have been attempting to promote a wave of democratic revolutions in the regions, at the same time, equally powerful elements of Washington policy have worked to maintain regional status quo by providing substantial support for anti-democratic, albeit politically pliable, autocrats. As a Top Secret National Security Council (NSC) briefing put it in 1954, “the Near East is of great strategic, political, and economic importance,” as it “contains the greatest petroleum resources in the world” as well as “essential locations for strategic military bases in any world conflict.”
Continued and in some cases increased foreign assistance following the September 11th attacks had the benefit of giving “the United States leverage on key foreign policy issues, since it can make assistance contingent on cooperation,” notes a recent RAND report. But these assistance programs “can have a negative effect on democratic development by strengthening a state’s capacity for repression,” and as one study concluded “the more foreign police aid given [to repressive states], the more brutal and less democratic the police institutions and their governments become.”
With the arguable exception of Portugal, France stands unique in modern political annals in the powerful and seemingly inseparable synergy between itself and its former African empire. When it realized that decolonization had become inevitable, Paris implemented a masterpiece of political genius: undertaking all that was necessary to leave Africa and doing so in such a way as to effectively retain their authority and access to their former colonies.
For years, academics and state policy establishments assumed that France’s special relationship with Africa had become an anachronism, one that would eventually wither and die a natural death. But this has not proved to be the case as it persists today in Gabon and Chad, Niger, Cameroon, and Côte d’Ivoire, for example.
Historically, French leaders have maintained a policy of nourishing a profound emotional complicity in their African counterparts. In his memoirs, de Gaulle's advisor Foccart insisted upon the importance of maintaining deeply personal relationships with African presidents, far beyond what protocol required. Such a philosophy rests upon a fundamentally racist and politically-convenient notion that Africans, "joyous by nature," as Chirac once said, “are simply big children”. It is this presumed immaturity that empowers France to act in a way so undemocratic in Africa that its practices would be unimaginable back home in democratic France.
Gen. Charles de Gaulle's trusted advisor, Jacques Foccart, was the architect of France’s neocolonial ruse. His methods were simple: install trusted African politicians, some with French nationality, as the heads of these 14 new states and maintain a firm, French grasp on their natural resources. It was a system ripe for mischief that inevitably institutionalized corruption and instability — and could hardly persist without massive, abuses of human rights.
With 60,000 troops remaining on the African continent, the French Army could rush to the aid of their friends at a moment's notice — and had already agreed to do so as part of defense agreements in which certain key clauses remained secret from the government. DGSE (Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure), The French secret service, was also positioned, to undertake, as required, the removal of the Paris-favoured dictators' most formidable political rivals. Consequently, the list of French Africa’s opposition figures that are believed to have perished in this way is scandalously long.
The greatest criticism of France’s economic neo-colonialism wasn’t that it existed in the first place, but that it has so robustly survived the Cold War. To be fair, during this period when both Moscow and Washington were behaving ever increasingly violent in their respective spheres of influence, Paris's meddling in Africa seemed relatively benign. And today, it would be unimaginable to see the British prime minister interfering in the succession of the Ghanaian or Kenyan heads of state. Yet French President Sarkozy did precisely this last year with an early endorsement for Ali Bongo who subsequently succeeded his deceased father in Gabon's disputed presidential election. In fairness to Sarkozy, his endorsement had substantial historic French precedent as Bongo senior — the world’s longest reigning autocrat after Castro, and recipient of substantial US foreign aid during the Bush administration — was himself installed by de Gaulle back in 1967; and Jacques Chirac had similarly backed the son of Togo's Gen. Gnassingbé Eyadéma in 2005.
While doggedly focused on supplying 40 percent of France's uranium needs, Niger may be the world's second-largest uranium producer, but it remains one of the poorest countries on the planet. In 2005, Niger ranked last out of 177 countries on the UN Development Program's Human Development Index. Sixty-three percent of Niger's population lives on less than a dollar a day; and the per capita gross domestic product (GDP) was $280 in 2005. The French secret service was widely rumored to have ousted the country's first president, Hamani Diori, in 1974 after he stated publicly that his country benefited not one bit from the mineral's extraction. Niger's current instability — three coups since 1996 and an ongoing internal rebellion — is directly linked to the French national imperative of maintaining control of its strategic resource.
FRANCE AND THE ARAB SPRING
Sarkozy's newfound concern for Libyan democracy contrasts sharply from only three years ago, when he welcomed Gaddafi with open arms during a five-day state visit to France. On that occasion in December 2007, Sarkozy ridiculed critics of Gaddafi's visit by saying: “If we don't welcome countries that are starting to take the path of respectability, what can we say to those that leave that path?" Meanwhile, Sarkozy's chief diplomatic advisor, Jean-David Levitte, insisted that Libya had a "right to redemption."
Sarkozy has expressed little support for the recent uprisings in the Arab world, which deposed long-time friends of Paris, including Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
In the case of Tunisia, Sarkozy reluctantly fired his loyal foreign minister, Michèle Alliot-Marie, after it publicly emerged that during the height of the recent political upheaval in Tunisia, she borrowed a private jet from a Tunisian businessman linked to Ben Ali in order to polish her suntan in the Tunisian seaside resort town of Tabarka. According to a related report in the French newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné, Alliot-Marie also offered Ben Ali the "know how" of France's security forces to help him quash the fighting in Tunisia, just three days before he was removed from office.
In Egypt, it has also emerged that French Prime Minister François Fillon and his family had accepted a free holiday from Mubarak, complete with a private plane and Nile River boat, only weeks before the Egyptian president was removed from office.
Viewing reliable open-source facts from the periphery suggests that Sarkozy's about-face vis-à-vis Libya derives from the following:
With only thirteen months remaining before the first round of the 2012 presidential election, Sarkozy’s popularity is at record lows. Polls show that he is the least popular president since the founding of the Fifth Republic in 1958. Of course, Sarkozy's main rival is not Gaddafi, but rather Marine Le Pen, the popular new leader of the far-right National Front party in France. A recent opinion poll published by Le Parisien newspaper on March 8 has Le Pen, who took over from her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in January, winning the first round of next year's French presidential election.
In the past three months, Le Pen has single-handedly catapulted the twin issues of Muslim immigration and French national identity to the top of the French political agenda. In recent weeks, Le Pen has established a pervasive presence on French television promoting the threat to France and Europe of a wave of immigrants from Libya.
Gaddafi had earlier stated that Europe faces an “invasion” by an army of African immigrants: "You will have immigration. Thousands of people from Libya will invade Europe. There will be no-one to stop them any more," he warned on March 6 in an interview with the French newspaper Journal du Dimanche.
During an earlier visit to Italy in August 2010, Gaddafi sought €5 billion a year from the European Union to help stop illegal immigration which "threatens to turn Europe black." At the time, Gaddafi asked: "What will be the reaction of the white Christian Europeans to this mass of hungry, uneducated Africans? We don't know if Europe will remain an advanced and cohesive continent or if it will be destroyed by this barbarian invasion. We have to imagine that this could happen, but before it does we need to work together."
Consequently, challenged by Le Pen's rising popularity, Sarkozy is now using the Libya intervention both to play the role of the respected statesman on the international stage and to address French/European fears over mass immigration from North Africa.
In Egypt, we all witnessed on the evening television news, during the dramatic events leading up to the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak, that Tahrir Square was filled with chants and signs pleading with the U.S. to stop funding Mubarak’s repressive government. The throngs of largely peaceful Egyptian protestors methodically collected rubber bullets, shotgun shells, and teargas canisters with the names of American military contractors prominently emblazoned on them, and gave them to the news agencies to broadcast to the world. Indeed, the Mubarak regime has been variously reported to have received at least $60 billions in U.S. aid during his rule.
An April 14, 2011 New York Times report further illustrates Washington’s profound policy contradictions: “The money spent on these programs [democracy building] was minute compared with efforts led by the Pentagon. But as American officials and others look back at the uprisings of the Arab Spring, they are seeing that the United States’ democracy-building campaigns played a bigger role in fomenting protests than was previously known, with key leaders of the movements having been trained by the Americans in campaigning, organizing through new media tools and monitoring elections.
Such blatant hypocrisies in Washington’s regional foreign policy have typically resided in the shadows when it comes to the national debate. But the democratic fervor and uprisings against U.S.-backed dictatorships in recent months makes such counterproductive mainstay of American foreign policy difficult for Washington to hide. The crackdowns many of these regimes have engaged in to suppress the popular revolts exposes the U.S. as cynically complicit — working both sides of the fence, so to speak — in that suppression. Increasingly, Muslims and others in the Arab world have been crying hypocrite. “No system of government,” Obama said in his speech in Cairo in June 2009, “can or should be imposed upon one nation by another.”
TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIAL MEDIA
As commentators have tried to imagine the nature of the Arab uprisings, they have attempted to cast them as many things: as an Arab version of the eastern European revolutions of 1989 or something akin to the Iranian revolution which toppled the Shah in 1979. Most often, though, they have tried to conceive them through the media that informed them — as the result of WikiLeaks, as "Twitter revolutions" or inspired by Facebook.
Social media has played a role, but it should not be overstated. Precisely how we communicate in such moments of historic crisis and transformation is important. The medium that carries the message shapes and defines as well as the message itself. The instantaneous nature of how social media communicate self-broadcast ideas, unlimited by publication deadlines, fawning and otherwise compromised editorial censors and broadcast news slots, explains in part the speed at which these revolutions have developed, their viral and fractal-like spread across a region. It explains, too, the typical loose and non-hierarchical organisation of the protest movements that have been unconsciously modeled on the decentralized and constantly evolving structure of the web itself.
In Egypt, three months before Mohammed Bouazizi immolated himself in Sidi Bouzid, there was a similar case in Monastir. But few knew of it because it was not filmed. What made the clear difference in the Bouazizi affair was that the images of Bouazizi were put on Facebook.
In Egypt, details of demonstrations were circulated by both Facebook and Twitter and the activists' 12-page guide to confronting the regime was distributed by email. The Mubarak regime — like Ben Ali's before it — pulled the plug on the country's internet services and 3G network. Creatively, the social media was quickly evolved to a time-tested, “analog” Twitter equivalent — handheld signs held aloft at demonstrations telling where the people should gather the next day.
Where social media had a major impact was conveying the news to the outside world; bloggers and Twitter users were able to transmit news bites that would otherwise never have made it to the mainstream news media. Other uses for social media were to transmit information on medical requirements, essential telephone numbers and the satellite frequencies of Al Jazeera — which was and is being continuously jammed.
Libyan activists solicited sympathetic Egyptians to send their cell phone sim cards across the border so they could communicate without being bugged.
THE 21ST CENTURY
Conflict and war equal disruption, equal impoverishment, equal population flight and out migration…
Merely fifty-odd years ago the decolonization of Africa began and arguably, a dystopian view for the next half-century might witness the economic re-colonialization of the continent. Though this time, the new imperialism will be more subtle, brutally efficient and markedly less benign.
Great powers are no longer interested in administering wild places, still less in settling them — only exploiting them. African gangster governments sponsored by self-interested Western or Asian powers could easily become the central theme in 21st-century African history. But it is when China, then America, then India and perhaps even Russia follow, that an all-out scramble for Africa will truly be resumed.
Most recently, Washington has been unlucky in the pilot projects it has chosen. Iraq and Afghanistan, for instance, have proven among the least amenable places to pick for biddable states. But there is more than the unfolding and as yet unseen consequences precipitated by these Asian adventures, as well as France and America's earlier calamities in Vietnam that may have temporarily distracted Western minds from thinking about the existing opportunities for economic-colonialism in sub-Saharan Africa.
It has been the accepted central myth that black liberation movements were formidable. They were not. They were no Vietcong or Algerian FLN. The true lesson from 20th-century sub-Saharan Africa is not how irresistible were the forces faced by European imperialism, but how easily, and for how long, African liberation forces were resisted.
Why then did the great (and lesser) powers of the day turn their backs on empire in Africa in the 20th century, and why in the 21st might their successors return to an interest in acquiring political control?
European imperial powers eventually lost the will rather than the capacity to subjugate and govern overseas populations and resources. A world in which all could buy and sell at will on the global market was arriving; it is a world, however, that is now feeling the pinch in the natural resources which Africa possesses in abundance. Meanwhile, the continent in many places is run by outfits that resemble gangs rather than governments. At their most dysfunctional (as in the Congo) this disintegration seriously impedes the extraction of resources, because security, communications and infrastructure are subject to frequent malfunction and failure.
But a solution beckons: buy your own gang. You hardly need visit and are certainly not required to administer the gang's territory. You simply give it support, munitions, bribes and protection to keep the roads and airports open; and in turn, it pays you with access to resources. You dress-up your arrangement for the edification of your customers, constituents and the global community by spinning the arrangement as “helping Africans to help themselves” or “security assistance”.
Djibouti in Africa's far northeast, in and near the Horn of Africa, may well represent the 21st century’s African neo-colonial prototype. This diminutive albeit strategically located country exists in a category of its own by remaining fundamentally subordinate to both the military elements of its old colonial master France and more recently, Washington’s Djibouti based Combined Joint Task Force — Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). Washington has maintained its military base in Djibouti, Camp Lemonnier, since 2003, and established a naval surveillance facility in the Seychelles.
By their blatant snubbing, marginalizing and summary dismissal of African AU leaders’ efforts on their own continent to negotiate a Libyan cease-fire (Gadhafi’s substantial and well known AU patronage notwithstanding) Washington and the general media have once again revealed that Chirac’s colonial “paternalism” is alive and well in Western policy circles.
The deal negotiated earlier this month (April) by the African Union (AU) and accepted by Ghaddafi proposed an immediate ceasefire, the unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid, protection of foreign nationals, a dialogue between the government and rebels on a political settlement, suspension of NATO air strikes and the organisation of humanitarian relief efforts. This would create the basis for talks aimed at setting up “an inclusive transition period” to adopt and implement “political reforms necessary for the elimination of the causes of the current crisis” recognising “the aspirations of the Libyan people for democracy, political reform, justice, peace and security, as well as social...development”.
The AU delegation was headed by South African President Jacob Zuma and included presidents Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania, Amadou Toumani Toure of Mali, Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo-Brazzaville and Ugandan Foreign Minister Henry Oryem Okello.
In concluding, Africa’s quest for the universal yearning for freedom must transcend the continent’s pre-modern loyalties to sects, tribes and ethnicities. The evolving challenge is to build inclusive and enabling democratic institutions where people’s voices count. Leaders and Foreign Powers can no longer be allowed to promote and exploit divisions along sectarian, tribal or regional lines that can lead to anarchy and civil war. The cynical time-proven colonial game of divide-and-conquer can no longer be tolerated – it is no longer acceptable. Africa has experienced modern ideologies from nationalism to communism all in the end benefitting the usually predatory interests of extraterritorial players. For Africa to progress economically, it is certain that we must progress beyond being simple commodity and raw materials providers and develop a manufacturing/processing economy producing innovative, high value finished products for domestic consumption and export alike.
Throughout most of modern history, the African experience has existed within the context of fleeting historic experiments, often serving only the parochial and extra-territorial interests of Colonial and Cold War protagonists.
For the present, we are witnessing brute force being used to project, extend and consolidate power, but history has shown us that states cannot be sustained through violence in the long term. The determination and willingness to subordinate one’s personal well-being and concerns to the general welfare of the people has always been the hallmark of an enlightened leader and ultimately, Africa’s future will rise or fall on the moral quality and character of its leaders.
My grandfather, the Emperor Haile-Selassie, understood and these precepts of morality and character, and in the end, paid the supreme price for them. While well-known to historians, it is not so generally know to the public that prior to voluntarily acceding to the coup leaders’ demand for his abdication, the Emperor’s elite personal bodyguards implored Him to allow them to destroy those civilian and military elements agitating against Him – a request that was widely conceded as being handily within the military capabilities of the Emperor’s guard. Yet my Grandfather, a moral and principled visionary, refused to slaughter his own people and condemn himself forever to the “wrong side of history”, choosing instead to step-down peacefully, voluntarily and gracefully into history from His venerable and unique station as The Last Christian Emperor.
Crown Council Mourns the Passing of a True Patriot, H.M. Sultan, Bitwoded Ali Mirah
The Crown Council noted with great sadness the passing in Ethiopia on April 24th, 2011 of one of our Nation’s great spiritual leader, H.M. Sultan Bitwoded Ali Mirah.
His Majesty was a firm believer in Ethiopian Unity and worked tirelessly for the welfare of the people of Afar.
During the darkest days of communist rule in our country, the Sultan was at the forefront in the battle to rid Ethiopia of its brutal regime.
The Crown Council wished to extend its condolences to the family of the Sultan and to the wider Afar Community in Ethiopia and around the world.
45th Anniversary of His Majesty's visit to Jamaica
HIH Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, Chairman - Crown Council of Ethiopia
The Haile-Selassie School
Kingston - On behalf the Ethiopian Crown Council, I would like to convey my best wishes to all of you at the Haile Selassie High School, on this the 45th Anniversary of my Grandfather's visit to your special Island. This I know only to well was a proud moment in Jamaica's History.
His Imperial Majesty spoke about the special link between Ethiopians and Jamaicans during the course of his visit, and I too have observed this myself, when I visited your proud nation in May, 2008.
One of my fondest memories of my visit to Jamaica that year was my visit to this school, which my Grandfather proudly founded 45 years ago. I was particularly touched by the energy and enthusiasm of many of the hard-working students I met, who despite any adversity they face still strive to achieve excellence in their academics and in athletics.
My Grandfather always emphasized the importance of education in the development of a people and a nation. This is why in his infinite wisdom he bequeathed as a gift to Jamaica this educational institution. In this way you are all part of the vision that he had for a better tomorrow, for a better Jamaica, and for a better World. Please keep working towards that goal and that vision. Remember education is the tool that can help you to actualize your potential, as well as the potential of your young Nation, Jamaica.
I am very pleased that you have seen it fit to observe the anniversary of my Grandfather’s visit to your proud nation as Founder’s Day. And I am particularly pleased that the school has launched an exhibit in honour of my Grandfather. If this exhibit can serve to remind the people of Jamaica, if even in a small way, of the unique legacy of that the school has in that part of the world, it would make me very happy.
As I have done in the past, I wish to convey my best wishes to all the staff and students at Haile Selassie High, who I know are doing an outstanding job, in the most difficult of circumstances.
My Warm wishes also must go out to the members of the Rastafari community and the wider community who have committed themselves to the support of this school, which is after all one of the key legacies that His Imperial Majesty left for Jamaica.
Ethiopia and Pan-Africanism: Dynamics and Implications
UC Washington Berkeley Center, 1608 Rhode Island Avenue NW, Washington DC 20036
Good evening ladies and gentlemen. It is a privilege to be here this evening with you students and guests, in The UC Washington Berkeley Center, and I want to thank Dr. Demessie in particular for her kind invitation and efforts on both your and my behalf in organizing this event. It is indeed heartwarming to see so many friendly and intelligent individuals with an apparent interest and curiosity concerning Ethiopia, Africa and the serious subject of geopolitics.
My preference in speaking on African matters to such obviously motivated and well informed scholars, is to lightly (and briefly) present a few relevant thoughts and concepts to stimulate and encourage your questions in the Q&A period following my talk -- which is my favorite part of the evening as it allows me to interact more directly and personally with you.
In brief, I will present some very general thoughts and history of Ethiopia, Ethiopia’s Solomonic Dynasty, Pan-Africanism, its evolution, its impact to date and future possibilities. But first, as promised to Dr. Demessie, a fellow Ethiopian, I will begin with a general overview of the nation of Ethiopia, its unique history and some of the consequences of that unique history.
ETHIOPIA AND ITS HISTORY
With a current population of around 85 millions, Ethiopia is the 14th largest country (population-wise) in the world and second largest on the African continent.
The headwaters of the Blue Nile begin in Ethiopia’s Lake Tana, and Our country provides fully 85% of the Nile river’s total water supply.
Within the global scientific communities, many consider Ethiopia to be the oldest human inhabited area on the planet. Genetic analyses, migration studies and recent artifactual discoveries lend increasing weight to this thesis. For example, Lucy, the world’s second oldest, 3.2 millions year old, best-preserved and complete Australopithecine fossil was discovered in and named for the Awash Valley of Ethiopia’s Afar region. Indeed, Lucy’s species name Australopithecus afarensis means southern ape of Afar.
As a continuously existing nation-state, Ethiopia traces an unbroken history back more than 3,000 years to the biblical Age of Kings. Indeed, the Solomonic Dynasty, my family, is so named because it traces its lineage back more than 900 years before Christ to the union of King Solomon of Israel – one of Judaism’s three venerable Messiahs - and Queen Makeda of Sabae, known to the western world and various others as The Queen of Sheba. With a history stretching back nearly three-millennia, Ethiopia is the oldest independent country in Africa and the world’s longest lived continuous autonomous nation.
With the exception of a short-lived five-year occupation by the Italian fascists during World War II (1936-1941), Ethiopia stands alone among all the nations of Africa in successfully defending against all attempts at external domination or rule.
In recognition of Ethiopia’s historically unique defense against colonization, subjugation and oppression, the three traditional symbolic colors of the Ethiopian monarchy reflected in our nation’s flag – green (top) yellow (middle) red (bottom) - have become powerful iconic symbols for African liberation and independence. In fact, Ethiopia’s colors – in recognition of its ancient and venerable history - have been so often adopted in the flags and symbology of emergent and newly independent African States, and among adherents of the Rastafari faith, they are now generically and universally referred to as the ‘Pan-African’ colors. These iconic symbols of contemporary Pan-African solidarity, freedom and self-rule constitute an enduring tribute to the unique history and influence of Ethiopia on the African continent and the world.
While the European aristocracy most commonly rely on the 185 years old Burke’s peerage publication to establish their ancestral provenance, Ethiopians can refer to the Old Testament for the peerage of Ethiopia’s Solomonic line. There are, for example, a number of references in the Old Testament to Ethiopia, including the story of King Solomon and Queen Makeda (more commonly know as the Queen of Sheba) in the First Book of Kings. (1 Kings 10:1-13 [Revised Standard Version] (see also 2 Chronicles 9:1-12)
A full accounting of the union of Queen Makeda and Solomon, and the life of their son, Menelik, is given in the Kebra Negast, the most revered account of Ethiopia’s Solomonic dynasty, which in written form dates back to at least the 14th century. In fact, Ethiopian tradition traces the origins of the dynasty to a king called Ori, who lived about 4470 BC. While the reality of such a vastly remote provenance must be considered in semi-mythic terms, it remains certain that Ethiopia, also known as the Kingdom of Kush, was already ancient by the time of David and Solomon’s rule in Jerusalem.
The Kebra Negast (literally, "The Glory of the Kings") also relates the story of how the Ark of the Covenant came to be in Ethiopia, where many believe that it still resides in the church of St. Mary of Zion in Axum. The symbolism of the Ark is particularly potent in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Every church in Ethiopia must contain a replica of the Ark of the Covenant before it can be consecrated. One of the most important festivals on the calendar of the Ethiopian Church is that of Timkat, during which the Ark (or a replica) is wrapped in a shroud and carried in a great procession.
King Solomon’s mines, Ethiopia’s legendary gold mines of “Ophir” were thought to be the source of the vast quantities of gold used by King Solomon to build his great temple. The quest for King Solomon’s mines has been the inspiration for many romantic novels set in Africa. The existence and location of the lost mines have been widely disputed, but tradition and legend suggest they were located in Nejo, Ethiopia - just south of the course of the Blue Nile.
Ethiopia was already an ancient and politically sophisticated kingdom during the biblical times portrayed in the New Testament. In fact, the Ethiopian "eunuch" (believed by some to be a corruption of a proper name) in the 8th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, returning from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, is the first Ethiopian to be baptized (by the apostle Phillip). We learn that he is the keeper of "all of the treasure" of the Queen of Ethiopia, who is identified as Candace (or, more correctly, kandake, which is actually a regal title and not her name). Thus, the "eunuch" is properly identified as the Queen's bajirond, or treasurer, a position of supreme confidence in the royal household. It is likely that the Queen was told of this strange religious encounter upon her Bajirond's return, and thus the news of the Gospel reached Ethiopia at least a century before the official adoption of Christianity as the religion of the Ethiopian Crown in the 4th century.
Speeding forward to the 19th century, Menelik II, in effect, brought Ethiopia forward some 600 years in its mode of government, from a highly feudalized system of territorial rulers and tribal alliances to a formally centralized monarchy, closely resembling those of 18th-century Europe. Menelik was also the architect of the victory at Adwa (March 1, 1896) against the Italians, then the colonial rulers of Eritrea and Italian Somaliland and would-be colonial masters of Ethiopia. His kinsman and eventual successor, HIM Haile Selassie I, would later endure and save Ethiopia from Italian occupation under Mussolini, and bring the nation forward into the 20th century.
HIM EMPEROR HAILE SELASSIE I
My grandfather, the Emperor Haile Selassie I, King of Kings and Conquering Lion of Judah, was born July 23, 1892, and given the name Tafari and the courtesy title of Lij which was reserved for sons of nobility. Tafari was the son of Ras (Prince) Makonnen, the governor of Harar and an Amhara noble, and Yashimabet, who was of Oromo ancestry. Lij Tafari Makonnen was given a thorough education in Shoan Amharic traditions, but, unusual for that period, he was also educated in western thought, history, and languages with a particular emphasis on the French language. He succeeded to a number of titles and positions of authority, including that of Dejazmatch, roughly the western equivalent of Count (1904), Governor of Selale (1905), Governor of Sidamo province(1908), and in 1916, as a result of the apparent conversion to Islam of Emperor Menelik's designated heir, Lij lyasu, he was acclaimed Supreme Regent and Heir Apparent under Empress Zauditu, and became de facto ruler of Ethiopia, although he would not be crowned as King of Kings until 1930, even though he was earlier crowned Negus (King) of Shoa by Empress Zauditu on September 7, 1928. Upon his accession to the Solomonic Throne, the Emperor adopted the throne name Haile Selassie which in our ancient Ethio-Coptic derived liturgical language of Ge’ez means “Power of the Trinity”.
It was during this period of his regency and his first years as Emperor, that Haile Selassie began the dual processes of modernizing Ethiopia and opening it to the outside world. The obstacles to this were substantial, and included a strong isolationist sentiment among many of the Amhara nobility, who stressed the importance of cultural purity above all else. However, the young Emperor realized that if Ethiopia were to emerge as a full member of the global community and modern world, it must establish contacts and dialogue with other nations. For this reason, he pressed for the membership of Ethiopia in the League of Nations, which was granted in September 1923.
As Emperor, Haile Selassie sought to establish a network of civil servants to implement his course of modernization. Due to the poor state of education in the country and a resultant scarcity of Ethiopians with university degrees or high school diplomas, the Emperor brought in a number of foreign experts as advisors and administrators. These were most often selected from countries, which were unlikely to have colonial ambitions in the region, including Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States. Perhaps the most important figure among these foreign advisors was the American Everett Colson, a financial expert in the employ of the U.S. Treasury Department, who answered the Emperor's request for a financial expert. It was under his guidance that the Bank of Ethiopia was founded in 1931. John Melly, a British medical missionary, made the first rudimentary attempt at establishing a public health system upon his arrival in 1934.
The first four years of Haile Selassie's reign saw many groundbreaking achievements, including the establishment of the state bank and the improvement of public health and education. Had the progress been allowed to continue uninterrupted, Ethiopia would today be one of the most developed and progressive countries in Africa. Unfortunately, the Fascist dictator Mussolini had already fixed upon Ethiopia as the vehicle by which he to further Italy’s colonial ambitions; and the League of Nations would prove both apathetic and impotent in the face of Italian aggression.
Italy, seeking to avenge the humiliating defeat at the hands of Menelik II at Adwa in 1896, invaded Ethiopia in September 1935, but the "conquest" was more difficult to achieve than anticipated. Meanwhile, delegates at the League of Nations in Geneva debated and argued, with no firm resolutions or action. While they argued, the Ethiopian armies, under the command of Emperor Haile Selassie and the great princes, fought bravely, in spite of overwhelming technological disadvantage. It was not until May 1936 that Addis Ababa was finally taken by the Italians. Although he resisted, the Emperor’s advisors convinced HIM and his family to leave the country. Eventually, the Imperial family reached London on June 3, 1936 with the much appreciated but arguably reluctant aid of the British Royal Navy. The British, still then dedicated to a policy of conciliation with Germany and the Fascists, quietly granted residency to the Imperial Family in Bath, England, hoping to finally bury the "Ethiopian Question."
Despite their technology-based military superiority, the Italians never fully controlled all of Ethiopia's territory. In fact, apart from garrisons in major cities and towns, resistance in much of the countryside continued throughout the period of occupation. Guerilla forces remained firmly in place, particularly in the western Oromo lands, and these forces eventually proved crucial to the return of the Emperor, via Khartoum, in 1941.
Following the Italian aggression of 1935-36, the continuing Fascist holocaust in Ethiopia was soon eclipsed by the expansion of German and Italian militarism and territorial annexations in Europe. In the subsequent Rhineland Crisis of 1936, and the subsequent strengthening of Italo-German relations, Ethiopia’s tragic and unwarranted plight became an issue of minor importance on the world stage. However, on June 30, 1936, much to the chagrin of the British, French, and Italians, who had hoped to see the Ethiopian issue recede into obscurity, Emperor Haile Selassie I addressed the League of Nations in Geneva. His quiet and heartfelt admonition, and prophetic warning, was a turning point in world history. In a tangible way, it marked the beginning of the end of European colonialism, illustrated the futility of appeasement, and began the process of drawing America out of the isolationism, which had been the foundation of American foreign policy since the end of World War I.
The specific issue upon which the Emperor commented was that of the impending removal of oil sanctions against Italy. Of course, the issues were far broader, and held implications for all of the European countries then controlling African colonies. As the Emperor, who appeared small and frail, dressed in a white tunic and black cape, prepared to speak, there was a sudden outburst from the galleries. Members of the Italian press began screaming "Murderer!" at the Emperor, along with "Long live the Duce!" The Emperor stood silently for ten minutes while the riotous demonstration continued. Finally, his frayed temper producing words of great significance, the chairman, Romanian delegate Nicolae Titulescu, shouted, "Throw out the savages."
By contrast, the Emperor began to speak quietly and with great dignity,
"I, Haile Selassie I, emperor of Ethiopia, am here to claim that justice which is due my people."
There was, to many observers, a clear contrast between the Italian aggressor and the Ethiopian victim, between good and evil. In this pivotal speech, the Emperor recalled the feckless guarantees of the League to defend its members against the aggression of another nation. He recounted the Italian hostilities and the barbaric and inhumane treatment of the Ethiopian people at the hands of the Italian military regime. He then continued:
“I assert that the problem submitted to the Assembly today is a much wider one than the removal of sanctions. It is not merely a settlement of Italian aggression…It is the very existence of the League of Nations. It is the confidence that each State is to place in international treaties; it is the value of promises made to small States that their integrity and independence be respected and ensured. It is the principle of the equality of states on the one hand, or, on the other, the inevitability that they will be forced to accept the bonds of vassalship. In a word, it is international morality that is at stake. Apart from the Kingdom of the Lord there is not on this earth any nation, which is superior to any other... It is us today. It will be you tomorrow.”
As soon as the British authorities would permit, HIM Haile Selassie returned to Ethiopia. Unfortunately, this initiative was delayed until Winston Churchill replaced Chamberlain as Prime Minister in May of 1940. Shortly thereafter, the Emperor, then residing in the city of Bath, was informed that he was to leave Britain at once for Khartoum to take command of Ethiopian forces assembling there. He arrived in Egypt on June 12, 1940. Imperial headquarters were established in Sudan, where a series of frustrations and delays were resolved by the arrival of Major Orde Wingate, who, personally committed to the restoration of the Emperor, demanded and received substantial resources from the British government.
The process of Ethiopia’s liberation began in November 1940, with Imperial Ethiopian forces capturing the Sudanese border town of Gallabat. On January 20, 1941, the Emperor re-entered his country, in the company of Maj. Wingate, who commanded a mixed force of Ethiopians and Sudanese, and accompanied by a supply train of camels. At a dry riverbed marking the Sudan-Ethiopia border, HIM Haile Selassie himself symbolically raised the Ethiopian imperial flag.
To the east of the point of entry, the territory was held by Ethiopian Patriots, and the way was clear to make the arduous climb into the highlands of Gojam, where the party reached Debra Marcos, the provincial capital, on April 6, 1941. Here, the Emperor accepted the surrender of the Italian-appointed governor, Ras Hailu. On that same day, Addis Ababa was liberated by African troops advancing from Kenya who had encountered no Italian resistance. One month later, the Emperor himself rode into Addis Ababa.
As a final footnote to this necessarily brief and whirlwind overview of Ethiopian history, Time Magazine on February 4, 2011, recognized the Emperor Haile-Selassie I as one of the Top 25 political icons of all time, and I will share with you Time’s brief accompanying comment:
King of Kings, Conquering Lion of Judah, Elect of God. All were used to describe Haile Selassie, who ruled as Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974 and is venerated still as the Divine incarnate by adherents of the Rastafari faith. That he was ultimately deposed by a military discontented with his regime should not eclipse his contribution to African solidarity. Selassie gave Ethiopia its first constitution and convened the earliest meeting of the Organization of African Unity.
But he is perhaps most widely remembered for the speech he gave before the League of Nations in 1933 as the legions of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini stormed his ill-equipped nation. The League did little to prevent Ethiopia's defeat, but Selassie's appeal, uttered movingly in his native Amharic, would serve as a pillar in the struggles against colonialism and Fascism. With a firm internationalist bent, the last Ethiopian monarch eventually saw his country become a charter member of the United Nations. A TIME "Man of the Year" who claimed descendance from the biblical King Solomon, he ushered the continent he had unified into a distinctly African modernity.
From this Ethio-Centric historic perspective, perhaps you might now begin to see how the weave of this vast political fabric might unfold, as we move on to the subject of contemporary Pan-Africanism and the Pan-African movement.
Pan-Africanism is a political response, a reaction that has evolved into a comprehensive and iconic catch-all coalition for a multitude of Africa and African-related political agendas and movements. Proponents of Pan-Africanism have in general historically shared the common primary goals of political and cultural solidarity, fair and even-handed treatment for Africans globally and the elimination of colonialism and white supremacy from the African continent. Yet on the specific issues of leadership, political orientation, and national as opposed to regional interests, and the precise scope and meaning of Pan-Africanism, there remains much robust and hotly-contested debate – academic and otherwise.
The historic elements driving the initial rapid global development of contemporary Pan-Africanism were the ‘great nations’ historic exploitation of Africans in the slave trade, rampant colonization of the African continent in the late 19th century, and a consequent global political awakening and activism among expatriate Africans (for the most part slaves or descendants of slaves), led primarily by black American intellectuals and activists.
The First Pan-African Congress, convened in London in 1900. It was followed by others in Paris (1919), London and Brussels (1921), London and Lisbon (1923), and New York City (1927). These congresses were organized chiefly by W. E. B. Du Bois, a noted black American editor, historian, sociologist, political activist, intellectual, academic and author, and attended mostly by the North American and West Indian black intelligentsia. These congresses did not initially propose immediate African independence; instead, they favored a gradual political evolution to self-government and interracialism.
By 1944, various African organizations in London had joined to form the Pan-African Federation, which for the first time demanded African autonomy and independence. The Federation convened (1945) in Manchester the Sixth Pan-African Congress, which included such future political figures as Jomo Kenyatta from Kenya, Kwame Nkrumah from the Gold Coast, S. L. Akintola from Nigeria, Wallace Johnson from Sierra Leone, and Ralph Armattoe from Togo. While at the Manchester congress, Nkrumah founded the West African National Secretariat to promote a so-called United States of Africa.
Pan-Africanism as an intergovernmental movement was launched in 1958 with the First Conference of Independent African States in Accra, Ghana. Ghana and Liberia were the only sub-Saharan countries represented; the remainders were Arab and Muslim.
Thereafter, as independence was achieved by more African states, other interpretations of Pan-Africanism emerged, including: the Union of African States (1960), the African States of the Casablanca Charter (1961), the African and Malagasy Union (1961), the Organization of Inter-African and Malagasy States (1962), and the African-Malagasy-Mauritius Common Organization (1964).
At the present time, every African nation, all 57, are members of the United Nations, a stunning tribute to the engagement and political activism spawned on the African continent as a consequence of the Pan-African movement.
In what has come to be recognized as perhaps the most significant seminal expression of Pan-Africanism solidarity, my grandfather, Emperor Hail-Selassie, mediated the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1963 in Addis Ababa, the Imperial city of Ethiopia. The original founding group consisted of 37 independent African nations who agreed to promote unity and development; defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of members; eradicate all forms of colonialism; promote international cooperation; and coordinate members' economic, diplomatic, educational, health, welfare, scientific, and defense policies. The OAU mediated several seemingly intractable border and internal disputes and was instrumental in bringing about majority rule and the end of apartheid in South Africa; which following Emperor Haile-Selassie’s death on August 27, 1975, eventually became in 1994, the 53d nation to be admitted to the organization.
Subsequent efforts to promote even greater African economic, social, and political integration led to the establishment in 2001 of the African Union (AU), a successor organization to the OAU modeled on the European Union. Following a transitional period, the AU finally fully superseded the OAU in 2002.
As an aside, I can tell you that at the invitation of Emperor Haile-Selassie, Nelson Mandela, then a fugitive from South Africa’s white government that was seeking to prosecute him for his political activities, was provided extensive military and political training by the Ethiopian army. In 1962, upon the successful completion of Mr. Mandela’s professional preparations, the colonel in charge of his political and military training, at my grandfather's instruction, presented him with the first weapon of the war against South African apartheid to symbolise his coming struggle - a semi-automatic Makarov pistol.
In any discussion of Pan-Africanism, it would be unthinkable to neglect the charismatic prophet and Jamaican-born black leader Marcus Garvey, who in the 1920s urged all blacks to see themselves in a common struggle, and promoted the concept of one African people. Garvey wanted blacks to view everything through a shared vision and to worship God “through the spectacles of Ethiopia.”
Garvey’s Rastafari religious precepts evolved from a particular experience — slavery and its aftermath in Jamaica — and a precise view of how that suffering might be overcome. In Garvey’s view, worldly hardship was endured through a hope and promise - adapted from the biblical vision of Zion - that someday blacks might return to a land from which they were exiled: Ethiopia.
in looking back, we also cannot neglect the African Americans whose heroic struggle for equality essentially reinstated and preserved the human dignity of all people of African heritage. Again, the contributions of Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King, Rosa Park, and unsung countless members of the Ethiopian and African Diasporas – whose enormous sacrifice of personal time, effort and treasure - have and continue to benefit us all. Indeed, Ethiopia’s own Dr. Melaku Beyan, whose organized resistance to fascist aggression, received substantial support from countless African Americans and the African Diaspora at large.
Later, what the Emperor’s land grant patronage earlier accomplished for Rastafarians, other extraordinary Jamaicans - Bob Marley most prominently - continued in the arena of international mass media and culture - with his inspired and empowering music which palatably disseminated important Rastafari messages of Pan-Africanism to the planet’s youth,
Of course, any discussion of Pan-Africanism must ultimately acknowledge and focus on the heroic struggle for independence that was waged and won by gallant African leaders on the African continent. Thus, we salute the memory of Emperor Menelik II, Emperor Haile-Selassie I, Kwame Nkrumah and Jomo Kenyata - as well as the enormous contributions of Julius Neyrere, and Nelson Mandela, whose foresight and immense personal sacrifice enabled all African countries to enjoy the fading years of the 20th century as free nations.
Despite Africa’s encouraging gains in the last half of the 20th century, the continent, Sub-Saharan Africa in particular, enters the 21st century with many of the world's poorest countries. Average income per capita is lower than at the end of the 1960s, and in general, incomes, assets, and access to essential services are unequally distributed. Worse yet, the region contains an increasing share of the world's absolute poor, who have little power to influence the allocation of either political or economic resources.
With the continent’s rapidly growing population, 5 percent annual real economic growth at minimum is required simply to keep the number of poor from rising; and halving severe poverty by 2015 will require real annual growth of more than 7 percent, along with a more equitable distribution of income. Clearly, major changes are needed if Africans, and their children, are to participate in the promise of the 21st century.
Nevertheless, the new century does offer a window of opportunity to reverse the marginalization of Africa's people and the discouraging record of many African governments in the development agenda. Political participation has increased sharply in the past decade, paving the way for more accountable government, and there is greater consensus on the need to move away from the failed models of the past. Globalization and new technology, especially information technology, have enormous potential for Africa, historically a sparsely populated, isolated region. Though these factors also pose risks, including that of being left further behind, these are far outweighed by the potential benefits.
Making these benefits materialize will require a ``business plan'' conceived and owned by Africans, and supported by donors through coordinated, long¬ term partnerships. African countries differ widely, so there is no universal formula for success. But many countries face similar issues, and can draw on positive African examples of how to address them.
For example, countries that have made the greatest gains in political participation are also those with better economic management. This conforms to a historic global pattern that suggests multiethnic states can grow as fast as homogeneous ones if they sustain participatory political systems. Many African countries still need to develop political models that facilitate consensus building and include marginalized groups.
Here again we see that a comprehensive Pan-African regional approach is fundamental, not only to encourage intra¬-African trade flows but perhaps more important, to provide a wider platform to encourage investment. And African countries must work together to participate in the global negotiations that shape the world trading system.
Reducing aid dependence and strengthening partnerships is vital. Africa is the world's most aid¬-dependent and indebted region in the world. With few exceptions, aid has largely been confined to national boundaries rather than used to stimulate regional and international public goods.
Africa enters the new century in the midst of intense debate on aid, including what could be a watershed change in its relationship with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, as well as important changes in development cooperation with the European Union and an enhanced program of debt relief. New aid relationships are being implemented in a number of countries - relationships that emphasize a holistic, country¬-driven approach supported by donors on the basis of long ¬term partnerships, and with greater beneficiary participation and empowerment over the use of resources.
While the bulk of this change is moving in the right direction, more effort is required. Moreover, it remains to be seen how well partnerships can resolve the tensions between the objectives of recipients and individual donors, and how far the behavior of donors will change to facilitate African ownership of its own development agenda. It also remains to be seen how far partnerships can extend beyond assistance, to include enhanced opening of world markets to African products and services.
In Celebration Of Black History Month
Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie, President of the Crown Council, spoke on Monday, February 28, 2011, at the annual African Heritage and Unity Celebration on the contributions which Ethiopia has made to African self-determination.
The event was organized by Tamrat Medhin, of the Ethiopian American Constituency Foundation.
In his opening remarks, Prince Ermias said that it was invigorating to see a new generation of Ethiopians from the Diaspora participate in celebrating our common heritage. He continued by saying that “it is these young men and women who see beyond borders that are learning of their past in order to charter a better future for the next generation."
He continued: “As events in North Africa and other parts of the world are reeling in a series of challenges of good governance and economic opportunities we need to take note of events around us.” He concluded his remarks, telling the audience that “it is through a greater awareness of our common destiny that we can further galvanize the work of our forefathers in striving for excellence both at the individual and collective level in keeping the vision of United Africa alive both in terms of building democratic institutions and making gains on the economic front. Our unity in diversity is our greatest strength.”
Four other speakers also shared their experiences at the event. Retired Washington D.C. City Councilor Frank Smith spoke about the economy behind enslavement and the interconnectedness of the American Civil War and the African struggle for independence.
Captain Getachew Wolde Mariam spoke about his experiences in the Imperial Ethiopian Bodyguards and the proud and valiant contributions Ethiopia made to global peacekeeping in the Congo and South Korea. Samuel Gebru, President of “Ethiopia without Borders” made an eloquent case for Ethiopia being an icon for all who cherished freedom and that the youth will continue to propagate this proud tradition. The last speakers were young representatives of Israel At Heart Organization, who shared with the audience their experiences as proud Israelis of Ethiopian descent and their continuing desire to learn more about their counterparts in other parts of the Ethiopian Diaspora and their great desire to engage with them in learning and sharing about one another and their common heritage.
The Chairman of the Washington, D.C. City Council, the Honorable Kwame Brown, attended the event, as did representatives of many other organizations and businesses.
Justice and Atonement
A Statement by His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia,
The recent activities by some respected Ethiopian Religious Leaders and others to plea for the pardon and the release of the former Derg (Military Officials) officials came as dismaying and perplexing news. It goes without saying that forgiveness and atonement are the moral duty of all of us, but equally adherence to our laws makes society function impartially and fairly. We each have a duty to be forgiving but not forgetting as we strive to uphold the law.
These former military rulers were found guilty by the Ethiopian Supreme Court in 2007, for the crimes of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. There are also many leaders and functionaries of the same regime who as yet have escaped justice by having fled the country and are presently living in exile in different parts of the world.
To grant forgiveness without the presence of atonement does not help the healing of a brutalized society. It should never be forgotten that it was the same regime which without hesitation or the slightest pretext for justice murdered and maimed thousands of Ethiopians. It was a regime that boasted the immaculate keeping of records of those it killed and tortured. It is the same regime that traumatized a whole generation of Ethiopians, and forced many to flee their beloved country.
Ironically, it was the same government that persecuted all religion, and ordered the murder of the late Defender of the Faith, Emperor Haile-Selassie I and the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Abune Tewfelos. To this day, countless Ethiopian families have not been able to account for their loved ones, who were buried hastily in secret graves throughout their country.
By any account this may be described as one of the darkest chapters of human history, especially that of Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian Courts took impressive measures to bring evidence and wit-nesses in convicting those who are charged. In fact, because of the painstaking work involved to implement the weight of these charges, the same courts were criticized for the amount of time it took to convict those charged. To the victims often it seemed that to this day “justice delayed is justice denied”.
The Judiciary is one of the main pillars of our Constitution. The Law should be paramount as it seeks to protect the rights of the individual and the collective.
The Law has passed judgment and its verdict should be carried out. The famous Holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal once stated that “Justice for crimes against humanity must have no limitation”. The Ethiopian Courts should also pursue those who as yet have not had their day in court. Why to this day the International Courts have not as yet indicted the brutal dictator, Mengistu Haile-Mariam, and his other henchmen, remains a mystery.
It is important to ask also why the former officials who pleaded “not guilty” or have not expressed any remorse in the past twenty years are now asking for forgiveness.
In terms of the law, pardons are a way to correct faults left unaddressed by the judicial process. They offer a second chance to people wrongly convicted or disproportionately punished. This certainly is not the case with the former officials. There should be no reason why these former officials cannot atone for their sins by serving the terms and sentences imposed on them by law, while understanding that their atonement is their part of the healing of forgiveness which the sufferers grant to them.
Thursday, December 09, 2010
The Lion of Judah
The United States Library of Congress – Hebraic Section
Presented by His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia,
Good afternoon friends, scholars, and distinguished guests. It is my great honor and privilege to be with you today, here in the renowned Hebraic section of the United States Library of Congress, African and Middle Eastern division.
To begin, I will share with you an ancient Ethiopian saying…
“…We must study the past and understand the present to charter a better future for us all…”
I must tell you that I am not a theologian, and make no pretense at being so. Indeed, some, perhaps many of you, already possess extensive knowledge of today’s subject – the origins and religious symbolism of the Lion of Judah. Consequently, I will initially introduce the subject and hopefully end with a robust Q&A period, which I anticipate will prove enlightening and entertaining for us all…
It is with great reverence, humility and some concern that I come before you to discuss and explore our topic. My concern springs from the certain and harsh knowledge that wherever the poetry and magic of myth is interpreted as biography, history or science, it is frequently mortally wounded. The living images become only remote facts of a distant time or sky, and it is never difficult to demonstratethat as science and history, mythology is in large part absurd. Thus, when a civilization begins to reinterpret its mythology in this way – as biography, history or science - the life goes out of it, temples become museums or tourist attractions, and the link between the two perspectives is dissolved. In modern times, arguably, such blight has even descended on the Holy Bible and a great part of the Christian movement.
The late and renowned American mythologist, writer and lecturer, Joseph Campbell, has observed that symbols are simply the vehicles of communication; and that they must not be mistaken for the final term, the tenor, of their reference. Thus, no matter how attractive or impressive symbols may seem, they remain but convenient means accommodated to the understanding. Hence the personality or personalities of God -- whether represented in Trinitarian, Dualistic, or Unitarian terms, pictorially or verbally, as documented fact or apocalyptic vision -- no one should attempt to read or interpret as the final thing.
The abiding challenge of the theologian is to keep his symbol translucent, so that it may not block out the very light it is supposed to convey. "For then alone do we know God truly," writes Saint Thomas Aquinas, "when we believe that He is far above all that man can possibly think of God." Thus mistaking a symbolic vehicle for its tenor can lead to spilling not only of valueless ink, but of valuable blood as well.
To bring the images back to life, one must seek, not interesting applications to modern affairs, but illuminating hints from the inspired past. When these are found, vast areas of half-dead iconography disclose again their enduring and permanently human meaning…
In the Jewish tradition, the earliest reference to the Lion of Judah comes from Genesis which is the first book of both the Hebrew Bible (Torah) and the Christian Old Testament. The book of Genesis is generally conceded as having been written sometime between 1400 and 1440 B.C. In Genesis 49:9 when blessing his son Judah, the Jewish patriarch Jacob refers to Judah as a “Young Lion”. Thus here we first note the lion’s becoming metaphorically and symbolically paired with Judah and the Jews. It is also from this text that the Lion of Judah further evolves into a titular station or office - defender and leader of the Jewish Tribe, which itself subsequently becomes the basis of considerable messianic expectation and speculation in early Judaism. Indeed, King David the Jewish Messiah becomes inextricably and historically linked in the Judaic and Christian traditions as the reference for the Lion of Judah.
We frequently find lion gates in archaeological ruins, from Israel to the gates of Ethiopia’s Axumite empire’s palaces and temples to the Hittite sites in Turkey to the Babylonian and Persian sites in Iraq, or the Assyrian and Egyptian sites. It was a widespread and popular symbol of royalty, as the lion was seen by many as the king of the predators, or even the king of all beasts. In fact we know that Ramses II kept live lions, as did successive Ethiopian Emperors up until the time of my late grandfather, the last Christian Emperor, His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie.
In ancient Jewish art, we often find lions depicted in a protective role, guarding the Ark of the Covenant or at chapel entrances, as in the sculpture of the ancient synagogues at Sardis (in Asia Minor), Horazin and Bar'am (in Palestine), and in many mosaics dating from the early Byzantine era (330ad – 700ad). In medieval Jewish art, the lion pair is commonly depicted leaning up on either side of the Tree of Life, next to the crown; thus is the heraldic shield replaced by a symbol of God, and the lions are seen as serving the King of all Kings.
In modern times the Jewish heraldic representation of the city of Jerusalem remains the venerable Lion of Judah.
In the subsequent Christian tradition the lion allegory persists in the New Testament Book of Revelations 5:5; "And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to open the seven seals thereof." Although the dominant image of Jesus in Revelation is the slain, but now triumphant lamb, the Apostle John continues to employ the powerful and traditional lion symbol. Revelations 5:5 proclaims that the lion of the tribe of Judah has already triumphed, not through final judgment on the wicked, but rather through his atoning death which opens up the possibility for all to be saved. Christ, therefore, is worthy to unseal the judgment scroll because he has already achieved salvation through his death as the slain and sacrificed Lamb of God who takes away the world's sin. Theologians generally concede that the symbol is read and understood as a direct reference to Jesus, where he is regarded as the 'lion of the tribe' and 'Root of David'
In Christianity, the Lion of Judah symbol is commonly used to refer to Jesus Christ. In fact, many Christian ministries use the symbol as their emblem or a prefix to their names. The Bible further reveals other instances when Jesus was referred to as the Lion of Judah:
Christians believe that while the ancient tribe of Levi prepared priests, that of Judah was the tribe of the Kings. Jesus is believed to be a descendant of the Tribe of Judah. Jesus is commonly referred to as the 'overcoming one' and 'the one qualified to open the scrolls and seven seals'. According to the Book of Revelations 5:5, Jesus was the 'sacrificial Lamb' and the 'Lion of Judah'. The prophecy of the coming of the Lord to 'judge the world' as the Lion of Judah is clear all through Revelations 5:1-5.
Is it then correct to portray Jesus as the lion of Judah? Yes, with the critical distinction that Christ’s triumph comes through his sacrificial death, not primarily through final judgment retribution. We must also remember that Revelation was written for a relatively young and evolving Christian sect under extreme social and political persecution that encouraged its adherents to follow the path of non-violent and sacrificial death, as did Jesus. This is arguably why Revelation’s most powerful image is Jesus the slain lamb, not Jesus the lion.
THE ETHIOPIANS AND THE KEBRA NAGAST:
As the Earth’s oldest independent nation, Ethiopia traces its unbroken history back more than 5 millennia. The earliest records of Ethiopia - around 3000 BC, just prior to the Egyptian Old Kingdom period (2650- 2134 BC), come from Egyptian traders who refer to lands south of Nubia (or Cush) as Punt and Yam. The first known Egyptian voyage to Punt occurred in the 25th century BC under the reign of Pharaoh Sahure. The most famous Egyptian expedition to Punt, however, comes during the reign of Queen Hatshepsut probably around 1495 BC, as the expedition was memorialized in intricately detailed carved reliefs on the temple of Deir el-Bahri at Thebes. The inscriptions depict a trading group bringing back myrrh trees, sacks of myrrh, elephant tusks, incense, gold, various fragmented woods and exotic animals. The Egyptians sometimes called Punt land Ta-Netjeru, meaning "Land of the Gods," and considered it to be their place of origin. There are also numerous references to Ethiopia in the Old Testament of the Hebrew and Christian Bibles.
As the Old Testament is to the Hebrews or the Qur'an to Islam, The Kebra Nagast, the Book of the Glory of Kings of Ethiopia, is the ancient and revered repository of our country’s millennia-old national and religious history. More than 700 years old in its present written form, The Kebra Nagast derives from Ethiopia’s millennia-old oral tradition, and details the history and origin of the Solomonic line of Ethiopian Kings. It is also regarded to be the definitive authority on the history of the conversion of Ethiopia to Christianity.
The Solomonic Dynasty of Ethiopia is so named by virtue of dynastic decent from the union of the venerable Jewish Messiah, King Solomon of Israel, and Queen Makeda of Sabae (Sheba), more than 900 years BC. By Ethiopian dynastic tradition, all monarchs must trace their lineage back to Menelik I who was the offspring of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. In 1930, my grandfather, The Last Christian Emperor, took the name Haile Selassie, meaning "Power of the Trinity." His full title of office was "His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, King of Kings, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and Elect of God". These titles have been traditionally given to Ethiopian kings to recognize the Old Testament emphasis of Ethiopian Christianity and declare the regent’s sacred duty and subservience to God.
That is why frequently Ethiopian monarchs refer to the psalmists quote: “Princes shall come out of Egypt, and Ethiopia shall reach her hand unto God.”
In Ethiopian tradition, Menelik, who had returned as a young man to visit his father, Solomon, in Jerusalem, was regally received. When Menelik departed for Ethiopia, King Solomon, much pleased by the regal manner and demeanor of his royal offspring, ordered the chief priests and advisors of the kingdom to send their first-born sons with him for the benefit of the Ethiopian crown which Menelik was to inherit. Among these was the son of Zadok, the High Priest, who it is claimed, took the Ark of the Covenant with him. The theft was concealed from Menelik, who did not learn of it until the royal party had returned to Ethiopia. The symbolism of the Ark is particularly potent in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Every church in Ethiopia must contain a replica of the Ark before it can be consecrated. One of the most important festivals in the calendar of the Ethiopian Church is that of Timkat, during which the Ark (or a replica) is wrapped in a shroud and carried in a great procession.
The Kebra Nagast relates the marvelous story of how the Ark of the Covenant came to be in Ethiopia, where it is believed to be enshrined in a special treasury – The Chapel of the Tablet - constructed next to the Church of St. Mary of Zion in Axum. It is reported that the Ark was moved from St. Mary’s into the new Chapel of the Tablet because a divine ‘heat’ from the Tablets had cracked the stones of its previous sanctum. Indeed, my grandmother, Emperor Haile Selassie's wife, Empress Menen, paid for the construction of the new chapel.
The church of St. Mary of Zion in Axum is a venerable icon of Ethiopian religious belief and legend. It is also the most important church in Ethiopia. St. Mary is dedicated to the Holy Mother Mary who in the Christian tradition was the “vessel” of Christ, and thus the fulfillment of religious prophecy. Adherents believe that when Mary was exiled in Egypt that she visited Ethiopia. The original St. Mary of Zion was built in the 4th century AD and has been destroyed and rebuilt at least twice. By Tradition, St. Mary of Zion is the holy place of investiture for all Ethiopian emperors.
Ethiopia was a respected and sophisticated kingdom in the time of the New Testament. In fact, the Ethiopian "eunuch" in the 8th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, returning from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, is the first Ethiopian to be baptized (by the apostle Phillip). We learn that he is the keeper of "all of the treasure" of the Queen of Ethiopia, who is named as Candace (or, more correctly, kandake, which is actually a regal title and not her name). Thus, the "eunuch" is actually identified as the Queen's bajirond, or treasurer, a position of supreme confidence in the royal household. It is likely that the Queen was told of this unusual religious encounter upon her Bajirond's return, and thus the news of the Christian Gospel reached Ethiopia long before the official adoption of Christianity as the religion of Rome and the Ethiopian Crown in the 4th century.
Written records from about 800 BC to the first century BC (the "pre-Axumite" period, or the period of the Kingdom of D'mt) are confined to the names of kings found on carvings. However, the Axumite period (from the first century BC to 640 AD) is relatively well documented. The Axumite Kingdom represents a significant peak of Ethiopian civilization, and spans the era of the conversion of the ruling dynasty to Christianity in the 4th century AD. It was considered to be a very advanced civilization by the Roman Empire. In fact, the Roman Emperor Constantine declared that citizens of Axum were to be considered equal with citizens of Rome. Constantine, and Ezana, the Ethiopian "King of Kings" (for that title was in use even then) made Christianity the religion of their kingdoms.
In the ancient and revered tradition of Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, there are three fundamental symbolic demonstrations or manifestations of humanity’s intimate relationship and connection with the Divine, and these are called the Three Zions.
The First Zion is the Temple of Solomon in Israel which according to the Bible was the first temple of Jerusalem’s Jews and is thought to have been constructed around 832 BC. During its history, it was repeatedly attacked and sacked. According to Jewish religious tradition, before its final destruction by Rome in 70AD, the Temple had in Solomon’s time been the repository for the fabled Ark of the Covenant. Subsequent Jewish scriptures say that the Ark will remain hidden until God gathers His People (the Tribe of Judah) together again. Jews today believe that the temple of Solomon will (must) be rebuilt before the coming of the Antichrist (the Jewish Messiah). Indeed, contemporary Orthodox Jews pray three times a day for the restoration of Solomon’s Temple. Adherents of the Orthodox faith in Ethiopia believe that according to prophecy when the Temple is rebuilt again one door is reserved for the Lion of Judah, Christ, to open it again.
The Second Zion which we have already discussed in some detail is Mary and the Church of Saint Mary of Zion in Axum.
The Third Zion is The Lion of Judah who represents the return of Jesus Christ in fulfillment of Biblical prophecy of his coming to rule again. Since the 4th century AD, all Ethiopian sovereigns give their Crown to the Church of St Mary of Zion in traditional adherence and submission to this belief. In fact, the Ethiopian Imperial Crest depicts an empty throne waiting in expectation for the return of Christ and the rule of right and justice.
The Rastafari movement is a contemporary, monotheistic, political-religious movement evolved in the slums of Kingston, Jamaica, from fundamentally Christian roots and culture. In Trenchtown’s mean and overweening environment of poverty, depression, racism and class discrimination, the Rasta message of black pride, freedom from oppression, and hope of return to the African homeland found fertile soil, and it was within this milieu, from the 1930s onward, that the Rastafarian movement developed its distinctive style of language, hairstyle, art and music.
Although popularly believed to have originated on November 2, 1930, with the investiture of the Emperor Haile Selassie I, Rastafari was actually first inspired by a 1920s nationalist movement founded by Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican publicist, organizer, and Black Nationalist considered by his followers a prophet and second John the Baptist.
Though there is significant variation within the Rastafari movement, there is little or no formal organization. Undeniably, some Rastafarians see Rasta more as a way of life than a religion. Rastas do not claim sects or denominations, but encourage one another to seek faith and inspiration within themselves. The central and uniting themes, however, of this highly diverse movement are an enduring belief in the divinity and messiahship of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I, the influence of Jamaican culture, resistance to oppression, and pride in African heritage.
For Rastafarians, Haile Selassie is considered to be Jah (God) and is seen as both the reincarnation of Christ and the lion mentioned in the Bible’s Book of Revelation. He is therefore, “The Lion of Judah.” Beyond biblical allegory and metaphor, Rastas also see the lion as being symbolic of strength against the oppression that they have endured. Thus for Rastafarians, the lion is both symbolic and iconic. The lion can be found on the Rastafarian flag, and many other items associated with Rastafari. The name "Rastafari" derives from the pre-regnal title and given name of Emperor Haile Selassie I -- the Amharic Ras (literally "Head, or “Leader of Men”) and Tafari, The Emperor’s pre-regnal given name.
Adopting from the heraldic lion symbol of the biblical Tribe of Judah from, which Ethiopia’s Solomonic dynasty is descended, Rastafarians believe that the lion represents the Emperor Haile Selassie as the “King of Kings,” and reveals the unbroken lineage of the Emperor from the Tribes of Israel – The Lion of Judah.
The most famous Rastafari is Bob Marley. Through his unique Rasta perspective and music style, Marley painted compelling utopian pictures of how life should be lived, and how the world could be.
THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA:
The late C.S. Lewis, a famous atheist who subsequently became a renowned convert to Anglican Christianity, was an accomplished ‘contemporary’ author. Lewis has made marvelous and inspired use of traditional religious symbols and allegory to produce his iconic seven-book and movies series written between 1949 and 1954 - The Chronicles of Narnia. Lewis has said that the entire Narnia story is about Christ, and that he had offered the lion Aslan (Jesus Christ), “as an answer to the question: What would Christ, the Son of God, be like if he had been born in the land of Narnia instead of being born in Bethlehem?” The Anglican Lewis has richly infused his Narnia series with Christian beliefs. For instance The themes of “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” the third of the books to be made into a film, employs the traditional Christian themes of temptation, sin and redemption.
Through the intricate tapestry of Lewis’s enthralling fiction and theater, we are provided a contemporary interpretation of ancient religious symbols and allegory, which, even uniquely perhaps, provides a perfect example of Joseph Campbell’s thesis that symbols are simply the vehicles of communication.
So… We have finally come to a conclusion. And as I first told you, I have surely attempted to tread as lightly and carefully as possible, while engaging with and conveying my personal appreciation for these cherished and venerable symbols of traditional religious allegory. I pray you will agree that I have done no serious or irreparable damage. Indeed, it is my fondest desire that at least some of you will be motivated to continue to explore these profound and transcendent mysteries, for they are undeniably inspiring and worthy of further consideration and study.
For Christian Ethiopians, our transcendent religious symbols are a links to and constant reminders of our rich Judeo-Christian and Islamic heritage and past. As such, these precious religious icons endure with us today in Imperial iconography and within the holy sanctuaries of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and serve as constant and enduring reminders that we are all spiritual kinsmen with a universal duty and obedience to God.
After all, it is myths that awaken us to the mysteries of the universe and present us with a consistent image of the order of the cosmos. It is also myths that validate and support a specific moral order, inform us of the proper governance and conduct of our lives, and transport us through the passages and crises of life.
Ultimately, we must each find our own path through the forest, and reach for our transcendent personal spirituality by studying the poetry of life. It is only in this way that we come to personal contentment and understanding. "The heart," as Joseph Campbell has reminded us, "is the beginning of humanity".
In his comments on Spiritual Kinsmanship, my grandfather once said:
In the mystic tradition of the different religions we have a remarkable Unity of Spirit. Whatever religion they may profess, they are Spiritual Kinsmen. While the different religions in their historic forms bind us to limited groups and militate against the development of loyalty to the world community, the Mystics have already stood for the fellowship of humanity … in harmony with the spirit of the mystics of ages gone by. No one should question the faith of others, for no human being can judge the ways of God.
I would add, that unless and until we have internalized and realized the Emperor’s precepts of Spiritual Kinsmanship, Loyalty, and Unity of Spirit, enlightened governance and leadership will forever remain an illusory and unattainable reality.
Thank you very much for you kind and generous attention.
Crown Council President Installed as Grand Patron of the Order of St. Hadrian to Help Promote Ecumenical Christian Dialog
The President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, was, at a ceremony in Manchester Cathedral, in the United Kingdom, on October 23, 2010, formally installed as Grand Patron of the Apostolic Order of St. Hadrian of Canterbury. The Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, Warren J. Smith, JP, representing Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, formally invested Prince Ermias with the regalia of Grand Patron at an ecumenical ceremony at the cathedral.
The installation at the Anglican Cathedral was organized by the Presiding Bishop and founder of the Order, Bishop the Rt. Rev. Dr. Doyé Agama, and the Apostolic Pastoral Association, and involved bishops and clergy from a number of Christian churches in the UK and United States, including the Ethiopian Orthodox, Pentecostal, Anglican, Roman Catholic, and other churches. What was especially important for Prince Ermias was the fact that St. Hadrian of Canterbury, known as “St. Hadrian, the African,” has come to represent the work of uniting African and European Christianity. The role of the Grand Patron was designed to bring an African figurehead to the ecumenical work of the Order.
Bishop Agama and other bishops accompanied Prince Ermias — who was accompanied by his Agafari (Chief of Protocol) and Strategic Advisor — on a number of meetings to religious and community leaders in the UK. The (Anglican) Lord Bishop of Blackburn hosted the delegation at a special lunch at the House of Lords in London, and Prince Ermias was also received by the Lord Mayor of Manchester, Councillor Mark Hackett, and the Anglican Lord Bishop of Manchester, the Rt. Rev. Nigel McCulloch.
Two senior Bishops from the US, the Rt. Rev. Benjamin Terwood Douglass, of Cleveland, Ohio, and the Rt. Rev. Kevin K. Dickerson, of Irving, Texas, also participated in the activities; both of them representing the Joint College of African-American Pentecostal Bishops as well as their home denominations.
The Order of St. Hadrian was founded by Bishop Doyé Agama, to uphold the memory of St. Hadrian (The African), of Canterbury through his tenets of exemplary humility, excellence in service; and training up new generations to serve the church and community. The Order works ecumenically to research and celebrate the contributions of both ancient and modern African Churches, and other Churches “birthed” outside Europe; to global Christianity. The Order also particularly recognizes outstanding community service by Christians from black and other minority ethnic backgrounds in the UK and beyond.
An Ethiopian Orthodox Church choir from the area sang as part of the Manchester Cathedral service, and its members met after the event with Prince Ermias.
Prince Ermias also invested Bishop Agama as Grand Cross of the Order of the Star of Ethiopia for his work in helping to bringing African and non-African Christians together.
Humanitarianism, Culture and Charity: The Case of Ethiopia’s Traditional Leadership
His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie,
President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia,
to the United States House of Representatives
In an age of democratic government and the rule of law, it is easy to forget that leadership and governance are not always synonymous terms, and that leadership is not merely the function of elections. Leadership is a quality which is created by the sense of duty; the development of respect; and the ties of honor, kinship, and geographic identity of the chosen representative of a society. The history of humankind has shown that successful, durable societies have always been led by individuals and institutions which have deep roots and abiding mutual love and trust with and within their communities.
No monarch or traditional leader — nor any elected government — long remains in office without the trust and respect of society. Thus, while it is easy to think of “traditional leadership” as unelected rule, the reality through history has been that traditional leaders must embody the interests and welfare of their society even more in many instances than elected leaders. Traditional leaders undertake a commitment for life, often without formal recompense, and they also often assume these duties because they were born to the task of being the servants of their societies.
My late and beloved Grandfather, His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I, understood the modern world, and moved to create a separation between the duties and obligations of the traditional leadership of the Solomonic dynasty on the one hand, and the role and duty on the other of an elected government which the people would put in place to administer the nation. Traditional leadership was always there to unite the people under a common identity, and a common set of values, and to ensure that there was always a champion for protection under a formal Constitution. It was there to ensure that there was continuity of society for the long history of a nation, in order to allow the governments to change to meet the changing wishes of society. So “traditional leadership” is not something which takes away from modern, elected governance, it is something which adds to it, and actually makes modern government more feasible, giving the population a sense of belonging with, and pride in, their civil institutions.
Traditional leadership has several key functions:
So in an age where increased awareness of our common humanity is taking place, a greater knowledge of the role of traditional leadership needs to be more deeply examined.
Traditional leadership has been widely practiced around the world for millennia. In Africa, in particular, traditional leadership in its varied forms has been both temporal and spiritual. This great heritage has often kept societies united; often ruling or influencing by consensus, arbitration, and inspiration.
Today, unlike in the past, the role which traditional leadership provides has evolved. In an age where democracies are taking root, traditional leadership has been able to take a non-political role, often providing a sense of continuity and stability at grassroots level.
Today, I wish to examine in particular the role of traditional leadership as it pertains to Ethiopia, my homeland. Ethiopia today is more than a country or nation state in the sovereign sense. In the past 36 years or so, the Ethiopian people — with a history spanning some 5,000 years — have spilled over their borders. Today, because of civil war and strife, the Ethiopian diaspora has placed millions of Ethiopians in various countries around the world. And yet all of us in the Ethiopian diaspora retain strong cultural and human ties with our homeland. The Ethiopian people are increasingly becoming a “world people”, carrying with them traditions, language, religion, and values forged through the tenure of one of the oldest civilizations in the world.
Ethiopia is itself an icon. It is a state which was never submerged into a colonial entity, despite attempts to conquer it. Therefore, it has been a beacon of hope for many other states in Africa and elsewhere. It has been an immense pleasure to hear Ethiopia described by many Africans today as being “the property and pride of all Africa” because of the unique strength of its traditions.
Successive Ethiopian Emperors strove to make Ethiopia a nation-state in the modern, Western sense, yet without abandoning the wide range of cultural, linguistic, and religious traditions of the peoples of the Empire.
The Ethiopian revolution of 1974 had left many of us traumatized and polarized. I believe the foremost role of traditional leadership must be to heal these festering wounds. Without overcoming the legacy of the bitterness of the revolution we cannot move forward. Traditional leadership could become a vehicle and provide leadership whereby reconciliation can take a firmer root. A sense of trust, an anchor is important to guide a polity through difficult and unchartered waters without worrying about power and the next elections. Hence, its non-political role can be one of the engines which can move forward a sense of forgiveness, tolerance, and can build an impetus of common purpose for unity, mutual respect and prosperity.
The other role traditional leadership must play is also to become both a guardian and bridge to a nation’s history. History requires education. Children are not being taught in schools about their own history. This is a great disservice for future generations. Teaching history will give balance and understanding of one’s predicament. How can we expect the young generation to have identity and pride if they are not taught their own history. In a sense traditional leadership can be one vehicle whereby history can also come alive by inspiring the young to learn about themselves. Traditional leadership must inspire future generations to learn from their past. There is a great deal of wisdom from our traditions, oral history, and customs that can serve us well in conceiving a firmer and clearer future for ourselves.
We cannot underestimate the role which traditions, pride, inspiration, and example give to individuals and to their society. They give not merely a sense of belonging; they give a sense of pride, and — to use the term coined by my colleague, Gregory Copley — “identity security”. It is this identity security — the knowledge of who we are and where we belong, and why — which is given to us by the traditional and benign hierarchies which we create in societies. It is this which makes us productive and secure.
At the end, perspectives and perceptions at individual and collective level matter.
His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia has sent New Year’s Greetings to all Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia. The Ethiopian New Year, bringing in the year 2003 in the Ethiopian (Julian) calendar, falls on Meskerem (ነሐሴ) 1, equivalent to September 11, 2010, in the Western calendar.
In his New Year’s Message, His Imperial Highness said: “The Crown of Ethiopia has been with the global diaspora of the Ethiopian Peoples since 1974 (1966 in the Julian calendar). In this time, as with the late Emperor Haile Selassie I’s brief exile in Britain during the war with Italy, we have seen that the long history of the Ethiopian Crown — the Solomonic dynasty and culture — represents the single unbroken historical ‘genetic chain’ of Western civilization, from pre-Christian times until today. It is also the great link between Western civilization and Africa, the font of all humanity.”
Prince Ermias continued: “Serving the global diaspora, and Western and African civilization, as well as the People in Ethiopia themselves, has shown that the Ethiopian Crown has a duty which is wider than mere national geography. At the same time, we are immensely proud of the progress made by the Ethiopian People and their Government in Ethiopia since the removal of the illegal Dergue which attempted to destroy our history and which engaged in regicide, murder, and tyranny. Ethiopia and Ethiopians are today marching forward, and three millennia of Solomonic values have tied us into the global civilizational mainstream as well as placing us firmly in the historical roots of modern civilization.”
He particularly thanked those Ethiopians and non-Ethiopians honored over the years by the Crown for their service to the Crown, to Ethiopia, and for their commitment to the values and humanitarian endeavors for which the Crown works.
“We are immensely proud of the fact that The International Society for the Imperial Ethiopian Orders has now been formed to bring together the Ethiopian and international communities of those who have worked to preserve our values and to protect humanity. Those invested with Orders and Honors of the Ethiopian Crown include a number of world leaders, and other distinguished individuals from Ethiopia and around the globe. We thank you all for your good works and look forward to working with you over the coming years for the good of humanity and civilization.”
On Sunday August 1, 2010, Voice of America (VOA) Amharic Service broadcast a report on the events in the Washington, DC, area, marking Celebrations of the 118th Birthday of the late Emperor Haile-Selassie.
Although the event was covered by numerous media outlets, VOA was able to conduct the interview with members of the Royal Family and others who participated in the event.
The reporter began the interview by stating that until his ouster on September 12, 1974, the Emperor had ruled Ethiopia for more than 50 years. Following the overthrow of the Emperor, the incoming military summarily executed the Emperor, and other members of the Royal Family, as well as high government and military officials. Others were forced into exile, including young members of the Royal Family.
The VOA interview focused on members of the Royal Family and their life in exile, to outline what had happened to the former First Family of Ethiopia following the overthrow of the Emperor and the Monarchy.
Prince Ermias began the interview by stating that he was the son of the late Prince Sahle-Selassie, who was the youngest child of the late Emperor.
Prince Tafari Makonnen stated that he was the fourth son of the late Duke of Harar, Prince Makonnen, the second son of the late Emperor.
The interviewer continued by stating that apart from the fact that the late Emperor’s relatives were living abroad, not much was known by the public about the present circumstances of the Royal Family.
Prince Ermias said that although none of the Emperor’s children were alive today, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren survived them and were currently residing in Ethiopia, and in different cities in the United States and Europe.
Prince Tafari said that he was a married man and a father of three children, one of whom was attending the University of Indiana, while the others were residing with him.
The next question focused on the role of the Crown Council. Prince Ermias responded by stating that the Crown Council — the sole surviving Imperial Ethiopian Constitutional institution — was a non-political organization which had, in principle, focused on Ethiopia’s history, culture, and future development. He said that the Ethiopian people, who were now a young generation [since the Emperor’s generation], for the most part were unaware of their own history. The presentation of Ethiopian history had been tainted by propaganda, and even that had mainly focused on hatred and division. “The future generation of Ethiopians must be able to examine both the good and the weak side of their own history in order to be able to move forward,” he said.
The interviewer continued by stating that for many years the former Military Government (Dergue) had tarnished the image of the Emperor through propaganda, and also that neo-nationalist historians had viewed the Emperor’s governance in a bad light. How, he asked, do you view the establishment of a Constitutional Monarchy in Ethiopia such as one in the UK, and what could it contribute to Ethiopia’s future?
Prince Ermias stated that it was his and the Crown Council’s belief that history was a principal pillar of any civilization and as such also a bridge into the future. To say this was not to claim that all which had transpired during the Imperial era was all correct. Rather, it was vital to distinguish that for the most part all those who served their country were patriots who, to the best of their abilities, knowledge, and the given challenges of the historical periods in which they lived, contributed to developing and safeguarding Ethiopia. On the question of reconstituting a Constitutional Monarchy in Ethiopia, it was, Prince Ermias said, unequivocally the decision of the Ethiopian People. Having said that, a Constitutional Monarchy could serve the Ethiopian People by being a uniting factor, an institution which could serve to enhance reconciliation and become an historical bridge for future generations. He continued that keeping these attributes in my mind would serve Ethiopia’s future development by contributing both to Ethiopia’s historical prestige and building common ground and unity for future development. “A common history built on knowledge, tolerance, and mutual respect between our diverse comunities, will unite us in outlook to continue building a strong nation,” he said.
The reporter asked about their livelihoods and how they live?
Prince Ermias said that he was now engaged in private business and had worked in other jobs just as all Ethiopians were doing, living in the Diaspora. He acknowledged that there had been considerable fallacious propaganda that the Emperor had amassed a vast fortune at the expense of the Ethiopian people and that, as a result, the Royal Family were living in luxury.
Prince Tafari, for his part, said that he worked in a government job, and reiterated that the Royal Family led a life no different than any other Ethiopians and that he welcomed any Ethiopian to visit him and witness it for themselves.
The reporter then asked about how the new generation of members of the Royal Family were raised. Were they are aware of their identity and culture?
Prince Tafari said that his children were aware of their identity and heritage. However, since they had not lived during those times, it was, to them, more history then reality.
Prince Ermias continued that his children were also aware of their identity and heritage. He said that, as all Ethiopian know, it was difficult raising children in two cultures, and that it was his wish that his children would know that they had relatives and countrymen in Ethiopia and become familiar with their country.
The reporter then asked the identity of the current Crown Prince.
Prince Ermias said that, according to tradition and law, the current Crown Prince during the present interregnum was Zera Yacob Asfawossen, and that the Crown Council was a rallying point for the Crown with specific Constitutional rules and obligations.
In concluding the interview, the reporter remarked that he had witnessed a representative of the Ethiopian Government at the event, and asked what the current relationship was between the Government of Ethiopia and the Crown Council.
Prince Ermias responded by saying that the current government had made it clear that the Crown Council, like all Ethiopian organizations, had the right to establish itself legally in Ethiopia. He continued by saying that it was his wish to see the Crown Council established on the ground in Ethiopia soon, and for the organization to become an institution which would serve as a force of healing, reconciliation, and unity, and contribute its share for the development of our Nation.
A Commemoration Mass was held on Sunday, July 25, 2010, at the Medhanialem Orthodox Church in Maryland, in the US, to celebrate the 118th Birthday of the late Emperor Haile-Selassie I. Members of the Royal Family, the Clergy, representatives of the Ethiopian Government, former Imperial Body Guards, and other relatives and supporters attended the celebration.
The late Emperor's Birthday had been celebrated throughout the world from 1975 onwards, most notably by the Rastafarian Community and others who have held the Emperor in high esteem. Since the year 2000, celebrations have also been held in Ethiopia.
This was the first time it has been formally celebrated amongst Ethiopians in the Diaspora.
In welcoming the participants, Prince Tafari Makonnen thanked the Medhanialem Church, the Congregation, and all those in attendance for their participation.
In noting the event, Crown Council President Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie remarked that although the Royal Family had celebrated this occasion with different communities in the past, this celebration, in prayer and meditation amongst our own community abroad, was a special honor.
Following the Service, a luncheon was held as part of the Birthday Celebrations. Following the luncheon, prominent Ethiopian artists, members of the Rastafarian Community, and others made brief remarks in commemoration of the occasion. The program also included a short biographical film on the late Emperor's life and his legacy. This was followed by a slide representation of the Late Emperor's special relationship with the United States spanning a period of over 30 years.
All those in attendance commented that the event was a healing experience and one that had to be held.
The President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, HIH Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, has expressed the Council’s deep grief over the murder of so many Ethiopians and others in three bombing incidents by the Somali al-Shabaab terrorist group in the Ethiopia-town area of Kampala, Uganda, on July 11, 2010. “The Crown Council not only expresses its grief and outrage over this cowardly attack on innocent civilians, but also sends its profound condolences to the families of the victims,” Prince Ermias said.
“This was a pointed attack on Ethiopia and Ethiopians,” Prince Ermias said, “and no-one in the civilized world will tolerate this kind of behavior. The act was designed to target not only Ethiopians, but to shake the foundations of trust between Ethiopia’s Christian and Muslim communities, which have historically lived in trust and mutual respect.”
“It was also an attack on the African Union, coming as it did just before the AU summit in Kampala, and on the AU’s attempts to restore stability in Somalia.”
Prince Ermias said that the Crown Council supported the Ethiopian Government’s repudiation of the threats which al-Shabaab and other radical groups have made against Ethiopia’s integrity. “We must see the martyrdom of the Ethiopians in Kampala as a rallying cry to ensure that all Ethiopians stand up against terrorism, so that their deaths will not have been in vain, as tragic as their loss is to us all.”
30 January 2010
The Ethiopian Crown Council offers Our most sincere and tender condolences to the families and friends of the ill-fated crew and passengers of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409. For Ethiopians in particular, both at home and abroad, this has been a truly shocking and galvanizing calamity.
While we grieve together in our collective and profound loss as Ethiopians, we also recognize and mourn for the tragedy that has equally befallen our dear friends of other nationalities – the people of Lebanon most directly, with whom we have enjoyed a long and abiding affection and history.
We pray that God will lighten the darkness of this terrible moment for those most directly effected, and with knowledge certain of brighter days to come, together, we will see this matter through.
November 21, 2009
Distinguished members of the Order of Saint Lazarus. It is a pleasure to be with you today and to offer a few remarks on an issue in which we all share a common interest – water availability on the African continent.
Africa's water resources are scattered throughout the continent, with some areas receiving more than enough water, and others experiencing virtually constant drought. The Horn of Africa and the Namibian Desert, for example, receive almost no rainfall, but the western region of the continent near the equator, receives as much as 158 inches of rainfall annually. Consequently, regional droughts on the African continent lasting up to 5 years are a common and historic problem.
For the vast majority of Africans, 75% of the population, ground water is the primary water source –that is, ponds, pools, creeks, streams and rivers etc. Yet ground water is not always available and accounts for only 15% of the continent's water resources. As noted earlier, there are also serious concerns about the quality of the groundwater.
A term in common use among water professionals, governmental and otherwise, is “Water Stress”. It is useful to think of “Water Stress” as being the collective symptoms of a lack of water supply – the disease itself. Water stress occurs when water supply is inadequate, and reveals itself in the human, environmental, social and economic costs of unmet water needs. Lack of water and proper sanitation has crucial and far-reaching social implications. Women and children spend several hours each day fetching water. The time spent in this activity could be used to care for children in the home, rest, or employment in income generating activities. For girls, the task of carrying water combined with lack of sanitary facilities in schools often stands in the way of their education, and traveling long hours to remote sources exposes girls to increased rates of abduction and rape. Not much imagination is required to envision the downwardly spiraling health consequences for the bone development of a young child burdened with a daily routine of multi-mile treks hauling 40 pound water-filed containers.
Lack of water supply is most frequently caused by drought, contamination, or a disruption of some sort in the channel of water distribution. A direct consequence of Africa’s ever-present lack of effective water supply, and the consequent water stress, is that Africa has been unable to effectively develop its rich natural resources – the most valuable of course, being its own people. Though approximately 4 trillion cubic meters of water are estimated to be available every year, only about 4% of that is used.
Lack of water access is a larger problem in Africa than anywhere else on the planet. Of the 25 nations in the world with the greatest percentage of people lacking access to safe drinking water, 19 are in Africa. About 328-million of Africa’s 964-million have no access to clean water and sanitation.
Simply put, the continent and its people lack the technical knowledge and financial resources needed to access and harness their water supplies. Sustainable financing for scaling up infrastructure and service delivery in Africa remains a key challenge.
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) has previously predicted that the main conflicts in Africa during the next 25 years might be over water, as countries fight for access to scarce resources. Potential 'water wars' are likely in areas where rivers and lakes are shared by more than one country, according to the UN report, with possible “flashpoints” being the Nile, Niger, Volta and Zambezi basins.
With water issues, history matters as Mark Giordano of the International Water Management Institute notes. “When colonial boundaries were drawn, residents were separated from resources, especially water. With the manifestation of colonialism emerged the concept of the nation-state, and national boundaries were arbitrarily drawn creating transboundary waters as a byproduct. For example, the Niger basin became transboundary in the colonial period because both the French and British empires shared the water resources, whereas the Senegal river basin was solely under French colonial rule until Guinea gained independence in 1958, which internationalized access to the Senegal river basin.”
Giordano believes that transboundary water laws contribute to a history of conflict and resolution in sub-Saharan Africa; "There are still agreements in place which emanated from earlier governments (colonial or minority rule)," he says, "which could be argued to exacerbate tensions between states." Possible examples of agreements that might be argued to have fostered later conflict to include those in the Nile Basin (1929 and 1959) and between South Africa and Lesotho (1986). The 1959 Nile Basin agreement preserved British colonial interests in Sudan after Egyptian independence in 1922 and declaration of the Egyptian Republic in 1953, but Egypt and Sudan are the only actors with power in the allocation of Nile resources. The agreement neglects the role of Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda in the governance of transboundary Nile resources.
Successful transboundary water laws have historically been multilateral and focus on joint management and development of resources. Bilateral agreements—such as those in the Nile, Orange, and Inkomati river basins—have proved to be less effective solutions because they focus on water allocation and how to divide limited flows. Allocation is a process of dividing water supplies as opposed to developing and maintaining sustainable water resources for future use. Historically, multilateral agreements further development of sustainable water resources: Such laws govern the Lake Chad, Niger, Okavango, Senegal, and Volta basins and include most or all riparian states (of, on, or relating to the banks of a natural course of water) with the intention of promoting economic development through investment to reduce economic water scarcity.
EGYPT, ETHIOPIA, SUDAN
The combined population of the three countries through which the Nile runs - Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt - are predicted to rise from 150 millions today to 340 millions in 2050. If such a population increase is realized, there could be intense competition for increasingly limited water resources.
Indeed, water is already a catalyst for regional conflict, with strained diplomatic relations between Egypt and Ethiopia over Ethiopia’s dam building projects. Ethiopia accounts for fully 85% of the Nile river flow and the Ethiopian government has constructed dams for hydro electric power and commercial exploitation.
There is also another potential for water based conflict in Southern Africa involving Botswana, Namibia and Angola. The River Cuito which begins in Angola before heading through the Caprivi strip in Namibia and ending in the marshlands of the Okavango Delta in Botswana runs through an area that is no stranger to tensions and conflict between neighbours.
We are sad to inform you that Ethiopia ranks among the lowest nations on Earth in access to water and sanitation. Government statistics indicate that only 31 per cent of households have access to safe water, and a meager 18 per cent of households have access to sanitation facilities.
The quality of water is a key problem, as evidenced by frequent outbreaks of water related epidemics in both rural and urban areas. Contamination of water supplies by cattle dung and human excreta is common and high fluoride levels in water are a particular problem in Our country’s Rift Valley regions. Primary health issues from Our country’s unrelenting water stress results in increased susceptibility to water-borne diseases such as diarrhea and dysentery, water-washed diseases such as trachoma and scabies, water-based diseases such as schistosomiasis, and water-related insect vectors including malaria. In Ethiopia, fully three-quarters of all health problems of children and communicable diseases, originate from the environment.
WHAT TO DO?
While the financial requirements are obvious, increasing access to quality water is a long-term, systemic goal that requires more than charitable funding. Here are a few observations:
In closing, We wish to thank you for your warm and generous hospitality and your kind and continuing interest and attention.
May God bless The Order, Ethiopia and Africa.
HIH Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie
Chairman – The Crown Council of Ethiopia
September 25th, 2009 Lisbon
By the beginning of World War I in 1914, initial African resistance to the invading European colonials had been effectively crushed and the whole of Africa had been colonialized - with the exceptions of Liberia and Ethiopia. Over the next decade, as colonial rule became more institutionalized and heavy-handed, African resistance to colonialism reappeared, becoming increasingly focused and intense.
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, new mass-based political parties appeared in virtually every African colony. Unlike earlier African political organizations, these parties were not restricted to the educated African elites, and actively recruited the support of the masses, even as the cause itself was re-focusing. Expanding beyond traditional African political demands for more opportunity and an end to discrimination, the continent’s central demands were for complete political freedom and an absolute end to colonial rule.
The dynamic and speedy re-emergence of African nationalism took European colonial powers by surprise. The Italians and the British, followed by the French and then by the reluctant Belgians, eventually responded to the call for independence.
Libya (1951) and Egypt (1952) were the first African nations to regain independence. Ghana (Gold Coast) in 1957 was the first country south of the Sahara to become independent. 1960 was a banner year for African independence as fourteen African nations gained their independence; and by 1966, all but six African countries had become independent nation-states.
THE PROMISE OF INDEPENDENCE
Independence was supposed to bring with it legitimacy and accountability as well as the establishment of a new social contract between African citizens and the state. The institution of the state as a ruling body was adopted in Africa as a useful residual remnant of the colonial system of governance. The State structure was adopted by all former colonies as a viable and effective mechanism for the efficient exercise and administration of supreme political authority. Of course, ostensibly, the supreme, absolute, uncontrollable power - the complete right to govern - was ultimately vested in the people. Sovereignty, therefore, implied the necessary existence of the state for the legitimate application and exercise of the power, in implementing the public will in civil and political matters.
THE REALITY OF INDEPENDENCE
In the near half-century following independence, it has become increasingly evident that the promise of the three fundamental human rights of safety, liberty and property, that independence was meant to confer on the former colonies, has not been realised. For Africans in general, the power of being able to enjoy a permanent well being, irrespective of the disposition of those from whom Africa calls itself independent, has yet to be realised. Many post-colonial African economies are yet to be democratized and history in this regard is important. The baggage of the past – institutions, customs etc. - tends to distort the manner in which Africans respond to the economic opportunities available to them. It is an unarguable truth that the contemporary identity of Africans has been largely shaped by its colonial past and the Soviet/U.S. Cold War contention that followed.
Africa’s collective understanding of the challenges and opportunities of independence are largely shaped by Africa's unfortunate and frequently brutal past. Race too is a major factor in shaping the worldview of many Africans, to the extent that any failure to seize opportunities has been blamed on the historically defined racial architecture. It has been easy, for example, to allege (with cause) that white people in Africa were enriched economically by the politics of their day. It was, therefore, justifiable for many Africans to claim that whites were rich because Africans were poor and whites had to be rich because they controlled the colonial state. Fair enough as far as it goes, but one would have naturally expected that the advent of independence would diminish the pace of wealth accumulation by non-Africans. However, the fact is that the post-colonial era has strengthened, rather than weakened, the economic power of non-Africans and the political apparatus of the state has become monopolized by a few Africans in a system where cronyism and political patronage still flourish. Indeed and unfortunately, it is a common African perception – perhaps not all that unlike the impressions of Europeans and Americans - that the most certain and speedy path to personal prestige, wealth, influence and independence is via the capture, by hook or crook, of high political office.
Candidly speaking, the transfer of state control from white Europeans to Africans has not yielded the intended economic benefits for the majority of Africans, and the link between the nuances of economic and political power must be better understood if Africa's prospects are to improve.
THE COLD WAR AND AFRICAN INDEPENDENCE
Though Africa is far removed geographically from Washington and Moscow, the continent has unfortunately provided a perfect “arena” for these two politically and economically contending superpowers to embroil their willing African “gladiators” in constant rounds of seemingly endless proxy wars. These Cold War confrontations have proven disastrous for African development, and by manipulating and accentuating ethnic rivalries have played a major and continuing role in the continents civil wars – Congo, Angola, and Sudan for example, and rampant coup d’états in Ghana (1966) and Congo (1960) – Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia present day.
In Africa (as in Latin America and South Asia), the American/Soviet Cold War struggle for dominance precipitated a series of devastating consequences - e.g. colonialism, “artificial” national borders, Inter-Africa rivalry for land and political power, etc. The calculus of great power contention pitted unwitting African ethnic groups against each other and African nation against African nation - Angola vs. South Africa vs. Namibia, for instance.
The abrupt end of the Cold War (1989-1991) was both as unanticipated as it was unprecedented; no one expected matters to end when and in the manner they did.
The African conventional wisdom had been that the end of the Cold War marked the end of Africa's victimhood as pawns in Washington and Moscow’s proxy battles. Finally, it seemed, the stage was set for Africa to concentrate on securing its rightful place in the world and creating a better life for its people. Unfortunately, however, the war's ending was to be something quite different, the unleashing of civil strife unmatched in the history of contemporary Africa. The war’s end marked the outbreak of even more civil wars, strife and general political chaos. West Africa in particular literally went up in flames: Liberia burned; Sierra Leone imploded and the Ivory Coast went helter-skelter. In the Eastern and Central Africa, Uganda, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi too were caught up in savage conflagrations. The southern region of Africa witnessed growing wars in Angola and Mozambique, while fighting escalated in the perennial hotspots in the Horn of Africa—Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia.
During this same period, and from my personal perspective as an Ethiopian, few tragedies in the history of nations compare to the communist coup that led to the 1974 arrest, and subsequent death by torture, of my grandfather The Last Christian Emperor, His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I.
In 1974, Washington and Moscow’s ubiquitous Cold War contentions on the African continent converged to precipitate a collateral calamity of epic proportions for the Ethiopian people and their venerable and millenias old Empire. By deposing, torturing and murdering the Emperor Haile Selassie, the Derg, a communist military junta led by a brutal ideologue and revolutionary, Mengistu Haile Mariam, had destroyed the Emperor’s passionate and relentless drive for modernity and stifled a benevolent and progressive governance. Once known as the "conscience of the world", Ethiopia, was quickly engulfed by a brutal and propagandizing communism that transformed our respected nation into a tragic collection of warring factions and fractious ethnic states, with little unity, crumbling infrastructure, crushing poverty, and frequent bouts of famine and disease. Indeed, during the 1980s, the name of Ethiopia became synonymous with human misery.
In their cynical ideological tumbles across the African continent, the contending Cold War superpowers had manipulated, exploited and exacerbated Africa’s tender and extant Post-Colonial ethnic, religious and regional rivalries. Consequently, ethnic and religious differences became increasingly focused and intransigent – inevitable flash points for violent conflict. But while the African proxy wars of Washington and Moscow had inflamed the continent, ironically, it would be the eruption from the fall of the Berlin Wall that showered fiery embers of discontent, conflict, social upheaval, traumatized refugees, displaced populations, massive arms flows, mismanagement, public corruption and general unrest across the width and breadth of Africa. The confident optimism that had greeted the Cold War’s end and the widely held belief that the decade of the 90s heralded a new future for Africa revealed itself as sheer fantasy.
THE PRESENT SITUATION
Will Africa get it wrong again? The encouraging spread of democracy and fall of military juntas and dictators—historically the scourge of Africa's progress— portends a better future. At present, there are more African democracies than ever before including - Benin, Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and others. This has already reaped huge economic benefits for the continent as many African countries (Ghana, South Africa, Botswana, etc) and what I term the nascent Democracies - Ethiopia in particular - are registering economic growth rates of 5% or higher. The fall of military dictatorships suggests that an increasing number of African nations are now better governed and more politically transparent.
The present concern is can the institution of democracy peacefully prosper in Africa without confrontation and conflict. Democracy is a recent phenomenon on the African continent, and there are significant political remnants from the previous era that benefit from historic systems of corruption and tyranny. Moreover, even the system of democracy itself has its own flaws that in many instances tend to accentuate fundamental and already existing differences.
During this hopeful moment for Africa, a period of relatively increasing peace and domestic harmony, major continent wide problems remain concerning de-militarization, integration and assimilation of large, poorly educated and semi-nomadic populations into stable political entities and civil society. Also, instilling habits of stability building social values, respect for the rule of law, free elections and human rights will not be easy. Add to this the fundamental African issues of persistent and widespread poverty, little or no education, lack of health care and food shortages etc. and the challenges remain sobering.
THE FUTURE: ETHIOPIA SPECIFIC
Experience and common sense inform us that generalizations can be deceiving and that the perfusion of rich regional cultures and diverse historic experiences of the African people defy neat categorization. I agree and in my comments, I have used generalizations, but only insofar as they are accurate and pertinent, and now I will address the specific future, as I see it, for my country, Ethiopia, and its nascent democracy.
Increasingly, Ethiopia is being acknowledged as the genesis and true cradle of human civilization. African cultural diversity flourishes in our country in an exotic profusion of unique and extraordinary beauty, and sometimes-deadly passion. Thus, there is the immediate necessity to develop an encompassing, Pan-African culture of “Bridge Building” promoting understanding and tolerance between people – not by edict and force, but through enlightened agreement and consensus: one-on-one diplomacy.
Enlightenment, of course, derives from education, which requires good health, which requires dependable food supplies, which requires stable economics – and thus, the challenge and promise for the new African Millennium become clearly framed:
While it is well known that the African continent with its roughly 680MM inhabitants is the only region in the world where the number of extreme poor has actually risen over the past fifteen years, it is less well known that prior to the current global economic downturn, African countries were experiencing major improvements in key development fundamentals.
Still, poverty persists at the core of Africa's problems. Moreover, and due to the current global economic malaise, some Sub-Saharan countries are anticipated to suffer economic instability, as 2009 economic growth rates are projected to decline 50% on average. Most of Sub-Saharan Africa is already in the World Bank's lowest income category of less than $765 Gross National Income (GNI) per person per year, and I am unhappy to report that Burundi and Ethiopia are among the region’s worst performers with a disgraceful $90 GNI per person.
On a more encouraging note, and though peace remains fragile in some regions of the continent, overall, Africa is experiencing a decline in political conflicts and wars - especially in West and Central Africa – and after all, all wars inevitably obey the same brutal economic rubric:
War equals destruction, equals impoverishment, equals social disruption, equals out-migration… Our own Ethiopian Diaspora being a specific case in point.
Unfortunately, Ethiopia’s health issues are typical of Sub-Saharan Africa. Our population has reached more than 77 millions inhabiting a landlocked area slightly less than twice the size of the U.S. state of Texas. As is usual for most of Africa, HIV/AIDS is an enormous problem, as are many other infectious diseases such as diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, typhoid fever and malaria. First and foremost, we must educate our children, and through them, their parents, to improved hygiene, health care and nutrition.
As I have earlier noted, unless a person is healthy and fed, she has no energy or enthusiasm for anything else.
Governments have recently been joined by a long list of private donors and dynamic advocates such as Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett and Bono whose contributions and commitment to Africa’s war on poverty and disease are both inspiring and humbling. Thanks to their efforts, there are now billions of dollars becoming available for health spending -- with thousands of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and humanitarian groups vying to spend it.
Unfortunately, decades of neglect have rendered local hospitals, clinics, laboratories, medical schools, and health talent dangerously deficient and much of the cash now flooding the field leaks away without substantive result.
Few of today’s well-intentioned donors seem to appreciate that Africa’s health care problems are a long slog, and will require at least a full generation (if not two or three) to substantially improve -- and that efforts should focus less on particular diseases than on holistic measures that affect entire populations' general well being.
As I noted earlier, Education is surely the single most effective and immediate way to improve the lives of all Africans. As in any nation, our Ethiopian youth represent the country’s best hope for the future.
In concert with this educational focus, we must target our training to prepare Ethiopia and Africa’s youth for the most immediate, practical and productive jobs of the future, with a strong emphasis on technology.
Help in this regard has appeared unexpectedly from the two most revolutionary and empowering inventions for accelerated self-help and social and economic development that the world has ever seen – the Internet and the cheap Net book type computers.
The force-multiplying potential of these two revolutionary devices affords all people (under-developed nations in particular) the opportunity (and ability) to literally leapfrog the traditional business models, timetables and infrastructure costs that “More Developed” nations have taken to industrialization and economic development. In this revolutionary and historic moment, we Africans are realizing that virtually instantaneous and incredibly inexpensive access to the sum total of all human knowledge (and experience) lies immediately at our fingertips via the Internet. Moreover, inexpensive, direct and virtually instantaneous contact with the Global Community can be established cheaply and at will.
Through computerized and Internet distributed remote learning, we can now share information and instruction faster, more efficiently and richly than mankind ever dreamed possible, and this revolution is only just beginning. The implications for bridge-building, cultural development and learning are unprecedented, and encompass every aspect of human endeavor, from healthcare to sophisticated telemedicine and beyond.
Power technologies are also evolving and increasingly decentralized - with semi-autonomous power generation in the forms of solar, hydro, wind and geothermal available and becoming increasingly cost effective.
Today is a time of miracles for humanity and no one can fully grasp the spectra of possibility – but I am convinced that the implications are both revolutionary and unprecedented in human experience. This is our moment, the time when underdeveloped nations can catch up, contribute and fairly compete – even with the most advanced societies, and in a profoundly shorter time span than virtually anyone could have imagined 20 years ago.
Let us all commit ourselves to pray and work for enduring peace, prosperity and good will in the world. Let us also pray that during this new African Millennium, we Africans realize the full promise of our independence by finding the wisdom to consolidate our victories and banish forever the unwanted baggage of colonialism, Cold War, underdevelopment, poverty, cultural malaise and disease from our lives.
May God bless Ethiopia and Africa.
Thank you for your warm hospitality, kind attention and interest.
HIH Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie
Chairman – The Crown Council of Ethiopia
27 March 2009
It is with deep sorrow that the Crown Council of Ethiopia reports that Her Imperial Majesty Empress Medferiashwork Abele passed away on Friday March 13th, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Her Imperial Majesty was buried at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa which is the traditional burial place for members of the Imperial Family, patriots, and prominent dignitaries.
Abune Paulos, Patriach of Ethiopia lead the funeral service which took place on Tuesday March 17th. 2009. Hundreds of mourners including members of the Imperial family, the old Ethiopian Nobility, close family friends who flew into Addis Ababa from various parts of the world, prominent members of the Clergy, and the Rastafarian Community, were there to pay their respect.
Her Imperial Majesty who was 84 years old is succeeded by her son Crown Prince Zera Yacob, her three daughters Princess Mariam Sina, Princess Sihin and Princess Sifrash Bizu and their children. It must also be sadly remembered that Emperor Amha Selassie’s eldest daughter HIH Princess Egigayehu who was from his first marriage to HIH Princess Wolette Israel Seyoum, great grand daughter of Emperor Yohannes of Ethiopia, died while in prison under the communist Military Government of the Derge. Therefore, there are also Princess Egigayehu’s six children and seven grandchildren.
Her Imperial Majesty Medferiashwork was born in 1925, in Dessie town of Wollo Province in Northern Ethiopia.
She was the second of three daughters of Major General, Dejazmatch Abebe Damtew by his wife Woizero Wosenyelesh Mengesha. On her father's side the Empress was the descendant of the prominent Adisge Clan. Her paternal uncle, Ras Desta Damtew was the first husband of Princess Tenagnework Haile-Selassie. Ras Desta, who was a major hero and martyr of the Ethiopian resistance against the Italian occupation, was the father of Princess Aida, Prince Amha (who died at a young age), Princess Hirut, Princess Seble, Princess Sophia, and Commander Iskender Desta. Her Majesty’s maternal grandfather was Ras Bitwoded Mengesha Atikem who was the hereditary Lord of Dermot and Agewmidir, Viceroy of the Kingdom of Gojjam, and thus, a leading nobleman during the reign Of Emperor Menelik II.
As it was the tradition for children of noble families, Her Imperial Majesty began her early education with a private tutor. She then attended the well known Empress Menen School for Girls in Addis Ababa. Soon after the Italian occupation of Ethiopia, Her Majesty accompanied her family to exile in Jerusalem, Israel. While in Jerusalem, her parents and their three daughters lived in close proximity to Empress Menen, consort of Emperor Haile-Selassie who spent a good portion of her exile in the Holy Land. During that period, the young Medferiashwork was enrolled in a boarding school.
After the overthrow of the fascist Italian occupation of Ethiopia in 1941, young Medferiashwork returned to Ethiopia with her family. When Crown Prince Asfawossen and his first wife, Princess Wolette Israel Seyoum divorced in 1941, Medferiashwork Abebe was considered a prime candidate for the position of Crown Princess.
Thus, in April 1945, the young Medferiashwork married Crown Prince Asfawossen and became the Crown Princess of Ethiopia. The Imperial couple had four children namely Crown Prince Zera Yacob, Princess Maryam Sena, Princess Sihin and Princess Sifrash Bizu.
As a Crown Princess, she became one of the most influential and popular members of the Imperial Family. Many admired her courage, tanacity, and her commitment to charity work. Furthermore, the Crown Princess’s devotion in overseeing the bringing up of her children was exemplary. In 1960, during the attempted coup of the Imperial Guards against Emperor Haile-Selassie, when Crown Prince Asfawossen was compelled to announce that he would take over from his father and serve as a Constitutional Monarch, the Crown Princess Medferiashwork who was not placed under detention like some members of the Imperial Family, used the opportunity to host secret meetings of the loyalist leaders that defeated the coup attempt within a few days.
In 1973, when Crown Prince Asfawossen suffered a stroke, the Crown Princess accompanied her husband to Geneva for treatment. Thus, when the Military Government of the Derge abolished the Monarchy in Ethiopia the following year and imprisoned many members of the Imperial Family, Crown Prince Asfawossen and Crown Princess Medferiashwork, and all their children were safely in Geneva, Switzerland. After a few years, the family moved to London, UK to continue their life in exile in more familiar surroundings.
In the years that followed, the Imperial Couple faced a life of great uncertainty in exile and endured the imprisonment and death of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, and that of other close relatives and friends. During these difficult years, the Empress was a tower of strength and an anchor for her husband and her immediate family. The presence of the Emperor and Empress amongst Ethiopians in exile also served as a great symbol of hope for the rest of the Imperial Family in exile, and the larger Ethiopian community in the Diaspora. At this time, the Imperial Couple was greatly comforted by the sincere friendship of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of England, other Royal Families in Europe and around the world, as well as devoted friends of the family of many nationalities.
On April 6th, 1989, when Crown Prince Asfawossen reclaimed the Imperial Crown in Exile under his baptismal name of Amha Selassie I, Her Imperial Majesty Medferiashwork was proclaimed Empress Consort of Ethiopia in Exile. In 1991, the Imperial couple moved from London to the Virginian suburb of Washington DC to be close to the large Ethiopian Community there.
Empress Medferiashwork was widowed in February 1997 when Emperor Amha Selassie I passed away in Virginia after a long illness. Due to the strong historical and personal link of the Imperial Family to their homeland, Her Imperial Majesty Medferiashwork and other members of the Imperial Family ventured to return to Ethiopia for the first time since 1973 to place the remains of His Majesty Amha Selassie amongst those of his ancestors. This great and historic step marked the beginning of the Imperial Family’s return to Ethiopia to live as other citizens in their homeland.
After the passing away of the Emperor, the Empress led a quiet life in Virginia with occasional trips to Ethiopia. During this time, Her Majesty, focused largely on charitable endeavors. Empress Medferiashwork was a major patroness of various Orthodox monasteries and nunneries in Ethiopia. She was particularly devoted to the mountain Monastery of St Mary at Gishen where a fragment of the true cross is venerated.
In November 2000, Empress Medferiashwork attended the re-burial of her father in law Emperor Haile-Selassie, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In March 2005, Her Imperial Majesty together with many members of the Imperial Family attended the funeral of Princess Tenagnework Haile Selassie who had first become her aunt by marriage and later her sister-in-law by marriage. Three years ago, Her Majesty returned to Ethiopia to live there permanently. She passed away on Friday March 13th, 2009 after a relatively short illness.
During her life, Her Imperial Majesty received the three highest Ethiopian Imperial Orders which are Grand Collar and Chain of the Order of Solomon’s seal, the Grand Cordon Order of the Star of Solomon, and the Cordon of the Order of the Queen of Sheba. Her foreign Orders include the Order of the Seraphim of Sweden, Grand Crosses of the Orders of St Olav of Norway, and the Beneficence of Greece.
In closing its tribute to Empress Medferiashwork Abebe, the Crown Council of Ethiopia would like to express its deep gratitude to all those who extended tremendous goodwill and support to their Imperial Majesties and to the rest of the Imperial Family during the many difficult years in exile.
May Her Imperial Majesty Medferiashwork’s soul rest in peace.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
For the first time in the history of the United States, the American People have elected a multi-cultural President of African decent. The Ethiopian Crown Council congratulates the people of the United States and President-elect, Barack Obama, for this transcendent and inspirational example of multiculturalism and racial harmony. As the climax to more than a century of bloody struggle against imperialism in the old world, and the withering vestiges of slavery in the new, President-elect Obama’s victory presents a shining beacon of hope for all humanity - Africans at home and of the Diaspora in particular.
More than seventy years ago, Ethiopia's emperor, Haile Selassie I, stood before the League of Nations in defense of his country's rights against Italian aggression. In the 1930s, as he spoke, virtually every inch of African soil lay under foreign colonial rule and African-Americans suffered under a stifling regime of segregation. Yet a scant thirty years later, Martin Luther King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his struggle to free African-Americans from the burden of racial prejudice in America, while ironically at the same time, Nelson Mandela languished in an apartheid South African prison - another symbol of a continent still struggling to shake itself free.
Now, 45 years after the March on Washington, 46 years after Mandela's arrest, and 72 years after Haile Selassie's demand for freedom to the League of Nations, every inch of Africa is free and African-Americans have seen previously unimaginable dreams realized. Though grand it may be, we must remain humbly ever mindful that this final victorious link in a century's old chain of hard fought accomplishment, is not Barack Obama's alone. There is a saying that we all stand on someone’s shoulders, thus we must never forget the great personal sacrifice of countless unsung heroes across America who helped make this extraordinary moment possible.
Thousands upon thousands of Ethiopian-Americans have supported President-elect Obama. Every Ethiopian who left our homeland behind to seek hope in a new world can now see himself in Obama’s Kenyan father, and as a son of Africa the eyes of all Africans are upon him. Moreover, every child born to Ethiopian émigrés on these new shores can now see itself in Obama - and know that one day they too might hold America's highest office. The President-elect has shattered barriers to capture the imagination of all Ethiopian-Americans, challenging them to participate fully in American democracy in the certain knowledge that they too can shape the fate of that great nation.
In the past, the Ethiopian Crown Council has applauded George W. Bush and his administration for eight years of strong support for Africa. Bush's accomplishments in terms of African aid and bilateral development, and in the struggle against HIV, have been unprecedented. We call upon the president-elect to follow his predecessor's example in this regard and build ever-closer ties between the United States and the entire African continent.
For many generations, America has seen itself as a city on a hill, a fortress for freedom built anew by those who have left their old world and their old lives behind in search for a better tomorrow. For centuries, Europe's gifts to America have kept that dream alive, as all European countries (and others) have contributed their sons and daughters to build America's future. Today, it is Africa's turn.
On January 20, 2009, a Kenyan-American will be inaugurated leader of the free world. Through his extraordinary example, the President-elect has shown Africa -- indeed, the world -- that all barriers can be broken. He has demonstrated to African-Americans that their imagination must ignite with a renewed sense of what is now possible - today it is a Kenyan and perhaps one day soon it will be a South African, a Ghanaian and an Ethiopian.
The Crown Council of Ethiopia
HIH Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie, Haile-Selassie
Africa in the New Millennium
University of the West Indies
Good evening ladies, gentlemen and distinguished guests. It is both a pleasure and an honor to be with you in beautiful Jamaica, here at the venerable University of the West Indies – where coincidentally, during his legendary initial visit to Jamaica in 1966, your distinguished faculty awarded my grandfather, the Emperor Haile Selassie, an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
It is clear that Destiny has intimately linked Ethiopia’s Imperial family with the Jamaican people, and We are eternally grateful for the love, enduring friendship and generous hospitality of the Jamaican people.
Looking at the prospect for Africa in the new millennium necessitates first looking back and recognizing those from the past who, through extraordinary effort, skill and personal sacrifice, have made the present what it is – and thus, the future possible. Before embarking on this solemn and joyful journey, I am both cautioned and informed by one of my favourite quotes from My Grandfather:
“The tide that is sweeping Africa cannot be stayed. No force on earth is great enough to halt or reverse the trend. Its march is as relentless and inexorable as the passage of time."
H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie I, April 18, 1960
Being with you here in Jamaica this evening – it would be unthinkable to neglect the charismatic prophet and Jamaican-born black leader Marcus Garvey, who in the 1920s urged all blacks to see themselves in a common struggle, and promoted the concept of one African people. Garvey wanted blacks to view everything through a shared vision and to worship God “through the spectacles of Ethiopia.”
Garvey’s Rastafari beliefs evolved from a particular experience — slavery and its aftermath in Jamaica — and a particular view of how that suffering might be overcome. In this case, worldly hardship was endured through a hope and promise - adapted from the biblical vision of Zion - that someday blacks might return to a land from which they were exiled: Ethiopia.
Also in looking back, we cannot neglect the African Americans, whose heroic struggle for equality essentially reinstated and preserved the human dignity of all people of African heritage. Again, the contributions of Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King, Rosa Park, and unsung countless members of the Ethiopian and African diasporas - who have made enormous sacrifices of personal time, money and effort - have benefited us all. Indeed, Ethiopia’s own Dr. Melaku Beyan, whose organized resistance to the brutal Italian fascist aggression, received substantial support from countless African Americans and the African Diaspora at large.
Later, what the Emperor’s land grant patronage accomplished for Rastafarians, other extraordinary Jamaicans – Bob Marley most prominently – continued in the arena of international mass media and culture , with their music empowering Rastafari ideas in a global context.
It is important at this point to raise again another of the wonderful and enduring contributions which the Emperor made at around the same time. As a result of the Emperor’s 1966 visit, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church was founded in Jamaica, and thus began the true global journey of our ideals and our particular legacy of Christian ideals, which uniquely reaches back to Biblical times. Jamaica thus became an iconic location for the spread of our ancient faith into the Western Hemisphere.
Finally, and most importantly, the new African Millennium must acknowledge the heroic struggle for independence that was waged and won by gallant African leaders on the African continent. Thus, we salute the memory of Emperor Menelik II, Emperor Haile-Selassie I, Kwame Nkrumah and Jomo Kenyata - as well as the enormous contributions of Julius Neyrere, and Nelson Mandela, whose foresight and immense personal sacrifice enabled all African countries to welcome this new Millennium as free nations.
But now let us turn to the present….and the problems and opportunities facing Africans.
Common sense informs us that it is sheer folly to generalize about Africans and Africa, as the rich regional cultures and diverse historic experiences of the African people defy neat categorization. In what is increasingly being acknowledged as the true cradle of civilization, African cultural diversity flourishes in an exotic profusion of unique and extraordinary beauty, and sometimes-deadly passion. Thus, there is the immediate necessity to develop an encompassing, pan African culture of bridge building promoting understanding and tolerance between people – not by edict and force, but through enlightened agreement and consensus – one-on-one diplomacy.
Enlightenment, of course, derives from education, which requires good health, which requires dependable food supplies, which requires stable economics – and thus the challenge and promise for the African Millennium become clearly framed: Culture, Education, Health, Food and Economics.
While it is well known that the African continent with its roughly 680MM inhabitants is the only region in the world where the number of extreme poor has actually risen over the past fifteen years, it may be less well known that African countries have experienced major improvements in key development fundamentals. Still, poverty remains at the core of Africa's problems.
African economies are forecast to grow by an average of 6.2% in 2008 after a strong 2007. The latest edition of the Economic Report on Africa (ERA 2008), the annual joint publication of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Union (AU), says that growth on the continent was driven mainly by robust global demand and high commodity prices.
“Other growth factors in Africa include continued consolidation of macroeconomic stability and improving macroeconomic management, greater commitment to economic reforms, increased private capital flows, debt relief and increasing non-fuel exports,” the report says.
It adds that Africa has also witnessed a decline in political conflicts and wars, especially in West and Central Africa, though peace remains fragile in some parts of the continent and growth performance varied sharply across countries and regions
Most of Sub-Saharan Africa is in the World Bank's lowest income category of less than $765 Gross National Income (GNI) per person per year. Ethiopia and Burundi are the worst off with just $90 GNI per person.
Even middle income countries like Gabon and Botswana have sizeable sections of the population living in poverty.
North Africa generally fares better than Sub-Saharan Africa. Here, the economies are more stable, trade and tourism are relatively high and Aids is less prevalent.
Development campaigners have argued that the rules on debt, aid and trade need reforming to help lift more African nations out of poverty.
Unfortunately, Ethiopia’s health issues are typical of Sub-Sahara Africa. Our population has reached more than 77 millions – populating a landlocked area slightly less than twice the size of Texas. According to the UNFPA’s 2007 report, our population is growing at an average rate of 2.3 percent annually. As in many African nations, HIV/AIDS is an enormous problem, as are many other infectious diseases such as diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, typhoid fever and malaria. First and foremost, we must educate our children, and through them, their parents, to improved hygiene, health care and nutrition.
As We have earlier noted, unless a person is healthy and fed, she has no energy or enthusiasm for anything else.
African affairs activist and performer Bob Geldof recently wrote for Time Magazine, “the current administration in Washington has initiated the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) with cross-party support led by Senators John Kerry and Bill Frist. In 2003, only 50,000 Africans were on HIV antiretroviral drugs — and they were required to pay for their own medicine.” Geldof continues, “ Today, 1.3 million are receiving medicines free of charge. The U.S. also contributes one-third of the money for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria — which treats another 1.5 million. It contributes 50% of all food aid (though some critics find the mechanism of contribution controversial). On a seven-day trip through Africa, Bush announced a fantastic new $350 million fund for other neglected tropical diseases that can be easily eradicated; a program to distribute 5.2 million mosquito nets to Tanzanian kids; and contracts worth around $1.2 billion in Tanzania and Ghana from the Millennium Challenge Account, another initiative of the Bush Administration.” As unprecedented as it was unexpected, a “point of light” in Washington’s foreign policy has been its generous African largess.
Governments have recently been joined by a long list of private donors and advocates, topped by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, and figures such as Bono, whose contributions to today’s war on disease are truly breathtaking.
Thanks to their efforts, there are now billions of dollars being made available for health spending, with thousands of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and humanitarian groups vying to spend it.
But much more than money is required. It takes states, health-care systems, and at least passable local infrastructure to improve public health in the developing world. And because decades of neglect there have rendered local hospitals, clinics, laboratories, medical schools, and health talent dangerously deficient, much of the cash now flooding the field leaks away without substantive result.
Moreover, in all too many cases, aid is tied to short-term numerical targets such as increasing the number of people receiving specific drugs, decreasing the number of pregnant women diagnosed with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS), or increasing the quantity of bed nets handed out to children to block disease-carrying mosquitoes.
Few of today’s donors seem to understand that Africa’s health care problems are a long slog, and that it will take at least a full generation (if not two or three) to substantially improve public health -- and that efforts should focus less on particular diseases than on holistic measures that affect populations' general well-being.
As I noted earlier, Education, of course, is the single most effective and immediate way to improve the lives of all Africans. For example, about one half our Ethiopian people over the age of 15 can read and write and according to the UNFPA’s 2007 report our population is growing at an average rate of 2.3 percent annually. This means that we will have two million more children each year, with each and every one needing to be fed, schooled, and provided with basic health services and jobs. Our Ethiopian youth, as in any country, represent our nation’s hope for the future. Only by adequately caring for and preparing them is there hope for us to eradicate the social ennui and poverty that plagues our nation.
There is progress. School building has greatly accelerated and enrollment has increased from 39 percent in 1991 to almost 80 percent today, as the government’s budget allocation for education has risen steadily from 14.2 percent in 2001/02 to 19.7 percent in 2004/05. Additionally, a number of higher institutions of learning, both public and private, have opened. Yet the question of the quality of the education as well as the increasing number of dropouts is a continuing concern. Obviously, much remains to be done.
In concert with this educational focus, we must target our training to prepare Ethiopia and Africa’s youth for the most practical and productive jobs of the future, with a strong emphasis on technology.
In this particular regard, help has appeared unexpectedly from the single most revolutionary and empowering instrument for accelerated self-help and social and economic development that the world has ever seen – the Internet.
The Internet’s unique, force-multiplying potential affords all people (under-developed nations in particular) the opportunity (and ability) to literally leapfrog the traditional timetables and infrastructure investments that “More Developed” nations have taken to industrialization and economic development. In this historic and seminal moment, we Africans have realized that literally instantaneous and incredibly inexpensive access to the sum total of all human knowledge (and experience) is now virtually at our fingertips via the Internet. Moreover, inexpensive, direct and virtually instantaneous contact with the Global Community can be established at will.
Through Internet based distributed remote learning, we can now share information and instruction faster, more efficiently and richly than mankind ever dreamed possible and this revolution is just beginning. The implications for learning and bridge-building cultural development are unprecedented, and extend from culture and healthcare to sophisticated telemedicine and beyond.
Power technologies are also evolving and increasingly decentralized - with semi-autonomous power generation in the forms of solar, hydro, wind or geothermal etc. available and becoming cost effective.
This is a time of miracles for humanity and no-one can fully grasp the full spectra of possibility; but I am convinced that the implications are both revolutionary and unprecedented in human experience. This is our moment, the time when underdeveloped nations can catch up, contribute and fairly compete – even with the most advanced societies, and in a profoundly shorter time span than virtually anyone could have imagined only 20 years ago.
Thank you for your kind attention and interest. May God bless Ethiopia, Africa, and Jamaica - and let us all commit ourselves to pray and work for enduring peace and good-will in the world. Let us also pray that during the new African Millennium, we Africans perfect our independence by finding the wisdom to consolidate our victories and forever banish the stigma of underdevelopment, poverty, cultural malaise and disease from our lives.
Honorable Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my distinct honor and great delight to be with you today, to welcome with optimism, the new dawn of the Ethiopian Millennium. Let us embrace this Millennium celebration with great joy, as it has brought us all together in spirit, undivided by politics, ethnicity or religion.
On behalf of the Ethiopian Community in the Washington, DC, area, it is my great honor to lay a wreath at the African American Civil War Memorial, on this Festive occasion. As the Ethiopian community has increasingly expanded people’s exposure to African heritage in the nation’s capital and it’s surrounding, it is befitting that Ethiopians and the larger African American Community should join hands to usher in together, the new African Millennium.
This Millennium celebration gives us the opportunity to acknowledge and to express our high esteem for the achievement of African Americans, whose heroic struggle for equality has reinstated and preserved the human dignity of all people of African heritage. We Ethiopians have greatly benefited from the struggle and sacrifice of African Americans in this country. The contribution of Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King, Rosa Park, and many others, has, indeed, put us all in better standing.
Rabbi Arnold Josiah Ford and his family, Colonel Hubert F. Julian, and Colonel John C. Robinson of the African American community, as well as many others, had stood by us during Italy’s attempt to colonize Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s own Dr. Melaku Beyan, who organized resistance to Italian invasion of our country, was supported by many African Americans. The support that we received from African Americans during our struggle against European invasion has, thus, bound our two communities together. Therefore, we are deeply grateful for this and other ties that we have established with African Americans.
This African Millennium celebration cannot be passed without due acknowledgment and high tribute for the struggle for independence that was wedged and won by gallant leaders of the African continent. Thus, we salute the memory of Emperor Menelik II, Emperor Haile-Selassie I, Kwame Nkrumah, and Jomo Kenyata, as well as the contributions of Julius Neyrere, and Nelson Mandela, whose foresight and great sacrifice has today enabled all African countries to welcome the new Millennium as free nations. Let us hope and pray that, during the new Millennium, we Africans will struggle and win the fight against underdevelopment, poverty, and disease, to make Africa’s freedom whole.
When we celebrate this unique milestone in our ancient history, each and everyone of us comes with great hope and expectation that it will bring us unfathomed gifts of hope, peace and prosperity for each of our families, our beloved country and, indeed, for all our friends throughout the world, who had welcomed us into their midst, and who had stood by us during our hour of need.
This joyous occasion also gives us the opportunity to reflect on some self-evident truths such as - there is no future without a past, no joy without sorrow, and no gain without pain - . If we accept these facts, and show our determination to move forward to better pastures, we will be able to draw from our vast experience the threads that will firmly bind the link between our country’s past and its future.
Thus, when we are critical of the past or the present, let us endeavor to also acknowledge all the achievements that have been made by different groups and build on these, rather than continuously dismantle, only to start allover again, what has been already achieved with great sacrifice and pain by all parties.
We Ethiopians are proud of our ancient history and distinct culture that has been preserved unbroken since pre-biblical times until the modern age. Ethiopia is the home of Denkinesh – who is known to the world as Lucy – the earliest humanoid, and thus the cradle from where human society first emerged.
As our country is home to the Jews, Christians, Muslims, and those of traditional beliefs, it has served as a bridge between people of different ethnic, religious and cultures backgrounds.
Furthermore, Ethiopia is a country that is custodian of the Ark of the Covenant. The worldwide Christian community considers Ethiopia as an illustrious realm mentioned in the bible more than forty times. The Prophet Mohammad called Ethiopia “the land of righteousness” and ordered his followers never to provoke Ethiopia. Thus, as there is a distinct link between Ethiopia and the biblical world of Jews and Christians, so is there a direct link between Ethiopian society and the very foundation of Islam.
Therefore, Ethiopian civilization is a world treasure of great importance, as it is the root of Judeo-Christian civilization, as well as the fabric of Muslim society. Thus, as we celebrate the new Millennium, let us pledge to always uphold and preserve this ancient heritage that has been the beacon of hope and a bridge of peaceful coexistence for African people.
Periodic wars, famine and revolution in Ethiopia have taught its people to be strong and diligent. While Ethiopians have embraced the laws and life styles of their new homelands throughout the world, many have learnt new skills and technology. Thus, they have been able to contribute greatly to the economy and administration of their new homes in the Diaspora. I am sure that our forefathers will warmly smile in their eternal rest to know that their off springs have spread their ancient culture, their numerous languages, their unique form of religious devotion, and their complex courtesies, throughout the world.
In closing, I would like to inform all gathered here that both the African Union and the Council of the District of Columbia have officially recognized and declared the new Millennium as the African Millennium.
This is, indeed, in appreciation of Ethiopia’s ancient history, as well as its role as a beacon of African independence. It is also an expression of their resolve to promote cooperation and partnership amongst all people of African heritage. Therefore, let us all join hands and pledge to make all people of African heritage take their rightful place in the world community during the new Millennium.
May God Bless Ethiopia, Africa, the USA, and bring lasting peace to the whole wide world!
I wish you all a Very Happy Millennium. Melkam Addis Zemen le Hulachiu.
Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie
The Crown Council of Ethiopia rejoices with the Ethiopian people in the just and compassionate release and pardon of our previously imprisoned countrymen, and calls for similar compassion and release for all political prisoners.
We are both mindful and thankful for the selfless and constant efforts and sacrifice of the many whose labors have converged to produce this historic moment of national reconciliation and healing. We are also particularly thankful in this instance for the wise guidance and counsel of the Elders – a venerable, treasured and enduring institution of traditional Ethiopian society and culture.
Providence has presented the Ethiopian people with this Golden Moment for national dialogue and reconciliation. We urge that the Elders and all Ethiopians seize this opportunity to exert maximum moral influence and guidance in an intense campaign for peace, social equity and the rule of law. We dare not fail in this effort as we are admonished by the lessons of history that even as there have been many great and ancient states, inevitably they all perished when they became fond of conflict – either with others or among themselves.
His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie has taught us that while different traditions, ethnic groupings and religions in their historic forms tend to bind us to limited groups and militate against the development of a broader sense of national or global community, the rich and ancient traditions of the Ethiopian people transcend and unite all Ethiopians in an enduring bond of nation and brotherhood.
HIM also taught that forgiveness is always an intimate and profound journey of healing and discovery. And though we may know fervently with every fiber of our being that we must forgive, still the quest for peace and forgiveness is fraught with frustration and difficulty.
By the end of 1941, Ethiopia, with British help, had finally broken the last remnants of the Italian Fascists’ unjust occupation and resistance. A large number of Italian soldiers, together with their commander-in-chief, became Ethiopia’s prisoners. The Ethiopian people and HIM demonstrated transcendent magnanimity and the extraordinary principle of unconditional forgiveness through HIM’s order that absolutely no retaliation be taken against the captured Italians – and even offered sanctuary to those Italians who wished to remain as émigrés and citizens. Our Ethiopian legacy has always strived for excellence, and if HIM and the Ethiopian people could find forgiveness for the vanquished Fascists, we can surely practice maturity and forgiveness in our dealings with each other.
God Bless Ethiopia…
It is with deep dismay that members of the Crown Council have followed recent reports of conflicts between Christian and Muslim Ethiopians in various parts of our country. Our heartfelt condolences are sent to all those who have lost loved ones. We Ethiopians have for centuries lived side by side in peace with mutual respect of all religions. Therefore it is disheartening to hear that certain misguided people have now been swayed by the current tide of intolerance and violence.
History had taught us for centuries, how the Christian Ethiopian King had welcomed the followers of the Prophet Mohammed when they fled from persecution in their home land, and allowed them to live amongst his people in peace, undisturbed because of their religious difference. It is written that, in appreciation of the King’s hospitality, the Prophet Mohamed himself had instructed all his followers never to attack Ethiopia. Given this rich history of mutual respect, why has the Islamic Court in Somalia declared a Jihad on Ethiopia, contrary to the teaching of the Prophet Mohammed?
In more recent times, our forefathers had believed, advocated, and upheld the fact that “religion is a very individual personal expression of our relationship with our God, while a country is a shared entity for which each and every citizen has the responsibility to work and protect locally, regionally, and globally.” This deeply held conviction and continued teaching had, in the past, united our people and made Ethiopia the beacon of religious freedom and tolerance. Thus, Ethiopians of Christian and Muslim faith had intermarried and many of us have relatives from the respective faiths.
Regrettably, the intentional disconnect from value building blocks, such us our ancient history, religion and tradition, which were the trademark of the communist Dergue government, have resulted in weakening the long established values and the mutual respect that existed between people of different faith. However, by the Grace of God, there are still Ethiopians who deeply believe and uphold our long established values of tolerance and peaceful coexistence.
Recently, we were most encouraged to hear that some Ethiopians of Muslim faith had condemned the violent attacks on Christians in the Western Region, and that a Council of Elders of both faiths, is discussing in Addis Ababa how best to educate our people so as to help reconcile the current conflict. The discussion that was held between Christian and Muslim Religious Leaders on the Muslim Radio here in the USA, on the eve of October 29th 2006, has also shown that Ethiopians of different faith are committed to jointly seek solutions to promote peace within our country and with our Muslim neighbors. This kind of interfaith dialogue must continue to be promoted and supported.
Furthermore, we implore our country men of all faith to teach our youth about the value of tolerance and peaceful coexistence. The news media also has great responsibility to be tactful while reporting the various incidents so as not to inflame the already strained relationship between some of our people. We must acknowledge that we are all stakeholders in creating a culture of peace in our country. After all, the core teaching of all religion is reconciliation, harmony and Peace.
May God in his infinite mercy grant us Peace.
The Crown Council of Ethiopia has followed with deep sadness the damage caused by floods throughout Ethiopia in recent weeks. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of approximately 1000 people who have lost their lives. We pray that the over 500,000 people who have been adversely affected by the floods, particularly those who are displaced and lost their livelihood, may find support to whether the storm and have the means to reestablish their lives.
Natural disasters and emergencies always bring us to our senses, and make us realize our common humanity. It is at times like these that we all recognize the supreme value of human life above all else, and our interconnectedness to each other and to nature.
In recognition of these facts, many local, national and international people, as well as national and international organizations have, and continue to render assistance to those who are currently facing emergency needs in Ethiopia. The Crown Council expresses its deep appreciation and sincere thanks to them all. In doing so, however, we would like to point out that the task of alleviating the current emergency problems is far from over.
In the short term, rescue missions are still required in areas were the flooding continues. Preventative measures need to be supported where the overflow of additional water reservoirs is anticipated. Those who are displaced, particularly children who have lost their parents, need food, shelter and medicine. As the threat of waterborne diseases including diarrhea and cholera, as well as malaria is real amongst an overcrowded population who reside in makeshift shelters, assistance is also needed to alleviate these problems.
In the long term, those who have lost their means of livelihood such as livestock and income generating projects will need supported to reestablish their means of survival. Furthermore, the population in flood prone areas would benefit from learning about essential emergency preparedness activities at the local level.
In light of the above, the Crown Council of Ethiopia adds its voice to the appeal for additional aid for the Ethiopian people who are adversely affected by the current floods. Mindful of our people’s resilience and great courage in overcoming continued onslaught of nature, we are confident that with God’s grace and worldwide support, the people now adversely affected will once again regain their hope and determination to build a better future.
May God in his mercy look kindly on Ethiopia.
The Crown Council of Ethiopia has been informed that the “Haile Selassie International Development Foundation”, that also refers to itself as the “Haile Selassie I Foundation”, (which confuses it with the Foundation established by the Crown Council, and also with the Haile Selassie I Memorial Foundation, that is well known in Ethiopia), has organized an event on June 27th, 2006, at Debre Haile Kedus Gebriel Cathedral. The Guest Speakers at the gathering include Ms Ana Gomes, Member of the European Parliament; US Congressman, Mr. Christopher Smith; and Mr. Obang Metho of the Anuak Justice Council. The co-sponsors of the event are the Gambella Development Agency, and Anuak Justice Council.
In 2004, the Crown Council had publicly announced that it had changed direction to become a non political organ of the Ethiopian Crown, and will henceforth focus on humanitarian, development, and historical preservation. Thus, the Council does not sponsor or participate in any political forum. The same applies to the Haile Selassie I Memorial Foundation of which I am also a member. Therefore, the Haile Selassie International Development Foundation should be recognized as a separate entity, without confusion with the work of either the Crown Council, or that of the Memorial Foundation.
With all due respect to the Administrators of the Debre Haile Kedus Gebriel Cathedral, where the event will be held, to the co-sponsors the Anuak Justice Council and the Gambella Development Agency, as well as to all the guest speakers, it is my duty as the Chairman of the Ethiopian Crown Council to inform them, and the public at large, that, the Crown Council, in 2004, had publicly disassociated itself from the Haile Selassie International Development Foundation. The Council was forced to take this action because it does not agree with their method of work which is designed to confuse them with already existing well established organizations, and also because we feel that their objectives do not accurately reflect the legacy of Emperor Haile Selassie I. Our Statement of disassociation could be found on the Crown Council website. The Haile Selassie I Memorial Foundation has also disassociated itself from the work of the Haile Selassie I International Development Foundation, and has posted a Statement to this effect on its website.
Thus, it must be recognized that Mr. Bekele Molla, President of the Haile Selassie International Development Foundation, Ms. Sosinna Tesfa, the General Secretary, and their supporters, have no association with either the Crown Council of Ethiopia, or with the Haile Selassie I Memorial Foundation.
Members of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, like all Ethiopians, have been, and will continue to be deeply concerned with developments in our country that followed the May 2005 elections. In this regard, the Crown Council had issued two Statements - the first on June 10th, 2005, and the second on November 11th 2005. These Statements were publicly announced, and widely circulated by both the Ethiopian, and the International Media. As the unity, equality, and peaceful development of our country is our sincere desire, similar public Statements of concern will be issued by the Crown Council, if and when needed. May Peace based on Equality and Justice descend upon Ethiopia.
Over the past two weeks, we have followed the appalling news from our country with deep sadness. Our heartfelt condolences go out to all those who have lost loved ones. Our message to them is that “Each and every Ethiopian has sustained a major loss. We are all deeply wounded and bleed from within for our beloved nation.”
Regrettably, we seem to remain oblivious to the tragic lessons learned from the terrible events of last June. Indeed, accusations and counter-accusations have accelerated and extremism has gained a life of its own. The emotionally seductive rhetoric of, “You’re either with us or against us” leaves no room for productive negotiation and compromise. Such strong and inflammatory speech erodes the right to freedom of thought, as it aims to silence the legitimate voice of the people. Polarization and confusion reign. At present, there is no indication that either side is making any serious effort towards dialogue and reconciliation, which undermines the fundamental prerequisites for democratic governance. Is Ethiopia in the process of bidding farewell to its commitment to democracy?
As we still mourn the 36 people whose lives were needlessly lost in June 2005, 46 more of our compatriots have been sacrificed by their own nation. Hundreds more have been wounded, thousands imprisoned, and many unaccounted for. History and experience have taught us that violence begets violence and can never be a vehicle for lasting change. Yet, we seem to cling to the erroneous belief that genuine expression of heartfelt grievance can be forcefully silenced. It is well to remember that fires hastily subdued are likely to flare up again at a later date. Besides, setting alight the passions of political fire in a land of ethnic and religious diversity is sheer madness and a highly irresponsible act; for once lit, the fire can spread uncontrolled and consume us all.
At this sad time of confusion and national turmoil, all Ethiopians have a moral duty to express our unrelenting resolve to break the cycle of violence. Thus, we once again implore all parties and the public at large to exercise maximum flexibility and restraint in their dealings with each other and with the public at large. Let us all use the lessons learnt from our tolerant coexistence with many ethnic and religious groups, to guide us in dealing with the current political challenge.
We all share the collective memory of fear, intimidation, brutality, indiscriminate killing, and the trauma and humiliation of exile that has undermined our personal and national identity. The massive brain drain -- a result of nearly 30 years of unrelenting political turmoil -- and an unprecedented exodus of those seeking refuge and a better way of life has created a nation of refugees and servitude. Coupled with the impact of periodic drought, dire poverty and ravaging disease, these misfortunes continue to adversely impact on our self worth and our international image. It is clear that our collective psyche cannot and must not be made to sustain further humiliation and bloodshed. It is time for us to focus on fighting the massive wars on poverty and disease, and refrain from any act that will further damage our national psyche and obliterate Ethiopia from the list of honorable nations.
We must all recognize and uphold the higher goals for our nation. National unity based on equality, justice, and peace must never be sacrificed for short term political gain. Our objective to institute democracy to give equal opportunity to all our citizens, and our devotion to the rule of law, must never be compromised to maintain or attain political power. Unless we urgently begin dialogue with mutual respect, and get back on track to work towards achieving our national goal, we are bound to repeat the darkest periods of our nation’s history. We must, therefore, develop short and long term strategies to help us back on course to work towards achieving our ideal.
In the short term, we suggest that all political parties should jointly establish a forum for mediation and conflict resolution to help address the current problem by bringing back relevant parties to the negotiation table. Prominent, respected religious, civic, academic and business leaders that uphold the higher objectives of our nation above ethnic, religious, political and financial consideration, should be selected to serve on the Mediation Board. The Board should be immediately established to urgently help to explore ways and means for peaceful resolution of the current political impasse. At the same time, the Board should develop and disseminate confidence building measures to generate tolerance, understanding, and some measure of trust. Ethiopians at home and in the Diaspora, as well as the international community must actively and enthusiastically engage with and support the work of the forum.
Once the overriding current problems peacefully subside, the Mediation Board should work on a long term strategy to help us avoid similar political deadlock in the future. In this regard, the Board should review and advise on how best to address the underlying problems that continue to simmer beneath the surface to undermine trust and confidence between leaders and the people, between political parties themselves, and also between the various groups of people that compose our nation. Such long neglected core issues of contention that continue to erode trust and confidence and hamper social, economic and political development must be sincerely and fully addressed. This will help us to avoid squandering every opportunity that comes our way for true reconciliation and socio-economic development. The adaptation of the South African model of “Truth and Reconciliation” and the teaching of “Tolerance” as practiced in Lebanon and in the USA, should be explored to help develop a suitable template that is most befitting for Ethiopia’s particular case.
In concluding we must be candid. All political leaders are ultimately accountable to their constituents, and the only justification for government of any sort is to ensure the protection and prosperity of its people. At this stage of our nation’s history, the elected leaders have been given the clear public mandate to institute democracy and democratic principles as a mechanism for lifting Ethiopia from under development. Thus the leaders have a sacred and profound responsibility to do the public’s bidding and not to divert them to other agendas. If the leaders fail the people at this crucial juncture, history will judge harshly.
May God grant us the wisdom to rise above our current problems and help us to create true peace from conflict.
We and our colleagues of the Ethiopian Crown Council have watched in stunned disbelief the immense and unprecedented calamity that has befallen the gentle and courageous folk of America's idyllic Gulf Coast–Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The Crown has many dear and treasured friends in the region and our heartfelt sympathy and prayers go out to them and their fellows.
We also wish to take this opportunity to offer words of encouragement, certain in the sure knowledge of the indomitable Spirit and Will of the American People to overcome and prevail over adversity.
Finally, we call upon the 700,000 resident American Ethiopian community and its organizations and leadership – churches, mosques, civic and professional groups -- to offer whatever assistance they can to give back and assist our generous America benefactors during this time of extraordinary national distress.
It is with deep regret that the Crown Council has learnt of the deaths of 27 people and the many injured, during the last few days following the May 15th elections in Ethiopia. We extend our heart felt condolences to the families of all those who have lost their lives in pursuit of their ideal. The violence and deaths have shocked and diminished us all.
Like all Ethiopian citizens, we members of the Crown Council have the moral obligation to express our deep concern regarding the situation that is daily getting out of hand as we face a major crossroad in our nation’s history. May 15th was truly exemplary of a nation’s disciplined action. The lessons that we had learnt from history, our pride and resolve were all expressed with patience and dignity.
However, our hope for a major stride to honor each citizen’s inalienable rights to have the freedom of choice, the effort to ensure the acceleration of socio-economic development based on true equality, and the optimism that we could all jointly address our nation’s basic problems, are now in grave danger of fleeting away as an unfulfilled dream. The tragedy is that all this is unfolding at a time when millions of our people are once again faced with food shortage, and the international community is determined to adopt a comprehensive strategy to enable us to free ourselves from the vicious cycle.
As each and every one of us is a stake holder in the well being of our nation, we should refrain from sabotaging ourselves when we are at the brink of a breakthrough to institute democratic institutions and to find committed assistance that will help us overcome our basic problems to clear the way for a brighter future. Surely, we Ethiopians who have had long established culture of co existence of many ethnic and religious groups can seek and find a way to live with those who have different political views from us.
Thus we urge both the Government and the Opposition Parties to exercise utmost patience, flexibility and restraint in their dealings with each other and with the public at large. They both cannot afford to risk losing the measure of trust placed on them by their respective constituencies. While we keep in mind that democracy is one of our nation’s most noble goals, we must at the same time realize that democracy is not born overnight, or without some measure of compromise. As one life lost through impatience and inflexibility is one life too many, all Ethiopians should place precedence in the rule of law and fundamentally accepted standards of human rights.
Most of all, we plead to all political groups to refrain from igniting ethnic and other differences to secure short term political gains. If these divisive actions are practiced, they will add fuel to the fire that will consume our people, and make us all major losers. The media and the general public also have moral obligation to be cautious not to spread distrust and fear. If we manage to pull ourselves back from the brink of deep despair that is hovering over our nation, and find a method of working together, the next five years can usher in a new era of democratic growth and build the base for stability in Ethiopia.
21 April 2005 - During the past few weeks, the Ethiopian Crown Council had joined Roman Catholics, Christians of all denominations, and, indeed, all mankind throughout the world in mourning the passing away of His Holiness Pope John Paul II. His passing is an immeasurable loss to all humanity who had amply demonstrated their great admiration, high respect and deep love during the period of mourning and at His funeral.
As we reflect on our great loss, we need to draw strength form the enlightenment, courage and true joy that His Holiness shared with all of us without drawing any boundary of denomination, faith or philosophy. During his Papacy, His Holiness demonstrated true courage and humility when he asked for forgiveness as he believed that this is the basis for true reconciliation and lasting peace. He readily granted forgiveness when he sat face to face with the man who tried to kill him and gave him absolution. He traveled throughout the world to promote a truly inclusive society, to bring attention to the case of those who have been marginalized, and acted as the voice of the voiceless.
We Ethiopians will remember His Holiness particularly for his tireless campaign to alleviate poverty and to promote a more just and compassionate world. Ethiopian Christians, Muslims and Jews who have peacefully lived together for many centuries fully appreciate the importance of His Holiness’s message of coexistence. In this most challenging period of world history, His Holiness Pope John Paul II showed us the pathway from hate to love, from division to unity, from war to peace, and, indeed, from darkness to light. His Holiness Pope John Paul II will truly be missed.
Upon the election of Pope Benedict XVI, the Ethiopian Crown Council wishes to extend its warm greetings and best wishes to the new Pope. We pray that God, in His infinite wisdom, will guide Pope Benedict XVI as he continues to carry forward God’s work.
May Pope John Paul II rest in Peace, and may Almighty God bless and guide Pope Benedict XVI.
February 10th 2005, USA - As the leaders of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, we would like to acknowledge the fact that what the Bob Marley Foundation has achieved in Addis Ababa, during the first two weeks of February 2005, is truly amazing! Who would have believed, even a few months ago, that Bob Marley, who has been deeply inspired by our late grandfather Emperor Haile Selassie I, would receive such high honor and public recognition in the presence of a few members of the Imperial family, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Leaders of all other Christian Denominations, Leaders of Muslim Faith, the Mayor of Addis Ababa, as well as Representatives of International Organizations, all in front of over 250,000 people!
It is a credit to Bob Marley’s memory that he has became the reason for once again hosting with pride the traditional Ethiopian Flag with the lion, which many African States and the Rastafarian Movement had modified and used as the symbol of African pride and independence. It is also in remembrance of Bob Marley that the photograph of Emperor Haile Selassie I was displayed with sentiment and respect in a country which had underrated and suppressed both the meaning of the flag and the contribution of the Emperor, since the 1974 revolution. The debate organized for African youth during the celebration so that they may consider how best to prevent massive brain drain, in order to facilitate social and economic development in our continent, is, indeed, an invaluable contribution. We hope that the steps taken to reconcile the Diaspora with the continent of their heritage will also have long lasting benefits. Furthermore, the revival of the spirit of African Unity is a reminder of the aspirations and the contributions of many Pan Africanists from all over the world, who had strived not only for territorial independence, but also for social and economic justice, which regrettably Africa is yet to achieve.
However, like many Ethiopians we are perplexed that while Bob Marley’s lyrics continues to re-affirm the historic significance of Ethiopia as a symbol of African civilization, pride and independence, the contribution of those who have inspired Bob Marley, particularly that of Emperor Haile Selassie I, and the Ethiopians Patriots who have safeguarded the unity and independence of our country, have not been accorded equal recognition and respect by their own compatriots. As we aim to sustain the dignity of Africans, we need to uphold historical integrity by teaching our youth that it is the sacrifice, courage, and united action of Ethiopian leaders and their people throughout the ages that has inspired Bob Marley. Our youth also need to be made aware, that Ethiopia deserves the credit for having inspired many African leaders, especially since the battle of Adawa in the late 19th Century to struggle and regain the independence of their respective countries.
Historical integrity also demands that we acknowledge the fact that Emperor Haile Selassie’s contribution as a Statesman, goes far beyond the fact that he was the source of the inspiration that lead to the establishment of the Rastafarian Movement. We believe that Bob Marley’s call for brotherhood and unity has opened the door for the people of the world, particularly Ethiopians, to weigh with outmost objectivity Emperor Haile Selassie’s achievements against his shortcomings, which he as a human being undoubtedly had. In doing so, however, we must judge him in the context of the ideological and material situation that prevailed in Ethiopia and the world in his time.
Since the 1974 revolution, much has been said about Emperor Haile Selassie’s failings. As the leaders of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, which in July 2004, decided to become a non-political organ of the Ethiopian Crown, it is our historic duty and honor to remind Ethiopians and the world at large, about the major achievements of the Emperor.
Emperor Haile Selassie was a pioneer who had done his outmost to move Ethiopia from the feudal age to the 20th Century. He had granted a modern Constitution by which his people are to be governed. He promoted the establishment of modern education and health care, so that they may benefit from advancements in the world. He instituted a central judicial system that is removed from political interference. He installed a modern system of banking and centralized taxation to bring his country to world standard. He also founded the Ethiopian Telecommunication Authority and Ethiopian Airlines to give his people exposure to the world. The main infrastructures that are found in Ethiopia today and also many educated Ethiopians are the product of his contribution. At the re-internment of the Emperor’s remains, in November 2000, the Patriarch and all the leaders of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church had borne witness regarding the Emperor’s tremendous contribution as the defender of the faith.
The world can not deny the fact: that Emperor Haile Selassie was the one who abolished slavery in Ethiopia; that he led his people in defending and securing Ethiopia’s independence during World War II; that he was highly distinguished for his foresight, courage and dignity in advocating collective security at the League of Nations, (an issue that still preoccupies the world); that he was magnanimous in giving immediate amnesty to the remnant of the Fascist Army; that Emperor Haile Selassie gave support and encouragement to Leaders of African Liberation Movements, such as Jomo Kenyata, Julius Neyrere, and Nelson Mandela; that he played a major role in establishing the Organization of African Unity, which even today remains as the African Union with its Headquarters still in Addis Ababa; and that the Emperor had made remarkable contribution as a mediator in conflict resolution in Africa. Thus, we owe it to succeeding generations to present a total picture of Emperor Haile Selassie’s history which far transcends the recognition accorded to him as the father of the Rastafarian Movement.
In line with the above, as Ethiopians and Rastafarians pledge to build a monument to Bob Marley in Addis Ababa in respect of his message, it is only fitting that they should also honor the source of Bob’s message by constructing a worthy monument of Emperor Haile Selassie I, and Ethiopia’s many unsung heroes, our nation’s Patriots. In the spirit of true unity advocated by Bob Marley, it is also our responsibility to remind our Rastafarian brothers and sisters that Emperor Haile Selassie, who was a devout Christian, has never claimed to be a deity. In fact, the Emperor was responsible for establishing the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in the Caribbean.
We extend our most sincere thanks to the Rastafarian community for honoring their African heritage; for preserving part of Ethiopia’s history in artistic and photographic form; for upholding the memory of Emperor Haile Selassie I; for their offer to help build a Museum in Addis Ababa, to house Imperial Ethiopian heritage. Above all, we thank them for re-kindling the spirit of Africa unity and reconciliation, that is inline with the vision of our forefathers who strove for political, social and economic justice. As we follow in their footsteps, we need to have courage and integrity to recognize that we ourselves have to take the lead role in becoming masters of our continent’s destiny.
May Almighty God help us all!
Washington DC, March 29, 1999: — The Ethiopian Crown Council, the constitutional body which represents the exiled 3,000-year-old Solomonic Crown of Ethiopia, today said that it was “a grave mistake” for Ethiopia to call on Iran to help mediate the current conflict between Addis Ababa and Asmara. “It can only lead to grave consequences for the future unity and stability of Ethiopia,” Crown Council President Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie said.
Prince Ermias, the grandson of the late Emperor Haile Selassie, was commenting on Iranian news agency reports which said that Ethiopian Council of People’s Representatives Speaker Dawit Yohanes had today invited Iranian mediation efforts to resolve the crisis between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The Ethiopian Speaker had apparently made the remarks during a meeting in Addis Ababa with Iranian Ambassador Hussein Rajabi.
“All attempts at external mediation have thus far failed,” Prince Ermias said, “and now it has been suggested that Iran, which has been actively attempting to influence events in the Horn of Africa since 1979, should be invited into our affairs. This is untenable.”
“The Ethiopian Crown Council has, since the beginning of this conflict urged both sides to consider mediation and conflict resolution mechanisms which stay within the family of Ethiopic-speaking peoples. This has not yet even been attempted, and now Speaker Yohanes has apparently suggested inviting in a country which has made no secret of its wish to radicalize our region.”
“This does not mean that Ethiopia should treat Iran as an enemy, but it is clear that Iran is not a suitable candidate for a role in mediating the conflict.”
Prince Ermias continued: “The invitation for Iran to mediate in our problem is playing into the hands of the radicals, the same radicals who wish to see Ethiopia alienated from the main body of the world’s trading nations; the same radicals who wish to see Ethiopia dis-united and even dismembered.”
“Iran has been the major ally of Sudanese radical leaders such as Dr Hasan al-Turabi, who has advocated the dismemberment of Ethiopia even in recent months. Iran and Sudan have gone hand-in-hand in promoting radical religious politics in Africa, posing a major threat non only to moderate Ethiopian Muslims, but to moderate Muslim governments throughout Africa and the Middle East.”
“We have seen that in every arena in which Iran has become involved in recent years that religious polarization occurs. We do not want that for Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, religious tolerance and freedom — and an absence of religious radicalism — have been our strength.”
The Council President said that the ill-considered statement by Speaker Yohanes was typical of the drift and lack of a sense of national unity which has marked the current political era in Ethiopia.
“Ethiopia and the greater family of Ethiopic-speaking peoples must rally around symbols of unity, and build a sense of common purpose, ending conflict through mutual respect and greater sense of Ethiopianness. Ethiopian common objectives need not in any way interfere with the regional, ethnic or religious differences in our community. But we need to retain a strong sense of unity in the face of external threats which are mounting daily.”
Washington DC, March 2, 1999: — The 103rd Anniversary today of the Victory of the Battle of Adwa, in which united Ethiopian forces under Emperor Menelik II resoundingly defeated the invading Italian Army in 1896, has brought a call from the Ethiopian Crown to all people in the greater Ethiopian community to pause and think of the benefits of unity and peace.
In a special statement to mark the anniversary, the President of the Corwn Council of Ethiopia, His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie said: “At this extremely unsettled time in Ethiopia’s history, we need to reflect on the great benefit my late kinsman and our great Emperor, Menelik II, brought to Ethiopia when he united the nation in 1896 to defeat the Italian invaders.”
“That unity has in recent years been threatened by policies which have divided our nation, and caused Ethiopians to fight among themselves, risking the very structure and sovereignty of our Empire in the process. The present war within the Ethiopian family should never have occurred; it should never have been necessary. It has been the result of petty regionalism, in which the desire for power has led people to split off parts of our country, or attempt to do so.”
“We may be thankful that the present war may be coming to a close, but it has cost the Ethiopian community of peoples most dearly. Tens of thousands of families are mourning the deaths or mutilation of their young sons when they should not have had to do so. Many more thousands of Ethiopians — and I speak here of the broader Ethiopian family — have been displaced from their homes by years of communal rivalry.”
“But the war has not ended, and will not end merely when the fighting stops. The hatred and rivalry which this totally preventable war has created will take generations to heal. The Victory of the Battle of Adwa healed the nation after the internal squabbles which had preceded Emperor Menelik’s rise to the Throne. The battles of today have brought some of the peoples of Ethiopia together, at a greater human cost than Adwa, but they have also left a legacy of hatred which we must now overcome.”
“All of this has distracted us from the path of unity, strength, economic growth, peace and stability. And while we have been distracted, we have seen others in the region attempt to sew the seeds of ethnic and religious discord among Ethiopians.”
“There are those outside our country who have attempted to introduce radical Islamism to Ethiopian Muslims, who are a pillar of Ethiopian society, and to induce them into try to break up Ethiopia. This will not work. Ethiopians are Ethiopians: the differences in the various peoples of our nation are a cause for celebration, and not for division. And the religious beliefs of Ethiopians are their own private concern; this does not affect their Ethiopianness.”
“Today, we mourn the dead and injured of all branches of the Ethiopian family in the current war, and thank them profoundly for the sacrifice to the cause of Ethiopian unity.”
“Today, we should also remember the great valor and sacrifice of Emperor Menelik and the Ethiopians of 1896, who laid the foundations for the great achievements of Emperor Haile Selassie until 1974.”
“The coup of 1974 caused a great upheaval in Ethiopia’s progress. We have not yet recovered from this, and the division of our country in 1993 and the subsequent communal divisions in Ethiopia have only prolonged the restoration of true national unity. Think how great Ethiopia would have been today if the coup had not occured, and if 1974 Constitution had been implemented and if there had been no civil war, no brutal genocide, and no communism.”
“The possible end to the current fighting is not a signal for Ethiopians to relax. This war should serve merely as a warning that we must now begin the process of true unification, with the restoration of Ethiopia’s 3,000 years of tradition. Now we must truly come together to rebuild Ethiopia and return to the path of economic, social and democratic progress. The Ethiopian Crown is committed to this, and will never walk away from this historic challenge and duty.”
“The war has demonstrated that Ethiopians cherish their nation and its unity and that they have not forgotten how to sacrifice for the salvation of their kinsmen. We must honor their sacrifice and redouble our efforts to rebuild our beloved country.”
Washington DC, February 25, 1999: — There has been another call in the United States Congress, the second this month, for US support for the restoration of the Ethiopian Crown as a step toward easing tensions and conflict in the Horn of Africa. Congressman Jim Saxton (Republican, New Jersey), a senior member of the House of Representatives National Security Committee, and Chairman of the House Task Force on Terrorism & Unconventional Warfare, said on February 24 that the President of the Ethiopian Crown Council, Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie was “someone who understands, and can help stabilize the entire Horn of Africa”.
Congressman Saxton noted: “The situation is now becoming critical, and we must find ways to support him in the process of reunifying Ethiopia, which cannot be allowed to be dismembered, and in helping to bring about regional reconciliation—thus protecting and furthering national security interests of the United States and its close allies.”
The full text of Congressman Saxton’s remarks are as follows:
Mr. SAXTON. Mr. Speaker, I spoke on February 9, 1999, to remark that it was essential that we act to help stop the escalation of the crisis in the Horn of Africa, and particularly the Ethiopia-Eritrean war, if the region was not to slide further into chaos. Since then, the anticipated war between Ethiopia and Eritrea has erupted and it keeps escalating. The war has already long-term and dire ramifications for both countries—beyond the impact of the growing numbers of casualties on both sides. The war is largely a low-tech and fairly static war of attrition along long miles of rugged and inhospitable terrain. The new offensive just launched by the Ethiopians is yet to alter the overall character of the war. However, both sides have embarked on an intense effort to acquire high quality air power in order to break the deadlock. Both countries not only purchased several late model combat aircraft and helicopters from states of the former Soviet Union but also engaged a large number of air crews and technicians to fly and maintain them. This effort, that is yet to impact the situation on the front line, is rapidly exhausting the hard currency holdings of these already impoverished states, thus further reducing their chance of economic recovery and development.
Dire as the situation in the Horn of Africa is, and as much as the casualties are lamentable, it is a valid question to ask: Why should we—the United States—care about yet another debilitating war in a remote part of Africa? Fortunately, the war has so far had little impact on the civilian population, there were no massacres, and there is no famine. Hence, there is no humanitarian catastrophe to attract our attention. Hence, I repeat, why should we care?
The reason we should pay close attention to the mounting crisis and escalating war is the vital strategic importance of the Horn of Africa to the United States and its close allies. The geo-strategic position of Ethiopia is central to several mega-dynamics stretching all the way from the Middle East to East Africa. Thus, the impact of instability and war reverberates directly to the heart of such areas commonly accepted as vital interests of the United States as Israel or the oil producing states of the Persian Gulf. Here are several major strategic factors in the region, demonstrating its great importance to the security interests of the United States:
1. The security of the Red Sea/Suez Canal Sea Lane of Communication (SLOC), which vitally affects EastWest trade (not just the oil trade) between Europe and Asia, including particularly Japan and Australia. Within this context, the ability of Israel and Jordan to maintain adequate maritime access to the Red Sea (and therefore world trade) is significant.
2. The containment of the spread of Islamist radicalism and terrorism—a process currently sponsored by Sudan’s National Islamic Front (NIF) Government with the assistance of Iran. The hub of international terrorism in Sudan supports subversion throughout the Arab world and East Africa. A personal patron of Osama bin Laden, Hassan al-Turabi, Sudan’s spiritual leader, was instrumental in inspiring and sponsoring the bombing of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Having sponsored the eviction of the United States from Somalia, Khartoum is now trying to capitalize on the crisis in the Horn of Africa in order to evict the United States from the rest of this strategically critical area. Toward this end, the Islamists support several Islamist separatist movements in both Eritrea and Ethiopia, most notably the support for the radical separatist Oromo forces designed to break up Ethiopia still further.
3. The management of the Nile waters is critical to the stability, prosperity and growth of Sudan and Egypt, and therefore the stability of the entire Middle East. Egypt is completely dependent on the Nile water for its very existence and Cairo will therefore do anything to ensure the Nile’s uninterrupted flow—including joining the radicals of the Muslim world, turning on the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, etc. Sudan is also the driving force behind and key sponsor of the destabilization of Egypt. Gaining a foothold in Ethiopia will provide Khartoum with the possibility to manipulate the Nile’s flow without direct implications.
Thus, stability in the Horn of Africa, and especially the existence of a unified and pro-Western Ethiopia, is of crucial importance to the national security of the United States. We must care and worry about the escalation of the Ethiopia-Eritrea war and the Sudan-sponsored Islamist forces exploiting it. This position is shared by the Ethiopian Crown Council. In my previous comments, I urged that we help reinforce the position of Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie, the President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, who is attempting to restore a policy of unity and moderation on Ethiopia and the region. Recently, Prince Ermias has written an excellent analysis of the crisis for the Defense & Foreign Affairs: Strategic Policy, the journal of the respected International Strategic Studies Association. In this overview, he urges that we see the Eritrea-Ethiopia conflict in the context of the broader regional strategic situation, to ensure that radicalization of the region. Prince Ermias stresses the dire ramifications of the deteriorating situation in Ethiopia:
“What we see now [in Ethiopia] is far less democracy and opportunity and prosperity than was being created under the Constitutional Monarchy of Haile Selassie. What we are witnessing today is a society led by people who arrived on the scene by accident; who are mired in divisive, petty squabbling. The result is that the region is divided and at risk. And the risk is one shared by the entire world: a further breakdown in the region could lead to the collapse of the pivotal powers, and a total disruption of the trade routes and the Middle Eastern oil trade. But worse than this, by not seeing the Ethiopia-Eritrea dispute in the broader context and acting accordingly, the world may be condemning the peoples of the region, including those of Egypt and North Africa, Arabia and the Northern Tier, to many more years of despair.”
I share the view and the anguish. I add that the strategic posture of the United States is adversely affected by the reverberations from, and impact of, the continued war in the Horn of Africa. This is why we should not only pay attention to events there, but also act to bring an end to the war. However, any negotiated settlement that would leave the regional strategic posture unchanged would only be a short term and temporary solution. Ultimately, it is imperative that long-term solutions are attained—nation building and economic revitalization under condition conducive for flow of private funds, not just hand outs of humanitarian assistance.
What makes the situation in the Horn of Africa so unique is that there is no need for a US military intervention in order to establish such stability. There are indigenous forces in Ethiopia that, if properly supported, can help their own country and the entire region. I’m talking about the Ethiopian Crown Council. Constitutional monarchy, as was the case in the days of Emperor Haile Selassie, provides the best opportunity for Ethiopia. Mr Speaker, it is clear that in Prince Ermias we have someone who understands, and can help stabilize the entire Horn of Africa. The situation is now becoming critical, and we must find ways to support him in the process of reunifying Ethiopia, which cannot be allowed to be dismembered, and in helping to bring about regional reconciliation—thus protecting and furthering national security interests of the United States and its close allies.
Congressman Saxton is also former Chairman, and currently Vice-Chairman, of the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, the joint House-Senate body which has a major say in US foreign aid and economic policies.
February 25, 1999: — The President of Ambassador International University, Monsignor William A. Kerr, Ph.D., has informed His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, that Ambassador International University will provide 15 scholarships to students from Ethiopia for a four-year program of undergraduate study at the US university.
The scholarships will be awarded through the Haile Selassie Fund for Ethiopia’s Children, the US-based charity of which Prince Ermias is the Patron.
The scholarships have a current value of some US$1.2-million. University President Kerr expressed the hope that the scholarships would make a difference in Ethiopia: “We believe that education is the best investment for a better global future for all of us. Thus, I am especially pleased to be able to offer these scholarships to help support Ethiopia’s recovery from decades of civil war and unrest, and to help shape a brighter future for Ethiopia.”
The Haile Selassie Fund for Ethiopia’s Children, apart from administering the selection of the students to receive the scholarships, will also raise funds for the air fares of the recipients to and from the United States. The Imperial Society of St. George of Lalibela, a non-profit charitable foundation of which Prince Ermias is also Patron, will also assist in fundraising and support for the students.
Prince Ermias, commenting on the grant, said: “We are enormously grateful to Ambassador International University for the gift of these extremely valuable scholarships. Ethiopia today needs every educated citizen to be able to work together for the unity and prosperity of our country, and the conditions under which the scholarships will be awarded include the stipulation that the recipient return to Ethiopia after graduating from the course.”
Prince Ermias continued: “These scholarships will not only give great leadership training to Ethiopians, they will also impart practical skills in areas of vital need to the Ethiopian community: agricultural management, engineering, water resource management, computer sciences,communications and business.”
President Kerr noted: “By ensuring that the graduates return home after completion of their studies, we will be building a complementary network of national, regional and global leaders for the next century.”
Ambassador International University is a new university with a unique approach to education for the 21st Century. Its mission is to offer women and men from all parts of the globe, including war-ravaged areas and developing nations, opportunities for personal and professional development through education.
At Ambassador International University, groups of students from nations around the world will study together at a beautiful, fully-equipped 2,500 acre campus. “We will have a cross-fertilization of ideas and cultures, with students from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and the United States. We are delighted that Ethiopian students will be an important part of our first class, beginning in August this year.”
Washington DC, February 11, 1999: — In an important policy statement in the US Congress this week, the Chairman of the House of Representatives Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare called for the restoration of the Ethiopian Monarchy as a means of helping stop “the building crisis and slide toward a regional and fratricidal war” in the Horn of Africa.
Congressman Jim Saxton (Republican, New Jersey) also called for support for His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, “who has repeatedly exeplified the capable, unifying symbolism which Ethiopia desperately needs”. Congressman Saxton is also a member of the National Security Committee. He made his remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives on February 9.
The full text of his statement is as follows:
Mr SAXTON. Mr Speaker, if permitted to escalate, the mounting crisis in the Horn of Africa will have dire ramifications on the strategic posture of the United States. Presently, there is no end in sight, other than war, in this Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict. The mediation of Assistant Secretary of State Susan Rice and former National Security Advisor Anthony Lake have so far failed to reverse the slide toward war. Vital interests of the United States, Israel and the West are jeopardized, particularly if the Islamist-supported further break-up of Ethiopia is permitted to occur.
A unified Ethiopia is vital to the regional security and economic structure. If Ethiopia were to become fragmented, as Sudanese leaders seek, then Israel’s economic and military security, as well as its access to the Red Sea would be jeopardized. Instability in Ethiopia would destabilize Egypt and Saudi Arabia and the vital Red Sea-Suez trade link.
The key to the reversal of the Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict and the ensuing fragmentation of Ethiopia lies in the rejuvenation of Ethiopia’s national identity. Toward this end, the US needs to help Ethiopia find the unifying symbols to strengthen the country and ensure its commitment to moderation. Until 1974, Ethiopia, the region and the US benefited greatly from the statesmanship and friendship of Emperor Haile Selassie. Ethiopia has since declined into ethnic enclaves and divisiveness, and lays open to Eritrean, Sudanese and irridentist attacks.
The Ethiopian Crown today is a Constitutional Monarchy, ready to return home to provide the inspirational symbolism under which elected day-to-day government can emerge and flourish. Moreover, the stature of the Crown throughout the Horn of Africa makes the Crown uniquely capable of mediating an indigenous solution to the building crisis and slide toward a regional and fratricidal war. The President of the Ethiopian Crown Council and grandson of Emperor Haile Selassie is Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie, who has repeatedly exemplified the capable, unifying symbolism which Ethiopia desperately needs. By encouraging Prince Ermias’s use of the prestige of the Crown and Ethiopia’s traditional elders and institutions to resolve conflict, we can help heal the rifts which are a legacy of decades of civil strife.
Mr Speaker, I therefore urge Ethiopia’s civil government to allow the Crown’s return to help unify and stabilize the State, and thereby help preserve Ethiopian, regional and Western security and economic interests.
Washington DC, February 8, 1999: — The Ethiopian Monarchy today called on all Ethiopians to put aside their political differences to unify in the face of the new military and insurgent threats to the security of the State. Ethiopia’s continued existence as a federal nation-state was now threatened more than at any time since the Italian invasion of 1935, according to Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, the President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia.
Prince Ermias authorized the release of the statement issued today from the US Legation of the Ethiopian Crown in Exile before he left Washington DC to represent the Ethiopian Crown at the funeral services and mourning period for His Majesty King Hussein in Amman. Prince Ermias said that the State of Ethiopia was ill-equipped to meet the two major military and separatist threats which now faced it.
“Unfortunately, mistakes were made after the removal of the genocidal Dergue administration in 1991,” Prince Ermias said. “The present civil administration in Ethiopia had, after taking power in the name of Tigrean separatism in 1991, divided the country into ethnic enclaves, making it difficult for the country to successfully resist the current external threats. Now, we must come together again, and we must rally around the traditional symbols of Ethiopian unity, including the Crown, which belongs to all Ethiopia’s ethnic and religious communities.”
“The Ethiopian people — representing more than 40 ethnic and linguistic groups — must now pull together to resist the military and political threats being posed by Eritrea and certain Sudanese extremist groups,” Prince Ermias said. “Our first cause must be the preservation of our State; our economic and cultural survival depend on this.”
“It is critical, if we are all to pull together, that the present civil administration in Addis Ababa also commits to the unity of Ethiopia and the reconciliation of its peoples by dramatically improving its record on human rights. This means releasing political prisoners and beginning the process of allowing full political involvement and debate within the society. The administration has said that it wishes the support of all Ethiopians, and to achieve this it must now ensure that all Ethiopians are free from oppression.”
Prince Ermias is the grandson of Emperor Haile Selassie I, and the nephew of Emperor Amha Selassie I. He was named head of the Crown Council of Ethiopia in 1993. The Council advises reigning Emperors and, during any interregnum (such as now), the Council actually represents the 3,000-year-old Solomonic Crown of Ethiopia. No accession to the Throne may be made, according to the Constitution, unless sanctioned by the Crown Council.
“It is inconceivable that Ethiopia, with some 60-million people, cannot resist a military incursion by the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) fighters,” the Prince said. “However, at the same time, we find radical Islamists in Sudan defying the command of the Prophet Mohammed, who specifically forbade Muslims from attacking Ethiopia. Today, the radicals want to break Ethiopia up into a patchwork of small Muslim states, destroying the balanced and harmonious mix of loyal Ethiopian Muslims and Orthodox Christians who have traditionally made Ethiopia an example of religious tolerance.”
“Ethiopia must return to its traditional unifying symbol, the Crown,” Prince Ermias said. “The Crown can and will work with the elected representatives of Ethiopia’s civil administration to ensure that the pride and traditional strengths of our country are restored. The Crown is ready now to work with all Ethiopian civil, military and religious institutions to help strengthen the unity of the State in the face of the most serious threats which now challenge our very survival.”
Prince Ermias, along with the International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA), a Washington-based international NGO, had in October 1998 offered to help mediate a peaceful end to Asmara’s dispute with Ethiopia. “It now seems clear that neither side wished to negotiate an end to the conflict,” the Prince said, “so today we must do all we can to bolster the unity of Ethiopia in order to stave off any threats to the integrity of the State.”
“The continued unity and stability of Ethiopia is vital to the security of the region, to the stable flow of Nile waters to Sudan and Egypt, to the security of the Red Sea sea lanes, and to the overall Middle Eastern peace process.”
“Any aggressors threatening Ethiopia should know that the Crown, with its considerable support among the population of the State and with its widespread international connections, will help rally the defenses of the nation. At the same time, we will continue to fight for the human rights and prosperity of all the inhabitants of Ethiopia, and for the peace and security of the entire region.”
Washington DC, February 8, 1999: — The President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, arrived in Amman, Jordan, today to attend the funeral and mourning period for His Late Majesty King Hussein of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Apart from representing the Imperial Family and the Crown of Ethiopia at the services, Prince Ermias also brought a message of support to His Majesty King Abdullah, who succeeds King Hussein.
“The Ethiopian and Jordanian Crowns have, since the founding of the Hashemite State, shared a great mutual respect,” Prince Ermias said in a statement prepared before he left Washington. “My late Grandfather, His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie, had enormous warmth of feeling for the achievements and personal character of His Late Majesty King Hussein. The Jordanian Royal Family also afforded great support to the Ethiopian Imperial Family after the coup and regicide of 1974-75, and it is important that today, as the guard changes in Jordan, we show just how deeply our feelings are for the late King and for his Family.”
“His Majesty King Hussein, a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed, truly respected the Prophet’s injunction that the Crown and People of Ethiopia should be regarded as protected friends of Islam, and this paved the way for warm bilateral relations between our peoples and Monarchies,” Prince Ermias said. “We are also aware of the great interest which the new Monarch, His Majesty King Abdullah, has shown in African affairs. He comes to the Throne as a man of considerable leadership experience and a great knowledge of international affairs, and we have great confidence in his ability to handle the enormous challenges which face him.”
“Ethiopia and Jordan both have vital interests in maintaining the freedom and stability of the Red Sea sea lanes, and both are pivotal nations in the overall process of peace, stability and progress for the entire Middle East region. The Ethiopian Crown, although currently in Exile, commits itself to working with His Majesty King Abdullah and his Government, in the furtherance of the regional good.”
“The Ethiopian Crown is now preoccupied with attempting to help address the problem of renewed conflict in and around Ethiopia, and we hope to consult with our brother, King Abdullah, about this.”
“God Bless the sacred memory of His Late Majesty King Hussein. God Bless and Protect the reign and Person of His Majesty King Abdullah.”
December 27, 1998: — Ethiopia’s unity and very survival as a nation-state was being challenged today more than at any time for many centuries, according to the Christmas Message of the President of the Ethiopian Crown Council, His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie. “The dismemberment of Ethiopia would be a disaster not only for Ethiopians but for the entire world,” the representative of the Ethiopian Monarchy said today in his seasonal message of goodwill to Ethiopians inside the country and in the diaspora.
Speaking from Washington DC, where the Ethiopian Crown is currently in exile, Prince Ermias said that, despite the dangers, there were signs of hope that Ethiopians were taking the initiative to restore the unity and traditional symbols of their country in the face of enormous foreign pressure and intervention. Ethiopia’s Solomonic dynasty, which traces its origins back to the union of Israel’s King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, is the oldest leadership institution in the world today, extending back some 3,000 years.
Prince Ermias’s brief Christmas Message said:
“To all Ethiopians, inside our homeland and to those Ethiopians scattered in a diaspora to a hundred more countries around the world, the Crown of Ethiopia sends Greetings at this sacred time of the year, and hope and encouragement for the coming months as our country faces its most severe threats for many centuries to its unity and very survival.
“As we approach the date of the Orthodox Christmas and in the midst of Ramadan, already being celebrated by Ethiopian Muslims, we bring you a message of hope and support. Ethiopia is under assault from many forces, internal and external, and there are those radicals in the Sudan who have threatened to embark on a campaign to dismember our country, and break it up into a patchwork of insignificant states. The threat from Islamist radicals in Sudan comes in defiance of the Order of the Prophet Mohammed that Ethiopia should not be attacked. And yet this threat, and the threats to unity posed by those within our country, and from the military attacks on our borders by Eritrea, has only served as a final warning to all Ethiopians that our way of life, our institutions and our very history are under assault.
“As a result, we have as a people and as a union of peoples begun to rally. The Ethiopian Crown has, since the torch was passed to the Crown Council by His late Majesty Emperor Amha Selassie I in January 1997, begun to once again provide this rallying point for Ethiopia, a unifying symbol for all of its citizens and, we hope, all of its political parties and movements. This has come not a moment too soon. The break-up of Ethiopia would mean the impoverishment of Ethiopians, who would lose their economic and political viability. It would mean the loss of a culture which, with unbroken continuity, represents the longest-span of human civilization.
“Ethiopia is a cultural treasure of the entire world. But it is also a vital strategic bulwark, ensuring the stability of the flow of the waters of the Nile, so vital to the economic and social security of Sudan and Egypt, and also directly to the future of the Palestinean-Israeli peace. Ethiopia is vital to the security of the Horn of Africa, and therefore the security of the Red Sea and Suez Canal sea lanes. This, then, bears directly on the stability of global trade and also on the stability of the oil-producing states of the Arabian Peninsula.
“Today, Ethiopians and Eritreans ponder their ongoing border dispute. But many of the threats which face Ethiopia also face Eritrea, and it is vital that we find an early end to this family dispute before the external pressures hurt both our peoples. Ultimately, geography dictates that Eritreans and Ethiopians must live together, and it is important that — regardless of our disagreements — we be able to face the external threats together.
“Within Ethiopia, we have seen the start of some measure of healing. The release from political captivity in Addis Ababa of Professor Asrat Woldeyes, the founder of the All-Amhara Peoples’ Organization, last week was a victory, an overdue victory, for the collective action of Ethiopians who have demanded that national leaders respect the voices of a free people. We acknowledge that this step, brought about by more than five years of pressure from Ethiopians and foreign governments, is truly a first step in a process which could lead to a healing of the divisions inflicted upon our society beginning when the Dergue seized power illegally in 1974. We should acknowledge that the release was to enable Dr Asrat to receive medical treatment; it did not lift the charges against him. Nonetheless, it was a move in the right direction.
“We thank the Ethiopian community for helping to bring this about. We also thank most profoundly the Governments of the United States and Britain, among others, for continuing to press for Dr Asrat’s release. But should also be aware that Dr Asrat, a man of medicine, teaching and tolerance — a man opposed to violence as a political tool — remains in poor health as a result of his confinement and lack of medical attention. His illness and his detention serve as a condemnation of the lack of tolerance which, during the past eight years, have divided our country when it could have been healing and uniting. And should Dr Asrat suffer further, or die, as a result of his confinement, then it would remain a permanent and possibly irreversible blight on the image of the administration now in power in Addis Ababa. But for now we must look upon his release as a symbol of goodwill and a good omen for the reunification of our country.
“So, for now, the Crown of Ethiopia, the servant of all the peoples of Ethiopia, wishes you a safe and hopeful Holiday Season. And, in the name of the Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, we ask a blessing on all Ethiopians and all of who support them. We pray with you that the coming year will be more peaceful; that violence will recede from the horizon; and that we may all work together in harmony for the prosperity and dignity of a united Ethiopia.”
Items from Negarit (New) Vol I, #1
US Congress Call for Crown’s Restoration To Stabilize Region
Washington DC: March 15, 1999: — In a series of moves, the United States Congress has taken up the cause of Ethiopian unity and support for the cause of the Ethiopian Crown. Much of the momentum began in September 1998, when the President of the Crown Council, Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, participated in a major briefing to the US Congress on “New Winds in Africa”.
This was followed by presentations at the Strategy’98 conference in Washington DC, at which Prince Ermias offered the mediation services of himself and the Crown Council to help end the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
This was followed, on October 14, 1998, by a special briefing for the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on changes in Africa, and particularly in the Horn of Africa. Subsequent discussions led to two major policy statements being made in February 1999 on the floor of the US House of Representatives, calling for support for the Ethiopian Crown, and its restoration.
Mr Saxton’s First Statement
Washington DC, February 11, 1999: — In an important policy statement in the US Congress this week, the Chairman of the House of Representatives Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare called for the restoration of the Ethiopian Monarchy as a means of helping stop “the building crisis and slide toward a regional and fratricidal war” in the Horn of Africa.
Congressman Jim Saxton (Republican, New Jersey) (pictured) also called for support for His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, “who has repeatedly exeplified the capable, unifying symbolism which Ethiopia desparately needs”. Congressman Saxton is also a member of the National Security Committee. He made his remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives on February 9.
The full text of his statement is as follows:
“Mr Speaker, if permitted to escalate, the mounting crisis in the Horn of Africa will have dire ramifications on the strategic posture of the United States. Presently, there is no end in sight, other than war, in this Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict. The mediation of Assistant Secretary of State Susan Rice and former National Security Advisor Anthony Lake have so far failed to reverse the slide toward war. Vital interests of the United States, Israel and the West are jeopardized, particularly if the Islamist-supported further break-up of Ethiopia is permitted to occur.”
“A unified Ethiopia is vital to the regional security and economic structure. If Ethiopia were to become fragmented, as Sudanese leaders seek, then Israel’s economic and military security, as well as its access to the Red Sea would be jeopardized. Instability in Ethiopia would destabilize Egypt and Saudi Arabia and the vital Red Sea-Suez trade link.”
The key to the reversal of the Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict and e ensuing fragmentation of Ethiopia lies in the rejuvenation of Ethiopia’s national identity. Toward this end, the US needs to help Ethiopia find the unifying symbols to strengthen the country and ensure its commitment to moderation. Until 1974, Ethiopia, the region and the US benefited greatly from the statesmanship and friendship of Emperor Haile Selassie. Ethiopia has since declined into ethnic enclaves and divisiveness, and lays open to Eritrean, Sudanese and irridentist attacks.”
“The Ethiopian Crown today is a Constitutional Monarchy, ready to return home to provide the inspirational symbolism under which elected day-to-day government can emerge and flourish. Moreover, the stature of the Crown throughout the Horn of Africa makes the Crown uniquely capable of mediating an indigenous solution to the building crisis and slide toward a regional and fratricidal war. The President of the Ethiopian Crown Council and grandson of Emperor Haile Selassie is Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie, who has repeatedly exemplified the capable, unifying symbolism which Ethiopia desperately needs. By encouraging Prince Ermias’s use of the prestige of the Crown and Ethiopia’s traditional elders and institutions to resolve conflict, we can help heal the rifts which are a legacy of decades of civil strife.”
“Mr Speaker, I therefore urge Ethiopia’s civil government to allow the Crown’s return to help unify and stabilize the State, and thereby help preserve Ethiopian, regional and Western security and economic interests.”
Mr Saxton’s Second Statement
The Ethiopia-Eritrea war escalated still further after Congressman Saxton’s first statement on the floor of the House of Representatives on February 9. As a result of this, and the failure of diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis, the Congressional leadership again expressed concern over the situation, resulting in a second major policy statement by Congressman Saxton on February 23.
Congressman Saxton, Chairman of the House of Representatives Task Force on Terrorism & Unconventional Warfare, is also a senior member of the National Security Committee and a former Chairman (and currently Vice-Chairman) of the powerful Joint (House-Senate) Economic Committee (JEC) which is involved in issues including international trade and US aid.
The full text of Congressman Saxton’s second statement was as follows:
“Mr. Speaker, I spoke on February 9, 1999, to remark that it was essential that we act to help stop the escalation of the crisis in the Horn of Africa, and particularly the Ethiopia-Eritrean war, if the region was not to slide further into chaos. Since then, the anticipated war between Ethiopia and Eritrea has erupted and it keeps escalating. The war has already long-term and dire ramifications for both countries—beyond the impact of the growing numbers of casualties on both sides.”
“The war is largely a low-tech and fairly static war of attrition along long miles of rugged and inhospitable terrain. The new offensive just launched by the Ethiopians is yet to alter the overall character of the war. However, both sides have embarked on an intense effort to acquire high quality air power in order to break the deadlock. Both countries not only purchased several late-model combat aircraft and helicopters from states of the former Soviet Union but also engaged a large number of air crews and technicians to fly and maintain them. This effort, that is yet to impact the situation on the front line, is rapidly exhausting the hard currency holdings of these already impoverished states, thus further reducing their chance of economic recovery and development.”
“Dire as the situation in the Horn of Africa is, and as much as the casualties are lamentable, it is a valid question to ask: Why should we — the US — care about yet another debilitating war in a remote part of Africa? Fortunately, the war has so far had little impact on the civilian population, there were no massacres, and there is no famine.”
“Hence, there is no humanitarian catastrophe to attract our attention. Hence, I repeat, why should we care?”
“The reason we should pay close attention to the mounting crisis and escalating war is the vital strategic importance of the Horn of Africa to the United States and its close allies. The geo-strategic position of Ethiopia is central to several mega-dynamics stretching all the way from the Middle East to East Africa. Thus, the impact of instability and war reverberates directly to the heart of such areas commonly accepted as vital interests of the United States as Israel or the oil producing states of the Persian Gulf. Here are several major strategic factors in the region, demonstrating its great importance to the security interests of the United States:”
“Thus, stability in the Horn of Africa, and especially the existence of a unified and pro-Western Ethiopia, is of crucial importance to the national security of the United States. We must care and worry about the escalation of the Ethiopia-Eritrea war and the Sudan-sponsored Islamist forces exploiting it. This position is shared by the Ethiopian Crown Council. In my previous comments, I urged that we help reinforce the position of Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie, the President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, who is attempting to restore a policy of unity and moderation on Ethiopia and the region. Recently, Prince Ermias has written an excellent analysis of the crisis for the Defense & Foreign Affairs: Strategic Policy, the journal of the respected International Strategic Studies Association. In this overview, he urges that we see the Eritrea-Ethiopia conflict in the context of the broader regional strategic situation, to ensure that radicalization of the region. Prince Ermias stresses the dire ramifications of the deteriorating situation in Ethiopia:”
“ ‘What we see now [in Ethiopia] is far less democracy and opportunity and prosperity than was being created under the Constitutional Monarchy of Haile Selassie. What we are witnessing today is a society led by people who arrived on the scene by accident; who are mired in divisive, petty squabbling. The result is that the region is divided and at risk. And the risk is one shared by the entire world: a further breakdown in the region could lead to the collapse of the pivotal powers, and a total disruption of the trade routes and the Middle Eastern oil trade. But worse than this, by not seeing the Ethiopia-Eritrea dispute in the broader context and acting accordingly, the world may be condemning the peoples of the region, including those of Egypt and North Africa, Arabia and the Northern Tier, to many more years of despair.’”
“I share the view and the anguish. I add that the strategic posture of the United States is adversely affected by the reverberations from, and impact of, the continued war in the Horn of Africa. This is why we should not only pay attention to events there, but also act to bring an end to the war. However, any negotiated settlement that would leave the regional strategic posture unchanged would only be a short term and temporary solution. Ultimately, it is imperative that long-term solutions are attained — nation building and economic revitalization under condition conducive for flow of private funds, not just hand outs of humanitarian assistance.”
“What makes the situation in the Horn of Africa so unique is that there is no need for a US military intervention in order to establish such stability. There are indigenous forces in Ethiopia that, if properly supported, can help their own country and the entire region. I’m talking about the Ethiopian Crown Council. Constitutional monarchy, as was the case in the days of Emperor Haile Selassie, provides the best opportunity for Ethiopia. Mr Speaker, it is clear that in Prince Ermias we have someone who understands, and can help stabilize the entire Horn of Africa. The situation is now becoming critical, and we must find ways to support him in the process of reunifying Ethiopia, which cannot be allowed to be dismembered, and in helping to bring about regional reconciliation — thus protecting and furthering national security interests of the United States and its close allies.”
Crown Issues Medal to Mark Menelik’s Victory at Adwa
The Crown Council in 1996 struck a special medal to commemorate the great military victory which Emperor Menelik II won over the invading Italian forces a century before, in March 1896. This month, the Crown Council authorized the issuance of an additional number of the medals, to mark the 103rd anniversary of the Victory.
This time, however, there will be some subtle changes in the special “Adwa Medal”.
The first issuance of the Medal, in 1996, went to prominent Ethiopians — many of whom could not be named because of the fear at the time of political reprisal within Ethiopia — and to a list of major national leaders around the world, particularly including leaders in Africa and the Caribbean.
The original Adwa Medal is shown above, in its two forms: the Medal with Royal Riband (left), and the Medal with Diplomatic Riband (right). The front (obverse) and reverse of the medal in both instances is the same. The Royal Riband is a deep purple, with gold stripes at the side; the Diplomatic Riband is in the Ethiopian colors of red, yellow and green, with a black stripe down the center.
The obverse features a profile of Emperor Menelik, with the words “One Hundred Anniversary of the Battle of Adwa. March 2, 1896”, in English. The reverse features and Imperial Ethiopian Lion, facing left, with the inscription in Amharic and the date in the Ethiopian calendar.
A device — heraldically known as a “bezant” — is fixed to the center of the riband of the two forms of the Award, on which is the Imperial Ethiopian Lion, again facing to the left.
The Imperial Lion was placed facing left on the original form of the medal to signify that the Crown was in Exile and that the Ethiopian people were in distress. The new issuance of the Adwa Medal will show the Lion facing to the Right, to honour the dead and wounded of the current conflict and to show that they — with the Crown and the Ethiopian People — are once again united in their determination to restore Ethiopia’s greatness and progress, and the fact that the Crown is now, once again, on the march with the People.
The new Adwa Medal is being struck for the Crown by Bezant, the Official Maker of Orders, Decorations and Medals for the Crown Council.
Ethiopians to be Recognized: The Crown Council has said that it will soon issue the names of the first group of Ethiopians who would be recognized by the Award of the new Adwa Medal.
The Victory of Adwa medals are usually presented by the President of the Imperial Crown Council, Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie; or by the Viceroy (Enderassé: ^), His Imperial Highness Prince Bekere Fikre-Selassie, a great-grandson of Emperor Haile Selassie I.
Recipients of the new Awards of the Adwa Medal will be announced in the next Negarit.
Crown Backs Urgent Campaign to Save Addis’s Holy Trinity Cathedral
One of Ethiopia’s great cultural and religious treasures of the modern era, the Holy Trinity Cathedral, in Addis Ababa, is in urgent need of repairs and restoration. The Cathedral — which houses the tombs of Her Imperial Majesty Empress Menem, His Imperial Majesty Emperor Amha Selassie I, Their Imperial Highnesses the Duke of Harar and Prince Sahle Selassie — is home to the Battle Standards of the Imperial Ethiopian forces, including the units which fought in the Korean War.
The Ethiopian Crown Council has taken up the cause of trying to raise funds for the urgent repairs, which are estimated to cost some 2.4-million birr (appr. $330,000), and is urging readers to send donations to the Haile Selassie Fund for Ethiopia’s Children, in the US, along with the form on page seven, earmarking the funds to be forwarded to the Cathedral authorities’ restoration fund. An address in Addis will be advised soon where donations can be made. Meanwhile, readers in Ethiopia should send their donations directly to the Cathedral, specifying that the money is to go to the restoration program.
The cornerstone for the great cathedral was laid by His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I in December 1931 (Western calendar; 1924 EC), only a year after his coronation as Emperor, and well before the Italian invasion. His Holiness the Patriarch, Abuna John the 18th of Alexandria, blessed the occasion.
Work on construction was suspended with the Italian invasion of 1935 (1928 EC), but resumed in 1941 with the liberation of the nation. The cathedral, which was inaugurated in 1944, was named “Holy Trinity” and dedicated to the memory of the patriots who died defending Ethiopia. The Emperor had taken a personal and constant rôle in overseeing the construction of Holy Trinity.
The cathedral has since witnessed the consecration of a number of archbishops and the ordination of many priests and deacons of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
Emperor Haile Selassie used the cathedral on public holidays, and members of the Imperial Family frequented it. Several of them were later laid to rest there.
The cathedral was enlarged in 1946, the second of three phases in the construction of what is now the completed Holy Trinity. The third and final phase was underway in 1964, adding an additional 500sq.m. of space. Today, this, the most modern and largest church in Ethiopia, is used for the major religious ceremonies of the country.
One of the great murals in Holy Trinity depicts Emperor Haile Selassie pleading for the liberation of Ethiopia at the League of Nations. Another mural, which takes a full wall, depicts “the progressive march of four modern Ethiopian emperors, Téwodros, Yohannes, Menelik II, and Haile Selassie I”, under the watchful gaze of the mounted figure of Saint George, Ethiopia’s patron saint.
A bronze plaque in the cathedral commemorates the collaboration of the British and Ethiopian armies in the liberation of the nation, and the battle ensigns of Ethiopian regiments, garlanded with their battle honors, hang from staffs in the walls.
Superb examples of silver and wooden processional and hand crosses in the traditional Ethiopian style, along with an extensive library, sacred vessels, pyxes and ceremonial umbrellas are among the treasures in Holy Trinity, while outside are the graves of many who died defending the country.
The beautiful cathedral now, however, is facing problems. Leakage in various parts of the roof is worsening, causing serious damage to the interior, including damage to some precious religious paintings and to the windows.
A meeting was called on May 27, 1995, to take preliminary steps to address the problem. The present Patriarch, His Holiness Abuna Paulos, was present and called for the faithful to fulfill their religious obligations by contributing their share to the restoration of the cathedral. A Fundraising Committee of 15 people was established to work within the country and abroad on the project.
An international contractor, EMC (Elmecon plc,), of the UK, was called in to make a complete study of the problems, and has filed a full report to the cathedral committee. The cost for repairing the roof, the most urgent part of the program, is estimated at 975,687 birr ($137,000 appr.).
“Holy Trinity represents the unity of modern Ethiopia,” the President of the Crown Council, Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie said. “The cathedral is an important physical and spiritual home of the Nation. My Father, Grandmother and Uncles are entombed there, but so, too, are the bodies and spirits of those who have lived and died for the integrity and unity of our country.”
“We must now give willingly to preserve it.”
Legal Status for Haile Selassie Memorial Foundation
The Crown Council has learned that the Haile Selassie Memorial Foundation has won legal status and recognition in Ethiopia. The purpose of the Foundation is to create a special library and museum honoring the achievements of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I, and to provide educational scholarships for Ethiopian students at home and abroad.
Ethiopian and Rwandan Crowns Meet at Strategy Conference
Rwanda’s King Kigeli V, the Umwami w’u Rwanda, and current head of a dynasty which goes back in an unbroken line to the year 1081 (Western calendar), is seen here (right of picture) meeting with Ethiopian Crown Council President Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie at the Strategy’98 dinner in Washington DC on October 6, 1998.
Both Prince Ermias and His Majesty are wearing decorations awarded by the International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA), a worldwide NGO for senior government officials involved in national policy and strategic affairs. King Kigeli was awarded the ISSA Gold Medal Award for Outstanding Contributions to Strategic Progress for Humanitarian Achievements for 1998. This recognized the King’s work to warn the world of the impending genocides in Rwanda over the past decade.
Prince Ermias is wearing the ISSA medal he was awarded in 1997 for his work in attempting to draw international attention to the plight of Ethiopian refugees, who are often in difficult conditions in remote parts of the world. Prince Ermias has travelled extensively throughout Africa, the Caribbean and the Middle East, and has met with dozens of heads-of-state, heads-of-government and senior government officials during the past three years to raise the awareness of the needs of the Ethiopian refugee communities in their midst.
Prince Ermias is also wearing the Battle of Adwa Centenary Medal, issued by the Crown Council to recognize the great victory by the forces of his kinsmen, Emperor Menelik II, over the Italians in 1896. The medal is being re-struck (see story, page seven) to recognize Ethiopian patriots and supporters of Ethiopia to recognize the 103rd anniversary of the battle this month.
Both Prince Ermias and King Kigeli spoke at the big Strategy’98 conference, the Global Strategic Forum, about the strategic situations in their respective countries. As well, both participated in a special briefing to the United States Congress in September, and then again to the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee on October 14.
The briefing to the Senate was held in the rarely-used Senate Treaty Room, the ornate and beautifully-decorated chamber used by the Senate to greet heads-of-state and special dignitaries.
It was at the Senate briefing that Prince Ermias repeated the offer — initially made at Strategy’98 — for the Crown Council to act as a mediating, or conflict resolution, body for the Ethiopia-Eritrea dispute. At the time, Prince Ermias warned that not only would the conflict worsen if not resolved, it would also create animosities within the Ethiopian family of nations which would take generations to heal.
Neither party to the conflict was, at that time, disposed to consider a resolution to the conflict which did indeed worsen.
King Kigeli also discussed, at the conference, the seemingly intractable civil war situation in his country. Discussions are now underway to try to get the King’s return to Rwanda by modifying the colonial constitution (left to the state by the Belgians) to allow his return, where he is seen as the only national unifying figure capable of bringing about reconciliation between the three major groups in Rwanda: the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa.
The ISSA Awards automatically invested both leaders as Life Members of the prestigious association, which is involved in global conflict resolution studies.
Moa Anbessa Is Freed by Crown to Enter the Political Arena
The organization, Moa Anbessa: Ethiopians for a Constitutional Monarchy, has been formally separated from the Ethiopian Crown, which helped bring it to life, so that it can become an independent political party inside and outside Ethiopia. Moa Anbessa — the Conquering Lion — was formed by His Imperial Majesty Emperor Amha Selassie I as a support organization for the Crown.
A Crown Council Proclamation of June 3, 1998, (^ 1991) set the stage by announcing the Crown’s decision to bring about the separation, noting: “Whereas His Imperial Majesty Emperor Amha Selassie I, of blessed memory, mindful in exile of the importance of providing an organization which could link the Crown with all Ethiopians, promoted and encouraged the formation of Moa Anbessa as a mass membership body wherein all Ethiopians would be eligible to make their wishes known to the Crown;”
“The Crown Council of Ethiopia (^), upon which the affairs of the Crown now Constitutionally rest following the death of Emperor Amha Selassie I, mindful of the fact that our beloved Ethiopia is now facing military attack and political upheaval, and mindful of the fact that the rôle of the Crown of Ethiopia is symbolic, unifying and healing for the peoples of Ethiopia, and should not be, or be seen to be, engaged in political activities, and yet mindful of the important rôle which Moa Anbessa can make to Ethiopia as a movement of our peoples concerned about the unity and sovereignty of the entire nation, Does Hereby Declare That”
Moa Anbessa, in a letter this month to members, noted:
“The Ethiopian Monarchy has played a significant rôle in the administration of the country over a long period of time. The Crown had united the country under one administration and made it internationally known. This has enabled the Crown to be identified with maintaining the nation’s freedom, unity, equality, justice, the continuation of modernization, and the protector and guarantor of its soveriegnty. The Crown as part of the people, has contibuted its share in the social, cultural, and economic development of the nation.”
“In the context of protecting the people and the nation, the Crown has defended the country from both external and internal enemies. It has also been victorious. In times of disagreements or conflicts arising from internal squabbles between differing ethnic groups or in matters of religious disputes the Crown has played the rôle of peacemaker, and by taking the high ground was able to render a mediating role to facilitate an era of tranquility, peace and stability. It is for this reason that Ethiopia was able to defend its sovereignty, and continue on the path of modernization from one generation to the next.”
“This is not to say that all those who occupied the throne were all faultless or forward looking. History will tell us that there were those Emperors who were not in touch with the people’s needs or were not willing to advance with the times and as such were detrimental to the advancement of the nation.”
“The fact that the reigns of certain Emperors were detrimental to the life of the nation does not necessarily negate the purpose or need for a constructive rôle for the monarchy. It is precisely for this reason that the current Crown Council having assessed trends and development within Ethiopia and internationally has proposed the introduction of a constitutional monarchy which would not supplant the elected government, but facilitate a nascent democracy to emerge.”
“Under a constitutional monarchy, the monarchy will play its due historical rôle given to it by the constitution. Government with the responsibility of running the administration would then be electable through the people voting for an individual candidate or a single party that would be able to garner the largest amount of votes.”
“Moa Anbessa and the supporters of the Monarchy, to make this feasible, have created a political party and have named it Ethiopians for Constitutional Monarchy. This political party will carry the following agendas.
“A. It will organize and lead all those supporters of the monarchy both inside and outside the country.”
“B. It will educate people about the beneficial rôle of a constitutional monarchy in relevance to Ethiopia’s unity, historical legacy and continuity, in protecting the country’s sovereignty.”
“C. It will create and implement these programs.”
“D. It will research and put in place beneficial foundations that will enable Constituional Monarchy to be feasible.”
“The principal aim of Ethiopians for Constitutional Monarchy will be that Ethiopians will be able to freely choose through a referandum to reinstate the monarchy.”
“Ethiopians for Constitutional Monarchy will from time to time create and formulate new programs.”
“A. It will conduct diplomatic and propaganda programs.”
“B. It will work along with other political parties that believe in the unity of Ethiopia, in the equality of its citizens and inthe fundemental prinicipal that all power eminsates from the people.”
“Ethiopia reaches her hands unto God.”
Moa Anbessa officials have now begun the process of re-registering members in the organization in its political form. It is anticipated that the party will soon re-open its offices in Addis Ababa and around the world.