Wednesday, 2 November 2016

A Brief Account of Coronation Day

At the age of thirty-seven Negus Tafari Makonnen was crowned Negusa Negast Qedamawi Haile Sellassie, on November 2nd 1930. Emperors of Ethiopia did not use their family names when they ascended the throne, they chose a name that expressed their intentions as ruler. For example, Zera Yakob chose this name meaning “seed of Jacob” to express his ideas for religious reform. Sahle Mariam chose Menelik II in the honour of the first Judahite emperor of Ethiopia, the son of Solomon. Tafari Makonnen chose to use His baptismal name Haile Sellassie – Power of the Trinity.

It was also customary for the new emperor to be crowned immediately following the death of the previous emperor, before the death was publicly announced. But in the case of Haile Sellassie, His coronation followed sevenths months after Empress Zewditu’s passing. This was the first break from tradition that was employed in the coronation of Haile Sellassie. The crowning took place seven months later because the Emperor wanted to have a ceremony and celebration that included nations from other countries.

He used the seven months to fix up Addis Abeba, to pave streets and erect/repair structures that lined the main area of the city. Wooden arches lined with muslin were erected. He wanted the areas where the coronation would take place, which His special guests would see, to be presentable. He also installed telephone and electricity in the city. There was nothing done in the construction of the city that escaped the Emperor’s attention. He was on site to ensure that everything was in order. He also requested for special crowns to be made for the imperial family, as well as garments, including lion pelt/mane cloaks. The imperial bodyguard was given khaki uniforms as well. In addition to the crowns, the scepter, orb, robes and sword were also commissioned by the Emperor. The coronation coach was brought in from Berlin, its four white horses were brought from Vienna.

Unfortunately, none of the heads of state invited from the nations that had legations or consulates in Ethiopia, came to the coronation. Addis Abeba was too far off for them to bother with making the journey. Instead they sent envoys bearing gifts. The Emperor invited these dignitaries to prove to the Ethiopians that He was in fact accepted by Europe. He wanted to prove to the Europeans that Ethiopia was civilized in turn (however it is said that so many little quirks happened which did not satisfy the European standards so He did not exactly succeed in this endeavor.)

Duke of Gloucester came on behalf of the British Crown

Prince of Udine came for the King of Ital

Plenipotentiary ambassador Gerard came for the King of Belgium

Baron Bildt dtood in for the King of Sweden

Jonkheer Hendrik Maurits van Haersma de With came for the Queen of Netherlands

Isaburo Yoshida represented the Emperor of Japan

Marshal Franchet d’Esperey came for the French Republic

Herman Murray Jacoby represented the USA

Baron Waldthausen represented the German Weimar Republic

Count Metaxas represented the Greek Republic

Muttihin Pasha came on behalf of Turkey

Count Dzieduszycki came from the Polish Republic

Muhammed Tawfiq Nasim Pasha came for the King of Egypt

Governors from British and French Somaliland and Eritrea were also invited from the neighbouring colonies.

These guests were met by the Emperor or the Crown Prince when they arrived at the capital. They were each given a special envoy to escort them around. They were treated to a lavish, other-worldly extravaganza for two weeks.

The coronation started on November 1st with the unveiling of the statue of Emperor Menelik II in front of St. George Cathedral.

The Emperor and Empress then spent the entire night into November 2nd in a prayer vigil at the cathedral with the assembled priesthood that carried out chants and Ises in groups of seven. That night all the coronation regalia was also taken into the qedusa qedusan or the most holy inner sanctum of the Cathedral where they were blessed by Arch Bishop Kyrillios.

Seated upon the imperial chairs or baldachins, the Emperor and Empress were flanked by their sons Prince Makonnen and Crown Prince Asfa Wossen. The Emperor swore to respect the laws of the church and country and signed his name to seal His oath. He was presented with daggers, a sword, a scepter, orb, signet ring, two spears, a robe, a crown and the Ible. The Emperor’s head was anointed before the crown was finally placed on His head. Each item was present to the Emperor by one Abuna/Bishop and his attending Abbot, about nine in total. These priests represented churches from north, south, west, east and central Ethiopia. The Empress gained a ring, crown and scepter as well, after the Emperor. She was presented to the Archbishop by Her baptismal name Wolette Giorgis by Her Husband. The Emperor placed a crown on His son’s head which was a new feature in the age old tradition of the ceremony. This was to secure Asfa Wossen as the only successor.

After the official ceremony all the guests bowed down to the Imperial couple and the national anthem and a 101 gun salute followed. The royal pair returned to the Cathedral for Their first Holy Communion as Emperor and Empress.

After a parade of the new King and Queen through the streets of Addis Ababa, later there was a royal gala, or ceremonial coronation banquet. It was called the Geber, which was strictly for the Ethiopians. 24,000 dignitaries and soldiers were invited, and they feasted on raw meat with the Emperor and Empress in groups of 6,000. The coronation celebrations finally ended November 9th.

Source: King of Kings by Asfa-Wossen Asserate , Elect of God Chapter.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Mission 101: Gathering Intelligence for Ethiopian Resistance

Colonel Sandford on the left

Italy became a threat to British colonial rule in Afrika and the wider East between 1939 and 1940, as the Romans had accumulated well over four hundred thousand troops throughout North –East Afrika since their invasion of Ethiopia back in 1935-36. With the fall of France, Britain was concerned that Italy would side with Germany in a war against The Allies. Italy would be able, with their large force, to take control of the British Territories, the Mediterranean, the Red Sea and the route that led to oilfields and India. It was expected that they would take the Sudan and Egypt to capture access to the Nile, and Britain’s act of defense was to secure the Sudan. To do that, having Ethiopian support was considered most beneficial. On June 18th (eight days after Italy declared war) it was decided by Winston Churchill and his Cabinet that the Ethiopian Emperor would be returned to His country with the help of Britain.

Before this decision, Major-General Colin Hubbins from the British War Office, had set up a special unit, the Special Operations Executive or SOE specifically to organize and support the Resistance factions in territories occupied by Italy. The SOE aimed to support the Ethiopian Resistance. They secured a gift of ten thousand rifles from President Roosevelt, and also arranged for Maria Theresa dollars to be minted in Bombay that would pay the Ethiopian Patriots. The SOE was such a secret operation that there are hardly any records of their involvement in Ethiopian resistance to Italy. The SOE was responsible for the forming of Mission 101 and Gideon Force, the two military teams that brought the Emperor Haile Sellassie back to Ethiopia to regain His throne.

Colonel Daniel Sandford was the veteran British Solider responsible for making the initial plans that would help Emperor Haile Sellassie I return to Ethiopia, leading Mission 101. In previous service to the British realm he went to India and the Sudan and fought in France in the First World War. In August 1939 he was called back to service by General Sir Anthony Wavell who was head of Middle Eastern Command in Cairo. Made a Colonel, Sandford was placed in charge of gathering the Ethiopian intelligence which was Mission 101’s primary purpose. He was a good person for the job as he was also a friend of the Emperor, being one of the many Europeans who lived in Addis Abeba and worked for the Ethiopian Government (from 1920 to 1935), and then forced to flee the country when the Italian threat became apparent. The two maintained contact while the Emperor was in exile at Bath. Colonel Sandford had a productive farm in Addis Abeba and longed to get back to his home that he was forced to leave.

Because Sandford knew Ethiopian territory fairly well, he was the prime person to seek out chiefs and patriots across the land to stir up a native uprising. He was in charge of making the necessary military preparations and also organizing propaganda methods to excite the local uprising. But his works initially started in Khartoum where he liaised with Ethiopian exiles to form a plan for the resistance and return which was called ‘Plan X.’

According to Edmund Stevens, Colonel Sandford on Mission 101, travelled by camel or on foot throughout Western Ethiopia to the hideouts of two major guerilla forces. The headquarters of the unit was in Gojjam, and there Sandford met with Orde Wingate on November 28th 1940 to discuss He was able to move from territory to territory unharmed because of drum signals or tom-toms which the chiefs used to speak to one another in code. This way the Italians never knew he was in their midst, and he was also warned by the tom-toms when the Italians were close by. Sandford gained the trust and support of the chiefs using money and promising them political kick-backs when Ethiopia was once again free. He also organized secret routes whereby the British could distribute arms to the guerillas.

When the resistance was procured, Sandford returned to the Sudan where he met with Emperor Haile Sellassie and became His advisor. When it was time for the advance into Ethiopia by the Emperor’s army, Colonel Sandford joined Gideon Force’s leader Orde Wingate to lead the troops and safeguard the Emperor from Khartoum to Addis Abeba. Their guerilla army comprised British and Australian majors and sargeants, Sudanese, Somali and Kenyan soldiers and the Ethiopian Patriotic army that Sandford had created.

Later in the post war years Daniel Sandford returned to Ethiopia and served the Emperor as a military and political adviser. He also established the Sandford School which was a leading international school. He also received land in Derba just north of Addis Abeba, where he established a farm with coffee, prunes and stables for cattle. He was forced to leave Ethiopia when the Derg seized power from the Emperor which led to the degradation of his farm.


Life’s Reports article “How the British Ran the Italians Out of Ethiopia” by Edmund Stevens, Life Magazine

Wikipedia, Daniel Sandford British Army Officer

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

The Father of Education

"A strong nation and a free nation can only base itself upon education."

Back when Haile Sellassie I was young, as Tafari Makonnen, He moved to Addis Abeba at His father’s dying request, to live at Emperor Menelik II’s court. Emperor Menelik had set up a school in his name for the young men who would attend his court and Tafari attended his school. Back then such education in foreign languages and new subjects, education was only for the male children of nobility. They were introduced to the European world essentially, so they could navigate the new world of trade and policy that was coming to their land. From a young boy and due to His training at Addis, Tafari had a profound love for learning and thought it should be available to all youth.

From the time Tafari Makonnen gained an opening to power, as a young man, He started His Education Campaign. He believed that education was the key to unifying and developing Ethiopia. From the early 1920s and onwards until the Emperor was deposed in the 1970s, He kept the Education Sector as His “baby.” It was His lifelong commitment and investment into Ethiopia’s future as a civilized and independent Afrikan state.

Haile Sellassie built schools from His own personal money when He could not raise sufficient funds, He did the same with hospitals and any other infrastructure that was needed in the land. His wife Empress Menen also established the Empress Menen School for Girls, introducing education to the population of girls first time. Girls of noble households were often taught a bit of Amharic by their family priests, but were never formally educated as a son could be. The Empress created handicraft schools, and girls in general were encouraged to be nurses and teachers outside of developing traditional crafting and trade skills.

The Emperor saw the educated youth as the future of Ethiopia. Education was a gift that would keep on giving in each generation, propelling Ethiopia to limitless greatness. The educated class would be the ones to take Ethiopia into the modern world. Learning from Europe the skills, languages and policies of the modern world was His way of raising the quality of life in Ethiopia to match that of any free country across the seas. He employed many Europeans and even Americans to teach His students, and He provided hundreds of scholarships for His special students to go abroad to further their skills. These young men and women were then expected to return to Ethiopia to render their talents for the sake of the nation. The Emperor didn’t stop there, he also offered at least one hundred scholarships to the children of other Afrikan nations to come study in Addis Abeba.
The Emperor said:

"The existence of a skilled and trained manpower is an absolute necessity for the progress and development of any country. "

"The salvation of our country Ethiopia, we have repeatedly stated to you, lies primarily in education. As Ethiopia is one, all Ethiopians are also one and education is the only way to maintain the condition."

"If women develop in education, they can overcome the natural weakness and serve their country as men do. it is our wish to assure the spread of education among all African People as much as among out own subjects."

The Emperor cared for His students as a father would his child. He daily checked in at a variety of schools and spoke to the teachers and students. He listened to what they needed, He ensured they were well taken care of, He encouraged them to work hard and to keep pushing forward. He was also known to have a impeccable memory – He never forgot a face and He remembered every detail about every child that crossed His path. He held each student accountable of his word, and expected them to fulfil their promises to Ethiopia.

According to Abebe Ambatchew in “A Glimpse of Greatness” the Emperor pushed for the expansion of education increasing the national enrollment to 5000 and the schools to 30 before the Ethio-Italian war. He lived to see the enrollment of a few thousand fro in 170-1971 to 795.0000 students, enrolled at 1520 government and 1304 non-government schools. Five thousand of those students attended post-secondary institutions. In light of the poor state of education when He began, the constraints of resources, absence of local teachers, and other challenges He faced, these figures reflect significant achievement.” Pg 19.

When Italy invaded Ethiopia, they killed almost the entire generation of young men and likely women, who were forming the working class of Ethiopia’s government. These students represented developed Ethiopia, and in their absence, a huge gap between the old and young was made, which debilitated the Emperor’s progress when He regained His kingdom from the 1940s onwards.

It was the students who in the end, joined with the working class youth, to also rise up against the monarchy in the 1960s to 1970s, and gave way for the Derg to seize power which led to a massive genocide and destruction of Ethiopia. It appears as though modernization had exposed the youth and educated working class to developmental ideals that were contrary to the institution of Monarchy. They wanted democratic rights and freedoms, and felt the Emperor was now outdated and holding them back. In the end, it was those the Emperor loved and cherished most, who turned against HIM and brought chaos to the growing pride of Afrika.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Gideon Force: The Emperor's Army for Return

Gideon Force: The Emperor’s Army for Return

British solider, Major Orde Wingate was appointed to lead Gideon Force, the small unit of barely over 1000 men, that would secure the Emperor of Ethiopia’s return into Ethiopia for the recapturing of Addis Abeba. Wingate graduated from the Royal Military Academy at Woolich in Britain, he led armies in the Sudan and Palestine in the 1920s and 30s. In Palestine he was drawn to Zionism and it was from his dream of being Jerusalem’s liberator that he came up with the name Gideon Force for the Emperor’s guerilla unit.

Even though Winston Churchill had made it clear that the Emperor was to be returned to his region, the Anglo-Sudanese had previously made no moves to help the Emperor rally His own forces to enter Ethiopia, because they didn’t want to stir up Italy to strike against them, nor spend the resources they needed for their own military. They also, as colonizers, planned to take all Italian territories, including Ethiopia for British occupation instead. So they saw no great hurry in helping an emperor who had already been displaced from rule. Upon his arrival in Khartoum, Wingate made it clear that he was of another opinion entirely. He made the following address to Haile Sellassie I professing his loyalty to the Son of Solomon. He was awed to serve the descendant of the Biblical dynasty:

“I bring you most respectful greetings, Sire. In 1935 fifty-two nations let you and your country down. That act of aggression led to this war. It shall be the first to be avenged. I come as adviser to you and the forces that will take you back to your country and your throne. we offer you freedom and an equal place among the nations. but it will be no sort of place if you have no share in your own liberation. You will take the leading part in what is to come.” Asserate, King of Kings pg 148

Wingate was known to be a bit of a radical – called an ‘idiosyncratic character,’ ‘idealist’ and ‘fanatic.’ He didn’t like to bathe and basically marched to the beat of his own drum. We can say that his strong sense of self-esteem, knowledge and confidence in his military skill was what made him the best man to work with the Emperor. Haile Sellassie I needed someone who believed 100% in His cause, someone who would do what it took to achieve victory. The two became instant trusting friends.

Wingate told the British supreme commander in the Middle East, Archibald Wavell:

“Give me a small fighting force of first-cass men, and from the core of Ethiopia I will eat into the Italian apple and turn it so rotten that it will drop into our hands.” Asserate, King of Kings pg 149

The Exile Ends: The Return to Afrika

The Exile Ends: The Return to Afrika

“On 24 June 1940, a fortnight after Italy entered the Second World War as an ally of Hitler’s Germany, under conditions of great secrecy Haile Selassie boarded an RAF Sunderland flying boat in Plymouth, along with his second son, the Duke of Harar, and his two private secretaries Lorenzo Taezaz and Wolde-Giorgis Wolde-Yohannes. To preserve his anonymity, the Ethiopian emperor had been given the alias of ‘Mr. Smith.’

A night flight across Nazi-occupied France took the royal party to the island of Malta. There, they transferred to another flying boat bound for the Egyptian port of Alexandria. After spending a night at the Italian Yacht Club, recently commandeered by the British, the following day Haile Selassie was taken to Cairo to meet Edwin Chapman-Andrews as an old acquaintance of the emperor, having been British vice-consul in Harhar in the years immediately before the Italian invasion. From Cairo, ‘Mr.Smith’ flew on to Wadi Halfa in the Sudan.” Asfa Wossen Asserate, King of Kings pg 144.
The Emperor moved to an old British base in the Sudan, The Pink Palace, where He set up His team to plan His own moves to rally Ethiopians for offensive military action.

However, it was not to be an expeditious process. Upon arrival to the Sudan it became clear that there was no official plan in place to retake Ethiopia, compounded by the lack of arms, supplies and soldiers. British officers in the Sudan were also reluctant to give aid because they feared Italian reaction from the east of the border.

The other issue was the fact that Britain didn’t want to acknowledge the Emperor as the Head of the forces that would lead to the reclamation of Addis Abeba – which was obviously because British had its own secret agenda to divide Ethiopia up for itself after subduing the Italians. After many months of waiting, after numerous false starts, the Emperor’s faction, Gideon Force, finally made its move, crossing the Ethiopian border in January 1940 at Omedla. An account of this process can be found in the memoir, “Chapman Andrews and the Emperor.”

On the 24th of July 1940, a day after His own birthday, Haile Sellassie issued a proclamation of amnesty. He required Italians and Ethiopians alike to put down their arms:

“I announce to you that I advised the Italians in Ethiopia and who were completely encircled to submit to our Chiefs in order to avoid being killed. Consequently, I recommend to you to receive in a suitable manner and to keep all the Italians who submit to you with or without arms. Do not reproach them for their atrocities to which they have subjected our population. Show them that you are soldiers possessing human feelings and a human heart. Do not forget that during the Battle of adwa, the valiant Ethiopian warriors who had handed over the Italian prisoners to their Emperor have increased the honor and elevated the name of Ethiopia…

…But we recommend to you to spare their lives and treat well the enemy which will represent humanity; We particularly recommend you to spare and respect the lives of children, women and old people. Do not pillage the goods of others, even the property of the enemy. We recommend to you not to burn any house. 

When I order you to respect all these things it is only to ask you to perform an act of conscience, because my heart tells me that the Ethiopian people is not unfair to any other civilized people in their respect for the laws of war.” Beyond the Throne by Indrias Getachew  pg 105-6

The Emperor then reiterated this request on May 5th 1941 in His Victory Day speech.

It was a very important move for the Emperor to make, as if He had sanctioned a retaliation against the Ethiopians, the world stage would have views Ethiopia as beasts and further military action from Europe would have surely followed. Despite the crimes of Italy against Ethiopia, and Ethiopian suffering for many years under their occupation, the Emperor would have been made into the villain.

The principle of forgiveness extended beyond the Italian enemies to the rivalries amongst the Ethiopian peoples as well, given that the occupiers had tried to force North and South to hate one another. There were many Ethiopians who were swayed by the Italians and who carried out orders to kill their own people, castrate young males and raze villages. The Emperor’s request for amnesty was to prevent them from inflicting further abuse, but to also prevent the surviving victims from retaliating in vengeance.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Proposals to Haile Sellassie I from Benito Mussolini

Everyone except Ethiopia agreed that the only way to stop and settle the war between Italy and Ethiopia, was for Ethiopia to give up a large portion of its territory to Italy and be put under a mandate drawn up by the League of Nations. Italy offered the following proposal to settle the war, as quoted from the Emperor’s memoirs:

“To the north, all of Tigray was to be ceded to Italy, Axum and Aseb left to Us; in the east, We were to be given Harer, ceding the surrounding borderland to the British and French. In the south, Bale, Arsi and all the lands between Lake Zwai and Lake Marghereta [Lake Abaya] and all the territories to the west were to be handed over to Italy, while the rest of the country was to be confirmed for Us. The sovereignty over all territories was to be given to Us, but we were to employ administrators and advisors from Italy. Italy tried to tempt us with this arrangement in exchange for several million lire but…was unsuccessful..

Moreover, while We were in exile, Mussolini sent an emissary with a message:

‘I have heard of Your Majesty’s financial predicament. I am willing to buy you a palace in a country of your choice and in addition, to give a million guineas to you so that together with your family, you can live in peace for the rest of your life off the interest of the original deposit. It is because of you that I am unable to obtain recognition for Italy’s claim on Ethiopia. Sign a statement and release your claim over Ethiopia in favor of me.’

We replied, ‘I have left my country not to sell it but to seek justice for my people and my country. This history of Ethiopia will not be despoiled by a guinea stained with the blood of Ethiopians.’

He proposed this idea in March 1937. A year later [Mussolini] made another proposition, saying, ‘I offer you one million pounds and a portion of your country. If you accept the basic idea, we will not be bickering on the division of territories amongst ourselves; we will work the matter out.’

We rejected this offer outright, underscoring that We came to seek justice from a League comprised of fifty-three states and would await their sincere judgment; and the matter was concluded.”

Source: My Life and Ethiopia’s Progress Vol II by Emperor Haile Sellassie I; pg 43-44

Ethiopia Italy and the League of Nations

On October 7th 1935, the Council of the League of Nations (LON) concluded that Italy, by invading Ethiopia and capturing cities, had in fact violated Article 12 of its Covenant and therefore would automatically be punished with sanctions. To stop the war, Mussolini made it clear that he wanted to control all of the deceased Emperor Menelik II’s conquests: Eritrea, eastern Tigray, and Somalia the Ogaden and in return he would permit Haile Sellassie to run His severely trimmed state under Italy’s management and advice. The aim of Italy was to erase their previous defeat by Emperor Menelik II so that Ethiopia could no longer claim that they had in fact defeated the Italians. Italy believed they were fulfilling their destiny.

France was supportive of this move to annex Ethiopia to Italy but they knew that the Ethiopian Emperor would never agree to such a proposal. On November 18th the import-export sanctions were imposed by Geneva’s LON but did nothing to slow Italy’s war agenda. The only embargo Mussolini was concerned about, was the oil embargo from Britain and France which would affect his army. Italy presented itself as a threat to these two nations and they decided that any agreement that could be made to keep Italy as an ally and yet which didn’t openly show their approval of Italy’s aggression in Ethiopia, was best. On December 7th 1935 the French Prime Minister Mr. Pierre Laval and British Foreign Minister Sir Samuel Hoare created an Anglo-French agreement the Hoare-Laval Pact which would effectively give Italy what it wanted. This Pact was leaked to the public and created moral outrage across the globe, so it was never actually brought to the table.

“In Geneva, many commented bitterly that the effect of sanctions had been completely undermined by the Hoare-Laval Pact. In Paris, the entire liberal-left press united to denounce the service done the Facists, and the media in America were almost unanimous in seeing the newly hatched scheme as ‘a betrayal of Ethiopia’ to the aggressor. In Addis Abeba, Haile Sellassie announced that acceptance of the Anglo-French arrangement ‘even in principle…would be an act of cowardice and treason against Our people, the League of Nations, and all state which might have had confidence in the system of collective security.’ In a formal response, the Addis Abeba government followed the imperial line, refused therefore to participate in its own dismemberment ‘under the pretext of a fallacious exchange of territories,’ and called on the League not to sponsor the ‘final ruin…[of the] system of guaranteed collective security provided by the Covenant.’” Excerpt from Harold G. Marcus 1995 pg 171

Between June 30th and July 4th 1936 there was a General Assembly held at the LON to basically decide the fate of Ethiopia as a victim of Italian aggression. Countries were asked to vote on whether to lift the economic sanctions against Italy and recognize that Ethiopia had really and truly been annexed to Italy, but the result was that not enough countries supported this notion. Also, a loan of one million pounds was requested by Ethiopia and was turned down as 23 countries opposed, 1 country supported, and 25 abstained from voting. In truth there was chaos in the organization. All members of the LON knew how dangerous it was to cross Italy because of the military strength of Mussolini’s nation and it seems that many of them chose not to be a part of any voting because they did not support what Italy was doing given that it was against the LON’s laws.

Countries that supported the enforcement of the sanctions on Italy were: Sweden, Ireland, New Zealand, China, Iran, Spain, the Soviet Union and South Africa. It appears that Canada, England, Austria and France were for lifting the economic sanctions because they didn’t believe that such were any real factor in the problem between Italy and Ethiopia. The sanctions would not help improve or solve the situation.

Although the Emperor Haile Sellassie I had no other option but to turn to the LON for help while in exile, given that His country had been unable to keep Italy from occupying parts of Ethiopia, the LON truly offered no hand in settling this war. Ironically enough, in the end there was no winner. Both the Emperor of Ethiopia and President of Italy were dissatisfied with the answers given to their respective proposals.

Mussolini gave the following speech, showing his discontent with the failure of the League to officially lift the sanctions and recognize his legal control over Ethiopia and the dismemberment of the Ethiopian monarchy and government:

“The fact that the whole world conspired against Italy was an irrational act. And there is something that those who live in Britain should know. That is the fact that the so-called League of Nations is an empty and defunct machine when it comes to the dispute between Ethiopia and Italy. Italy’s glorious deed will be recorded only when the dispute between Italy and Ethiopia is settled outside the confusion of the League of Nations. I have dismantled the government of Ethiopia. The representatives of a vanquished country should not be present in the Geneva assembly.

We have not forgotten that the League levied an unprecedented punishment on the Italian people. We will not forget it in the future. It [the League] intended to decimate the people, the households, and children by starvation. It also attempted in vain to obstruct the efforts of our military, which was on a civilizing mission. It did not succeed, however…[since] the League…was confronted by the formidable unity of the Italian people, which is ready to sacrifice anything and is able to fight even against fifty-two countries.

Hereafter, it should not be necessary to involve the League of Nations in the remaining political efforts to bring peace. In 1935 AD we concluded an agreement with France. While an expansion of the agreement along the path of genuine friendship was being considered, the issue of sanctions came about. Our victory came with the spring. Yet the sanctions remained strictly in force. Two months after we entered Addis Abeba, the sanctions were still in force. France was still referring to the old records of the League and continued to believe that the previous government of the Lion of Judah was alive. However, except in the records of the League, the truth is that, due to our victory, the emperor’s government had expired.”

Sources: My Life and Ethiopia’s Progress Vol II by Emperor Haile Sellassie I; pg 2-5

Haile Sellassie the Formative Years by Harold G Marcus pg 169

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

The Rising Threat of War: Ethiopian Disadvantage

Since March 1935 Ethiopia maintained that the Wal Wal Incident was not a reason to start a war and urged the LON to seriously investigate the contention between the two countries and Italy’s movements to start a war, before any treaties were violated. Ethiopia protested to the LON that Italy was raising aggression but was ignored. Italy used tactics of avoidance, postposing meetings and neglecting to make official responses to Ethiopia’s claims, which disallowed the argument to be settled (this is what they wanted so they could have a reason to start the war).

From February to September 1935, Ethiopia watched as Italy’s General de Bono led troops into Eritrea and Somaliland at increasingly alarming numbers. All the time spent in shelving the Wal Wal incident, allowed Italy time and reason to start amazing thousands of troops, aircrafts, armored vehicles and artillery along their frontiers in Somaliland and Eritrea. Italy claimed they were simply beefing up their own security to keep Ethiopians from attacking them – but the Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Sellassie I had no intentions of doing anything of the sort. Italy maintained that Ethiopia was making false and unsupported allegations against them.

By September 3rd when the Arbitration Committee decided that neither Ethiopia or Italy was responsible for the Wal Wal Incident, Italy had gathered thousands of men and war supplies. They even built new aerodromes across Eritrea and Somalia. Ethiopia was not prepared to fight this well-equipped army.

Ethiopia’s guns and ammunition were of poor or outdated quality and they didn’t have enough armored vehicles, planes or tanks. Ethiopia’s attempts to buy arms form Great Britain were denied. The French also refused to grant licenses for any weapons to be sold to Ethiopia or Italy. But this only hurt Ethiopia as Italy produced their own weapons – they didn’t buy from the French or British. In French Djibouti Ethiopian arms were also held up with excuses, and the railway company refused to deliver the arms because Italy threatened to bomb the trains. France and Britain were of no help because they didn’t want to provoke Italy in any way, being such a powerful army. Even if the Emperor could have found a supplier, the artillery wouldn’t have reached Ethiopia until 1936. Germany however was noted to have been the one country to supply arms to the Afrikan nation.

The only other hope was for Ethiopia to again plead to the League of Nations (LON) which was a dead end. During June to July 1935 both countries made speeches against one another. Italy made it clear that they intended to overthrow the Solomonic State and capture Menelik’s empire. Mussolini maintained that Afrika now belonged to Europe and could not be ruled in any part by Afrikans. He wanted to take revenge on Menelik I’s win against them back in 1896 at the Battle of Adwa. Mussolini wanted Ethiopia to become Italy’s protectorate and was tired of Britain trying to protect the Afrikans.

September 4th the Italian delegate Baron Pompeo Aloisi said that Abyssinia was incapable of following and understanding the “principles of international morality.” Abyssinia could not share equal rights with civilized states in Europe. Italy would be offended as a civilized nation to continue dealings with Abyssinia on an equal footing in the LON. Ethiopia maintained they wanted peace and that Italy was threatening to exterminate them which was against League policy. The LON responded by appeasing Italy at the expense of Ethiopia, so that problems would not arise within Europe itself (Italy joining with Nazi Germany was a real concern).

The LON Council appointed a committee of 5 states including Britain and France to negotiate an agreement between Italy and Ethiopia. The result was a mandate to give Italy what they wanted under guise, which Ethiopia rejected immediately. NO agreement was made. Ethiopia would not give up its independence.

The Emperor finally realized that instead of the bogus LON creed of collective security He had to worry about national security and prepare the country for war. Haile Sellassie I intended to keep war at bay as long as possible because He didn’t want Ethiopia to be guilty of violating the treaties made with both Italy and the LON. The Italians ironically enough shared no such morality, and by then had constructed numerous fortifications along the Eritrean border.

Ras Seyoum was charged with preparing this frontline on the Ethiopian side but did a poor job in doing so. He refused to build proper trenches or use the new guns sent from Addis Abeba. He was against using the modern military tactics that were presented to him by the Russian ex-colonel Konovaloff, who was sent to help him prepare.

On October 2nd-4th Italy started its advance into Ethiopia at Tigray and the Emperor had no choice but to sound the war drums at the capital and make a speech of mobilization. October 3rd 1935 General de Bono advanced in Adwa in the North while General Graziani opened fire on the frontier at Somaliland in the South. The two made their way through Ethiopia until they met at the capital Addis Abeba early in May 1936.

Sources: The Lion of Judah hath Prevailed by Christine Sandford, The Second Italo-Ethiopian War Wikipedia

The Wal Wal Incident - Why the Italo Ethiopian War Started

At the request of Regent Ras Tafari Makonnen, in 1923 Italy agreed with France to enter Ethiopia into the League of Nations (LON). By 1925 the Fascist regime was established, with Benito Mussolini rapidly gaining power. In 1926 Great Britain and Italy made an agreement that Italy would be granted a zone of economic influence in the Eastern horn of Afrika in exchange for Italy’s promise not to interfere with the waters of the Nile that flow from Ethiopia, which Britain monopolized. Italy would have their railway and Britain their waterway.

Ethiopia knew of this exchange because all correspondents between LON member states were open for all to view. The Regent of Ethiopia was shocked and appalled and immediately sent notes of protest to both Great Britain and Italy through the LON. How could they make such a decision that involved Ethiopia, without the country's involvement?

In 1928 the Regent Tafari signed with Italy a twenty year friendship treaty where Ethiopia gained a free-zone at the Port of Assab on the Eritrean coast which was an Italian territory. A road would be constructed to link Ethiopia’s Dessie to Assab. The signatories Ethiopia and Italy agreed to build the road in their respective countries. An Italo-Ethiopian company would have monopoly on the road traffic.

This agreement however caused a lot of disagreement. The Ethiopians did not want to allow Italian engineers into Ethiopia and the Italians wouldn’t allow Ethiopia’s appointed Dutch engineers to give their plans for the road. A lot of mistrust and arguing ensued. Between 1930-35 Italy made a series of complaints against Ethiopia about border raids. They kept harassing Ethiopia during this time but the Emperor remained calm and trusted in the treaties signed with Italy and the LON.

In 1930 Italy built a garrison or fort at the Wal Wal/Ogaden Oasis at the Ethiopian-Somaliland border, but this garrison went over onto Ethiopian territory by 60 miles. The Italians stationed Somali Ascari or fighters as their frontier troops. In November of 1934, Ethiopian border troops were accompanying the Anglo-Ethiopian Boundary Commission on a survey, when the infringement was discovered. They voiced their outrage to the Italians and Somalis at the frontier. The British in the party fled the area to avoid upsetting Italy and becoming involved in the argument. But the Ethiopian troops stayed and set up camp alongside the Ascaris.

On December 6th the Wal Wal Incident happened – the two sides finally clashed. 110-150 Ethiopians died, while only 30-50 Italians and Somalis perished. The Italians had in fact planned this skirmish after seeing that the Ethiopian troops would not leave the area. They brought in planes to bomb the frontier, and 3 armored vehicles with machine guns.

The Ethiopian Government requested that the disagreement be settled by arbitration but Italy’s government rejected the proposition, demanding compensation instead. On January 3rd 1935 the Ethiopian Government submitted a report on the incident to the LON under Article II of the Covenant. The League Council agreed on the arbitration because of the Italo-Ethiopian treaty of 1928, but delayed the application until the next meeting which was months ahead.

Italy also disagreed that an assessment on the location of the garrison should be done to prove that they were in fact on Ethiopian territory. But Ethiopia insisted that the placement of the fort needed to be known in determining which country was at fault; and before they were forced to pay any form of compensation to Italy.

When the Commission of Arbitration finally met on June 25th the Italians still refused to allow their garrison’s location on the frontier to be questioned. Because the arbitration could reach nowhere, the LON decided an independent chairman should be appointed to the Committee. On September 3rd the chairman ruled that neither party was to blame for the incident.

But this ruling by that time was of no concern to Ethiopia or Italy, because the war was already on the horizon. The Emperor Haile Sellassie I did all He could to get the LON to intervene, but they didn’t. The LON failed to exercise their power by not stopping Italy from property violation, and by not helping Ethiopia settle the conflict in a reasonable time frame.

Sources: The Lion of Judah Hath Prevailed by Christine Sandford, The Second Italo-Ethiopian War Wikipedia

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

The Marriage of Dejazmatch Tafari Makonnen and Woyzero Menen Asfaw

Dejazmatch Tafari Makonnen at a young age was first married briefly to Woyzero Altayech and had one daughter Princess Romanework Haile Sellassie. This was a civil contract marriage, which was a very popular custom in Ethiopia back then, where families would arrange unions between their children before they came of age, for the purpose of making social, economic and political alliances. These civil marriages could be annulled if the families did not wish to renew their contracts. The second type of traditional marriage was conducted by the Tewahedo Orthodox Church when the bride and groom were of consenting age. A civil union was not recognized by the Church. Woyzero Menen also was married under civil contracts three times before She wed Dejazmatch Tafari in the Church. She had four children from those unions. The Church did not recognize Their previous marriages.

On July 27th (or possibly 29th) 1911 at the age of 19 when He was Governor of Harar, Dejazmatch Tafari was legally wed to Woyzero Menen Asfaw (aged 20) in Harar as organized by Her uncle Lidj Iyasu (heir the throne). Their marriage was arranged, but it was a love match. It was observed by Her uncle that She and Tafari, his cousin, had a natural rapport and deep attraction to one another.

For the marriage ceremony Woyzero Menen travelled 45 days to Harar from Addis Abeba to meet Her future husband. Their official marriage followed traditional Tewahedo custom: they were both robed in the “Cloak of unity,” exchanged their wedding bands, anointed with the holy anointing oil and crowns were placed on their heads. Then They took the matrimonial oath and received Their first holy sacrament of Communion as a married couple.

It was believed that an official Ethiopian marriage which was in tuned with the Most High’s will and favour, would be blessed with children, material abundance and a strong spiritual foundation. These three blessings were granted to Emperor Haile Sellassie I and Empress Menen Asfaw throughout Their marriage which lasted over fifty years. They had a home filled with love, peace and adoration abundantly shared among Their six children and many many grandchildren.

Upon the Empress’ passing on Febreuary 15 1962, His Majesty commended Her great spirit and the peaceful union They shared as husband and wife:

“All of you knew her well but she was more intimately known by I. She was devoutly religious and did not lose her faith even in the time of hardship. During the memorable days of Our companionship We never had differences that needed the intervention of others. As Sarah was to Abraham, so was she obedient to I. Our wishes were mutual until we were separated by the Almighty. Her assistance for the good of the young, the old and the needy requires no testimony for they are greater than thoughts and words.
We have been extremely pleased to live long enough in the perfect union that enabled us to see our offspring, our grandchildren and our great grandchildren. We are thankful to the Almighty for having vouchsafed to us that long uninterrupted union which is not very common in the world today: There could be no more profound prayer for I to utter.
In spite of Our utmost efforts efforts to save her life in her time of illness, she was overtaken by the fate of Adam and passed away.”

Sources: The Biography of Empress Menen Asfaw The Mother of the Ethiopian Nation by Anjahli Parnell and selassie-words/show-jah-word.asp?word_id=pass_menen

Empress Menen Asfaw: The Early Years

Young Princess Menen

Woyzero Menen Asfaw was born April 3rd 1891 in Egua at the mountain fortress Ambassel, located in the Wollo district of Ethiopia. She was born to noble parents, Jantirar Asfaw Ali and Woyzero Sehin Mikael who was the daughter of the famed King Mikael of Wollo, father of Lidj Iyasu. She had a brother Haile Maryam Asfaw. Much of Her family carried an Islamic background which was then converted to Orthodox Tewahedo Christianity. It is said that their family line can be traced back to the Prophet Mohammed.

As a young girl Menen, whose name denotes Her beauty and high esteem, was educated at home by tutors. She was taught to read Amharic letters, cotton spinning, household management and childcare.

Throughout Her life Menen was devoted to Her faith. She loved going to church with Her mother and women of Her community. Like many young Tewahedo girls of Her time Menen had crosses tattooed on Her hands.

From an early age, 9 years old, in the year 1900, Menen was married by civil contract (an arranged marriage organized by family for the purpose of economic/political/social alliances), becoming Woyzero (Mrs.) Menen. She had her first child at age eleven. In Her first marriage to Dejazmatch Ali of Cherecha She had two children a boy Jantirar Asfaw Ali and a girl Balaynesh Ali. This marriage ended in divorce and She wed again to Dejazmatch Amede Ali Aba-Deyas; having another boy and girl, Jantirar Gebre Egziabeher Amede and Desta Amede. Both these husbands were prominent Wollo nobles. Her second husband died suddenly and Her grandfather Negus Mikael arranged for Her to marry a Shoan noble Ras LeulSeged Atnafseged. This marriage was annulled so that She could marriage Dejazmatch Tafari Makonnen when She was 20 years old, which was Her first marriage officiated in the Orthodox Church.

Her four children were left in the care of their fathers' families, as in Ethiopian custom, only children under the age of 5 were allowed to stay with their mothers after a divorce.

Source: The Biography of Empress Menen Asfaw The Mother of the Ethiopian Nation by Anjahli Parnell

Parentage: The Guardians

For much of His earlier years, Lidj Tafari was unfortunately cared for by others instead of His own parents, due to the early death of His mother, and the diplomatic obligations of His father to the crown. Ras Makonnen was often away from Harar because of the military or foreign expeditions he was in charge of. This fact of His Majesty’s childhood was likely a source of pain for Him growing up, as most Ethiopian children lived with their parents and immediate family members.

In Ras Makonnen’s absence young Tafari was left in the care of his uncle Fitaurari Haile Selassie Abayneh and his wife Mezlekiya and they became his second parents. From a small child Tafari was raised with their son Imru, whom Tafari considered to be like a twin brother. They were born in the same year. These two remained very close until death parted them in audlthood. This family raised Him and cared for Him in the way that His own parents couldn’t due to death and duty.

Fitaurari Banti and Fitaurari Quollach were also entrusted guardians appointed by Ras Makonnen in Harar.

Monks of the Roman Catholic Capuchin Mission school (run by Monsignor Taurin and later Abba Jarosseau), were teachers of young Tafari and Imru. At this school they learned alongside the sons of other nobles, in a more European fashion. Jarosseau for Abba Andreas as he was called by the Ethiopians, was a close friend of Ras Makonnen’s and the Ras asked him specifically to be godfather of his son Tafari. The famous picture of young Tafari with a cross, is the picture Abba Andreas had taken to cement this adoption.

Dr. Vitalien taught Tafari French as a child and by ten years He was fluent in the language. The doctor worked at the hospital in Harar and was either from Guadeloupe or Martinique ( I have found sources saying both).

The Ethiopian Catholic priest Abba Samuel became Tafari’s tutor and he taught Him much about the world and the Christian Faith, he was also like guidance counsellor. He probably also helped Him learn Ge’ez and Amharic. He remained close to Tafari until 1915 when he died in a boating accident saving Tafari’s life. Abba Samuel was highly loved and cherished by His Majesty.

When Ras Makonnen did fall ill and was on his deathbed in 1906 he sent a letter to Emperor Menelik II asking him to take his Son under his care at court in Addis Abeba. The Emperor was impressed by teenaged Tafari’s abilities and enrolled Him in the Menelek II School, under the care of the Egyptian Hanna Bey Saleb. There Tafari was groomed to officially take up His post as Dejazmatch.

Sources: The Lion of Judah hath Prevailed by Christine Sandford, King of Kings by Asfa-Wossen Asserate, A Glimpse of Greatness by Abebe Ambatchew

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

June 1936 Address to the League of Nations Assembly

June 30th 1936 will forever be known to RasTafari as the Day of Judgment - the day when the Black Messiah stood up for the Ethiopian Nation which was being massacred and captured piece by piece, by the Italian army of Benito Mussolini. It was the day when the Black Krist drew His double-edged sword and released the wrath of truth and righteousness upon the New World rulers of iniquity.

The Italian invasion which started from October 1935, was an act of aggression that was against the treaty of the League of Nations signed by member states which included both Italy and Ethiopia. No member state was to attack another, to put it simply, and yet Italy was not being stopped by the League of Nations. In fact, Ethiopia was denied arms to defeat their enemy by other members, who used the excuse of not wanting to turn Italy's aggression on themselves. They would uphold the creed of the League so that Ethiopia could not attack, but the same morals were not applied to Italy.

 Emperor Haile Sellassie I watched Italy for years make their plans to invade His country. It was a continuation of the Italian invasion of 1896 which His own father Ras Makonnen was able to vanquish alongside Emperor Menelek and Empress Taitu. Italy had never forgiven the Ethiopians for beating them. Their second reason for this attack was that Italy wanted more power in the New World as they watched Britain and France claim much of Eastern Afrika for themselves. Italy longed to have the central key to Afrika: the unconquered land of the Great Blacks, Ethiopia for their own.

Ethiopia under the initiative of Haile Sellassie I when He was just the Regent Ras Tafari, was admitted into the League in 1923 to protect it from being attacked by any European nation. He was deeply chagrined to find that this had not worked in Ethiopia's interest as expected.  He was forced to mobilize His armies since Italy had broken their vows first.

Making history, He was the first Leader to formally address the League of Nations at an Assembly. He was the only one ever to criticize the inability of the League to enforce respect for the laws and vows all nations made to respect one another's territories. He publicly questioned the collective conscience of the leaders of the world.

This speech is known as "Sellassie's Curse" because He warned the leaders of Europe that they would be next on Italy's agenda, if they didnt stop them now. And He was absolutely right!

The speech He made is as follows:

"I, Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia, am here today to claim that justice which is due to my people, and the assistance promised to it eight months ago, when fifty nations asserted that aggression had been committed in violation of international treaties.

There is no precedent for a Head of State himself speaking in this assembly. But there is also no precedent for a people being victim of such injustice and being at present threatened by abandonment to its aggressor. Also, there has never before been an example of any Government proceeding to the systematic extermination of a nation by barbarous means, in violation of the most solemn promises made by the nations of the earth that there should not be used against innocent human beings the terrible poison of harmful gases. It is to defend a people struggling for its age-old independence that the head of the Ethiopian Empire has come to Geneva to fulfil this supreme duty, after having himself fought at the head of his armies.

I pray to Almighty God that He may spare nations the terrible sufferings that have just been inflicted on my people, and of which the chiefs who accompany me here have been the horrified witnesses.
It is my duty to inform the Governments assembled in Geneva, responsible as they are for the lives of millions of men, women and children, of the deadly peril which threatens them, by describing to them the fate which has been suffered by Ethiopia. It is not only upon warriors that the Italian Government has made war. It has above all attacked populations far removed from hostilities, in order to terrorize and exterminate them.

At the beginning, towards the end of 1935, Italian aircraft hurled upon my armies bombs of tear-gas. Their effects were but slight. The soldiers learned to scatter, waiting until the wind had rapidly dispersed the poisonous gases. The Italian aircraft then resorted to mustard gas. Barrels of liquid were hurled upon armed groups. But this means also was not effective; the liquid affected only a few soldiers, and barrels upon the ground were themselves a warning to troops and to the population of the danger.

It was at the time when the operations for the encircling of Makalle were taking place that the Italian command, fearing a rout, followed the procedure which it is now my duty to denounce to the world. Special sprayers were installed on board aircraft so that they could vaporize, over vast areas of territory, a fine, death-dealing rain. Groups of nine, fifteen, eighteen aircraft followed one another so that the fog issuing from them formed a continuous sheet. It was thus that, as from the end of January, 1936, soldiers, women, children, cattle, rivers, lakes and pastures were drenched continually with this deadly rain. In order to kill off systematically all living creatures, in order to more surely to poison waters and pastures, the Italian command made its aircraft pass over and over again. That was its chief method of warfare.

Ravage and Terror
The very refinement of barbarism consisted in carrying ravage and terror into the most densely populated parts of the territory, the points farthest removed from the scene of hostilities. The object was to scatter fear and death over a great part of the Ethiopian territory. These fearful tactics succeeded. Men and animals succumbed. The deadly rain that fell from the aircraft made all those whom it touched fly shrieking with pain. All those who drank the poisoned water or ate the infected food also succumbed in dreadful suffering. In tens of thousands, the victims of the Italian mustard gas fell. It is in order to denounce to the civilized world the tortures inflicted upon the Ethiopian people that I resolved to come to Geneva. None other than myself and my brave companions in arms could bring the League of Nations the undeniable proof. The appeals of my delegates addressed to the League of Nations had remained without any answer; my delegates had not been witnesses. That is why I decided to come myself to bear witness against the crime perpetrated against my people and give Europe a warning of the doom that awaits it, if it should bow before the accomplished fact.
Is it necessary to remind the Assembly of the various stages of the Ethiopian drama? For 20 years past, either as Heir Apparent, Regent of the Empire, or as Emperor, I have never ceased to use all my efforts to bring my country the benefits of civilization, and in particular to establish relations of good neighbourliness with adjacent powers. In particular I succeeded in concluding with Italy the Treaty of Friendship of 1928, which absolutely prohibited the resort, under any pretext whatsoever, to force of arms, substituting for force and pressure the conciliation and arbitration on which civilized nations have based international order.

Country More United
In its report of October 5th 1935, the Committee of Thirteen recognized my effort and the results that I had achieved. The Governments thought that the entry of Ethiopia into the League, whilst giving that country a new guarantee for the maintenance of her territorial integrity and independence, would help her to reach a higher level of civilization. It does not seem that in Ethiopia today there is more disorder and insecurity than in 1923. On the contrary, the country is more united and the central power is better obeyed.

I should have procured still greater results for my people if obstacles of every kind had not been put in the way by the Italian Government, the Government which stirred up revolt and armed the rebels. Indeed the Rome Government, as it has today openly proclaimed, has never ceased to prepare for the conquest of Ethiopia. The Treaties of Friendship it signed with me were not sincere; their only object was to hide its real intention from me. The Italian Goverment asserts that for 14 years it has been preparing for its present conquest. It therefore recognizes today that when it supported the admission of Ethiopia to the League of Nations in 1923, when it concluded the Treaty of Friendship in 1928, when it signed the Pact of Paris outlawing war, it was deceiving the whole world. The Ethiopian Government was, in these solemn treaties, given additional guarantees of security which would enable it to achieve further progress along the specific path of reform on which it had set its feet, and to which it was devoting all its strength and all its heart.

Wal-Wal Pretext
The Wal-Wal incident, in December, 1934, came as a thunderbolt to me. The Italian provocation was obvious and I did not hesitate to appeal to the League of Nations. I invoked the provisions of the treaty of 1928, the principles of the Covenant; I urged the procedure of conciliation and arbitration. Unhappily for Ethiopia this was the time when a certain Government considered that the European situation made it imperative at all costs to obtain the friendship of Italy. The price paid was the abandonment of Ethiopian independence to the greed of the Italian Government. This secret agreement, contrary to the obligations of the Covenant, has exerted a great influence over the course of events. Ethiopia and the whole world have suffered and are still suffering today its disastrous consequences.

This first violation of the Covenant was followed by many others. Feeling itself encouraged in its policy against Ethiopia, the Rome Government feverishly made war preparations, thinking that the concerted pressure which was beginning to be exerted on the Ethiopian Government, might perhaps not overcome the resistance of my people to Italian domination. The time had to come, thus all sorts of difficulties were placed in the way with a view to breaking up the procedure; of conciliation and arbitration. All kinds of obstacles were placed in the way of that procedure. Governments tried to prevent the Ethiopian Government from finding arbitrators amongst their nationals: when once the arbitral tribunal a was set up pressure was exercised so that an award favourable to Italy should be given.

All this was in vain: the arbitrators, two of whom were Italian officials, were forced to recognize unanimously that in the Wal-Wal incident, as in the subsequent incidents, no international responsibility was to be attributed to Ethiopia.

Peace Efforts
Following on this award. the Ethiopian Government sincerely thought that an era of friendly relations might be opened with Italy. I loyally offered my hand to the Roman Government. The Assembly was informed by the report of the Committee of Thirteen, dated October 5th, 1935, of the details of the events which occurred after the month of December, 1934, and up to October 3rd, 1935.

It will be sufficient if I quote a few of the conclusions of that report Nos. 24, 25 and 26 "The Italian memorandum (containing the complaints made by Italy) was laid on the Council table on September 4th, 1935, whereas Ethiopia's first appeal to the Council had been made on December 14th, 1934. In the interval between these two dates, the Italian Government opposed the consideration of the question by the Council on the ground that the only appropriate procedure was that provided for in the Italo-Ethiopian Treaty of 1928. Throughout the whole of that period, moreover, the despatch of Italian troops to East Africa was proceeding. These shipments of troops were represented to the Council by the Italian Government as necessary for the defense of its colonies menaced by Ethiopia's preparations. Ethiopia, on the contrary, drew attention to the official pronouncements made in Italy which, in its opinion, left no doubt "as to the hostile intentions of the Italian Government."
From the outset of the dispute, the Ethiopian Government has sought a settlement by peaceful means. It has appealed to the procedures of the Covenant. The Italian Government desiring to keep strictly to the procedures of the Italo-Ethiopian Treaty of 1928, the Ethiopian Government assented. It invariably stated that it would faithfully carry out the arbitral award even if the decision went against it. It agreed that the question of the ownership of Wal-Wal should not be dealt with by the arbitrators, because the Italian Government would not agree to such a course. It asked the Council to despatch neutral observers and offered to lend itself to any enquiries upon which the Council might decide.
Once the Wal-Wal dispute had been settled by arbiration, however, the Italian Govemmcnt submitted its detailed memorandum to the Council in support of its claim to liberty of action. It asserted that a case like that of Ethiopia cannot be settled by the means provided by the Covenant. It stated that, "since this question affects vital interest and is of primary importance to Italian security and civilization" it "would be failing in its most elementary duty, did it not cease once and for all to place any confidence in Ethiopia, reserving full liberty to adopt any measures that may become necessary to ensure the safety of its colonies and to safeguard its own interests."

Covenant Violated
Those are the terms of the report of the Committee of Thirteen, The Council and the Assembly unanimously adopted the conclusion that the Italian Government had violated the Covenant and was in a state of aggression. I did not hesitate to declare that I did not wish for war, that it was imposed upon me, and I should struggle solely for the independence and integrity of my people, and that in that struggle I was the defender of the cause of all small States exposed to the greed of a powerful neighbour.

In October, 1935. the 52 nations who are listening to me today gave me an assurance that the aggressor would not triumph, that the resources of the Covenant would be employed in order to ensure the reign of right and the failure of violence.

I ask the fifty-two nations not to forget today the policy upon which they embarked eight months ago, and on faith of which I directed the resistance of my people against the aggressor whom they had denounced to the world. Despite the inferiority of my weapons, the complete lack of aircraft, artillery, munitions, hospital services, my confidence in the League was absolute. I thought it to be impossible that fifty-two nations, including the most powerful in the world, should be successfully opposed by a single aggressor. Counting on the faith due to treaties, I had made no preparation for war, and that is the case with certain small countries in Europe.

When the danger became more urgent, being aware of my responsibilities towards my people, during the first six months of 1935 I tried to acquire armaments. Many Governments proclaimed an embargo to prevent my doing so, whereas the Italian Government through the Suez Canal, was given all facilities for transporting without cessation and without protest, troops, arms, and munitions.

Forced to Mobilize
On October 3rd, 1935, the Italian troops invaded my territory. A few hours later only I decreed general mobilization. In my desire to maintain peace I had, following the example of a great country in Europe on the eve of the Great War, caused my troops to withdraw thirty kilometres so as to remove any pretext of provocation.

War then took place in the atrocious conditions which I have laid before the Assembly. In that unequal struggle between a Government commanding more than forty-two million inhabitants, having at its disposal financial, industrial and technical means which enabled it to create unlimited quantities of the most death-dealing weapons, and, on the other hand, a small people of twelve million inhabitants, without arms, without resources having on its side only the justice of its own cause and the promise of the League of Nations. What real assistance was given to Ethiopia by the fifty two nations who had declared the Rome Government guilty of a breach of the Covenant and had undertaken to prevent the triumph of the aggressor? Has each of the States Members, as it was its duty to do in virtue of its signature appended to Article 15 of the Covenant, considered the aggressor as having committed an act of war personally directed against itself? I had placed all my hopes in the execution of these undertakings. My confidence had been confirmed by the repeated declarations made in the Council to the effect that aggression must not be rewarded, and that force would end by being compelled to bow before right.

In December, 1935, the Council made it quite clear that its feelings were in harmony with those of hundreds of millions of people who, in all parts of the world, had protested against the proposal to dismember Ethiopia. It was constantly repeated that there was not merely a conflict between the Italian Government and the League of Nadons, and that is why I personally refused all proposals to my personal advantage made to me by the Italian Government, if only I would betray my people and the Covenant of the League of Nations. I was defending the cause of all small peoples who are threatened with aggression.

What of Promises?
What have become of the promises made to me as long ago as October, 1935? I noted with grief, but without surprise that three Powers considered their undertakings under the Covenant as absolutely of no value. Their connections with Italy impelled them to refuse to take any measures whatsoever in order to stop Italian aggression. On the contrary, it was a profound disappointment to me to learn the attitude of a certain Government which, whilst ever protesting its scrupulous attachment to the Covenant, has tirelessly used all its efforts to prevent its observance. As soon as any measure which was likely to be rapidly effective was proposed, various pretexts were devised in order to postpone even consideration of the measure. Did the secret agreements of January, 1935, provide for this tireless obstruction?

The Ethiopian Government never expected other Governments to shed their soldiers' blood to defend the Covenant when their own immediately personal interests were not at stake. Ethiopian warriors asked only for means to defend themselves. On many occasions I have asked for financial assistance for the purchase of arms That assistance has been constantly refused me. What, then, in practice, is the meaning of Article 16 of the Covenant and of collective security?

The Ethiopian Government's use of the railway from Djibouti to Addis Ababa was in practice a hazardous regards transport of arms intended for the Ethiopian forces. At the present moment this is the chief, if not the only means of supply of the Italian armies of occupation. The rules of neutrality should have prohibited transports intended for Italian forces, but there is not even neutrality since Article 16 lays upon every State Member of the League the duty not to remain a neutral but to come to the aid not of the aggressor but of the victim of aggression. Has the Covenant been respected? Is it today being respected?

Finally a statement has just been made in their Parliaments by the Governments of certain Powers, amongst them the most influential members of the League of Nations, that since the aggressor has succeeded in occupying a large part of Ethiopian territory they propose not to continue the application of any economic and financial measures that may have been decided upon against the Italian Government. These are the circumstances in which at the request of the Argentine Government, the Assembly of the League of Nations meets to consider the situation created by Italian aggression. I assert that the problem submitted to the Assembly today is a much wider one. It is not merely a question of the settlement of Italian aggression.

League Threatened
It is collective security: 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 their independence shall be respected and ensured. It is the principle of the equality of States on the one hand, or otherwise the obligation laid upon smail Powers to accept the bonds of vassalship. In a word, it is international morality that is at stake. Have the signatures appended to a Treaty value only in so far as the signatory Powers have a personal, direct and immediate interest involved?

No subtlety can change the problem or shift the grounds of the discussion. It is in all sincerity that I submit these considerations to the Assembly. At a time when my people are threatened with extermination, when the support of the League may ward off the final blow, may I be allowed to speak with complete frankness, without reticence, in all directness such as is demanded by the rule of equality as between all States Members of the League?

Apart from the Kingdom of the Lord there is not on this earth any nation that is superior to any other. Should it happen that a strong Government finds it may with impunity destroy a weak people, then the hour strikes for that weak people to appeal to the League of Nations to give its judgment in all freedom. God and history will remember your judgment.

Assistance Refused
I have heard it asserted that the inadequate sanctions already applied have not achieved their object. At no time, and under no circumstances could sanctions that were intentionally inadequate, intentionally badly applied, stop an aggressor. This is not a case of the impossibility of stopping an aggressor but of the refusal to stop an aggressor. When Ethiopia requested and requests that she should be given financial assistance, was that a measure which it was impossible to apply whereas financial assistance of the League has been granted, even in times of peace, to two countries and exactly to two countries who have refused to apply sanctions against the aggressor?

Faced by numerous violations by the Italian Government of all international treaties that prohibit resort to arms, and the use of barbarous methods of warfare, it is my painful duty to note that the initiative has today been taken with a view to raising sanctions. Does this initiative not mean in practice the abandonment of Ethiopia to the aggressor? On the very eve of the day when I was about to attempt a supreme effort in the defense of my people before this Assembly does not this initiative deprive Ethiopia of one of her last chances to succeed in obtaining the support and guarantee of States Members? Is that the guidance the League of Nations and each of the States Members are entitled to expect from the great Powers when they assert their right and their duty to guide the action of the League? Placed by the aggressor face to face with the accomplished fact, are States going to set up the terrible precendent of bowing before force?

Your Assembly will doubtless have laid before it proposals for the reform of the Covenant and for rendering more effective the guarantee of collective security. Is it the Covenant that needs reform? What undertakings can have any value if the will to keep them is lacking? It is international morality which is at stake and not the Articles of the Covenant. On behalf of the Ethiopian people, a member of the League of Nations, I request the Assembly to take all measures proper to ensure respect for the Covenant. I renew my protest against the violations of treaties of which the Ethiopian people has been the victim. I declare in the face of the whole world that the Emperor, the Government and the people of Ethiopia will not bow before force; that they maintain their claims that they will use all means in their power to ensure the triumph of right and the respect of the Covenant.
I ask the fifty-two nations, who have given the Ethiopian people a promise to help them in their resistance to the aggressor, what are they willing to do for Ethiopia? And the great Powers who have promised the guarantee of collective security to small States on whom weighs the threat that they may one day suffer the fate of Ethiopia, I ask what measures do you intend to take?
Representatives of the World I have come to Geneva to discharge in your midst the most painful of the duties of the head of a State. What reply shall I have to take back to my people?"

June, 1936. Geneva, Switzerland.

Parentage: The Father

Ras Makonnen in Paris

Makonnen Wolde Mika’el Gudessa was the father of Tafari Makonnen/Emperor Haile Sellassie I.

He was born on May 8th 1952.

Makonnen, like Emperor Menelek II was grandson of Emperor Sahle Sellassie of Shewa.

At the age of 14, Makonnen was taken by his father Fitawrari Wolde Mikael Gudessa to the court of his cousin Negus of Shewa Sahle Maryam  to live (this was before he was named  Menelek II as the Emperor). They were eight years apart in age but became very close friends.

Makonnen became a trust official and warrior of Menelek’s growing empire, helping him t to subdue various parts of Ethiopia and bring them under his rule. He was a General, leading battles on behalf of Menilek II many times. His most successful victory was against the Italians at the 1896 Battle of Adwa, he was called Victor of Adwa according to Christine Sandford.

He was granted the title of Ras, and became governor of the Muslim city Harar. He raised a mighty army of men from this city. He also brought the first printing press to Harar. He was respected by the Muslims there for the good works of reform, organization and development he achieved. He even built the first Tewahedo Church there and brought the coexistence of the two religions inside the city walls. He was well loved because he was a kind, hospitable/ and just ruler. He was known for his sound system of reform in administration and law – the ‘Justice of Ras Makonnen’ became a catchphrase of his province.

He was also most noted for his diplomacy across Europe. He was an Ethiopian envoy visiting England, Italy, France, Turkey, Jerusalem and Germany where he received many decorations/medals. While in Italy for example, he learned a lot of their military order – their strengths and tactics - which in the end ironically helped him to defeat the Italians along with the weapons he bought from them. He studied the uropean political climate and history which was uncommon for Ethiopian nobility of his time. This knowledge is what gave him such fame among the foreigners.

He also received various European diplomats at his lovely home in Harar. He was a noted friend of Arthur Rimbaud the French adventurer. Europeans in general found him to be well-mannered, dignified, and carrying a great spiritual character. They believed him to be better suited as a priest, spiritual leader or philosopher more so than a governor or warrior. These characteristics provided the perfect role model for his son Tafari Makonnen who was destined to take his place in the Emperor’s court. Ras Makonnen granted his son the title of Dejazmatch at the age of 13 and entrusted him to his advisors and army, to guide him on this path – to take his place for the next emperor.

Ras Makonnen died unexpectedly on March 21st 1906 on a journey from Harar to Addis Abeba. He fell suddenly ill of typhus and died at Kulubi. His older son Yilma Makonnen took his place as governor of Harar. He was the son of his first marriage.

These are just a few of the many facts on the father of Emperor Haile Sellassie I.

Sources: The Lion of Judah Hath Prevailed by Christine Sandford, King of Kings by Asfa-Wossen Asserate, A Glimpse of Greatness by Abebe Ambatchew, Haile Sellassie I the Formative Years by Harold G. Marcus and Makonnen Wolde Mikael on Wikipedia.

Parentage: The Mother

Woyzero (Lady) Yeshimebet Ali Gonshar was the mother of Tafari Makonnen/Emperor Haile Sellassie I. Yeshimebet means “Lady of a thousand.”

She was the daughter of an Oromo nobleman from Woreilu Wollo, Dejazmatch Ali Abba Jiffar.

This Wollo princess was widely renowned for her charm and beauty.

In 1876 Ras Makonnen Wolde Mikael left his first wife and married princess Yeshimebet because he became totally smitten with her. They were wed in a Christian ceremony

Not much else is published about Woyzero Yeshimebet. Her life was noted however, to have been shadowed by her inability to provide a family for the Ras of Harar. She suffered through nine unsuccessful pregnancies, where the babies were either stillborn or died shortly after birth. It wasn’t until her tenth pregnancy that she presented a healthy heir to Ras Makonnen, their only child together Tafari Makonnen.

It is said that (like the Mothers of Nazarites in the Scripture, who gave birth to great leaders of Israel), Yeshimebet was told in a dream to name the son she was carrying, “Tafari” “one to be feared.” For this pregnancy she was closely watched by the priesthood, and sent to Ras Makonnen’s country house at Ejersa Goro to give birth there. It was to protect her from catching typhoid during the rainy season.

When her son was still a toddler, at twenty months old, Yeshimebet died in child birth on the 14th March in 1894. She was in her thirties. In the film “Man of the Millenium” it is shown that her grave currently rests under a house. This is of course a sad and unsuitable end for the mother of the greatest King of this millennium.

Sources: King of Kings by Asfa-Wossen Asserate, A Glimpse of Greatness by Abebe Ambatchew, Haile Sellassie I the Formative Years by Harold G. Marcus and Makonnen Wolde Mikael on Wikipedia.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Sources of Inspiration for His Majesty Haile Sellassie I

The Emperor at Debre Zeit

The first and greatest source of inspiration for Tafari Makonnen throughout His life was undoubtedly His deep devotion to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and His love for the Ethiopian Ible and documents related to Christian history.

On the other side He throughout His life, also had a profound penchant for Western Philosophy and the rise of European civilization. He had a library of books written primarily in Latin; hidden away in the Debre Zeit palace just outside the capital. Only the Emperor and His servants were allowed to enter this space. There He would spend many hours reading.

He had a list of seven men that inspired him. The first two were most important because of their roles as kings or leaders of new empires, men who wanted to do things differently from the norm – like He HIMself. They were Frederick the Great of Prussia and Napoleon Bonaparte of France. Voltaire and Goethe, Machiavelli, Augustine of Hippo, Thomas á Kempis, make up the other five.

Frederick the Great was the model of the enlightened ruler and liberal philosopher. It was him that inspired the Emperor to adapt an attitude of religious tolerance. The Emperor adopted Prussian values such as hiring “independent judges, incorruptible civil servants and a disciplined army.” Like Frederick the Great, the Emperor loved animals and detested hunting.

His Majesty saw Napoleon Bonaparte as a great legislator and used Napoleon’s rule and his Code Napoléon for inspiration in establishing Ethiopian legal codes. Napoleon was a combination of the modern man with the person of the emperor, someone loved by the whole population.

Source: The Mission by Hans Wilhelm Lockot 1993, pg 2-3

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Forced into Exile: Granted Asylum

The British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, because of public pressure, was forced to grant the Royal Family asylum. He was hesitant however because Britain did not want to provoke Facist Italy and National Socialist Germany, or bring the two countries closer together that they would make an attack. The Emperor was told He could land on British soil incognito. He would not be recognized as an official State Guest.

The Emperor Haile Sellassie I, forced into exile because of the assassination attempts on His life by Benito Mussolini’s armies, disembarked the passenger liner SS Orford at Southhampton, Britain on the 3rd of June 1936.  

Sir Elly Kadoorie is the man who gave Emperor Haile Sellassie I refuge when the Emperor first entered Britain. Sir Kadoorie’s house was located in Princes Gate Kensington, very near to the Ethiopian Legation. It was here that the Emperor prepared His speech for the General Assembly of the League of Nations scheduled for June 30th. The House became a diplomatic office for the exiled Emperor.

Eleazer Elly Kadoorie was born in 1867 in Bombay India to an Iraqi Jew from Baghdad. His family migrated to Bombay in the mid-eighteenth century. He went to Shanghai from Bombay in 1880 under the employment of the Sephardi Jewish firm David Sassoon and Sons. When he became wealthy he went into business for himself opening companies in both Shanghai and Hong Kong. He and his brothers became quite wealthy holding many businesses such as banks, plantations, real estate and electrical companies to name a few. He was made an Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1926. In 1942 Kadoorie was captured and taken from his home in Shanghai to a foreign civilians prison where he died in 1944. He had a wife Laura and two sons. His grave along with his wife’s are in Shanghai to this day and are open to visitors.
View more information on Wikipedia about the Kadoorie family.

Sources: Eleazar Kadoorie Wikipedia and King of Kings by Asfa-Wossen Asserate

Forced into Exile: Journey into Exile

The Royal Family disembarking at Jerusalem

The Emperor left Addis Ababa and travelled to Djibouti by railway on the 2nd -3rd of May.

He then left Afrika on May 4th aboard the British cruiser HMS Enterprise.

Four days later the Emperor and His family arrived in Jerusalem on May 8th 1936. He by that time, was “very frail and under medical supervision.”

With a short rest He left the family behind leaving Port Hailfa in Palestine, on the Royal Navy Cruiser HMS Capetown.

Docking in Gibraltar the King was transferred to the SS Orford and arrived in England at Southhampton on June 3rd.

Sources: Chapman-Andrews and the Emperor by Peter Leslie and King of Kings by Asfa-Wossen Asserate

Forced Into Exile: The Council of State Votes

The Emperor Haile Sellassie the First, after fighting Italy on the battlefield from October 1935 to April 30th 1936, was forced into exile. The Ethiopian army was greatly diminished, and could barely stand against the guns, bombs and illegal poison gas used by the larger Italian forces. Totally exhausted, the Emperor finally arrived back in Addis Ababa from His battle in Dessie, on the last day of April, where He went into a closed deliberation with His Council. They needed to decide on the next plan for attack. The Emperor’s intention was to gather His army and strike against the Italians one more time between Harar and Jijiga, to keep them away from Addis Ababa. But because the numbers were so small, and because the Ethiopian government had been refused military aid from Britain, France and other League members, the outcome was viewed as an impossible victory. The Council voted and 21 members voted that the Emperor leave the country while 3 voted that He stay. It was always custom for Emperors to fight to the death, and the 3 including Blatta Tekele, thought He was a coward to forfeit His seat, that He would shame His country. There was one member of the Council who wasn’t present for the vote, he too agreed that the Emperor should stay rather than run away, it wasn’t the Ethiopian Way to back down. 

The Emperor agreed, and because He didn’t want to abandon vulnerable Ethiopia, was prepared to fight to the end. But Empress Menen tried Her best to encourage Him to leave, as did His cousin Ras Kassa Asserate. She didn’t want the railroad to close due to the war before the family could reach safety – knowing that the Italians would try to kill Them all. The majority of the Council wanted HIM to leave because they thought Ethiopia stood a better chance if He went personally to the League of Nations and made a plea on the behalf of the country. It was better than having the Monarchy abolished (or an undeserving puppet placed to rule de facto) by Italians, which likely would have happened if He were murdered o captured.

On May 1st Sir Sidney Barton telegraphed the British Foreign Office notifying them that the Emperor was handing over the Council of State and leaving Ethiopia. He requested that a naval ship be sent to Djibouti to meet the Royal Family to take them to Palestine.

The Royal Family, their belongings, their lions, vehicles, their most trusted advisers and diplomats, and some Europeans, all boarded a train to Djibouti in the wee hours of the morning May 2nd 1936. But before the Emperor could officially set sail from Afrika on the 4th of May, He met with Sir Chapman-Andrews at Diredawa, who had been a loyal ally for many years, to ask him if he thought He should go. The Emperor was still undecided, and wanted to find a way to raise an army. Chapman-Andrews encouraged the Emperor to save His life rather than let Italy capture, imprison or assassinate HIM, so the King of Kings reluctantly set sail for Jerusalem.

Sources: Chapman-Andrews and the Emperor by Peter Leslie