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.