Crown Council Expresses Sympathy for Victims of Church Collapse
The Crown Council extended its sincerest condolences to the families of the victims of the collapse of the Mewa Tsadkan Gabriel church in Ethiopia’s Gondar region.
At least 15 people died when a church in which they were collapsed. It is estimated that some 500 worshippers were in attendance when the collapse occurred. The roof of the ancient church, carved out of rock, caved in as worshippers celebrated the annual feast of St Gabriel's on Monday.
Twenty people were rescued from the rubble of the 800-year old structure. News of the accident took a week to reach the outside world because the church is in a remote area, about 100 kilometers north of Gondar, the main town in the region and 500 kilometers from the capital of Addis Ababa.
The church was one of the earliest to be built by King Lalibela, who ruled the Horn of Africa nation from the late 12th Century to the early 13th Century. Ethiopia is home to dozens of churches carved out of rock hundreds of years ago, which draw tourists from around the world.
UNESCO named the rock-hewn churches of Ethiopia to its World Heritage List in 1978. The Crown Council renews its call to international historic preservation entities to assist in the preservation of the remaining churches and the eventual rebuilding of this, one of the oldest churches in Ethiopia.
Donations to the Haile Selassie Fund are being accepted to go to victims aid and preservation of historic and cultural sites in Ethiopia.
Haile Selassie Scholars Graduate With DistinctionThe Haile Selassie Fund for Ethiopian’s Children is proud to announce the graduation from LaRoche College of nine Ethiopian scholarship recipients. In a recent statement to the press, Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, Patron of the Fund, congratulated the recent graduates, and noted, “These fine young men and women have been admirable ambassadors for their country during their time in the United States, and Ethiopians everywhere should be proud of their accomplishments.”
Thirteen other Haile Selassie Fund scholarship students remain at LaRoche College, and will be graduating in the 2003-2004 school year. Ken Service, the Vice President of Institutional Relations at LaRoche, has described the Ethiopian students as a “delightful addition to our campus.” In the words of Monsignor Kerr, the President of LaRoche, the Haile Selassie Fund scholarship program has been “a very good experiment. [The Ethiopian scholars] have applied themselves very well.” He noted also those who “have distinguished themselves academically,” pointing to a number of Ethiopian scholars who have earned opportunities for advanced study at the graduate level.
Commenting on the success of the Ethiopian scholarship recipients, Prince Ermias added, “Each of the students has made a name for themselves. For instance, both Shakir Mohammed and Rakeb Abebe represented LaRoche College at public events, distinguishing themselves for their public speaking skills.” Rakeb is now attending a graduate program in American University in Washington D.C. According to Mr. Service, she represented LaRoche at a Black History event in New York City’s world-famous Apollo Theater, speaking before 1500 people. “We were honored to have her there,” Mr. Service added.
Shakir was president of Globe, the international student organization on the LaRoche campus. Monsignor Kerr praised his work with Globe, noting, “he made it much more visible on campus, encouraging U.S. students to participate as well.” Shakir has received a scholarship to University of Pittsburgh and is planning to get a graduate degree in international affairs.
Monsignor Kerr was impressed that the Ethiopian students have a “great love for their country… and deep gratitude to His Highness.” Upon graduating, the Ethiopian scholars presented a plaque to LaRoche College and Monsignor Kerr, who recalled the event by speaking of the “great deal of affection shared” between the students and the college.
Prince Ermias in turn noted his own gratitude to Monsignor Kerr and LaRoche College: “This has been a remarkable opportunity for these students. We are tremendously fortunate to have such a collaboration with LaRoche, and we know that the experiences these students have shared there will change their lives forever.”The following Haile Selassie Fund scholars graduated in the Spring of 2003:
October 22-23, 2003
HIH Prince Ermias Visits Hungary
On October 22nd, 2003, HIH Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie paid a 2-day private visit to Hungary. During his visit, he was received by HE Dr. Ferenc Mádl, President of the Hungarian Republic, HE Péter Harrach, Vice President of the Hungarian Parliament, and also with Dr. Dr. Zsolt Semjén, Vice President of the Parliamentarian Committee of Human Rights, Minorities, and Religion. The main topics of discussion were religious freedom and national cultural traditions.
The Prince was also welcomed at Pannonhalma by Bishop Asztoik Várszegi Archabbot of Pannonhalma as well as by ecclesiastical dignitaries in the Primate's Palace in Esztengom. He also had meetings on spritual and charitable aspects with the Hungarian Association of Sovereign Military Order of Malta, the importance of which was stressed by HE Mr. Lázló Kóczy.
September 9, 2003
In Memoriam, HIH Princess Tenagneworq
HIH Princess Tenagnework died in Addis Ababa at the age of 90 on April 6, 2003, and was buried in the Holy Trinity Cathedral on April 13, 2003. Her funeral, presided over by Abuna Paulos, was attended by high clergy of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Ethiopian royal family, who were joined by thousands of mourners who came from many different parts of Ethiopia.
Princess Tenagnework was the first daughter of the late emperor, His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie, through his wife, Empress Menen, and the last of their children still living. Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, president of the Crown Council, attended the funeral in honor of his aunt, and commented on the importance of the event as an opportunity to commemorate her charitable works.
“Her Highness was a leader in education, a leader in building new schools, a leader in women’s issues. She worked with the disabled, with the blind, with the sick. Her sponsorship of Ethiopian students who studied overseas serves as a role model to us, as her larger charitable works serve as a role model to all of Ethiopia.”
“This is a time for healing, and a time for remembrance,” Prince Ermias noted. “The Crown Council and the Ethiopian royal family mourn her passing.”
HIH Prince Ermias Visits Fatima
Your Excellency Bishop Serafim of Leiria – Fátima, Your Reverence Monsignor Luciano Guerra, Rector of the Shrine, Reverend Brothers and Sisters, Brothers and Sisters; Greeting in Our Lord Jesus:
It is an honor to be here with you today at one of the most holy of Western Europe’s Marian Shrines.
In my own homeland of Ethiopia, I recall the many beautiful ancient monasteries, churches, and pilgrimage sites much like this one, many of them dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of God, Ark of the Covenant, and also to the Archangel Saint Michael, whom the Portuguese Kings in the days when the explorers first came to my Country designated as Angel of Portugal and Angel of Peace. The same Angel who probably appeared here in Fátima in 1916.
Today it is a great joy for me to be here in the Kingdom of Santa Maria, in this land known as a land of Peace, the Cove of Peace – Fatima!
This is the joy of Fatima – the Oasis of Peace – the fountain of Peace for the family, for countries for the world. To be able to share its gift, its spirituality, and the power of its message with the whole world – is an honor that has been given to each and every one of us, by our Holy Mother, irregardless of race or creed.
We gather here today in this place and feel a supernatural motherly comfort in the midst of a deeply troubled world. Everywhere we look today, we are confronted with a new outbreak of war, or famine, a new and brutal cycle of oppression and retaliation, a new horror in the newspaper’s front-page headlines.
In my own country, we have just fought a war in which thousands of lives were lost over a border conflict which even now is set to reignite at a moment’s notice. This, when Ethiopia stands on the brink of a devastating famine for the third time in thirty years. I believe in the power of the Blessed Virgin at Fátima and entrust to her these situations asking you also my dear brothers to pray for these intentions.
It is only natural, to turn to our faith in times of tragedy, to ask higher powers for guidance. But this should not be the case for faithful Christians, their relationship with Heaven should be of an continuous communication of Love.
The apparitions of Fatima are over 85 years old now, but for those of us who look to our faith for direction, the story of those apparitions still hold many answers. Many of these are fresh blossoms from these seeds planted by the Virgin Mary almost a century ago. In the midst of the darkness of the first world war, the Virgin Mary appeared in a vision before three little children, and gave them a message of hope. Peace, she said to them, could be in reach for the entire world. War, she said, and hunger, were but temporary suffering we could overcome by seeking God’s will by consecrating ourselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
In the years since World War One, millions of Christians have heard this message and sought to bring it into a wider world. It is a message with power and poignancy, even for those who have lost their faith, or have begun to doubt it. Simply put, it tells us that a better world is within our reach, that all the trauma and suffering of modernity is avoidable, even unnecessary.
The apparitions of Fatima came as Russia slipped deeper into a revolution which would kill the tsars and ultimately bring the darkness of religious and economic oppression to all corners of the globe, even to my own homeland where my beloved grandfather the Emperor Haile Selassie, who visited this wonderful land in August of 1959 met him untimely death at the hands of revolutionaries.
The request for the consecration of Russia carried out by the Pope and the Catholic Bishops in 1984, lifted the atheist soviet oppression in Russia so that it might one day return to the path of faith, this message and appeal to consecration applies in truth to all people. The specter of famine and disease which once again threatens Ethiopia can be a serious challenge indeed to faith in a merciful God, and prayers are necessary to strengthen us all and to avoid a great tragedy.
Whatever our work may be, whatever our calling in life, we must always remember to seek balance in all that we do. We must remember that good works and charity can feed both body and soul. And we must also remember that such nourishment can come from many different places, from the tables and the hearts of men and women all around the world.
I believe that Our Lady’s intervention at Fatima was not solely for Catholics but for all mankind irregardless of religious creed, race, rank or political party who should be open to this gift from God. I believe this to be true. The road to peace, and the road to faith, is a road open to the entire world’s community of churches, the entire world’s collection of beliefs. Indeed, this road will only get us to our destination if all of us travel it together in Peace and harmony.
I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to you here today, and yet humbled as well by the immensity of God’s presence felt in His mother’s house. Truly, in a place such as this, it is more fitting to listen, and more fitting to pray. As I learn about this country and its people, and as I learn more about Fatima and its visions, I grow full of hope in our future, and our own progress as pilgrims on the road to peace. I ask for your prayers, for Ethiopia and especially its children, and I ask for your help in bringing the message of Fatima to all the peoples of the world.
With all my heart and on behalf of my family which descends from the Royal House of David through King Solomon; I consecrate the Imperial Family and its Solomonic Crown to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and in my heart present the peoples of Ethiopia to our Mother Mary for special protection and peace.
As Queen Sheba of Ethiopia once honored the Great King Solomon by her visit and was permitted to be in the presence of the Ark of the old Covenant with God, the House of Selassie, descendant of Solomon and Sheba in visiting Portugal on the 600th anniversary of the birth of the first born of the Royal House of Braganza, hereby honors its reigning Monarch the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Portugal and is honored to stand in the presence of She who is the Ark of the New Covenant with God.
The Saintly father of the House of Braganza, Blessed Nuno, Grandee of the Realm as a sign of entrustment to the Blessed Virgin Mary, gave up all of his worldly goods and titles. His descendant King John IV gave up his crown and declared Mary, reigning Queen of Portugal and protectress of the Royal House of Braganza.
May I also be permitted in this holy place to have the honor of bestowing the Collar of the Seal of Solomon, the Imperial House of Ethiopia’s highest distinction to Mary, Mother of God and by this act renew our own consecration to Her.
May Fatima always be a lighthouse of hope in this world still filled with darkness. And may each one of us after visiting Fatima bring this light of hope, which is Jesus Christ to the world. May God and his Heavenly Mother be praised!
Address to House of Braganza
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to begin by thanking you for your hospitality, and the privilege of an invitation to join you today. It is an opportunity to renew the old ties between my family and the Portuguese Royal Family and the people of Portugal.
In 1959, my grandfather, His Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie, paid a state visit to Portugal, and held with honor a Grand Cross in the Portuguese Order of the Three Orders, and the Order of the Tower and Sword. I think I may speak for him today by saying that Portugal also held a special place in his memory as it does in the memory of all Ethiopians, and all freedom-loving peoples, for the stand it took in the 1930s against the fascist invasion of Ethiopia.
This long relationship between Portugal and Ethiopia came into being out of sheer curiosity. We think of the heroic Portuguese expeditions around the Cape of Good Hope and up to the Horn of Africa. We think of the ambassadors of the Ethiopian regent, Queen Helen, who journeyed so far from home to bring greetings to the Portuguese King. We think also of the Portuguese priest Francisco Alvares and the Emperor Lebna Dengel, who stayed up late into the night, arguing about the theological nature of the Holy Trinity and the Sacrament of Communion. These events still serve as models for how we hope Ethiopia can greet the world, and the world can still learn about us, five hundred years later.
The birth-pains of the twenty-first century have at their heart a growing polarization between the western world and Islam, a cycle of fundamentalism, terrorism, and retaliation. Ethiopia, with its ancient Christianity and its large Muslim population, today stands at the cross-roads, and will soon teach the world by example of the best that might come, or the worst that we fear.
In many ways, we are reminded of the parallels to the Middle Ages, when Europe’s fear of Islam, and Muslim attempts to expel European crusaders, gave rise to whispered rumors of Prester John, a Christian king growing in power in far lands beyond Muslim rule. Then as now, the tension between two great civilizations turns our minds to Ethiopia, and the lessons it can teach us. A Christian Ethiopian Emperor was what first inspired the stories of Prester John. And it may be that Ethiopian Christians dreamed of joining Europe in a great crusade against Islam. But in the end, Prester John never rode forth to join Europe's crusaders. Indeed, Ethiopian independence was saved only by the timely arrival of Portuguese reinforcements, fighting off the armies of Ahmed Gran.
But of course, these Portuguese reinforcements are long gone, and the ambitions of a crusade many generations in the past. Ethiopia has not survived these past five hundred years by stubbornly clinging to the way of the gun. If that had been our path, we would have crumbled into oblivion long ago. On the contrary, Ethiopia has survived by making peace with itself, by showing that Muslims and Christians and Jews can live side by side, and can work together to build a unified country and crown. In this transition, the Ethiopian crown has led the way, at times by its own example. The blood of Muslim ancestors flowing in my veins is proof enough of this.
The Portuguese nation and the Portuguese Crown have made a similar transition. Gone are the days in which the spice trade and the desire for new worlds brought Portuguese Missionaries and explorers to all corners of the globe. And gone too are the days in which the Portuguese Crown ruled over a vast transcontinental empire. And yet many of Portugal's old responsibilities still remain, particularly in Africa and East Timor.
HRH the Duke of Braganza although not a reigning King of Portugal has continued to show the Crown’s support of the evangelized countries of Portuguese Tradition and Culture. HRH’s Foundations’s role over the decades in the struggle of East Timor and Cabinda are proof of this support and aid. Here again, the paths of the Ethiopian and Portuguese Royal Crowns cross.
Simmilarly the Haile Selassie Foundation also continues to look for ways to improve the plight of Ethiopia, its children, its cultural heritage.
But unlike Portugal, Ethiopia is not yet able to rely on its own resources and we must still look to the outside world for help. This is part of my message to you today: in Ethiopia today, centuries-old monasteries crumble and decay; ancient bridges fall into ruin; the villages connected by those bridges sink into isolation; their markets go empty; their children begin to starve and die. There is no need for this to happen, no need for us to remain silent. I come to you today as Lebna Dengel, the Emperor whose cries for help reached Portuguese ears four and a half centuries ago. The Portuguese did come at last to join him, as I hope you will today with the establishment of the Prester John Luso – Ethiopian Society. But our fight will be a new fight, a different one, not against neighbors of a different faith, but against that waste, that decay, and that indifference which again so threaten my country and my people.
The myth of Prester John has long since faded into memory, but the true symbolic value of that myth, Portugal’s interest in Ethiopia, and the spirit of co-operation between Portugal and Ethiopia which once thrived, can make a crucial difference today. I ask you for your help and support and ask God, the Father of all life to abundantly bless you and the Royal House of Portugal in this great Jubilee Year of its Founding.. Thank you.
Recent Fundraisers: Art for Ethiopian Children
From November 27 to December 9, 2002, an art exhibition co-organized by Barbara Hamilton, a noted portrait artist, and the exhibit's co-curators, Countess Milena Grafin von Rex and Professor Bruno Cacco, President of the Rome and Lazio Chapter of UNICEF, made its debut in Rome in aid of Ethiopian children. For two weeks the event was one of the biggest attractions in Rome.
Guests of Honours included His Imperial Highnesses Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie, The Duke of Kent's two children, The Earl of St Andrews and Lord Nicholas Windsor. Other noted guests included His Excellency Mengistu Hulluka, Ambassador of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to Italy.
According to a statement made by Princess Gelila, "Barbara Hamilton learned of the current plight of Ethiopia's children through her friendship with me and Prince Ermias. She became aware of the reality of an unacceptable world of suffering and deprivation for Ethiopia's children. She therefore chose to make her own personal contribution in the way she knows best."In this exhibit the artist chose to direct equal attention to her two great passions: Italian classical art and childhood. Through classical art the artist wanted to extend an invitation to promote the Renaissance, to save it beyond the limitations of modern technology and to teach it to children, since from classical art they learn about beauty, proportions, elegance, traditions, history, their own values and respect for one another. Through the wonderful pastels of childhood the artist wished to capture all the gracefulness and freshness of a pose and secure it from the rages of time and our own failing memory. In this manner childhood is captured and belongs to each of us in part for eternity. It is in this manner that Barbara Hamilton, with the help of UNICEF, is offering her art to the service of those countless children whos faces she is unable to paint, in a land such as Ethiopia that for a thousand and one reasons must not be forgotten!
"The portrait of Rut Ruffolo, an Ethiopian little girl of undetermined age, was chosen as a symbol and legacy of this exhibit. This child, who was adopted by her new family a year ago, gazes at us with all her previous suffering and, at the same time, radiates a light of hope."
Commenting on this successful exhibition, Proffesor Bruno Cacco said, "In the name of UNICEF, I would like to thank Barbara Hamilton, who by contributing to the project through her interesting and refined works of art, shares the effort of all volunteers, who day after day, contribute to diminish the sufferings of many unlucky children all over the world."
Princess Gelila, Patron of the Haile Selassie Fund for Ethiopia's Children in Need, added, "I am thankful for this event benefiting Ethiopian children. This noble cause will raise awareness for all friends of Ethiopia and others to reach out and touch those who need our compassion and generosity." HE Ambassador Hulluka concluded by saying, "On behalf of my government and myself I would like to express my utmost gratitude to Professor Cacco for organizing such a special exhibition of precious paintings by an outstanding painter, Barbara Hamilton, in aid of UNICEF in Ethiopia which has been instrumental in fostering assistance to distressed children in Ethiopia. Your effort for such a noble cause would definitely save the lives of so many children whose fate would have been pathetic and perilous. The children of Ethiopia would regard this unprecedented gesture greatly and are highly grateful for the donation of highly admirable paintings."
The exhibition Art for Ethiopian Children raised 7000 Euro given for UNICEF Ethiopia; twenty-five paintings worth 47,000 Euro are still available to benefit this cause. The paintings are still selling. Anyone interested in purchasing additional paintings, lithography and greeting cards which remain available may contact Professor Bruno Cacco at 00 39 0647 8092.
For further press coverage of the UNICEF exhibition and fundraiser, see
Il Tempo, "Hamilton, l'arte classica rende omaggio all'Etiopia," November
27, 2002; La Repubblica, "I ritratti di Hamilton per i bimbi dell'Etiopia,"
December 2, 2002; Corriere della Sera, "Le opera di Barbara Hamilton
per i progetti Unicef in Etiopia," December 5, 2002; Il Tempo, "Palazzo
Caproni Grande festa in onore della Hamilton," November 29, 2002.
Crown Council Sends Greetings on the Occasion of Christmas and Timket
On behalf of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, His Imperial Highness Prince Bekere Fikre-Selassie, Viceroy, and His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President, send Christmas (Gena) and Epiphany (Timket) greetings to all Ethiopians at home and in the Ethiopian diaspora around the world. Prince Ermias said that the Crown Council, on these sacred days, prayed for the continued recovery of Ethiopia and for the health and happiness of the Ethiopian People for the coming year. The Crown Council also sent greetings to the many supporters of Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Crown around the world, and thanked them for their concern for the Ethiopian People.
The Crown Council pledged to recommit itself to the cause of Ethiopian unity, peace and prosperity for the coming year. It continues its work on a variety of charitable endeavors and in working for communication and understanding between the Ethiopian peoples.
Prince Ermias noted: “In these times, we face enormous hardships ahead, with the anticipated famine which threatens many of our People, and the Crown Council is determined to work toward alleviating that possible disaster in any way attempting to unify the country. The Ethiopian People, and indeed the Crown itself, cannot at this stage be divided in any way; we must work for unity, the health and wellbeing of our fellow Ethiopians, and for prosperity and strength.”
“Ethiopia is, as we have always known and the world is beginning to discover, in a critical geopolitical location, particularly at this fractious time in international affairs. The Crown is committed to helping unify Ethiopia to meet this conjunction of challenges and opportunities.”
“At the time of these religious holidays, the Crown prays for Ethiopia and the Ethiopian people.”
Prince Ermias Sends Greetings to Oklahoma-Ethiopia Society
Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie sent the following message to the Ethiopia-Oklahoma Society on October 12, 2002:
Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends and Guests of the Oklahoma-Ethiopia Society, it is my pleasure and honor to extend to you greetings on the occasion of your annual meeting and to congratulate you for your ongoing interest in Ethiopia, past and present. You are indeed fortunate to have with you tonight Ambassador Tibor Nagy, diplomat in residence at the University of Oklahoma, whose rich experience in Ethiopia, will, I am sure, contribute immensely to your knowledge of my country.
Undoubtedly most of you know that forty-eight years ago, my grandfather, His Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I, was received here at Oklahoma State University, then Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College, which marked the first visit to Oklahoma by a reigning foreign head of state. Reading about His visit, so marvelously recalled by Professor Theodore Vestal, of Oklahoma State University in the Summer 2001 issue of “The Chronicles of Oklahoma,” stirred my emotions deeply. Reading of my dear father, Prince Sahle-Selassie, then twenty-four, enjoying the records of Frank Sinatra from a jukebox set up in his room and of his fondness for the Student Union’s special-deluxe hot dogs and ice cream sundaes, leads us back to the days of 1954, a year filled with promises and challenges, for this great country, Ethiopia, and the international community.
The occasion for His Majesty’s visit, as Professor Vestal notes, was to thank this University for its work in assisting in modernizing agriculture and education in Ethiopia. The association of the University with Ethiopia dated back four years to a request from the Emperor to Henry G. Bennett, then president of A & M to visit Ethiopia with a view towards setting up an agricultural college. President Bennett’s productive meetings upon his return with President Harry Truman led to his appointment as the first head of the Technical Cooperation Administration which was set up to implement the newly inaugurated Point Four technical assistance program. Ethiopia subsequently became the first country to request technical assistance under that program on June 16, 1951. Thus began the establishment of the Jimma Agricultural Technical School to prepare students for university level work and Oklahoma State University’s subsequent association with the Haile Selassie I University College of Agriculture, now Alemaya University.
From the early years following his coronation as Emperor in 1930 His Majesty, my grandfather, recognized that it was only through education and mastery of technology that Ethiopia could emerge into the modern family of nations and provide its citizens with the basis of a respectable standard of living. The challenge was great and the obstacles were many but the first steps were taken on the long journey which still remains fundamental to the well-being of my country. Following the important linkages set in place with Oklahoma A & M the Emperor turned over his former palace to the University where Ethiopians and many other Africans could for the first time pursue university level education.
Over the past half century many traumatic events have transpired in Ethiopia, both natural and of human inspiration, but through it all the search of education at all levels remains a central need to which all Ethiopians must respond. In recent years my own efforts have focused primarily on the cultivation of scholarships for Ethiopians to La Roche College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania under the Pacem in Terris Foundation, on which I am honored to sit as a board member. Here we now have twenty-two students, male and female, representing all regions and religions of Ethiopia. At the same time, I have endeavored through the Haile Selassie Fund to develop a grass-roots assistance effort to advance education, effect technology transfer, and cater to the special needs of the very poor in all sections of the country.
While I understand that there are no longer any official programs of the Society in Ethiopia or at Oklahoma State University with respect to educational assistance for Ethiopian students, it is my hope that the members of the Oklahoma-Ethiopia Society will maintain their personal commitment to advance understanding of the past and present of Ethiopia. In so doing, it is also my fervent hope that as a Society or as individuals you will lend a hand wherever possible, in whatever capacity, to assist with the education of a new generation of enlightened Ethiopians capable of leading their country in pursuit of national unity and the highest goals of respect for human rights and democracy.
Thank you and may God bless you all.
Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie
Council President Writes to the Orthodox Hierarchs for the Anniversary of 9/11
Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie sent the following letter to representatives of the Oriental Orthodox Churches assembled in New York on September 8, 2002, to commemorate the terrorist attacks of the previous September 11th.
August 26, 2002
To the Most Reverend Fathers the Hierarchs, and to the Members of the Oriental Orthodox Churches in the New York Metropolitan Area,
Our most respectful greetings. It is with profound sorrow that we remember the events of September 11, 2001, and send our condolences to the families and friends of all those who were lost on that day. The tragedy of those attacks reminds us all of the dangers of religious hatred and intolerance. The Ethiopian Crown Council is mindful once again of the positive example of the history of our own country, where the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has lived for centuries in harmony with the other communities of God’s faithful, Ethiopian Jews and Muslims with long and revered traditions of their own. But this relationship has not always been easy; it has been built through hard work, tolerance, prayer, and the inspiration of great leaders.
One such leader, His Imperial Majesty the Emperor Haile Selassie I, was declared a "Defender of the Faith" by the Five Oriental Orthodox Churches gathered together in conference in Addis Ababa in 1965. The Emperor’s reputation as a statesman rested on his fairness, and his firm support for collective security as the road to peace in the international order. We would do well to remember that legacy today, but to remember also that when His Majesty rose to accept his title from the Patriarchs, he noted, "World peace can only be made abiding by the Grace of God, through the prayers of the Holy Fathers." We ask for those prayers again today, in hopes that memories of September 11, 2001 will help to build a better future for us all.
Crown Council Mourns the Passing of a True Patriot, Major-General Nega Tegegne: 1930-2002
The Crown Council of Ethiopia noted with great sadness the passing in Britain in May 2002 of one of modern Ethiopia's great and most courageous patriots, Maj.-Gen. Nega Tegegne (1930-2002).
Maj.-Gen. Nega began his military career in the Imperial Bodyguard College, where he graduated with distinction. From 1951-1953 he served in the command of the Ethiopian contingent sent to fight alongside the United Nations in the Korean War. Upon his departure from Korea, he continued his military education at Wellington Staff College in India, and on return to his beloved homeland became one of the first Ethiopian instructors to replace foreigners at the renowned Harrar Military Academy.
From1961-63 he served with the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in the Congo under the overall command of General Kebede Gebre. In 1963, during Ethiopia's border conflict with Somalia over the Ogaden, Nega, then a Colonel, became the Chief Administrator of the Southern Ogaden Region. His military career was to branch into the international arena once again when he was chosen from the Ethiopian Ministry of Defense as an Organization of African Unity (OAU) representative in Angola. Ethiopia was one of the five countries to decide whether Angola's current ruling body, the MPLA, would represent the Angolan freedom fighters as observers in the Organization of African Unity. In 1967, during a UN investigation into charges of ethnic cleansing during the Biafra War, the United Nations sent observers from England, Sweden, Canada, and Poland. Gen. Nega also took part, once again representing the OAU.
From 1969-1971 he continued his studies at the Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS), the most prestigious of the British advanced defense studies colleges. On his return to Ethiopia, Gen. Nega served as Commander of the Third Division in Southern Ethiopia until he was called upon by the Government of Lij Endalkatchew Mekonnen to serve in his native region as Governor of Gonder Province.
In the ensuing years, when Ethiopia became engulfed in the communist revolution and the subsequent brutal military dictatorship - the Dergue - of Mengistu Haile Mariam, Gen. Nega became one of the first Ethiopians to resist the nightmare which was to face Ethiopia for 17 more years. He became a founding member of the Ethiopian Democratic Union (EDU) in 1975, and for many years led a military campaign from the Sudan to oust the Dergue. Disillusioned with the way the EDU was misled from its original charter and vision by its leadership, Maj.-Gen. Nega resigned his post and lived as an exile in the UK. During this time he tirelessly fought a different battle, pleading the cause of the nation he loved but to which he was never able to return. He spoke on Ethiopian issues in international forums, pleading the case of Ethiopian unity and exposing the dangers of dictatorship and ethnic politics in current Ethiopia.
He left a permanent monument by publishing his book, Ethiopia's Many Years of Struggle and The Founding of Modern Ethiopian Army 1855-1974 , as a testimony, so that future generations of Ethiopians would have a correct understanding of their history.
Gen. Nega held the highest Ethiopian military decorations and numerous foreign awards for his service to the nation. The Order of Emperor Menelik II was bestowed on him by Emperor Haile-Selassie I and in 1999 he was recognized and awarded the Imperial Order of the Holy Trinity by the Crown Council of Ethiopia, in Washington DC.
The members of the Crown Council express their sympathy to Gen. Nega's entire family and pay tribute to the integrity, kindness, civility and wisdom of a true patriot.
Crown Voices Concerns About Hague Peace Process
Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Crown Council, approved the release of the following statement to the press earlier this week:
The Ethiopian Crown Council and all peoples of the Horn of Africa look forward with anticipation to the decision on border demarcation expected from The Hague in the coming week. The war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, ending abruptly in the face of successful Ethiopian advances, resulted in serious casualties and human rights violations on both sides of the border. The United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea has kept a watchful eye over a fragile peace that the Ethiopian people view with extreme skepticism. The Ethiopian government and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in particular have expressed apparent willingness to go along with the demarcation process no matter what the outcome.
The Ethiopian Crown Council is concerned that the international community appears ready to force an artificial peace at any price. The Ethiopian government has accepted arbitration via colonial-era peace treaties, but Ethiopians both at home and abroad have protested in firm rejection of this principle. Peace cannot hold if the Ethiopian government capitulates on terms which its people oppose. If the Ethiopian people are not free to elect their government in truly democratic elections, and if the people are not consulted on such vital issues as Ethiopia's lack of access to the sea, external demarcations will lack any legitimacy whatsoever.
We see here the sad possibility that the absence of civil liberties and the oppression of civil society in the current day may bear the bitter fruit of renewed war in the future. In Ethiopia as in other regions around the world today, the international community’s admirable eagerness to seek peace creates a false sense of hope. The international community must ask itself whether it really expects this agreement to be binding. That question can only be answered after an honest and critical assessment of the weaknesses of the two warring governments. The United States, which had already been working to conclude military agreements with Eritrea and Ethiopia, has been impressed by the Ethiopian government’s anti-terrorist rhetoric, with the result of improving relations between the two countries. But the United States and its allies must not be fooled; beneath the veil of press releases remains a government which cannot guarantee basic human rights for its people. Absent such a government, peace and stability will remain elusive.
Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie, President of the Crown Council, speaking on this subject, concluded, “Future generations of Ethiopians should not be subjected to further wars and conflicts because arbitrary decisions affecting their destiny were taken without their knowledge or consensus.” The Ethiopian Crown Council repeats its call for truly free and fair elections in Ethiopia, and invites the Ethiopian government to hold a plebiscite to determine whether the Ethiopian people truly accept the results of The Hague demarcation. The international community should welcome such developments, and proceed only with caution into a peace process that ignores the need for them.
Crown Mourns Passing of England's Queen Mother
The Ethiopian Crown Council joins the House of Windsor, the people of the United Kingdom, and the people of the Commonwealth in mourning the passing of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. Her Majesty's steadfast courage in the face of Nazi bomb attacks on England was a tribute to the Royal Family and an inspiration to all allied in the struggle against totalitarian aggression. When Mussolini invaded Ethiopia in 1935, the English Royal Family welcomed His Majesty Haile Selassie in his time of exile, remembering and strengthening the ties of friendship between the two crowns. Today, the Queen Mother herself can continue to be a source of inspiration and wisdom, for the English, for Ethiopians, and for all peoples. While proud of and loyal to her Scottish ancestry, she was a symbol for all the United Kingdom. Her example shows that peace and prosperity come not through attention to our differences, but to the ties of common history and humanity that bind us together.
May she rest in peace.
Ethiopia's New Role in the War on Terror
The U.S. Delegation of the Ethiopian Crown Council released the following statement to the press today:
September 11, 2001 saw the dawn of a new world, in which the United States vowed to never rest until it eliminated all terrorist organizations and the regimes that sponsor them. The Taliban regime in Afghanistan has become the first sponsor of terror to fall in this new world war, but it will not be the last. Already, important figures in Washington and the Horn of Africa are looking towards Somalia, where local warlords battled against U.S. Marines in the streets of Mogadishu in the early 1990s. Recent media reports have focused on alleged al-Qaeda training camps in Somalia, and Osama bin Laden’s connections to other terrorist groups operating elsewhere in the country.
The Ethiopian Crown Council sees this moment as highly important for the future of Ethiopia and the Horn. U.S. intervention in Somalia will inevitably lead to a closer relationship between America and Ethiopia. This past summer, General Tommy Franks, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and throughout the Middle East, paid a three-country visit to the Horn of Africa, meeting with military and political leaders in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti. The agreements on military cooperation that emerged from those trips were in preparation for just such emergencies as this present war on terrorism. The American military will not only ask for Ethiopian logistical support, but will also no doubt rely on our country’s intelligence networks and considerable experience in dealing with Somalia’s troubled situation.
But possible U.S. intervention in the Horn of Africa will affect Ethio-American relations in a number of other ways as well. Changing American attitudes towards Pakistan and India point the way: the United States has lifted trade embargoes and begun considering substantial debt forgiveness. Similar agreements would be of great benefit to Ethiopia, and we all must work hard to secure them. Millions of dollars in food and other aid have been necessary thus far even to keep Afghanistan from falling into complete chaos. The costs of rebuilding the country will be even higher. American military involvement in the Horn of Africa will in all likelihood not be as great as it is in Afghanistan, but that does not mean that the Horn’s needs are any less. Hunger and AIDS continue to ravage significant portions of the population in Ethiopia. In the Sudan and Somalia, America’s lack of diplomatic representation has hampered its ability to make any impact. Terrorists will continue to flourish in these countries as long as the international community lacks the political will and the financial commitment necessary to untangle the region’s many dilemmas .
As the Afghan peace conference at Bonn has shown, countries drawn into this war on terror must lean on their diaspora populations to build a stable future. When America turns its attention to the Horn of Africa, the Ethiopian diaspora and the Ethiopian Crown must be ready to play its part. We must educate America and the world community about Ethiopia and its place in the Horn. Everyone must understand that terror comes in many forms. For Ethiopia and its neighbors in the Horn, terror is not simply anti-American religious fanaticism. It is also the violence and hatred of civil war, the dangers of secessionism, and the plague of warlords and state collapse. The United States must realize that these particular battles in the war on terror will continue long after any American intervention in Somalia ends.
The process of education will not stop there. As America has drawn closer to Pakistan, and to its Arab allies, the American public has taken the opportunity to think critically about human rights practices in those countries. The result has been a blessing in disguise: in the midst of war the world community pays more attention to the injustices it has in the past been content to ignore. The same process will take place in the Horn of Africa as well. As America grows closer to Ethiopia, United States citizens and public officials will open their eyes to the faults and weaknesses of our homeland, to its corruption, to its poverty, to its human rights abuses. This moment of international attention will be a crucial opportunity for Ethiopians to rally together in search of solutions to these problems that continue to press us.
In short, it will be a crucial moment for the Ethiopian Crown and its supporters to play a part in the war on terrorism. Terrorism in the Horn will end when real peace begins. For far too long, Ethiopia and its neighbors have done little to stop the lawlessness in Somalia and the Sudan. The extension of the Ethio-Eritrean conflict to the funding of proxy wars between various rebel groups has only made matters worse. Somali leaders, fearful of the consequences of an American attack, have been anxious to downplay the presence of terrorists in their midst. They accuse the EPRDF, Ethiopia’s ruling party, of fabricating an Islamic fundamentalist threat where none exists, in hopes of benefiting from Somalia’s continued fragmentation. Abandoned Somali tanks littering the roadsides in eastern Ethiopia serve as ample reminder of past difficulties in Ethio-Somali relations.
Now that our recent conflict with Eritrea is apparently behind us, it is time to turn to Somalia, and mend our fences there as well. Ethiopia’s natural role in the Horn is as a force for peace and stability, but now we have a chance to prove this once more. If American military might comes to Somalia, we must earn the trust of the Somali people by using the moment not for our own strategic advantage, but for the construction of true governance and civil society throughout Somalia. Indeed, now is the time for the creation of strong agencies of international governance and cooperation throughout the Horn. We must move beyond small projects such as IGAD - focused purely on issues of drought and development - and build in their place the Horn’s equivalents of NATO and the EU.
The nations of the Horn will no longer need American intervention when they learn to live as military allies instead of enemies. They will no longer be safe harbors for terrorist fugitives when their intelligence agencies learn to share their resources instead of competing in jealousy. And they will at last be able to point with satisfaction to their record on human rights, religious tolerance, and ethnic cooperation when they learn to treat the future of the Horn as a collective endeavor rather than a prize to be fought for. The Ethiopian Crown Council calls for immediate action on all these issues. These are goals upon which all Ethiopians, at home and throughout the diaspora, can unite with pride.
Crown Council Condemns Terrorist War; Calls for Solidarity with America
His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Ethiopian Crown Council, authorized the following statement released here today.
It is with profound sadness and regret that we bear witness to the tragic loss of life from acts of unthinkable barbarity visited on the American people. There can be no justification, no reasoning, however carefully crafted, that can argue that any justice is served through the use of terror against the innocent. Terror does not discriminate. Acts of terror against one nation are acts of terror against all people.
The people of the United States and the civilized world were viciously and without justification attacked on September 11 at a time, day, and in a manner chosen with deliberation to maximize the amount of human suffering. The fact was not lost on any that planes with the farthest to go, and therefore with the most combustible fuel, were selected for this vilest of deeds. Such deliberate barbarism, such studied inhumanity that could ignore the cries of defenseless civilians, children among them, is not a sign of power or intellect but of an abiding cruelty and inhumanity. Those who would celebrate at this time arouse in us no sympathy to the sadness of their continuing plight, but instead invite us to ignore their own cries of suffering.
Ethiopians, victims of terrorism past and present, find grave empathy at this sad moment with those who have so cruelly been denied the pleasure of once again holding in safety and comfort, their mother, father, child or sibling. Indeed in this manner, this vicious act has been and will always be an attack visited on all who cherish such simple pleasures.
The People and Government of the United States have long been champions to the cause of freedom and democracy and the rule of law. They now ask justice of a world they have always sought to deal with in a just, and equitable manner.
We know, beyond a doubt, that it is America's love of freedom, not any legitimate grievance, that has brought this sad day to bear on their loved ones. If there had been legitimate grievances that required articulation, the massacre of innocent citizenry was not the court in which such redress should have been sought.
The People of Ethiopia, her institutions of Faith, and her Crown, stand by the families and friends of the bereaved, those who have had their loved ones cruelly torn from their arms.
We affirm to the people of the world that an attack on American freedom is an attack on freedom in general and an attack on Ethiopia, on her people, and on the Ethiopian Crown in particular.
We call on the current government of Ethiopia to extend unconditional support to the people and government of the United States as they seek to bring those responsible to justice. We invite all Ethiopians everywhere to join their voices to ours in making this call.
We stand with the United States Government, with its people, and with its friends as we seek to make sense of the wrong committed on all of us and seek to bring to unequivocating justice those who are criminals in the eyes of the whole world.
We support the United States in the gravest though measured consequence, once resolved, it may bring to bear, both to seek redress and to punish the wrongs visited on its people.
Crown Council Concerned About Recent Human Rights Abuses in Ethiopia
The Ethiopian Crown Council released the following statement to the press earlier today:
The Ethiopian Crown Council notes with utmost concern the deterioration of human rights inside Ethiopia. As the Ethiopian government deals with its own internal political crisis, the issue of the freedom of the Ethiopian people has been ignored at best, and at worst left in the hands of officials who display an increasing lack of prudence and regard for the Ethiopia people.
- In November 2000, government and security officials in Wollega state attempted to implement a "final solution" to peasants that had lived for generations in the Gida Kiramo Wereda. They considered it their right under the controversial Article 39 of Ethiopia's current constitution. Meeting stiff resistance, the area security office dispatched a special detail that destroyed the villages of Senbo, Haro, Wasti, Jiregna, and Merga, killing 100 women and children. The only justification for the uprooting and destruction of these Ethiopians was that they were of an ethnic group that was considered undesirable. The 20,000 inhabitants of the above villages, the country's breadwinning farmers, are today living in Bure village in Gojjam, assisted by donor support from Ethiopians living abroad.
- Article 39 of the EPRDF-implemented constitution divides the country into homelands, or zones of ethnic settlement. Throughout Ethiopia, the application of this law has resulted in tragedy, massacre, and death. In Europe, the world went to war to counter what it saw as evidence of ethnic cleansing. In Ethiopia, where it is not only clear in the tragic numbers of dead and dispossessed, but shamefully enshrined in the country's own constitution, the world is silent. The tragedy in Wollega, and the past tragedies in Bedeno, in Harerege occurred on the day officials of the world applauded the enshrinement of such brutality and gave credit to Ethnic Federalism.
- On December 2-6 students that had petitioned the Southern Peoples (formerly Awasa) Teachers Training College for improvement of living conditions left their classrooms and marched into town. According to townspeople and third-party eyewitnesses, security forces took offensive measures without provocation, killing 6 students and wounding many others.
- On March 24, in response to disorder created during the Africa Youth Championship semi-finals, security forces lashed out, firing indiscriminately into crowds at Addis Abeba's main sports venue, wounding and killing Ethiopians in a shocking display of violence against the very citizenry they are charged with protecting.
- On April 11, students at Addis Ababa University held a peaceful assembly to resolve, among other issues, problems arising from the presence of riot police units inside their compound, and armed security personnel in their midst. These students were attacked by gun-wielding members of the very same security forces, who shot at and bludgeoned at least 50 students. This happened in the presence of foreign observers, who were themselves prevented from meeting with students by members of the security forces.
After deliberating on these events, the Ethiopian Crown Council has concluded that the government's uneasiness and lack of circumspection has precipitated all of the above incidents. While the government's national security concerns are shared by all Ethiopians, these cannot subsume the right of Ethiopians to be secure from the excesses of the servants of the state themselves.
The presence of riot police outside the University during a peaceful meeting and their subsequent forced entry onto University grounds in clear defiance of University directive that they were not needed was willful and aggressive. We find this disturbingly similar to what transpired on January 3, 1993 when a number of University students were similarly set upon and killed by security forces. This has led us to the conclusion that the security force lacks clear guidelines, leadership and appreciation for the University's integrity as an institution of higher learning.
We are saddened at this continuous and willful endangerment of Ethiopians on whom the country has spent so much of its meager resources preparing as its future leaders.
The Ethiopian Crown Council pledges to assist the University Administration, if the latter is willing, in seeking resources to train and staff a University Safety division answerable to the administration. We call on the Administration further to fill the shoes of the University's founder and Patron Emperor Haile Selassie I in caring for its students.
Emperor Haile Selassie I built the University and nurtured its growth, hoping that its students, the nation's future leaders, would learn the responsibilities of citizenship firsthand. What more fitting way for them to learn by helping in the search for the President of the nation's premier institution of higher learning? The Council urges the University Administration to allow students to participate in the nomination process for the post of the University's President, and we offer our assistance in mediation of disputes such as those that have recently developed.
Violence against citizens assembled peacefully to petition for redress of their grievances is an unacceptable affront to the fundamental right to assemble and air grievances that is enshrined in the laws of most if not all law-abiding free people and democracies. The Crown Council urges the Ethiopian Government to exert maximum restraint and exercise guidance over the security forces, bringing to justice those responsible for the events of April 11, 2001.
Haile Selassie Fund Holds Tea for Scholarship Parents
On November 7, 2000, representatives of the Haile Selassie Fund for Ethiopia's Children held a tea in a ballroom of the Addis Ababa Hilton for parents of Fund scholarship recipients. The Haile Selassie Fund has provided twenty scholarships over the past two years for Ethiopian students to receive a full college education in the United States. This event, celebrating the anniversary of the Fund's foundation, brought the parents of those scholars together from various regions of Ethiopia and the diaspora to discuss the challenges facing Ethiopia's youth.
Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie and Princess Gelila Fesseha, Patrons of the Haile Selassie Fund, could not be present, but several Fund spokesmen attended on their behalf, expressing heartfelt joy at the gathering, and thanking the attendees for coming together to celebrate the achievements of the Fund and of their children. Among the other luminaries present was Ato Mamo Wudneh, a renowned writer and the current President of the Ethiopian Writers Association. He congratulated the Fund and the parents on the achievements of the Haile Selassie Scholars, and added that he hoped to see the fruits of their labors blossom in years to come.
Life-long educator and friend of Ethiopia, Brother Aden, came to the tea on behalf of the Christian Brothers Schools, for whom he serves as an emissary to the Vatican. He spoke briefly about how hopeful he was of future possibilities to work closely with the Fund to provide opportunities for young Ethiopians. The Christian Brothers, who run Addis Ababa's St. Joseph's School, are also affiliated with prominent educational institutions in neighboring Kenya, where the Haile Selassie Fund has begun to organize academic funding for Ethiopians studying abroad.
Speaking on behalf of the Fund's selection committee, Mr. Giovanni Ruffini expressed the difficulty he and other members of the committee have had selecting the few winners from amongst the hundreds of qualified and enthusiastic applicants. Mr. Ruffini told parents that their children had been selected not only for their academic merit, but for their obvious ability to meet the many challenges they would face while studying overseas. Speaking as a scholarship parent himself, Ato Dessalegn Mesfin praised the value of the Haile Selassie Fund, and urged the other parents to support their children in their efforts to raise Ethiopia's standards of educational achievement.
To conclude the event, representatives of the Fund invited comments from the audience and from the scholarship parents themselves. All of the speakers were highly supportive of the Fund's efforts in educating young Ethiopians, and some urged the Fund to consider financing graduate education for some scholars as well. Addressing a particularly pressing concern among Ethiopians today, one member of the audience reminded the other parents that all of the Haile Selassie Scholars have signed an agreement to return to Ethiopia when they have completed their education. He noted that it is particularly important for these scholarships, which represent one of the Ethiopian Crown's most significant contributions to contemporary Ethiopia, to be an investment that reaps long-term reward within Ethiopia itself.
Ethiopian Crown Council Responds on the Issue of the Funeral of HIM Emperor Haile Selassie I
His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Ethiopian Crown Council, and His Highness Prince Bekere Fikre-Selassie, Enderasse of the Ethiopian Crown Council, released the following statement to the press today:
His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I was finally laid to rest today in his crypt alongside Her Imperial Majesty Empress Menen at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa.
The Ethiopian Crown Council said on October 1, 2000, that it was opposed to the manner in which the funeral of His late Majesty was proposed to be conducted. Our fears and concerns were subsequently vindicated, in large measure because of the unseemly and highly-politicized attacks made on the memory of the Emperor by the current administration.
Millions of Ethiopians were, by the civil authorities’ unprecedented step of attacking the memory of a leader who had won worldwide acclaim as one of the great leaders of the 20th Century, denied the right of determining for themselves how to bring to a formal and satisfying end to the Haile Selassie era which had brought modernization to the country.
As well, by attempting to circumvent the healing symbol of the final burial of His Majesty, the present authorities have only served to galvanize Ethiopians to retain the symbolic leadership of the late Emperor, who was himself above such petty and self-serving politicizations. Indeed, by attempting to denigrate the memory of the late Emperor, whom the overwhelming majority of Ethiopians have declared the “Man of the Millennium”, the current rulers of our country have merely served to make him an ongoing factor in Ethiopian society.
The President and Enderasse of the Ethiopian Crown Council were able to visit Ethiopia for the first time in 26 years on the occasion of the funeral, and were grateful to the Ethiopian People for this opportunity. However, they were forced, by the clear threats to the safety of many supporters of the Crown because of the prospect of violence being prompted by the civil authorities, to depart Addis Ababa before the actual funeral took place. Both Prince Ermias and Prince Bekere stressed, however, their great satisfaction at returning to Ethiopia, their meetings with so many Ethiopians, and their participation in memorial services in Addis Ababa.
Both the President and Enderasse said also that the events of the first week of November 2000, including the threats and slanders issued by the civil authorities, had only served to re-galvanize their own efforts and those of the Ethiopian people to see democracy restored to Ethiopia. The Crown Council call again for the unity of the Ethiopian people in the face of attempts to fracture them along ethnic, religious, linguistic or political lines.
Ethiopia is a great nation of many different, but related and interdependent peoples. The events of the past week show that the Emperor continues to inspire and unite Ethiopians, and that, in many ways, the Emperor and the 3,000-year-old Crown of Ethiopia is still an inspiring symbol for our country. We know that this frightens those who wish to “divide and rule” our beloved homeland. Rather, they should embrace this unity.
Long live the memory of Emperor Haile Selassie I. Long live the People of Ethiopia whom the Crown will always serve.
Crown Council President Announces His Return to Ethiopia
His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Ethiopian Crown Council, issued a statement to the press in Washington DC on the eve of his departure for consultation with leaders in Europe before making his way to Ethiopia. He and a number of Crown Council members and members of the Ethiopian Imperial family are returning from exile to Ethiopia for the funeral of the late Emperor, His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I. In his press release, Prince Ermias said: "We are all members of one family, and we look forward to joining the Ethiopian family and the larger world community in mourning my grandfather, an educator, an innovator, a warrior, and a great statesman."
Prince Ermias also announced that his return to Ethiopia would include a gathering of the parents of Ethiopian students currently receiving a college education in United States through the Crown-sponsored Haile Selassie Fund scholarships. The President and other Crown Council members will also hold talks with educational representatives, and consular and embassy officials of other countries which have offered scholarship opportunities to Ethiopian students through the Fund. The press release stated: "The talks are aimed at assessing the potential of new scholarship programs, and at creating as many educational opportunities as possible through the cooperation of the Crown and its supporters."
On the specific subject of ceremonies for the late Emperor, Prince Ermias’ statement noted that: "Friends, admirers, and relatives of His Majesty have been making their way to Addis Ababa from all over the world to attend the funeral services and reinterment, to take place in the Holy Trinity Cathedral on Sunday, November 5, 2000." The Ethiopian Crown Council is the constitutional Imperial authority which represents the Crown during an interregnum. In that capacity, Crown Council officials have been inviting world leaders to attend the ceremonies and other events commemorating Emperor Haile Selassie in the first week of November.
In closing, Prince Ermias added: "We have had to remain in exile for more than 25 years. Returning to our homeland to pay our last respects to His Majesty is a moving and important moment for all of us. I look forward to finally being able to be among the Ethiopian people once more, at long last honoring our great Emperor in the way his legacy deserves, and reinvigorating that legacy as we move into the 21st Century."
Ethiopian Crown Council Calls on United Nations and Organization of African Unity to Make Emperor Haile Selassie’s Funeral an Official Occasion
His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Ethiopian Crown Council, released the following statement to the press today:
“It has been 25 years since the death of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor Haile Selassie I, and for 25 years Ethiopia has waited for the opportunity to mourn his loss and to honor his memory. During that time, we have traveled throughout the world, and spoken to men and women of all nations who share Ethiopia’s respect and admiration for the Emperor. His Majesty lives on today in many forms; as the man who struggled to improve Ethiopian education and rid his country of slavery; as the lone voice of resistance in the chambers of the League of Nations against fascist imperialism; as the father of African unity and a symbol of African pride throughout the world.”
“We will gather in Addis Ababa in November of this year to begin the process of recognizing these achievements. It is vitally important for the future healing, reconciliation and unity of our people that the November ceremonies be appropriate to the stature of His Majesty. Therefore, the Ethiopian Crown Council and Moa Anbessa (Ethiopians for Constitutional Monarchy) would like to take this opportunity to urge the current government of Ethiopia to honor His Majesty with an official State Funeral. This simple gesture would be a welcome gift to the Ethiopian people and the world community.”
“It is to that world community that we turn now to share this request to honor His Majesty’s memory.”
“His Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I was one of the most notable pillars of the League of Nations and then one of the most ardent founders and supporters of the United Nations and its goal of collective security. So we ask His Excellency the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, to join the United Nations’ voice to ours to mark this occasion by requesting an official funeral for His Majesty, and an event officially recognized by the United Nations.”
“Emperor Haile Selassie was one of the greatest champions of African independence, and in this capacity was decisive in helping to bring into being the Organization of African Unity. So we ask His Excellency the Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity, Salim Ahmed Salim, to join the OAU’s voice to ours in our request for an official funeral, and an event officially recognized by the OAU.”
“We ask also that all international civil rights leaders who respect the legacy of Haile Selassie take the opportunity that these November ceremonies offer to help us to educate the world about Ethiopia’s plight and future challenges. Finally, we call upon all pan-African, Caribbean and Non-Aligned Movement nations — and particularly those which fly the Ethiopian colors of red, gold and green — to lower their flags to half mast on November 5, 2000, and join us in celebrating the memory of our nation’s father and Emperor.”
“We greatly appreciate the efforts of all of those who have genuinely wished to see a great funeral for His Majesty, and for the efforts, devotion and commitment of the Ethiopian Church and the Ethiopian Muslim community who have supported the endeavor. We truly understand, and share, their impatience and the need in all of our hearts to give the Emperor rest; indeed, to give us all a sense of settlement to his great life and cruel death.”
“We ask that the Ethiopian People assert their democratic right in petitioning the Ethiopian government to give this funeral official stature. We do this not only in recognition of the importance of the occasion, but also in realizing that much of the conduct and protocol for the funeral can be undertaken using existing State resources, obviating the need for the Ethiopian People — already beset by the economic hardship of drought, war and fire — to contribute their much-needed funds.”
Ethiopia’s Leadership Role in the Horn of Africa
A speech by
Ethiopia is an ancient country, with a long and proud history. In antiquity, it was one of the world’s great powers, a vital ally to the civilizations of the Mediterranean, and a crucial trade and communications link between Africa and the distant lands of India and beyond. For much of the twentieth century, Ethiopia served as a stirring example to the rest of the world, providing an eternal symbol of anti-colonial independence. Logic dictates that it should take a leading role in the Horn of Africa, guiding the region to new levels of peace and prosperity. It dwarfs its neighbors in population and in natural resources. We should expect the Horn to be in good shape under the leadership of a country with Ethiopia’s history and future potential. And yet today, the Horn of Africa is a political and strategic nightmare, with Ethiopia caught in the middle, lost in senseless war and deepening famine.
How can this be? What has brought us to this current state of affairs? Some of the reasons are obvious enough. A brutal Communist dictatorship that wrecked Ethiopia’s social fabric and destroyed its international prestige. A decade since in which Ethiopia has been distracted by ethnic political division, unable to unite around common interests. An international community content to pretend that nothing is wrong with the current situation, and willing to settle for the easy answers when the real challenges appear too difficult.
Sadly, the short-term solutions are out of our hands. Certainly, governments come and go, but Ethiopia itself will remain. Rather than squabble amongst ourselves, we must engage in open debate, and unify on the issues that truly matter. We must pray that peace will finally return to Ethiopia and Eritrea. We must strengthen our own institutions and build true leaders ready to meet the challenges of the future, and ready for the day when cooler heads will prevail.
I present here our first step in preparation for that day, an outline for Ethiopia’s foreign policy in the first half of the 21st century. This is not a plan that is ready for full fruition. But when the Ethiopian people, firm in their desire for unity and stability, complete the work of bringing a true democracy to our country, time will be ripe for urgent action. We know that Ethiopia must take a lead in regional leadership. The people of the Horn are one family, and Ethiopia's future prosperity depends upon repairing diplomatic ties and forging regional unity. Let us look at each step along the way.
Eritrea is the most urgent case. As the recent food shortage in Ethiopia makes painfully clear, the very survival of the Ethiopian people depends on our country’s ability to work more closely with Eritrea. Because of the war with Eritrea, the government in Addis refused to accept food aid through the Red Sea port of Assab. Repairing relations with Eritrea and restoring the full flow of free trade through Assab is a necessity for this reason alone.
But just as importantly, a return to close cooperation between Ethiopia and Eritrea is vital for the Eritrean people as well. I need to give only one example. Foreign fish poaching operations take place on a large scale off the Eritrean shore. The Eritrean government has tried to stop the problem throughout the 1990s, but has failed to do so. Its naval capabilities are simply not up to the task. So forget about the war. Even in times of peace, the Eritrean government cannot adequately protect the food resources of its own people. But for Ethiopia, the task would be relatively easy and affordable. An Ethiopian naval presence in the Red Sea, working out of Assab and Massawa in cooperative agreement with the Eritrean people, could put a stop to foreign and illegal exploitation of Eritrean waters, and strengthen the economies of both countries.
The Eritrean conflict with Yemen over the Hanish Islands in the mid-1990s suggests similar conclusions. At the time, the international community applauded the French role in mediating between the two powers and thus guaranteeing stability in the Red Sea area. France has a long historical connection to the region, and many economic interests to protect. Certainly, we should be grateful for the positive role the French have played, but this does not mean we should rely on them forever. As the French military presence in Africa declines, Ethiopia must be ready to provide a viable strategic alternative to ensure stability in the region. This means that, in contrast to our actions before the recent war, we must in the future maintain a trained and disciplined armed forces in proportion to the size and strength of our nation. The people of the Horn must show the world community that the vital economic traffic through the Red Sea will be safe in our hands. To do otherwise risks opening the doors to further involvement from other outside powers, and compromising regional independence.
It is unfortunate that it has taken a war with Eritrea to bring closer relations between Ethiopia and Djibouti. The two countries have reached agreements on a number of trade and development projects. We must work to make this relationship even closer. The Ethiopian railroad link to Djibouti makes that coastal nation a necessary ingredient for the future health of the Ethiopian economy. And here most strikingly, we see how the peoples of the Horn are one family: the Afar people live on both sides of the border between Djibouti and Ethiopia, and in Eritrea as well. We must not let arbitrary and invisible political borders prevent us from forging economic unity with Djibouti.
The logistical difficulties we have encountered unloading food relief from the port of Djibouti highlight how much work needs to be done. Food aid coming through that port has piled up in a bottle-neck, the port facilities unable to handle the sheer amount of traffic necessary to make a real difference. Faulty and obsolete machinery ground the unloading process down to a mere crawl. The World Food Program launched a proposal to address these problems last year; we must see it through to fruition. Building a long-term investment plan to increase the size and capacity of that port is only a necessary first step in the consolidation of the relationship between these two countries. New rail lines will come soon. When peace returns and a peace dividend fuels rising exports, both countries will realize the advantages of an inevitable common market.
But in some ways, Djibouti is the least complicated piece to the puzzle. Ethiopia must take a lead in tackling the anarchy that has plagued Somalia for nearly a decade. Pragmatic diplomacy in places like Somaliland and Puntland can improve Ethiopia's long-term prospects for peace and prosperity. In Ethiopia’s latest hunger crisis, international aid agencies have unloaded relief supplies at the Somaliland port of Berbera. This port saw significant Ethiopian food export in brighter days, and can play a central role in building a prosperous future for the entire region. But the roads linking Ethiopia to Berbera are not sufficient, and crucial countries continue to block certain exports out of that port. East of Somaliland, off the shores of the self-proclaimed state of Puntland, the leading efforts to combat piracy are in the hands of private corporations. For the sake of international shipping, and for the sake of the Somali economy, we cannot let these problems continue. Again, as European involvement diminishes, Ethiopia must extend a helping hand to address these challenges.
But where the international community acknowledges no government, as is the case with regard to Somaliland and Puntland, then that community can make no progress. The alternative, Ethiopia’s current approach in the region, will only condemn our people to the pointless expense of proxy wars, the delays of unreliable relief routes, and the dangers of a crumbling regional economy. Ethiopia must be creative in reconciling warring parties, and it must be willing to help these new communities emerge onto the world stage. Throughout the 1990s, the people of Somaliland in particular have worked hard to bring peace and stability to their corner of the Horn. Ethiopia should reward this hard work, but should do so in a way that guarantees its own vital self-interest in the area. Ethiopian diplomatic leverage can ensure international recognition of these emerging nations. We need economic and military agreements between Ethiopia and the local Somali authorities to develop the Somali infrastructure, to provide Ethiopian access to the port of Berbera, and to use Ethiopian strength to guarantee the security of the Somali shore. By extending the diplomatic hand of regional unity, Ethiopia will rescue large portions of Somalia from the chaos plaguing that country, and at the same time ensure that these smaller political units do not fall prey to further division and senseless bickering.
A vigorous Ethiopian regional policy will have positive effects for the western world as well. Consider some of the emerging security threats on Ethiopia’s borders. Islamic extremists in the Sudan actively seek Ethiopia’s destruction, and the destabilization of the entire region. The United States government has made containment of Sudanese extremism the sole stated objective of its foreign policy in the Horn of Africa. Yet in recent years, Ethiopia has been no help in this goal whatsoever. Consider Somalia once again. The US State Department has recently warned of a rise of Islamic extremism throughout Somaliland, sparked by insurgents from Afghanistan and the Sudan. Yet, again, the international community cannot rise to stem this tide, because it has no diplomatic presence in the region. Active Ethiopian leadership in the Sudan and Somalia would thus address terrorist forces that challenge not only Ethiopian sovereignty, but international stability as well.
But what can my country do to meet this threat of violent extremism? First and foremost, it must be proud to lead by its own example. For centuries, Ethiopia has been home to unparalleled religious toleration and cooperation. It has been a haven for African Judaism since time immemorial. It was the first independent Christian kingdom. And it welcomed with open arms the first Muslim families to flee from pagan persecution. Even now, Orthodox Christians and Sunni Muslims live side by side in Ethiopia in nearly equal numbers, without violence, and without bloodshed. So far, I have recommended political solutions to our strategic challenges. Here, I recommend cultural and social diplomacy instead. Our religious leaders must reach out to their brothers and sisters throughout the Horn, to Orthodox Christians and Muslims in Eritrea, and to Muslims in the Sudan and Somalia, to tear down the walls of mistrust that our governments have helped to erect.
Before we can take these international steps, we must put our own house in order. Ethiopia’s leadership role in the Horn can only rest on a foundation of unity at home. We must give all of our secessionist movements a reason to come back to the fold. International observers have suggested that Ethiopian Somalis have gained nothing from being a part of the Ethiopian community: no roads, no schools, no hospitals. And other regional movements put forth the same complaints. When the rains began again in southeast Ethiopia this year, this long-needed blessing brought another level of complication to the worsening food disaster. Red Cross representatives reported that rains hindered the food deliveries, a sad fact that highlights the need for attention to Ethiopia’s underdeveloped infrastructure. The rapid development of Ethiopia's infrastructure is thus essential not only as a means of delivering food aid in the current crisis, but as a catalyst for ending the social and political conditions that contribute to secessionist instability over the long term.
Before the war, the northern Ethiopian province of Tigray received a disproportionately high percentage of development expenditure. The regions that talk most seriously of secession received inadequate attention. Now, the war takes it all. Here too we must break from our tired traditional thinking. We have been brought into this conflict against our will, but to win it, we must remain above reproach. We must discourage the funding of proxy wars. We must decry attacks on targets that are illegal under international law. We must state our war aims clearly, and stick to them. Even in this tragic situation, we can and must lead by example. We have proposed here a series of first steps to bring greater unity to the countries of the Horn. But we should not claim that no one else has proposed similar steps. Certainly, the countries of the Horn are part of numerous cooperative projects that continue to require our attention. The Nile 2002 conference is currently scheduled to take place in Addis next week. The vital strategic importance of the Nile -- and thus of cooperation between those countries that share her waters -- needs no emphasis here. We therefore applaud the Ethiopian government for volunteering to host the conference at the last minute, but we must point out that the member countries have failed to pull their weight. Ethiopia must urge upon its peers the importance of paying their Nile Basin Initiative dues. Failure to do so could mean the collapse of these important projects, and the specter of conflict over one of Africa’s most vital strategic resources.
Other examples are easy to come by. The United States Government has recently proposed a system of information-sharing in which the countries of East Africa would be able to pool their resources on such issues as agro-biodiversity, invasive species, and genetically modified crops. Ethiopia must jump at this opportunity. Worsening deforestation and recurrent drought have posed serious environmental challenges to the Ethiopian people. Other countries in the Horn will soon face similar crises, and must see the Ethiopian government devoting its resources to solving the problem.
To sum up: our long-term struggle must be to build a political, cultural, and economic unity among the peoples of the Horn. We must lead by example through the international organizations that already exist, and be diplomatically bold in creating the international organizations of the future. Ultimately, only one thing is going to stop the cycle of division, violence, famine and underdevelopment: the family of the Horn of Africa must unite in common cause. Ethiopia’s over-arching identity has been one of fierce pride in our independence. Many generations have kept this dream alive. Now it is our turn to share this legacy with our neighbors, to help them stand on their feet and reach for their full potential. This requires urging the world community to speak out strongly against the ethnic, regionalist, and tribal policies that divide the Horn. But we must not be hasty, or impatient: we have to take time to build a strong civil society in all countries of the Horn, with active and energetic political parties organized around a new generation of leaders. We must take time to teach our children to shun the politics of violence and embrace the politics of open debate.
I must add in closing that the Ethiopian monarchy is uniquely qualified to tackle the problems that we have outlined here. The Ethiopian royal family has been a bridge to begin uniting our country’s major ethnicities, the Tigreans, the Amharas, and the Oromo. The Ethiopian royal family is the embodiment of a Christian kingdom that extended a welcoming hand to its first Muslim neighbors. Its legacy of accomplishments in antiquity was as much a product of Eritrea as of Ethiopia, proof that the two countries can work side by side once again. Ethiopia’s legacy in the 20th century is one of struggle against colonialism, and towards African unity. My grandfather, His Majesty Haile Selassie I, shared with this world a vision of a free and peaceful community of African states working together towards a harmonious future. This vision is yet unfulfilled. The urgency of the African strategic situation today demands that Ethiopia rise up to assume its rightful leadership role in this struggle towards peace and regional unity. Thank you.
Crown Announces Winners of 10 Scholarships
The Ethiopian Crown Council announced today that acceptance letters were being mailed to the recipients of 10 new scholarships for college study in the United States. The Haile Selassie Fund for Ethiopia's Children in Need made these 10 scholarships available in March (see below) through the assistance of Monsigneur Kerr, President of LaRoche University in Pennsylvania.
Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, Patron of the Haile Selassie Fund, said that he was very pleased with the high quality of applications sent to the Fund from Ethiopian students around the world. He noted that the Fund received nearly 100 applications for the second straight year, adding that each application letter and transcript testified to the high level of academic motivation alive in the youth of today's Ethiopia.
These scholarships, which provide for full tuition, room, and board for four years of college study at LaRoche University, are similar to the awards made to a dozen Ethiopian students a year ago. These students have just completed their first year of study, and are taking an active role in the life of their student community at LaRoche. Their awards included scholarships in the fields of computer science, business, engineering, communications, and water resource management. These fields will be available to this year's incoming students as well.
Prince Ermias added: "The Patrons of the Haile Selassie Fund wish to congratulate all of our scholarship winners. We look forward to meeting each of you in the fall, and following your progress throughout your education. We also hope that you will encourage your friends and family to seek out similar educational opportunities, and to use their education to build a better Ethiopia. This is the only sure way to bring peace and prosperity to our people."
The Haile Selassie Fund included the names of the following scholarship recipients in its announcement:
Sharing the Humanity of Ethiopia’s Drought and Ethiopia’s Potential
A speech to HOPE and the Society for International Development
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: I would like to thank HOPE and the Society for International Development for the privilege of speaking to you today. As much as it is a pleasure for me to be here in your company tonight, we are not here for happy reasons. I must tell you that no Ethiopian can talk about the famine in our country without feeling pain in his heart. To die of hunger is the worst type of death. Words fail us when we try to describe what it means to starve: the awareness of what is happening, the fear, the sorrow and desperation. We must put ourselves in that person's place; we must imagine being a mother or father watching our children suffer and die, one by one.
Why should this horror facing us even be conceivable today? Scientific and economic experts tell us that the world already has enough food to feed its entire population, and that the problem is essentially one of distribution. The causes of local and regional underproduction are also well known: drought, poor planning and policy, an inadequate infrastructure, and so on. The key elements of the solution at the national level are also well known: peace, credit, good transportation, good policies... So, we have the necessary knowledge. We have the resources. Yet, people are still dying by the hundreds of thousands. This gap between our abilities and the actual results on the ground represent an immense moral and practical failure. We must therefore re-examine all elements of the problem, and do so openly, visibly, for the whole world to see.
Only by speaking out in this way will we be able to make a real impact on the political will of non-Ethiopians who have the power to help us move forward. In democracies, political will is a function of public opinion. In closed societies, it emanates from the top. In both cases, political will responds to emotional factors. We can understand this when we consider the relationship between suffering and distance. Finding a child crying on our doorsteps, most of us would care deeply for its future. When we move that child further and further away — out of the city, out of the country — his pain becomes less and less real. He becomes less and less human.
And this inability to see the shared humanity in people who are far away, and who may appear different in some way or another, is one of the most difficult problems in the world today. A child starving in Gode, in Ethiopia’s South Wollo region, or anywhere else in the world, affects us as much as if it had happened, God forbid, in our own homes. The torment and anguish of the fathers and mothers in Gode affect us as badly as if they were our own beloved parents. Certainly, I do not wish to appear ungrateful to the thousands and thousands of dedicated friends in the West who have sacrificed so much of their time, energy, and material resources to help Ethiopia in its time of need.
To accomplish even more, we must change the way people think about poverty everywhere in the world. The global media has helped to shrink the entire world community. But there is also a real danger that the constant images of the hungry lead to fatigue, to an erosion of our compassion. All who want to help Ethiopia in this time of crisis must learn to use our information economy to make the pain of the poor more real to an information-saturated public.
And I am not saying that we should blame the advances of the west for Ethiopia’s shortcomings. Our own ethnic divisions and unproductive rivalries are more deadly a factor than compassion fatigue in the industrialized world. The divisions with our Ethiopian community lead to inefficiency, to unfair distribution of scarce resources, and to war. Short-term solutions to this problem must include a dose of badly needed straight talk. We all know that development cannot take place when war prevails. As importantly, Ethiopians must develop a healthy and efficient political and civic culture. I do not want to make any political accusations with this point. Every Ethiopian government, including that of my own family, has struggled and ultimately come up short when faced with the challenge of famine. But in the final analysis, the drive and determination necessary to defeat hunger must exist not only at the highest reaches of the government, but throughout the country as well. We must teach effective management more widely. We must also tailor that process to specific local conditions.
Efficient political mobilization is also a key, both at home and among the diaspora communities abroad. In the Washington DC area alone Ethiopians are reported to be no less than 250,000 in number. We — Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia — must never see pictures of our children dying in Gode without lobbying our congressmen and raising funds through our different foundations and corporations to help. In the past year, we have seen painful evidence that drought, famine, and AIDS are national security risks, and therefore require our undivided attention and swift, decisive action. We must make this argument not only to our fellow Ethiopians, but to America, and the entire world community.
Medium-range solutions to the problem of hunger must include steps to transform the peoples of the Horn from beggars into producers, from aid-addicts to contributors to the world economy. We must ask what Ethiopia can do for the world, and what it has to offer in equitable exchange. We must encourage the growth and export of Ethiopia's unique arts and crafts. We must increase the world's awareness of Ethiopia as a tourist gem and an historical and cultural site without rival in Africa. It is also important to remember that before this latest crisis, Ethiopia was a significant exporter of fruits and vegetables to its neighbors, at a healthy and growing rate. But over 90% of that trade remained in the hands of state-run businesses, where the average Ethiopian could reap no benefit from the growth.
Ethiopia's water resources are more plentiful than we can imagine: thousands of years of civilization have risen from our mighty rivers. Why should one child die of thirst or drought-related famine? Why have we been unable to bring about water security? How can we bring about an end to drought and famine in cooperation with our neighbors? Some of the answers are all too obvious: we lack roads, bridges, railroad lines, telephone lines. We lack adequate ports, quality irrigation, the necessary storage facilities. These are the physical tools that build a modern community. Without them, people live in isolation. Neighbors remain unknown, and the unknown is feared, and hated. We also need to develop better low-tech means of powering the personal computer to bring the technological revolution to more of Ethiopia's people. Creative deployment of solar power and wind power in a marriage with the PC can bring the information super-highway to remote areas that currently lack affordable electricity.
The rapid development of Ethiopia's infrastructure is thus essential not only as an immediate means of delivering food aid, but as a catalyst for ending the social and political conditions that contribute to famine over the long term. In the first week of May this year, the rains began again in southeast Ethiopia. It is a grim irony that this long-needed blessing of rain brought another level of complication to the worsening disaster. Red Cross representatives report that rains hindered the food deliveries, a sad fact that highlights the need for attention to Ethiopia’s underdeveloped infrastructure. Food aid coming through Djibouti has piled up in a bottle-neck, the port facilities unable to handle the sheer amount of traffic necessary to make a real difference. The World Food Program launched a proposal on this subject last year; we must see it through to fruition.
Our long-term struggle must be to build the political conditions necessary to consolidate the short-term and medium-range accomplishments. Ultimately, only one thing is going to stop the cycle of division, violence, famine and underdevelopment: the Ethiopian family must unite in common cause. We must renew our over-arching identity as Ethiopians. Many generations have kept this dream alive. We must struggle to make it a reality. This requires urging the world community to speak out strongly against the ethno-regionalist policies that divide Ethiopia. But we must not be hasty, or impatient: we have to take time to build a strong civil society in Ethiopia, with active and energetic political parties organized around a new generation of leaders. We must take time to teach Ethiopia's children to shun the politics of violence and embrace the politics of open debate. Only then will we have a peaceful and truly democratic transition of power in our home country.
Ethiopia must take a lead in regional leadership as well. The people of the Horn are one family, and Ethiopia's future prosperity depends upon repairing these ties. The Government in Addis refused to accept food aid through the port of Assab, which has for some years been under the effective control of Eritrea. Repairing relations with Eritrea and restoring the full flow of free trade through Assab is a necessity. It is unfortunate that it has taken a war with Eritrea to bring closer relations between Ethiopia and Djibouti. The two countries have reached agreements on a number of trade and development projects. We must work to make this relationship even closer. In this latest disaster, aid agencies have unloaded relief supplies at the Somaliland port of Berbera. This port saw significant Ethiopian food export in brighter days, and can play a central role in building a prosperous future for the entire region. But where the international community acknowledges no government, as is the case with regard to Somalia, then that community can make no progress. Pragmatic diplomacy in places like Somaliland can improve Ethiopia's long-term prospects for peace and prosperity; the alternative is to further condemn our people to the pointless expense of proxy wars, and the delays of unreliable relief routes.
We must also anchor scientific and political accomplishments to our spiritual and cultural values. In my work, I encounter Ethiopians who are in awe of the institution of the monarchy. They have all heard the historical tales which form a living link between our identity and our past. We must never forget the aspects of our culture that make us who we are. We each bear on our shoulders the proud legacy of centuries of sacrifice. In this way, our deeds and valor, our energy and accomplishments will crown Ethiopia more than any single monarch ever could.
Fifteen years ago, the world was moved by pictures of our starving mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, all members of the same Ethiopian family. We overcame those challenges with the help of our friends in the world community, and we resolved in our hearts that such disaster would never happen again during our lifetime. Yet today we are facing the same demons of drought-borne famine, and now epidemic levels of AIDS and other disasters as well. We have to show both the world and our community back home that we unite when our Ethiopian family is at risk.
As all of our speakers today have made clear, there are crucial tasks which require our effort, and there are individuals and institutions already hard at work. Now, we need the rest of us to become similarly engaged. We need to be good followers, as well as good leaders, helping to support those who have already taken the initiative, and working also to mobilize those who are not yet active. Our youth deserve recognition and the opportunity for leadership: let us give them the reins, and urge our community to back their constructive work.
And every Ethiopian must understand our commitment to this task. We must be the ones that make a difference in their lives. The faces they see, the names they read must be ours. They must know we are at the forefront to relieve their suffering. All of us must commit, all of us must assemble, and all of us must deliver without letting others divide our attention. Permit me to ask that everyone here tonight keep Ethiopia in his and her prayers. The condition of the poor will only improve when nations, like people, learn to love one another, when we see the suffering of our brothers and sisters as our own, and when we hear that suffering as a call to stronger action. Our forefathers never shrank from making sacrifices, including that ultimate sacrifice of precious life, to pass on to us what we must preserve at all costs. How else are we to face the waiting generations when they ask of us, "What have you done with the mantle of Emperor Menelik and Empress Taytu?"
We can answer today with a vision, a dream of a time when failure of the Meher or Belg rains will not bring disaster, but only a mere annoyance. A time when the waters of the Awash collect in a man-made lake in Gode, and the electricity generated by a dam on the Awash lights homes not just in Gode but in Somalia and Djibouti in Afar Land, and across the Red Sea in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. We must share a collective dream: to see our children playing as the waters of Abay run generators powerful enough to send electricity to Kenya and Uganda. To see a time when those waters are used in Tigré, Wollo, and Shoa, where farmers in Afar Land can plant corn when they want to instead of at the mercy of the whims of weather.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is a crucial time of change. All of us are here today because we reject fatalism, and refuse to give in to exhaustion. Nature can be against us at times, but that never means that we lack the tools with which to fight. Our future is uncertain, but it is never out of our control: Ethiopia and every individual Ethiopian can rise up and shape the future, to be sure that what happens today will never happen again. We will learn lessons from the failures in our past, but we will never surrender to the weight of those failures. The tired television images of hunger in Ethiopia will be a thing of the past, banished forever by our hard work in the years to come.
Scholarship Fund Announces Ten New Scholarships
The Haile Selassie Fund for Ethiopia's Children in Need is excited to announce 10 new college scholarships for Ethiopian students to study in the United States of America. Like the scholarships that the Fund announced a year ago, these new awards will provide four years of tuition, room, and board for qualified Ethiopians travelling both from home and throughout the diaspora.
The Ethiopian Crown Council, which coordinated last year's scholarship application process, received an overwhelming response from the Ethiopian community. Scholarship nominations came from every region in Ethiopia, and a dozen of the most qualified of these applicants are currently finishing their first year of study in the United States.
Because of the outpouring of interest in these scholarships, the Haile Selassie Fund has a number of students already on a waiting list from last year. These students will receive first priority in the selection process for the ten new awards, whose recipients will be announced by the end of May, 2000. Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, Patron of the Haile Selassie Fund for Ethiopia's Children, has announced that because of the particular challenge of providing educational opportunities to Ethiopian women, he expects this second selection process to focus on the waiting list’s female candidates.
The scholarships are for a four-year course of study at LaRoche College in Pennsylvania, where the students will pursue one of the following fields: agricultural management, engineering, water resource management, computer sciences, communications, and business.
Last year's scholarship recipients, meanwhile, continue to be a credit to their families and their country. Their presence at LaRoche College has enriched an already diverse community, and their knowledge of Ethiopian culture, art, and history has made them the ideal ambassadors to their fellow students.
Prince Ermias has met with last year's scholarship recipients and is very much looking forward to the next round of selections, and the opportunity to meet personally with more of Ethiopia's young and most motivated students. Prince Ermias is also very grateful to Monsigneur Kerr, President of LaRoche College, for his visionary leadership of the Pacem in Terris project through which these scholarships have become available. His work on education and conflict resolution is a valuable service not only to Ethiopia, but to the world community as well.
Facing the Challenges of Wildfire
News reports have been full of stories of the fires raging for close to a month in the southern part of Ethiopia, raging in the vicinity of Nech Sar National Wildlife Preserve. Officials from the Borena Zone have announced that the fires have been contained in many places, but we know that the journey towards recovery has just begun.
What so many news stories have failed to communicate to the world, and even to other Ethiopians, is the extreme bravery and courage that soldiers, students, and the people of the area have demonstrated, some paying the ultimate sacrifice in fighting this unfortunate calamity. In moments like this, we must remember the example of our ancestors, who have faced such challenges as the Battle of Adwa over a century ago, and fought with no less reserve.
We are thankful to the people and Government of the Republic of South Africa for their swift assistance with personnel and materiel. We would also like to thank the Federal Republic of Germany, the United States of America, and other nations who heeded our call for assistance and spared not a moment in hastening to our side in a sustained effort to put resources at our disposal.
Painful as this event has been, it has shown us what we can achieve when we come together against a common danger. Looking ahead, we face many years of painstaking work to rebuild what can be rebuilt, and to mourn what cannot. We ask our friends and all those who are even now preparing to come to our aid to help us also with their advice, their encouragement, and their moral support.
Environmental challenges provide the Ethiopian people an opportunity to work together, and leave behind the divisions of politics. This disaster deepens our poverty, by depriving our wildlife of its natural habitat, and stealing the basic necessities of life from Ethiopians of many different ethnicities. The forests of the southern reaches of our great nation are a valuable economic resource, both for the country's paper industry, and as a famous tourist attraction. Beginning the work of reforestation immediately is a crucial act of investment in our nation's future.
Finally, we ask a humble favor of all who read this message. Our hearts and prayers go out to the 70,000 soldiers, students, and volunteers from Ethiopia and abroad, who are facing this challenge as we speak. They are our family, and yours. We ask all the world to spare a moment of silent prayer for their safe return to the home and hearth of those who love and cherish them.
Marching to Adwa: Not Just a Victory for Africa
In the month of March 1896, the Italian imperial armies that had come from the Red Sea coast met the forces of Emperor Menelik II and the Ethiopian people, and suffered a decisive defeat. The moment was a turning point of the highest significance in Ethiopian history. European nations, busy carving up Africa into overseas colonies, were forced to acknowledge Ethiopia as a sovereign power, guaranteeing the preservation of Ethiopia's 3000 year tradition of independence.
Throughout the 20th Century, the Ethiopian Crown joined its people in annual services to commemorate Adwa Day. In this age, March 2 is a day of reflection, and one of thanksgiving for Ethiopians of all faiths. It is a time to celebrate in a spirit of happiness, but not one of boisterousness. It is a time for us to honor the sacrifices of our ancestors who rallied the nation at Adwa. It is even further a time to urge ourselves and our peers to rise to their example as we look to the challenge of preserving Ethiopia's unity and independence in the 21st Century.
In November 1999, Ethiopian filmmaker Haile Gerima premiered his film Adwa: An African Victory in Washington DC's Lincoln Theatre. The support the film received attests to the living power of that victory even among Ethiopians in the diaspora, who continue to cherish their past and turn to it for inspiration.
The film's subtitle was An African Victory, and yet Adwa was truly so much more. First and foremost, it was a victory for the Ethiopian people, one unique in the history of modern Africa. It was a victory for Ethiopian unity and cooperation the lessons of which are still inescapable over a century later.
But Adwa holds lessons for the entire world as well. It is perhaps more than anything a triumph of good, a noble act of resistance against the evils of imperialism. For many centuries, Ethiopia has provided a remarkable example of a vibrant culture, a unique literary system, and ancient religious traditions. The victory at Adwa marks the moment in the modern world when Ethiopia again offered itself as an example for all mankind.
Colonized peoples the world over took heart in Ethiopia's victory, and used Menilek's call to arms as their own. Colonizing powers were forced to re-evaluate their own theories of racial superiority. Adwa offered the most poignant challenge to the prevailing world system that the nineteenth century had yet seen. And that challenge took firm root, bringing Ethiopia to world attention again in 1935, when Emperor Haile Selassie I spoke out before the League of Nations, decrying a system that turned a blind eye to resurgent Italian imperialism.
As each Adwa Day celebration passes, we must not let these lessons grow old and stale with time. Remembering Adwa is not simply an opportunity for us to celebrate our past, and hand our history down to the next generation. It is moreover a chance to translate the challenges of 1896 to meet the needs of 2000, to face military, economic, and humanitarian threats with unity, energy, and pride. Indeed, Ethiopia may never again face an invading colonial army, but we can be certain that the 21st century will offer us our own chance to march to a different kind of Adwa, and we must be ready for that moment.