The Address given by HIH Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, Chairman of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, at the Celebration of the Ethiopian Millennium in Washington, DC
Honorable Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my distinct honor and great delight to be with you today, to welcome with optimism, the new dawn of the Ethiopian Millennium. Let us embrace this Millennium celebration with great joy, as it has brought us all together in spirit, undivided by politics, ethnicity or religion.
On behalf of the Ethiopian Community in the Washington, DC, area, it is my great honor to lay a wreath at the African American Civil War Memorial, on this Festive occasion. As the Ethiopian community has increasingly expanded people’s exposure to African heritage in the nation’s capital and it’s surrounding, it is befitting that Ethiopians and the larger African American Community should join hands to usher in together, the new African Millennium.
This Millennium celebration gives us the opportunity to acknowledge and to express our high esteem for the achievement of African Americans, whose heroic struggle for equality has reinstated and preserved the human dignity of all people of African heritage. We Ethiopians have greatly benefited from the struggle and sacrifice of African Americans in this country. The contribution of Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King, Rosa Park, and many others, has, indeed, put us all in better standing.
Rabbi Arnold Josiah Ford and his family, Colonel Hubert F. Julian, and Colonel John C. Robinson of the African American community, as well as many others, had stood by us during Italy’s attempt to colonize Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s own Dr. Melaku Beyan, who organized resistance to Italian invasion of our country, was supported by many African Americans. The support that we received from African Americans during our struggle against European invasion has, thus, bound our two communities together. Therefore, we are deeply grateful for this and other ties that we have established with African Americans.
This African Millennium celebration cannot be passed without due acknowledgment and high tribute for the struggle for independence that was wedged and won by gallant leaders of the African continent. Thus, we salute the memory of Emperor Menelik II, Emperor Haile-Selassie I, Kwame Nkrumah, and Jomo Kenyata, as well as the contributions of Julius Neyrere, and Nelson Mandela, whose foresight and great sacrifice has today enabled all African countries to welcome the new Millennium as free nations. Let us hope and pray that, during the new Millennium, we Africans will struggle and win the fight against underdevelopment, poverty, and disease, to make Africa’s freedom whole.
When we celebrate this unique milestone in our ancient history, each and everyone of us comes with great hope and expectation that it will bring us unfathomed gifts of hope, peace and prosperity for each of our families, our beloved country and, indeed, for all our friends throughout the world, who had welcomed us into their midst, and who had stood by us during our hour of need.
This joyous occasion also gives us the opportunity to reflect on some self-evident truths such as – there is no future without a past, no joy without sorrow, and no gain without pain – . If we accept these facts, and show our determination to move forward to better pastures, we will be able to draw from our vast experience the threads that will firmly bind the link between our country’s past and its future.
Thus, when we are critical of the past or the present, let us endeavor to also acknowledge all the achievements that have been made by different groups and build on these, rather than continuously dismantle, only to start allover again, what has been already achieved with great sacrifice and pain by all parties.
We Ethiopians are proud of our ancient history and distinct culture that has been preserved unbroken since pre-biblical times until the modern age. Ethiopia is the home of Denkinesh – who is known to the world as Lucy – the earliest humanoid, and thus the cradle from where human society first emerged.
As our country is home to the Jews, Christians, Muslims, and those of traditional beliefs, it has served as a bridge between people of different ethnic, religious and cultures backgrounds.
Furthermore, Ethiopia is a country that is custodian of the Ark of the Covenant. The worldwide Christian community considers Ethiopia as an illustrious realm mentioned in the bible more than forty times. The Prophet Mohammad called Ethiopia “the land of righteousness” and ordered his followers never to provoke Ethiopia. Thus, as there is a distinct link between Ethiopia and the biblical world of Jews and Christians, so is there a direct link between Ethiopian society and the very foundation of Islam.
Therefore, Ethiopian civilization is a world treasure of great importance, as it is the root of Judeo-Christian civilization, as well as the fabric of Muslim society. Thus, as we celebrate the new Millennium, let us pledge to always uphold and preserve this ancient heritage that has been the beacon of hope and a bridge of peaceful coexistence for African people.
Periodic wars, famine and revolution in Ethiopia have taught its people to be strong and diligent. While Ethiopians have embraced the laws and life styles of their new homelands throughout the world, many have learnt new skills and technology. Thus, they have been able to contribute greatly to the economy and administration of their new homes in the Diaspora. I am sure that our forefathers will warmly smile in their eternal rest to know that their off springs have spread their ancient culture, their numerous languages, their unique form of religious devotion, and their complex courtesies, throughout the world.
In closing, I would like to inform all gathered here that both the African Union and the Council of the District of Columbia have officially recognized and declared the new Millennium as the African Millennium.
This is, indeed, in appreciation of Ethiopia’s ancient history, as well as its role as a beacon of African independence. It is also an expression of their resolve to promote cooperation and partnership amongst all people of African heritage. Therefore, let us all join hands and pledge to make all people of African heritage take their rightful place in the world community during the new Millennium.
May God Bless Ethiopia, Africa, the USA, and bring lasting peace to the whole wide world!
I wish you all a Very Happy Millennium. Melkam Addis Zemen le Hulachiu.
Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie