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Let us remain true to our history

A statement by His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, on the subject of the opening of the new African Union Headquarters.

The recent inauguration of the new African Union building in Addis Ababa is one step forward in fulfilling the prophetic words of Emperor Haile-Selassie I, when he said that Africa was looking towards the future, confident in her destiny to achieve unity of pur-pose.

It was Emperor Haile-Selassie who stated in his address to the Conference of Independ-ent African States in Ghana in 1958: “Ethiopia looks with pride to the role which she has played in the history of the development of Africa and looks forward with confidence to the future of this great continent.”

While it is befitting to honor Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, a proponent of Pan-Africanism and Ghana’s first President, with a statue in the forecourt of the new African Union edifice, other African giants, such as Emperor Haile-Selassie and Nelson Mandela, will have to wait to have their legacies honored, through additional statues and monuments.

The Emperor’s contributions to the establishment of the forerunner of the African Union (AU), the Organization of African Unity (OAU), cannot be forgotten. History has rightfully recorded that it was Ethiopia’s and the Emperor’s tireless contributions which established the OAU with its headquarters in Addis Ababa in 1963.

In 2002, when African leaders met in South Africa to charter the newborn AU out of the OAU, Ethiopia again had to defend its legacy of service to the Continent to maintain the Headquarters of the newly found Organization in Addis Ababa. The very fact that the African nations voted to keep the headquarters of the Organization in Addis Ababa is a testament to the accomplishment and vision of our Nation and that of the Emperor.

Emperor Haile-Selassie inspired African leaders of his generation to forge a common sense of unity. Today’s new buildings housing the AU, a generous gift by the Government and People of the People’s Republic of China, will hopefully translate the vision of the forefathers of the Organization into greater works of accomplishment by a new generation of leaders for the years ahead.

Let us look forward confidently that the Emperor’s contributions to the Continent will continue to be rightfully recognized and remembered by coming generations of Africans.

There is room at our beautiful new complex for more statues. Let us honor Emperor Haile-Selassie as the great champion of pan-Africanism and as the great inspiration behind the OAU, and let us remember Nelson Mandela as a great champion of the OAU’s transition to the African Union.