On Saturday, September 13th, San Pedro hosted a most important guest when His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle Haile Selassie paid a visit to Ambergris Caye. The Prince is the grandson of the late Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, the spiritual leader of the Rastafarian, who was murdered in 1974 by communist rebels. Prince Ermias received a royal welcome from an island delegation comprised of Area Representative Manuel Heredia Jr., San Pedro Mayoress Elsa Paz and Town Councilors, The San Pedro Sun, as well as the newly crowned Miss San Pedro, Tatiana Rivero.
After a brief tour of town, the SP delegates “rolled out the red carpet” for the Ethiopian prince, stopping first at the renowned Ramon’s Village Resort for cocktails at the Purple Parrot Bar. Following friendly conversation, the group traveled to the south end of the island, where they enjoyed a delicious lunch at picturesque Victoria House Resort.
During a conversation, Prince Ermias made special mention of how impressed he was with Governor General, Sir Colville Young, who remembered their first meeting. Ever the storyteller, the Governor General recalled a story told to him by the young prince some years ago. The tale involved a man of considerable wealth and status who was invited to a dinner with the “Heads of State” from several countries. Upon his arrival, the man, dressed in a fine business suit, was scolded for wearing common clothing to such a formal affair. He was asked to leave and to please return properly attired. After some time, the man returned to the party dressed in clothing “fit for a king.” Later that evening, as each course of the dinner was served, the same man, instead of eating, was observed stuffing pieces of food into every one of his pockets. Outraged, the same person who had scolded the man earlier questioned why he would embarrass his host with such odd behavior. The man turned to him and calmly replied, that it was quite obvious that it was not he who was invited to eat, but his suit.
Accompanying Prince Ermias to San Pedro was Ms. Rosalie Staines, the producer and host of “Oapn Paki,” a popular radio talk show in Belize. Ms. Staines arranged Prince Ermias’ visit through her acquaintance with Dr. Richard Stevens, a former professor of African History at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. who is now the Prince’s personal advisor.
Before departing the island, Prince Ermias and his hosts were treated to a boat tour of North Ambergris Caye and a snorkel trip to Hol Chan Marine Reserve, courtesy of Ramon’s Village Dive Shop. The Prince was clearly impressed by the day’s activities, as he expressed a desire “to spend a lot more time in ëLa Isla Bonita’ when I return to Belize.” In addition, he stated how pleased he was to see a picture of his grandfather, Haile Selassie, displayed on the front of a San Pedro business.
Born in 1960, His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie left Ethiopia to further his education in the United Kingdom and the United States. At the time of his grandfather’s murder, King Hussein of Jordan assumed financial responsibility for the teen prince’s education. Although he has been exiled from Ethiopia for nearly 30 years, Prince Ermias travels at the invitation of foreign governments to attend speaking engagements. He promotes spirituality and international Caribbean-African relations through these activities.
Now, an international marketing consultant, Prince Ermias is also an owner of WORTH, Bahamas, a company which designs and produces decorative medals used to honor international dignitaries. After being informed of this, Lion Eileen Jamison, on behalf of the San Pedro Lion’s Club, presented the Prince with a SP Lions Club award-winning fellowship pin.
Prince Ermias is also a Director for the Haile Selassie Foundation for Ethiopian Children, which supports his grandfather’s beliefs in technological education and self-sustainability. This charitable organization recently sponsored 22 technical scholarships for Ethiopian men and women from a variety of ethnic backgrounds to study in Pennsylvania, USA.
Prince Ermias’ trip to Belize was made possible through the kind support of the City of Belize, the Belize Tourism Board, the Princess Hotel and Casino, Mayan Island Air, Belize Offshore Center, Alliance Bank, A&R Center, Capital Life, the San Pedro Town Council, the International Free Zone, Novelo’s Bus Service, and International Promotion of Trade and Investment.