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The Launching of the Imperial Society of St. George of Lalibela on 24th July 2004, at Charleston, South Carolina, was a major success


One hundred distinguished guests participated in the Launching Ceremony of the Imperial Society of St. George of Lalibela and the Commemoration of the 112th Birth of HIM Emperor Haile Selassie I, on July 24th 2004.

Former Ambassadors, retired US Army and Air Force Generals, Church leaders, Industrialists, University Professors, Doctors and renowned Artists, some of whom came from as far away as California, attended the ceremony. Ethiopians professionals participated with their families dressed in Ethiopian traditional dress, which added meaning and festivity to the occasion.

Messages of Welcome were received from the Mayor of Charleston Joseph P. Riley, Jr., and from Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina. Furthermore, His Holiness Pope John II; King Juan Carlos of Spain; The Duke of Braganca of Portugal; H.E Dr. Asfa Wossen Asrate Kassa, Chairman of the Executive Board of Orbis Aethiopicus in Germany; and Mr. Joseph Brumit, former Manager of Ethiopian Airlines during the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie, all sent messages of Congratulation. Prince Ermias announced that Lij. Estifanos Mengesha Seyoum, who had planned to attend the ceremony but was unable to do so, had expressed his regret to him over the telephone, and added that he was supportive of the Mission of the Imperial Society of St. George of Lalibela.

Prince Bekere Fikre Selassie in his Welcoming Address expressed his heart felt thanks to all those who had helped the Crown Council to come this far and also give it hope to be worthy to meet the challenge of the responsibility entrusted to it. Prince Bekere said “As each of us is called upon to give back what he has received from his country, the educated man possesses precious assets of infinite value both to himself and his nation, which he must also share with humanity,”

Both the morning presentation on “The Current Situation of Ethiopia” by Melake Selam Haddis Woldeyesus and the afternoon session on “The Case of Ethiopia” by The Honorable Mussie Hailu were well attended. The Video Presentations and the Question and Answer Sessions made the meeting more participatory. Many of the participants expressed interest to join the Society and also promised to recruit other members. Some participants also said that they will visit Ethiopia to see the historical and religious sites.

The major message of Melake Selam Haddis’s presentation was that “During the time of Emperor Haile Selassie, religion was accepted to be a private matter and the whole territory of the country was believed to belong to all Ethiopians. It is a great pity that our country is now regressing to separatism when the whole world is increasingly becoming one.” He added “I most sincerely believe that if the Ethiopian people are widely made aware of the efforts made to dismantle their traditional form of peaceful coexistence, they will not choose turmoil over peace.” Furthermore, he said “major collective action needs to be taken soon by all Ethiopians, as none of us whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish or other, will be able to escape the adverse impact that will result if things fall apart.”

In concluding Melake Selam Haddis added that Ethiopian history, its ancient Orthodox Church and the Monarchy still have relevance to the Ethiopian way of life. He said that “History is the base from which we learn our previous mistakes, and on which we build our future plans. Our religion is the root of our core being that maintains us steadfast to overcome all adversity and also helps to propel us to achieve higher goals. The System of Government under the Monarch is Ethiopia’s heritage that can still be used to serve the people, even without being part of the Government of the day.”

The major message of the Hon. Mussie Hailu’s presentation was the importance of national unity and effective leadership at all levels. He said that “Throughout its history, it (Ethiopia) has remained the focus of outside invaders. Particularly since the 16th century, it has repulsed time and time again the aspirations of expansionists and colonial powers. Its various nations, nationalities and people, have linked together for centuries, intermingling and interacting with each other. For the last century they have stood together during peace and adversity as one country. Through this unity, heroism and sacrifice, Ethiopia has remained the only non-colonized state in Africa becoming the beacon of independence and freedom for Africa, and colonized peoples around the world.”

Speaking about leadership, Hon Mussie Hailu said that “to alleviate poverty requires committed leadership at all levels of society, from the village to district, state to national and international communities.” Talking about the need to eradicate poverty he added that “we should bear in mind that people in poverty must be empowered through organization and participation in planning and in implementation of the issues that affect them, thus ensuring they become partners in the overall development process.”

In his Keynote Address which was the major highlight of the event, Prince Ermias stated that the objective of the Imperial Society of St. George of Lalibela is to preserve the ancient history of Ethiopia, its peoples deep rooted Orthodox Christian faith and also the country’s heritage of its administration under the Monarchy.” He said that “history has proved that HIM Emperor Haile Selassie was, indeed, a great man who has left his undeniable mark on his country, Africa, the Caribbean and on the whole world.” He added that since his appointment as President of the Crown Council in 1993, “we have contributed to rehabilitate the name of my distinguished grandfather Emperor Haile Selassie I, and we have also kept the Imperial Family engaged in Ethiopian Affairs, even in the Diaspora.”

Furthermore, Prince Ermias pointed out that “due to lack of a well established office and administrative machinery, we are regrettably losing a great deal of opportunity to assist our country.” Thus, he emphasized the need to establish a well staffed office in Addis Ababa to help the Imperial Society of St. George of Lalibela and the Haile Selassie Fund for Ethiopian Children to direct aid from the world for Development Projects in Ethiopia. The Prince also announced his plan to request all Heads of all Christian Churches to Launch a Joint Appeal to request for the return of all religious and cultural artifacts that had been taken out of Ethiopia during the Communist regime and kindly requested all the participants to assist in this major undertaking

The Meeting of the Society will be an Annual Event that will be held on HIM Haile Selassie’s birth date on July 23rd of each year. The Annual Meeting in July 2005 will be held in Washington, DC. The Members of the Society are requested to organize subsequent meetings in their respective regions.