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The Autobiography of Emperor Haile Sellassie I - Volume 2



CHAPTER V

OUR LIFE AT BATH AND THE CHAPEL WE SET UP AT THE FAIRFIELD RESIDENCE



Many people used to visit Us at Our home called Fairfield. The house had many rooms and was chilly. The view through its front windows always reminded Us of the hills of Harer. We never went to the theater or any other place of entertainment. Our only recreation was the time We spent chatting with Our children. We stayed awake late in the night reading books and writing the history of Our life. The books We read mostly included diplomatic histories and the biographies of patriotic leaders such as Napoleon, Abraham Lincoln and... [works] about the Christian church.

Our life in Bath was very hard. We had financial problems. The media had reported that We had taken enough money when We left Our country, but it was completely untrue. The fact that We were in serious financial trouble in those days was an obvious fact. Hoping that We would soon return to Our country with the help of the League of Nations, We took an amount We thought was sufficient for a certain period of time, and even that was soon finished as We used it to help the exiles.

When We first arrived in England, a British film company had invited Us to take part in a film called "Flight by Night," but We refused. The Texas Centennial Exhibition offered 100,000 dollars if We were prepared to appear in their show for two weeks and an additional 50,000 dollars if the show was extended to a month. Although We were aware that this would have helped Us with the problems We were facing then, We did not accept the proposal.

A private association headed by an Englishman called Sir Norman Angell was organized to help the Ethiopian exiles and had assisted Us greatly by forming a fund raising committee. Even though the aid was insufficient to aid Our devastated country, it did help Our exiled people. In particular We remember the 100,000 dollar donation of the British Red Cross Association to Our refugees.

The money We invested in the British Cable and Wireless Company, hoping to use it when the need arose, and all the money We should have received from different sources, was blocked. We asked the Cable and Wireless company mentioned above for the money We had deposited while We were in Our country, but the company refused to pay Us back on the pretext that Ethiopia was under Italy's control and the situation remained uncertain. We consequently hired a lawyer and sued the company. The [courts] made Us wait for many months to hear the decision, only to tell Us that the money would be given neither to Us nor the company, but instead would remain in the hands of the British government until the case between Us and Italy was settled. Since We were the ones who sued, We were made to pay all the court fees. We appealed, but the matter remained undecided. Nevertheless, many right-minded Englishmen made contributions to Us and Our exiles so that We could persevere. In particular the organization established under the name "Abyssinia Society" worked hard at [fund-raising]. This organization prepared and sent around a written memorandum to coordinate all those who wanted to help Ethiopia:

We call the attention of our readers to the fund appeal for the Emperor of Ethiopia set up some weeks earlier. The Emperor is a true Christian and a great man. His patience and pride during times of trial... deserve the honor and appreciation of all people The Emperor is the personification of a heavily oppressed people who trusted the League of Nations and the British government in particular.

The emperor's people were exterminated by the Italians, and his country was occupied. Currently, while the Emperor is exhausting himself opposing the occupation, the British government is prepared to renounce the international status of his country because of its interests in Europe.

The Emperor's money and income have been plundered by the Italians... [and] his money in Europe has been exhausted in [pursuing] a lawsuit. If Italy's claims are recognized, the money will be transferred to the Italian government. The Emperor has a number of former officials who have placed their trust in him. In addition, he has his family with him. In the midst of all these troubles he faces financial problems. Therefore, in order to keep alive the political interests of his country and to cope with the heavy responsibility of supporting his staff and dependents, he hereby requests his friends in this country to extend their help and encouragement.

The Abyssinia Society, by permission of the Emperor, has opened the 'Ethiopian Emperor's Fund', and those who want to express their sympathy [and] support [by making] a contribution, can send it to this... fund. All gifts should be sent to the Abyssinia Society office and cheques made payable to the Ethiopian Emperor's Appeal Fund.

We used the money obtained in this way for Our own support and for those of the exiles in London, Jerusalem, and Egypt. We thus, more or less, maintained a meager existence.

* * *

When We were in Addis Abeba, We had the practice of rising early in the morning at 5:00 A. M. to go to church for prayer. Since there was no Orthodox Church or chapel at Fairfield, where We could go and pray to God, the practice was discontinued, although in a time of stress, We should have strength­ened Our habit of prayer. After suffering a great deal from not having a Chapel, we sent [on Jan 20, 1937] the following letter to Etchege Gebre Giorgis in Jerusalem.

To His Holiness Etchege Gebre Giorgis.

How are you? Thanks be to God We are well. So far We have been thinking of you. We, on our side, have the intention to attend the assembly [of the League] in person if they permit Us, but if they do not, We will send Our delegation since this is vital to Our objective. Finding it necessary to follow the matter from here, We have decided to stay... in England, and wait for the judgement of Our Creator to resolve Ethiopia's crisis.

Until the grace of God permits and bids Us farewell to come to Jerusalem, so that We may overcome the problems of worship that We have encountered, and so that Our growing children do not go astray from the foundation of Our religion, I have sent Abba Hanna to you so that he may return with one tabot, five monks, the things necessary for the worship services and a Bible. Discuss the matter with Aleka Gerima and have the things sent to Us before the beginning of Lent. There might be a need to send priests to those exiled in foreign lands. While awaiting further instructions from Us, select monks who are willing to minister to the exiles.

Accordingly, the monks sent to Us from Jerusalem, Abba Gebre Iyesus, Abba Gebre Mariam, Abba Haile Bruke and Abba Marcos [Agazh Yellew], arrived in Bath on Miazia 21 [April 28], with the Tabot of the Saviour of the World. The tabot was taken to the prepared gallery on Sunday, Miazia 24 [May 1], and it was consecrated on Easter day according to Our country's customs. From that time on, We practiced Our church's rituals... in accordance with Our Tradition.


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Emperor Haile Sellassie First Theocracy Reign
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August 27, 2017