The Autobiography of Emperor Haile Sellassie I - Volume 2
OUR RETURN TO THE SUDAN FROM LONDON-THE MESSAGE WE SENT TO THE PEOPLE OF BRITAIN FROM THE SUDAN
A rumor was circulating then that the British Middle East High Command, finding Our speedy return home necessary, had despatched a report to Mr. Churchill. That being so, Our travel was viewed as a priority before the Suez canal was completely blocked by the Axis powers; on Monday, Sene 17, 1932 [June 25, 1940], We went from Paddington Station to the sea [at Plymouth], where, at 10:00 P.M., we took a flying boat and started Our journey.
Although France had been invaded by the Nazis since Ginbot 28, 1932 [June 5, 1940], despite the obvious danger, We took the risk and flew over its skies and stopped at Malta in the morning. Continuing Our journey, We reached Alexandria on Sene 18, 1932 [June 25, 1940]...
We arrived during the day but were made to stay aboard the flying boat... until... dark... in order to keep secret the news of Our presence , as there were thousands of Italians living there. Our unexpected appearance in Alexandria under such dangerous circumstances took many of the British authorities there by surprise. Among the British officials in Cairo, not more than four people were aware of Our journey from England to Africa.
When We disembarked from the flying boat at the harbor in Alexandria, a few British officials devised a scheme in order to hide Us from public sight, and ushered Us onto a [confiscated, Italian-owned] boat which had served as a club... We were given a special room and accorded good hospitality. The next day, a farewell reception was tendered, and We embarked on the flying boat and headed for Khartoum.
Among those who accompanied Us on this journey were Our son, Prince Makonnen, Ato Wolde Georgis Wolde Yohannes, Ato Lorenzo Taezaz, and George Steer. Also, Mr. [later Major] Edwin Chapman-Andrews, a former member of the British Embassy in Cairo, joined Us as a secretary and a political advisor.
While We were in the air... the authorities in Cairo sent a telegram to Khartoum informing them of Our flight there. Sir Stewart Smith, the Governor General of the Sudan, and General [Sir] William Platt, Commander of the Armed Forces of the Sudan, expected an attack... by the enemy if the news of Our arrival in Khartoum was heard and instructed the pilot of the plane carrying Us to change course and to land at Wadi Haifa, instead of Khartoum. Even though there was not enough accommodation in the extremely torrid and sultry Wadi Haifa, Our stay there was an unavoidable option.
After we rested for a little while, We went for a walk to the Nile with Chapman-Andrews. When We reached... [the] river that emerges from Our country, We were moved by deep feelings of nostalgia. In fact, We cupped Our hands, scooped up some water, and sipped a little. The next morning, We sent Chapman-Andrews to Khartoum to discuss the situation with the authorities there. However, he encountered evasive arguments...
Sir Stewart [Symes] and General William Platt thought that the presence of the emperor in their midst [was unwise] at a time when the British army in East Africa had not made adequate preparations to withstand the enemy and had not conducted any reconnaissance... On the other hand, Chapman-Andrews argued that the objective of the emperor's return was not to settle down in Khartoum, but rather to enter his country leading the patriotic forces of liberation. To that end, the emperor needed to be provided with the necessary assistance in arms and transport. He reminded them as well that they would be held accountable for denying the emperor those things.
While the situation remained unclear, Chapman-Andrews returned to Us along with Colonel Sandford. Colonel Daniel Arthur Sandford was rendering dedicated service to Us and to Our country. After expressing Our deeply felt feelings of gratitude for his devotion and positive outlook, We asked him to give Us an estimate of the armed forces and arms that had been placed at Our disposal in Khartoum. In response, he said that:
On Our part, We were profoundly disappointed at not finding the assistance that We hoped would be readily available to Us.
Colonel Sandford and Chapman-Andrews recommended to Us that We should meet with the authorities and have face to face discussions with them. Therefore, on the 25th of Sene 1932 [July 2, 1940], We took the train from Wadi Haifa and went to Khartoum. We did discuss matters with General Platt. However, because he had many anxieties, [and] without having [given Us] a satisfactory reply, We went to stay at a place called Jebel Aulia situated 28 miles away from Khartoum, near the White Nile.
All those Ethiopians who heard scattered news of Our arrival in the Sudan began to come to Us in increasing numbers. However, because it was arranged in such a way that We stay in Jebel Aulia in isolation, it was not possible for Us to meet with Our patriots as much as We would have liked.
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Although We were saddened by [Our] encounters in the Sudan, on the other hand, when We remembered the deep sympathy and respect shown to Us by the British people during the years of Our exile, We felt more optimistic. This being so, as soon as We stepped on Sudanese soil, We dispatched the following message to the British people:
Electronic edition created and published online by members of the
October 22, 2017