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Selected Speeches Of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I



MODERN ETHIOPIANISM


.... Annually, on this day, when We celebrate the Anniversary of Our Coronation, We have convened the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, assembled in joint session, as they take up their work for the coming year. Today, there are gathered together before Us the members of the second Parliament convened since the Revised Constitution was promulgated six years ago. Included among you are the newly-elected Deputies, chosen by the people in free elections held during the past months. Those men who preceded you have set a high example. Recorded on the statute books of the Empire are the Penal, Civil, Commercial and Maritime Codes, each a monumental work in its right, all promulgated after careful study by them. During their term of office, over a score of major laws, touching all aspects of Ethiopia’s affairs, have been enacted. Take up where they left off, emulate them, build on the foundation which they have laid down, that your nation may advance in progress and enlightenment....

Programme

.... The programmes of the Government for the present year have already been placed into force at the beginning of the fiscal year on 1st Hamle last. They were studied and approved by the Parliament which completed its session four months ago, and the budget required to implement them has been enacted into law. It is the Government’s intention that increased publicity be given to its programmes in order that the public may know not only their broad outlines but their details as well. A well-informed public opinion is essential to the growth of political and social awareness. Only he who is informed can comment intelligently on his nation’s development and only by such comment can errors be corrected and progress stimulated....

.... When, decades ago, We turned Ethiopia’s face in the direction of progress and modernity, We were secure in the knowledge that in so doing We best served Our country and its people. We recognized then, as We do today, that once embarked upon this course there could be no turning back. Ethiopia was committed to the future and to whatever it might bring. Man may, at the outset, control the direction which events take, but once his choice is made, events soon escape his control and history proceeds by its own force and momentum. When We promulgated Ethiopia’s first Constitution thirty years ago, over the determined opposition of many who were close to Us, We realized, and it was Our intention, that the political development of Our nation would be accelerated. We knew that Ethiopia would soon outgrow the limited confines of that document. At that time, Ethiopia’s government was simple and uncomplicated, but We knew that as Our nation emerged into the modern world, its governmental framework would inevitably be transformed into a complex and intricate structure. We were prepared for and We sought to speed that transformation.

Modern System

Following the liberation of Our nation in 1941, We created a coherent and modern system of government. Government departments were established, each with its defined sphere of jurisdiction. A sound provincial administration was formed, in order that Ethiopia might become a more closely knit and unified entity. As the nation developed and grew, We endeavoured to assure that the organization and pattern of government kept pace. The full extent of the nation’s achievements during these years will be apparent to all who, objectively and honestly, survey their history....

.... The ultimate resource of a nation is its people. Unless this resource is employed for the benefit of the nation, unless the latent good which it represents is exploited to the maximum extent for the common good, the nation will languish, poor in spirit, lacking in achievement. But no people can make their full contribution to the life of the nation to which they owe allegiance unless they possess and enjoy those few fundamental prerequisites indispensable to rendering their participation in the affairs of their country both possible and significant. The growth of a people is complex and inter-related. Man must be educated: he cannot come to grips with or cope with or understand the modern world unless he has been taught about it. He must be assured of a minimum economic security: he cannot concern himself with matters going beyond the day-to-day satisfaction of his physical needs unless he is fed and clothed and sheltered, nor can he acquire a sufficient degree of social consciousness to be able to subordinate his own personal interests to the good of the nation and the development of its society. Freedom, liberty, the rights of man—these mean little to the ignorant, the hungry, the ill-clothed, the badly-housed.

True Representatives

All of this We have, from Our earliest days, recognized, and in the years during which We have guided and directed the destinies of the Ethiopian people and nation, We have endeavoured to accommodate and give due consideration to this basic truth. To you, the legislators of the Empire, has been confided the high responsibility of ensuring that the needs and the desires of those who chose you as their representatives are well and truly served in the legislative programmes which will be placed before you. You must ensure that in your desire to achieve immediate goals, long-term considerations of equal or greater importance are not ignored or irrevocably prejudiced. Those who will prepare your Government’s programmes will do so honestly and sincerely, seeking thereby to secure the further progress of Ethiopia and her people. But you, as well as they, share in the responsibility for guaranteeing that this progress is not only apparent but real, and that each step forward paves the way for the next. May Almighty God grant you wisdom, understanding and judgment....

November 2, 1961.


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Electronic edition created and published online by members of the
Emperor Haile Sellassie First Theocracy Reign
Order of the Nyahbinghi

May 10, 2017