Selected Speeches Of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I
VISIT TO ERITREA
As We appear among you today, as is customary with the visits We make now and then to witness for Ourselves the administrative efficiency on the spot and also to effectuate matters of major importance, We shall now talk to you not only as an Emperor but also as an Ethiopian. There is nothing particularly new at this time to account for Our intention to give you a broad view of our opinion today. You, who are listening to Us now, the old, the young and those in school out in the country, since it is We who are bearing the responsibility of guiding the present and coming generations on the right path, it is imperative that we all should serve our country and people dedicatedly and according to God’s wish.
It is no surprise to Us, either now or before, if an aggressor should make any kind of move through Eritrea, since there is nothing unusual in this. What We have found a little surprising, however, is that, whereas the people of Eritrea have always supported their freedom and gallantry by deeds, there should still exist among a people with such a fine record of history some hypocrites who are serving as instruments for marring past history and betraying it to aliens.
You know that, though small in number, there have always been among us some alien puppets. Though they are insignificant in number, we can attain practical results in the endeavours of progress we are making only if there is absolute unity among ourselves. We have been patient until now with the hope that they will improve sooner or later through examining for themselves the current international situation and thereby learn something from it. This hope was based on the belief that when any people acquires its freedom and runs on its own, it will have more appreciation for the love of country and people, and so create absolute unity.
In the days when supremacy of arms decided victory, it was through Eritrea that the enemy successively carried out acts of aggression on us; today, our enemies are trying to conduct propaganda campaigns against us through this same part. If Eritrea, as Ethiopia’s outlet, now becomes the scene of a propaganda campaign as it was the entrance of the enemy to the country, who is to lose and who is to gain? The people of Eritrea have felt what it means to live under foreign rule during the 60 years of subjugation. The other parts of Ethiopia have also experienced alien domination during the five years of tribulation.
Fought for Eritrea
As such there can hardly be any other who knows the disadvantages and advantages of foreign rule better than we do. Who was there to voice the cause of Eritreans either on international or other forums during all that period when we were separated and at which time you were sweltering under the heels of colonialism? Did not those who are now trying to divide some of us through using some traitors as instruments, then know of the existence of Eritrea? Was there any nation or government which, other than organizing itself, had uttered a word on religious lines before the time Ethiopia was fighting on the international arena for the rights of her brothers after she fought for her freedom following the Second World War?
Ethiopia began fighting for the liberation of Eritrea long before she recovered from the economic depletion suffered through the war. Ethiopia made this struggle in the interest of Eritrea because she knew that Eritreans are her blood-brothers.
You know that there are a lot of reasons for Ethio-Eritrean oneness. The relation of the people of Eritrea with Ethiopia is not confined to the political aspect. Not only are the two people joined by culture, geography and language, but historically the Adoulis heritage shows that the other Ethiopian tribes originated from Eritrea. Throughout Ethiopia’s long record as an independent entity, Eritrea was separated from us for only 60 years and even if we were separated by political and artificial barriers during this short span of time, we were unseparated in our way of life and mutual feeling.
Throughout the period when Eritrea was under colonial rule, a great number of not only those elders who previously knew the value of liberty, but also Eritrean youth who were born during the foreign occupation and who subsequently left their parents fled to Our Capital. This is adequately proved by the large number of Eritreans who, since a long time, disseminated in other parts of Ethiopia, found jobs in various government institutions and other services and thus lived among us. It is equally known that every time they came to us we sent them, knowing that they were time-separated brothers, to various places for higher education abroad. Upon their return they were placed in responsible positions so that they may be helpful and a source of pride to Ethiopia and particularly to their foreign dominated kinsmen. Though We need not elaborate on this list of people, the ones who are still alive from among those who got this opportunity are living evidences of this fact.
When our country was invaded, a great number of Eritreans, who were physically and otherwise fit, abandoned the enemy and fought on our side at Maichew and Neghelli. Those who survived death have made valiant stands with patriots throughout the five years, by deeds of patriotism and shown with their blood that we are one and the same. Though We do not mention the names of those whom we know and ones who were with Us on the battlefield, their memories will be passed on in the pages of history. When later on the federation of Eritrea with the motherland was being debated, they came on Our side recalling their past historical riches, and proved Our historical oneness before the world forum.
Those who, in the light of all these historical ties and evidence of unity, are coming between Us on religious, ethnical and other grounds are doing so not for our benefit but for that of their own. This can be easily understood. That former colonial powers are benefiting from creating discord among geographically, economically, historically and ethnically linked people in Africa and other parts of the world in order to maintain their former authority is known not only to those who can read but to the illiterate as well. Nobody knows better than We Africans that the policy of divide and rule is the aspiration of those who seek to benefit at others’ expense. That it is the obsolete method of dividing to rule in order to rule by dividing is apparent.
Being aware of the attacks and tricks of imperialism, Ethiopia has been the first African country who waged war against such powers and through her unity, has preserved her liberty through victories as in the recent case of Adua. More than being an example to the rest of the African states, after the Second World War, Ethiopia struggled alone in International Conferences, for African independence with no other free African nations to support her as at present. No greater testimony could be available to the resistance made by Our patriots against the enemy on seven fronts with the use of out-dated weapons than the heroic activities of Our fathers, relying upon God the Almighty.
You should be aware of the fact, that as Ethiopia has been a country which fought against imperialism more than any other, those who approach you with a contradictory propaganda against Ethiopia do so with the intention of belittling our historical standing considering Us as wishing to use our power to control others. Being proud of Our admirable and outstanding history We have been enthusiastically engaged in guarding Our own rights and there has been no time that We interfered in the internal affairs of other countries. We have signed and respected the resolutions passed by the Afro-Asian Conference at Bandung, that no one nation shall interfere in the domestic affairs of another. We shall continue to uphold this policy for future use also. It is up to the Ethiopian people to consider the shortcomings and difficulties in their internal administration and solve it by themselves. Ethiopia does not desire to exist by formulating false external propaganda with the intention of hiding her internal difficulties.
That unity is the basic foundation for progress in this era is being proved through the massive movement made in Europe, the Middle East as well as by African countries towards reaching this goal. We will waste no more time in details since there is no one here unaware of the strength to be gained through unity in the protection of a country.
Existing conditions have made it impossible for the former colonialist powers to remain in Africa. They have resorted to the idea of dividing the peoples. You are aware that conferences are being held to federate in order not to lose their independence through the man-made boundaries laid by the colonialists. Ethiopia has consistently expressed her desire for African solidarity as a participant in these same conferences.
There are certain states who participate as supporters in conferences held for African unity and are at the same time engaged in acts that would divide Africa. Can we then accept this as in support to Our cause? No doubt that people of a country who have fought incessantly for their independence understand that unity is the foundation of liberty. Co-operation and unity are the sources of respect. It is also the source of strength. It has been known from time immemorial in human history that no person is able to understand and solve one’s own problem than one’s self.
There is no better example than the privilege enjoyed by the Muslims and other foreigners in engaging themselves in all kinds of business activities in this country to disprove the false propaganda made against Ethiopia in connection with religious and racial discrimination.
Why did the Islamic population of Ethiopia remain faithful and fight along with Us as patriots for the independence of their country if they had been discriminated against in religion according to the false saying? Especially the Arabs and Muslims of the neighbouring countries, have been closely tied up with Us from the time of the Prophet Mohammed, not only geographically, but also in blood relations, and other Arab nationalities are residing, widely scattered throughout the whole land in the cities, towns and the countryside, running large business and commercial enterprises with no restrictions for residence permits and passports like other aliens are doing in accordance with the law of Our country. Equal rights granted to foreigners and equally to all Ethiopians without any religious or racial discrimination is an outstanding example to prove the compatibility of the Ethiopian policy and administration. Would it be possible for foreign Muslims to migrate into Ethiopia in excessive number and live and assimilate here for three or four generations if the Government practised any religious discrimination against them? It is because of the long-standing friendship, dating back to the past several centuries, that they are permitted freely to lead their own society from generation to generation and that We never stopped the Muslims from transferring the wealth they acquired in Ethiopia with an ample opportunity not enjoyed in any other country, for the economic development of their respective governments.
It is probably due to the increase in the number of defaulting debtors that Our generosity has not been acknowledged.
The fact that Ethiopia’s kindness and goodwill has not been acknowledged by the beneficiaries led Us to mention all this and to make known at the same time Our ability to react to the full extent to any criticism not only to show how baseless is the propaganda on religious matters launched against Us, but to explain that the effect will be only harmful to its instigators.
It is not only through acceptance of foreign immigrants from neighbouring countries that Ethiopia has maintained good relationship with other nations, but also by respecting in good faith the diplomatic sentiments of these same countries. When international questions arise directly affecting her neighbours, Ethiopia cautiously takes her time before making any rash decisions. It must be realized that Ethiopia passes her own resolutions only after those countries affected have taken a deliberate consideration of the question. It is not out of fear that Ethiopia pays special attention to the resolutions freely passed by countries that claim to be bound by religious ties, but it is for the sake of maintaining the feeling of friendship and to respect the spirit of understanding. Furthermore, it is in realization of the fact that love, generosity and understanding are evidence of the administrative experience of any government.
As for development in the economic field, Eritrea has partaken in the progress so far achieved by the whole of Ethiopia. In the study of the development programme of the Empire, the economic problems of Eritrea have been considered with the other twelve parts of Ethiopia on equal footing. Lying as she does at our sea outlet, and since her agricultural potential cannot be developed as much as those of the other part of Ethiopia, Eritrea has, in fact, had a greater share with respect to water power, the construction of means of communication as well as industries and ports.
In the period of the last ten years which followed the re-union of Eritrea with the motherland, a total of more than $74,819,817 has been allotted to the general economic development of the area. This money has gone for work on the construction of roads, airport, the opening of air communications, schools, hospitals, clinics, as well as the training of nurses, the setting up of development projects, the building of churches and mosques. In addition, you all know that We have done everything possible to help by way of exempting you from taxes when locusts occasionally destroyed the harvest or when a general epidemic struck the territory.
Part of Ethiopia
As Eritrea is a part of Ethiopia, were it not for other reasons, it would have been unnecessary to make mention of what has especially been done for her. As long as God offers Us the opportunity to do so, it is Our wish to improve on it and help more. What led Us to talk on this is the false propaganda of certain detractors who talk as if nothing has been done for Eritrea.
We are concerned with the advancement of the people of Eritrea for the future as well. Since industrial progress and development works are linked with the culture, climatic conditions, sources of power and raw materials, no project will get underway before the necessary study is first made. In accordance with this, We have decided to set up a federally composed development committee. The committee, planned to start work shortly, will be entrusted with the task of studying the condition, needs and requirements of Eritrea with a view to working on projects best suited to solve existing problems and improve the standard of living of our people.
With the aim of speeding up agricultural development, We had earlier rather hastily dammed Zula. A further study was, however, found to be necessary. The result of the study, made by an American research bureau has now been received. It is for this reason that work on the dam has been delayed. On the basis of the study for the work remaining to be done before the dam reaches completion, it has been made known to Us that a further $19,000,000 would be required. Since it would take time to complete the dam with the amount of money allotted for the job, We have further been given to understand that it would be advisable for farmers to settle in the Zula valley while work is going on there. Since it has been found out to be a basic requirement to create an organization that would supervise the remaining work and see to it that the farmers settle in the place in question according to plan, We have decided to set up a department—to be administered by a special board—the Zula Valley Authority.
You have to understand much more that development programmes and administrative reforms can only be carried out when law and order is maintained in the area. When a certain outlaw takes to hiding as a result of his own criminal acts, foreign enemies and those among us who allowed themselves to be used as the tool of alien propaganda have, by attempting to make this appear as if it had any political aim, endangered the peace and the right of people to their property. We have realized how detrimental the effect of this has been on the country’s economy. The maintenance of a more adequate order in future is a matter of concern. We have passed orders to Lt. General Abbiye Abebe and Bitwoded Asfaha to see to it, as Brig-General Tedla Oukbit has done along with the Police, that the work is done.
We will pay the taxes, due for the last two years, of those people whose harvests have been destroyed by locusts.
We are doing this so that the Eritrean treasury may not face a deficit.
What We wish to remind not only the people of Eritrea but those of the entire Ethiopian Empire as well is the fact, that for countries such as ours that are not economically developed, poverty and ignorance are our common enemies. It is evident that any opposing force can only undermine our efforts with the support of these same two weaknesses. For this reason, the eradication of poverty and ignorance is a tested reason, of attaining meaningful independence free of economic and political dependence. The means of destroying poverty and ignorance are education and work. Mere talk is the instrument of the lazy and would not take us anywhere. The aim of those leaders that is based on ambition for power and personal gain is one with no firm foundation and will, consequently, crumble easily.
We would like to make it clear to you that, as We have already repeatedly pointed out, you should bear in mind that unity is the most lasting foundation for progress and development, as well as for greatness and freedom. To imagine our transitory existence here on earth to be permanent and not to make what we say correspond with what we feel and think is detrimental to a country and its people, and is something that could be considered as pushing ourselves into an unforeseen precipice.
The age we are living in is one in which the value of unity is being appreciated more than ever before. On our part, we have triumphed over the attempt that was made to divide us. A foreign hand is concerned about itself: it will not work for us. It is essential that we bear in mind the fact that at a time when we are exploring ways and means of forging unity with neighbouring countries, division among ourselves will not only be an obstacle but that it will also open the door to our enemies. May God the Almighty guide you in the carrying out of the heavy responsibility with which We have entrusted you.
June 27, 1962.
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May 17, 2017