Selected Speeches Of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I
TO VISITING U. S. EDITORS
It is a great pleasure for Us to receive this large delegation of American journalists. We take your visit as a manifestation of interest in the challenge which Africa has so long presented to the world, a challenge to respect for the principles of freedom, of international Law, non-intervention, mutual respect and progress, a challenge, also, that for too many decades had gone unheard. For years, as Sovereign of one of the oldest and very few independent States on this Continent, We had been called by historic events to press forward, at times quite alone, in defence of those principles. We, therefore, take your presence here today as an evidence of the encouragement which is now flowing in from all quarters of the world to those who have fought and who are continuing to fight for those ideals and principles.
Freedom, in Africa, as the history of Our Reign, We believe, demonstrates, signifies an implacable and unceasing struggle against colonialism. Within Our lifetime, Ethiopia has twice been called upon to defend her age-old independence against invasion. The victory of Adowa merely gave her a respite, during which time imperialist forces built up their plans and strength to attack us once again. As before at Adowa in 1896, so Ethiopia in 1935, under Our leadership, waged without assistance an implacable struggle against superior forces. Many were the occasions before and during the years of lonely vigil abroad, when imperialist interests sought to bring Us and Our people to abjure and abandon Our high cause. They did not even hesitate to utilize neighbouring brothers and territories, like Somaliland, as bases for assaults upon our independence, although many of those brothers fought on our side against imperialism. We and Our people rejected these attempts and so, at a critical stage of world history, helped defend the cause of the freedom of Africa.
However, even upon vindicating our freedom, the struggle had not yet been won. Vested interests persisted in opposing the return to Ethiopia of lands and population torn off by colonialist aggression, as well as her access to the sea. Today, in this region, as elsewhere in Africa, these interests seek through “Balkanization” to consolidate their positions in the face of coalescence of national forces.
Nevertheless, with the victory, and although much remained to be accomplished, We turned Our efforts towards advancing the cause of freedom of others on this Continent. We felt it important that Our brothers in Africa should attain to freedom and independence without the cruel sacrifices and sufferings We had known. However, the proffering of this assistance to others was beset with many difficulties. At the end of the War, as indeed, for decades before the War, Ethiopia was still totally surrounded, even cut off from the sea, by colonial territories. Colonialist interests had thus built a barrier to separate us from the rest of Africa. Notwithstanding these obstacles, we contributed, as we are today contributing, to the movement for the liberation of all African peoples. For years, therefore, We brought Our efforts to bear at the United Nations and elsewhere, to bring the nations of the world to the realization that colonialism is no longer possible on the Continent of Africa.
Thus, alone in 1896, alone in 1925, alone in 1935 and alone at Geneva in 1936, Ethiopia fought for those principles of freedom, independence, territorial integrity, non-intervention and collective security that have become today the implicit precepts upon which the United Nations are based and which, through that struggle, have so substantially contributed to the achievement of independence and the end of colonialism in Africa. Years ago, We took the lead in pressing by active measures, for the freedom and independence of those States who today are honoured Members of the United Nations.
Since political freedom cannot be assured without economic independence, this struggle has been a long and, at times, a bitter one. The economic obstacles are formidable, to say nothing of the political opposition which those economic obstacles in fact support. The opposition would divide the countries of Africa, profiting by their present vulnerable economic postures, in order to promote political aims.
We are confident that, by concerting among themselves, the people of Africa will be able to build an enduring community linked by solid economic as well as political bonds. However, it is important that the opportunities for consultation be expanded to a maximum. For this reason, Ethiopia has been a staunch supporter of every conference of Independent Africa States. We feel that by consultation and co-operation between independent States, the clarity and force of the ideals or of freedom can best be preserved. Addis Ababa has thus been the scene of many conferences of African countries, and, in June of this year, the second Conference of Independent African States will meet in Our Capital, to be followed by a series of other African meetings.
Moreover, during the last few years, We have personally travelled to your great country, to Europe, to the Far East, and to the Middle East, in order to press the cause of freedom in Africa. Now We are engaged in a series of visits to the independent countries of Africa so as to assist in strengthening the bases of collaboration which are so necessary for the attainment of those objectives.
In concerting our efforts, we must, at the same time, be prepared to pool our energies and resources and to contribute to the establishment of an African programme of mutual aid. For example, the independent African States have the obligation to open their educational institutions to students from all African countries. We have, to this end, already provided no less than 250 scholarships. It is hoped that Our University at Addis Ababa may play an ever-more important role in this great African endeavour. Here is a field where disinterested foreign contributions would be of inestimable value in drawing closer together peoples of distant Continents.
Similarly, it is essential that capital resources be available to permit that industrial development which is so essential to the maintenance of political and economic independence. It is a fact that too many agricultural countries today fail to perceive that a measure of industrial development and an industrial structure constitute a necessary safeguard of economic autonomy and, consequently, of political independence. We firmly believe that foreign capital and skills can, without compromising political or economic independence—on the contrary, by supporting them, make a profound contribution to the progress and welfare of African peoples. In this situation, the greatest industrial Power today should be alert to augment the measure of its investments in the African economies.
It is to be hoped that, with greater knowledge of African affairs which your visit to this Continent will certainly bring about, and with a more penetrating comprehension of the motive and ideals which are inspiring all Africans today, it may prove possible to open a new era of material as well as political and spiritual progress for the good of mankind.
March 14, 1960.
Electronic edition created and published online by members of the
October 18, 2017