The Autobiography of Emperor Haile Sellassie I - Volume 2



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:

to date, neither arms nor soldiers are available. Even Your Majesty's arrival today was not anticipated by anyone. To be sure, at my own initiative, I have organized a team that could assist in intelligence gathering. As a matter of fact, We have collected much information. In consultation with Your Majesty, we will organize everything in the future.

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, without having 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.

* * *

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:

Because of the invasion of my country by Italy... [it is] four years to the day since I left Ethiopia, [but] my faith never wavered that the time would come when my country would avenge the crimes inflicted on her. That time has come today. When Italy declared war on me and on the allied forces who were friendly to my country, she passed a death sentence on herself. By doing so, she granted my people the best opportunity to gain victory, retake Our country, and restore the right to reinstate Our sovereignty. I would like to state that We have now begun to take advantage of this opportunity... [and] We will struggle with all the unity We can command until injustice is eliminated, the triumph of truth asserted, and Ethiopia's independence once again proclaimed. When Italy invaded Our country, We... were totally unprepared for the type of war unleashed against Us. The few soldiers We had were ill-armed. They were also unequal to the task of resisting an enemy that was on the move in the air as well as on the ground. Yet, they fought admirably. Alas, it was only when Our heroic and brave soldiers could not resist the pressure of heavy weapons, that they were forced to flee to remote mountains and hills. Hence, it is absolutely impossible to use the result of the war between Italy and Ethiopia to measure Italy's ability to fight those countries whose military strength is either on an equal level or superior to hers. There is no doubt that she will start to feel that she is bound to lose the power she attained through her navy, army, air force and her economy; [and] by means of her war which brought death and destruction to Ethiopia and Ethiopians. Four years have elapsed since Italy overcame our strong resistance and established her repressive rule in Ethiopia. Yet, Our people have never ceased to struggle. In fact, there is still fighting between small armed Ethiopian units and the Italian armed forces. The country has not been defeated by Italy.

On my part, I want it to be noted that I have not abdicated my throne and that I have not forfeited my old coronation name. More than four years ago, I made a proclamation which goes as follows: 'If there is justice in this world, and I know there is, on the day that God in His good will and benevolence permits, I will sit on my throne once again'.

This is the day that God has willed.

The native peoples of Africa have never had the slightest doubt in their minds as to whom among the major powers are their good friends. By establishing colonies and by setting an example that has enabled her colonial subjects to live in peace with her own citizens within her great empire, Britain has created an inspiring record even to those of her neighbors who, by mere chance, happened to be free and sovereign. When We were forced to abandon Our beloved homeland for a short while, We went to Britain.... [As a] guest for some four years, I was able to have an intimate view of the good will and friendly attitude of the British people. We were welcomed with open arms by the people of that country whose proverbial hospitality to foreigners is very well known.

When Our country attains her lost independence and achieves her historic freedom and We return once again to administer Our free people, I will never forget this great deed.

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October 22, 2017