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Haile Selassie I - Testimonies

Pastor Oswald Hoffmann – “The Lutheran Hour” Radio Programme – 1968

“Your Imperial Majesty, it is a great honour to be permitted to speak with you today and also to have you as a guest on this special Christmas programme which will be broadcast to people all over the world.” (…)
“His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie The First ascended the throne of Ethiopia in November in the year 1930. Now, in the year 1968, Haile Selassie has been in the forefront in mediating the crisis in Biafra. Some of the intervening years have been stormy ones. But there are few Statesmen who can retrace a career of more resolute leadership in both internal and world affairs. Few can claim greater unbroken continuity with the past that nevertheless moves methodically into the twentieth century. At the same time, few have seen more anguish and defeat than Haile Selassie, of whom biographer Leonard Mosley has written in projected epitaph, ‘He shaped, rather than waited upon events’.
Just seven months after He became Emperor in 1930, He gave the people of Ethiopia their first written Constitution. His plea before the League of Nations in 1936 as His country was ravaged by Mussolini’s armies, and His anguished exile during the following years, are etched in the memory of the world. When He regained His throne in 1941, His refusal to allow retaliation against the defeated invader was viewed with disbelief.
On this day‘, He said, ‘I owe thanks unutterable by the mouth of man to the living God who has enabled me to be present among you. Today is the beginning of a new era in the history of Ethiopia. Since this is so, do not reward evil for evil…do not commit any act of cruelty like those which the enemy committed against us up to this present time‘.
When the United Nations Charter was drawn up after World War II His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie was one of its original drafters. In 1963, He established the Organization of African Unity, to encourage co-operation among African States and co-ordinate their efforts to build a better life for the people of all Africa.
Constitutional reforms in 1956 guaranteed all the rights of the people of Ethiopia, though the Emperor retains much personal power in governing His agricultural nation of 22 million people, all the time seeking to lead His nation toward a fully modern way of life.
At 76 years of age, His Imperial Majesty continues to work a twenty hour day, with three hours for sleep and one devoted to prayer. Emperor Haile Selassie and I talked about many things on that day during the rainy season.” (…)
“Your Imperial Majesty, as a figure of world importance and probably one of the best known man in the world today…
(…) “Your Imperial Majesty, You have done us great honour and also all the people who will listen to this broadcast by giving us the opportunity to speak with You this day. And all those who are listening should know that this conversation was held in the Imperial Palace at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie I, and we thank You and wish you God’s blessing in all the days to come.”
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Haile Selassie I - Testimonies

Nelson Mandela, Liberator of South Africa – 1994

Taken from his autobiography “The Long Walk to Freedom”, 1994:

“Ethiopia has always held a special place in my own imagination and the prospect of visiting Ethiopia attracted me more strongly than a trip to France, England, and America combined. I felt I would be visiting my own genesis, unearthing the roots of what made me an African. Meeting the emperor himself would be like shaking hands with history.” (…) 

“Suddenly we heard the distant music of a lone bugle and then the strains of a brass band accompanied by the steady beating of African drums. As the music came closer, I could hear — and feel — the rumbling of hundreds of marching feet. From behind a building at the edge of the square, an officer appeared brandishing a gleaming sword; at his heels marched five hundred black soldiers in rows four across, each carrying a polished rifle against his uniformed shoulder. When the troops had marched directly in front of the grandstand, an order rang out in Amharic, and the five hundred soldiers halted as one man, spun around, and executed a precise salute to an elderly man in a dazzling uniform, His Highness the Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, the Lion of Judah. 

Here, for the first time in my life, I was witnessing black soldiers commanded by black generals applauded by black leaders who were all guests of a black head of state. It was a heady moment. I only hoped it was a vision of what lay in the future for my own country.” (…) 

“The conference was officially opened by our host, His Imperial Majesty, who was dressed in an elaborate brocaded army uniform. I was surprised by how small the emperor appeared, but his dignity and confidence made him seem like the African giant that he was. It was the first time I had witnessed a head of state go through the formalities of his office, and I was fascinated. He stood perfectly straight, and inclined his head only slightly to indicate that he was listening. Dignity was the hallmark of all his actions.

 

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Haile Selassie I - Testimonies

S. Radhakrishnan, President of India – 1965

Addis Abeba, 10th of October 1965

“Your Imperial Majesty, Your Excellencies, and Distinguished Guests: it has been a source of great pleasure for me and the members of my party, to have been able to accept the kind invitation of His Imperial Majesty and be with you just now.

In our country and in many parts of the world, His Imperial Majesty is admired affectionately and treated as a great and good man. He has suffered for the people of Ethiopia. He led the people in the battlefield, and when calamity overtook them, he appealed to the conscience of the world. He pleaded with the League of Nations, suffered exile and came back to power, and since then he has been trying to modernise Ethiopia, to bring to it all the great benefits which modern industry, economic progress and modem reforms can offer to a people.

We have been greatly struck by the fact that though he is a devout Christian, he allows freedom of thought, expression and belief to the Muslims, to the Jews and others who inhabit this land. The calamities which intolerance brings, racial and religious, are to be seen in different parts of the world and are overcome only by the growth of tolerance and understanding, the spirit which His Imperial Majesty is showing in the administration of his country.”