Categories
Haile Selassie I - Anecdotes

Imperial Shooting

“Possibly you have read that when the Emperor goes out shooting the official who accompanies him always shoots first and misses while the Emperor then brings off the winning shot. This sort of anecdote though true enough in uninterpreted fact gives a very wrong impression. To begin with a second shot is often a good deal more difficult than a first – and Haile Selassie is admitted by all who know him to be a very fine shot indeed; while it is incorrect that the ceremonial – a very ancient prescription – is carried out whenever the Emperor shoots. A young Frenchman of my acquaintance, an almost miraculous shot, told me how some years ago he had the pleasure of a few hours informal shooting with the Emperor whom he paid the compliment of treating simply as a fellow sportsman and beating at the game – though by a very small margin.

‘When it was all over’, he said, ‘I watched for signs of sulkiness, or alternatively that glassy politeness which is even more indicative of the bad loser with whom the fault is inborn. I will swear that I saw no such sign. The Emperor was genuinely glad to have found an antagonist willing to meet him on equal terms and being beaten in a fair trial of skill perturbed him not in the least.’ “

(Taken from “”Haile Selassie Emperor of Ethiopia”, Princess Asfa Yilma, London 1936).
Categories
Haile Selassie I - Testimonies

Princess Asfa Yilma – 1936

THE EMPEROR’S SECRET
Haile Selassie rules because he knows the true foundation of a ruler’s strength. If ever there was a man who realised that knowledge is power he is that man. Desire for knowledge is the mainspring of his character. In saying this I speak from personal experience.
When he was in England in 1924 he received me in private when the diplomatic functions were over and quietly and shrewdly questioned me concerning everything in London which he had found difficult to understand. As I answered his questions I had a feeling that each fact was quietly seized upon and stored away for use at some future time. Nothing escaped him. His penetrating enquiries concerning the political situation would, I remember thinking, have astounded the various functionaries who had treated him with somewhat superior politeness and answered him with official caution, amounting usually to evasiveness. He was in Europe for many reasons, but above all to learn. (…)
‘You knew my father, did you not?’ #QHS asked the Emperor. I said that I had met Ras Makonnen, Governor of Harar, only on one occasion, but that I had always remembered his strength and charm. The Emperor smiled. ‘They thought well of him in London I am told?’ #QHS
It was a happiness to reply with truth that during my years in England I had several times heard from officials concerned with Ethiopian affairs how greatly the character and ability of the Emperor’s father had been respected.
As I spoke he said nothing, but I saw a look of resolution come into his eyes, determination that he would be worthy of his father.
Then picked up a volume from the table at his side.
Will you tell your cousin when next you see him that I value his dictionary’, he said. ‘It is a fine piece of work and the greatest assistance to us all’. #QHS
He was referring to my cousin, Charles Ambruster, British Consul at Gondar in Nothern Abyssinia who, having retired to Majorca, had compiled an Amharic dictionary, the first attempt at an exhaustive guide to that elusive language. I was glad to be able to assure him that my cousin was well.
‘There is still a monument to your father in Ethiopia’, said the Emperor, smiling. At first I did not understand. ‘The cannon which he cast for the Emperor Theodore. You know the story?’. #QHS
I had heard my father tell it many times.
‘I believe it was never fire?’
The Emperor’s smile grew wider.
‘No, it was never fired, Princess, but for a man who knew nothing of such things it was a wonderful achievement. We have yet to make another. That was sixty years ago and we have still no factories’. #QHS
‘You have not seen factories in England, your Highness?’
‘No, not yet’ #QHS
‘One part of England where there are many of them they call the Black Country’.
The ruler from the East was puzzled.
‘The smoke blackens everything. It hides the sky. Factories can be very terrible.’
The Emperor slowly nodded.
‘We shall not go too fast’, #QHS he said.
Seated in a high-backed chair, a pile of books and newspapers beside him, he takled alternately in French and Amharic, touching on many subjects. He did not pose. It was his air of simplicity that charmed me. London had excited him; he did not attempt to conceal it. That morning he had spent in a famous Knightsbridge store. ‘One day’, he said, ‘they shall open a branch in my capital’. He smiled as he spoke. ‘Wait’, he said, ‘I will show you what I have bought and how much they charged me. Then you shall tell me if I have done well.’ #QHS
Having spoken he raised his hands and clapped three times. At once a servant emerged from behind a curtain – and I realised even in London he had maintained the rules of his palace and always had assistance close at hand. The various lists were brought and I glanced through them. He had spent over one thousand pounds, buying with excellent judgment and with little of that love of the ornate and curious which eastern potentates so often display. I was able to tell him that the prices where reasonable, and he nodded agreement. ‘Yes’, he said, ‘they do not cheat you in trade, the English. I like London. Everything here is so …’ he paused in search of a word. ‘So firm’, he said at last. ‘Everything here is so firm’. #QHS
Almost at once he began to speak of labour troubles, of Socialism. Was there any chance of this, he asked ? Would it do harm ? He spoke without prejudice and as one well acquainted with Socialist theory though very skeptical as to its practical application. I answered as well as I was able, probably knew much more than I did. He saw that I was not likely to give useful answers and at once sought another topic.
He had been charmed by the Prince of Wales. One day that young man would rule a vast Empire. Would he be friendly to Ethiopia ?
I gave what assurance I felt able, wondering inwardly at that strange gift which had enabled the Prince of Wales to find in a brief interview and without the least effort a friendly footing with an Ethiopian Emperor.
‘I hope that he will visit me at Addis Ababa’, said the Emperor. ‘I will find good hunting for him. He shall see how our men can shoot and ride… And you must come too, Princess. You have stayed away too long…’ He looked at me reflectively. ‘ Don’t you find your husband very white?’ he asked. #QHS
It was a gentle, friendly question, and the Emperor smiled as he spoke; but I sensed the hint of reproof in the tone and felt the intense pride of race that was summed up in those simple words.
The Emperor renewed his invitation with the utmost cordiality. Then all at once he frowned. ‘Your husband was a soldier. They tell me he has fought in the East ?’. I said that this was so. ‘You must bring him out to me’, he said. ‘Our neighbours are becoming too … friendly. I fear we shall have trouble soon’. #QHS
The grave tone was prophetic. Then the Emperor was smiling again, telling me that the Empress wished very much to see me, that she had sent me her portrait, that she hoped my family were blessed by God’s mercy, that she would remember me in her prayers.”
Categories
Haile Selassie I - Laws and Government

Direct Petitions to the Emperor

By constitutional law (Art. 63 Revised Constitution) each ethiopian citizen had the right to present personal petitions directly to the Emperor.
The custom at that time was to personally hand a written document to the Emperor, as he was always visibile and reachable in his work throughout the Empire, and also willing to hear contributions or complains from His people, even from the lowest of His subjects, and to have personal physical contact with them.
A striking difference appears in comparison with Babylon politicians, well covered in dark impenetrable cars, fearing the people and the experience of poverty, without any connection with the world of human struggle they pretend to represent and defend.
Categories
Haile Selassie I - Teachings

Respect the Treaties

“In 1924, I have talked for a long time with Mussolini: we have talked for 4 hours in his office. He assured me that he had no intention to harm Ethiopia, and when he told me this, I asked: Why, for which reason you are sure to not harm Ethiopia?. He assured me, answering: Because it’s going so well, we are good friends, we have made treaties, all this. At that time, I told him that Napoleon had said the treaty is a paper, then I told him we should not follow that, the treaty is a treaty, we must respect it”.

H.I.M. Haile Selassie I
“Une journée avec le Roi de Rois” –
French Documentary 1972