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Ethiopia in Western Culture

Herodotus – Histories

Herodotus is commonly considered the father of Western historiography, and certainly one of the oldest historians of mankind. In his works, of course, the nobility of the Ethiopians could not be ignored.

In the Third Book of his “Histories”, Herodotus describes the expansionist desires of King Cambyses of Persia, and his vain attempt to conquer Ethiopia.

“After this Cambyses planned three expeditions, against the Carchedonians,​ and against the Ammonians, and against the ‘long-lived’​ Ethiopians, who dwelt on the Libyan coast of the southern sea. Taking counsel, he resolved to send his fleet against the Carchedonians and a part of his land army against the Ammonians; to Ethiopia he would send first spies, to see what truth there were in the story of a Table of the Sun in that country, and to spy out all else besides, under the pretext of bearing gifts for the Ethiopian king.” (Chapter 17)

In chapter 20 Herodotus teaches the superiority of Ethiopian people over any other:

οἱ δὲ Αἰθίοπες οὗτοι, ἐς τοὺς ἀποπέμπει ὁ Καμβύσης, λέγονται εἶναι μέγιστοι καὶ κάλλιστοι ἀνθρώπων πάντων.

“The Ethiopians to whom this embassy was sent by Cambyses, are said to be the biggest and handsomest men in the whole world.”

Herodotus speaks also about the peculiar and unique character of Ethiopian customs and culture:

“In their customs they differ greatly from the rest of mankind, and particularly in the way they choose their kings; for they find out the man who is the biggest of all the citizens, and of strength equal to his size, and appoint him to rule over them.”

In chapter XXI Herodotus also describes the nobility of Ethiopians and their King, and their disinterest in wars of aggression and conquest of other people’s territories:

“The Icthyophagi on reaching this people, delivered the gifts to the king of the country, and spoke as follows: ‘Cambyses, king of the Persians, anxious to become thy ally and sworn friend, has sent us to hold converse with thee, and to bear thee the gifts thou seest, which are the things wherein he himself delights the most’. Hereon the Ethiopian, who knew they came as spies, made answer: ‘The king of the Persians sent you not with these gifts because he much desired to become my sworn friend- nor is the account which ye give of yourselves true, for ye are come to search out my kingdom. Also your king is not a just man- for were he so, he had not coveted a land which is not his own, nor brought slavery on a people who never did him any wrong. Bear him this bow, and say: <<The king of the Ethiopians thus advises the king of the Persians when the Persians can pull a bow of this strength thus easily, then let him come with an army of superior strength against the long-lived Ethiopians >>, till then, let him thank the gods that they have not put it into the heart of the sons of the Ethiopians to covet countries which do not belong to them’.”

In chapter 22 another superiority of the Ethiopians is also highlighted, longevity, as they were called “long-lived”. The King of Ethiopia asked “what the Persian king was wont to eat, and to what age the longest-lived of the Persians had been known to attain. They told him that the king ate bread, and described the nature of wheat- adding that eighty years was the longest term of man’s life among the Persians. Hereat the Ethiopian remarked, ‘It does not surprise me, if they fed on dirt, that they die so soon’.”

In chapter 23 the King explains the diet of Ethiopians and relate their long life to a special Ethiopian fountain where they washed, i.e. the River of Eden and the famous “Fountain of Eternal Youth”, that we can find in other books of classic literature:

“The Icthyophagi then in their turn questioned the king concerning the term of life, and diet of his people, and were told that most of them lived to be a 120 years old, while some even went beyond that age- they ate boiled flesh, and had for their drink nothing but milk. When the Icthyophagi showed wonder at the number of the years, he led them to a fountain, wherein when they had washed, they found their flesh all glossy and sleek, as if they had bathed in oil- and a scent came from the spring like that of violets. The water was so weak, they said, that nothing would float in it, neither wood, nor any lighter substance, but all went to the bottom. If the account of this fountain be true, it would be their constant use of the water from it which makes them so long-lived.”

The wealth of the Ethiopian Kingdom was so special that “when they quitted the fountain the king led them to a prison, where the prisoners were all of them bound with fetters of gold.”

According to chapter 25, irritated by the words of the Ethiopian King, Cambyses decided to march against him, towards the heavenly extremities of the earth:

“When the spies had now seen everything, they returned back to Egypt, and made report to Cambyses, who was stirred to anger by their words. Forthwith he set out on his march against the Ethiopians without having made any provision for the sustenance of his army, or reflected that he was about to wage war in the uttermost parts of the earth.”

But the military expedition was a curse in itself, and failed much before having reached that land, spreading death and disaster among the Persian army:

“Before, however, he had accomplished one-fifth part of the distance, all that the army had in the way of provisions failed; whereupon the men began to eat the sumpter beasts, which shortly failed also. If then, at this time, Cambyses, seeing what was happening, had confessed himself in the wrong, and led his army back, he would have done the wisest thing that he could after the mistake made at the outset; but as it was, he took no manner of heed, but continued to march forwards. So long as the earth gave them anything, the soldiers sustained life by eating the grass and herbs; but when they came to the bare sand, a portion of them were guilty of a horrid deed: by tens they cast lots for a man, who was slain to be the food of the others. When Cambyses heard of these doings, alarmed at such cannibalism, he gave up his attack on Ethiopia, and retreating by the way he had come, reached Thebes, after he had lost vast numbers of his soldiers. From Thebes he marched down to Memphis, where he dismissed the Greeks, allowing them to sail home. And so ended the expedition against Ethiopia.”

This confirms thus the ancient fame of political independence and invincible freedom of the Ethiopians, coming out their divine righteousness.

 

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Haile Selassie I - Testimonies

Il Popolo d’Italia, Newspaper Founded by B.Mussolini – November 1930

“Popolo D’Italia”, Italian Newspaper founded by Benito Mussolini
4th of November 1930
TAFARI MAKONNEN CROWNED EMPEROR
The festive cerimony in the Ethiopian capital city.
With most sumptuous solemnity the Emperor Haile Selassie I has been crowned yesterday morning, by the envoy of the Patriarch of Alexandria, Emperor and King of Kings of Ethiopia. The cerimony had a grandeur that surpasses any imagination, and that has reunited in one splendid frame the lavish ancient magnificence perpetuated by the tradition, and the new aspects that our time and the contacts with our world start to impress on these ancient feudal and warrior people. (…)
In the sky, six airplanes fly: one of them is a gift of the Italian government to the Emperor, its pilot is captain Marazzini. The cannons fire the last blanks for the glory of the King of Kings, so joyfully ascended to the throne of Salomon’s descent.
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Haile Selassie I - Teachings

Interview with “Le Journal” of Paris, July 1936

P. Lecler, Le Journal (Paris, France), 3rd of July 1936
The Emperor of Ethiopia granted me an interview of a great hour, in the small living room of his apartment at Carleton hotel, in Geneva.
How sad and discouraged he seemed to me after the quarrel he caused during Tuesday’s session. It seemed evident to me that he had just burned his last cartridges and that he realized the vanity of the last efforts he had just made to induce the League of Nations to bring belated support to his country.
His lips emitted words full of courage, but the deep sadness on his face and his look of weariness belied his words.
His usual black attire seemed to have taken on a striking significance; he discussed at length the possibility of his return to Ethiopia – probably to Gorè – in case the League of Nations would answer his call. But he has been forced to accept the possibility of a definitive failure which would mean perpetual exile for him.
‘I have done the impossible’, he said sadly, ‘to present my case after many delays from an angle which should decide the League of Nations to keep its commitments. I still want to believe in the active sympathy of the English people and that of other nations, but it is diplomatic chicanery that makes the exercise of justice difficult. I will remain in Geneva until the end of this conference, and, if the question is adjourned, I will return in September to present my defense again’.
‘And where do you plan to reside in the meantime ? In Geneva ?’
‘You know the Swiss do not want’
When I asked him if it was true that he had requested permission to stay in the country, he replied, as if moved by some vestige of his past pride: ‘It is not my habit to impose my presence to anyone’
Haile Selassie will prefer to return to England, and try to raise the necessary funds there to return to Ethiopia and resume a defensive action.
‘I have just received a letter from Ras Imru who is in Goré and which confirms to me that he is in the process of bringing together all our forces in this region, but that we are lacking in armaments. The Italians have spread this legend that we no longer have any government in the West, because the Gallas are not our friends. Yet almost the entire population of Addis Ababa was Galla. I will be welcome in Goré as in any other region of our country, because otherwise it would have been impossible for me to organize the energetic defense of Ethiopia until the time when we were defeated by Italian gases.
‘Do you plan to return back to Ethiopia, no matter what ?’
Yes, if the League of Nations acts, or if I can collect the funds necessary to our defence. Otherwise it would be futile to try to continue the struggle.’
The question was then asked, whether such activities in England would not be considered an anti-Italian campaign, contrary to the conditions under which the Emperor was allowed to stay in Britain.
No conditions were imposed on me. Certainly, I am anti-Italian, it is impossible for me to deny it.’
A well-informed personality, who saw the letter sent to the Emperor in Palestine before he embarked for England, assured me that it specified, in terms which required no reply, that the English wanted the Emperor abstained from all military activity, as long as he was in the country.
I pointed out to the Emperor that he had lost a lot of weight since I had seen him in Ethiopia. He smiled sadly and said, ‘I have hardly slept since I left Ethiopia’.
‘Is it the loss of your empire or your current situation that obsesses you?’
The answer came shortly after.
‘It is completely indifferent to me to be emperor or not. I would be perfectly content to be just a simple citizen. But the sufferings of my people haunt me. I know what happened in Tripoli, and I have doubts about the current lot of my unfortunate subjects. It is only for them that I continue the fight, for them and for the triumph of justice.’
‘And if all your efforts will be vain at the end, what will you do ?’
‘What can I do? I will eat my heart out in exile’
‘Where do you plan to retire?’
I did not want to think about it yet. Maybe in England, maybe in Jerusalem; it will no longer matter if there is no more hope’.
‘But what do you plan to do after that active life that I have seen you doing in Ethiopia ? Do you plan to write, to give lectures ? Maybe you will go to America?’
‘Maybe I’ll give lectures later. I have, in fact, received offers to go to America. But how could this be useful to Ethiopia? If all is lost, how can anything I do matter’.
‘And your sons?’
‘The youngest will in any case remain in England. I want them to study there. The oldest will accompany me wherever I go.’
‘I suppose that your bitterness must be deep…’
‘I have no rancour, nothing but sadness. I repeat, if Ethiopia sinks, the League of Nations and civilization itself will sink with her.’
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Haile Selassie I - Testimonies

U.S. President L.B. Johnson – 1967

White House, Washington, U.S.A.
February 14, 1967
Your Imperial Majesty, Mr. Vice President, Mr. Chief Justice, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:
It is a high privilege tonight to honor one of this century’s most courageous, farsighted, and respected statesmen, who has earned an indelible place in the hearts of men everywhere.
Monarch of the oldest Christian kingdom and an ancient civilization, you, Your Majesty, personify to us the eternal spirit of devotion to freedom and independence of your Ethiopian people.
The essence of the Ethiopian character was put in your stirring words many years ago: “With God’s help, we have always stood proud and free upon our native mountains.”
It is difficult for me to express to you tonight the very special place that you occupy in our tradition.
Indeed, in the tradition of all mankind.
Many of us in this room tonight recall the night of June 28, 1936, when the Emperor of Ethiopia made a plea to the League of Nations.
A plea for his suffering people which was also a very moving appeal to the conscience of humanity.
Your Majesty’s final question to the League has echoed down the years with prophetic impact:
“I ask the 52 nations who have given the Ethiopian people a promise to help them in their resistance to the aggressor, what are they willing to do for Ethiopia?
“And the great powers who have .promised the guarantee of collective security to small states on whom weighs the threat that they may one day suffer the fate of Ethiopia, I ask, what measures do you intend to take?
“Representatives of the world, I have come to Geneva to discharge in your midst the most painful of the duties of the head of a state.
“What reply shall I have to take back to my people?”
We all know–to. our shame–the reply Your Majesty received.
The betrayal of Ethiopia was in truth the turning point on the road to aggression and war.
Its lesson has been etched into our memory and has spurred us in building a world where solid commitments to resist oppression are no longer just scraps of paper.
Your Majesty, we also recall with great pleasure your triumphant return to Addis Ababa. And your remarkable reconstruction of your nation as you put into action your long-held and long-frustrated ideals of modernization:
–building schools, a fine university, hospitals, dams, airports, factories;
–turning Addis Ababa into a dynamic, beautiful, modern city;
–proclaiming a revised constitution and legal system;
–training young Ethiopians for the tasks of the future in the 20th century. Your Majesty has not confined your concern just to your people.
We have all witnessed and can testify to with admiration your striking performance as a leader of Africa’s many and diverse peoples–and as a mediator in potentially explosive confrontations between various African states.
The Organization of African Unity-which your initiative in 1963 was instrumental in creating–is one of the most hopeful institutions in the movement towards peace, reason, and unity in the great Continent of Africa.
It has always been a unique privilege and pleasure for me to have an opportunity to exchange views on international affairs with one whom I consider to be one of the world’s greatest eider statesmen.
Today, as in 1963 when we last talked, we had an immediate sense of the great mutual understanding and respect that our people entertain for each other.
Your Majesty, we treasure deeply this relationship. It is my genuine and most earnest hope that succeeding generations of our peoples will continue to reinforce the solid edifice of American-Ethiopian amity and understanding.
On this happy occasion, here tonight in the first house of this land, Mrs. Johnson and I, on behalf of our distinguished guests, all of those who are privileged to come here and be together tonight, and certainly on behalf of all of the American people, propose a toast to Your Majesty–respected statesman, peacemaker in the world, and most honored and trusted friend.
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Haile Selassie I - Testimonies Italo-Ethiopian War

The Chicago Defender – March 2 1935

News that the first contingent of Italian soldiers have arrived in Eritrea, on the eastern front of Ethiopia, does not give Emperor Haile Selassie the slightest worry, it was indicated here this week.

‘We have done all a nation can do to preserve peace, but will not humiliate ourselves for Italy or any other country. We have appealed to no country for aid or for sympathy. We are fully aware that many nations desire the privilege of exploiting our mineral resources, therefore, are not misled by the pretenses they make to find an excuse for invading our country. But once the invasion starts, the worry will be theirs, not ours’. #QHS

(…) The Emperor of Ethiopia is not only a keen student of military tactics, but is a diplomat as well. Educated in France and England, he has absorbed much of the suavity of those countries along with the military astuteness of the former. Besides running his country ably, Haile Selassie is an accomplished journalst, and edits the country’s only newspaper along with the assistance of the Empress, who, besides being a model, modern mother in every sense of the word, is a typist and a shorthand expert”.

 

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Haile Selassie I - Teachings Haile Selassie I - Video

From “The Lion and the Cross” – 1963 US Documentary

INTERVIEWER: “Your Majesty, what in your opinion are Ethiopia’s greatest needs?”
HIM: “We have already begun the program most essential for Ethiopia, that is to raise the standard of living of her people through education and better health. These would be the primary objectives. The remaining needs will not be forgotten and will also be taken care of.”
INTERVIEWER: “Your Majesty has taken a personal interest and a personal hand almost in every phase of life in Ethiopia, but does Your Majesty not sometimes grow weary, and perhaps feel that this all too much work for one man”.
HIM: “This is really not significant. One individual naturally cannot shoulder the responsibility of a whole nation. We have already told this to our ministers and government officials. Our main objective in the administration of the affairs of 22 million people is that all should cooperate and share responsibility. This has always been our program and will continue to be our program. Our wish is to serve our country as an Ethiopian. It is our conviction that the administration of the country should not depend on one person, but is rather the concern of all, each in his own way must help his country.”
INTERVIEWER: “What does Your Majesty learn from the attempted coup d’etat?”
HIM: “You can say that they have learned from us, those who attempted the coup d’etat. There is nothing that we have learned from them. If you examine their demands you will find we have already started these reforms. We would have been delighted to learn something new from them.”
INTERVIEWER: “Does Your Majesty see Ethiopia emerging as a leader or perhaps even the leader of Africa ?”
HIM: “Ethiopia does not have any intention of being the leader of Africa as such. It hopes to live harmoniously with all its African sister countries. How long did the american confederation take to become united ? I believe you even fought a war about it.”
INTERVIEWER: “Would Your Majesty care to say a few words in english” ?
HIM: “My English is very poor. The most critical issue that has felt (?) the world in recent times was the Cuba-US conflict. The statemanship and wisdom of Prime Minister Khrushchev has greatly helped to ease the situation. We’d like to take the opportunity to congratulate both President Kennedy and President Premier Khrushchev as well as Secretary General U Thant.”
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Haile Selassie I - Teachings Italo-Ethiopian War

Ethiopia the Last Citadel of Collective Security – 1936

“Do the peoples of the world not yet realize that by fighting on until the bitter end I am not only performing my sacred duty to my people but standing guard in the last citadel of collective security ? Are they too blind to see that I have responsibilities to the whole of humanity to face ? I must still hold on until my tardy allies appear. And if they never come, then I say prophetically and without bitterness the west will perish.” #QHS
April 1936
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Haile Selassie I - Testimonies

A.Morrison, “Ebony” Magazine, Chicago USA – 1963

Ebony, U.S. Magazine
Chicago, December 1963
“Emperor Haile, standing in New York hotel suit where he granted exclusive interview, is also called King of Kings, Conquering Lion of Judah, Elect of God and Defender of the Faith. A newsman who met the Emperor in Africa once observed: ‘When he turns those eyes on you, you get a funny feeling like you were going to melt’.”
(…)
“If there is such a thing as a ‘kingly air’, the Emperor has it”, observed an important U.S. State Department official who accompanied the five-foot-four monarch on his eight-day U.S. visit”
(…)
“On a cool October morning, Emperor Haile Selassie fulfilled in part the biblical prophecy that Ethiopia shall one day ‘stretch forth its hand…’. On that occasion, the little man who for one dramatic hour in 1936 became the conscience of the world, extended the hand of brotherhood to 20 million Americans of African descent, urging them to have faith in their future as free men and to press on with their current struggle for freedom until it is won. He also urged American Negroes to recognize their stake in Africa’s fight against colonialism.
The Emperor’s eight-day state visit (his second) to the United States stirred images that still lingered after 27 years, images of a bewhiskered monarch astride a white stallion leading barefooted Ethiopians against the invading Italian army. Ethiopian spears dueling Italian machine guns. Rocks challenging aerial bombs. Flaming patriotism versus poison gas. And Emperor Haile Selassie pleading to the League of Nations for aid and accurately predicting that Ethiopia’s fall would be a bell tolling the death of the League.
The events of 1935-36 haunted Emperor Selassie during his visit to Philadelphia, Washington and New York, flitting in and out of his talks with President Kennedy and other Americans. (…)
This was my second meeting with the legendary King of Kings. The first confrontation had taken place in 1961 in the richly-ornamented study of his gilded palace in Addis Ababa. (…)
My second meeting was more brief. Emperor Selassie displayed a remarkable composure under rapid-fire questioning and was prepared to continue the interview indefinitely if his schedule had permitted. He apologized for closing the interview, explaining that New York City had arranged a ticker tape welcoming for him and he ought to be there for it. (…)
“Emperor Selassie is the 225th head of the world’s oldest independent state, a 3000-year-old nation that, as one observer put it, ’emerged when England and France were unconceived and the United States inconceivable’. But while contemplating his nation’s extended past, the 72-year-old monarch does not lost sight of the present.”
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Haile Selassie I - Teachings

His Majesty’s Message to the American “Negro”

“We can never forget the help Ethiopia received from Negro Americans during the terrible crisis of 1935.
American Negroes showed great sympathy for our cause and extended the hand of brotherhood to us. This was our great hour of need. It moved me to know that Americans of African descent did not abandon their embattled brothers, but stood by us. The ties that bind Ethiopians to Negro Americans are historic and strong. I hope that these ties will persist and will be strengthened to our mutual advantage.
We follow with the greatest interest the struggle of the colored people of the United States to achieve equal rights and human dignity and we continue to follow the progress of that struggle with intense pain and pleasure.
Pain because colored people in America experience inequality and persecution, pleasure because of the efforts now being made in the United States by Negroes themselves and by the government to restore the freedom, rights and privileges to the colored people which have so long been denied them. We hope for and will continue to work for the speedy and satisfactory solution of the racial problem in the United States. We want our colored brothers in America to know that we are with them in their great struggle for justice.
We in Africa desire success in this struggle. I personally reaffirm our basic unity of purpose. What we Africans and colored Americans seek is identical. We both desire dignity and freedom and an end to oppression and discrimination based on color.
Discrimination violates fundamental human rights, it violates the laws of God and also the laws of man. I cannot emphasize too strongly the importance this problem of racial discrimination has in my mind. I believe both the Eastern countries and the Western countries will have to collaborate to remove this problem which is the scourge of mankind.
I am pleased to note that President Kennedy and his government are making great efforts to solve the racial problem.
We would like to see more colored Americans come to Ethiopia to work and help our people develop our country and improve the standards of living of our population. They can render valuable assistance. Our doors are open. Unfortunately, few Negroes have come so far, but they will be warmly welcomed.” #QHS
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Ge'ez ግእዝ Mysteries

Study Orthodox Faith through the Holy Language

“From those times to this, various books both of spiritual and material profit have periodically been compiled and written in Ge’ez. We remember with deep gratitude those fathers of old who, as time and opportunity allowed, worked with much care and labour and have left us books for the preservation of the Faith and for the increase of learning and knowledge.” #QHS
Ge’ez Books are to preserve the Faith. You nurtured yourself with enough english theology, now it’s time for all those seriously engaged in such studies to get the Original Source.