“The history of modern Ethiopia is being compiled by the activities and events that take place each day in the nation’s supreme and sustained drive for progress in all fields. As Head of State, the prime mover and the driving force in this drama, the public utterances of His Imperial Majesty are, in many respects, a mirror of these activities and or the events that determine the course and tempo of Ethiopia’s development.
On the 75th Anniversary of his birth, it seems proper and fitting to record some of the most important of these utterances made on the many occasions that merited public statements from His Majesty the Emperor during his lengthy, brilliant and devoted service to his country and people.
It is impossible to include all of the Emperor’s pronouncements in one volume. It is hoped, however, that through those reproduced herein, the reader will get a fair picture of His Majesty’s thoughts and ideas that have provided the centrifugal force of his thirty-seven years as Head of State and of the preceding years of, his early appearance on the scene as national leader of Ethiopia.
These speeches, some of them excerpted, in the variety of occasions for which they were intended, as well as in the many subjects on which they deal, portray the breadth of the Emperor’s vision. They detail the persistence, the determination and the unflagging drive with which he pursued the application of “modern Ethiopianism” to which history cannot fail to testify.
The Emperor’s idealism, coupled with his insistence on transforming his country, both on the domestic and international fronts, his courage in the face of adversity, his unchallenged perspicacity, his keen sense in evaluating world events, his unfailing respect for principles, and his abiding faith in humanity – aspects of all of which are found in his public utterances – should make this volume a ready-reference to certain phases of the history of modern Ethiopia.
As the central figure in the renaissance of the nation after its five years of trials in the late I930s, His Imperial Majesty’s vital and indispensable leadership has played a distinctive and decisive role. His appearance before the League of Nations and his impassioned plea for justice for Ethiopia and all small nations and for international morality still remain a classic example both of the breadth of his vision and of a profound comprehension of the foibles of international life. Subsequently, despite the failure of the League of Nations to live up to its covenant and the gruelling distress that both the Emperor and his country suffered as a result, Ethiopia, under his leadership, was among the first nations which, at San Francisco in 1945, built the United Nations on the ashes of its predecessor, the defunct League of Nations.
In these pages will be found expressions of the spirit and the faith that animated the Emperor in this lofty role in international politics.
His primary motivation – that of raising the standard of living of the Ethiopian people and restoring the ancient stature and glory of his nation – runs through the theme of the majority of his public utterances. In them can be clearly seen the inseparable impulse of his whole career. This dedication was amply exposed as he spoke to his people and the world in the speeches contained in this book.
Although an ardent reformer, Emperor Haile Selassie is no iconoclast. Thus, he has advanced the policy of ‘modern Ethiopianism’ a philosophy which he has put into practice from the earliest years of his public career. The Emperor, addressing the nation on the 24th Anniversary of Ethiopia’s victory over aggression, said: ‘Ethiopia is an ancient land and her civilization is the result of the harmonious alchemy of the past and the present and upon which we confidently build for the future. This heritage is the bed-rock of modern Ethiopia. In it the people have chosen to distil from the past that which is useful and enduring, to adapt those worth-while attributes of our present-day world and to fashion this modern Ethiopianism – the foundation of our social order that has served so admirably the purpose of the nation’s steady advance’.
An absorbing interest in youth has characterized the Emperor’s entire public career; and is infinitely more than just a formal, enlightened paternalism. It is grounded in the fact, so frequently expressed by him, that his Ethiopia is built around the future. Haile Selassie I will go down in history as a leader whose concern for posterity has been both avid and constant. He has always kept close to the people and in particular to the nation’s youth in whom, as the speeches herein illustrate, he places immeasurable faith and confidence.
His Imperial Majesty’s constructive influence has been particularly effective in Africa’s political emancipation. Recalling the days when Africa was a sea of colonialism to the emergence of the Organization of African Unity, Haile Selassie I has been both a symbol and a pillar of strength to Africa as its people fought progressively for their ultimate liberation from colonialism. Today he still stands four-square behind the cause of the complete freedom of the continent in which Ethiopia is the oldest sovereign state.
His Imperial Majesty’s faith in divine providence is a built-in factor in his personal armory. Institutionally, he is ‘Defender of the Faith’, and history will most certainly assess his era as the one in which the Ethiopian Church succeeded in, winning its independence and autonomy after centuries of tutelage under the Alexandrian Patriachate. In times, good or bad, the Emperor’s abiding faith in the Almighty seems to have been both harbinger and fortress, it being rare for him to make any public utterance without calling on divine guidance and acknowledging publicly his thanks for God’s beneficence.”