From ‘The House of David’
‘Emperor of Ethiopia’
Gregory V. Boulware
“A qualified man with vision, unmoved by daily selfish interests, will be led to right decisions by his conscience. In general, a man who knows from whence he comes and where he is going will co-operate with his fellow human beings. He will not be satisfied with merely doing his ordinary duties but will inspire others by his good example. You are being watched by the nation and you should realize that you will satisfy it if you do good; but if, on the contrary, you do evil, it will lose its hope and its confidence in you.
…Although the toils of wise people may earn them respect, it is a fact of life that the spirit of the wicked continues to cast its shadow on this world. The arrogant are seen visibly leading their people into crime and destruction. The laws of the League of Nations are constantly violated and wars and acts of aggression repeatedly take place… So that the spirit of the cursed will not gain predominance over the human race whom Christ redeemed with his blood, all peace-loving people should cooperate to stand firm in order to preserve and promote lawfulness and peace.”
~ Lij Teferi Makonnen, a.k.a., Haille Sellassie~
To Ethiopians, Haile Selassie has been known by many names, including Janhoy, Talaqu Meri, and Abba Tekel. The Rastafari movement employs many of these appellations, also referring to him as Jah, Jah Rastafari, and HIM (the abbreviation of “His Imperial Majesty”).
Liji Teferi Makonnen was born on July 23, 1892, in Harar, a cosmopolitan market center and capital of one of Ethiopia’s most important provinces. His father, Ras Makonnen of Shawa, besides being governor Harar Province, was first cousin to and a close advisor of the great Ethiopian Emperor, Menelik II, 1889-1913. Through his father, Tafari was said to be a direct descendent of ‘King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba,’ an important claim to a kingdom where Christianity was the official state religion. His mother Woizero (“Lady”) Yeshimebet Ali Abba Jifar; was entirely of Ethiopia’s elite “Amharie stock.” This fact perhaps played a role in influencing the future emperor’s relatively benevolent policies toward some of Ethiopia’s minority groups.
Disregarding its 1928 20-year treaty of friendship with Ethiopia, Benito Mussolini launched a full sea invasion of Ethiopia in 1935. The superior technology of the industrialized western states, which included poisonous gas, along with their air planes and tanks overwhelmed the heroic resistance of the Ethiopian Army. Against his better judgment, Haile Sellassie personally led the Ethiopian Army in the field and was defeated at ‘Maichew’ in March 1936. Because the country of Ethiopia held membership in the League of Nations, the Emperor in an emotionally powerful speech begged the League of Nations for help. He was told by the British Ambassador, the only one who would meet with him; that “No Life of a Black Man is worth the blood of a white!” Sellassie warned that, “God and History will remember Your Judgment.”
This would be the start of a World War.
The emperor arrives in Jerusalem. May 1936:
After further debate as to whether Haile Selassie should go to Gore or accompany his family into exile, it was agreed that he should leave Ethiopia with his family and present the case of Ethiopia to the League of Nations at Geneva. The decision was not unanimous and several participants, including the nobleman Blatta Tekle Wolde Hawariat, strenuously objected to the idea of an Ethiopian monarch fleeing before an invading force. Haile Selassie appointed his cousin Ras Imru Haile Selassie as Prince Regent in his absence, departing with his family for Djibouti on May 2, 1936.
On 5 May, Marshal Pietro Badoglio led Italian troops into Addis Ababa, and Mussolini declared Ethiopia an Italian province. Victor Emanuel III was proclaimed as the new Emperor of Ethiopia. However, on the previous day, the Ethiopian exiles had left Djibouti aboard the British cruiser HMS Enterprise. They were bound for Jerusalem in the British Mandate of Palestine, where from the House of David. Leaving the Holy Land, Haile Selassie and his entourage sailed for Gibraltar aboard the British cruiser HMS Capetown. From Gibraltar, the exiles were transferred to an ordinary liner. By doing this, the government of the United Kingdom was spared the expense of a state reception.
Collective security and the League of Nations, 1936:
Mussolini, upon invading Ethiopia, had promptly declared his own “Italian Empire”; because the League of Nations afforded Haile Selassie the opportunity to address the assembly, Italy even withdrew its League delegation, on 12 May 1936. It was in this context that Haile Selassie walked into the hall of the League of Nations, introduced by the President of the Assembly as “His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor of Ethiopia” (Sa Majesté Imperiale, l’Empereur d’Ethiopie).
The introduction caused a great many Italian journalists in the galleries to erupt into jeering, heckling, and whistling. As it turned out, they had earlier been issued whistles by Mussolini’s son-in-law, Count Galeazzo Ciano.
Haile Selassie waited calmly for the hall to be cleared, and responded “majestically” with a speech sometimes considered among the most stirring of the 20th century.
The Imperial family disembarked at Haifa and then went on to Jerusalem, where the Ethiopian Royal Family maintained a residence. Once there, Haile Selassie and his party prepared to make their case at Geneva. The choice of Jerusalem was highly symbolic, since the Solomonic Dynasty claimed descent.
Although fluent in French, the working language of the League, Haile Selassie chose to deliver his historic speech in his native Amharic. He asserted that, because his “confidence in the League was absolute”; his people were now being slaughtered. He pointed out that the same European states that found in Ethiopia’s favor at the League of Nations were refusing Ethiopia credit and matériel while aiding Italy, which was employing chemical weapons on military and civilian targets alike.
It was at the time when the operations for the encircling of Makale were taking place that the Italian command, fearing a rout, followed the procedure which it is now the worlds’ duty to denounce.
Special sprayers were installed on board aircraft so that they could vaporize, over vast areas of territory, a fine, death-dealing rain. Groups of nine, fifteen, eighteen aircraft followed one another so that the fog issuing from them formed a continuous sheet. It was thus that, as from the end of January 1936, soldiers, women, children, cattle, rivers, lakes, and pastures were drenched continually with this deadly rain. In order to kill off systematically all living creatures, in order to more surely poison waters and pastures, the Italian command made its aircraft pass over and over again. That was its chief method of warfare.
Noting that his own “small people of 12 million inhabitants, without arms, without resources” could never withstand an attack by a large power such as Italy, with its 42 million people and “unlimited quantities of the most death-dealing weapons”, he contended that all small states were threatened by the aggression, and that all small states were in effect reduced to vassal states in the absence of collective action. He admonished the League that “God and history will remember your judgment.”
It is collective security: it is the very existence of the League of Nations. It is the confidence that each State is to place in international treaties…. In a word, it is international morality that is at stake. Have the signatures appended to a Treaty value only in so far as the signatory Powers have a personal, direct and immediate interest involved?
The speech made the emperor an icon for anti-fascists around the world, and Time named him “Man of the Year”.
He failed, however, to get what he most needed: the League agreed to only partial and ineffective sanctions on Italy. Only six nations in 1937 did not recognize Italy’s occupation; they were China, New Zealand, the Soviet Union, the Republic of Spain, Mexico and the United States.
The United Nations issued an apology in 1975, the year of his death.
Would Such An Apology Be Delivered To Black America?
…I doubt It.
Til Next Time…
‘The Coronation of H.I.M., Emperor Haile Sellassie;”
“Ethiopia The Empire”
(Between Yesterday and Tomorrow)
The Italian-Ethiopian War – (Africa in World Affairs)
~“Maafa: Life After Conquest”~
Mr. Gregory Vernon Boulware (Author)
“Article Posting Sites”
‘The Triplets and One’
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