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Jah Rastafari

Ras Benji's Historical Oracle

Birthday Tribute to Emperor Haile Selassie by Mulugeta Haile

This article was Originally published by http://www.ethiopiantribune.com on the 19 July 2017.

In celebration of the 127th Birthday of Emperor Haile Selassie I which has just past on the 23rd July 2019 please enjoy my reblogging of this excellent and interesting article by Mulugeta Haile.

Emperor Haile Selassie’s, 225th descendant of Queen Makeda and King Solomon, 125th birthday will be celebrated on July 23, 2017 at his birth place, Ejersa Goro.

The highlight of activities for this celebration will include disclosure of the intended construction of the library, museum and social center. In the attachment below are three preliminary designs by Mr. Mohammed Ahemed and his associates.

We are grateful to Mr. Mohammed and his associates and other contributors from at home and abroad for their praiseworthy contribution. In this occasion, we would like to invite other designers to join in this historical venture, by presenting their alternative designs. It is expected that these designs will reflect the resemblance of Guennette Lul (the first palace of the Emperor) and Jubilee palace.

Very special thanks to Tehran University for promising to present their alternative designs and also for sending the family tree of Empress Menen, wife of the Emperor, for use in this future museum.

The Objective of the project is to:

1. Create a worthy memorial for the Great Emperor – the first leader who challenged the western leaders’ moral in the 1930s– , advised the UN not to be an organization of individual nations interest, but of humanity at large, named the father of Africa and the defender of the faith and Small Nations.

2. Collect and preserve artifacts and materials that demonstrate the Emperor’s life and works

3. Provide the above information to researchers, students and tourists.

The Project will be constructed on 23,000 sq. meters of ground. It will include pavilions for each country the Emperor has visited. In these pavilions photos, films, newspapers, and magazines which will be
reflected the moments of his visits. For instance, viewers will find statements such as what the Japan news paper, Asahi Shimbun stated during the Emperor’s visit to Japan in 1955: “What a dignify soul has
arrived on this part of the world!”

The Museum and Library interior and exterior walls will be decorated with symbols, relics, and the monograms of the Emperor. The perimeter of the center will be enclosed by a wall and on both sides of the wall different historical and prophetic speeches of the Emperor, including the 1936 and 1963 will be engraved.

In 1936 at the League of Nations, the Emperor challenged the big powers’ moral and said, “Apart from the kingdom of the Lord there is not on this earth any nation that is superior to any other.”

In 1963, he advised the UN to be the functional organization and said, “We have to become members of a new race, overcoming petty prejudice, owing our ultimate allegiance not to nation but to our fellow men within the human community.”

There will be a fountain in the center of the courtyard. At the front, the customary posture of the Emperor of holding two forefingers each pointed downwards and thumb held upwards will be depicted in a very large gold plated size.

On a park upon a hill adjacent to the compound, a statue of the Emperor will be erected. At the foot of the statue, images of a lion, cow, cheetah, horse, donkey, dog, bird, and rooster will be carved. These animals clustered altogether will testify the moral characters of the Emperor.

It has been said that the greatness of any person’s moral progress can be judged by the way he or she treats animals.

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Throughout his life, the Emperor has been referred as a friend of animals and birds. “In the 1950s, the nation didn’t know the meaning of animal rights – and it still does not – and 20 years before the animal rights movement was established in England, the Emperor ordered the outlaw of traditionally carrying roosters, hanging them upside down on a stick,” Ato Amede Wondeafrash, Vice Minister of the Ministry
of Agriculture stated. “The Emperor proclaimed that the roosters should be carried in an open container to market,” Ato Amede added.

The Emperor strictly opposed beating and mistreating domestic animals. According to General resenbet, “On his way to Bishoftu, now called Debre Zeit, the Emperor noticed a peasant cruelly beating his wounded donkey which hardly can walk, and ordered the animal to be carried by lorry to his near palace, Fairfield, for recovering. When he paid the cost of the donkey, he advised the peasant that although the donkey doesn’t speak, it does suffer pain.”

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Ato Kerose Yohanes, a former officer of ministry of agriculture in department of Animal husbandry said, “The Emperor made it law that the maximum number of passengers on a Gare ( horse drawn cart) must not exceed three, including the driver. In addition to that, he ordered that Gares should not be driven on steep slopes”.

As the Emperor loved animals, unconditional love reciprocated back to him. Such love from two dogs named Paul and Lulu were among them. “Every throne court day, while the Emperor is in his office, Paul will get up from the Emperor’s feet and go to the court chamber and lie down next to the chair of the Emperor and wait for him. When the Emperor gets up from his office, Paul would sense that and woof and the attendants signal to the audience so that they would rise up from their seats to welcome the Emperor. This story is taken from the unreleased documentary film of “Why Selassie loves animals”?

“While Paul accompanied the Emperor at the office and library, the famous small Lulu lead where the Emperor moves and checks the safety of the path. Lulu’s reputation was not only in the streets of Ethiopia, but abroad as well. In 1968, he accompanied the Emperor on several state visits. Unfortunately, it was discovered that due to the law of the country, Lulu couldn’t enter Australia. Hence it was arranged for him to stay in Seoul, South Korea which was the Emperor’s next destination. Five days later when the Ethiopian Airplane landed at Seoul airport, Lulu was among the dignitaries to welcome the Emperor. As soon as Lulu saw his master, he dashed out of the crowd and ascended to the stairs and rolled over the Emperor’s feet. The next day, the Korean Herald flashed the news of the unique welcoming on its cover page. The circulation of the paper rose up so much so that it was necessary to print three times within a day.” (Source is taken from unpublished book, “Why Ethiopia joined in the Korea war” by Teshom Derbe).

The museum & liberary
Lulu was the first Ethiopian dog to have a statue constructed on its burial ground inside the palace. “The work of the statue has been made by Japanese, who was employed as the palace botanist. He did it to be remembered as the first maker of a dog statue in Ethiopia. However, the anti- Haile Selassie critics have used it for propaganda business, saying that the Emperor cared a lot more for a dog than his people,” Ato Wondoson, the court attendant said.

The Emperor was probably the only person in the world at that time that when the concept of the pet therapy was not introduced to science and who knew a dog could be a reliable stress-healer in the middle of difficulty. During the battle of Maychew, a dog named Rosa marched with him. After the battle, she also went to England into exile. Rosa provided a life time service, comfort, love, and devotion both at war and in exile.

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The British author, Keith Bowers, introduced Rosa to history in his book, Imperial Exile, stated, “The Captain of the ship who sailed the Emperor during his exile from Djibouti to England in 1935 noticed that
Rosa looked like she had lost sight in her left eye after she was injured when she refused to leave the Emperor’s side in the heat of the Battle of Maychew.”

Ato Teku Adane, a member of the Emperor’s special cabinet, during an interview recently said, “The Emperor was relaxing at his palace when he returned from visiting schools, factories, prisons, and hospitals through means of throwing food to birds in which they would immediately come to eat. Then, he would pause and smile watching them eat”.

The Emperor’s intimacy was not only with birds and domestic animals, but also with cheetahs and lions. “A lion from Ogaden was sent to the Emperor by Colonel Tadese Gebre (later General) as a gift. Three days later the Emperor wanted to get acquainted with the new lion. When the trainer, Sergeant Gebre Abebe, brought the lion in chains the Emperor was standing on the stairs with some attendants, who carried meat on trays. When the lion saw the meat it became aggressive, hurriedly the attendants dropped the trays and ran away in all directions. When they realized that the lion was not after them they came back to find the Emperor and the lion in a friendly manner. To their surprise, the Emperor was touching the lion softly and calling him repeatedly, ‘Tojo! Tojo!’ .When Ato Ayalew, one of the tray holders, narrated this story his eyes filled with tears and said, “Getoch [His Majesty] was not born like us, he is something different!”

The meaning of Tojo is still not known; however, Tojo was later named Mekureya by the Emperor – meaning ‘my pride’ – and to keep his name alive, the Imperial body guard named its soccer team Mekureya. After Mekureya’s death, his body was mummified and can be seen now at the Military Officers Academy near Janmeda in Addis Ababa.

The 1966 Born Free film written by Hollywood acclaimed writer, Lester Cole, and the producers, Sam Jaffe and Paul Radin who acknowledged the help received from the Emperor. This film received a Grammy award which was a story about an orphaned lion cub. The main character in the movie, the orphaned lion cub, Elsa, was the daughter of Mekureya.

The four attendants of the Emperor further testified that the Emperor’s most favorite animal in the palace were cows. They said that he always took some time from his busy schedule to visit their barns.
Ato Ayalew who served in the palace for 45 years said, “Cows are very intelligent and tender animals and whenever they see the Emperor they rush towards him. Although to us they are simply cows, to him each has a name: Ayelche(She out-shined), Chaltu (Beautiful in Ormofiya language), Tegabowa (Pompous), etc. He named them after their looks and characters. When they peacefully lick the salt from his hand, he happily smiles. One day, he claimed that keeping them in the barn all the time is another form of captivity”.

Recently scientific studies have found that those who have a companion animal, whether it be a fish, horse, bird, cow, goat, cat, or dog are highly emotional and have a strong spiritual intelligence. They are
also extremely kind and fair to their fellow human beings.

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Today the Emperor’s reign is sighted by many as የደጉ ዘመን (Yedegu Zemen), meaning the era of kindheartedness. So much so, the nation’s nationalism has reached to an unusual high peak. “Every day when the flag is raised and lowered at 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM people out of tribute, whether they are on streets, or in cars, or in houses automatically stop what they are doing and stand straight until the ceremony is over.
The majority of people swear in the name of the flag or the Emperor to express nothing but the truth. Students from different religion and ethnic background studying abroad feel so homesick that they can’t even wait for a graduation ceremony. They rush home as soon as they finished their course. They request their degrees and other relevant documents to be sent to them through the post office. The driving force behind their action is eagerness to serve Ethiopia and the Emperor, to up lifts the welfare of their family, and lastly of themselves,” Colonel Dr Mekonnen Muluneh, the first Ethiopian recipient of the Hennery Dunant’s award, said.

The Emperor’s treatment of the nation was like compared to the modern day parents’ to their children. Dejazmach Terfe Asres, a student of the 1950s at Negest Saba(Queen Sheba) at Makele, said, “While the
students in Addis Ababa called the Emperor Ababa Jhanhoye (meaning My Father Emperor), and in Eritrea and Tigrai, they called him, ወዲ ላሕመን ,Wde-Laheman, (Meaning Source of our wealth in Tigraigna language).

The Emperor’s kindness, especially towards those who were rejected, unwanted and despised people, began from his early public services. He built the first elderly home at Debre Libanos when he was Ras Tafari at the time when an elderly home as such was not known. This shelter house is still serving, and on its wall is engraved, “Rastafari built this house for elders.”

Seventeen years later, upon his returning from exile, Bath, UK, he donated his house, Fairfield house to the British’s poor elderly citizens. Now elders are using it and every month the first Sabbath Rastafarians gather
around to chant their famed song: “The Lion of Judah shall break every chain, and give us a victory again and again!” In 1945, he donated his palace to be the University of Addis Ababa.

The four Muslim female relatives of the Emperor named Monta Yimer, Fatima Ali, Hawa Endre, and Lubama Ali were given during an interview which conducted for the study of Islam & Haile Selassie gave
testimonies that the Emperor distributed 90 Gasha land or 360 hectares( Eighth times bigger than the Vatican city) in Wello province to his Muslim female cousins that he inherited from his mother, Yeshe-Embet Ali, who in turn received from her father, Fetawrari Ali Ferede, governor of Wer-ilu district.

In 1952, the Emperor decreed, “Religion is personal, but Country is for all”. He facilitated mosques to be built in several places, including the Somali region of Ethiopia, Jijiga, which still has the symbol of Kehas (Haile Selassie the First).

“If anybody says there is a division between the Ethiopian Muslims and Christians that person is not only wrong, but he also an enemy of Ethiopia,” the Emperor addressed from Eritrea Mosque. Muslims who
benefited from his education policy joined him later in his administration and were appointed as ministers and ambassadors. Muslims entering the government services were the first in the history
of Ethiopia.

King

“During my youth in the 1950s, the mass people of Muslims were chanting ‘Feda Yehun Nebse le Haile Selassie’, meaning may the soul of Haile Selassie enter heaven” said Hajji Omar Hussein, age 85, who grew up chanting this song in Addis Ababa.

In Fetawrari Amede’s recent published book, his friend and he prayed for the soul of Haile Selassie in order to inherit the kingdom of heaven when they made Hajj at Mecca, Saudi Arabia. They knew that
their prayer was against the dogma, but they believe exception was necessary for Haile Selassie to be made.

The first Amharic translation of the Holy Quran, originally from the Arabic language, was published by the Emperor in 1959. This helps to give more independence for the Ethiopian Muslims from Arab’s over
rule. Similarly, the following year, he succeeded in breaking the Egyptian Coptic rule over the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

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Agordat Mosque, the second largest in Eritrea was built by Haile Selassie the first of Ethiopia in 1963.

Abuna Yeshaque, who was sent by the Emperor to the western hemisphere and considered by Afro-Caribbean Orthodox followers as the Pan-African archbishop said: “For 1600 years, 110 Egyptian bishops have ruled the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The Egyptian bishops were paid in gold for their services and annually Ethiopia had paid a large sum of gold to Egyptian Coptic. It is believed that this wealth was to build and develop monasteries all over Egypt.”
The Emperor not only changed the history of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, but also that of Egypt in which it was stated in the Coptic (Greek language) that bishop should not be appointed from Ethiopia.

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After the Ethiopia church’s independence from Egypt in 1959, the Emperor advised the first five Ethiopian Archbishops, who were consecrated in Egypt, that the color of the Devil’s image inherited
from Coptic be changed into green, instead of being black. “It was His Majesty’s version of the Devil’s that was painted in green on the wall of the St Trinity College in Addis Ababa, and at the St Tekl-Haymanot Church in Deber Lebanos”, Aba Habte Mariam said (later Abuna Melksadiq), the first Dean of the St Trinity College who now lives in California.

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Traditional Ethiopian orthodox depiction of St George slaying the (Green) Dragon.

It is unfortunate most of the Ethiopian churches are still using the version copy of Michaela Angelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raphael Sanzio on which a black man appeared as a devil and a white man as an angel.
On the same subject, the Emperor articulated in 1963 at the UN, in which he said, “Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned…, the African continent will not know peace.”

As he was the defender of the defenseless, he also defended the women rights. In 1951, without violating the age old tradition that prohibited women to enter the St Mary church, Axum, where the Arc of the Covenant is placed, he built in the same area a new St Mary Church and allowed women to enter. On the wall of this church, his message is excerpted: “Let this church be a place of worship for women and men.”

November 2, 1930, during his coronation, he revealed his belief to the world in the equality of gender by allowing his beloved wife, Empress Menen, to be crowned on the same day. He revolutionized the 3, 300 year history of Ethiopia, in which no other Kings or Queens, perhaps in the world, had been crowned together as husband and wife. In 1946, the Empress Menen High School, which he built for women only is affirmed his unwavering belief to the equality of gender.

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Emperor Haile Selassie I and Empress Menen Asfaw

“In addition to his own and adopted children, he was the father of the fatherless such as those who were abandoned, disabled and blinded”, Dr Yesaque Haile Selassie said. Having benefited from the Emperor’s kindness as an orphan, he is now writing a book about his childhood memories, in which he said, “As a street kid when I did not know who my father was, the Emperor’s powerful name, Haile Selassie was available for me and for many other orphans. The school, Yewtatoche Menche (The Fountain of Youth), Tesfa Kokobe (Hope of emancipation),Tensaye Birhan (The resurrection light) were built for orphan and poor children. Out of these schools many great people graduated and became doctors, engineers, lawyers, ministers, and generals”.

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In his part, Ato Demese Abebe said, “As blind people, street children and beggars roam the center of Addis Ababa, one day we were rounded up by the Emperor’s retinues and were taken to a special boarding school, which is built for blind children. I graduated in 1973 from Law school, which changed my identity from a street drifter to court house lawyer”.

Ethiopia was lucky to have the Emperor at a time when education was a forbidden fruit – the followers of the Orthodox faith thought modern education would convert their children into the Catholic’s faith while the Ethiopian Muslims considered their children would become Christian. In the middle of this, the Emperor held the portfolio of minister of education himself.

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To encourage families the Emperor said, “Having a child and not sending to school is as equal as murdering.” In his message to poor students, he said, “Being born from an established family is not an
achievement; the audacity of aspiring to improve yourself is the most precious success.” In order to reassure that Ethiopia-wenet(Ethiopianism- the sum total of culture, history, literature, astronomy, geography, art, mathematics, sports, agriculture, and religions since time immemorial) would not be in vain and said, “ ሁሉን መርምሩ የሚበጀውን ያዙ” meaning, “examine all but choose and follow the good one.”
This quote is engraved on Sidest Kilo University wall which later defined the destiny of the anti Haile Selassie’s generation which examined only communism and became communist.

The Emperor’s kindness has no boundary and it goes beyond his empire. He gave scholarships to African students who were then under colonial rule. Education to him was the tool to abolish colonialism in Africa. He welcomes refuges such as Armenians, Russians, Yugoslavians, and Palatines. It is to be noted that large numbers of Palatines were to be seen on the street of Addis Ababa in the 1950s.

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40 Armenian Orphans adopted by Ras Tafari. they became known as Arba Lijoch and formed the royal imperial brass band of Ethiopia

His cousin, Lij Araya Abebe, who was the second person next to Dr Malaku Bayan in establishing EWF (Ethiopian World Federation), said that the Emperor sent him to England in 1945 to give financial and material support to Pan African activities. He remembered during winter that he donated heavy Jackets also to a number of individuals, including Jomo Kenyatta, who later became the first president of the
independent Kenya.

Though the Emperor was the King of a very poor country, this had not stopped him to do good to big or small nations. He donated small amounts of money to UK, Germany, Greece, Japan, China, Nigeria,Madagascar, and so on when they were struck by natural disasters. The grant of 500 hectares of fertile land in Shashemene to those Africans origin who wanted to emigrate from the racist western
nations is a living testimony for his moral fiber.

Malaku Bayen, the only doctor at the battle of Maychew, in his letter to his wife, Dorothy Bayan, wrote in 1936, “The Emperor was advised to take the one million pound asset of the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia during our departure in exile. However, he refused and said that the asset is a property for many people. However, on our way to Djibouti, every station, Besha(Beshaword Habtold) enabled to collect some money from people who were generous to us.”

In the preceding paragraph, the Emperor’s innumerable benevolence is sprinkled, but what is more of an amazing behavior is that of stopping his car whenever he sees a bride and bridegroom on their way, cheering them and giving generous financial donation. “During our wedding ceremony on the Bole road, we stopped our car when we saw the Emperor’s car approaching. He also stopped his car and beckoned us to come near and then blessed our marriage and gave us some money and passed on,” Weyzero Aida Hussein said.

The role of the Emperor like his predecessors is to maintain the continuity of Ethiopiawent. To advance the core values of Ethiopiawent through modernization, he envisioned Japan as a model because Japan
adopted the western education without losing its values and cultures.
Japan has no desire also to have a colony in Africa and both have defeated the European aggressions: Ethiopia at the battle of Adwa and Japan at the battle of Tsushima.

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Right after the Emperor’s coronation, the two nations signed an economic and military cooperation. In 1931, the Japanese constitution was adopted for Ethiopia’s first written constitution. A book: ማኀደረ
ብርሃን ሀገረ ጃፓን, Mahader Berhan Hager Japan, meaning, Source of light-The Nation of Japan, by the all rounded intellectual, His Excellency Hiruy Wold Selassie, seems to advocate the Emperor’s approach for
development of Ethiopia.

In 1932, three years before the Italy invasion, Japanese ships came at Djibouti’s and Kenya’s ports to unload military supplies, including fighter planes and gas masks; however, the European powers which
colonized the neighboring countries denied them the access of their ports.

On the eve of the Italian invasion, President F. Roosevelt wrote the following to his Middle East correspondent, “Ethiopia may defend herself from her enemy, but can she be saved from her friends?” (He is referring to Italy as the enemy, and France and England as friends.) Roosevelt’s predication came true when England then became the de facto ruler of Ethiopia for three years after it helped to drive the
fascists out of Ethiopia.

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Emperor Haile Selassie and F.D.R hold a meeting onboard USS Quincy in 1945

After liberating Ethiopia from the British indirect rule with his diplomatic skill, the Emperor continued his progressive policy towards modernization which was aborted by fascist raid. His second attempt was also destroyed by the Ethiopian students who studied at home and abroad but struggled to become communist. Though the students called their movement “Ethiopian Students Movement”, in fact it was a movement of adopting the East- European values and cultures in the land where the ancestors fought and died for the value of Ethiopiawente.

When the Emperor was sending students for higher education abroad he said, “Adopting the European culture and history is similar to choose a name after one’s step father”. Twenty years later, the students
adopted Stalinism, Maoism, Hoxhaism, and so on, as their role models. Thirty years later, when communism collapsed all over the world they turned their coats and adopted new “step fathers” from the western nations. In this “middle passages” of the east-west ideologies, they fell prey to the prophetic statements of the Emperor who constantly advised them of the danger of mental slavery.

Unlike the Ethiopian students, the Japanese students who studied the western education at home and abroad were not compelled to change the values of their unique culture and traditions. Virtually they rebuild Japan while the Ethiopians ruined the 3,300 years old social fabrics and social contracts.

The Emperor’s foresight did not only define his anti generation but also served as an autopsy on how the connecting tissues of the nation was uprooted, displaced and dislocated.

Five years ago, during the first celebration of the Emperor’s birthday at Ejersa Goro, Solomon Wasihun, a high priest, chanted in Geez, “ If the river of the Nile is ink and Ethiopia is parchment, one still can’t finish writing the story of the Lion of Judah.” Although we cannot finish the Emperor’s stories, the future museum and library will go some way to begin to tell it to the new generation.

Ethiopia-Flag

Happy 125th (127th) Birthday Abba Janhoy, Emperor Haile Selassie I

Article by Mulugeta Haile

Media selection by Ras Benji 2019

All original photos belong to their respective owners

Note : New Fairfield house website is fairfieldhousebath.org rather than HouseofHisMajesty.com

Article short link : https://wp.me/p8hNGd-wN

Fairfield House, Home of H.I.M Emperor Haile Selassie I & the Ethiopian Royal Family 1936 – 1941

The subject of this blog post is a place very special to me and my favourite in the UK, a place that can be found nestled in the countryside of the United Kingdom but one with a powerful connection to the heart of Africa.

When growing up i spent much time in Bath and always felt a real connection to the place, usually being there playing rugby or watching rugby at the famous recreation ground in the middle of the city, and would otherwise spend time wandering around exploring a place very different to most other places i had ever visited in the UK. To my surprise, one day i found out that the City of Bath had once been home to Emperor Haile Selassie I and the Ethiopian Royal Family and Exiles during their period of distress, the Fascist Italian Invasion of Ethiopia 1935-1941 . I am proud to say that visiting Fairfield house and connecting with the living history of Rastafari changed my life.

My life (Back story)

Growing up mixed ethnicity in the UK, Born in the 1980s has not always been smooth sailing. My ethnic make up is African, European British, Chinese and Taino indian. My father is from Trinidad (His Father from Barbados) and my mother is from Oxford, Uk of European heritage. I lived the larger part of my childhood in a rural and remote part of South West England, something which made me tough to the realities of casual racism and broad closed mindedness. At each educational institution i attended (even primary schools) I can remember experiencing racism. At my secondary school of roughly 1500 pupils, there were two indian children attending the school, a single black pupil, two girls who were part arabic and me, everyone else, including all staff were racially european. For the county i speak of, this level of diversity, to have such an abundance of people who weren’t just of local heritage was actually remarkable, but in reality it felt very disconnected from any kind of multi cultural society. Often, being of blended ethnic background, people couldn’t connect me to a particular place they knew of, this meant at school and often in the sports teams i played in, i would constantly hear racist language and jokes that i was expected to find funny (as they weren’t about me supposedly), sometimes due to the pressures of youth I often carried a sense of shame and anger at myself for not speaking out and giving my true opinions. Other times the racist insults or overtures were directed straight at me. However, as mad as it sounds, some of these racist things i heard where said by otherwise nice, (but very ignorant) people. After leaving this rural and ”isolated” part of the country I was really happy to move to bristol and live somewhere that is a lot more culturally diverse. However, the reason i had moved to Bristol was for sports scholarship at a prestigious school, actually founded by a notorious slave owner (I didn’t know this at the time of joining, but i soon found out), at this school, I experienced a whole new type of Racism. This sort was what i would call the colonial ”Jeremy Clarkson” type that is taught and thought with their interpretation of a bias history, the automatic assumption that Britain is the best country in the world, who had the most successful empire that everyone should be thankful for and the racist views and excuses that come from this. It was soon after leaving this school and during my time there, that I started properly exploring and getting to know my roots and trying my best to piece together an honest interpretation of history and consider my life existence in the context of the world. Whilst at University studying law in London, in my own private studies I searched and searched for examples of ”great people” in history who could inspire me and provide further insight to understanding why such a thing as racism exists. I wondered if anyone had ever proudly declared to the world ” ALL HUMAN BEINGS ARE EQUAL” as I intuitively felt.

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Robert Nesta ”Bob” Marley

One day i had what i would classify as an epiphany, I was lying on my bed in my first year of university and listening to a collection of Bob Marley songs, the song ”War” played from the list and my mind focused in on the lyrical content. I glanced over to a poster of Bob i had who was photographed singing passionately whilst pointing to a blurred mural of what I knew was a person called ”Ras Tafari”, In those few moments, age approximately 18, I realised that Bob had been delivering a message, but it was not his message, he was in fact pointing to the author and always had been. The words of Bob Marley’s song war, are taken from Emperor Haile Selassie I Speech at the United Nations in 1963.

”That until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned: That until there are no longer first-class and second class citizens of any nation; That until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes; That until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race; That until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained;”

These words, at this point in my life provided a great healing for a bruised young spirit,i was astounded at how profound they were and felt the message and the meaning resonate powerfully within. I thought to myself, no wonder, Bob Marley had been trying so passionately to deliver this message to us.

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Copyright Imago United Archives International Abyssinian Emperor Haile Selassie I in jeweled Head Dress of Gold 1930

A year or two after this moment, after reading all I could in the few books I had about Rastafari, Ethiopia and Emperor Haile Selassie I, I stumbled upon a documentary about the Emperor’s time in the UK. I thought wow! It was hugely broadening my horizons to know I had been unknowingly surrounded by such inspirational history. Needless to say i felt very excited to watch it.

This brilliant documentary entitled ”Footsteps of the Emperor”, created by Dr Shawn Naphtali Sobers and presented by well known poet Benjamin Zephaniah tells the story of Fairfield house and how it became home to the Ethiopian royal family in exile. It features some unique testimonials from the local elderly who have personal stories remembering the Emperor and his time in Britain. It is a great learning resource for looking at a hidden (or largely unknown) fascinating part of history and is very helpful for proper examination of the period of Italian Invasion and the exile of Emperor Haile Selassie. I recommend it to everyone.

Fairfield House

Having watched this documentary. One day, when driving back to London from the South West almost 10 years ago, i decided to take a detour to Bath to visit this mysterious place myself. When I arrived at the address, 2 Kelston Road, Bath, it was pouring with rain on an dark autumn afternoon and the place was quiet yet peaceful. I parked on the side of Kelston road and felt my self instinctively walk up the slope and around the corner following the wall of the neighboring building to where i imagined His Majesty’s house to be. At this point i received my first clue, a street sign otherwise looking just as any other but displaying the words, EMPRESS MENEN GARDENS.

Continuing my journey and walking along Empress Menen Gardens, (once the stables and vegetable gardens of Fairfield house but now housing for the elderly) i wondered how many Rastafari through the years had made the same pilgrimage to this place. I wondered if there would be any other signs that this was the residence of the famous Lion of Judah.

Towards the end of the driveway leading alongside Empress Menen Gardens, i could now see the grand landmark of Fairfield house that I had came especially to be in the presence of. As i walked further along the drive i felt wonder and marvel as i gazed up at this monumental residence in history. Standing there in the rain, after taking a moment to appreciate the mystery of this place i had been drawn to because of its immense energy, i decided to take shelter near the entrance of the house and also see if anyone was inside. Again i felt amazement thinking that i was in the presence of something within history that was so undervalued yet so important to world history… I mean, to think, that the Last King of the 3000 year old Solomonic Dynasty and of an Independent Uncolonised Africa and his beloved wife and children lived here, walked up these steps into the same doorway blew my mind then and it still does today each time i am blessed enough to visit.

Once inside the doorway of Fairfield house, i discovered at that time, that no one was home, but i was greeted with the Green, Gold and Red of the Ethiopian flag and i again knew i was in the right place. I looked at the wall and saw an inscription in both the Ethiopian language Amharic and English, detailing His Majesty’s gift of Fairfield house to the city of bath in 1954, particularly for the benefit of the Elderly. I sat there for a while on the steps of Fairfield house meditating on my journey and left thankful for having seen this historic place with my own eyes. I was determined to further my research into Rastafari, the history of Ethiopia and the life of Emperor Haile Selassie I.

My next visit to Fairfield was in 2011 and this time i had contacted the house ahead of time to ask when would be a good time to visit. It was the 2nd of November 2011 and that day i had filled my car with some friends who were very interested to visit also. It was a brilliant day and we received a tour by Ras Chris and Iowna of the house and grounds and heard the official history of Fairfield house. We chatted with Iowna’s dad, Dominic who was busy in the early stages of carving a tree stump into a majestic lion in the gardens of the house. We proudly signed our names in the guestbook and were warmly received by Pauline Swaby Wallace (who manages the house) and the few Rastafari elders who were present. I remember feeling as though His Majesty’s philosophy is happening in action at Fairfield house with how welcome we were made to feel by everyone, In the evening a fire was lit outside the house and around 5/6 of us were gathered there reasoning. Now, this is where something special happened to me so i will be specific about the details of what I remember. A friend from Uganda named Kiya who had travelled with us to Fairfield house had been speaking about her juice fast that she was doing and we were all discussing the benefits and practices of fasting whilst gathered around the fire. One of the elders from Birmingham, (i cannot remember his name but do remember that he runs a Rasta driving school) kept mentioning a Vitamix blender saying he had one and it really was the best in his opinion, and we all laughed and joked that he must work for the company with all this promotion he is doing and he agreed and said maybe he should approach them to do just that. Soon after we left to return to London and after dropping my friends home, my partner and i were pleased to have had a great day and to have met so many welcoming people and reached home ourselves. At home i fell asleep on the sofa and had the most vivid dream that i was standing back there at Fairfield house, around the fire, laughing and joking with new friends and old about the blender! I felt so happy just as i had during the day and looked down into the fire as i smiled about the joke, after looking in the fire i followed the embers which shot up from the fire into the sky and as i did i found myself looking at the balcony of Fairfield house and i could see clearly, in my dream, His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I standing on the balcony looking down at us gathered there, laughing with each other. He was wearing a white Kabba, the Ethiopian traditional cloak garment and he was smiling with us. I felt a sense, in my dream, that His Majesty was pleased we had gathered to remember the coronation, and was enjoying our joyful and unified interactions with each other, transcending petty obstacles such as our national backgrounds, race, religion or age.

The shock of such a vision in my dream, woke me back up and i immediately told my partner Simbah about it. Regardless of what anyone thinks about dreams and there meanings or lack there of, I have always felt that this one meant we were heading in the right direction and that Fairfield house, and its potential to be a landmark uniting human beings of all backgrounds inspite of our differences and ”petty prejudices’ is very great indeed.

Another interesting thing that has happened to me concerning the house is becoming friends with an elderly Jehovahs witness man named Michael who has visited my doorstep in London. I’d sometimes invite him in to the garden and we’d chat about many things and we’d both explain our interpretations of the bible to each other and i told him what i knew about Emperor Haile Selassie I. One day he turned up at my house with an old magazine from his collection and said it was a gift for me. I stood there at my front door and to my surprise i opened the first page on historic photos of Fairfield house in the time of Emperor Haile Selassie. The magazine was ”London Illustrated” from 1954 and had a special feature about the visit of His Imperial Majesty in London with a state reception and his return visit to Bath. I thanked Michael greatly for this gift and actually attended a meeting of his faith during Easter as a thankyou for such a kind and thoughtful gift. I gave the magazine to Dr Shawn Sobers of the Friends of Fairfield house committee and the University of the West of England who professionally copied the photos within. I feel so happy that these photographs went around the world in ”Rastafari, the Majesty and the Movement Exhibition” and now they are on display framed within the house.

Since first visiting Fairfield house all those years ago, i have visited as many times as i have possibly been able to and made an effort to help out the continued legacy in any way that i can fundraising and further raising awareness of Fairfield’s existence in person and on social media.

The house itself is an English Heritage Grade II listed building built between 1840–50 . The property was the home to His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Royal Family during 1936–41.

From Fairfield House the Emperor planned the strategic battle to defeat Mussolini, and wrote correspondence to world leaders, visited many events to lobby support, planned his address to the League of Nations and successfully gathered the support of the British people and eventually the government who helped the Ethiopian army at the final push to defeat the Italian troops, on the eve of World War 2 becoming a closer reality.

“In Early 1937 it was reported that he had decided to build a chapel in the Fairfield grounds. Many years later the Emperor revealed the full story about his dream of building his own church. He said the royal group was distressed that they could not utter their pleas to God in a properly constituted chapel. The Emperor sent a letter to an Ethiopian priest based in Jerusalem, saying they required a consecrated stone so they could create a place of worship and that it was necessary to listen quietly until he knew his creator’s decisions. The stone arrived just before Good Friday and was sanctified on Easter Sunday. It was laid in the greenhouse in the grounds of Fairfield House. The glass windows of the greenhouse were whitewashed to maintain some privacy. The chapel was to be a source of great solace and inspiration for the Emperor. On Maundy Thursday he would wash the feet of his servants in the Chapel, following the example of Jesus Christ. A Sprig of rosemary would be added to the water. “

Excerpt From a great book I recommend ”Imperial Exile” by Keith Bowers, detailing His Majesty’s time in the UK, including his life at Fairfield house.

Upon returning to Ethiopia, the Emperor remembered his time in the city of Bath, and named his family retreat in Bishoftu Fairfield. In His Autobiography, written at Fairfield house, the Emperor recounts how the hills and valleys of somerset gave him strength to continue the struggle:

“The view through its front windows always reminded us if the hills in Harer (provence of Ethiopia)”.

In 1954 the Emperor returned to Bath and was honoured with the Freedom of the City, which is a rare reward bestowed upon valued persons who have been held in high regard by the city’s leaders and citizens.

The Emperor then bequeathed the house to the city to be used by the elderly as a care/support home, though it was first used as the ‘Fairfield Home for Babies’ between 1943 – 1946. The residents were evacuated there from Chippenham during World War 2. At the point of 1944 the house accommodated 35 children between the ages of two weeks and two years. In 1946 after the war had ended, the Home for Babies moved to Saville House Nursery, Bath. (Reference – Hidden Lives Revealed). Since then the house has been used by aged citizens of the city and it remains so to this day as the home of Bath Senior Citizens Association (BEMSCA).

In recent times, the legacy of Fairfield house was under threat as Bath council were considering selling the property. In response, “The Friends of Fairfield House” has been formed in 2012 to offer a community based alternative to Council management and hopefully become responsible for the future of Fairfield. Along the way a small group of dedicated people have fought tenaciously hard to protect, preserve and keep things running at Fairfield house, I am so thankful for all they do.

The house is used on certain days of significance by the Rastafari community from all over the UK (see below), members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and also the Royal Family of Ethiopia. Fairfield House is also visited by people of all backgrounds from all over the world interested in this history. A specific room has been set-up on the 1st floor for prayer and meditation and the New Tafari Gallery is regularly showcasing exciting art exhibitions and also contains many artifacts kindly donated from the time of Emperor Haile Selassie in Bath.

The Rastafari community hold regular gatherings at Fairfield House, especially in reverence of the important dates in the Rastafari Calender, especially H.I.M Haile Selassie’s Birthday 23rd of July, Coronation 2nd of November, the Birthday of Empress Menen in April and Ethiopia Liberation day May 5th. Nyahbinghi Ises also takes place 1st Saturday of every month led by Ras Bandele and everyone is welcome. The house always has a welcoming friendly vibration and is a great place to converse, ask questions and learn more about the Rastafari movement, the history of Ethiopia and Emperor Haile Selassie I, Local or African history.

Fairfieldhousebath.org

Fairfield house has regular open days and Is open for visiting especially on the days mentioned above.

In 2019 anyone world-wide will be able to connect with Fairfield house 24/7 as we are launching an exciting new Internet Radio station called Imperial Voice Radio. serving the city of Bath, and broadcasting worldwide. Based at the House the station will broadcast a broad range of discussion and music shows for all lovers of positivity, consciousness, culture, history, community, and more. We are looking for presenters of our talk radio shows, from topics as diverse as health, literature, and the arts.

If something in this post has caught your attention, i wholeheartedly recommend a visit to Fairfield house in the City of Bath, County of Somerset in the UK, it is certainly a hidden gem and a place I am very thankful to know, maybe i will see you there..

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Fairfield House Bath 23rd of July 2012

Giving thanks

Ras Benji I

Links:

http://www.fairfieldhousebath.org/

http://www.Instagram.com/houseofhismajesty

http://www.Facebook.com/homeofHIMfairfieldhouse

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0264z0z

http://www.Instagram.com/jahbenjii

Article Shortlink : https://wp.me/p8hNGd-2l

St. George

Each Christian nation has its own ‘Patron Saint’ who in times of great peril is called upon to help protect a country from its enemies.

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Ethiopian Icon of St George slaying the Dragon

St George is the patron saint of both Ethiopia, England and is traditionally revered in many other countries including Armenia, Georgia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Egypt, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Lebanon, Lithuania, Malta, Montenegro, Palestine, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Syria and the Ukraine.

In this blog article I aim to outline a brief history of St George and bring forth some reasoning as to why he is so revered in some places, intertwined deeply with the identity of others and has been very important to the monarchies and church of both Ethiopia and England.

Who was Saint George?

St George is recorded as living his life in the region that is today described as the middle east (Turkey, Lydda, Syria region) known geographically as North East of Africa and previously described on European world maps as Arabia, part of Asia. Born around 280 Ad and Died on the 23rd of April 303 in the gregorian Calendar and the 6th of May in the Julian Calender. The 23rd of April, here in the Uk has traditionally been a day associated with patriotism, the St George Cross being both the symbol of the flag of England (and part of the Great British Union Jack) and also featured on the crest of the City of London.

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St George is the Patron Saint of England, many people think he is the benchmark of all things English, but mostly they are unaware of his origin.

Although he was born in Palestina / Turkey / Syria region, legend tells us that George was a child of Greek parents but interestingly within the oldest paintings of the Orthodox Church of Greece he is depicted as an African or Aethiopian as he would have been known at the time in Greece.

St George of lydda is most popularly known for slaying the Dragon and we are also told according to legend that his occupation was a Roman soldier and officer in the Guard of Roman emperor Diocletian, who ordered his death by Rome for failing to recant his Christian faith. As a Christian martyr, he later became one of the most venerated saints in Christianity.

In Ethiopia

Through the coptic church of Alexendria and Egypt, the matrydom of St George would have been a well known legend early in the history of the Ethiopian Christian tradition and evidence of this is seen in the northern town of Lalibela.

A major place of spiritual importance and a pilgrimage destination for Christians to this day. Lalibela is home to a breathtaking network of eleven rock hewn churches. A place i have been blessed to visit myself in person for the 1st time in 2016 (Some photos from our trip below). One of the most prominent churches is known in amharic as Bete Giyorgis, the Church of St George and we were shown hoove marks in one of the passage ways said to have been left by the horse of St George after he visited mystically whilst the building was in progress.

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The hoof marks left by the horse of St George after he visited King Lalibela during the construction of the Rock Hewn Churches

”According to Ethiopian cultural history, Bete Giyorgis was built because of a vision experienced by King Gebre Mesqel Lalibela of the Zagwe Dynasty (a poorly documented period, one of the most obscure in Ethiopian history, which extended from 1137 to 1270). St George and God are said to have appeared to the King and given instructions to sculpt the church, which seems to have been the last of the churches created on the site, it stands slightly apart from the main complex of ten churches, and is connected to them by a system of trenches. ”

St George : A Saint for All – Samantha Riches

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Bete Giyorgis, Holy Church of Saint George, Lalibela

When pondering the patron saints, St George feels somewhat naturally coupled with Ethiopia, the independent Africa nation has the longest history of defeating invading forces and with this St George is often depicted with the enemy being defeated akin to the dragon. In 1896 Emperor Menelik’s forces defeated the first wave of colonial ambition from Italy and this was repeated when Emperor Haile Selassie was restored to his throne in 1941, overcoming five years of illegal Italian occupation. Both these victories were congruent with what would have been a well known historical precedent as in 1632 under Emperor Fasilides, Christian and Muslim forces had unified to fight and remove the Roman Catholic Portuguese previously in Ethiopia to help in a Christian/Islamic battle but having vastly overstayed their welcome.

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Ethiopian Painting from the British Mueseum, depicting Saint George protecting the Holy Tabot of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church

In Addis Ababa, the historic St Georges Cathedral was commissioned by Emperor Menelik II after the battle of Adwa in 1896. Paintings and murals inside depict the coronations of Ethiopian Emperors, the martyr St George himself and moments of the nation’s victory over adversity, the fight against colonialism for both Emperor Menelik and Emperor Haile Selassie I.

Empress Zewditu of Ethiopia was crowned at this Cathedral in 1917, and Emperor Haile Selassie was famously crowned there in 1930.

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A man praying against the wall of St Georges Cathedral in Addis Ababa, February 2016

Ethiopia has her own ”Order of St George”, a special award and highest honor for outstanding military achievement and service to Ethiopia. Similar to this, during World War 2 King George V1 of England established the St George Cross for outstanding acts of Valour during the War.

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St George is also the name for arguably the most popular beer in Ethiopia, St George Brewery being founded in Addis Ababa by a Belgian living in the city under the rule of Emperor Menelik and Empress Taitu. It was next ran by german owners before eventually transferring to Ethiopian state ownership in the 1950s.

Ethiopia has close relations to St George and the legend of him defeating the dragon and the symbolism with the battle of victory of good against evil still resonates today. However, George patron saint of England seems to make little sense to people today, especially in comparison to Ireland with St Patrick, known in legend to have rid Ireland of snakes (or ”Pagan” people with their diverse spiritual practices as it is most likely to have meant).

In a newspaper published in the past week for St Georges day, I read this statement:

”Unlike Ireland and St Patrick, who is said to have converted the emerald Isle to Christianity, St George has no obvious connection to England. ‘

Or does he? For me, in this situation and many others, studying Ethiopian history and the life work of Emperor Haile Selassie has acted as a perfect looking glass or even a ”Rosetta Stone” for understanding the modern geo-political world situtation and the deeply rooted religious symbolism intertwined with our every day in the monuments / buildings we walk past or national celebrations some may observe.

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In order to understand it deeper, we have to look to the history of the Roman Empire, the settlement in England that survived the fall of Old Rome itself and the shared symbolic representation of St George between England and the City of London in the person of St George. I recommend these videos for a quick overview of the complex history of the Secret city of London and a familiarization of the structure, roots and symbols.

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The City of London

Considering the connections of the City of London (or Londinium) to the Roman Empire, it now seems appropriate that St George would be patron saint, especially as this ”city within a city” survives with powerful influence today, (embracing St george after it switched under Emperor Constantine to Christianity from paganism with the rest of the Roman Empire). The city was never properly conquered by the Indigenous people of Britain, as would have been dreamt of by the likes of Boudica of the Iceni tribe and many others fighting fiercely against Roman occupation and attempting to attack Londinium earlier in Britains history.

England

The original patron saint of England was St Edmund, but his influence was diminished when Richard the Lionheart (1157 – 1199) adopted St George as the protector of his army whilst acknowledging the popularity of St George on one of his crusades . The fame of Saint George at this time had been widespread over the East, and the Crusaders brought their devotion for the warrior Saint back to Europe.

St Edmund was finally replaced when King Edward III formed the Order of the Garter in St. George’s name in 1350 and made him the Patron Saint of England.

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Full page portraits of Edward III (Founder of the Order of the Garter) and Henry, Duke of Lancaster, of the Order of the Garter, each wearing a blue Garter mantle over plate armour and surcoat displaying his arms. A framed tablet displays painted arms of successors in their Garter stalls at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor. (http://realhistoryww.com/world_history/ancient/Misc/Crests/Order_of_the_garter.htm)

The Order of the Garter is Britain’s highest order of Chivalry awarded by the Monarch to fellow Knights of the realm but it also has been used with the functional tradition of honouring fellow international monarchs.

”Chivalry, or the chivalric code, is a code of conduct associated with the medieval institution of knighthood which developed between 1170 and 1220. The ideals of chivalry were popularized in medieval literature, particularly in Britain and France.” Wikipedia

African Origins

Interestingly Chivalry, and in particular Knighthood of this kind can be traced back to an invention of the Moors of North Africa, as was highlighted in the 19th Century by french literary historian Emile Theodore Leon Gautier. Also both Edward III and his son Prince Edward ”The Black Prince” have been rumored as part of the hidden history of Britain to have been of African “Moor” heritage themselves. The oldest portraits from the Garter Book of 1430 and who the artist may have been painting are fascinating to examine from this perspective.

http://realhistoryww.com/world_history/ancient/Misc/Crests/Order_of_the_garter.htm

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Full page portraits of Sir Sanset Dabrichecourt and Prince Edward ”The Black Prince” of Woodstock on the right (Son of Edward III – Left in the above portrait), of the Order of the Garter, each wearing a blue Garter mantle over plate armour and surcoat displaying his arms. A framed tablet displays painted arms of successors in their Garter stalls at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor

Guatier also summarised the customs and practice of Chivalry compiling them into a ”Ten Commandments” in 1883 so people could understand the historic principle and code of practice of chivalry.

Gautier’s Ten Commandments of chivalry are:

  1. Thou shalt believe all that the Church teaches and thou shalt observe its directions.
  2. Thou shalt defend the Church.
  3. Thou shalt respect all weaknesses, and shalt constitute thyself the defender of them.
  4. Thou shalt love the country in which thou wast born.
  5. Thou shalt not recoil before thine enemy.
  6. Thou shalt make war against the infidel without cessation and without mercy.
  7. Thou shalt perform scrupulously thy feudal duties, if they be not contrary to the laws of God.
  8. Thou shalt never lie, and shalt remain faithful to thy pledged word.
  9. Thou shalt be generous, and give largesse to everyone.
  10. Thou shalt be everywhere and always the champion of the Right and the Good against Injustice and Evil.

The Stranger Knight of St George

Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia was honoured with the special accolade of stranger knight into the St Georges Order of the Garter in 1954. Receiving awards of this kind were of course not uncommon for His Imperial Majesty, who was frequently being recognised with prestigious awards from universities, governments / fellow monarchies of the world and he is even recorded in the Guiness Book of World Records as having had the ”Most Bemeddalled Chest on Record”.

The awards from the Order of the Garter are always made on St Georges day with the adornments and symbols of St George. The accolade of stranger knight and awards of this kind had traditionally been used by monarchs between Christian nations especially as a way of acquiring political allies. His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie was well known for expertly maneuvering Western Governments to acheive the progress he wanted in Africa and this could have been Britain’s attempt at winning back favour with the deeply Orthodox Christian Emperor through an acknowledgement of each nation’s shared love for Saint George .

His Majesty was openly very suspicious of the intentions of Britain in East Africa, hastily and persistently working (with great help from Sylvia Pankhurst) to usher out Britain from any kind of attempted influence in governmental affairs after returning to the throne in 1941, this was achieved completely in 1954 when Ethiopia was restored to its internationally recognised borders of 1935, prior to illegal Italian occupation.

See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-Ethiopian_Agreement for more information and also the book by the late Dr Richard Pankhurst : Sylvia Pankhurst Council for Ethiopia. Chapter 11 Also: Slyvia Pankhurst: Opinions of the Emperor

See below Video for further information with regards to the Order of the Garter and the meaning of a ”Stranger Knight” from a Russian Monarchical perspective.

To this day, His Imperial Majesty has an intricately crafted stall plate in St Georges Chapel in Windsor Castle depicting both the Imperial Crest of the Solomonic Throne, the Symbol of the Lion of Judah, the Imperial Crown of Ethiopia and the motto of the order of the garter -.Honi soit qui mal y pense  “May he be shamed who thinks badly of it”.

Here is a list of some of the Accolades and Foreign Awards of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia :

Ethiopia

1917 Grand Cordon, The Most Exalted Order of the Queen of Sheba                                 1930 Knight, The Imperial Order of Solomon:
1930 Knight Grand Cross, The Imperial Order of the Holy Trinity
1924 Knight Grand Cross, Order of Emperor Menelik II
1924 Negus (Knight Grand Cross), The Imperial Order of the Star of Ethiopia
1923 Military Medal of Merit of the Order of St.George with 3 Palms
1936 Distinguished Military Medal of Haile Selassie I, with 3 Palms
1936 Medal for Military Merit in gold                                                                                         1936 Tigre Expedition Medal in silver, awarded 2 times (2 Palms)
1944 Medal for Patriotism with 5 Palms
1941 “Dil-Kokeb” The Star of Victory 1941
1953 Eritrean Medal of Haile Selassie I
1941 Medal for Underground Patriotism 1941 with 5 Palms
1930 Coronation Medal of Emperor Haile Selassie I, 1930
1955 Imperial Jubilee Coronation Medal
1944 The Refugee’s Medal (for war exiles) with 5 palms
1957 Restoration Medal
1959 “Memihiran” Scholarship Medal (also known as Teachers Medal)
1951 Commemorative Medal for the Korean War
1966 25th Anniversaire Medal of the Victory of 1941

Worldwide

1917 U.K. G.C.M.G. (Knight Grand Cross, The Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael & St. George)
1917 Italy, Grand Cross Order of the Crown of Italy (Returned 1936)
1918 France, Grand Officer, Legion of Honour
1924 Egypt, Grand Cordon, Royal Order of Mohammed Ali
1924 France, Grand Croix, Legion of Honour
1924 Italy, Grand Cross Order of St .Maurice & St. Lazarus (Returned 1936)
1924 Belgium, Grand Cross Order of Leopold (Military Division)
1924 Luxemburg, Knight, Order of the Golden Lion of Nassau
1924 Sweden, Knight, Order of Seraphim
1924 U.K. G.C.B., (Knight Grand Cross, Most Honourable Order of the Bath)
1924 Portugal, Grand Cross Military Order of Aviz
1924 Greece, Grand Cross Royal Order of the Redeemer
1925 Portugal, Grand Cross Military Order of the Tower & Sword
1928 Italy, Knight, Supreme Order of the Annunciation (Returned 1936)
1930 Egypt, Collar, Royal Order of Mohammed Ali
1930 Netherlands, Grand Cross Civil Order of Merit of the Netherlands Lion
1930 Poland, Grand Cross Order of Polonia Restituta
1930 Japan, Grand Commander, Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum
1930 U.K. G.C.V.O. (Knight Grand Cross, Royal Victorian Order)
1930 U.K. The Royal Victorian Chain
1945 USA, Chief Commander, Legion of Merit
1945 Norway Grand Cross with Collar, Order of St. Olav
1949 Finland, Grand Cross with Collar, Order of the White Rose
1949 Portugal, Ribband of the Three Orders
1949 Spain, Grand Cross with Collar, Distinguished Order of Charles III
1950 Lebanon, Superior Class, The Merit Decoration
1950 Syria, Grand Cordon, Order of Omayyadh
1950 Jordan, Grand Commander, Order of Hussein Ibn Ali (no Sash ?)
1950 Iraq, Grand Cordon with Collar, Order of the Hashemites
1953 U.K. Coronation Medal 1953
1954 Mexico, Grand Collar, Order of the Aztec Eagle
21.7.1954 Yugoslavia, The Yugoslav Grand Star
1954 Czechoslovakia, 1st Class with Collar, Order of the White Lion (Military Division)
1954 Austria, Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold with Sash, Decoration of Honour for Merit
1954 Germany, Gran Cross Special Class, Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
1954″Great Chief Buffalo”, with the honor & rank of Chief of the Pawnee Native American Indian tribe.
1954 France, Croix de Guerre with Palm (War Cross)
1954 France, Medaille Militaire (Military Medal)
1954 U.K., K.G. (Knight, Noble Order of the Garter) (No Sash or Ribbon)
1954 Netherlands, Grand Cross Military Order of Willem (William)
1954 Denmark, Knight, Order of the Elephant
1954 Sweden, Collar, Order of Seraphim (no Sash)
1955 Italy, Grand Cross with Collar, Order of Merit of the Italian Republic
1956 Libya, Grand Collar, Royal Order of Idris I
1956 Japan, Collar, Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum
1956 Republic of Korea (South Korea), 1st Class, Order of National Foundation
1958 Brazil, GC with Collar, Order of the Southern Cross
1958 Pakistan, 2nd Class, Order of Pakistan (Hilal-i-Pakistan)
1958 Burma Grand Commander, Agha Maha Thudhamma
1958 Thailand, Knight, Most Illustrious Order of the Royal House of Chakri
1958 Malaysia, Grand Knight, Most Exalted Order of the National Crown
1958 Indonesia, 1st Class, Bintang Republik Indonesia
1958 Vietnam 1st Class, National Order of Vietnam
1958 Philippines, Raja, Ancient Order of Sikatuna
1960 Somalia, Grand Cordon, Order of the Somali Star
1963 Togo, Grand Commander, Order of Mono
1963 Upper Volta, Grand Cordon, National Order of Upper Volta
1963 Ivory Coast, Grand Cross National Order of Cote d?Ivoire
1963 Liberia, Knight Grand Band, Order of the Pioneers of the Republic
1963 Senegal, Grand Cross Order of the Lion
1963 Mali, Grand Cross with Collar, National Order of Merit
1963 Niger, Grand Cross National Order of Niger
1963 Chad, Grand Cross National Order of Merit
1963 Nigeria, Grand Commander, Order of the Federal Republic
1964 Hungary, 1st Class with Diamonds, Order of the Banner of the P.R. of Hungary (no Ribbon)
1964 Tunisia, Grand Collar, Order of Independence
1962 Morocco, Grand Collar, Order of Mohammed (no Ribbon)
1964 Buganda, Commander, Order of the Shield & Spears of Buganda Kingdom
1964 Iran, Collar, Pahlevi Order of Iran
1965/66 Dahomey, CC National Order of Dahomey
1965/66 Cambodia, Grand Collar, Order of Independence
1966 Haiti, Grand Cross Order of Honour & Merit
1966 Venezuela Grand Cross with Collar, The Order of the Bust of the Liberator Simon Bolivar
1966 Bolivia, Grand Cross National Order of the Condor of the Andes
1966 Peru, Grand Cross Order of the Peruvian Sun
1966 Chile, Grand Cross with Collar, Order of Merit
1966 Kenya, Grand Chief, Order of the Golden Heart
1967 Iran, Coronation Medal of the Shah of Iran 1967
1968 Zaire, Grand Cross with Collar, Order of the Leopard
1968 Burundi, Grand Cross Order of the Republic
1968 Malawi, Grand Cross Order of the Lion
1968 Zambia, Grand Commander, Order of the Eagle of Zambia
1968 Malagasy Republic, Grand Commander, National Order of the Malagasy Republic
1968/70 Central African Republic, Grand Cross Order of Merit of Central Africa
1968/70 Congo, Grand Cross National Order of Congolese Merit
1968/70 Gabon, Grand Commander, Order of the Equatorial Star
1968/70 Cameroun, Grand Cross Order of Valour
1968/70 Mauritania, Grand Cordon, National Order of Mauritania
1968/70 Guinea, Grand Cordon, National Order of Guinea
1970 Sudan, The Insignia of Honour
1970 Vatican State, Knight Grand Cross, Order of Pius IX
1970 Ghana, 1st Class, Order of the Star
1970 Argentina Grand Cross Order of San Martin
1970 Iraq 1st Class, Order of Ar-Rafidan (Military Division)
1971 Iran, 2500 Anniversaire Medal of the Foundation of the Persian Monarchy
1971 Saudi Arabia, Grand Cordon, Order of King Abdul Aziz
1972 Uganda, Grand Commander, Order of the Source of the Nile

 

In the spirit of St George on this St Georges day (just passed in the gregorian calender and soon approaching us in the Julian Calender) may we all find strength to slay our Dragons and let the legendary defiance of the likes of St George, Iyseus Kristos, Hannibal Barca, King Menelik II, Empress Taitu, Emperor Haile Selassie I and many others against the destructive ideals of ancient/modern Rome keep inspiring us today.

Truth + Rights

Ras Benji 2017

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Soul Rebel : Sylvia Pankhurst

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With a special interest in the lessons we can learn from history, I am always on the lookout for geographical locations of particular historical significance which we cross paths with in our everyday lives.

I found myself feeling extremely happy and thankful whilst journeying through London a few weeks ago when, stuck in traffic at a particular moment i turned to my left and saw a blue house with a blue plaque, the plaque being an indication here in the UK that the property was once residence to someone deemed significant by English Heritage Trust.

Finding blue plaques in London is not unusual but in this one mystic moment i felt as though I had been destined to find this one and it should serve as my motivation to share my deep appreciation for the former occupant. The house, number 120 Cheyne Walk on the River Thames in West London, was once home to the great suffragette Women’s rights campaigner and an Official Honorary Ethiopian, Sylvia Pankhurst.

Sylvia Pankhurst, instrumental in the victory and fight for Women’s right to vote, also became a constant thorn in the side of the British Empire, and was so well known and politically adept in the 20th century that she was attacked by figures such as Lenin and Mussolini who felt the need to denounce her publications and ideology.

Sylvia was born on the 5th of May 1882, daughter of women’s rights and Indian independence campaigner Richard Pankhurst and suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst. She trained as an artist and moved to London from Manchester after winning a scholarship at the Royal College of Art in South Kensington. After finishing university she used her artistic skills working full time campaigning for the Women’s social and political union with her mother and sister, writing many articles for the WSPU newspaper and publishing the ” History of the Women’s militant suffrage movement.” in 1911.

Sylvia Pankhurst

In 1914 she left the Women’s social and Political Union, having political disagreements with the direction they were taking and wanting to address and change wider issues affecting society alongside her life work in rights for Women. She set up the East London Federation of Suffragettes (ELFS), which over the years evolved politically to the Women’s Suffrage Federation and then to the Workers’ Socialist Federation. Here, Sylvia founded the newspaper of the WSF, Women’s Dreadnought, which evolved to become the Workers’ Dreadnought. At this time her main cause was organising and informing the public at the outbreak of the 1st World war.

Although they agreed in principle with regards to women establishing and exercising a right to vote, the differences in ideology of her mother and sister with Sylvia were stark when war was declared as both Emmeline and Christabell Pankhurst suspended campaigning for their Women’s Social and Political Union and embraced nationalism and War recruitment, even handing out “white feathers” to shame the men who had not volunteered to fight in the “Great War”. Sylvia opposed the war.

In September 1914, barely a month after the outbreak of war, Sylvia wrote,

“When first I read in the press that Mrs Pankhurst [her mother Emmeline] and Christabel were returning to England for a recruiting campaign I wept. To me this seemed a tragic betrayal of the great movement to bring the mother-half of the race into the councils of the nations.”

She was imprisoned many times (and beaten / tortured during her food strike protests)  over militant action demanding votes for women, her East London Federation of Suffragettes was a small yet genuinely grassroots organisation of working-class women and set up “cost-price” restaurants to feed the hungry without the taint of charity. They also established a toy factory to give work to women who had become unemployed because of the war and campaigned for the rights of soldiers’ wives.

Later from 1917 – 1920, interested in left ”Council” communism Sylvia secretly (in disguise, without a passport) journeyed on foot for long distances across Europe to see revolutionary russia, she reasoned and had disagreements with Lenin and he even published a book denouncing her for leftist idealism. The book was called Left Wing Communism, An Infantile disorder.

As a result of her wide travels and curiosity for social systems affecting others elsewhere, Sylvia developed a greater interest in international affairs than many of her peers. Near the end of the 1st world war she began living with an Italian anarchist and anti fascist Silvio Corio, who she later had a child with, that child being the great academic Richard Pankhurst, former teacher at Addis Ababa University and founder of Ethiopian studies.

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With the rise of fascism, Sylvia had observed that the movement in Italy was largely financed by banks and large business in order to operate in their interest. This was at a time when not only the British ruling class but many on the Left saw Mussolini as a positive development. She began to apply her socialism to a broader analysis of fascism and to develop a strong critique of British Imperialism. In 1926 she traveled to India and wrote a book revealing the brutality of the British occupation.

” India and the Earthly Paradise. ”

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Her anti-racist, anti-fascist and anti-colonialist stand left Sylvia with few political allies but by 1930 the realities of fascism were beginning to be appreciated and she spearheaded the formation of the Women’s Committee Against War & Fascism, the Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom and the International Peace Crusade.

Sylvia Pankhurst became involved with the cause of Ethiopia in response to the actions of fascist Italy in beginning to invade the country from 1934, she was outraged at plans of a European power to colonize the Independent African Nation and after meeting with H.I.M Haile Selassie’s Ethiopian representative Dr Charles Martin she formally joined the fight on behalf of the ”underdog” .

In 1936 she started the New Times and Ethiopia News and provided an outlet for anti-colonialist and African writers as well as exposing Italian massacres in Ethiopia. She also campaigned against aerial bombing on the grounds that it represented the deliberate targeting of innocent people. Her experience of Ethiopia, and British ‘neutrality’, also enabled her to campaign against the fascists in Spain. She was among the large crowd to greet the Emperor at Waterloo station in June of 1936 as he arrived in London and later went on to live at Fairfield House during the period of Ethiopian distress.

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”Although she was no fan of any system of monarchy, this did not seem to matter as far as the Ethiopian King of Kings was concerned, she supposedly told him straight away that, as a republican, she supported him not because he was an Emperor, but because she believed in his cause, the cause of Ethiopia.”

She spoke of him as ”a special man of destiny, elect of God, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, King of Zion, King of Kings, Emperor of Ethiopia, chevalier sans peur et reproche (a knight without fear and reproach) and the epitome of true nobility and the soul resistance to Mussolini.”

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(Speaking of H.I.M Emperor Haile Selassie I )

”In his eyes burned the quenchless fire of a hero that never failed his cause, One sees in his build and bearing those features full of meaning, the worker who toils unceasingly for the public weal, untouched by personal ambition or material desire for wealth or safety. ”

”Above all, to her (Sylvia Pankhurst) he (Haile Selassie) was a living symbol of international justice.”

Quotations from the book, Imperial Exile – Keith Bowers

In 1956, encouraged by Emperor Haile Selassie to aid with Women’s development, Sylvia and her son Richard went to live in Ethiopia. During the Second World War Sylvia had campaigned to expose war crimes in Ethiopia and when she visited in 1944 she observed that although ‘liberated’ by the British they now were revealing desires of colonial occupation.

On one visit to Ethiopia, ”She went by way of Asmara, in Eritrea, then under British Military Occupation, where she was warmly welcomed by members of the Unionist Party, then struggling for union with Ethiopia. She also spoke from the floor at a public meeting in Asmara – where her support for the cause won considerable applause from Eritreans in the audience – but some opprobrium from members of the British administration.

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On finally reaching Ethiopia she met many Ethiopians whom she had known during their exile in Britain, and broadcast on Addis Ababa Radio. She also visited schools and historic sites which she later described in New Times and Ethiopia News. During a second visit to Ethiopia in 1950-51, she inspected many more institutions and antiquities, and collected material which she later included in Ethiopia: A Cultural History. Returning by way of Asmara she saw, and later described, the slums of its so-called ‘native quarter‘, a creation of the strict Fascist policy of racial segregation. At this time she also learnt that the British administration had been dismantling many port installations – causing her to denounce this in a pamphlet entitled ‘Why are we destroying the Eritrean ports?’ This work incensed British officialdom, already nettled by her unwavering support for Ethiopian independence, and caused one prominent British Foreign Office official to recommend that she should in future be discouraged from travelling to Ethiopia by way of Eritrea – which was later federated with Ethiopia by the United Nations in 1952. ”

Quotation from SylviaPankhurst.com – Rita Pankhurst

Sylvia campaigned for liberation throughout Africa, prompting a Foreign Office official to comment in 1947 that ‘we agree with you in your evident wish that this horrible old harridan should be choked to death with her own pamphlets’. It was also reported that in 1948 the British Government considered strategies for “muzzling the tiresome Miss Sylvia Pankhurst”.

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Whilst in Africa she raised funds for Ethiopia’s first teaching hospital and turned her attentions once again to improving conditions for mothers and babies, helped to open a specialist women’s hospital and wrote extensively on Ethiopian art and culture, carrying out research that was published in her book Ethiopia: A Cultural History (London: Lalibela House, 1955).

After the post-war liberation of Ethiopia she became a strong supporter of union between Ethiopia and the former Italian Somaliland.

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” As an anti-colonialist, and anti-racist, she was keenly interested in the African struggle for independence then being waged in many parts of the Continent, and had already published pro-independence articles in New Times and Ethiopia News. She visited Kenya in 1958, when the then Ethiopian Consul, Berhanu Tessema (a former Ethiopian refugee with whom she had corresponded during the Italian occupation), arranged for her to meet the African Trade Union leader, Tom Mboya and the African and Asian members of the Legislative Council. Jomo Kenyatta, who had spoken at her pro-Ethiopian meetings in London, was then in detention. The Mau Mau rebellion had only recently been crushed, and the Council members told her of the restrictions under which they were then labouring. She later devoted an issue of Ethiopia Observer to Kenyan affairs.

Sylvia also made contact with students from other parts of Africa who were studying at Ethiopian higher education institutions on special scholarships from the Emperor, and, once again combining wider political issues with consideration of the needs of individuals, on several occasions, introduced to him African refugees in difficulties. ”

Quotation from SylviaPankhurst.com – Rita Pankhurst

On her death in 1960 age 78, she was given an Ethiopian state funeral during the Celebration of Feast of Meskel (finding of the true cross) and was buried in the grounds of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa, a place reserved for national heroes, it is said the Emperor stood for the many of hours of her funeral service, paying respect for his great friend  ”Honorary Ethiopian”, Wonderful human being – Sylvia Pankhurst.

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In a world where young people especially are force fed a multitude of meaningless role models such as Beyonce and Kim Kardashian etc, we must not forget to draw inspiration and shine light on the now unsung heroes of yesterday, Real Revolutionaries , time and history is revealing their unshakable and unparalleled greatness more and more each day.

With the spirit of protest and the power of an unrelenting voice, always proud to speak truth and rights against injustice, Long may we all remember, Sylvia Pankhurst : Soul Rebel : Freedom Fighter.

British Suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst

Thankyou for taking the time to read my blog, if you have enjoyed the information found here, please remember that knowledge gained and not shared is knowledge lost… so please tell people about the greatness of Honorary Ethiopian – Sylvia Pankhurst and feel free to share the link to this page. 

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Jah Love

Ras Benji 2017

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“Jackie”: The true story of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, JFK and Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia that Hollywood will not show you.

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In the midst of Presidential fever, the Hollywood feature film Jackie, soon to be released, is set to tell the story of the assassination of President John F Kennedy and the aftermath of this event, from the perspective of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

“Jackie” tells the story of the first lady fighting “through grief and trauma to regain her faith, console her children, and define her husband’s historic legacy.”

Knowing that President John F Kennedy and Emperor Haile Selassie I had a very close relationship and the Emperor was a special guest of honour at the funeral of JFK, I set off to find out if His Majesty would be depicted at all in this feature film and explore the history of Haile Selassie in cinema.

Scenes of the funeral in the trailer did not give us a glimpse of a depiction of the Emperor. However, searching further I found the His Imperial Majesty is supposedly depicted in the film, appearing in an uncredited role, played by an actor / extra called Kelsey Saunders.

This uncredited role means it is unlikely the true story and importance of Emperor Haile Selassie I ‘s attendance at the funeral will be told in this film, especially from the perspective of “Jackie” Kennedy.

History

In October 1963 Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia made a return visit to the United States, meeting President John F. Kennedy in Washington, D.C., with a visit to the White House, a visit to the Lincoln Memorial where Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall reads the Emancipation Proclamation, a trip to the Capitol with Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, a visit to New York City / United Nations (UN) headquarters, a visit to Georgetown University and a meeting with Ethiopian students.

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President Kennedy publicly addresses Emperor Haile Selassie I

“Your Majesty:

On behalf of all of my fellow citizens, I want to express our great appreciation to you for having traveled across so many thousands of miles to visit us once again and also for the pleasure that you have brought us all in bringing with you your granddaughter, and the benefit you have brought us in bringing the members of your Government.

As you say, Ethiopia and the United States are separated not only by geography but by history and culture, but I think that they are bound together by necessity, and that is the necessity for all sovereign free countries to maintain the most intimate association.

So we are very proud to have you here because of what your country has done, what it is doing, because of the hospitality you have shown to my fellow countrymen when they have gone there to work or to visit.

Most of all, we are glad to have you here because of your own extraordinary record. Those of us who have held office for a comparatively brief time are somewhat awed to realize that you have borne the responsibility of leadership in your country for more than
45 years. For a good part of this century, with all the changes that it has brought to not only your own country but to the continent of Africa, and so much of the West during this whole period, the central thrust of burden has been borne by you. And to have borne it with such distinction in other days and to still bear it with such force-demonstrated by the fact that your capital was chosen by your fellow leaders of Africa to be the center of this great, cooperative movement which was symbolized by the summit meeting in your capital and which was made a success by your own very patient efforts–brings accord out of what could have been on occasion perhaps a disagreement.

So, looking to a long past, looking to a promising future, we want to say, Your Majesty, that we are proud to have you here, we have been honored by the visit, and I hope that this short time here in Washington will remind you once again of how strongly your place is secured in the affection of all of the people of the United States. I hope all of you will join with me in a toast to His Imperial Majesty.

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Note: The President spoke at the Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md. at a luncheon given in his honor by Emperor Haile Selassie. In his opening remarks the President referred to Princess Ruth Desta, the Emperor’s granddaughter.

The Emperor, speaking before him, began by mentioning the warm and friendly relationship between his nation and the United States. He referred to the growing number of Americans who go to Ethiopia–as members of economic and military aid missions, in the Peace Corps, as businessmen, and as tourists. Such associations, the Emperor continued, cannot but help the Ethiopian and American peoples to know each other better. Mutual understanding has also been broadened, he pointed out, by the many young Ethiopian leaders who have studied in the United States. “If their number now declines,” he added, “it will be because of the new university which has, with the generous help of the people and the Government of the United States, now assumed the responsibility for providing higher education in Ethiopia.”

The Charter of Unity recently signed in his capital by African heads of state demonstrates, said Emperor Haile Selassie, the will of their peoples, inspired by America’s example past and present, to prepare for themselves a future of unity and brotherhood.

He concluded with a toast to the President and to the two peoples, who are, he said, distant in geography but proximate in friendship and in spirit.

No sooner had Emperor Selassie returned to Ethiopia than he received the horrifying news that President Kennedy had been assassinated. Once again he “traveled across so many thousands of miles” to the United States, to be one of 220 representatives from 100 nations to attend his funeral.

The following passages describe Emperor Selassie’s relationship with President Kennedy’s wife Jacqueline and children, Caroline and John, six and three years-old respectively:

The Death of a President
by William Manchester

pages 583-584:

“…Overhead, St. Matthew’s choir sang the Gregorian “Subvenite” while the ushers struggled to seat the marchers quickly…. The snag was over the dignitaries. This was Angie Duke’s worry, and it was a stupendous one. The slight, sensitive chief of protocol had been working without rest for three days and three nights. Ahead of him, after the funeral, lay two crucial receptions – Mrs. Kennedy’s, in the executive mansion, and President Johnson’s, at State. Nevertheless it was his hour in church that was to be his hour of trial. First he found that the pews he had earmarked last night had been confiscated by Jack McNally for President Kenney’s staff. He was obliged to lead his chiefs of staff off to the right, to St Josephs Chapel – from which, he discovered in horror, the main altar was invisible.

Angie improvised. He seized a church functionary and demanded a television set. There was one in the cathedral, he was told, but using it in church during Mass was unthinkable. It had to be thinkable, said Angie, arguing furiously; diplomatic relations with ninety one countries were at stake. The set appeared and was plugged in. It would be the only one in the cathedral, he told his charges, and they looked immensely pleased. Their pleasure diminished, however, when he started seating them. It was then he realized that in failing to allow for overcoats he had miscalculated badly. He had forgotten something else; the Emperor of Ethiopia, the King of the Belgians, and the husband of the Queen of England were all carrying bulky swords, more space-takers. Putting four bodies in a pew instead of five made a difference of twenty people – twenty world leaders who would have to stand. It wouldn’t do. He would have to start cramming. Like a conductor on a crowded bus he kept urging them to move over. They complied, grunting. Some situations were especially awkward….”They were jammed in like sardines,” Angie said of the foreigners later. “I stood throughout the Mass and suffered. Somehow we had got them all seated, but I hate to think how it was done.”

From the front pew in the main well of the church young John saw Haile Selassie. The Lion of Judah, who looked like a midget next to Larry O’Brien, but was a giant to John. Last summer he had come to the mansion bearing gifts : a leopard-skin coat for Mrs. Kennedy (which she, as a token of respect, had worn at the time despite the sweltering heat) and two toys carved of ivory, a doll for Caroline and a warrior for John. Since then the children hadn’t stopped talking about Haile Selassie, and John pointed toward the side chapel and gazed across at him admiringly. Then the formalities became boring to the boy. He fidgeted. St. Matthew’s bronze doors had clanged shut behind the last four persons to enter–Judge Sarah Hughes, Bunny Mellon, Martin Luther King, and Mary Ryan from Ireland. Luigi Vena was singing Leybach’s “Pie Jesu” as the crucifer slowly returned the cross to the altar, accompanied by two other acolytes carrying candles. The Cardinal followed them, chanting in Latin. Behind him the casket team, moving stiffly like drugged automatons, wheeled the coffin into position in front of the first pew, a few feet from the widow….

None of this had any meaning for the President’s little son. From across the aisle Nina Warren and Joanie Douglas, in the Supreme Court section, heard him say “Where’s my Daddy?!” The boy lifted his arms. “Somebody pick me up.” Agent Foster, lurking near, carried him to the back of the church….

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page 606:

…Indeed, everything was over – the burial service, the state funeral, the strangely congruous blend of Old World mysticism and American tradition, the parade of uniforms and vestments, of judges and secret agents, of princes and prelates and anonymous, nondescript citizens who had surged across the bridge in the wake of the marching columns because they couldn’t bear to be left behind….

Cradling the flag under her left arm…she walked down the hill holding Bob Kennedy’s hand….In the car Mrs. Kennedy and the two brothers talked of the funeral – of how splendid it had been – and as the procession of returning cars came off the Washington side of the bridge and turned left, Robert Kennedy ordered the chauffeur of their car to leave the line and circle the Lincoln memorial from the right. That way he could see the statue. He told the driver to draw over in front of it, and they did, as thousands of tourists do each day. From the back seat President Kennedy’s widow and the two heirs of his political legacy inclined their heads leftward to look up between the columns at Daniel Chester French’s nineteen foot figure  of the sad, strong, brooding President Lincoln, the marble chin tilted in thought. After a while Bob tapped the chauffeur. They drove on without having spoken…

The Kennedy’s duty lay downstairs, where Angie Duke was leading their exotic guests to two buffets in the state and family dining rooms…

It s doubtful that any woman has ever prepared herself for a state function in less time. Before Peter Lawford entered the West Sitting Room to sit with Evelyn and his mother-in-law Jacqueline Kennedy had removed her veil and black beret, raked her simple coiffure into shape, and was in the Oval Room, ready to meet people. She was not going downstairs just yet, though. Here as everywhere she had her own way of doing things. For a little while she was going to be nearly as great a trial to Angie Duke as Jack McNally. A protocol officer must think in terms of nations, not people; he must pretend that every country is like every other country, distinguishable only by the alphabet. Sovereigns understood that. At the buffet Angie proposed that Queen Frederika precede President Lubke, on the ground that she was a woman; she recoiled, pointing out that Germany comes before Greece.

Jacqueline Kennedy didn’t like those rules. She only wanted to see four men in private, and she named them: Haile Selassie, Charles de Gaulle, Eamon de Valera, and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

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The first stage of the Kennedy reception therefore had three foci: her salon in the oval study, Rose Kennedy’s group in the sitting room, and the others downstairs. Various intermediaries shuttled in and out of the study – the Attorney General usually, assisted by Mac Bundy, by Angie, who had reluctantly agreed to “slip them up,” and, unexpectedly, by the Presidents son and daughter. Caroline and John had been assigned no role. They were supposed to be playing with Miss Shaw. Their impromptu appearances were welcomed , however,because famous men are just as susceptible to the magic spell of the very young as their constituents, and brother and sister scored their own triumphs, notably with the Lion of Judah.

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Bundy noted how he saw their mother “Charm the Old black Emperor and let him charm her  children – which he did most sweetly.  Really they were the charmers. The language barrier was formidable – Jacqueline Kennedy and Selassie spoke French, for his English was extremely limited – but the children had their own ways of communicating. ” He was, “ Mrs. Kennedy remembered, “their hero”; she fetched them from across the hall, and as they entered timidly at first, she pointed to his glittering chest and said, ” Look John, He’s such a brave soldier. That’s why he has all those medals. The boy crept up into his lap and touched one. Then Caroline ran to get the doll he had given her last summer. Her brother darted after her, and suddenly they were both in the Emperors lap, showing him the ivory carvings they had treasured. Haile Selassie examined John’s toy. “You will be a brave warrior,” he said haltingly. “Like your father.” They sat there for about twenty minutes , and to their mother the bond between them and the bearded old man in the gorgeous uniform was almost mystical. “He had this thing of love, and they showed him their little presents,” she recalled later. “And they were so happy, just staring at him and worshipping.”…

While Haile Selassie was in the study de Gaulle had stepped into the sitting room to tell Rose Kennedy of it, and Selassie, at Jacqueline Kennedy’s suggestion, had followed him there. Here again the Emperor was especially effective. The President’s mother recited his childhood diseases in French; “He was never a strong boy,” she said, “but he was so determined.”Selassie nodded and described how he had lost his own son, his crown prince. He and Rose discovered that they were the same age. “It’s wrong for parents to bury their children. It should be the other way round,” she said. He agreed: “It’s a violation of nature.”

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Although we wait to see, it’s unlikely that the importance of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I ‘s attendance and the comfort he gave to the grief-stricken Kennedy family will be honestly portrayed in this feature film. In fact, very rarely is H.I.M Haile Selassie ever mentioned or touched upon in historical films or documentaries in-spite of having been described as the most famous human being of the 20th century, the most bemedalled and accoladed person as recorded in the Guinness World Records and the subject of the 1st colour photo ever to be printed in a newspaper.

Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia in film

Below you will find a very small list of cinematic films where His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Haile Selassie I (Ras Tafari) has been featured; if you compare this to Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Mussolini or Hitler (other very well known figures of the 20th Century) it is vastly disproportionate.

Mission to Moscow 1943

At the very beginning of the film, the story begins with the historic and prophetic speech spoken by the Emperor at the League of Nations in 1936.

Mission to Moscow is a 1943 film directed by Michael Cortiz, based on the 1941 book by the former U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, Joseph E. Davies.

The movie chronicles the experiences of the second American ambassador to the Soviet Union and was made in response to a request by Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was made during World War II, when the Americans and Soviets were allies, and takes a more benign view of the Soviet government than most Hollywood films.

The brief film role of the character of the Emperor is actually very significant as unlike other films from this time which would “black up” white actors for black roles, the role of African Emperor Haile Selassie is played by an African actor, Leigh rollin Whipper (October 29, 1876 – July 26, 1975) who was an American actor on the stage and in motion pictures. He was the first African-American to join the Actors’ Equity Association, and one of the founders of the Negro Actors Guild of America.

 

Born Free 1965

Although H.I.M Haile Selassie I does not feature in this film, it does feature his own Lion cubs, the producers have made a special thank you to him in the credits for his assistance.

”the producers are also most grateful for help received from His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia)”

Orde Wingate Tv series 1976

H.I.M Emperor Haile Selassie’s character features in two episodes of this series.

Major – General Orde Charles Wingate was instrumental in the operation to liberate Ethiopia in 1940 – 1941.

At the outbreak of WW2, Wingate was the commander of an anti aircraft unit in Britain. He repeatedly made proposals to the army and government for the creation of a Jewish army in Palestine which would rule over the area and its Arab population in the name of the British. Eventually his friend Wavell, by this time commander-in-chief of Middle East Command which was based in Cairo, invited him to Sudan to begin operations against Italian occupation forces in Ethiopia. He created the Gideon Force, an SOE force composed of British, Sudanese and Ethiopian soldiers.

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Gideon force was named after the biblical judge, who defeated a large force with a tiny band.  Wingate invited a number of veterans of the Haganah SNS to join him. With the blessing of the Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, the group began to operate in February 1941.

Chariots of Fire 1980

Whilst protesting a play based on a 1970s communist propaganda book “The Emperor Downfall of an Autocrat” by Ryszard Kapuscinski, I met an elderly lady who asked if I knew that an actor/extra portrayed Negus Tafari (Haile Selassie as he is later known) at the 1924 Olympics in Paris. I have watched the movie but am yet to spot this feature! Perhaps it didn’t make the final cut.

The movie is about Two British track athletes, one a determined Jewish competitor and the other a devout Christian, who compete in the 1924 Olympics.

It could be very possible that the future Ethiopian Emperor is portrayed in this film as Ras Tafari Makonnen (Haile Selassie) did in fact attend the 1924 Olympics on his first visit to Europe as a representative of Empress Zawditu accompanied by a number of other Ethiopian dignitaries .

In 1924, Ras Tafari toured Europe and the Middle East visiting Jerusalem, Alexandria, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Stockholm, London, Geneva, and Athens. With him on his tour was a group that included Ras Seyum Mangasha of western Tigray Province; Ras Hailu Tekle Haymanot of Gojjam province; Ras Mulugeta Yeggazu of Illubabor Province; Ras Makonnen Endelkachew; and Blattengeta Heruy Welde Sellase. The primary goal of the trip to Europe was for Ethiopia to gain access to the sea. In Paris, Tafari was to find out from the French Foreign Ministry (Quai d’Orsay) that this goal would not be realized. However, failing this, he and his retinue inspected schools, hospitals, factories, and churches. Although patterning many reforms after European models, Tafari remained wary of European pressure. To guard against economic imperialism, Tafari required that all enterprises have at least partial local ownership. Of his modernization campaign, he remarked, “We need European progress only because we are surrounded by it. That is at once a benefit and a misfortune.”

Throughout Ras Tafari’s travels in Europe, the Levant, and Egypt, he and his entourage were greeted with enthusiasm and fascination. He was accompanied by Seyum Mangasha and Hailu Tekle Haymanot who, like Tafari, were sons of generals who contributed to the victorious war against Italy a quarter century earlier at the Battle of Adwa

http://www.onlinefootage.tv/frontend_dev.php/stock-video-footage/7333/8th-olympics-paris-1924-tafari-makonnen-haile-selassie-i-guest-from-ethiopia?keywords=

Coming to America 1988

Although H.I.M Emperor Haile Selassie is not directly mentioned in the film, it has been said that the inspiration for the Wedding scene, the costumes and grandeur of the African royalty were based on the Coronation of His Majesty and Empress Menen which took place on the 2nd of November 1930.

Athetu “The Athlete”2009

By far the best film depicting the character of H.I.M Haile Selassie I, The Athlete is a portrait of the legendary marathon runner from Ethiopia, Abebe Bikila. In 1960, with great significance he participated in the Rome Olympic Games as a complete unknown. Running barefoot (as he was not comfortable in the running shoes he was supposed to wear) and won the gold medal. Four years later, he repeated his feat at the Tokyo Olympic Games, becoming the first man to win the Olympic marathon twice in a row. A few years later, he suffered a car accident and lost the use of his legs. Very sadly, He died four years later.

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Abebe Bikila was one of H.I.M Haile Selassie’s personal Imperial Bodyguard and the character of the Emperor features greatly in the film. In the closing scenes, Abebe is shown a screening of a film about his achievements, in the audience is the Emperor, who comes straight to greet and thank Abebe for his great service to Ethiopia at the end of the film. The film was made in 2009 and was directed by Rasselas Lakew and Davey Frankel.

Upstairs, Downstairs Television Series 2010

In one of the episodes of the 1st season of the (2010) reboot of Upstairs, Downstairs, the character of Emperor Haile Selassie I makes an off-camera appearance.

The synopsis of Season 1 Episode 2 provides this description:

”On a diplomatic assignment, Hallam meets with one of the fascist movement’s prime victims in 1936, the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie. Arriving in England in exile after being deposed by Mussolini’s armies, Selassie warns ominously, “It is us today. It will be you tomorrow.””

From Synopsis at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/upstairsdownstairs/synopsis_ep2.html

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Thankyou for taking the time to read my blog, if you have enjoyed the information found here, please remember that knowledge gained and not shared is knowledge lost… so feel free to share the link to this page. 

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Jah Love

Ras Benji 2017

Commissioned by the Lion of Judah, a Special Project in Addis Ababa National Library

Before the advent of social media, arranging our profiles in one way or another to express the higher or lower self, the traditional method of providing this impression in the centuries gone by (for those able to afford) would be through artistic means. This was of course tradition for Kings and Queens, especially those representative of a Ancient History. Often highly symbolic in meaning, how a historical figure has chosen to represent their own person (and also how they have been portrayed) in Art form can be very revealing.

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For a long time I have been fascinated by the mysterious nature of one painting in particular. I first saw the image of this mural whilst visiting the Ba Beta Krystiyan Church of Haile Selassie I near Porey Spring on the Island of Barbados. A country in the Eastern Caribbean where my paternal Grandfather was born, a descendant of the thousands of Africans displaced and dehumanised during the period of Transatlantic Slavery.

When first spending time looking at the photo of this painting, I remember having thought that it must hold a great significance especially because His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I is proudly standing in front of the painting which seems to be in some kind of classroom. Looking further, I found another image where HIM Haile Selassie is giving a speech, also in front of the mural.

I have since discovered that the mural painting can still be found in The National Library of Ethiopia in the Capital City of the Country, Addis Ababa. I have been lucky enough to visit Ethiopia but we were unable to see the painting at that particular time due to the library not being open. I really look forward to the day when I can sit quietly as many hundreds of students must have done and become mesmerised by its wonders in person!

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A few years ago, whilst searching online for further information, I found a great journal article in the Hal Archives – Ouvertes written by Anaıs Wion 2010 regarding especially the National Archives and Library of Ethiopia.

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” The National Library was one of the institutional tools conceived to elevate Ethiopia, and its Emperor, to the same rank as the industrialized and free nations, at a time when most of African and Southern countries were still under colonial domination.

This, at least, can be inferred from the monumental mural painting covering one of the walls of the Public Division main reading room the former Blatengéta Heruy Reading Hall.

In the centre sits enthroned Haile Selassie, wearing a crown and holding a sceptre and an imperial globe, with three lions at his feet and the Trinity church in the background. Allegorical scenes are depicted all around.

At the left of the Emperor, one can see dead bodies of traditional warriors, women and children fleeing in terror, a column of horsemen holding spears and small tanks on the top of a hill. Two statuesque women, holding books but not reading, mourn and condemn this scene. Between sky and earth, heavy black birds glide over this desolation. At the right of the Emperor, one can see in the background women running to exalt khaki-dressed soldiers marching in column while huge tanks stand in the background and proud planes protect the army. In the foreground, children have stopped their games for reading amid peaceful scenery.

Two allegoric female figures symbolise Justice and Veneration for the Emperor. All this happens on earth. In the heavy cloudy sky, winged demons fight against archangels and four horsemen gallop to the cardinal points, referring clearly to the Apocalypse (6: 1-7). As suggested by Giulia Bonacci, this very symbolic painting could be a representation of the final eschatological battle leading to the advent of the messiah incarnated here by the Ethiopian Emperor.

The political meaning of the whole could be therefore, when related to the context of a National Library, a praise of modernisation and enlightenment, and a condemnation of the kind of backwardness which would not allow Ethiopia to stand on equal footing with the industrialised countries. Books and education are here compared to weapons and are designated as one of the main strengths of a Nation.

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Curiously enough, in spite of its monumental size and strong symbolic message, none
of the articles mentioning the National Library has ever paid attention to this painting. And I
was able to find only two published photos, both of them black and white. According to
Richard Pankhurst, the painter was Beatrice Playne, a British artist who lived in Ethiopia at
the end of the 1940’s and beginning of the 1950’s.

In her book on Ethiopian church paintings,
she introduced herself saying that she had learned mural painting in Mexico, that she arrived in Ethiopia as a British Council worker on December 1945 and that she “was engaged on some special work in the National Library in Addis Abeba very shortly after [her] arrival”

The Emperor later had his portrait repainted by Em’a’älaf Heruy, son of aläqa Heruy, who
had his atelier in the National Library and was appreciated for his fine execution of portraits,
which he painted from photos. It was a very dynamic period for the National Library, which
also the atelier of the famous Afä-Wärq Täklä. Additionally, the National Library
had an Art Gallery as well as a Historical Museum. ”

Reference:

Ana¨ıs Wion. The National Archives and Library of Ethiopia: six years of Ethio-French coopera-tion (2001-2006). dir. Wolbert Smidt. The National Archives and Library of Ethiopia: six yearsof Ethio-French cooperation (2001-2006), Jan 2006, Ethiopia. 20 p., 2010.

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