From the book Rastafari and its Shamanist Origins.
The Dirge was a committee of low ranked, officers and enlisted men that was established, to investigate the military’s demands, for higher wages etc. The troops of the Dirge confronted H.I.M. in his office in the Jubilee Palace (the same office shown previously in this book). What follows is quoted from Harold G. Marcus’ A History of Ethiopia : ‘The next day, with Addis Ababa cut off from the world and under curfew, a small group of officers went to the palace and, at 6:00 A.M ., summoned Haile Sellassie. He appeared in full uniform and, with great dignity, stood proud and erect while a nervous officer read out a proclamation of deposition. The old man declared his acceptance, if it were for the good of the people, and he was escorted outside, where an awaiting vehicle and small escort took him to Fourth Division Headquarters. Within the hour, Radio Addis Abeba reported that Ethiopia had been freed from Haile Sellassie’s oppression by a Provisional Military, Administration Council (PMAC)—the descendants of the Coordinating Committee, that had abolished parliament and suspended the constitution’. Kapuscinski gave a vivid account as told to him by Sellassie’s manservant worthy of re-enactment here: ‘At the end of August, the military proclaimed the nationalization of all the Emperor’s Palaces. There were fifteen of them. His private enterprises met the same fate, among them the Saint George Brewery, the Addis Ababa metropolitan bus company, the mineral-water factory in Ambo. The exact sum of the Emperor’s accounts will probably never be known. The propaganda bulletins spoke of four billion dollars. At daybreak, the soldiers came for H.I.M: “His Imperial Majesty will please follow us. Where to? H.S. asked, to a safe place, explained the major. Everybody left the Palace, in the driveway stood a green Volkswagen. You cannot be serious the Emperor bridled I am supposed to go like this? However, he presently fell silent and sat down in the back seat of the car. The Volkswagen set off followed by a jeep full of armed soldiers. I want to reconstruct the socio-political and highlight some geo-political events that led to the fall, arrest, and subsequent death of Haile Sellassie I. Here I will begin from the interim of the Italian slaughter on the Ethiopians in Addis Ababa and its outlying villages (The Graziani Massacre), By 1937 it was increasingly clear that the terrorist tactics and policies of the Italian governments vis a vis Ethiopians, only worked to harden the resolve of Ethiopians against Italian occupation, delayed development and settlement projects, and raised the costs of Italian security within Ethiopia. Resultantly Italy recalled Graziani, replacing him with the Duke of Aosta, a civilian in 1942. In southern and eastern Ethiopia, Aosta implemented the well-worn strategy of divide and conquer, favored by European colonial-imperialist powers, dividing the Christian insurgents battling Italian occupation, from the Muslim population in the area.
The enmity between the varying ethnic groups in Ethiopia was lit aflame when the Italians, reorganized their stolen territories (colonies) in east Africa, Tigray in Eritrea, Italy then placed Ogaden in Somalia, then went on to divide the rest of the country into Galla and Sidama, Hater, Shoa, and Amara. Thereby attempting to eliminate the historical and cultural links of the people. In September 1939, world war II was underway, this was a boon for the Ethiopians, changing the geopolitical reality in favour of the Ethiopians. The Ethiopian insurgents and patriots increased their attacks on Italians and their interests in Ethiopia. One famous Ethiopian freedom fighter and a masterful tactician was, Dejazmatch Abebe Aregai, who was once the police chief of Addis Ababa. On June 10, 1940, Italy declared war on the allied powers, Haile Sellassie’s continuous appeals for assistance were finally heeded, by Britain. On 12 July 1940, London acquiesced and officially declared, Ethiopia (Haile Sellassie), as an ally. Two weeks later Haile Sellassie, was in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, the Sudanese army comprising roughly 2500 men, was no match for the 250,000 Italian troops and 200 warplanes. The British began training an Ethiopian force, to invade Gojam from Sudan ultimately joining up with the Ethiopian freedom fighters inside the country. The commander of the Ethiopian fighters was, Major Charles Wingate who trained the Ethiopian forces, thereby aiding them in becoming a highly disciplined well-trained unit.
The Ethiopian fighting force consisted of Ethiopian exiles, some European mercenaries, and Sudanese soldiers, the unit was called Gideon Force. Haile Sellassie along with his fighters and Wingate entered Gojam on 20 January 1941. Upon seeing the fighters of Gideon force, the Italians who vastly outnumbered them fled for their lives, seeking shelter in their fortresses. The victorious Ethiopian soldiers from Gideon force rendezvoused, with the remnants of the Ethiopian freedom fighters, already there, atse (Emperor) Haile Sellassie II was thunderously welcomed by the freedom fighters in Gojam. On 5 May 1941, Haile Sellassie returned triumphantly to Addis Ababa, five years after the arrival of Badoglio, restoring Ethiopia’s freedom. H.I.M immediately moved to mitigate and eventually remove British influence by, acquiring non-British advisers, ending London’s control over Ethiopia’s finances and customs, and bringing to a close the British military monopoly in Dire Dawa, Ogaden, and along the national railway line. The prescient Sellassie, being a voracious student of history, foresaw that America then ascendant would become a global superpower, therefore he strategically aligned himself with the Americans.
The American consul in Eritrea, where the Americans had seized various Italian bases as, assembly points and distribution centers for lend-lease in the Middle East, aided Sellassie in his struggle to remove British political and economic hegemony from his nation. At Washington’s behest, Ethiopia became a member state of the fledgling United Nations, re-opening its embassy in Addis Ababa in 1943, gave arms and ammunition to Ethiopia, and sent a technical and advisory team, to report back to Washington on Ethiopia’s needs. Haile Sellassie I, recreated the pre-war economy and political structure, staffing the top positions with bureaucrats. In 1944, the corporation turned a profit of 1.2 million and 1.8 million pounds respectively, double the standard margin for the majority of businesses in Ethiopia at the time. Haile Sellassie’s huge popularity amongst black western populations was also reflected in the enthusiastic support he received amongst African Americans, this support translated to the large number of African Americans enlisting in the US Army, to fight alongside the allies, this also meant they would get an opportunity to fight against Mussolini’s forces who were seen as devils incarnate. The US State Department chaired a meeting on 13 February 1945, between Haile Sellassie I and Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Egypt. The program that Haile Selassie I presented to Roosevelt contained Ethiopia’s foreign policy goals at the time. And are as follows Ethiopian ownership over the railway to Djibouti, free and unimpeded access to the sea, recovery of Eritrea, reparations from Italy, assistance in developing a modern army, US investments in development.
At the same time London wanted to retain Ogaden as part of Greater Somalia, the Ethiopians recognized that such a move was detrimental to their interest’s and vociferously made their objections known to the British. Meanwhile the nationalist Somalia Youth League (SYL), was agitating for uniting all Somalians in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti into one ethnic state. By 1947, most Somalian policemen, soldiers, and officials were members of the (SYL), the Ogaden was being run by the afore mentioned at the behest of the British. Ethiopia determined to regain Ogaden, used the exploratory drilling of the American Sinclair Oil Company as a pretext to regain control of Ogaden. Ethiopia granted the American personnel of the company Sinclair Oil, one-year visas to work in Ogaden. Resultantly the Jijiga (SYL), condemned the move denouncing Ethiopia as illegitimate, claiming Ethiopia had no right to rule in Ogaden. When an international commission arrived in Mogadishu (1948), ostensibly to seek advice on Somalia’s post war disposition, (SYL) activist’s claimed Sinclair, was in Somalia illegally, (SYL) members then assaulted a Sinclair drilling team. The British commanding officer responsible for the gendarmerie was powerless, to intervene since the gendarmerie consisted of SYL members. On 17 March 1948, the Ethiopians announced that British troops would shortly be withdrawn from Jijiga. The Ethiopian government thereafter established a new administration for, Ogaden which went into effect at the end of September. Haile Sellassie then turned his attention to, restoring Eritrea as part of Ethiopia. Eritrea then was governed by a British military administration, Haile Sellassie I argued that Eritrea prior to being colonized was a part of Ethiopia.
The seminal event that led to the fall of the regime of Haile Sellassie, was the famine that killed tens of thousands, in north-eastern Ethiopia mainly in the Wollo province and Tigray. A 1973 production by ITV entitled; ‘The Unknown Famine’ later reworked and retitled The Hidden Hunger by a group of army officers, who were plotting to seize power. The film juxtaposed footage of Haile Sellassie eating at a banquet in one of his palaces, with those of starving Ethiopians, the film portrayed a disproportionate image of massive death and untold misery. Although there were many deaths from starvation, the propagandist’s inflated the numbers. The famine, high oil prices, military mutinies all were contributing factors in the destabilization of the regime of Haile Sellassie. Edmund J. Keller in his book ‘Ethiopia: Revolution, Class and the National Question’, published by African Affairs (1981): wrote the following; ‘Peasants and pastoralists living on the margins of subsistence have had to cope with such phenomena from time immemorial. As a result of the process of modernization and the centralization efforts of the state, however, the lives of poor rural inhabitants had been unalterably changed. More and more of their surplus production has either been demanded by landlords and the state or been translated into cars in order [sic] to meet tax obligations. Conservatives and Liberal Reforms, 1960–1974 113 their freedom of movement and their access to land was also now inhibited by state regulation or by a complex and aggressive burgeoning market economy. Traditional survival mechanisms were either gravely weakened or completely inoperable. Rural people unwittingly had become extremely dependent on the state. For its part, the state was more concerned with economic growth and political survival than it was with meeting its inherited social responsibilities’.
The preceding ably gives the reader an understanding of some of the actual causes, why the peasants who were in the majority in Ethiopia and lived mainly in rural areas, were mobilized by those opposed to Haile Sellassie, to rise up against the government. The regions of Wolle and Tigray which supplied 40 percent of Ethiopia’s total food production at the time, were estimated to have lost about 20 percent of their human populations and 90 percent of their animals. Students and various citizen groups began food distribution campaigns. In 1973, students at the Haile Sellassie I University began a series of student protests on campus, that led to the arrests and subsequent deaths of some students. The protests were sparked by the famine in northern Ethiopia and in the low-lying areas (lowlands), of Harerge, Bale, Sidamo, and Gamo Gofa. In 1973, the peasants unable to sustain themselves, sold off their grain to purchase food, with some eating seed grain. Starving, many of them made their way to the towns, hoping to receive government aid. The provincial administrators underreported the true proportions of the crisis, in Addis Ababa officials at the outset denied the existence of the famine, not even bothering to report the existence of the crisis to Haile Selassie I. Intellectuals and students criticized the regime. The government promptly reacted, by banning all news of the famine, the official government stance was denial, till May 1973. The government was forced to admit the existence of the famine, when an ad hoc committee of professors from the Haile Sellassie I University professors traveled to Welo in 1973, returning with photos backed by a devastating report describing the horrendous reality of the residents, who were dying of starvation.
In response to the criticism, the government established an emergency committee, which tried maintaining the crisis by internal resource mobilization. The Ethiopian government relief efforts were thwarted by a multiplicity of causes some of which were, nepotism, corruption, profiteering, the refusal of local and provincial governments to waive taxes and the inability to divert grain exports to relief agencies. International reporting painting an accurate picture of the debilitating famine in Ethiopia, the agonizing images of starving, dying babies with distended stomachs, flies on their bodies with their parents lying next to them, shocked the world. Those horrific images spurred a relief effort led by wealthy western nations’ governments, the effort eventually included relief organizations, NGOs, churches, students, universities, and academics mainly in the western hemisphere. In 1974 two related economic crises wreaked havoc on the global economy, particularly in developing countries, Ethiopia was amongst the worst hit, the primary crisis stemmed from the high cost of petroleum products caused by the closure of the Suez Canal, secondly, the high cost of finished goods and food, which rose by 20 and 80 percent respectively. Due to the massive unrest caused by students stoning vehicles in the streets and other riotous behavior, the military was authorized to quell the rebellion.
On February 23, Haile Sellassie toured the marketplace in Addis Ababa, speaking with people urging them to remain calm, meeting with the common people and vendors, in this manner Sellassie was able to diffuse the growing tension. He appeared on Ethiopian television that evening again urging calm, he announced that the military would, deal severely with cases of civil disturbance. On Monday 25 1974, Addis Ababa, experienced a scene of calm, which only presaged the coming storm of military unrest, that led to the overthrew of the Haile Sellassie I monarchial government. The Ethiopian Herald carried this brief message on August 28, 1975: ‘Yesterday Haile Sellassie I, the former Emperor of Ethiopia, died. The cause of death was circulatory failure’. The continued existence of Ethiopia as a unified nation-state is threatened, by the intra-ethnic and ethnic, strife that has characterized Ethiopia for thousands of years. Where will the Rastafari of the west, fit into the Ethiopia of the future? Even in Haile Sellassie’s Ethiopia ethnic strife was commonplace, as I have shown in this work, the pro-Amhara Sellassie regime killed other ethnic groups, like Ethiopian regimes past and present. Can Ethiopia transcend its, self-destructive ethnic divide? The future prognosis on Ethiopian ethnic unity is dismal indeed. Ethiopia’s political history is replete with examples, of ethnically motivated dissent. At the center of the dissent in Ethiopia, the Oromo are often, the most severely affected group. The recent murder of Hachalu Hundesa 34, an Oromo musician known for his anti-government pro-Oromo music, and his support for the Oromia liberation movement. Hachalu was shot on Monday 29, June 2020, in an Addis Ababa suburb, he succumbed in a hospital, later of gunshot wounds. Later that same day, in Adama a town situated in the Oromia region, several people were killed during protests. The Ethiopian government has repeatedly denied, allegations by, local human rights groups and international organizations of torture, mass incarcerations, and extra-judicial killings.
In 1991, the Marxist government of Mengistu Haile Mariam was defeated by the Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF), the succeeding political framework was and still is that of a, a federation of nine ethnically diverse states. Meles Zenawi the leader of the TPLF, became the President of Ethiopia, the now-deceased Zenawi (2012), was succeeded by Haile Mariam Desalegn, after 21 years as leader. Opposition figures accused Zenawi of being an authoritarian leader, Zenawi’s TPLF, became Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). Ethiopia’s governance system is fraught with many challenges, foremost of them being its pseudo-democratic system, which often sees one party and its allies winning all the 547 parliamentary seats, not because of any overwhelming support, since the varying ethnic groups in Ethiopia would never all support one party. The mere fact that anyone party would win all 547 seats in ethnically diverse Ethiopia, points to the endemic corruption at the state level in Ethiopia. The EPRDF also controls the state security apparatus, the police, military, and all intelligence-gathering units, all are staffed and dominated by Tigrayans. The government’s bogus anti-terrorism laws are another tool used as a pretext to arrest anyone opposed to the regime, such as bloggers, journalists, opposition figures, human rights groups, and environmental activists.
A report published in 2009, by AHR, Advocates for Human Rights, documented systemic abuse, by three successive Ethiopian governments against the Oromo, those governments are the following, the Haile Sellassie regime, the Marxist government led by Haile Mengistu, and the present EPRDF government first led by the now-deceased Meles Zenawi (Tigrayan), then led by his chosen successor Haile Desalegn, and now led by Abiy Ahmed. The report by the AHR comprising 166 pages, documented that between 2011 and 2014 at least 5000 ‘based on their actual or suspected peaceful opposition to the government’. Dissenters both actual and suspected had been ‘detained without charge or trial and killed by security services during protests, arrests and in detention’. In the Ogaden the situation is even more deplorable, comprising mainly ethnic Somalis the Ogaden, is an underdeveloped expanse of land containing rich oil and gas deposits, those living there have consistently accused the Ethiopian government of systemic abuses such as forced displacements from ancestral lands, forced removal of large groups to camps, starvations and massacres of civilians, the persons in the camps dependent on the Ethiopian government for food and water, are routinely starved with some dying from food and water deprivation. Rape and intimidation are routinely used by security forces as means of keeping, civilians in line, whose land was taken away by the Ethiopian government and given to Chinese consortiums who own gas and oil projects in the region. The Anuak in the Gambella (a resource-rich region in the west of Ethiopia bordering Sudan), also accused the Ethiopian government of crimes against them such as forced removal from their lands and massacres by the highlanders. The people assert that they do not benefit from, the oil and agricultural projects the government has leased to foreign interests. The Anuak a dark-hued African people, who have been treated as inferiors by the dominant Tigrayan and Amhara groups, since ancient times are discriminated against based on their ethnicity. The convulsive ethnic strife’s, which cause enormous societal rifts and eruptions, threatens the very existence of Ethiopia as a heterogeneous nation-state, as the Ethiopian historical and contemporaneous accounts have shown, throughout this work, if state actors in Ethiopia, do not cease from ruling from an approach of repression, nepotism, genocidal policies, and ethnic favoritism, it is only a matter of time before what occurred in Rwanda repeats itself in Ethiopia. The total dehumanization and wanton killing of the African that was justifiable by law in the above countries mentioned was unparalleled in their scope and their ability to allow mass mayhem to be perpetrated on the Africans who were in many cases utterly defenceless in the face of their own extinction. The task then of any honest scholar claiming to be a scholar of conscience or merit must of necessity be to construct a historical narrative that leads to a reconciliatory spirit between the past and present generations of Africans in continental Africa and their descendants.
The following is taken from my book Rastafari and its Shamanist Origins. The post concerns Somalia a neighbour of Ethiopia. Ethiopia is one of the main focal points of the book, Somalia played a crucial part at times vis a vis Ethiopia, as a result, it was included. Those who read this blog know that I went into some depth on the Ethiopian Haile Sellassie, on this blog here is the link to that https://soualigayouth.wordpress.com/2016/04/21/atseemperor-haile-sellassie/.
More posts like this will follow since I often post short or sometimes lengthy excerpts from the book previously mentioned.
Due to its arid climate, Somalia is a very infertile country with few natural resources.
Animal husbandry is the most important economic sector.
The war of 1991 virtually crippled the economy and it has yet to recover.
The bungling of the Americans in the armed conflict, in the early part of the 90s only worsened the Somali problem. The many clans and sub-clans vying for power in Somalia, all adhere to Islam Sunni Islam is the religion practiced by ninety-eight percent of the Somali population, the U.S. Army nor any other occupying force can resolve the conflict in Somalia, the conflict is of an ethnic and religious nature.
The Somali people themselves are the only persons remotely qualified to intervene in the highly complex social-political and social religious milieu that is Somalia.
Few western writers and journalists ever dare cross the line and accuse their governments outright of the crimes, and atrocious acts that they’ve committed in Somalia, I read an interesting piece recently which highlights such in my opinion quite succinctly, I’ll quote some excerpts from that piece here, from Johann Hari, The Independent April 15th, 2009. Hari exposed how the lack of a government in Somalia in 1991 created a lawless society teetering on the brink of starvation, that vacuum was exploited by unscrupulous western nations disposing of toxic waste. “As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken”. He narrated how the coastal population and their children suffered from, strange rashes, nausea, and malformed babies. Following the 2005 Tsunami hundreds of leaking barrels washed up onshore. People suffered from radiation sickness and more than 300 died. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia confirmed the presence of nuclear waste in Somalia: “Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury – you name it.” Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, which seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to “dispose” of cheaply. When I asked Ould-Abdallah what European governments were doing about it, he said with a sigh: “Nothing. There has been no clean-up, no compensation, and no prevention.” Abdi Samatar said the following of the situation in Somalia: “The Ethiopian invasion, which was sanctioned by the US government, has destroyed virtually all the life-sustaining economic systems which the population has built for the last fifteen years.” Abdi Samatar, professor of Global Studies at the University of Minnesota, (Democracy Now).
The Ethiopians and Somalians have historically engaged in bloody protracted wars since Ethiopia is 48% Coptic Christian and about 41% Muslim with the remaining 11% of the population practicing indigenous animist beliefs. “At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia’s seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our fish stocks by over-exploitation – and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m worth of tuna, shrimp, lobster, and other sea-life is being stolen every year by vast trawlers illegally sailing into Somalia’s unprotected seas.”. The local fishermen have suddenly lost their livelihoods, and they are starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: “If nothing is done, there soon won’t be much fish left in our coastal waters.”
Out of the preceding scenario, the “pirates”, arose from Somalia, it is a well-documented fact that Somalian fishermen, in an attempt to stymie, the flow of trawlers and dumpers destroying their livelihood, attempted to impose a “tax”, on foreigners fishing and dumping waste in their waters. The Somali catastrophe that saw American troops in Somalia in the 1990s was exacerbated in 2006 during the Bush administration. In 2006 the Bush regime bolstered an alliance of Somali warlords calling themselves the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). The TFG established a base of operations in the western city of Baidoa, with the help of the Ethiopian army, the US Navy warships, AC-130 gunships, and western mercenaries, the TFG captured Mogadishu with the help of the aforementioned forcing the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), out of Mogadishu. Presently the resistance has re-captured most of Somalia, in the wake of the foregoing, Al-Shabaab has emerged seemingly “out of nowhere”, with a clear anti-western agenda, given Somalia’s recent history Al-Shabaab (the youth) is a reaction to the many modern western incursions into Somalia. The latest round of fighting in Somalia has created a humanitarian disaster rendering more than 1.3 million people homeless, continued instability, drought, high food prices, and the local currency’s collapse have served to worsen the dilemma. Paul Salopek wrote in the Chicago Tribune that: “(Somalia) is a covert war in which the CIA has recruited gangs of unsavory warlords to hunt down and kidnap Islamic militants…and secretly imprison them offshore, aboard U.S. warships. The British civil-rights group Reprieve contended that as many as 17 U.S. warships may have doubled as floating prisons since the Sept, 11 terrorist attacks”.
“Somalia is one of the great unrecognized U.S. foreign policy failures since 9/11,” said Ken Menkhaus, a leading Somalia scholar at Davidson College in North Carolina. “By any rational metric, what we’ve ended up with there today is the opposite of what we wanted.” (Paul Salopek, “US Appears to be Losing in Somalia”: Chicago Tribune). Presently Al-Shabaab is receiving aid from Al-Qaida in Libya and the LIFG, Somalia is a haven and breeding ground for militant Islamists, bent on jihad. The US interventions in the Islamic world have all been monumental disasters, this is the reason I opined that only the Somali’s are remotely capable of handling their affairs. In the pre-modern period of Somalia’s history protracted wars were waged, with the Ethiopians even in modern times, as was the case with the Italo-Ethiopian war’s, in the Ethiopian emperor Menellek II’, time the “Battle of Adowa”, was fought against the Italian invaders.
The above poster art depicting a likeness of Maurice Bishop and Bob Marley was a salient reality in Grenada. Rastafari in Grenada were active participants in the revolution on Grenada.
. The following is from the paper Rastafari in the Grenada Revolution by Arthur Newland: “One aspect of the revolution that few scholars have focused on is the pivotalrole played by the Rastafari brethren of Grenada in the early days of the‘Revo’—and their subsequent suffering under the People’s Revolutionary Government. The Rastafari were the first group to throw in their lot with the revolution, and without their grassroots support, it would have been difficult for the NJM to achieve success. The first images that the outside world saw of Grenada after the 1979 coup were of dreadlocked soldiers, reflecting the fact that two-thirds of the original People’s Liberation Army was Rastafari (more than a thousand brethren representing Rastas from all regions of the island). Within months, these frontline supporters fell out of favour with the PRG’s leaders and their ideology. This paper draws on the testimony of Prince Nna Nna or Ras Nang, the island’s first black belt martial artist, who trained the troops of the People’s Revolutionary Army, and at one time was Maurice Bishop’s bodyguard. His account, in an interview with Dr Ikael Tafari, of the brutal oppression of the Rastafari during the “Revo” includes allegations of beatings, imprisonment, torture and executions by the PRG. My own meeting withRas Nang gives ethnographic insights into how Rastafari influenced the Caribbean’s political and social evolution”. (From the microfiche records of seized Grenadian Revolution records, held at Maryland Record Office, USA, available to the public.) Crowe/Crow/Crichlow, Winston/Dennis ‘Ras/Rasta Nang Nang/Prince Nna Nna’, former member of Peoples Revolutionary Army, martial arts instructor for Peoples Revolutionary Army, jeweller, shot during an escape attempt; River Road, St. George’s; re: held in the interest of national security, public safety and public order; charged before the Courts with attempting to escape lawful custody (S.3 Preventive Detention Regulations, detained 14 OCT 1979 to 22 APR 1981 (7 months); detained again 11 JUL 1981 and released 25 OCT 1983, at Fort Rupert Prison 22 JUL 1981, also Richmond Hill Prison and Hope Vale. Shot multiple times during arrest and escape attempt from ‘Babylon’s dungeon’. The preceding is an official microfiche document establishing the identity and standing in the PRA of the man, being interviewed.
Ikael Tafari the late Rastafari ideologue wrote in his work Rastafari in transition, in an interview with Rastafari Grenadian elder, Prince Nna Nna, a black belt expert and the man who personally trained Maurice Bishop’s soldiers in self-defense techniques. What follows are transcript’s from that taped interviewin colloquial Grenadian “English” (authors note the pronounciation in the transcript are in Grenadian colloquial “English”, peppered with much Rasta speak i.e. Iyaric): “Q: Prince Nna, the crucial question is: why did the PRG look on the Rastafari as a threat during the course of the Grenada Revolution?
A: Because the Rastafari were more popular, more grassroot and more genuinely revolutionary than the Maurice Bishop administration at that time.
Q: What kind of following did the Rastaman have during that period?
A: Rasta had a bigger following then than Bishop and his people.
Q: What kind of number among the Rases themselves are we talking about here?
A: At that stage, remember, it wasn’t Rasta alone. It was Rasta and the general public which fully supported the Rastafari cause. You could even see this at our weekly Nyahbingi meetings. Plenty more people were coming to our Nyahbingi celebrations than those going to Maurice Bishop and dem political meetings. And that caused jealousy.
Q: What number of Rases in the town area would be gathering at these Nyahbingis?
A: At that time, approximately a thousand to twelve hundred Rastas—I not speaking yet of sympathizers and people coming to hear what the Rastaman had to say.
Q: You mean three or four hundred people from the general public?
A: Plenty more than that. Whole villages of people. Especially in places like Victoria, Gouyave and Sauteurs and right in St. George’s.
Q: There were more Binghiman in the country than in the town at that time?
A: The Rasta people in Grenada in that period lived more in the mountain, in the interior. A good portion of brethren also lived in the town, but the biggest concentration was in the hills. Rasta in Grenada was more originally a hills vibration like in most of the other Caribbean islands. It was the Maurice Bishop administration that ran the Rasta out of the hills.
Q: At what stage?
A: That was just at the time the Cubans started to come into Grenada, say around the first three months of the Revolution.
Q: That early?
A: Yes. Very early in the Revolution, Maurice Bishop started fighting against the Rastafari. Technically, psychologically and then openly. There are many ways, you know. You have to be very sharp to observe these intellects and lawyers like Maurice and Radix and all the other political gangsters.
Q: How many Rastas were in the original People’s Liberation Army?
A: The Liberation Army was predominantly Rasta. Let’s say two–thirds at least.
Q: You mean a thousand or more?
A: More than a thousand. There were Rastas in it from all different regions of the island.
Q: Did any of these Rases sit on any of the popular representative bodies of the Revo-like zonal councils or committees for example?
A: Well, the Rasta people were on the frontline, looking to preserve the peace and security of the country and to quell any violent opposition, like. Rasta at that time was a middle man and a liberator. His part in the Revolution was keeping the peace while Maurice and dem part was organizing political power. So while the Rastas were on the battlefield looking to secure the Revolution, Maurice and his little clique were preparing to set up the government.
Q: And getting together a whole new army of his own from his hometown, St. Paul’s, too?
A: Yes, and recruiting foreigners in important position, too. And giving them ranks even higher than those of the genuine revolutionaries who had fought to win freedom for the people. Most of the people who fought the battle in Grenada against Gairy and afterwards, too, never really got their due honour or respect or authority. But, seeing that the Rasta people were ever willing to sacrifice their life for the Revo, it was strange that Maurice and dem ended up putting the Rastas as their enemy, just because Rasta was the first to tell these political leaders, look, what all-yuh doing is wrong. All-yuh done make a covenant with the people and you must fulfill it. Because Rasta was tracking all of their statements on the radio, the different promises Maurice Bishop made to the nation.
Q: To what effect? You mean about marijuana?
A: Well, on the air, he never made any declaration about marijuana to my knowledge, but before March 13th, the struggle had been based on a broad vision of liberating the grassroots man—spiritually, intellectually, economically and even in terms of freeing up the proper cultural use of the herb.
And Maurice was the main man behind the scenes identifying with the Rastaman. I say this because I personally was a very close associate of Maurice from the first days of the Revolution when Grenada was just militarizing. I was the Physical Training (P.T.) instructor for the whole army. So I was lobbying for the Rasta people, and had the opportunity to speak closely with the revolutionary leader at that time and discuss Rasta problems with him.
And when Maurice formed the new government and left out Rasta completely, I told him, the first time we met after the government had been formed, that he should never do what he did behind the Rasta people’s back, and furthermore, the Rastafari should have their representative in the government to secure the Rastaman’s interests, and to make sure that the people of Grenada get justice—all the different cultures and religions—because I could see where the leadership was heading from the time that they could set up a government without including the Rastafari who were the main spearhead of the people’s struggle at that time.
Q: Did the Muslims sympathize with these views held by the Rastas?
A: At first, some of the Muslims were vexed with the Rastas for taking up arms to support the Revo, especially since the Muslims were more advanced in revolutionary strategy. They were more aware when it came to politics than the Rastas, and in their military training, too. At that stage Rasta’s concern was less with politics and more with basic survival. But when the Revolution began to get into full swing and Maurice cry out for help and made his covenant with the nation, the Rastaman began to gear up himself militarily. He was always in the Revolution as the vanguard of the people’s consciousness, you see, but now he began to get himself more politically organized.
Q: Were the Muslims in close co-ordination then with the Rases?
A: True. Both were prepared to struggle alongside one another in the Revo, because at one stage, all the people who believe in the Supreme Architect, the mighty I AM—the Rases call him Rastafari, the Muslims call him Allah and the Christians call him Jesus Christ—at that stage there was a real spiritual unity among all these different religions in Grenada in the face of a common persecution.
Some of the Muslims were I and I true brethrens and when we get the opportunity we pray together, too. I pray in my own Rastafari tradition and they pray in their Muslim tradition and we respect each other—especially brethren such as Bilal, Yusuf and Habib. Certain days we come together and I explain my spiritual tradition and they explain theirs and we reason together about our beliefs. There was never any conflict among I and the Muslims because I read the Koran and I even come to the understanding that certain things in there pertain to Haile Sellassie I. Also, I taught all of the Muslims Martial Arts in prison.
Q: You are speaking of your shared time in detention, but before that was there that much overlap between the two groups?
A: Yes, even before the Revolution there was solidarity between us. The two religions actually sprang up in Grenada at around the same time. The Rastafarian religion was earlier and more predominant, had more followers, you know, because most of the Muslims was brethren that was coming out from long established Trinidad and Guyana Muslim communities, and some from the Far East, too. The Rasta movement was more, you know, a local thing, but the Muslim and the Rasta had a very firm alliance. At one time I discover that the unity was so strong that we together could have ruled Grenada.
Q: Was Bishop closer to the Rases or the Muslims?
A: Well, Maurice was close to everybody. But at one point when I made the statement to the Torchlight reminding him concerning his promise to the nation about elections after six months, and the end to discrimination in the schools against I and I, and the fact that the Rasta was pushing for representation in Government—not only what he had promised but Rasta rights, in terms of participation in the consolidation of the Revo—
Q: Some people argue that by bringing those charges against the PRG, the Rases were playing into the hands of the same rich people, and that the bourgeoisie, whose interests were traditionally represented by Torchlight, were taking the opportunity to manipulate the Rases’ resistance so as to further certain ultimately CIA-type interests in actively fighting against the Revo.
A: The Rastafari take a different view. You see, Rasta in Grenada was all class of people, even the children of the rich.
Q: But again some have argued that the grassroots Rastaman rejected those from the ranks of the petty bourgeois who sought to join the movement. Was this so?
A: I wouldn’t accept that argument as such. I would have to balance it. You see, after Maurice set up the government, the Rasta people came to the full realization that this was not a genuine people’s government, as we could see it was class-biased in favour of the petty bourgeoisie—
Q: It was not a genuinely revolutionary government, in other words?
A: Seen. At that stage, the Rastafari did not give them the recognition of being a revolutionary government. A genuine revolutionary government would have to respect the rights of the various people of different classes and religions to be all represented at the national level. But instead Bishop took his chosen few and set up an elite with mainly foreigners to control the country.
Q: Did Rastaman play a part in some of the national organizations, like the National Youth Organization, and the co-operatives for instance?
A: The Rasta people took part in all the different arms of the Revolution, even the political arm. There were brethren such as Pyta from Gouyave who was an instructor in Marxism/Leninism. He was a member of the Party also.
Q: So there were Rasta in the actual NJM Party structure?
Q: From before the Revolution?
A: Before and after. Plenty Rastas were members of the NJM. A good portion had also joined the Party before they came to a consciousness of the Rastafari faith. Many in the NJM carried dreadlocks, while they were at the same time studying Marxism and prepared to administrate it, too, as it was later practised full brutality—at Hope Vale, for example.
Q: But surely no genuine Rastaman would have supported these policies of the PRG, carried out in many cases against other brethren.
A: Many man supported them to the very end. Many dreadman were in the Army up to the end of the war. But the majority of these ended up trimming their locks, you see. To be frank, the Revolution really started with dread and ended up with bald head. Eventually all sections of the population became involved, you know, because it was a genuine people’s revolution. But the politicians destroyed this genuine revolutionary spirit of mass unity. You see, they felt themselves so wise that they thought they could set up a little government on their own, and then dash the Rasta people one side.
Q: What about the role played by Ras Kabinda (Desmond Trotter) from Dominica in all this?
A: Well, Kabinda is a beloved Rasta brethren I know very well. He came to Grenada when Bishop had I in prison. He went to Maurice and beg for my release from detention and Maurice agree to let me go on humanitarian grounds. But at the same time he was pressuring I to sign documents stating that I would never practise my spiritual concept against the PRG, and that if I ever engaged in such activity I would have to go into prison or exile. In this way, my faith—the Nyahbingi tradition—was technically outlawed under Maurice and dem administration.
Q: At what point? Before the Torchlight issue?
A: No, after the Torchlight issue.
Q: So that is what really brought the confrontation between the Rastafari and the PRG to a head then: the Torchlight affair.
A: No, the Rasta and the PRG was already at war over Bishop’s broken promises, both concerning elections and the end to victimization of Rasta children in the schools.
Q: How soon had he promised to keep elections?
A: Within six months. Arid the Rases were the first to approach Maurice about this breach of political faith.
Q: So their protest took place before that of the other dissenters like Winston Whyte and Stanley Cyrus?
Q: And yet many of the official accounts claim that the Rastas were being used by men like Cyrus Henry and Teddy Victor.
A: Rasta was not used. Rasta went independently before Maurice in late September of `79—I was the elder brethren and main spokesman—I an’ I congregation of brethren, daughters and children all went up to Maurice’s home and asked him why he was refusing to call the election within 6 months of March 13 as agreed. I was detained two days after the Torchlight publication.
I an’ I had a gigantic Binghi on the Saturday at which the PRG was again declared to be anti-Rasta. And I was picked up on the next day—Sunday. That Binghi was held at Victoria and it shake Maurice’s whole regime, because people came out in their thousands from every corner of Grenada in solidarity. Some even had to walk to reach the spot. At that time, I was a commander in the army. We were taking some military training at that stage from the Guyanese.
At the meeting with Maurice, one of the points I raised was concerning the scholarships that were being given to officers in the army to go to certain countries like Cuba, Libya and Russia so as to further their studies. I told him Rasta was seeking to go to Africa to pursue career training in medicine, law and so on.
As Sellassie I live, Maurice turned and told I he had always thought that Rasta was only a matter of painting and carving. So then I replied to him, if Rasta was only concerned with painting and carving, how come Rastaman was the first to come out bearing arms on March l3th.
That was the turning point in the relationship between Maurice and the Rasta community. You see when Maurice made that statement, I an’ I could see clearly how Maurice was looking on the grassroots people. It was clear that he never intended to provide the Rastafari with the opportunity to educate and develop themselves so as to give greater service to their country.
I even raised the question once again, more directly, with Maurice: Why Russia and not Africa? I had the privilege of questioning him because I and Maurice were still very close at that stage. So I just call my Rasta brethren and sistren together afterwards in my yard, because that was the main place in the town where Rasta used to assemble in those days. Rasta from all over the island used to meet there in I yard and discuss Rasta problems.
So I say to my idren, “Beloved, I an’ I can see that Bishop doesn’t recognize I an’ I. So I-man not going to tarry among dem men.” And I just depart from the Army same time. A while afterwards, they come to me one day and suggest they would like I to set up a programme for a military parade they keeping. So I went back. And I put on one of the sharpest parade dem ever see in Grenada specially for them, and then I left and never look back.
So the revolutionary army eventually died. Or, I should say, the political leadership destroyed it very early in the Revolution. There was a power struggle and the revolutionaries were overthrown actually within the first two months of the Revolution. When I say the revolutionaries, I mean the brethren who first stepped out on the battlefield and made the revolution—not Bishop and dem who was all waiting on board a yacht just off the coast to escape if the attack that morning on Gairy’s army barracks failed.
Q: But let’s get back to Kabinda. As I understand it, he was a key player in the whole drama between Rasta and Maurice Bishop. Bishop had become close to Kabinda originally while defending him in the celebrated case trumped up against him for murder in Dominica.
A: Truly. At first Kabinda was strongly supporting Maurice. I tried to show him the kind of man Maurice was, when I was in prison. Kabinda came to the prison to visit I, and I tell him plainly in the presence of everybody how I see Maurice and his clique. I tell him I see them as wicked men who pretending to be something that they are not. Not only Maurice but all of them, because I had close reasonings with the entire core of the PRG leadership. Including, to a lesser extent, Bernard Coard. From the first time I met him I could see that he loved to dominate. Because he came into the room with a martial arts class in full progress. And he had to interrupt it, you know. He never show no respect. But when he realize he meet up on a little Rastaman who could defend himself with words as well as with blows, then he shake my hand and say he would like to meet me again to reason further and so on. He even set up a meeting between himself and I at one stage when Rasta and Maurice was going through some conflict, but it never came to pass because they came and lock I up before the time appointed.
Q: Some people believe that while Bishop was negotiating with the Rases, Coard and his OREL group, who were definitely not in favour of legalization of marijuana or Rasta representation in government, were undermining his position of leadership in the Party. So that, in effect, Bishop’s hands were tied from the start, even if he himself had wanted to grant concessions to Rasta.
A: That might have been so but what I have to say is that Maurice didn’t really want these things personally, according to my knowledge of the man. After March 13, after they got into power and they started getting international recognition, I said to Maurice, “Forget about taking on America, it doesn’t make sense. Try to be non-aligned.” That is when Rasta had come out and publicly pledged allegiance to the new government. Rastaman had actually offered his services to Bishop to build the country. Rasta with all kinds of intellectual training were willing to give him their counsel. But he prefer to take Cubans as his advisers. And I realize that a lot of these outside people who had only just come to Grenada try to belittle I an’ I in the presence of Maurice, when Rasta was the real Field-Marshal General of the Revolution. Rasta entered the Revolution at the top. We didn’t go into the Revolution as a divided house.
We had we own organization, we unity and we own military weapons. And the people’s support as well. So we had the right to know anything going on that could affect the fate of the revolution. Rasta stepped onto the battlefield in Grenada because we hear the people cry out for help and we see that blood was going to run red. But Rasta didn’t enter the Revolution as a people that come to dominate, but as a liberator. We discuss the whole question about Rasta involvement among weself on the eve of the overthrow, and we come to one mind to step forward in the service of the black people. But since Maurice and dem never ground with the people, they cause whole heap of problems. On the morning of the coup, only one person was killed. But afterwards Maurice regime kill many people, so many innocent people.
Q: I notice you said that the Revolution should have pursued a policy of non-alignment, but could Grenada realistically afford to be scrupulously non-aligned? Wasn’t it a matter of survival why the PRG lined up with Russia and Cuba, I mean as a matter of self-defence?
A: What a lot of people do not know is that it was not Cuba that first stretched out the hand of substantial military assistance to the Revolution. It was Guyana. Guyana sent military advisers and men expert in combat techniques and from the start gave the Revolution military weapons, but Maurice had other ideas. He wanted to shift to Cuban support because of reasons of ideology and culture. You see, the Guyanese military was mostly black man, and they were very sympathetic to the Grenadian popular culture and the Rastafari. But Maurice wanted to play down these genuine revolutionary aspirations and independent cultural feelings among the Grenadian people and pretend that the Revolution was Cuban or Marxist-inspired, to suit his own purpose. Bishop aligned himself with an outside force—Cuba—which tried over and over to dominate events in Grenada and impose their ideas born out of a different cultural situation, you know.
And yet the PRG could have drawn strength from better sources of ideas in their own country. But Maurice and dem chose instead to get together two or three college boys who were mostly afraid to come out and face the Green Beasts on March 13, and give them big ranks over men who were vigilant on the battlefield in dem early days of the Revo. So that was the first overthrow, when the PRG side-stepped the genuine revolutionary freedom-fighters and set up a petty bourgeois friendship clique to control the military in the name of revolution. But the main force that really overthrew the Gairy government in Grenada on March 13 was the Rastafari.
Q: The Muslims did not play any significant role?
A: Well, maybe individual Muslim, but not Muslims as an organized group.
Q: But Habib and Yusuf were in that episode.
A: Yeah, I won’t doubt.
Q: And James Herry and the Budhlall brothers and other Black Power people, right?
A: True. But although the NJM and their allies had military strength, they still did not have the power to capture the country. The NJM was pure paper cells. There were other forces in Grenada that created the Revolution beyond Maurice and dem. It was the grassroot village organizations across the countryside, especially St. Patrick’s, who had the people with them all the way. Maurice had he support too, but they were mostly cowards. They couldn’t face the battlefield. Some of dem were willing and prepared—Layne and Selwyn Strachan and such like—I don’t say no. Dem was there on the morning of the overthrow, too.
Q: And those men were quickly given rank?
A: That’s right. They had very little military training technically. Only Strachan Phillip was a full military soldier. Bishop and dem was so dogmatic that they never took the trouble to educate their party supporters much, military-wise. Only a few of them. Instead, these men were allowed to run around flashing rank. While the main revolutionaries who put their lives on the line never reaped anything from the revolution besides execution, exile and imprisonment. Maurice Bishop’s real aim was not to uphold any genuine revolutionary administration, you know. His main aim was to uphold a petty bourgeois dictatorship, you see, so with regard to the grassroot people, like Yusuf and Strachan Phillip, who were serious about revolutionary change in Grenadian society—Maurice had to destroy them, that was the only way he could get to perpetuate he little stupidness.
Q: Did you know the two Rastaman from Tivoli, Gravel and Skull?
A: I knew all the man dem. Skull was a very religious brethren. Gravel was a big strong Rastaman.
Q: They were close to Buck and KB (Budhlall)?
A: Yeah. Well, they were all from the same region and belonged to the same organization. They entered the Revolution together. These men were highly educated, too. I had many discussions with them in detention and they proved to be remarkable scholars in their own right… Going back to the case of Kabinda. Maurice and dem deport Kabinda from Grenada when the reality start to come out in the open that the PRG was oppressing Rasta. Kabinda began to see for himself the kind of man Maurice really was.
Q: But originally he was in favour of Maurice?
A: He loved Maurice, I can tell you that personally. But he had to draw the sword on Maurice wordically and show him he was being unjust. From the time Kabinda spoke out at the Binghi in September `79 in Gouyave where the Rasta house for the first time brought up official charges against the PRG—from that time Kabinda’s days were numbered. From the first week of the Revo, the PRG was encouraging Rastas to trim their locks. And when they did trim, they were given rank.
But it all came to a confrontation at the Binghi in Gouyave where I an’ I denounce Bishop and dem as traitor to the Revolution, because Revolution stands for rights and justice and respect for your brother and he that labour must hold the reins. But they never want to give I an’ I equal rights at all. And from that day—the first seven days of the Revolution—there was tension between the PRG and I an’ I. And a next thing that make it worse was the fact that I and another brethren Bronson was in command of the whole of St. George’s, the capital. We had we own transport and we own soldiers to patrol the whole region, right. We had authority to search who we want to search, destroy what we want to destroy and take what we want to take. But the Revolution never really loot or burn, because I and my Rasta brethren hold the roots people steady. We used to print pamphlets and other literature, too, and educate the people.
Q: Ras Nang, was any Rastawoman featured in these activities?
A: Plenty Rastawoman was on the battlefield; at that time it was more balanced in that respect, although, as you know within I an’ I faith the man always be predominant numbers-wise. Not only the knotty-dread man but the people in the villages in general used to move close with I an’ I and support the Rasta cause. It was a really joyous time. The people and Rasta came closer together in the time of Maurice, you know, because when the grassroots people saw what Maurice was doing, the only voice that would speak out against the injustice of the PRG was Rasta voice. The Grenadian people herald the Rastas as the champion of the masses.
I an’ I tell Maurice face to face, give the people what you promise them, otherwise I an’ I going to demonstrate against you, see. Plus they were trimming Rasta children to go to school and forcing them to trim if they want to go away on scholarship and all dem kind of things. I know a Rastaman called Medic, they forced him to trim to go away to Cuba for further training. At least, he is a police now, but I still consider him a Rastafari today. He trim but he never forget his Rastafarian principle of brotherhood. Up to now he have excellent relations with I an’ I and the public.
Bishop did not want we children to go to school with dread on their heads. He force one Rastaman (Ras Coach) to trim he children, and is from there that we decided to visit Bishop and confront him about these matters. All this was in the first month of the Revolution. When Maurice started to pick up de Rastas and lock dem up, many of the petty bourgeois people and the masses draw in close in solidarity. So he had the fight from all angle. When I say ‘petty bourgeois,’ I mean just a small percentage—his own political enemies. Maurice was working on them too. He fire nuff of dem from their jobs. In those times to get a work you had to be on the NJM’s political side. Rasta didn’t like that kind of political victimization. He went in the Revolution to get rid of downpression and when he see a new form of downpression infiltrating the Revolution, Rasta start to fight against it same way.
Maurice thought the Rases were he personal friends—give we a little drink and laugh and share out a little money like how he was accustomed to doing with his political patronage, and everything would be fine. He never realize that Rastaman is an independent spirit. You can’t really buy him. Because Bishop offer me nuff things. Today I read many of the books on the Grenadian Revolution, and I laugh at some of these authors. Probably if I had the money, I would sue a lot of them and get back some of the money that they made from spoiling I and my brethren’s name internationally with a heap of false allegations and reckless statements. Some of them never even visit Grenada much less to know what really took place.
This whole thing about the Torchlight incident and the idea that Rasta was supporting CIA: Rasta was never guilty of these charges. I and another brethren, Erasto Jo-Jo, came together in October and decided to fling in some arrows, because from March 13 things was boiling and boiling, and we had many audience with Maurice without getting any justice. We decided that since we were bearing arms in defence of the Revolution daily and nightly, we had the right to criticize and seek to get the movement set in a proper direction. I-man was a firm supporter originally of Maurice, but when I start to witness certain abuses, I realize that Rasta had to speak up to ensure that the people got their rights.
Because, to be honest, the Rastas could have secured their own particular interests during the time of the Revolution, but it would have been at the expense of the rights of the masses of people. Things were going on and the leadership that was supposed to be responsible for the Revolution did not even know. But I was in full touch with the people, so I knew what was going down. I was a decorated soldier and main security for the top Party echelons. Three times they begged I to take on the responsibility for the personal security of the PM. Everywhere the CC went, I had to be there. So I had access to their private counsels and I knew everything that they knew, as well as what they did not know. And for that cause, when I exposed them, they tried desperately on several occasions to kill I. But they couldn’t kill the Rastaman at all. By the powers of Sellassie I, I live to record this portion of history.
In the pre-modern period of Somalia’s history protracted wars were waged, with the Ethiopians even in modern times, as was the case with the Italo-Ethiopian war’s, in the Ethiopian emperor Menellek II’, time the “Battle of Adowa”, was fought against the Italian invaders.
Image: The emperor Menellek II claims lineage from King Solomon and the queen of Sheba.The images at right are an example of Ethiopian soldiers during Menellek II’, time it was soldiers like these that routed the Italians at the battle of Adowa. Even during the reign of Haile Sellassie, the Ethiopian soldiers were outfitted with weapons and clothing of the type, that the soldiers above are displaying.
Menellek II, was the grandfather of the successor to the throne Lej Iyasu. Lej Iyasu was imprisoned by Haile Sellassie after he was captured, in a battle between his forces and that of Ras Tafari. Lej Iyasu was captured in 1921 and imprisoned. Josef ben Jochannan, claimed that Haile Sellassie poisoned him, in order to usurp the throne. The poisoning of an enemy imprisoned for nearly twelve years seems highly unlikely. There are even more unlikely tales and rumors abounding concerning Haile Sellassie not the least of which was the one concocted by Timothy White in his book Catch a Fire. White is indisputably a great writer, who blends fiction and fact in his book creating an Epic type narrative, to titillate his readership. An example of White’s fiction and fact blending, is page 36 of Catch a Fire, where he claims Lej Iyasu was chained in golden chains and fed opulently enjoying a life in ‘captive luxury”, where he could freely cohabitate with the many concubines that Haile Sellassie had sent to him for his pleasure. Not only is that narrative highly unlikely, it is culturally inaccurate and also most importantly he can cite no source that would verify his claims. Another example of his meanderings and deliberate mythologizing of Haile Sellassie are his claims that an old abbot examing Tafari’s palms upon discovering stigmata” there, fled from Tafari, terrified. The stigmata of the “Roman Catholic Institution” are the so-called nail prints in the palm of Jesus. What purpose could such embellishments serve but to reinforce, the beliefs and sympathies of those White’s book is marketed to? Not Rastafari as such but people open to the type of innuendo and suppositions that are rife throughout White’s book.
I have viewed thousands of hours of video and now DVD footage of Haile Sellassie , read and re-read hundreds of books, replete with pictures of him waving and some with both hands fully exposed, I have yet to see any nail prints in the palm of his hand, and I am yet to find anyone who can credibly prove with documented factual evidence, that such was ever the case, I rest my case (no pun intended).
Menellek II was emperor of Ethiopia; during the attempted invasion of Ethiopia by the Italians, the Italians were routed, in what became known as the battle of Adowa in 1896.
I have not stated my personal opinions here, nor am I attempting to convert anyone or change another person’s point of view, every person has the right to believe whatever they want to, but no one can change facts.
The aim of this book in this section is to furnish facts hereby equipping persons in the African Diaspora, to identify between various aspects of our experience in the Diaspora.
I have laid bare the facts researched by highly skilled professors who have shown, that the actual origins of Rastafari are esoteric and not bible based. The foundation of Rastafari is in tantricism not in the bible as so many erroneously state.
Image: Zaouditou wife of emperor Menellek and mother of Taitu. The title of Empress of Ethiopia or Queen of the Kings of Ityoppia ,was conferred on her in 1917, by the Monophysite Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Shoan nobility.Muslims, led by Iyasu were seeking to subvert three Milennia of Solomonic succession. Iyasu who had been excommunicated by the leaders of the Orthodox Church, upon his conversion to Islam, was Menellek’s chosen successor. The recently named Ras Tafari, prevailed upon Zaouditou to name him as regent, she acquiesced to his request preferring to keep the royal scepter out of the hands of the Muslim apostate Lij Yasu. Zaouditou was empress in name only, even with her immense influence it was the strikingly handsome, Tafari Makonnen with his electrifying magnetic presence and his direct descent from the Shoan imperial dynasty who the common people and increasingly some in the nobility regarded as a potent force, who may one day ascend to the highest office in Ityoppia that of Negusa Nagast, King of the Kings of Ityoppia/Emperor or “Atse”.
Image: This photo is of a young Tafari Makonnen with his father Ras Makonnen. Queer tales circulated about the young Tafari’ ability to communicate with animals, Kapucinski in his book “The Emperor “,stated, that former intimates of Haile Sellassie, told him Sellassie himself was the source of the rumours. Eventhough many Ethiopians claimed to be Christians, they were and still are a deeply superstitious people who still revert to the pre-Christian practices of their ancestors.
Lady Taitu seen at far right of page, embroidered on the front of her garment are the two lions and the crown in the middle. The lions are symbolic for the Lion of Judah which the Ethiopian imperial house identified with as the messiah/savior of the Ethiopian people; this was in keeping with Orthodox teaching.
Haile Sellassie was born on July 23, 1982 an Amhara, this group was the dominant ethnic group, or ruling class at the time.The Oromo fell on the lower stratum of the social hierarchy and were largely Muslim; with the Amhara being predominantly, Coptic Christian, presided over by Abuna’s/Bishops.
Haile Sellassie, s father was a duke, Ras Makonnen, he was related to the emperor Menelik II, his wife lady Yishimabet was the mother of Haile Sellassie. Tafari the pre-coronation name of Haile Sellassie was raised by his father’s Cousin Fitawrari Haile Sellassie Abeynah who was a general.
Born in Ejarsa Gora, raised in the lush Harage province eighteen miles from Harare, his birth name was, Emmanuel later his baptismal name Haile Sellassie Light of the Trinity, to his consternation would be intoned by men thousands of miles away from his birthplace, but the child had no way of knowing, oblivious to all else he clung hungrily to his mother’s breast’s savoring, the velvety smoothness of the life-giving milk, he hungrily satiated himself on. On the day of the child’s birth, his father according to tradition kept a silent vigil like a sentinel outside the round thatched hut, with its conical roof made of wattle-wood.
Image: Ras Makonnen wore a bandolier of cartridges around his waist not unlike the one on the man in the photo above, standing next to a seated Haile Sellassie.
Dressed completely in black, his bombazine tunic, made the haft of his jewelled sheathed sword, stand out against the stark black background. He wore atop his head an Italian-made fedora of the finest suave felt, around his waist was a bandolier of cartridges, tucked in at his waist was a finely carved ivory-handled custom made pistol. The customary gun bearer stood several paces behind his master, maintaining the respectful distance; he cradled the fine rifle, sheathed in fine silk, the color of which was purple. Farther from both men, fanned out, standing at ease, was a large contingent of soldier’s in full ceremonial regalia, each man held a fully loaded carbine. Beyond the massing men a tight semi-circle of peasants knelt, reverently chanting zemas (prayers),their chants filled the pitch black night with, a soul felt reverence that all the devout soldiers present acknowledged, with bowed heads muttering prayers of their own under their breath’s. In the small hut, physicians and servants ministered, to lady Yashimabet watched by priests who held their malwamiyas, reverently since they were consecrated, the prayer sticks were never laid on the ground or used as a walking stick. The baby who would become Tafari Makonnen was washed and anointed, with the finest oils, while his lips were daubed in melted, butter blessed by priests. Hundreds of guns were fired by the soldiers outside, when the father finally emerged from the little hut, intoning with raised voice; “a boy, he is a boy”.
The gunshots from hundreds of rifles rang out in the night, shattering the silence and eclipsing the softly chanted prayers and psalms, the deafening cacophony echo and reverberate endlessly, lightning flashed, once, twice, three times, brightly illuminating the contingent, the men’s spirits are uplifted, filled with joy at their lords’ good providence.
Ras Makonnen knows the child will have to learn the art of state craft from his youth up. The palace intrigues were filled with low deeds in high places, rife with deceit, betrayals and disloyalty at every turn, a Dejazmatch hoping to become a ras needed, to be trained even in the ways of the west, since a broad-ranging knowledge was helpful and useful in enhancing ones skill set’s, thereby increasing ones chances in successful, diplomacy. With his sons future on his mind Makonnen, hired the French Martinican father Vitalien as his son’s tutor. I deliberately related the preceding in story-like prose as a means of conveying the milieu that Haile Sellassie grew up in and was born into. A brilliant young boy, who would grow up to be a seemingly “frail man”, eventually he would be emperor of Ethiopia, the scion of the Shoa dynasty would carry the Solomonic legacy into the 21st century, in the process he would become a “god”, to thousands , only to be deposed in a coup, even in death he is hailed as,“Jah Rastafari” by many, this portion of the book will examine him, and the people that hail him as their, “living” god!
Father Jarousseau the French Roman Catholic, was one of his earliest tutors. It was from Jarousseau, that Tafari learnt the French language, which he was quite fluent in.
In later years when Tafari nearly drowned, it was the French priest who saved his life, the priest drowned in the incident. Above right the young child Lij Tafari (Haile Sellassie) wearing the pectoral cross given to him by Jarousseau.
Left to right Tafari Belew, Tafari Makonnen (Haile Sellassie), middle Beru the children’s attendant and last Imru Haile Sellassie who later became a Ras. At right Tafari or Teferi, at age twelve just months before he was named Dejazmatch, or governor of some of Harage province, by his father.
Dr Joseph Vitalien, a black Catholic physician from Martinique, also tutored Ras Tafari.
Lej Iyasu the crown prince at the time converted to Islam and caused much consternation, when he began firing Christian government appointees and placing Muslims in their stead, he was finally deposed in a military coup.
With the most powerful noble’s and the greater part of the military supporting him Ras Tafari was crowned on November second 1930 along with his wife Empress Mennen.
Menen was of the Gala people and not Amharan like Haile Selassie.
The actual events surrounding the coronation itself are worth recounting herein; in order to establish the significance of the Coptic Church, and specifically the centrality of the Christian faith to the imperial office, and the importance placed on the observance of the Christian faith by the emperor himself.
A significant event that occurred prior to the coronation, was the return of the royal scepter to Ethiopia by the Duke of Gloucester, he came representing his father who was unable to make the trip.
It is a highly paradoxical development that some today, would attempt to divorce Haile Selassie from his openly Christian adherence and his constant veneration of Jesus as his Lord and Savior. It is with that thought in mind that I will attempt to describe what has been described by many authors over the years, which are the actual events and ceremonies surrounding the coronation of Haile Selassie, the recounting of said events herein are to highlight the significance of Christian doctrine to the Ethiopian royal house at that time.
Image: The state coach above was purchased from the Austrian emperor Franz Josef, drawn by a team of spotless white Hapsburg stallions, the coach gleamed resplendently in the sun. The driver was a former employee of Franz Josef hired by Ras Tafari , to drive him and his empress.
In Addis Ababa new roads had to be built to accommodate the large amount of traffic that would abound in November the date of the coronation. Invitations were sent to dignitaries all around the world. In mid-October the dignitaries began streaming into Addis Ababa via Djibouti on the Gulf of Aden, through French-Somaliland and through Ethiopia’s mountainous interior by railway. Amongst the many dignitaries were, the Duke of Gloucester, Isaburo Yoshida a Japanese delegate, Marshal Franchet d’Espercy a Frencman,Rear Admiral Prince Udine an Italian, Muhammad Tawfiq Nasim Pasha an Egyptian. The German President dispatched a private airplane bearing 500 bottles of fine Rhine wine. In a service at the Saint Georgis Cathedral on the eve of the coronation the emperor and his bride took part in an all-night prayer vigil. Ras Tafari and his wife prayed along with, the priest’s and the church deacons, dancing, singing the priest’s and deacon’s held their prayer sticks, swaying in time to the music, of harps , lyres, drums ,tambourines and an assortment of other instruments. The female choir singing, from time to time ululated as is the custom of Ethiopian women at such events.
Sunday November 2, 1930 at 7:00 most of the official guests were seated in the opulently decorated hall at the west side of the cathedral. At 7:30 A.M., the doors of the inner sanctum opened, and hundreds of priest’s made their way out chanting as they went, Haile Sellassie followed them out, as incense filled the cathedral shrouding him in a swirl of smoke, dressed in white silk communion robes Tafari Makonnen made his way slowly to his throne, and sat down.
The emperor was presented with the imperial symbols of his high office: the insignia of royalty, the gold embroidered scarlet robes, a saber encrusted with precious stones, the royal scepter, and the orb, the ring of Solomon, (a ring with a rampant gold lion set in onyx or obsidian), two diamond rings, and two lances.
Then the Abuna anointed his brow and placed the majestic crown fitted with jewels, diamonds and precious stones on his head, the crown of the emperor and empress were valued at one million U.S. dollars, the crowns were fashioned in such a manner that they incorporated the seal of Solomon and the Lion of Judah crest (the hand-delivered crowns were kept by the priest’s according to sacral tradition in order for them to be prayed over by the priest’s for the required 21 days prior to the coronation), the Abuna crowned Ras Tafari: “Haile Sellassie I Power of The Trinity, Two Hundred Twenty fifth Emperor of the Solomonic Dynasty, Elect of God, Lord of Lords King of kings Conquering Lion of The Tribe of Judah”. The Abuna then invoked the following prayer: “That God may make this crown a crown of sanctity and glory. That by the grace and blessings which we have given you may have an unshakeable faith and a pure heart, in order that you may inherit the crown eternal. So be it”. Crown Prince Asfa Wossen knelt before the emperor in a posture of sublime submission; one hundred and one cannons elicited a thunderous salute to H.I.M., outside the sanctuary. Though the peasants and common people were barred from attending the coronation they, nevertheless celebrated the crowning of the emperor.
Haile Selassie broke with tradition and was coronated along with his consort empress Mennen.
In her book The First Rasta, Helen Lee the French female journalist claims that Haile Selassie considered himself to be in her words white, a Caucasian, nothing could be farther from the truth. Selassie claimed an Amharic heritage, which is an African ethnic group.
The word Semite in reference to Amhara Ethiopians is an invention of white racist academicians, culturally, and ethnologically, Haile Selassie was in the strictest sense an African. An example of his African cultural heritage can be seen, on the BBC documentary of Haile Selassie during the Italo Ethiopian war, several warriors can be observed dancing, and chanting , and boasting of their valorous acts before the emperor’s throne, and recounting their valorous deeds, the scene is very African and possesses a decidedly non-European character.
The Semitic connection was introduced into his gene pool through the union of Solomon, and the queen of Sheba or queen Makeda her African name. (authors note: examine the photo of Haile Selassie’ father and his pronounced African features. The arrogance and crassness of certain European scholars when writing about Africans borders on the neurotic. Below emperors Tewodros and Johannes sporting the braided hairstyles so popular amongst blacks in the West and in Africa. Many European scholars identified these men as white, yet their culture, language and ethnic heritage is identical in so many aspects to that of Africans on the continent and elsewhere that the true reason for claiming them as Europeans become apparent. Were the Europeans to acknowledge the African for what he is at the outset they would have had no basis at all for their racist theories and suppositions. Therefore having no basis in fact for them to claim an entire continent and its inhabitants to be their inferior. They had to invent a Caucasian heritage for all outstanding African cultures. therein lay the downfall of Western academia for in teaching and perpetuating fiction as fact they robbed generations of their own people of the true value of factual empirical knowledge and for the most part intellectually crippled them and the descendants of the African in their midst. Scholarship of the type you are reading is an attempt to right the injustice, yet it is a minuscule droplet in a sea of decadence and ignorance.
The above newspaper article contains some examples of the type of stupidity spouted by certain western “scholars”. No doubt Helen Lee was influenced by the innuendo and outright lies of the type shown above. I will include the article dated July 24th 1954 in its entirety here. “Haile’s gold medal awarded to Rogers. NEW YORK- By imperial command of emperor, Haile Sellassie, J.A. Rogers was summoned to the Waldorf Astoria last Thursday, presented with a gold medal and given an order of 128 copies of Rogers’ book, “Worlds Great men of Color, 3000 B.C. to 1946 A.D.” After the presentation Mr Rogers said: “This ought to squelch the belief that he considers himself white and is not interested in colored Americans”. “I first met him at his coronation in 1930”. “At 61 the emperor is in excellent health, he underwent a physical exam at the Harkness Pavillion of the Presbytarian hospital and passed with flying colors”. Mr Rogers revealed he is working on two new books; one of them is a book of amazing facts entitled, “A book of amazing facts about the colored American from 1512 to the present”. Mr Rogers says he has enough important facts to fill several volumes. Commenting on John Gunther’s story in the Readers Digest in which said Gunther, “The Ethiopians consider themselves to be white no matter what their color is”. This is an entirely false interpretation. “Ethiopians do consider themselves the equal of anybody, which is something entirely different”, says Rogers. “I discussed this with many of the Highest Ethiopians they regard themselves as Black people, Africans”. There are many more such articles to be found in Western media with direct quotes from Haile Sellassie himself with regards to his ethnicity; suffice it to say that I am satisfied with the evidence presented in this book thus far on the preceding.
The Ethiopian imperial structure was centralized in the person of the emperor.
The inability of the average West Indian to fully grasp Ethiopian culture, is understandable the complexities of distinguishing between the Amhara, for instance and the Falasha, or the Gala, or any other ethnic group in existence in Ethiopia quite frankly, would be far too staggering for the average high school dropout in the West Indies. It is exactly because of this handicap that men like Howell were able to preach and teach an erroneous doctrine to ignorant persons.
Image: Close examination of the throne will reveal two lion’s heads on the right and the left of the throne on which Haile Sellassie is seated. This picture has been included to show, the pronounced Jewish influenced traditions in the Solomonic dynasty of Haile Sellassie, no one can deny that the Ethiopians had previous contact with Jews.
Before I go any further, I would like to say here for the record that Haile Sellassie confessed Jesus as his personal lord and savior. I esteem his person very highly, I regard him as a great personal influence, and motivation in my own life, with that said I would like to include here a quote from Haile Sellassie himself as pertains to his personal regard for the bible and I quote.
“We in Ethiopia have one of the oldest versions of the bible, but however old the version may be, in whatever language it might be written the word remains one and the same. It transcends all boundaries of empires and all conception of race it is eternal.
No doubt you all remember reading in the Acts of the Apostles how Philip baptized the Ethiopian official. He is the first Ethiopian on record to have followed Christ and from that day onwards the, word of God has continued to grow in the hearts of Ethiopians. Moreover, I might say for myself that from my early childhood, I was taught to appreciate the bible and my love for it increases with the passage of time. All through my troubles, I have found it a cause of infinite comfort (quoting Jesus). “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest”. Who can resist an invitation so full of compassion?
Because of this personal experience in the goodness of the bible, I was resolved that all my countrymen should also share its great blessing, and that by reading the bible they should find truth for themselves. Therefore, I caused a new translation to be made from our ancient language (Geez) into the language which the old and the young understood and spoke (Amharic).
Today man sees all his hopes and aspirations crumbling before him. He must realize that the bible is his refuge and the rallying point for all humanity. In it man will find the solution of his present difficulties and guidance for his future action.
And unless he accepts with clear conscience the bible and its great message, he cannot hope for salvation. For my part I glory in the bible”.
The name Haile Sellassie is an Amharic word, the Amharic language is classified as a Semitic language in the same language group as Hebrew, which is a fallacious attempt to divorce Ethiopians from their African ethnicity, an impossibility that is still being attempted by certain Caucasian pseudo-scholars.
The name literally means power of the trinity the Hebrew equivalent of the word Selassie is Sh’lee-shee the word means third , Tafari his childhood name prefixed by the title Ras in the Hebrew is Tiph-ah-rah and Tiph-eh-reth in the English transliteration it is rendered Tiferet the word means beauty or glory .
Some attribute messiah ship to Haile Selassie; indeed he did execute the role of a political savior in that he defended the sovereignty of Ethiopia valiantly. It was because of the steadfast faith in God, of the Ethiopian warriors that they were able to defeat the Italian hordes, yet there is no biblical proof nor shred of evidence supporting or promoting any claim that Haile Selassie was God incarnate the Messiah of the ages.
As can be seen from his own account Haile Sellassie considered himself a mere mortal and a subject of Jesus the Messiah.
Haile Selassie is a product of a culture that has co-opted many aspects of Judaism into its Canon, from his triple crown to his kingly scepter and royal globe/orb signifying universal or perpetual ruler ship all these are adaptations of the Hebrew Theocratic way of life.
Which was God ordained kingship Government ruled by God.
The Ethiopians co-opted Judaism which remains to this day a deeply religious society, the fact that, the Ethiopian religious culture bears resemblances to the Hebrew religious culture attests to the fact that the Hebrew’s influence was far flung, and far ranging from it’s infancy until today. Hebrew culture has influenced the earth’s population and will continue to do so.
Tafari Makonnen would later become known by his baptismal name, Haile Sellassie,
This became his regnal appellation upon his coronation as emperor.
Haile Sellassie was the only emperor of the twentieth century who actually fought, in Battle alongside his troops; he operated an Oerlikon anti-aircraft gun during the Italo Ethiopian war.
Haile Sellassie was the only emperor of the twentieth century who actually fought, in Battle alongside his troops; he operated an Oerlikon anti-aircraft gun during the Italo Ethiopian war.
Image: Haile Sellassie marching with his troops into battle. Sellassie is in the front row sixth from right. The Ethiopian soldiers would chant: “Negus, our Negus, only you can save us, our lines in the south have been caught in a rout. And to the north of Makale all our tactics are folly. Negus, our Negus give me shot give me powder.
The October 12 1935, Italian aggression against Ethiopia orchestrated by the fascist Benito Mussolini, was the second attempt by the Italians to conquer Ethiopia.
At Maichew, March 31, 1936, the emperor led his troops on the battlefield.
During the Italo-Ethiopian war poison gas bombs (Mustard gas), were dropped wholesale by the Italians on men, women, children, and animals as well as crops.
The unscrupulous use of Mustard gas by the Italians; in direct contravention of the Geneva Convention of 1907, poisoned the crops on the farmland of the Ethiopian farmers, large tracts of farmland were rendered infertile for generations to come, the resultant starvation that plagued Ethiopia in later years, some historians have attributed to the detrimental ecological effects of Mustard gas. On the issue of Mustard Gas Haile Sellassie in J.A. Rogers’ book World’s Great Men of Color volume I said that: “It was at the time when the operations for the encircling of Makalle were taking place that the Italian command, fearing rout, followed the procedure which it is now my duty to denounce to the world. Special sprayers were installed on board aircraft so that they could vaporize, over vast areas of territory a fine death dealing rain. Groups of nine, fifteen, eighteen aircraft followed one another so that the fog issuing forth from them formed a continuous sheet. It was thus that, as far as the end of January, 1936, soldiers, women , children, cattle, rivers, lakes and pastures were drenched continually with the deadly rain .In order to kill off systematically all living creatures: in order the more surely to poison waters and pastures, the Italian command made its aircraft to pass over and over again. That was its chief method of warfare.
The very refinement of barbarism consisted in carrying ravage and terror into the most densely populated parts of the territory the points farthest removed from the scene of hostilities. The object was to scatter fear and death over a great part of the Ethiopian territory. These Fearful tactics succeeded. Men and animals succumbed. The deadly rain that fell from the aircraft made all those whom it touched fly shrieking with pain. All those who drank the poisoned water or ate the infected food also succumbed in dreadful suffering. In tens of thousands the victims of Italian mustard gas fell. It is in order to denounce to the civilized world the tortures inflicted upon the Ethiopian people that I resolved to come to Geneva.
Above Hitler and his cohort Mussolini.
Image: Oblivious to his own safety Haile Selassie walked on unexploded bombs on his palace grounds and collected some, that he could carry and painstakingly logged information concerning the makeup of the bombs into a logbook that he carried.
Haile Selassie issued a general mobilization proclamation to the Ethiopian people before the war, the proclamation read: “People of my land of Ethiopia. You know that Ethiopia has moved on her way continuously from the time of Menelik the first, and has endured, has been recognized, and respected in her liberty.
Previously, forty years ago, Italy, proud in her skill and in her strength, desired to destroy the liberty of Ethiopia, and to enslave her people and to rule over them: she came into the midst of our land and fought against us.
Our God, who loves not violence, aided us and gave us the victory; but we did not seek to recover that part of our land, which had gone from us.
Pushing forward on the frontiers by Hamasien and Somalia, they took our territory: and you can see with your eyes and hear with your ears how our brothers, in that land they took, have borne the yoke of slavery.
While we grieve at the violence perpetrated against them, we do not seek the territory, which has gone from us.
Now once again they are planning to cast the yoke of slavery upon the people dwelling in the whole of our country.
They brought troops by stealth into Ogaden and killed our men who were seeking no quarrel: they have broken the treaty we concluded with them.
We had already entered the League of Nations, which was established to maintain the peace of the world, therefore we gave notice to the League of Nations, so that the quarrel at Walwal might be looked into by arbitrators according to the law, and the guilty party might be recognized.”
Image: This photo is of Haile Selassie addressing the League of Nations, hoping to avoid war by a policy of non-aggression in 1936. His efforts however were futile, Italian journalists seeking to create a disturbance and diminish the effectiveness of his speech vociferously and rudely heckled him.
Before descending the rostrum, Sellassie uttered these prophetic words, “Today for us tomorrow it will be you,” his words came to fruition in the Italian defeat at the hands of the allies, and the subsequent execution of Benito Mussolini by his own countrymen.
The photo above at right of the page shows Mussolini and some of his cohorts, hanging, upside down, murdered by the “adoring masses”, of Italians who mere months prior hailed them as heroes.
Selassie hoped to appeal to the collective conscience of the League. With quite determination and a steely resolve taking a deep breath steadying his nerves, he knew this was a pivotal moment his countrymen depended on him he was their servant and representative before the largest world body politic, the hypocritical League of Nations what would histories verdict be? he wondered. With his unwavering faith in God the austere monarch began to outline his policy speaking in his native Amharic, the beleaguered Sellassie championed the very values that the league claimed to defend, in 1936.Twenty seven years later Sellassie’s prophetic words had come to pass, he would again go before the world body which was by then the United Nations, vindicated and victorious, Clearing his throat Haile Sellassie uttered the following words before the hypocritical league, on October 1963:
“Twenty-seven years ago, as Emperor of Ethiopia, I mounted the rostrum in Geneva, Switzerland, to address the League of Nations and to appeal for relief from the destruction which had been unleashed against my defenceless nation, by the Fascist invader. I spoke then both to and for the conscience of the world. My words went unheeded, but history testifies to the accuracy of the warning that I gave in 1936.
Today, I stand before the world organization which has succeeded to the mantle discarded by its discredited predecessor. In this body is enshrined the principle of collective security which I unsuccessfully invoked at Geneva. Here, in this Assembly, reposes the best – perhaps the last – hope for the peaceful survival of mankind.
In 1936, I declared that it was not the Covenant of the League that was at stake, but international morality. Undertakings, I said then, are of little worth if the will to keep them is lacking. The Charter of the United Nations expresses the noblest aspirations of man: abjuration of force in the settlement of disputes between states; the assurance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion; the safeguarding of international peace and security.
But these, too, as were the phrases of the Covenant, are only words; their value depends wholly on our will to observe and honor them and give them content and meaning. The preservation of peace and the guaranteeing of man’s basic freedoms and rights require courage and eternal vigilance: courage to speak and act – and if necessary, to suffer and die – for truth and justice; eternal vigilance, that the least transgression of international morality shall not go undetected and unremedied. These lessons must be learned anew by each succeeding generation, and that generation is fortunate indeed which learns from other than its own bitter experience. This Organization and each of its members bear a crushing and awesome responsibility: to absorb the wisdom of history and to apply it to the problems of the present, in order that future generations may be born, and live, and die, in peace.
The record of the United Nations during the few short years of its life affords mankind a solid basis for encouragement and hope for the future. The United Nations has dared to act, when the League dared not in Palestine, in Korea, in Suez, in the Congo. There is not one among us today who does not conjecture upon the reaction of this body when motives and actions are called into question. The opinion of this Organization today acts as a powerful influence upon the decisions of its members. The spotlight of world opinion, focused by the United Nations upon the transgressions of the renegades of human society, has thus far proved an effective safeguard against unchecked aggression and unrestricted violation of human rights.
The United Nations continues to sense as the forum where nations whose interests clash may lay their cases before world opinion. It still provides the essential escape valve without which the slow build-up of pressures would have long since resulted in catastrophic explosion. Its actions and decisions have speeded the achievement of freedom by many people’s on the continents of Africa and Asia. Its efforts have contributed to the advancement of the standard of living of peoples in all corners of the world.
For this, all men must give thanks. As I stand here today, how faint, how remote are the memories of 1936.How different in 1963 are the attitudes of men. We then existed in an atmosphere of suffocating pessimism. Today, cautious yet buoyant optimism is the prevailing spirit. But each one of us here knows that what has been accomplished is not enough.
The United Nations judgments have been and continue to be subject to frustration, as individual member-states have ignored its pronouncements and disregarded its recommendations. The Organization’s sinews have been weakened, as member-states have shirked their obligations to it. The authority of the Organization has been mocked, as individual member-states have proceeded, in violation of its commands, to pursue their own aims and ends. The troubles which continue to plague us virtually all arise among member states of the Organization, but the Organization remains impotent to enforce acceptable solutions. As the maker and enforcer of the international law, what the United Nations has achieved still falls regrettably short of our goal of an international community of nations.
This does not mean that the United Nations has failed. I have lived too long to cherish many illusions about the essential high-mindedness of men when brought into stark confrontation with the issue of control over their security, and their property interests. Not even now, when so much is at hazard would many nations willingly entrust their destinies to other hands.
Yet, this is the ultimatum presented to us: secure the conditions whereby men will entrust their security to a larger entity, or risk annihilation; persuade men that their salvation rests in the subordination of national and local interests to the interests of humanity, or endanger man’s future. These are the objectives, yesterday unobtainable, today essential, which we must labor to achieve.
Until this is accomplished, mankind’s future remains hazardous and permanent peace a matter for speculation. There is no single magic formula, no one simple step, no words, whether written into the Organization’s Charter or into a treaty between states, which can automatically guarantee to us what we seek. Peace is a day-to-day problem, the product of a multitude of events and judgments. Peace is not an “is”, it is a “becoming.” We cannot escape the dreadful possibility of catastrophe by miscalculation. But we can reach the right decisions on the myriad subordinate problems which each new day poses, and we can thereby make our contribution and perhaps the most that can be reasonably expected of us in 1963 to the preservation of peace. It is here that the United Nations has served us – not perfectly, but well. And in enhancing the possibilities that the Organization may serve us better, we serve and bring closer our most cherished goals.
I would mention briefly today two particular issues which are of deep concern to all men: disarmament and the establishment of true equality among men. Disarmament has become the urgent imperative of our time. I do not say this because I equate the absence of arms to peace, or because I believe that bringing an end to the nuclear arms race automatically guarantees the peace, or because the elimination of nuclear warheads from the arsenals of the world will bring in its wake that change in attitude requisite to the peaceful settlement of disputes between nations. Disarmament is vital today, quite simply, because of the immense destructive capacity of which men dispose.
Ethiopia supports the atmospheric nuclear test ban treaty as a step towards this goal, even though only a partial step. Nations can still perfect weapons of mass destruction by underground testing. There is no guarantee against the sudden, unannounced resumption of testing in the atmosphere.
The real significance of the treaty is that it admits of a tacit stalemate between the nations which negotiated it, a stalemate which recognizes the blunt, unavoidable fact that none would emerge from the total destruction which would be the lot of all in a nuclear war, a stalemate which affords us and the United Nations a breathing space in which to act.
Here is our opportunity and our challenge. If the nuclear powers are prepared to declare a truce, let us seize the moment to strengthen the institutions and procedures which will serve as the means for the pacific settlement of disputes among men. Conflicts between nations will continue to arise. The real issue is whether they are to be resolved by force, or by resort to peaceful methods and procedures, administered by impartial institutions. This very Organization itself is the greatest such institution, and it is in a more powerful United Nations that we seek, and it is here that we shall find, the assurance of a peaceful future.
Were a real and effective disarmament achieved and the funds now spent in the arms race devoted to the amelioration of man’s state; were we to concentrate only on the peaceful uses of nuclear knowledge, how vastly and in how short a time might we change the conditions of mankind. This should be our goal.
When we talk of the equality of man, we find, also, a challenge and an opportunity; a challenge to breathe new life into the ideals enshrined in the Charter, an opportunity to bring men closer to freedom and true equality and thus, closer to a love of peace.
The goal of the equality of man which we seek is the antithesis of the exploitation of one people by another with which the pages of history and in particular those written of the African and Asian continents, speak at such length. Exploitation, thus viewed, has many faces. But whatever guise it assumes, this evil is to be shunned where it does not exist and crushed where it does. It is the sacred duty of this Organization to ensure that the dream of equality is finally realized for all men to whom it is still denied, to guarantee that exploitation is not reincarnated in other forms in places whence it has already been banished.
As a free Africa has emerged during the past decade, a fresh attack has been launched against exploitation, wherever it still exists. And in that interaction so common to history, this in turn, has stimulated and encouraged the remaining dependent peoples to renewed efforts to throw off the yoke which has oppressed them and its claim as their birth right the twin ideals of liberty and equality. This very struggle is a struggle to establish peace, and until victory is assured, that brotherhood and understanding which nourish and give life to peace can be but partial and incomplete.
In the United States of America, the administration of President Kennedy is leading a vigorous attack to eradicate the remaining vestige of racial discrimination from this country. We know that this conflict will be won and that right will triumph. In this time of trial, these efforts should be encouraged and assisted, and we should lend our sympathy and support to the American Government today.
Last May, in Addis Ababa, I convened a meeting of Heads of African States and Governments. In three days, the thirty-two nations represented at that Conference demonstrated to the world that when the will and the determination exist, nations and peoples of diverse backgrounds can and will work together, in unity, to the achievement of common goals and the assurance of that equality and brotherhood which we desire.
On the question of racial discrimination, the Addis Ababa Conference taught, to those who will learn, this further lesson: “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; And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique and in South Africa in subhuman bondage have been toppled and destroyed; Until bigotry and prejudice and malicious and inhuman self-interest have been replaced by understanding and tolerance and good-will; Until all Africans stand and speak as free beings, equal in the eyes of all men, as they are in the eyes of Heaven; Until that day, the African continent will not know peace. We Africans will fight, if necessary and we know that we shall win, as we are confident in the victory of good over evil”.
The United Nations has done much, both directly and indirectly to speed the disappearance of discrimination and oppression from the earth. Without the opportunity to focus world opinion on Africa and Asia which this Organization provides, the goal, for many, might still lie ahead, and the struggle would have taken far longer. For this, we are truly grateful.
But more can be done. The basis of racial discrimination and colonialism has been economic, and it is with economic weapons that these evils have been and can be overcome. In pursuance of resolutions adopted at the Addis Ababa Summit Conference, African States have undertaken certain measures in the economic field which, if adopted by all member states of the United Nations, would soon reduce intransigence to reason. I ask, today, for adherence to these measures by every nation represented here which is truly devoted to the principles enunciated in the Charter.
I do not believe that Portugal and South Africa are prepared to commit economic or physical suicide if honorable and reasonable alternatives exist. I believe that such alternatives can be found. But I also know that unless peaceful solutions are devised, counsels of moderation and temperance will avail for naught; and another blow will have been dealt to this Organization which will hamper and weaken still further its usefulness in the struggle to ensure the victory of peace and liberty over the forces of strife and oppression. Here, then, is the opportunity presented to us. We must act while we can, while the occasion exists to exert those legitimate pressures available to us, lest time run out and resort be had to less happy means.
Does this Organization today possess the authority and the will to act? And if it does not, are we prepared to clothe it with the power to create and enforce the rule of law? Or is the Charter a mere collection of words, without content and substance, because the essential spirit is lacking? The time in which to ponder these questions is all too short. The pages of history are full of instances in which the unwanted and the shunned nonetheless occurred because men waited to act until too late. We can brook no such delay.
If we are to survive, this Organization must survive. To survive, it must be strengthened. Its executive must be vested with great authority. The means for the enforcement of its decisions must be fortified, and, if they do not exist, they must be devised. Procedures must be established to protect the small and the weak when threatened by the strong and the mighty. All nations which fulfil the conditions of membership must be admitted and allowed to sit in this assemblage.
Equality of representation must be assured in each of its organs. The possibilities which exist in the United Nations to provide the medium whereby the hungry may be fed, the naked clothed, the ignorant instructed, must be seized on and exploited for the flower of peace is not sustained by poverty and want. To achieve this requires courage and confidence. The courage, I believe, we possess. The confidence must be created, and to create confidence we must act courageously.
The great nations of the world would do well to remember that in the modern age even their own fates are not wholly in their hands. Peace demands the united efforts of us all. Who can foresee what spark might ignite the fuse? It is not only the small and the weak who must scrupulously observe their obligations to the United Nations and to each other. Unless the smaller nations are accorded their proper voice in the settlement of the world’s problems, unless the equality which Africa and Asia have struggled to attain is reflected in expanded membership in the institutions which make up the United Nations, confidence will come just that much harder. Unless the rights of the least of men are as assiduously protected as those of the greatest, the seeds of confidence will fall on barren soil.
The stake of each one of us is identical – life or death. We all wish to live. We all seek a world in which men are freed of the burdens of ignorance, poverty, hunger and disease. And we shall all be hard-pressed to escape the deadly rain of nuclear fall-out should catastrophe overtake us.
When I spoke at Geneva in 1936, there was no precedent for a head of state addressing the League of Nations. I am neither the first, nor will I be the last head of state to address the United Nations, but only I have addressed both the League and this Organization in this capacity. The problems which confront us today are, equally, unprecedented. They have no counterparts in human experience. Men search the pages of history for solutions, for precedents, but there are none. This, then, is the ultimate challenge. Where are we to look for our survival, for the answers to the questions which have never before been posed? We must look, first, to Almighty God, Who has raised man above the animals and endowed him with intelligence and reason. We must put our faith in Him, that He will not desert us or permit us to destroy humanity which He created in His image. And we must look into ourselves, into the depth of our souls. We must become something we have never been and for which our education and experience and environment have ill-prepared us. We must become bigger than we have been: more courageous, greater in spirit, larger in outlook. We must become members of a new race, overcoming petty prejudice, owing our ultimate allegiance not to nations but to our fellow men within the human community.” Certainly one of his most enlightened speeches, undoubtedly Haile Sellassie, was a visionary far ahead of his time many of the points he conceptualized in his speeches, have yet to see their enactment in our times, on the contrary the use of science in the Western hemisphere, seems to be an impossibility in the present geo-political context. Although I cannot uphold the United Nations as an actual answer to mankind’s myriad malaise, the things that he conceptualized could conceivably be put into practice. The leadership in the world today particularly the western hemisphere, are part of a Global Military Industrial Complex, headed by the United States of America, the economic strength of this global juggernaut lies in Wall Street and London. The Military Industrial Complex is powered by the multi-national corporations which are chiefly owned and operated by Anglo’s largely of a European or American nationality. Increasingly Asian nations, such as India and China are vying to supplant the western militarized industrial complex with their own. The world is being continually divided into spheres of influence, all in direct fulfillment of bible prophecy. That Haile Sellassie saw our future is a testament of his vision and thorough understanding of geo-political affairs, no mere “intellectual”, the spiritual insight that he was endowed with was certainly God given, yet he was astute enough to present a humble exterior, which belied his wisdom. Haile Sellassie in this book is presented as a seminal figure, in the context of his historical import and his cross cultural influences and global impact, regrettably more could not be included in this book pertinent to such an elusive and legendary figure as Haile Sellassie. The actual proclamation was included; as an aid in the general understanding of the reader, into the actual events that took place, and especially, into the temperament of Haile Sellassie at the time that the actual events unfolded.
Famed black history teacher and icon D.R. Joseph Ben Jochannan has gone on record stating, that Haile Selassie was installed as emperor illegally, and that he was a murderer of both queen Zawditu, and Lej Iyasu, through my own studies of the man I have found
Not one shred of evidence to support such a theory, I personally have found Haile Selassie to be a good and godly man.
From left to right Tafari, as Dejazmatch (Dejazmatch literally Keeper of the Door), middle Beru Tafari’s childhood attendant , the smaller man to the left is claimed by many to be Lij Iyasu his childhood name, who became a Moslem, and opposed Tafari militarily, he was captured and imprisoned, he died twelve years later. Iam in serious doubt as to the authenticity of those claims since Iyasu was the emperor Menellek’s grandson, who was next in line for the throne, in the photo above at left, the last man at right in photo, most likely was a servant of Ras Tafari. The photo at right with Ras Tafari and his servant Beru, who was also his childhood attendant i.e. servant. In all pictures except those of Tafari and other high ranking children of the Ethiopian nobility, the nobility are photographed wearing shoes whereas the servants always were shown without shoes. The pictures above only show Ras Tafari wearing shoes while the other men are in their bare feet, denoting their servile status. It is inconceivable that Lij Iyasu would pose in a manner servile to Ras Tafari since he was higher in the imperial hierarchy at that time than Haile Sellassie. The second photo the man next to ras Tafari (Haile Sellassie), is being alleged to be Iyasu he is clearly Beru, since he has been pictured with Haile Sellassie from their youth up and he is quite recognizable to those familiar with photos from the period in question.
Few leaders in the twentieth century displayed the type of love and compassion for his fellowman, as did Haile Selassie; he was a true leader in the fullest sense of the word. Diaspora Christians should carefully study his numerous books and works; in so doing
they will gain, a much needed understanding into the character, and Christian lifestyle of Haile Selassie. His life of prayer and his steadfast faith in God are rarely if ever discussed, yet in his book My Life and Ethiopia’s Progress he begins the book with a prayer to God, the same God that Christians worship, yet some decry Haile Selassie as a murderer and a thief falsely and erroneously. I want to include here an appropriate speech given by Haile Sellassie at Asmara University on August 1st 1971: “There is nothing more worthwhile and rewarding in life than to work for the benefit of others. One can derive more pleasure from giving than from receiving. We believe that each and every one of you who in leaving this institution for his or her respective calling has come to realize that education is seldom prized merely on account of its usefulness to individuals. Nor is it intended to be a mere ornament and a mark of distinction and prominence to the persons who are fortunate to receive it. Those who have had the opportunity to learn should always be at the disposal of those who have not had its benefit. Therefore, it is not only the individual but the community at large which should benefit from the virtues of education. The words of the Holy Bible, “Give and it shall be given unto you,” are worth observing in your daily lives. This momentous event should be a time in which you should reflect and pose to yourselves the questions, “what kind of service are we going to render to our country and what do we intend to accomplish in life?” It is our firm belief that if you forego self-love and self-indulgence and break away from worldly desires that you will be able to make great contributions to your family, community and country…”
Sadly, because of lack of resources and a clear-cut understanding of bible prophecy, many Jamaican Rastafari have spread a false doctrine of the divinity of Haile Selassie, equally guilty as some Christians of defamation of the character of the gentle Haile Selassie. It is the intent of this work to present as much as possible, well researched factual data on the man and his beliefs and value system.
I will like to introduce here some excerpts from the book written by Karl Philpot’s Naphtali in his book “The Testimony of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie defender of the faith.”
Karl Philpot’s is a Rastafari who adheres to the doctrines taught by Vernon Carrington better -known as Prophet Gad.
On page 109 we read that Vernon Carrington prophet of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, stated according to Philpot’s Naphtali that there is no name whereby mankind can be saved but by the name Jesus .
In his book Philpot’s acknowledges Jesus as the savior of mankind through the process of atonement, brought to fruition through the death burial and resurrection of Jesus.