* Ethiopian Revolution or Death of Ethiopia?
In early 1974, Ethiopia entered a period of profound political, economic, and social change, frequently accompanied by violence. Confrontation between traditional and modern forces erupted and changed the political, economic, and social nature of the Ethiopian state.
The government's failure to effect significant economic and political reforms over the previous fourteen years--combined with rising inflation, corruption, a famine that affected several provinces (but especially Welo and Tigray) and that was concealed from the outside world, and the growing discontent of urban interest groups--provided the backdrop against which the Ethiopian revolution began to unfold in early 1974. Whereas elements of the urban-based, modernizing elite previously had sought to establish a parliamentary democracy, the initiation of the 1974 revolution was the work of the military, acting essentially in its own immediate interests. The unrest that began in January of that year then spread to the civilian population in an outburst of general discontent.
The revolution began with a mutiny of the Territorial Army's Fourth Brigade at Negele in the southern province of Sidamo on January 12, 1974. Soldiers protested poor food and water conditions; led by their noncommissioned officers, they rebelled and took their commanding officer hostage, requesting redress from the emperor. Attempts at reconciliation and a subsequent impasse promoted the spread of the discontent to other units throughout the military, including those stationed in Eritrea. There, the Second Division at Asmera mutinied, imprisoned its commanders, and announced its support for the Negele mutineers. The Signal Corps, in sympathy with the uprising, broadcast information about events to the rest of the military. Moreover, by that time, general discontent had resulted in the rise of resistance throughout Ethiopia. Opposition to increased fuel prices and curriculum changes in the schools, as well as low teachers' salaries and many other grievances, crystalized by the end of February. Teachers, workers, and eventually students--all demanding higher pay and better conditions of work and education--also promoted other causes, such as land reform and famine relief. Finally, the discontented groups demanded a new political system. Riots in the capital and the continued military mutiny eventually led to the resignation of Prime Minister Aklilu. He was replaced on February 28, 1974, by another Shewan aristocrat, Endalkatchew Mekonnen, whose government would last only until July 22.
On March 5, the government announced a revision of the 1955 constitution--the prime minister henceforth would be responsible to parliament. The new government probably reflected Haile Selassie's decision to minimize change; the new cabinet, for instance, represented virtually all of Ethiopia's aristocratic families. The conservative constitutional committee appointed on March 21 included no representatives of the groups pressing for change. The new government introduced no substantial reforms (although it granted the military several salary increases). It also postponed unpopular changes in the education system and instituted price rollbacks and controls to check inflation. As a result, the general discontent subsided somewhat by late March.
By this time, there were several factions within the military that claimed to speak for all or part of the armed forces. These included the Imperial Bodyguard under the old high command, a group of "radical" junior officers, and a larger number of moderate and radical army and police officers grouped around Colonel Alem Zewd Tessema, commander of an airborne brigade based in Addis Ababa. In late March, Alem Zewd became head of an informal, inter-unit coordinating committee that came to be called the Armed Forces Coordinating Committee (AFCC). Acting with the approval of the new prime minister, Alem Zewd arrested a large number of disgruntled air force officers and in general appeared to support the Endalkatchew government.
Such steps, however, did not please many of the junior officers, who wished to pressure the regime into making major political reforms. In early June, a dozen or more of them broke away from the AFCC and requested that every military and police unit send three representatives to Addis Ababa to organize for further action. In late June, a body of men that eventually totaled about 120, none above the rank of major and almost all of whom remained anonymous, organized themselves into a new body called the Coordinating Committee of the Armed Forces, Police, and Territorial Army that soon came to be called the Derg (Amharic for "committee" or "council," see Glossary). They elected Major Mengistu Haile Mariam chairman and Major Atnafu Abate vice chairman, both outspoken proponents of far-reaching change.
This group of men would remain at the forefront of political and military affairs in Ethiopia for the next thirteen years. The identity of the Derg never changed after these initial meetings in 1974. Although its membership declined drastically during the next few years as individual officers were eliminated, no new members were admitted into its ranks, and its deliberations and membership remained almost entirely unknown. At first, the Derg's officers exercised their influence behind the scenes; only later, during the era of the Provisional Military Administrative Council, did its leaders emerge from anonymity and become both the official as well as the de facto governing personnel.
Because its members in effect represented the entire military establishment, the Derg could henceforth claim to exercise real power and could mobilize troops on its own, thereby depriving the emperor's government of the ultimate means to govern. Although the Derg professed loyalty to the emperor, it immediately began to arrest members of the aristocracy, military, and government who were closely associated with the emperor and the old order. Colonel Alem Zewd, by now discredited in the eyes of the young radicals, fled.
In July the Derg wrung five concessions from the emperor-- the release of all political prisoners, a guarantee of the safe return of exiles, the promulgation and speedy implementation of the new constitution, assurance that parliament would be kept in session to complete the aforementioned task, and assurance that the Derg would be allowed to coordinate closely with the government at all levels of operation. Hereafter, political power and initiative lay with the Derg, which was increasingly influenced by a wide-ranging public debate over the future of the country. The demands made of the emperor were but the first of a series of directives or actions that constituted the "creeping coup" by which the imperial system of government was slowly dismantled. Promoting an agenda for lasting changes going far beyond those proposed since the revolution began in January, the Derg proclaimed Ethiopia Tikdem (Ethiopia First) as its guiding philosophy. It forced out Prime Minister Endalkatchew and replaced him with Mikael Imru, a Shewan aristocrat with a reputation as a liberal.
The Derg's agenda rapidly diverged from that of the reformers of the late imperial period. In early August, the revised constitution, which called for a constitutional monarchy, was rejected when it was forwarded for approval. Thereafter, the Derg worked to undermine the authority and legitimacy of the emperor, a policy that enjoyed much public support. The Derg arrested the commander of the Imperial Bodyguard, disbanded the emperor's governing councils, closed the private imperial exchequer, and nationalized the imperial residence and the emperor's other landed and business holdings. By late August, the emperor had been directly accused of covering up the Welo and Tigray famine of the early 1970s that allegedly had killed 100,000 to 200,000 people. After street demonstrations took place urging the emperor's arrest, the Derg formally deposed Haile Selassie on September 12 and imprisoned him. The emperor was too old to resist, and it is doubtful whether he really understood what was happening around him. Three days later, the Armed Forces Coordinating Committee (i.e., the Derg) transformed itself into the Provisional Military Administrative Council (PMAC) under the chairmanship of Lieutenant General Aman Mikael Andom and proclaimed itself the nation's ruling body.
Although not a member of the Derg per se, General Aman had been associated with the Derg since July and had lent his good name to its efforts to reform the imperial regime. He was a well-known, popular commander and hero of a war against Somalia in the 1960s. In accordance with the Derg's wishes, he now became head of state, chairman of the Council of Ministers, and minister of defense, in addition to being chairman of the PMAC. Despite his standing, however, General Aman was almost immediately at odds with a majority of the Derg's members on three major issues: the size of the Derg and his role within it, the Eritrean insurgency, and the fate of political prisoners. Aman claimed that the 120- member Derg was too large and too unwieldy to function efficiently as a governing body; as an Eritrean, he urged reconciliation with the insurgents there; and he opposed the death penalty for former government and military officials who had been arrested since the revolution began.
The Derg immediately found itself under attack from civilian groups, especially student and labor groups who demanded the formation of a "people's government" in which various national organizations would be represented. These demands found support in the Derg among a faction composed mostly of army engineers and air force officers. On October 7, the Derg arrested dissidents supporting the civilian demands. By mid-November, Aman, opposed by the majority of the Derg, was attempting unsuccessfully to appeal directly to the army for support as charges, many apparently fabricated, mounted against him within the Derg. He retired to his home and on November 23 was killed resisting arrest. The same evening of what became known as "Bloody Saturday," fifty-nine political prisoners were executed. Among them were prominent civilians such as Aklilu and Endalkatchew, military officers such as Colonel Alem Zewd and General Abiye Abebe (the emperor's son-in-law and defense minister under endalkatchew), and two Derg members who had supported Aman.
Following the events of Bloody Saturday, Brigadier General Tafari Banti, a Shewan, became chairman of the PMAC and head of state on November 28, but power was retained by Major Mengistu, who kept his post as first vice chairman of the PMAC, with Major Atnafu as second vice chairman. Mengistu hereafter emerged as the leading force in the Derg and took steps to protect and enlarge his power base. Preparations were made for a new offensive in Eritrea, and social and economic reform was addressed; the result was the promulgation on December 20 of the first socialist proclamation for Ethiopia.
In keeping with its declared socialist path, the Derg announced in March 1975 that all royal titles were revoked and that the proposed constitutional monarchy was to be abandoned. In August Haile Selassie died under questionable circumstances and was secretly buried. One of the last major links with the past was broken in February 1976, when the patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Abuna Tewoflos, an imperial appointee, was deposed.
In April 1976, the Derg at last set forth its goals in greater detail in the Program for the National Democratic Revolution (PNDR). As announced by Mengistu, these objectives included progress toward socialism under the leadership of workers, peasants, the petite bourgeoisie, and all antifeudal and anti-imperialist forces. The Derg's ultimate aim was the creation of a one-party system. To accomplish its goals, the Derg established an intermediary organ called the Provisional Office for Mass Organization Affairs (POMOA). Designed to act as a civilian political bureau, POMOA was at first in the hands of the All-Ethiopia Socialist Movement (whose Amharic acronym was MEISON), headed by Haile Fida, the Derg's chief political adviser. Haile Fida, as opposed to other leftists who had formed the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Party (EPRP), had resourcefully adopted the tactic of working with the military in the expectation of directing the revolution from within (see Political Participation and Repression, ch. 4).
By late 1976, the Derg had undergone an internal reconfiguration as Mengistu's power came under growing opposition and as Mengistu, Tafari, and Atnafu struggled for supremacy. The instability of this arrangement was resolved in January and February of 1977, when a major shootout at the Grand (Menelik's) Palace in Addis Ababa took place between supporters of Tafari and those of Mengistu, in which the latter emerged victorious. With the death of Tafari and his supporters in the fighting, most internal opposition within the Derg had been eliminated, and Mengistu proceeded with a reorganization of the Derg. This action left Mengistu as the sole vice chairman, responsible for the People's Militia, the urban defense squads, and the modernization of the armed forces--in other words, in effective control of Ethiopia's government and military. In November 1977, Atnafu, Mengistu's last rival in the Derg, was eliminated, leaving Mengistu in undisputed command. *
Ethiopian & Rastafari
by Aster Sellassie, Millennium Ed.
GeoAlaska: Theatre & Film
(c)2004 HIM contents (summary of the HS web-biography) *
sellassie.vtheatre.net 2006 + ethio.wetpaint.com (EM)
Summary2007 -- Ethiopian Millennium Year
"An Ethiopian Boyhood"
QuestionsDerg or Dergue? I use "Dergue".
2004 & After
groups.yahoo.com/usellassie - mailing list
[ hyperlinked images ]
And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? (Book of Job)
...Kill a man! Kill a man! It's good to kill a man....
One who has not killed a man moves around sleepily.
Radio Ethiopia announced the burial of the Emperor without any funeral service, and the place of burial was not specified. Since that day the name of the Emperor, who held the reins of power for almost 60 years, was gone forever. The Emperor himself was suffocated and his body thrown in a sewage....
The story of this year I have to begin twenty years after the events of the last days of H.I.M.... Yes, I didn't tell it all; I didn't know how. I still don't know how.
Reuter: Emperor wept on eve of assassination
How Haile Selassie diedADDIS ABABA: Witnesses at the trial here of 71 members of the former military junta yesterday described the last hours of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie....
A servant of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie described yesterday how the imprisoned monarch wept and prayed on the night of August 25, 1975 when he realized he was going to be killed.
"Is it true, Ethiopians, that I have not strived for you?" the 83-year-old emperor cried out.... "He sprinkled the floor with his tears. He knelt down and wept and started praying," the imperial servant, a prosecution witness, told the court here. "He understood that it was the end of his days."
At the time of his arrest was eighty two. It was a long life he didn't expect to live. Such a long journey that he thought the God's will was fulfilled. He wasn't ready for the turbilent days of 1974. Not again, this time let them do it without him. He who fought and plotted his whole life, what did he do in detention? Nothing.
It was over long ago. When? His owsn biography ends before the fifties. By 1952 Ethiopia has all what Ras Tafari could dream about thirty years ago. Even Eritrea as a fourteenth province. The country had one government, not namy local kingdoms. Nobody questioned the power of the capital. Ethiopia was poor, but anybody who could find Africa on the map, knew where to look for Ethiopia. His critics usually see the postwar time in global context, which didn't exist for Ethiopia when he came to power. At the time of Menelik they wouldn't think about comparing the economy of Ethiopia and France. He brought his empire that far, he hadn't lost a square foot of Ethiopian soil. His task of the Negus was fulfilled....
....No, that is not the story. I have to start it over.
[ from HSdoc files ]
[ flickr.com HIM album ]
...After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day......
THE STORY OF ABBA GUMIt was the summer of 1995. Or 1987, according to our entrance visas... Yes, there is a casket with his remainings in Addis. Nobody examined it and the family ask for it. As if it would make any difference. Not to the monk who sits there, not for the tourists... We went to the place....So Job died, being old and full of days...
This visit was outside of the real. It should be left this way.
"So you did not see the body?"
"No, he told me not to come back till it's time."
"Who did see the body?"
"I don't know. They say, the doctors."
Well, according to Abba Gum on that day he was in the monastery. He said that the old black goat spoke to him, saying that it was taking the king to his judgment. The others heard it but didn't understand. There had been a full moon that morning. At the hour of his death a white dove was seen flying out of the palace towards the Harar City. He knew how he will die, the voices in boy's head told him. From the very beginning he was told what he was chosen by God to protect the country and to die from it. He was a mystic and he knew that there were the prophesies concerning his death. But about this later.
I didn't know what to say. I and Esther looked at each again. Try to figure. The monk saw a lot of similarities in the end of Christ's life and of Haile Sellassie. There are a few characteristic of divine victims. Both appear to have known that death was coming but did nothing to prevent it. In fact, they seem to have encouraged their deaths.
"As Our Lord, His Majesty approached the place of suffering, aware of coming events, drew near to the place in which he should suffer. They sought to seize, as Jesus, so His Imperial Majesty, but for many days no one put a hand on him because his hour was not yet come. The Lord suffered after supper, and Thomas suffered after supper. The Lord for three days was guarded in Jerusalem by the Jews, HIM was guarded by his own people. There four soldiers, here four soldiers. There the sharing of the garments, here of the mules. There the dispersion of the disciples, here the dispersion of the family and followers. The Lord gave forth water and blood unto salvation; HIM spelt the water the day I saw him last. The Lord restored the lost world, Janhoy recalled to life many in the world."
The day before HIM sent the monk away and told him how he would die.
"Don't come back," Abba talked as to himself. "Return when it's time."
"When is it?" I asked.
"You'll know," the priest seems to relive everything he was talking about. "You'll know, he said. And I left."
The monks' eyes were of a blind man, was he blind? I could guess, he didn't move much and he knew the space around as his own body.
"Ask he how did the emperor die?" I said to Esther.
"He wasn't there," she was stressed and as always would switch to Russian, our private language, although the monk didn't speak English and wasn't interested in what we had to say to each other. He wouldn't talk unless she talk to him.
"I know, ask him what he knows," I said.
I. NECESSITY OF DEATHOn March 21, 1975 the Provisional Military Government issued the proclamation:The King of Ethiopia, Merid Azmatch Asfa Wossen, has been suffering from ill-health for a long time and he is unable to shoulder the heavy responsibility of leading the country, and because the sort of future government required by Ethiopia is a matter to be determined by the people, in accordance with Article Six of Proclamation No. 2 (of 1974) determining the powers of the provisional military administrative committee and the chairman.The monarchy died, but the emperor still was alive. What a nonsense! The year of 1975 were promising us a different future. It was the decade of the triumph of communism. Fall of Hanoi, remember? There will be millions of deaths to follow the reunification, thousands of "boat people".... In 1975 they drafted me to the most powerful army in the world. I never held a machine gun in my hands, but the Central Theatre of the Soviet Army I wrote an adaptation "We, The Russian People." I wasn't good enough communist to wrote an original script; I was good enough to write about the tragedy of Russia as its victory. The civil war with millions dead was okay. In Russia, Vietnam, Ethiopia. No, sir, I didn't write about death of Russia, I did the opposite: I made the evil into good. I wrote the proclamations distributed on the streets of Addis Ababa. Sometimes I think that changing the language was a result of this guilt, the crime I committed against all -- Russia, people, great books, myself, Ethiopia, Vietnam, God; the long list. My native tongue was cut. Yes, I was there in Ethiopia asking for the old man's death. Mengistu, who came to suffocate Tafari with the pillow, knew that he can count on me. The minister of Defence with the huge entourage came to see the show and my comfortable place in hell was secured. I became the youngest writer of the guild.
Oh, the old man had a lot of sins on his conscience, but the difference between him and me that he did it all in own name. He is easy to blame, my crimes are anonymous. You wouldn't dare to accuse me for the death of two millions in Cambogia, you can't do it -- it would be an admission of your own role in history of evil. No, I don't equate your or my role with Mao's or Pol Pot's contributions to history, I resent the notion that not doing evil is good. I reject the soapy lyrics of "We are the World" when we feel good about playing good people. I am under no illusions that all my personal problems are rooted in my withdrawal from history. No, no, I am not an advocate for activism, I am talking about my intellectual distance from my times. The big history is not mine, it's their, but the sad fact that they are not in charge of it. History became an abandoned property.
In 1975 Ethiopia was in a mindless rush to join the modernity. They were two centuries behind the French Revolution, three hundred years behind the Brits and many years behind the Russians in killing their king. The palace revolt of 1960 finally turned into a full blown chaos called "revolution." The names and faces were changing faster than one could recognize them. Many semi-educated Ethiopians remember this year as a time of democracy; they don't understand that this was the time of anarchy -- nobody knew who is in power. It was time of destruction, the joy of destroying your own home.
Abba Gum wasn't the real name of the monk. I don't know his name, I don't know how sound his mind was even twenty years ago. But one strange fact emerges when one wants to think it through, that is that no one attempted to ransom him from the captivity: not the royalists who certainly could afford to do so, nor his family, or any foreign embassies. This is quite unusual, he spent a year in prison and not one person came forward to rescue him from the Dergue. His end was accepted by all. In many books you can find the year of his death dated in 1974, the time of his arrest. History lost interest in HIM and it a mutual feeling. He wasn't interested in future, he and Ethiopia parted, they had different roads to travel. His walk was to peace, he left Ethiopia and the world. Ethiopia had to manage it affairs without him. No, he didn't need anybody to rescue him, he wanted to be left alone.
"You don't have much time to question Us. We shall only last one year," he said after they arrested him.
Why did he have to get ready for his death this ways? How did he get himself into this mess? How could he entrapped himself; he, who knew so well the politics, the moves and consequences? He can't believe it. Did it really take place? But when the family brought the question of leaving the country, he rejected it: "I am an old man and I've been in exile once in my life; I've no desire to become an exile again."2 It was a choice.
He read Bible almost every day, he liked the book and his taste hadn't change since childhood, only the selection of pages... "I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit."
Who dies first -- God, King, Man? All three at once? In what order? How different each death is? And how many times? What do you want me to learn, Lord? What is next?
That was the time of proclamations. Promises, manifestos, words and "direct actions"; executions, in plain words."The sort of future government required by Ethiopia will be determined by the people. The status of the Crown powers given to Merid Azmatch Asfa Wossen and all titles of Prince, Princess and similar royal titles which were awarded to others by him as King have been canceled." (Article Three)It always "the people" who never determine anything. Governments never can't be run by the crowd. They change the words: king became leader, monarch -- head, emperor -- Secretary General and so on. Revolutions give birth to the extreme tyrannies because their are based on chaos. They canceled the titles because the "ancient regime" had a personal responsibility attached to the title. Ras is not a governor, it was the recognition of individual quality of a man. Something like "doctor".... Negusa Negus was just a title, no more than being educated or intelligent could be considered as titles. Of course, there were many with the titles and without noble qualities. In order to remedy the abuse we change the principle. We made all the same.
He had his old Bible with him, but he remember his favorite books by heart: "And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit."
Reuter:"The three prosecution witnesses who testified yesterday said Haile Selassie was found dead early on August 26 and buried the same day."
"For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow...." He didn't need to read Bible, he remembered his favorite books by heart.
He was out, history ended, eternity fully dismissed time. He was a monarch for too long, he didn't know how to live his life as a ordinary man. Good that he didn't hear the radio and read newspapers.Today is no time for the Ethiopian people to be guided by a monarchy -- a system of creatures who claim to be descended from heaven. The powers of the sort of government which passes from father to son have no place in socialist Ethiopia...
Book of Job, another story he remembered, about the God's ways to test man's virtues, a strange tale with a strange happy end. What was Job's rewards after so many loses? What possible reward could make him to forget the dead? And if they will ask him tomorrow to rule again, how could it undo what was done? He had many questions to ask.
"...So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter."
The joy is a privilege of the youth, they can experience the ecstasy of tragedy. There's no tragedy when you are old.
"Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive.
Yea, better is he than both they, which hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun...""After organizing themselves in a short time, the progressive Ethiopian people -- the people themselves -- will set up a people's government, in which they will be their own masters."
The streets were possessed by demons.
"...There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men:
A man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honour, so that he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger eateth it: this is vanity, and it is an evil disease..."As of today there will be no appointments of people through heredity. Now is the time that every Ethiopian citizen with ability for leadership can become the leader of the country if elected by the people. What takes as Ethiopian to leadership today is his ability, work, trustworthiness, and progressiveness -- not his birth.
...If a man beget an hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled with good, and also that he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he.
For he cometh in with vanity, and departeth in darkness, and his name shall be covered with darkness....
Everything worth being, the being itself, has to take the final exam -- pass through the stage of death. The king, priest and prophet have to die with him. Death is an event. The cult of a warrior, death on the battlefield, when life is tested at the moment of it fullness. The king, the knight, the man -- they discover their identity in challenging the death. It was before, now he welcomed death.
No, the trial will produce nothing. Some, who were in prison, during the Dergue, are back to the same cells. The power struggle between the shades of marxist, socialist, communist emotions continue. nobody wants the truth to come out. Not Meles government, not Americans, not the family. None will look good. No actual witnesses are called to testify, no records of Dergue are opened, no interrogation of officials is conducted.
There was only one prisoner in there, and his name was Trinity. He was an old man when, on September 12, 1974, he was deposed and imprisoned by the Fourth Army Division. He had no age when the announcement of his death was officially broadcasted by Radio Ethiopia on August 28, 1975.
1. THE PRISON OF LIFE
It was twenty years before... I was leaving Addis on this day in 1995, leaving my family behind. I had to pay ten dollars for the right to leave the country.
The cause of his death was published in the Ethiopian Herald. They said that he had been receiving treatment for an enlarged prostate gland from his private physician, along with a team of foreign doctors, first at his special residence and later in the hospital where he was successfully operated on. All of them, doctors, nurses, even drivers, disappeared. "However," as it was written in the official communique, "The doctors who were attending him found his health deteriorating and continued treating him. As his condition continued to deteriorate, the former Emperor asked the Provisional Military Administrative Council to be allowed a visit by members of his family, and accordingly his daughter, Tenagne Work, and his grand-daughter, Aida Desta, be allowed to spend August 23, the Ethiopian Feast of the Assumption, the whole day and night, with him and return to their residence the next day." Both women were imprisoned after his arrest and kept in jail ever since.
His Imperial Majesty was kept alive for a while for one reason: his alleged treasure still was in the Swiss banks. Not only did he not die on time, but his heart, blood pressure, lungs, and his small body became stronger and healthier. He almost lost his sight and appeared to be insane, but physically he was stronger than ever. He was in his place -- in own world. The dry and cold Addis nights when he was talking to God and dead world leaders, the days belonged to the doctors and interrogators and he was silent. He returned to the slow time of a child, when you can see the light on the wall or an ant crossing the room -- and you watch it as the most important event of your life. You hear again the sounds of birds and it's so new, as you never heard them before. But now you know why this light, sounds, ants are so important. You're leaving them all. He never complained, never laughed or cried, as he never did in his previous life. He thought, and his thoughts were his life.
Was he prepared for such an end? No.
...Born in another century, Ras Tafari suffered the ups and downs of fortune, usual in the case of Abyssinian chieftains. Power did not come easily to Ras Tafari. He made himself "King of Kings, power of the Trinity, conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Elect of God, Defender of the Faith, and 225th descendant of the dynasty born of the biblical loves of the queen of Sheba and King Solomon." He believed in all that. He lived it, and now H.I.M. to live the death.
His thoughts and visions were all his own; he was a true king. Never in his life had H.I.M. asked for advice. Never did he give his confidence to a single human being, only to God. His intense suspicion and distrust of all were responsible for his rise and his fall. His disbelief of extraordinary degree was the victorious formula for Abyssinian obsession with intrigue; Ras was born and brought up amidst intrigue. "Intrigue," that was the name for Ethiopian politics and leadership. A man dies and lives alone, man is loneliness; God, lion, eagle, and snake, were all royal symbols. The desert. He had no friends, no confidants. He left many dead behind. He never looked back. Till now...
Emperor died first, next was Ras, and now only an old man was left -- Tafari.
The Diary is missing, his reflection on life. He never finish his official biography. How did he see his life? He did his best. In retrospect something could be done differently, but there was nothing he was sorry about. He didn't lead, he followed. There was God who made the country's future into his duty. Now was the judgement time.
A self-educated man, a book reader and horseman, he was a good family man, a rarity in Abyssinia. Ras Tafari, instead of being local grand seigneur of Harar, learned how to be shrewd and cruel in a manner typically Ethiopian. He was Regent when he captured Lej Yasu, a grandson of the Emperor Menelik, and his successor. They say Ras Tafari executed Yasu and his family, including all the children. It was done here, in the old palace of Great Menelik, many lives ago.
Just 5'3" tall, he had small hands and long feet, but he never grew as if every drop of blood went into his brains with the pulsing viens on his temples. He was dead. They didn't wash the body, it was small and light. He almost stop eating, like a bird, they say. Was he starving or fasting? Thinking of a suicide? They talk about what to do with body. To take it out of the city, to cut into small pieces, to burn? "L'Etat c'est moi" -- he was Ethiopia and now it was a a dry body of a dead suddenly aged child.
"By virtue of his Imperial Blood, as well as by the anointment he has received, the person of the Emperor is sacred, his dignity is inviolable his power indisputable," the Emperor wrote in the constitution, the constitution in Ethiopian history. He wrote it himself.
He knew what his captures were about to learn -- power kills. He knew that the law is the root of evil, his end was determined by virtue of His Imperial Blood. The sacred has to be violated. It always been.
He didn't know why God let him experience the end on the cross. Except, if out of love. He accepted his faith long ago, why to complain now. He didn't know that his life wasn't over till he lives through the final passions of being. He didn't know Bob Marley and the songs the world would sing. He took his end as a gift.
Time came to be a priest:
"Whatever the task may be, man may begin it but he cannot complete it, unless God sustains and supports him. If he fails to accomplish the task on which he has set out, having worked to the best of his ability, he is not to be maligned by being called lazy....
One face Tafari never questioned; he believed that God is watching him. He was the chosen one and he had to learn how to stay on the right side of Lord. How did he know that God called him? Or perhaps it is God who answers man's call. The calling is a mystery. In a way, it's a choice. You accept the thought and everything what is to follow.
"Man may, at the onset, control the direction which events take, but once his choice is made, events soon escape his control and history proceeds by its own force and momentum."3
The death, when it's your death, is a test.
Now, however, it has become your fate to obey the order of the great and merciful Lord, a lot that befalls each and everyone of us in our turn. As it were, after you had accomplished what was within your bounds, you have slept, but although you depart from us physically, your works and your name will always remain among us.4
It was hard to believe in it. But is that the reason why we do believe?
Prisoner on a death row. What was ahead of him? Death. What else? Death wasn't a new subject to HIM. His sons died before the father. Before he reached age twelve he lost his father and he never remembered his mother. Who was there to answer his questions? That's why he learn how to talk to God. No, it's not the prayer or praises Lord wants. The Almighty asks for your thoughts which you don't share with others. The feelings, which no one knows, you present to God in the open. You have nothing to hide, if you believe in God. You invite him to be your judge, you welcome his judgement, knowing that it could be harsh and painful. We play games with ourselves and we have to leave it behind, if we want talk with God. You don't give them reasons, you share with him things you don't know and don't understand. You tell him the secret, yes, your deepest untold feelings, shameful and bad. The confession is only a shadow of this act. No man can't listen to a true confession, but God only. This confession never ends, never a summary of sins. You talk about your desires.
Mortality is man's inevitable course. We must patiently accept God's resolution in giving us Makonnen, the one whom he gave us to be the ornament of our life, and recalling him. Death changes everything, sweeps everything away. Even mistakes.5
He remembered his own words at the darkest days of his life:
O Lord, abode of exiles, light of the blind, truth and justice are Your thrones. Receive us who have been exiled for our freedom's sake, who have had to leave our country on account of violent assault. In praying to You thus, it is not for our righteousness but for Your great mercies.
It was the time to pray again for Lord's mercy, to ask God to take him home, away from his life-long exile.
[ image ]
II. AGAINST THE AUTOCRAT IDEA
1. I and WEPerhaps, the heated discussion on the internet chat group "reggae" could explain the revolution:
>We? WE? Did the man have tapeworms, or just delusions of grandeur? When white people behave as did Selassie, it's called 'imperialism'! Why should we allow ourselves to be deluded into embracing this same elitist behavior simply because the man was Ethiopian rather than European? Uh-uh, no.6
Indeed, I do not refer to myself as "We"... and that's where rasta's and pomo philosophies see the problem of modern mind. Mono-identity leads to "me" -- the source of alienation. Even from the marxist's pov an individual is a summary of social functions and his "I" at best could be seen as a "field of individuality" (the combination of those social identities make him unique). So, why do we react so strong to "We" instead of "I"? The elitism. Self-value. Equality doesn't know how to recognize One. What about the superiority of the Other?
"We" is the way to see yourself if you want to see the Other.
Subject: Re: Selassie I Interview: Rastafari7
(Racine125) wrote with NO Foundation:
Funny thing, but a majority of his people REBELLED against his despotic, unconstitutional government. I have been in a revolution already, and believe me you can not unseat the government in power unless the people are behind you, as they were in Mengistu's case.
"While the third period ushered in an era of increasing, if at times concealed, turbulence among the young urban intelligentsia. But Haile Selassie could fairly claim that he was Emperor of 25 million Ethiopians scattered over his vast and beautiful domain, not just of some 1,500 or 2,000 young men who wished to go faster than he, in his later years considered safe." SOURCE: _The Two Zions: Reminiscences of Jerusalem and Ethiopia_ by Edward Ullendorff.
Racine I-in-I suggest you Study Ethiopian History a bit more. The people that rebelled against Haile Selassie I was the Military Elite and Nobility and Some Students, who saw their power being taken away from them or those Careless Ethiopians who wanted Power for themselves. Haile Selassie I was Loved by the MaJority of Ethiopians especially the Poor and Lowers classes. READ THE ARTICLE BY EDWARD ULLENDORFF AGAIN 12 TIMES.
Question for You:
What direction was Ethiopia Headed during the Reign of Haile Selassie?
Did Ethiopia PROSPER after the Reign of the Lion of Judah????
What is the date of this discussion? 1997/05/12.
Of course he wasn't an "elected king." We believe that we are entitled to select everything -- the place of birth, our death, body, parents, God. We decide it all according to our liking. Not only I, but We. I better like what everybody like...
The one of his last interviews started the discussion on the net:8Fallaci: Your Majesty, have you ever regretted your kingly fate? Have you ever dreamed of living the life of an ordinary mortal?...
Selassie: We don't understand your question. Even at the hardest, most painful moments, We have never regretted or cursed Our fate. Never. And why should We have? We were born of royal blood, authority is ours by Right. Since it is Ours by Right and Since Our Lord the Creator has deemed We might serve Our people as a Father serves his Son, being a monarch is a great joy to Us. Its what We were born for and what We have always lived for.
This interview is an example of the time gap with the two worlds incapable of understanding of each other:
Fallaci: Your Majesty, you are Ethiopia. Its you that keeps it in hand, that keeps it united. What will happen when you are no longer there?
Selassie: What do you mean? We do not understand this question?
Fallaci: When you die, Your Majesty.
Selassie: Ethiopia has existed for 3,000 years. In fact, it exists ever since man first appeared on Earth. My dynasty has ruled ever since the Queen of Sheba met King Solomon and a Son was born of their union. It is a Dynasty that has gone through the centuries and will go on for centuries more. A king is not indispensable, and, besides, my succession is already ensured. There is a Crown Prince and he will rule the country when We are no longer there. This is what We have decided and so it must be.
Fallaci: On the whole, Your Majesty, yours has not been a very happy life. Those you loved have all died: your wife, two daughters. You have lost many of your illusions and many of your dreams. But you must, I imagine, have accumulated great wisdom, and of this I ask: How does Haile Selassie view death?
Selassie: What? View What?
Fallaci: Death, your Majesty.
Selassie: Death, Death? Who's this woman? Where does she come from? What does she want? Enough, go away, ca suffit! ca suffit!
The ancient world was there just a generation back.
There is one of the last photo before his death which Esther cries over every time; an old man, sad and in contemplation. The old Europe worshipped a "sorrowful god," who must die in order to be born again in the spring. That's how he looks like on this picture with his hands over his face.
For better or worse, the paradox of power of Haile Sellassie was obvious -- the clash of two historical times: local and global. An absolute monarch within the Ethiopian time-dimension who formally introduced the idea of constitution for the sake of modernization, he didn't transformed the country into a constitutional monarchy. He, who saw the present -- Europe and the world, himself was from the past. Ethiopia's future was the industrial past of the West. He was the main obstacle for modernization and sooner or later he had to deconstruct the aristocratic idea. Two constitutions (1930 and 1955) were written to make HIS practice of governing into a main law of the land. While in power he had no need for constitution, he needed it not as an absolute but an enlightened monarch. The existence of constitution helped very little at the moment of the final crisis. The constitution remained just a "document" with little appeal to minds of society. Even the new 1995 constitution has no visible impact on political thought in Ethiopia. Constitutional mentality comes with the a tradition of law. In traditional society the law is conducted in Solomonic tradition of Autocratic Judgement.
Orthodox thinker of the late 19th Konstantin Leontiev trying to define national doctrine of Imperial Russia made an observation that the main principle of the absolute monarch is impossibility to impose any law on himself. King's wisdom (or lack of it) is the living law. Therefore, in order to change the law country has to change the ruler. That's why the court knows very few peaceful transitions of power. If not God than Man has to change the law -- kill the law. King is dead, Glory to King!
"Yesterday's first witness, a manservant, narrated what he said were two probable assassination attempts on August 25 in Haile Selassie's apartments in the Grand Palace, where he was held prisoner by the Dergue. The first was "an electric device" installed in the emperor's chair as he talked to his daughters. The device failed to function.
The second was a pill that the emperor refused to swallow."
2. KILLING THE KING
(44) Freud's mythic account thus gives us two simultaneous functions for the father: one is the father of the law, Moses, or God, the giver of language and symbolic exchange, the father who represents the limiting function of castration; the other is the father of the Primal Horde, the mythical figure who, before he is murdered, possesses all the women, and is (therefore) precisely the one outside the law, the one whose enjoyment has no limit, who does not rule with the even hand of disinterested justice, but rather takes an obscene pleasure in arbitrary punishment, using us for his sport, devouring his children like Chronos, feeding his limitless appetite on our sacrifices and enjoying the pure expression of his will--"the dark god," as Lacan puts it: not the Christian god of love and forgiveness, who keeps together the sheepish flock of the human community, but the god of terror and indifferent violence, the god of Abraham and Job, so much more clearly grasped in the Judaic tradition.1
If King is the Law Himself, the Law doesn't exit outside of King. King is powerless against this principle; he is not at liberty to introduced any written law. He rules by decree. Living law was called wisdom. But the most familiar to us concept of such power is martial law. Monarchy is a peaceful military regime.
Father of the Law v. Violator of the Law. Father was the law, there was no law outside of his judgement. No the justice wasn't blind for Solomon.
The king represents both figures: loving father, who give life, and the despot, who takes it away. The two extremes coexist as perceptions in people's minds, they are interconnected. The higher the king in one, the bigger he is in another. There's no visible mechanism in switching from one to another. It's not necessarily reason or justice directed act, but his will.
"Killing the king" act expresses the same attitude of extremes. Charles, Luis or Nicholas decent from being divine entities into publicly executed enemies of the people in a matter of months. The killing is done by the minority, but in the nation's mind this end, this reverse of up and down is quite justifiable. According to such a mythological disposition it's understandable that the king has no place in middle with the commoners. He is a father of the nation.
Both faces of kingship are expected to be present. Loved and feared. Mercy can't be exercised without having and exercising the power. King's punishment was educational, preventional disciplinary method. If church developed an idea of domination of super-natural force (God), monarchy was visible domination. God's judgement is difficult to understand. King emulated God's unpredictability and unknown for others logic.
"Family Idea" from top to bottom: with a head and his slaves, members of a family. Mystery of blood relations we made into a symbolic power -- Holy Communion. Institution of the sacrament connects the past (flesh and blood) with the present (spirit). Connected through blood or spirit? In their simple mind it was the same. "Blue Blood" could be traced down to Mystire Qurban, Mystery of Eucharist.
In my visa was another date -- 1987. The soldier stamped it and looked at me. "Go," he said and pointed to the gates. 1987! Mengistu was still in power, how could I leave Esther and kids? I ran back to see Esther; there was an empty space between the crowd behind the checking point and whose who were leaving the paradise. The solders on the both sides on the neutral zone separated us. She was there, behind the gurads, in dense crowd and I could see her. What did I do? How could I leave them behind? Am I out oif my mind?...
According to Frazer's classification: king is a paradox -- on one hand, a nation identifies itself with a king through sympathetic magic, and on another hand, a kind in his nature is different from the ordinary people. King-animals, king-trees, they were created to rule over their own kind.
King as a text has the longest recorded history. Until recently his history was the history. History represented itself through history of monarchs. It was a culture of power which often treated as anecdotal collections of personalities.
III. POWER PROCESS IN VERTICAL SOCIETY
Russian monarchists intellectually challenged by the socialists, democrats and liberals, defined the pillars of the Russian power model. Monarchy, Orthodoxy, People. They saw all three as interconnected. Orthodoxy has a supremacy of God, Monarchy -- of the Emperor, People(ness) -- power of the national.
Communists followed the same model replacing the triad with a new marxist ideology: Communism and it Church (Party), Absolute State power (including power of the one -- Secretary General), and the unquestionable value of the Sovietism. We see that the new "democratic" Russia gravitates to the model. Presidential powers in actuality are unlimited (1993 attack on the Parliament). The good of the people (most tricky of the three) is not challenged by anybody of opposition. Ideology of "democracy" proved to be not competitive with the idea of "Russia" (nationalism). Even the "prime-minister's party" (democratic) has a conspicuous title "Our Home Is Russia" -- with a strong smell of nationalism.
After killing the king many must die. Didn't you know this law? By the end of 1976 rebellions existed in all of the country's fourteen administrative regions.2 The conditions of marshal law were a first step. Dergue needed the military dictatorship -- the answer was the same: terror. Red Terror.
Dergue's adversary, EPRP, was marxist organization as well. Socialist-revolutionaries in 1918 in Russia, any other branches of revolutionaries after (1920 and 30).
Now lets talk about Principles of Revolution.
The Revolutions: French, American, Russian, Ethiopian. Two centuries later the rebuttal is done. Sir, you were right. And wrong in your evaluation of the wrong. Wrong is right. In God's eyes they, the low life, were despicable in their minds, hearts, souls. Their monstrosity has to be brought into the light from the depths of their dark souls. How else could it be judge? The invisible must be visible. They had to commit all the crimes -- and to judge themselves. Oh, what a gain in such a short time!
COMPUTE your gains: see what is got by those extravagant and presumptuous speculations which have taught your leaders to despise all their predecessors, and all their contemporaries, and even to despise themselves until the moment in which they become truly despicable. (Burke)3
Yes, Sir, truly despicable! The only question remains -- is there more in there? Take it out, all of it! Madness? The possible must be actual.
In 1978 in one day two thousand students were shot on the streets of Addis Ababa. The parents were had to pay "bullet fee" (125 birrs) to get the body. Between 1977 and 1978 over 30 thousand Ethiopians vanished in the waves of the Red Terror. The bodies left on the street were for dogs during the day, and hyenas -- at night. Of course, they killed their King of Kings.
England began it with their public execution of the king.
"They have seen the French rebel against a mild and lawful monarch with more fury, outrage, and insult than ever any people has been known to rise against the most illegal usurper or the most sanguinary tyrant. Their resistance was made to concession, their revolt was from protection, their blow was aimed at a hand holding out graces, favors, and immunities."
Where are the monks who marched on the streets of Addis in the summer of 1974? Where are the taxi drivers who protested the goline prices at the time of the OPEC's squize on the world? Thier cars and themselves became national property. Where are the students? University was closed for many years.
"This was unnatural. The rest is in order. They have found their punishment in their success: laws overturned; tribunals subverted; industry without vigor; commerce expiring; the revenue unpaid, yet the people impoverished; a church pillaged, and a state not relieved; civil and military anarchy made the constitution of the kingdom; everything human and divine sacrificed to the idol of public credit, and national bankruptcy the consequence; and, to crown all, the paper securities of new, precarious, tottering power, the discredited paper securities of impoverished fraud and beggared rapine, held out as a currency for the support of an empire in lieu of the two great recognized species that represent the lasting, conventional credit of mankind, which disappeared and hid themselves in the earth from whence they came, when the principle of property, whose creatures and representatives they are, was systematically subverted."
Trail on tourtures... I'll let Burke, who saw it two centuries before me, speak:
"Were all these dreadful things necessary? Were they the inevitable results of the desperate struggle of determined patriots, compelled to wade through blood and tumult to the quiet shore of a tranquil and prosperous liberty? No! nothing like it." (Burke)
Evil is natural and the inevitable is necessary. How else did you expect to go through the Judgement Day? How could we know the Holy without performing the Hell? Sir, an Englishman must be logical. What is our belief without the full experience, including the apocalyptic one?"Whenever the supreme authority is vested in a body so composed, it must evidently produce the consequences of supreme authority placed in the hands of men not taught habitually to respect themselves, who had no previous fortune in character at stake, who could not be expected to bear with moderation, or to conduct with discretion, a power which they themselves, more than any others, must be surprised to find in their hands. Who could flatter himself that these men, suddenly and, as it were, by enchantment snatched from the humblest rank of subordination, would not be intoxicated with their unprepared greatness?"
The defense squads, the People's Protection Brigades -- they did it. To others, and the others were them. In the days of Chinese Cultural Revolution twenty million died. Red Cambogia killed a half of its population. Masses like big round numbers and fast speed. In the blink of an eye, before the world could take a breath, Hutus killed in a few days 500 thousand Tutsi. It was 1996. No, Sir, we are not done yet.
Didn't you know what was coming? Open your eyes.
Who are they, the leaders? Look at their faces, check out their biographies. They are nobodies. How did they fame themselves? Did you hear their names before? What do they, who never learn, know? Does it matter? If not what do you expect?
Russian or Ethiopian parliaments; one look and you know who they are. What can they understand? Look at them, their faces. Yeltsin, Zhirinovsky, Lebed, Meles -- how different they are from the communists before them? They are the children of communism. What did they read? They didn't. Why should they? They are doing all right. They manage. And this fact alone is the verdict to history. They are the end of the social, government and politics. There is a price to pay for their learning of governing. Look at their peace time:
"Who could doubt but that, at any expense to the state, of which they understood nothing, they must pursue their private interests, which they understand but too well? It was not an event depending on chance or contingency. It was inevitable; it was necessary; it was planted in the nature of things." The last shall be first -- that's the law. The earth is given to them. They are alive, they are here, they exist -- they have to be humanized. They have to take the charge to grow.
To guard them? To think, to serve?
That assembly, since the destruction of the orders, has no fundamental law, no strict convention, no respected usage to restrain it. Instead of finding themselves obliged to conform to a fixed constitution, they have a power to make a constitution which shall conform to their designs. Nothing in heaven or upon earth can serve as a control on them. What ought to be the heads, the hearts, the dispositions that are qualified or that dare, not only to make laws under a fixed constitution, but at one heat to strike out a totally new constitution... (Burke)
They steal. All of them. They are hungry. They never had it. They have to have it. I understand it. I'm one of them. Why shouldn't they have a good life? In Russia, in America, in China. They will do anything to get it. What else they have to do with their lives? They don't know how to work, and should they work? Kings do not labor. They shop, they try to get much as possible. Let them have it, please.
"BELIEVE ME, SIR, those who attempt to level, never equalize."
There is no end for it.
I almost saw what took place in Russia in 1917. I saw it in Ethiopia. Almost saw it. It still takes place.Woe to the country which would madly and impiously reject the service of the talents and virtues, civil, military, or religious, that are given to grace and to serve it, and would condemn to obscurity everything formed to diffuse luster and glory around a state. Woe to that country, too, that, passing into the opposite extreme, considers a low education, a mean contracted view of things, a sordid, mercenary occupation as a preferable title to command. Everything ought to be open, but not indifferently, to every man.
Yes, to Everyman! Precisely! It has to be extreme. Everything ought to be open to the last, evil and wicked. Tv and computers for murderers in prison. Suspend the mortal reactions. Then you will understand why European Union asks for abolition of the death penalty. Forget that you are alive -- and the future will be seen. Animal rights, the power of green politics, anti-abortion bombing. The New Age where the talents and virtues are your own choice, where is no reward for being good and no punishment for being bad.
It is said that twenty-four millions ought to prevail over two hundred thousand. True; if the constitution of a kingdom be a problem of arithmetic. This sort of discourse does well enough with the lamp-post for its second; to men who may reason calmly, it is ridiculous.
They represent nobody but themselves.
We know, and it is our pride to know, that man is by his constitution a religious animal4; that atheism is against, not only our reason, but our instincts; and that it cannot prevail long. (Bold is mine)
The reason made me a believer. Atheism is a faith of a machine. In case of a computer it does make sense. Objects instead of subjects; we are free from themselves.
I should know why the Statue of Liberty is ugly. It has to be. That's the begining of the Socialist Realism. The end of senses. Without a child. Not a woman. A female. Liberty? That is what the French bourgeoisie made out of Renaissance (the end of the Christian Orthodoxy).
Burke (?) is radical in his political emotions: "A perfect democracy is, therefore, the most shameless thing in the world. As it is the most shameless, it is also the most fearless."
The Death of the King was only a page in the Chronicles of the Apocalypses:
In keeping with its declared socialist path, the PMAC announced in March 1975 that the earlier appointment of Crown Prince Asfa Wossen as king was revoked. All titles of royalty were rescinded, and the proposed constitutional monarchy was thus abandoned. The deposed emperor, humiliated and abandoned, died in August and was buried secretly. The patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Abuna Tewofloes, an imperial appointee, was deposed in February 1976. (EL)
Died or murdered? HIM wasn't tried. Would we ever know? Where's no one represents HIM at the on-going trail of Mengistu's officials. Doesn't look like it's important. That's something the country will pay for again and over again in the future. Now he dies second time in silence. In 1975 he was killed in secret. They weren't ready. They were busy killing each other. He died as many monarchs before him in darkness of history. He is still there in the darkness.
"The second witness, who was looking after the emperor that night, said he was ordered by guards to leave the adjoining room where he normally slept. Haile Selassie wept when his servant told him he would be sleeping alone.
"The next morning I knocked on his bedroom door and opened it. There was a sort of odor and his face was totally black," the witness said, adding that the emperor's bedclothes were not his usual ones and that a bandage was around his neck.
Witnesses said Mengistu, now in exile in Zimbabwe, came to the palace and saw the body.
The third witness, a maintenance worker at the palace, said security officials ordered him to dig four graves in the grounds that morning.
[Reuter. Independent Newspapers 1997. Independent online. The Tape Times.]
There were three ways for the divine sacrifice: by fire, then throwing the ashes in a field or running water; by killing in such a way that blood is spilled on the ground; by asphyxiation, then the body was dismembered and cast in a field, or burned and the ashes scattered. Or the combination of them.
I heard many stories of Haile Sellassie's death. According to Abba Gun, he was hacked to death by four armed soldiers and the eyewitnesses reported that he did nothing to defend himself and resisted any attempts by the monks to save him. After the first blow, he fell to the floor as if in prayer, and in that position was killed. When the murder was completed, the soldiers cried out, "We killed him, we have killed the emperor!" His body had been disfigured by the blows, but he did not seem dead, but by the vivid colour, the closed eyes and mouth, to be asleep. The limbs did not throb, no rigor of the body, no discharge issuing from the mouth or nostrils, nor was anything of the kind seen by the watchers. But the flexibility of the fingers, the peace of the limbs, the cheerfulness and graciousness of the face, declared him a glorified man.
"What did happen to the soldiers?"
"They killed them. They had to."
He was told by the soldiers that HIM had no wounds, though he was hacked to death, he looked to be asleep. His heart and entrails were not burned, and along with his ashes, they were thrown into the gutter. His blood hadn't fell on the Ethiopian soul and that's the reason why the country lives through many misfortunes. They said there was no blood in him.
There are too many stories to sort out; what is a true and what is a fantasy? It's all depends on what your system of beliefs is. Whatever I could call a superstition is a reality for somebody else. ...Accordingly, his spirit visits the special places, including the room where he was murdered.
Today we inclined to believe that these amazing occurrences are due more to the imagination of the people more than anything else, but there was an immediate feeling after his death that it had been wrong to kill him. It's very possible that the monk just made the story up, which would be no more unusual than the actual revelations for a man who lives in the different world of spirits, visions and voices. What is so unusual that his significance is better known to history than it was to his contemporaries? Why Rastas know less than then Ethiopians?
Killing a man is always killing God. Where's a king in this act? Father... They thought that they killed the king. They didn't know what took place.
The church excluded this link -- the king -- from the connections between God and Man. The church placed itself in his place: God--Church--Man. Church = many, never one. King became a "parallel" power, on earth, second rate. Negative? "God, king, hero" are not needed, according to the Internationale song. After King was gone the time came for church to go. There was no God to speak off. Even a hero had to die.
I never wanted to be a hero, or play a hero. I didn't want to be tested, even if I would come through not being broken... They like to say -- what doesn't break you, make you stronger. What doesn't break you? Do you know your limitations? I left Russia without experiencing prison. It was my choice....
They like to talk about desire without mentioning pain, or seduction without a word about suffering. I don't trust them, they never lived, they had no chance to be alive. They are weak because they never experience real weakness.
Do you know how it's feel to be a broken man? Not financially or with a broken heart. Physically, fully. I don't know what they feel when they see all the blows, cuts and tortures on the screen. How different is their living room insensitivity next to a Russian or an Ethiopian?
Did they disappear from "the face of the earth" -- the horror of war, or did they get transformed into peaceful forms of catastrophe? This thought comes to my mind uninvited. Why do I have this sense of hidden aggression? Good summer day, green grass, blue sky, I have a family, I write....
IV. ASHES TO ASHESServed by hundreds all his life he had nobody for a helper at the time of his physical weakness. The Dergue let only one silent and tested monk to serve the old man in his last days on earth. There must be divide providence in this man's life. He lived though the years of turbulence after the death of the royal prisoner. He was alive when we came to visit the place where the remains of the Emperor were kept. He was there, he spent all his years guarding the bones of HIM.
He didn't talk much. He didn't like to talk and this habit saved his life. His name was Abba Gum, or as they said it was. He was waiting here for the Emperor to buried.
It was long ago. Over twenty years ago. Brother Gum wasn't a young man than in 1975. Not as old as the Emperor, but he over-lived himself. Perhaps, to serve the last task God wanted him to perform in his earthly life. Then in the Fall of 1975 he was called to take care of the old and sick man. He knew who he was; every one in Ethiopia knew his face....
His life as Emperor was over and his life as a man was over. What was left? God. He wanted to end his life as a monk. To call himself Abba. To go deep into the past, because there was no future ahead of him. The night he gave himself a new name he saw a dream:
It was a bright light in the darkness, and it was a voice.
"Come!" He heard one of the four animals shout in a voice like thunder... He saw no animals, but they were near.
Immediately a white horse appeared, and its rider was holding a bow.
White horse. He remembered all his horses.
The rider. He could not see his face clearly. Was it him, Ras Tafari?
...The Chiefs and notables wore mantles of crimson, blue or green velvet, embroidered with gold thread, worn over silken shirts; some had lion or leopard skin capes draped about their shoulders. He was given the victor's crown and went away, to go from victory to glory. Gilded coronets fringed with lions' names. Their shields were with gold or silver; their long, curved swords were in richly decorated scabbards... The rider on the white horse said, "Our era is over. There is no use fighting the Almighty." The rider on His Imperial White Horse was the baria - and he, Ras Tafari, couldn't fight the slave. The rider was holding a bow. "At no time did you demonstrate any real determination to save the throne," said some other voice. "You always began by saying 'no' to the demands and ending up by saying 'yes' to everything." Ras Tafari wanted to turn around and face his critic, but he had no strength. "Come," Ras Tafari called, "Come!"...
There was visible border between his day thoughts and his dreams. He lost sense of time. Or maybe, he find it, the other reality. Who was he now? Nobody. Just a God's soul. Like the monk who was with him. The last to see him die. His name was Abba Gum. And the Emperor took his name. It was easy to think about himself this way. It was better to think about life.
Abba was disconnected with the present, he had too much in his past to think about. He has to remember it all. Abba Gum didn't remember his parents and his birth. But he remembered the begining of time. It was the memory of blood. Dem spoke to him in dreams and visions. Blood had the memories of the first father of his fathers, his name was Ham -- and Abba's age was 8290 years. Because of such age, Abba Gum's memory wasn't in order; sometimes he remembered the past, sometimes the future. But he remembered that the first king of Abyssinian Ethiopia was Ori. It was in 4470 B.C. Abba Gum remembered a lot of stories before he met Christ...
Without man's age, Abba Gum remembered all the places where he was born. He remembered the Emperor, the father of the Emperor, he remembered Menelik the Second and Menelik the First. He remembered Solomon and Sheba, and he talked about the times of Christ, as he was an eyewitness of the crucifixion. There was no distance in his mind between past and present. He remembered Jesus walking up the Via Delorossa with his students. But it was not so easy for Abba Gum to predict the future. He had not been there yet.
He was the man who drank Ykrestos Dem on the day of Jesus' crucifixion. At that they called him Ethiopian Moses because Abba Gum was tall and very black. The first time they called him Ethiopian Moses in the fourth century when Abba came from Jerusalem and became Father of the Desert. Abba descended from Ham but only later prophet and king Moses' marriage to an Ethiopian woman restored the original break of the two brothers. Abba Gum was an epitome of the Ethiopian priest, a Christian mixed with a Muslim dervish. He believed that the gift of original biblical prophecy was lost long ago. That was why Abba Gum danced. He believed that Christ danced too. He danced when the sacred spirits were entering his body. Even in his old age, Abba danced for hours. But Abba Gum wasn't a prophet.
"Who is this Ethiopian Moses?" I asked.
"I don't know," answered Esther. "He says that he is."
"And he saw Christ?"
"That's who he said," Esther felt guilty as if she said it.
The monk who was there at last days of the Emperor, remembered that the old man talked to himself, but couldn't tell what HIM was talking about. He talked the words Abba Gum understood not... They said that the old man lost his mind.
Abba Gum didn't care much for logic or continuity, his recollections of the past kept floating. Esther was tired, she was searching for words in English to keep up with the monk. Sometimes he would switch to Ge'ez or a language Esther never heard before. Sometimes he would sing. I was not sure that he remembered that we were still there. It didn't matter much. He was very old man. Too old to care for understanding.
It is ... axiomatic that change begets change, that each step forward leads logically and inexorably to the next, and the next. Once unleashed, the forces of history cannot be contained or restrained...5
That is his words. Words of king or man? King is the best of men. A hero. King's death is the end of an epoch, a catastrophe that changes the order of things. This is a cosmic event, the changes have to come -- and all are ready to face them. It's expected -- the new, different, and -- unexpected.
The Haile Sellassie's death proved the validity of these superstitions. It was the end which began a year ago -- modernization by death, fire, hunger and terror. Red Terror? It was there, in 1975. The terror of ideas. It was only a matter of time before those ideas will speel the blood.
I hope the monk is still there in Addis, awaiting for HIM to be buried. He had his calling. The Imperial blood wasn't spelt, it dried out on the soil of Ethiopia and only the soul has memory of it.... They say that HIM had the power of levitation, a unique talent usually reserved for saints and angels. He didn't.
Summer 2007. Updating sellassie pages (web2.0) for "Ethiopian Millennium"...
I do not know how can I edit the old texts. Anatoly
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