Ethiopian & Rastafari
by Aster Sellassie, Millennium Ed.
sellassie.vtheatre.net 2006 + ethio.wetpaint.com (EM)
Twenty five years of revolution and civil war... when is the time of peace? Where?
The end? Not until Ethiopians will understand it, the fact that the country is at war with itself.
Countrary to the popular belief, the Red Terror wasn't against the aristocrats. And this revolution is a product of the White (elite) and Red Marxists; it's them who were fighting then and it's them, who are fighting now. Even the present day opposition is composed of all shades of socialist ideology. The demons of communism still possess Ethiopia.
We saw it many times before; now we witness it again, this time in Africa -- "The Revolution Eats Her Children."
Oh, no, this is not the American Revolution and not the American Civil War...
This is the war impossible to win. This is a war between members of the same party, which the family became...
They will fight each other until their full extermination. This is the war of the heritics, not citizens...
Of course, all Ethiopians, including Eritreans, will pay for not being citizens; they they continue to fight and die in this inner party wars -- until they learn to see and think for themselves.
Even the Diaspora, removed from actual politics and battle-fields, is not free to understand -- they are under the spell of the same ideology. They are citizens of other countries, not of Ethiopia.
No, the death of communism is not the end of the Soviet Union, it will come only when the minds of people will be free from the idea that the problems of the world can be solved by decree and force.
Maybe I shouldn't call it "revolution" at all. Revolution is a new and different way of seeing yourself in history. What is so new in Ethiopian revolutionary mentality? They all still think that people must be ruled! They still do not know that free society governs itself. What do they know about about society? You have to be free to fight for something you never experienced. They are not new leaders, only new faces.
GeoAlaska: Theatre & Film
(c)2004 HIM contents (summary of the HS web-biography) *
"An Ethiopian Boyhood"
2004 & After
The Lion Is Freed
Conquering Lion of Judah, King of Kings, Elect of God: in the end, the royal epithets had a hollow, mocking ring. Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia, had wielded virtually absolute power for almost six decades-longer than any other contemporary head of state. But when he was finally deposed in September 1974 by the military leaders of the "creeping coup," which had been enveloping Ethiopia for seven months, the tiny (5 ft. 4 in.) ruler was whisked away from his palace in a Volkswagen and imprisoned in a three-room mud hut. Only later was he moved to more comfortable quarters at the Grand Palace. It was there that the aged Lion, still caged, died in his sleep last week, apparently from the aftereffects of recent prostate surgery. He was 83.
Certainly he had clung to power too long for his own good. Haile Selassie was a prisoner of his country's feudal system and backwardness long before he became a prisoner of his own army. His captors charged him with massive corruption and put out rumors — never confirmed — of a fortune totaling several billion dollars salted away in foreign banks. He was also accused of deliberately concealing-for reasons of misplaced national pride or merely personal pride-the extent of the drought and famine that killed 100,000 Ethiopians in 1973-74. Whatever the validity of the charges, they obscure the reputation of the man who in an earlier era tried desperately to bring Ethiopia into the modern world and who, toward the end of his life, became the grand old man of independent Africa. He was the primary force behind the founding of the Organization for African Unity in 1963, and his capital city, Addis Ababa, became its headquarters.
Throughout the Western world, he will perhaps be best remembered for his appearance before the League of Nations in Geneva on June 30,1936. His country had been overrun by the Blackshirt battalions of Benito Mussolini, whose son-in-law, Count Ciano, ecstatically described the beauty of "bombs opening like red blossoms" upon the Ethiopian highlands. Hundreds of thousands of his barefoot soldiers had been killed by Fascist bombs and mustard gas. A small, bearded, hawk-faced figure with blazing black eyes, he stood at the lectern and declared: "I am here today to claim the justice that is due to my people ... God and history will remember your judgment." Then, as he stepped down, he murmured the words that were to serve as an epitaph not only for the impotent League but for the whole prewar world. "It is us today. It will be you tomorrow."
Some delegates were sympathetic, some embarrassed, but the League took no action against Mussolini. Haile Selassie returned to England, where he lived in a modest manor house outside Bath. Alinost five years later, after the British army had driven the Italians from Addis Ababa, he returned to his mountain capital in triumph. His nation had lost several hundred thousand men in battle and in mass execution but the Emperor issued orders to his countrymen that the Italian civilians who chose to stay in Ethiopia should be allowed to do so undisturbed.
Haile Selassie remained in power in long that few of his countrymen can remmember the days when he was know as Ras (Duke) Tafari Makonne. The son of the governor of Harar province eastern Ethiopia, Tafari was distantly related to Emperor Menelik II and was educated at the court in Addis Ababa. After Menelik's death in 1913, the nobility decided that the Emperor's grand son, Lij (Count) Hasu, was too dissolute to take over the throne. They installed Hasu's mother Zauditu, as Empress, and chose Tafari to be her regent and heir to the throne.
In no time, Tafari brought the Empress under his control and imprisoned Lij Hasu, who was kept in chains for the next 19 years. In 1928, Tafari forced the Empress to crown him King, and two years later, when she died mysteriously, he became Emperor. It was then that he took the name Haile Selassie which in Amharic means Power of the Holy Trinity. According to Ethiopian legend, he was 225th in a line of Emperors that extends back almost 3,000 years to Menelik I, son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.
Imperial Gestures. In his early years as Emperor, Haile Selassie launched a drive to build schools, highways and railways. He granted a new constitution in 1955 that promised Ethiopians equal rights under the law. In the 1960s, he turned Addis Ababa into a modern city. Yet Ethiopia remained a desperately poor land, whose 26 million people still have one of the world lowest per capita incomes: $80. As discord grew in the land, the aging Emperor seemed incapable of dealing with it or even understanding it. In early 1974, when an army mutiny for higher pay led to a wave of disorders in the capital, the Emperor handed out wads of bank notes to beggars, seemingly unaware that such imperial gestures we no longer effective.
For a while after his overthrow there were rumors that the new, increasingly leftist military government intended to execute the old Emperor, or allow him to go into exile in exchange for the hoard he was said to have in numerous Swiss banks. Instead, he was permitted to spend his last days in Addis Ababa under an easy house arrest. Servants still addressed him as "Your Imperial Majesty." As recently as last December, he remarked to two foreign visitors, "I can convoke my ministers, generals and relatives whenever I like." After all the decades of absolute power, the old man apparently could not grasp that he had been rendered absolutely powerless.
Page 16. History IIIThe End
1974: THE FALLThe ministers were arrested. Soon over two hundred of the court were under arrest. He did nothing. He was with Ethiopia, he followed his country, he didn't lead. Tenagne Worq, the Emperor's daughter, Sarah Geew (Duchess of Harar), and the granddaughters Aida, Sarah Sebla, Sofia, Ijigayehou, alone with princesses Yeshashe Worq and Zuriash were imprisoned. (Princesses Ijigayehou, Esther's mother, and Yeshashe Worq have died in prison).
- Fast History
On September 12 the Emperor's power came into the hands of the Provisional Administration Military Government (proclamation #1). The Order deposision the Emperor was Proclamation #2....
1974. H.I.M. became a prisoner. The civil war began. Ethiopia was three yars away from the RED TERRORThe Dergue.
The Fall in Addis is beautiful. It's a time for Ethiopian Spring....
This serpent, 'Arwe, was the first king, who rulled untill arrival of a stranger called 'Angabo, by who he was killed. 'Angabo rescued the maiden who was about to be sacrificed, married her, and obtained the throne. According to certain veigions of the story, the virgin who was thus delivered from her fate was none other than Makeda, otherwise known as Aeb, who became the Queen of Sehba, Queen of the South. Scarcely had she been freed from her bonds when she accidentally stepped in the magic blood of the dragon and her feet were changed into the hooves of an ass. (Doresse 15)The men in military uniform: the serpent, the army. The evil never dies.... It is fashionable to assume that revolt and revolution are the product of frustrated demands for land and democratic reforms and that, in the case of Ethiopia, suppression of the 1960 coup only allowed those pressures for reform to build up to explosive level in 1974. The reality is not amenable to so simplistic an interpretation. (Spencer)
The internal explanations of the revolution is to be found, not in ideology or some philosophy of liberalism or of communism, but in the secular struggle for power which has always characterized internal Ethiopian politics. (Spencer)He died in 1975....
....By the end of his reign, a government structure had been brought into being that, in terms of numbers and quality of foreign-trained experts, compared with the best that Africa had to offer outside South Africa. (Spencer)2001, in Addis Ababa's Hilton Hotel HIM Haile Sellassie I was votes by Ethiopians Man of the Millennium!
Not many pictures where he smiles...
"Our era is over," said the old Emperor at the very begining of the revolution. "There is no use trying to fight the Almighty."READ: The Autobiography of Emperor Haile Sellassie I: King of All Kings and Lord of All Lords; My Life and Ethopia's Progress 1892-1937
Haile Sellassie I: Ethiopia's Lion of Judah by Peter Schwab, 0882293427
... The tide which is sweeping Africa today cannot be stayed.
No power on earth is great enough to halt or to reverse the trend.
Its march is as relentless and inexorable as the passage of time....
Today, Africans and friends of Africa everywhere are celebrating
Africa Freedom Day. Observance of this Day testifies to what is
undoubtedly one of the most significant phenomena of this post-war
world the liberation from the bonds which have so long fettered the
millions of Africans to whom, but a short time ago, freedom and
independence vere but distant dreams Within the post-war period,
the number of independent African nations has - more than doubled;
next year, additional states will achieve their independence; and
each year that follows will see ever increasing numbers of Africans
enjoying these most precious of Almighty God's gifts.
The tide which is - sweeping Africa today cannot be stayed. No power
on earth is great enough to halt or reverse the trend. Its march is as
relentless and inexorable as the passage of time. The day is long
overdue for a change of attitude on the part of those nations which
have heretofore sought to hinder or impede this movement or which
have been content in the past to remain passive in the face of the
impassioned cries for freedom, for justice, for the right to stand with
their fellowmen as equals, which have gone up from this Continent.
It is time for them to enlist their sympathetic efforts on behalf of the
struggle of the African peoples to gain the place in the world which is
their God. given birthright. Those who hail or refuse to do so, those
who lack the vision and foresight to realize that Africa is emerging
into a new era, that Africans will no longer be denied the rights which
are inalienably tlicirs, will not alter or reverse the course of history,
but will only suffer the inevitable consequences of their refusal to
What is there to be learned from the events now occurring on the
African Continent? It must be recognized too, that Africa, its people,
its present and its future, are of vital concern to everyone, no matter
how far removed geographically. In the past, America has too often
been content to remain relatively unconcerned about events in Africa,
too ready to stand on the sidelines of African history as a disinterested
observer. This policy will not serve today, and the attitude which the
American people and Government now adopt towards Africa indicates
that they too realize that a new Africa has emerged on the world scene.
As a result, however, Americans have been largely uninformed about us,
our peoples, our problems. Among other peoples, more and more is
gradually coming to be known, but mainly, We would venture, because
the peoples of Africa have forced the rest of the world to pay heed to
them and to harken to the stirrings and reverberations which have
resounded throughout this Continent in the last decade.
Africa and U.S.A.
The American people can make a significant contribution to
guaranteeing that a deep and abiding friendship exists between Africa
and the United States of America. Learn more about us; learn to
understand our backgrounds, our culture and traditions, our strengths
and weaknesses. Learn to appreciate our desires and hopes, our
problems, our fears; If we truly know one another, a solid and firm basis
will exist for the maintenance of the friendly relations between the
African and the American peoples, which - We are convinced - both so
ardently desire. You may be assured that there will be no failure in the
warm and brotherly response from our side.
In the midst of the strife and turmoil which marks Africa today, the
African peoples still extend the hand of friendship. But it is extended to
those who desire the progress and the political and economic freedom
of the African people, who are willing generously and without thought
of selfish gain to assist us to our feet that we may stand by their side
as brothers. We are convinced that there are countless millions of such
to be found throughout the world. We know that those to whom we send
this message, who are today assembled in New York City to join in the
celebration of Africa Freedom Day, are numbered among them. To them,
we send Our warmest greetings and Our prayers that the purpose which today
unites them may be soon realized.
We must thank the American Committee on Africa which has made it
possible for us to send these words to you today. The cause which you
espouse is a noble and just one and, with the help of Almighty God, will
september, 18, 1960.
texts: HIM (summary)
reading: Story of Esther
Clearly shaken, the Emperor of Ethiopia, Lion of Judah, Elect of God and King of Kings mounted the balcony of his lion-guarded Jubilee Palace in Addis Ababa. Speaking to 600 members of the armed forces, Haile Selassie declared in a faltering and cracking voice: "This is a poor land. Your country cannot afford to give you more. I appeal to your loyalty!" From the palace courtyard, the Emperor received the expected cheers of support. But in Ethiopia's key garrison towns, where thousands of his soldiers were mutinying, the appeal fell on deaf ears. There, junior officers and enlisted men continued their rebellion, demanding higher wages to offset an inflation that since January has doubled the price of flour, rice and bread.
The aging (81) monarch-who survived Mussolini's invasion in the 1930s as well as an abortive coup 13 years ago-really had no choice. He gave in to the rebels' demands, and last week virtually turned over the reins of authority to the military.
What was surprising was not that the mutiny took place, but that it was so long in coming. Well-trained by American, British and Israeli experts, the 42,000-man army is a modern outfit with-at least for Ethiopia-modern views. Its educated officers have long been unhappy about the appalling gap between rich and poor and the inefficiencies and inequities of a feudal agricultural system. Last year drought, landlord indifference and government mismanagement combined to produce a famine that left at least 50,000 dead.
Sheltered by oversolicitous courtiers, the Emperor was largely unaware of the desperate plight of his 26 million subjects until last month. Then thousands of disgruntled Ethiopians took to the streets of Addis Ababa and rioted against inflation for four days. Helmeted police finally cleared the streets but left five demonstrators dead, at least 35 wounded and 1,000 in jail. Afterward the Emperor made a rare radio and television appearance to announce a rollback of gasoline prices and a freeze on the cost of basic commodities. The Emperor's action calmed civilians, but left the armed forces dissatisfied. Although Selassie decreed a 33% increase in wages for the armed services, the military wanted pay raises of up to 100%, to bring a private's top pay to $75 per month-far higher than the country's paltry $65 annual per capita income.
The stage was thus set for last week's denouement, when the army's 2nd Division took the matter into its own hands. At dawn elements of the division quietly moved into the palm-lined streets of Asmara (pop. 200,000), the country's second largest city. Firing no shots, they closed the airport, sealed all roads into the city, shut the banks and government offices, and put Asmara's governor general under house arrest. They carefully avoided interfering with civilians. Proclaiming their loyalty to the Emperor, the soldiers demanded pay hikes, better pensions, housing and medical care, and the dismissal of many of the Cabinet's 19 members.
Next day the rebels seized three of the four senior generals whom Haile Selassie had sent to Asmara to negotiate a compromise, and threatened to keep them hostage until the government agreed to all their demands. Meanwhile the mutiny spread until it included nearly all of the country's 47,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen.
Military Power. Panicked by the revolt, Aklilu Hapte Wold, who had been Prime Minister since 1961, quit, as did his entire Cabinet. When the Emperor did not immediately accept Aklilu's resignation, dissident soldiers in full battle gear moved into the capital's streets. In a show of strength, they took control of Addis Ababa's banks, its airport and key buildings. At that point, Haile Selassie capitulated. Appearing once more on radio and TV, he granted the armed forces virtually the entire pay raise they had demanded, pledged no reprisals and designated a popular career diplomat, Endalkachew Makonnen, 46, the new Prime Minister. Perhaps more important, he elevated one popular general to army commander and named another to the key post of Interior Minister.
Venerated by his people and respected by other African leaders, Haile Selassie is still head of state and a symbol of authority. But for the moment, at least, power in Ethiopia rests with the milltary. After Endalkachew took office, some army officers called for trials of many of the ousted Cabinet Ministers on the ground that they had "enriched themselves at the people's expense, maintained fat foreign bank accounts and took land illegally from the peasants." Thousands of students paraded noisily proclaiming support of the army and demanding freedom of the press and formation of political parties. As for the new Prime Minister, he promised "thorough economic and social change" — an indication that he intends to heed the army's yearning for Ethiopia to escape from the dark ages.
Twilight of an Emperor
The upheaval in Ethiopia, which began with a strike by teachers and taxi drivers and culminated in a military mutiny, continued unchecked last week. Beleaguered Emperor Haile Selassie, 81, offered the protesters concession after concession, only to see them ask for even more reforms. By promising changes for his semifeudal country, Haile Selassie probably saved the monarchy as an institution, at the price of yielding much of his fabled, once absolute power.
In response to army demands for higher pay, the Emperor had earlier been forced to oust his old Cabinet and name a progressive-minded diplomat, Endalkachew Makonnen, 46, as Prime Minister. The military's success in getting what it wanted apparently served as a goad to other dissatisfied Ethiopians. In early March a general strike paralyzed Ethiopia's cities for four days and cut the country off from the outside world. The international airports in Addis Ababa and Asmara were shut down and the Red Sea ports were closed. Food and fuel shortages spread as truck drivers stopped working. So determined were the striking workers to win government acceptance of their demands that the negotiating committee refused to meet with the Emperor himself, an unprecedented snub.
Only after Endalkachew agreed to increase the 50¢ per day minimum wage to at least 75¢, make primary schooling free and give government employees the right to organize, did most workers return to their jobs. Teachers, however, remained out, demanding higher salaries. Toward week's end their protests were joined by several hundred black-robed priests of the Coptic Christian Church, who demonstrated outside Parliament. Claiming to speak for Ethiopia's 200,000 priests, they threatened to strike unless they received a boost in their current $1.50 monthly minimum allowance. Also angry were the capital's estimated 50,000 prostitutes. In leaflets, addressed to the police and signed "the guardians of your happiness and well-being," they warned that they would stop selling their wares unless price controls would be eased to allow them to charge a minimum $10 fee.
Except for the interruption of services caused by the strikes and the overtones of exhilaration and apprehension, there is little evidence in Addis Ababa that Ethiopia has undergone what amounts to a revolution. The military is back in the barracks, and the hordes of hideously deformed beggars are back in the streets-a sure sign of normalcy. Both the protesters and the government have so far shown remarkable restraint and have avoided violence. Only when restless students from the capital's Haile Selassie University ventured outside the campus last week, to ignite an effigy of Endalkachew and demand "free speech" and "free press," were they attacked by baton-wielding police. Even then, few were injured or arrested. Ethiopian students studying in the Soviet Union also demonstrated. They occupied the Ethiopian embassy in Moscow for three hours and demanded that the Emperor abdicate.
Haile Selassie, however, has vowed that "the monarchy will remain." In a traditional gesture of good will, he drove to the Addis marketplace, rolled down the window of his limousine and handed out green Ethiopian dollar bills to the swarming beggars. The protesters were not impressed. "The time is past for puny Imperial charity," said one labor leader. Far more meaningful was the Emperor's decision to appoint a constitutional commission with a mandate to propose some reforms within six months. Last week he told a press conference that he "wishes to change the constitution [so that] the will of the people will now dictate our attitude. Even the rights of the sovereign will depend on the will of the people."
TIME Correspondent Lee Griggs, who was in Addis Ababa last week, reports that "veteran observers wonder whether Selassie's talk of reform is sincere. At other times he has spoken movingly of the need for change, but nothing ever came of it. One problem has been the ability of the Amhara tribe, to which the Emperor belongs, to thwart any alteration of the status quo. A land-owning feudal aristocracy that collects up to 90% of a tenant's harvest as rent, the Amharas have stalled land reform and can be expected to resist any attempt to undermine their power."
If the Emperor drags his feet on reform, the military-sparked by middle-echelon officers-will likely move again. While they seem ready to retain the monarchy as a symbol of national unity, the young officers can be expected to push for high taxes on the wealthy Amharas. Most likely they will aim to deprive the throne of its remaining power by insisting on a constitution that provides for competing political parties and a Cabinet responsive to a popularly elected Parliament.
TIME EUROPE September 2, 1974
The Emperor's New Clothes
An aged man is but a paltry thing.
A tattered coat upon a stick,
unless Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress.
The creeping military takeover of Ethiopia last week left Emperor Haile Selassie virtually stripped of his absolute power. For the first time since Selassie, 82, came to power 44 years ago, government-controlled newspapers published letters and articles critical of the monarchy. One particularly vitriolic magazine accused the Emperor of "defecating on his people." As additional insult, the military forcibly entered Selassie's palace in Addis Ababa and arrested the commander of the Imperial Bodyguard. Most important, the Armed Forces Coordinating Committee, which dictates policy to Prime Minister Michael Imru's five-week-old civilian government abolishing four offices through which Selassie had ruled the country since 1930: the Crown Council, which issued the Emperor's decrees; the Imperial Appointments Office, which implemented his selection of all important government officials; the Military Advisory Council, by which he ran the armed forces; and the Court Justice, which interpreted the law according to his wish.
The military is pressuring Imru's government to adopt a new constitution that would make official Selassie's loss of power. Drafted by a reform-minded committee of 30 military-approved civilians, the constitution provides for a bicameral Parliament that will be vested with most of the Emperor's powers. The Prime Minister will be chosen by the Parliament, as will judges and Cabinet members. The Emperor's Imperial Court will be replaced by an independent judiciary and Supreme Court whose Chief Justice will be elected for life by the Parliament. The Emperor will also lose his position as head of the Coptic Christian Church, an institution whose political influence has been second only to the monarchy itself, an there will be a complete separation church and state.
Just a Figurehead. In its present draft form, the document allows Selassie to retain the title of Emperor, but he will serve only as "a symbol of Ethiopian unitty and history." Although some of the more radical leaders of the military coup object to even a figurehead monarch they have been persuaded, at least temporarily, that the success of their reform movement depends upon continued support among the peasant majority (95% of the country's people are illiterate), who still revere the Emperor.
The fate of the new constitution rests largely on how this issue is resolved. The aristocratic upper house of Parliament seems to favor the draft as it is now written, but the lower house is agitating for an entirely new document that would be much tougher on the monarchy, the church and the aristocracy. If debate drags on in Parliament, it is likely that the Armed Forces Committee will impose either a "temporary" new constitution or declare martial law. According TIME Correspondent Lee Griggs, "It is beyond doubt that the military does not want to take even temporary official control and certainly does not want to take the permanent job of running the country. But the coordinating committee has reluctantly set up a contingency plan to take over if the civilians shilly-shally over the new constitution."
Widespread arrests of Selassie's former aides have left the Emperor friendless as well as powerless. His official function reduced to ritual approval of the military's reforms, Ethiopia's "King of Kings" has little to do but attend daily services of the Coptic Church, visit his aging pride of lions in cages on the palace grounds, and walk his pet Chihuahua.
TIME EUROPE September 23, 1974
The End of the Lion of Judah
Less than a year ago, he was one of the last absolute monarchs on earth. He appointed governments, made laws, and held life-and-death power over his 26 million subjects. Since February, the once unchallengeable powers of the Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, King of Kings, Elect of God, Emperor of Ethiopia have gradually been taken away by the reformist young military officers who now dominate his country. Last week even the titles were gone; Haile Selassie, 82, was deposed from the imperial throne he had occupied for almost a half-century.
Glittering Splendor. Last Thursday morning, the aging Emperor was abruptly summoned to the library of Jubilee (recently renamed National) Palace in Addis Ababa. There he confronted representatives of the Armed Forces Coordinating Committee, the collective leadership of the young officers. He stood erect, his eyes glistening, as a proclamation was read denouncing him for having abused the power and dignity of his office and having subverted it for his own gain. The proclamation ended by declaring that Haile Selassie was "deposed from office."
An awkward silence followed. It was broken only when the ex-Emperor protested, "We have served our people in war and peace." Minutes later, he was led out of his marble palace to a tiny blue two-door Volkswagen. The monarch who for years had been chauffeur-driven in a huge maroon Mercedes-Benz limousine could still not believe what was happening to him. "What? In there?" he asked incredulously. "Yes, in there," replied an officer courteously, as he pulled forward the front seat to enable his passenger to squeeze into the rear. As the auto pulled away, Haile Selassie turned for one last look at his imperial palace where he had lived so long in glittering splendor and outside of which lions had once roamed. His view was blocked by hundreds of students who jeered at him and screamed, "Hang the Emperor!"
Within an hour, Radio Ethiopia announced that the nation was no longer under Haile Selassie's "oppressive rule." Throughout the day, spokesmen for the coordinating committee explained that the military had been forced to depose the monarch because he was too old and weak, both physically and mentally. Further, Haile Selassie was charged with committing crimes against the Ethiopian people and with refusing to take measures that might have alleviated the harsh famine in northern Ethiopia, which has so far taken an estimated 100,000 lives.
The proclamation deposing Haile Selassie also suspended the Ethiopian constitution, banned strikes and antimilitary demonstrations and dissolved Parliament. The coordinating committee declared that a provisional military administration would rule until there are free democratic elections (no date was set) and a new constitution is drawn up to provide for-among other things-freedom of speech, land reform and the separation of church and state. Ethiopia's new leaders said that they planned to summon home from Geneva Crown Prince Asfa Wossen, 57, Haile Selassie's son, and anoint him as Ethiopia's King (significantly, not Emperor). Wossen, who is partially paralyzed from a stroke that he suffered two years ago, would be nothing more than a figurehead, and the likelihood is that the country will eventually be proclaimed a republic. Meanwhile, Lieut. General Aman Michael Andom, 50, a popular officer who has been chief of staff of the armed forces, has been named temporary head of the government.
No Protest. Immediately after Haile Selassie's arrest, tanks and troops were rushed to key intersections and public buildings in Addis Ababa. Instead of protesting the ouster of their monarch, people adorned the tanks with garlands of flowers and personally thanked the soldiers who had affixed green-and-white 'Ethiopia Tikdem' (Ethiopia First) stickers to their helmets. Business in the capital continued as usual.
The calm was undoubtedly the result of a carefully orchestrated campaign by the military to discredit Haile Selassie. It reached a crescendo last Wednesday, the Ethiopian New Year and the day before the Emperor's ouster. For the first time, Patriarch Abuna Teweoflos of the Ethiopian Orthodox (Christian) Church did not mention the Emperor-head of the church to which half the Ethiopians belong-in his sermon. Instead, the patriarch asked God's blessing for the officers' movement. Later in the day the coordinating committee broadcast a scathing attack on Haile Selassie, denouncing him for erecting statues to dead dogs and feeding live ones while thousands died of famine in Wollo province. That evening Ethiopian television for the first time showed pictures of famine victims; the grim reportage was interspersed with shots of the Emperor drinking champagne and admiring huge cakes he had had flown from Europe for state banquets.
At week's end Haile Selassie remained under house arrest in a military headquarters about 30 miles from Addis Ababa. Unless the deposed Emperor refuses to return the moneys that the military claims he has stashed away in coded Swiss bank accounts, the chances are that he will be spared a humiliating show trial for crimes against the state. He may be allowed to remain in Ethiopia; more probably, he will be packed off to exile perhaps to Britain, where he lived almost penuriously from 1936 to 1940 during Italy's occupation of his country. In any case, last week's events clearly marked the end of the public career of the tiny (5 ft. 4 in.) monarch who won the world's heart 38 years ago when he stood on the podium of the League of Nations in Geneva, begging the world's powers to help him oust Mussolini's troops from Ethiopia. "God and history will remember your judgment!" he warned the delegates.
Love Affair. Ethiopia's Tases (feudal lords) in 1916 chose Haile Selassie to be regent and heir to Empress Zauditu. Fourteen years later, when the Empress died suddenly, he was crowned the 255th Emperor of the Menelik line which, legend claims, sprang more than 2,500 years ago from the celebrated love affair between King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. For the next 44 years he ruled unchallenged, except for the Italian occupation and for a brief and abortive palace coup at the end of 1960. During his reign, the Emperor demanded all the obsequiousness due absolute power; no one was allowed to approach him without bowing thrice and job seekers were obliged to prostrate themselves before him.
The Emperor was a founding father of the Organization of African Unity in 1963 and established its headquarters in his capital. At home, though, he seemed concerned mostly with the trappings of progress-inspecting new roads and interviewing youths proposed for scholarships abroad. He did little to initiate changes that might have raised Ethiopia from its position as one of Africa's poorest, least literate and most corrupt nations. His failure to act on economic and social problems triggered the military protests last February and led inexorably to his ouster.
Haile Selassie, for all his failings, acted as a glue binding together Ethiopia's disparate parts. Without him, the country may be increasingly difficult to govern, especially if-as some experts fear-there is a struggle between military men who want to wield total power and those officers (backed by a large number of students and academics) who want a leftist government dominated by civilians. Such a clash would clearly delay the reforms needed to bring Ethiopia belatedly into the 20th century.
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