“Father of African Unity” H.I.M. Haile Selassie Restored to Honor by the African Union

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By Alemayehu G. Mariam

… Tonight, we celebrate a great statesman who made monumental contributions to the liberation of Africa and the establishment of African unity, the late Emperor Haile Selassie (applause). There is no need to remind those of us in this room about the monumental contributions of Emperor Haile Selassie… He had at the time shared that our awareness of our past is essential to the establishment of our personality and identity as Africans…. I want to take this opportunity to thank the African Union for recognizing His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie’s efforts in the liberation struggle and for fostering Pan Africanism (applause)… H.E. Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed, (forward clip to 41:35), February 8, 2019.

“It is only Nkrumah who is remembered whenever we talk about pan Africanism. It is a shame not to accept his role”, the late Meles Zenawi adamantly arguing the African Union should not erect a statute for H.I.M. Haile Selassie and dismissing his role in Pan African unity, February 12, 2012.

We  should all be happy and proud to have Nkrumah’s statue on the grounds of the AU in Ethiopia. H.I.M. Haile Selassie will no doubt get his statue in timebecause “truth cannot remain forever on the scaffold nor wrong remain forever on the throne.” Alemayehu G. Mariam, “Ethiopia Shall Rise”, May 26, 2012, on the occasion of the erection of Kwame Nkrumah’s statute on the grounds of the African Union.

Thank you P.M. Abiy for restoring H.I.M. Haile Selassie to a place of honor  in the AU

I want to publicly thank H.E. Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed for fulfilling one of my fondest dreams today!

For years, I have called for an official recognition of H.I.M. Haile Selassie’s monumental contributions to African diplomacy with a monument on the grounds of the African Union.

In May 2012, in a commentary entitled “Ethiopia Shall Rise”, I pleaded for the erection of a commemorative statute for H.I.M, the first chairman of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), alongside Kwame Nkrumah’s, Ghana’s first president and principal founder of the OAU.

But the late Meles Zenawi would not allow it.

Meles Zenawi was not only adamantly opposed to the erection of a commemorative statute, he was also contemptuously dismissive of H.I.M. and his achievements as the “Father of African Unity”.

On February 12, 2012, Meles Zenawi argued, “ It is only Nkrumah who is remembered whenever we talk about pan Africanism. It is a shame not to accept his role.”

Meles Zenawi piped his hateful message against honoring H.I.M.’s through his ignorant flunkeys.

Meles believed he could outshine H.I.M. and become the leader of the “new generation” of African leaders.

The only thing Meles Zenawi could lead is a band of blood thirsty and corrupt thugs.

I have often asked myself why Meles Zenawi and his gang of thugs hated H.I.M. so much?

I have come to the conclusion that only a man who deeply hates himself and is afflicted by inferiority complex is capable of such blind hate!

The fact of the matter is that H.I.M. Haile Selassie tirelessly worked for African unity and peace. He never, never tried to sell out Africa.

But Meles Zenawi did!

At the Copenhagen G-77 conference on climate change, Meles Zenawi sold out Africa cold.

Lumumba Di-Aping, the chief negotiator of the G-77 bloc of countries, representing some 130 nations, mauled Zenawi for selling out Africa to the rich countries:

Meles [Zenawi] agrees with the EU perspective and the EU perspective accepts the destruction of a whole continent plus dozens of other states… The EU’s very moral foundation is deeply questionable because she accepts that a large section of the human family should suffer in order for her to continue to thrive and prosper… The African Union has not accepted this. Meles is not the author of this proposal, the EU definitely is, along with the UK and France. (Emphasis added.)

Suffice it to say, in his opposition to the erection of a simple statute for King Haile Selassie, Meles Zenawi proved to me he was indeed the Prince of Darkness.

The irony of history is that today Meles Zenawi lies six feet under and H.I.M. stands nine feet tall!

I don’t mean to rag on the late Meles Zenawi. To me he is only a woyane avatar. The hate that coursed in his blood when he was alive today courses in the blood of every woyane thug in hideout or sitting silently gnashing his/her teeth among us.

Perhaps I should be more charitable to Meles Zenawi.

After all, he and his gang of thugs came from the bush, untutored in the ways of civilization.

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It is said one cannot squeeze blood from turnip. That is, you can’t get gold from iron ore. But from Meles and his gang of thugs, Ethiopia got nothing but bloodshed.

Meles and his gang are today in the trash bin of history just like I prophesied to them for over a decade!

But let there be NO MISTAKE.

Everything I said about Meles Zenawi applies to that gruesome monster Mengistu Hailemariam who murdered H.I.M.

An old and broken down Mengistu Hailemariam today suffers Macbeth’s fate (Macbeth, Act 3 Scene 2) enduring endless mental torture and harrowing sleep deprivation thinking about those he killed hoping to get peace of mind.

Today, H.I.M., whom Mengistu murdered, is resting and standing in peace rising nine feet tall.

Today, Mengistu lives as a miserable, godforsaken refugee in Zimbabwe in his own private hell. Damn him!

In 2012, I prophesied, “H.I.M. Haile Selassie will no doubt get his statue in time because “truth cannot remain forever on the scaffold nor wrong remain forever on the throne.”

That day arrived today, February 10, 2019, almost 6 years to the day Meles Zenawi said H.I.M does not deserve a statute.

Today wrong is no longer on the throne and truth crushed to earth  has risen in Ethiopia.

The dethroned king stands nine feet tall in the heart of the African Union.

The Prince of Darkness and his Forces of Darkness today are skulking around  in DamNation.

H.I.M. Haile Selassie was regent from 1916 to 1930 and emperor from 1930 to 1974.

The “King of Kings” had many faults as a leader.

He was an old-style absolute monarch who ruled his nation with a sense of paternalism. He believed he knew what is best for Ethiopia.

He sought to modernize a feudal system but failed to undertake land reform.

In his old age, he seemed to be completely out of touch with the conditions in his country to the point of expressing lack of awareness of a ravaging famine that killed thousands. That famine precipitated his downfall.

But his giant role in Ethiopia’s international diplomacy — fighting against colonialism, apartheid, in supporting African liberation movements and representation of Africa in world forums– cannot be denied.

In 1962, H.I.M. ordered military training for Nelson Mandela and issued an Ethiopian passport for him to continue his struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

Mandela wrote in his autobiography Ethiopia “has always held a special place in my own imagination and the prospect of visiting […] attracted me more strongly than a trip to France, England and America combined. I felt I would be visiting my own genesis, unearthing the roots of what made me an African.”

H.I.M. has done a lot for his country.

In fact, he did what no other leader had ever done at the League of Nations by personally pleading and delivering an impassioned appeal in Ethiopia’s cause against fascist Italian aggression. He laid out the facts of fascist Italy’s genocidal efforts against Ethiopians through the use of poison gas:

There is no precedent for a Head of State himself speaking in this assembly. But also there has never before been an example of any Government proceeding to the systematic extermination of a nation by barbarous means.

Italy has above all attacked populations far removed from hostilities, in order to terrorize and exterminate them. The Italian aircraft then resorted to mustard gas. It was at the time when the operations for the encircling of Makalle were taking place that the Italian command, fearing a rout, followed the procedure which it is now my duty to denounce to the world.

Special sprayers were installed on board aircraft so that they could vaporize, over vast areas of territory, a fine, death-dealing rain. Groups of nine, fifteen, eighteen aircraft followed one another so that the fog issuing from them formed a continuous sheet. It was thus that, as from the end of January, 1936, soldiers, women, children, cattle, rivers, lakes and pastures were drenched continually with this deadly rain. In order to kill off systematically all living creatures, in order to more surely to poison waters and pastures, the Italian command made its aircraft pass over and over again. That was its chief method of warfare.

Despite H.I.M.’s pleas, the League lifted sanctions against Italy, which was driven out of Ethiopia in 1941.

By then Europe was facing the Axis Powers in WW II. Legend has it H.I.M. warned the League, “Today it is us; tomorrow it will be you.”

H.I.M. was elected by his peers as the “Father of African Unity” at the 1972 Ninth Heads of States and Governments meeting of the Organization of African Unity.

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H.I.M. was the African face of resistance, defiance and victory over European colonialism.

As the first chairman of the OAU, H.I.M.’s singular accomplishment in Africa was his ability to bring together 32 African leaders and persuading them to sign the charter of the Organization of African Unity.

On May 25, 1963 when the Organization for African Unity (OAU) was established with a permanent headquarters in Addis Ababa, H.I.M.  made the most compelling case,  the most passionate plea for African unity, independence and Pan-Africanism:

…We look to the vision of an Africa not merely free but united. In facing this new challenge, we can take comfort and encouragement from the lessons of the past. We know that there are differences among us. Africans enjoy different cultures, distinctive values, special attributes. But we also know that unity can be and has been attained among men of the most disparate origins, that differences of race, of religion, of culture, of tradition, are no insuperable obstacle to the coming together of peoples. History teaches us that unity is strength, and cautions us to submerge and overcome our differences in the quest for common goals, to strive, with all our combined strength, for the path to true African brotherhood and unity… Our efforts as free men must be to establish new relationships, devoid of any resentment and hostility, restored to our belief and faith in ourselves as individuals, dealing on a basis of equality with other equally free peoples…

In September 1963, H.I.M. told the United Nations General Assembly:

Twenty-seven years ago as Emperor of Ethiopia I mounted the rostrum in Geneva Switzerland to address to the League of Nations and appeal for relief from the destruction which had been unleashed against my defenceless nation by the fascist invaders.

I spoke then both to and for the conscience of the world. My words went unheeded, but history testifies to the accuracy of the warning that I gave in 1936… Here in this assembly reposes the best, perhaps the last hope for the peaceful survival of mankind.

His words in that speech on the “question of racial discrimination” are immortalized in Bob Marley’s song, “War”.

In that speech, H.I.M. passionately defended the cause of Pan-Africanism and articulated the ideology needed for the ongoing struggle to protect and defend African independence and secure world peace:

… Until the philosophy that holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned; until there are no longer first class and second class citizens of any nature; until the colour of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes, and until the basic human rights are guaranteed to all without regard for race… the dream of lasting peace … will remain but a fleeting illusion to be pursued but never attained…. That until the ignoble and unhappy regimes that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique and South Africa in subhuman bondages have been toppled and destroyed; until bigotry and prejudice and malicious and inhuman self-interest have been replaced by understanding, tolerance and good-will; until all Africans stand and speak as free beings, equal in the eyes of all men as they are in Heaven — until that day the African continent will not know peace. We Africans will fight, if necessary and we know that we shall win, as we are confident in the victory of good over evil…

I was barely a teenager but I remember the opening of the OAU in 1963.

I even remember the television monitors set up for public viewing across from the African Hall, on the opposite side of the Jubilee Palace in Addis Ababa.

When I visited Africa Hall this past September is was under plans for renovation. But it brought back some fond memories after some 48 years.

Today, February 10, 2019, African leaders officially unveiled H.I.M.’s statue on the grounds of the African Union.

I wish I could have been there. It would have been a powerfully emotional moment for me after so many years of advocating for his statute.

It did not matter. P.M. Abiy was there for me.

Nkrumah, whom Zenawi said should be the only one to “remembered whenever we talk about pan Africanism”, would roll over in his grave if he heard what Meles Zenawi said about H.I.M.

Unlike Meles Zenawi whose heart was filled with absolute hate for Ethiopia, Nkrumah had unrequited love for Ethiopia.

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Nkrumah took pride in the fact that Ethiopia was able to defend its sovereignty and independence against repeated incursions by European colonialists. He saw Ethiopia as the spoke in the wheel of African unity.

Nkrumah so loved Ethiopia, he wrote a poem for her. He had a love affair with Ethiopia.

Meles Zenawi almost always referred to Ethiopia as “the country” (ageritu).

I once offered Meles Zenawi an offer I thought he could never refuse.

If Meles Zenawi ever said publicly, “I love Ethiopia.”, I would forever stop criticizing him.

I could confidently make Meles Zenawi that offer because I knew how much and how deeply he hated Ethiopia. But I was prepared to make good on my offer.

But Nkrumah wrote a love poem for Ethiopia. Indeed, Nkrumah is the only leader in the world who has ever written a panegyric poem for Ethiopia!

Ethiopia shall rise

Ethiopia, Africa’s bright gem
Set high among the verdant hills
That gave birth to the unfailing
Waters of the Nile
Ethiopia shall rise
Ethiopia, land of the wise;
Ethiopia, bold cradle of Africa’s ancient rule
And fertile school
Of our African culture;
Ethiopia, the wise
Shall rise
And remould with us the full figure
Of Africa’s hopes

Looking back, I believe Nkrumah was not only an ardent Pan-Africanist but also an African “prophet”.

Nkrumah knew Ethiopia shall rise long before the blind visionaries made her slip and fall into the quagmire of ethnic politics.

Nkrumah knew Ethiopia shall rise long before the hate-blinded visionary declared, “Africa is rising… The African Renaissance has begun…”

Nkrumah’s poem is indeed “prophesy”.

Ethiopia shall rise up and shake off the sooty dust of dictatorship that covers her. Ethiopia shall rise above sectarianism and communalism.

As inscribed on the pad of Nkrumah’s statute at the AU, “Ethiopia shall stretch forth her hands to God. Africans must unite.

I would simply add, “Ethiopia shall stretch forth her hands to God. Ethiopians  must unite.”

To paraphrase the lyrics of Bob Marley song (“Africa Unite”)

Ethiopia unite
‘Cause we’re moving right out of Babylon
And we’re going to our Father’s land
How good and how pleasant it would be
Before God and man, yeah
To see the unification of all Ethiopians, yeah

As it’s been said already
Let it be done, yeah
We are the children of the Rastaman
So, Ethiopia unite…

So, Ethiopia unite
Unite for the benefit (Ethiopia unite) of your people!
Unite for the benefit (Ethiopia unite) of my children!
Unite for the Ethiopians (Ethiopia uniting) abroad!

In May 2012, I wrote the following poem foretelling my vision of Ethiopia rising from the grave of ethnic apartheid tyranny and the fall and burial of ethnic apartheid in the very grave dug up for Ethiopia through the struggle of Ethiopia’s young people.

Ethiopia up-Rising! Africa Rising!

Ethiopia Africa’s bright gem
Shall rise up from the ashes of tyranny
Like the spring sun rising at dawn over the African horizon
Like the full moon rising over the darkness of the African night
Ethiopia shall rise and shine!

Ethiopia shall rise from the heights of Ras Dejen
To the peaks of Kilimanjaro
From the pits of the politics of identity
To the summit of national unity and diversity
Ethiopia shall rise and shine!

Ethiopia of the wise
Shall rise above the streetwise
Its people to galvanize, mobilize and organize
To humanize, harmonize and compromise
Ethiopia shall rise and shine!

Ethiopia Africa’s hope and destiny
Shall rise and its tyrants shall fall
Their lies, cruelty and corruption
Buried with them in the steel coffin of history
For “justice will rise in Ethiopia like the sun, with abundance of peace forever.” 

Ethiopia shall rise by the sinews of her youth
Up-rise on the wings of her persevering children
Ethiopia shall rise and rise
Her youth will up-rise
Rise Ethiopia, up-rise.

In a risen Ethiopia, there shall be no place for a philosophy that holds one ethnic, religious, linguistic or gender group superior to another.

There shall no longer be first class and second-class citizens in a risen Ethiopia.

In a risen Ethiopia, ethnicity, religion, language, region or gender shall have no more significance than the color of  one’s eyes.

In a risen Ethiopia, human rights shall be guaranteed to all.

In a risen Ethiopia, there shall be peace and justice!

Thank you, PM Abiy for successfully pleading the case before the African Union to honor  H.I.M. Haile Selassie.

May you now rise tall H.I.M. Haile Selassie for all to see the “Father of African Unity”.


  1. This is just one long time coming. He deserved it for what he had done to bring Africans together in a unified fashion. OAU had successfully campaigned against apartheid and won the sympathy and support of the global population. Even though he was the head of an archaic feudal system, his stand against colonialism and apartheid was exemplary. I tell you what! When I look at how many brightest of the brightest were sent to their gallows, how many young and old were callously mowed down during the regimes that followed his, I will leave it to history as to be told by honest and fair historians to compare and judge him. For all I know is that he did not kill my young and bright cousin because he was caught with a copy of a literature by an opposition group but Mengistu did and he did not just kill him but tossed his Allah created sacred body to the predators so his mother could not give her only son a dignified burial. She passed away wailing for the return her child for so many agonizing years. The late Emperor was not the one who did that to her boy. For all I know he did not send his personal guards to mow done more than 200 peaceful demonstrators in broad daylight in the capital Addis/Finfine in 2005! Yes, his regime was so backward but what he achieved by bringing every African nation into a union deserves a recognition. Bigots from Alabama to the alleys of Dortmund wanted to see him drop dead for bringing ‘niggers’ under one roof!!!! I congratulate his surviving family members!!!

  2. Prof. Al Mariam,

    How can you confuse “statue” and “statute” while being a law professor and practitioner? If I was sitting in your class and notice such a stupid error in spelling, I will simply walk out never to return. Luckily, I’m not.

    This aside, despite your harshness to Meles Z. who’s dead and buried by absolute proofs, (in our culture we soften the tone when we talk about the dead), the credit you gaave to PM Abey is in order. But I doubt if PM Abey deserves such a generous praise for his role in erecting the statue of the Emperor. Before Abey so many Ethiopians and foreigners have made a call for his statue. They also deserve “thank you”.

    I’m not sure if you were blinded by the fact that a statue of the Emperor is erected not to make your observation on the statue itself. It is fine if you’ve reserve such an observation for the future. I think your input on the issue is essential.

    Persoanlly, I agree with the observations of one Sheegitu Dadi whose comment is published above. It is sad that the sculptor(s) did not realize what a historical figure the Emperor was. As Shegitu said, the statue lacks the imperial decoration that portrays him as Emperor (see the first picture on Prof. Al Mariam’s article) and the charisma that goes with it. He is “His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I”. Where is the Majesty? The statue makes him look like a republican revolutionary contemplating on election.

    I also agree there is also a measurement and imagination problem on the statue. The central point on which the sculiptor(s) went wrong was writing the project itself.

    First, the emperor’s biography and his contribution to Ethiopia and Africa should have been well documented by historians.

    Second, what should his statue look like should not have been left to the sculiptor(s) alone. The statue should have been the work historians well versed in Ethiopian and African history, formation of OAU (AU) and related issue.

    What we got as a statue is a rush work by a small group of gullible sculiptor(s) in academia. The entire work tells me the problem of education in the country.

    See the statues of Emperors around the world and decide for yourself if this piece of shit is what the Emperor reserves. In the coming years and decades, dignitaries from all over the world will come to say kind words about him and lay flowers on this statue. Unfortunately, what they will see is misery. Is this what we want?

    Prof. Al Mariam!

    Have your say!

  3. Hi there!

    I don’t know why AU is being THANKED for erecting the statue. The entire cost of construction of the statue which goes into several millions is covered by the Ethiopian government. As to me, it was not a priority. Given this fact, a dollar a day being collected from the diaspora might being wasted in such trivialities. I think the diaspora should slow down now rather than impose sanction later once the damage is done.

    One comforting thing is, at least the millions paid for the construction of the statue goes to Ethiopians. Have you read the interview BBC had with the leading “ቀራፂ “ of the Emperor’s statue? You’ll get it at BBC Amharic. The bad thing is, he does not want to say how much he is paid for the work. A typical Ethiopian culture! Lie if possible; hide if you can’t lie.

    But here is the disappointing thing about this “ቀራፂ “ who says the statue was made by a committee which reminded me the popular saying “a camel is a horse designed by committee”. This is not to dismiss inputs by different specialists in the field as useless, but what’s unveiled as the Emperor’s statue suggests that the committee did not help.

    Honestly speaking, the statue looked like a child’s play and needs to be fixed by qualified professionals in the field. It cannot be allowed to stand as it is. Covering it with something until the wrong is right at the expense of the “ቀራፂ “ is not for tomorrow.

    Just to give few remarks, the statue is not realistic. It does not represent accurately familiar things about the Emperor. His head is disproportionately bigger than his body and has a thin neck which appears not strong enough to carry his head. Below the neck, the statue has a body of a school boy.

    This clearly shows that the “ቀራፂ “has a measurement or imagination problem or both. A friend of mine who is an artist was telling me that the statue does not appear to have been started with a small study model until the pose and proportions are determined. For the size of the statue standing now, at least two models from small to intermediate with all the final details should have been built to be scaled to a final one. The artist said, it is only work without a model (or a defective model) that results in a grave misrepresentation.

    If you compare it to Nkrumah’s statue which is realistic and highly expressive, the Emperor’s statue makes him look docile, passive and someone who lacks passion for any cause including the cause of Africans. And that’s not him.

    A historian suggested to me the way his hands are on the statue is also bad pause.

    A recently released video clip of an Ethiopian artist who was employed to paint Mengistu’s portrait was sent to jail for a year because he deliberately thickened his lips. In the video, he said he was not making a political statement – smiling – which suggested the opposite.

    Maybe the Emperor’s statue is also a political statement of people who resent him.

    Abey, get a sympathetic artist and redo it.

    With my a dollar a day contribution, of course.


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