|25th Anniversary Of Liberation|
May 05, 1966
|We thank Almighty God that We have been spared to witness the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the |
victory over Fascism. In the words of David: "The Lord heard my voice; He sent his angel from on
high, and He delivered me from my enemies."
We thank Almighty God that We are reunited today with so many of the noble and courageous men
who fought at Our side in that glorious campaign.
We thank Almighty God for the triumph of right and justice and liberty over aggression and
Today, twenty-five years are but a brief moment in the span of history. The memories come
crowding upon Us, as we re-live those hours of unbounded rejoicing, as We are buffered again by
the profound emotions which swept Our mind and spirit then. Surrounded today by familiar faces,
by old friends and comrades, Our heart is full.
May 5th, 1941 will live as one of the greatest days in the long annals of Ethiopian history. It was, at
the same time, a great turning point in whorld history. For a brief period, Ethiopia alone had
carried on the struggle against fascist tyranny. Our appeals were unheeded, Our warnings ignored.
But at last those who had turned their backs on Us at the League of Nations were themselves
driven into turmoil and suffering and to the very brink of destruction. At last they came to
recognize their common responsibility to oppose the inhuman and degrading doctrine which had
brought devastation and destruction to Our innocent nation. The victory over fascism in Ethiopia
and for Africa was but the first inspiring landmark for the allied nations on the long road back to
the re-establishment of liberty and justice for themselves.
A century ago, Ethiopia possessed virtually no modern weapons, no defence against the power of
technology. Swords and spears and raw courage were her weapons. She had no standing army, no
trained and disciplined officers and ranks. She depended for here safety upon the patriotic
instincts in the heart of every Ethiopian and upon the inspiration of her leaders.
But these resources, even then, were not lightly to be dismissed. Just seventy years ago, Ethiopian
armies formed almost as if by magic and hurled themselves upon a grasping invader to gain the
immortal triumph of Adowa.
The victory of Adowa has long been hailed as one of the major events of the nineteenth century in
Africa. Its effects upon Ethiopia and her relations with the colonial powers were far-reaching.
Certainly it preserved the nation's age-old indepedence from the greedly incursions then being
made elsewhere against our brethren on this continent. Thus, although denied her rightful access
to the sea and isolated from the influences of modern technological learning, Ethiopia nonetheless
maintained her independence and stood as a source of inspiration and hope to here fellow Africans.
But the legacy of Adowa was perhaps misleading, for soon, courage and valour would not be
enough. The industrialized nations applied the weight of modern science to the development of
ever more fearful engines of war. Recognizing the danger, We early attempted to alter the nature
of the nation's military base. At our insistence, a small modern military unit was in fact, organized
and trained by experienced soldiers. Airplanes were purchased and young men were sent abroad
for advanced instruction.
First of all, however, We placed Our faith in the principle of collective security and the seemingly
indisputable might of the League of Nations. The story of the betrayal of that faith is one of the
acknowledged tragedies of our times. The arms and supplies which Ethiopia could not produce
herself were denied her, while the enemy continued to build and fuel with its own resources its
great war machine. The most futile sanctions were half-heartly called for, and less than
half-heartedly enforced. Ethiopia's warriors and patriots fought with all the valour and
desperation for which they and their ancestors had so often been called upon before, but they were
powerless against the bombs and poison gas which the enemy so mercilessly and savagely
employed against soldiers and innocent civilians alike. The brutality of those infamous days will
forever haunt the memory of those who lived through them.
The lessons of experience are rarely easy. It was through bloodshed and sorrow that Ethiopia
learned the awesome power of modern arms and organized military might. From the ashes of the
war Ethiopians began to reconstruct a new and more powerful nation. We vowed in sorrow that
Ethiopia would never again through weakness suffer such outrages as had been wrought upon her.
In the years since 1941, Ethiopia's military power has grown far beyond the meager and
ill-equipped forces which struggled through the mountains to Addis Ababa. Ethiopia is ready
today, as in the past, to defend here integrity to the last limit of her resources. But she disposes
now of the trained military forces, the modern equipment which will protect here rights and
interests against the onslaughts of any misguided aggressor. Never again will she be taken
From the day of Our return We set about building a military apparatus which would be equal to the
task of guarding Our homeland and people against attack from any source. Over the years the
quality and strength of the nation's forces have grown rapidly. Today Ethiopia possesses compact
and well equipped ground, naval and air forces. She has trained substantial numbers of soldiers,
sailors and airmen in the modern techniques of engineering and weaponry. These have long since
proved in battle their capacity to stand man for man against the soldiery of any nation in the
world. Acting with the help and guidance of other friendly nations we have established on
Ethiopian soil the most modern army, navy and air training institutions. Skilled officers possessing
the highest technical qualifications now comprise the imposing cadres of Ethiopia's military
leaders. Other African nations have sent the finest of their young men to study in our military
institutions both in recognition of the quality of education provided there and in open expression
of the trust and confidence which we repose in one another.
Yet even beyond the vast improvements in the Ethiopian military machine, there stands in defence
of peace the great bulwark of the United Nations, erected with willing and eager hands out of the
torment, destruction and misery of the last war. Even as the guns were falling silent the
representatives of millions of men and women, Ethiopians among them, pledged themselves to
uphold the Charter of the United Nations so that no such holocaust would ever again ravage and
darken the earth. The United Nations was conceived as a means of real and positive action in the
face aggression. Ethiopia evinced her continuing faith in collective security as she enrolled herself
among the charter members of the organization. In accordance with decisions of the United
Nations, Ethiopia has shown here willingness to give substance to principle, to fight and sacrifice
for others as for herself -- in Korea, in the Congo, and elsewhere -- in order to uphold and defend
the rule of justice and reason in human affairs.
We have gathered today to pay tribute to the noble fighting men of Ethiopia and of many other
nations who struggled here and gave their blood to this land. We salute the heroes, both living and
dead, men like the late General Wingate, Ethiopian and foreigner alike, who enabled Our people
once again to walk freely with heads unbowed upon the soil of their fathers.
Present on this occasion are a few of the valiant British officers who twenty-five years ago travelled
the long and arduous path to victory. We recall the deep pride the magnificent accomplishments of
the many brave men alike Brigadier Sandford who joined in that glorious and triumphant march.
We are also honoured today with the presence of military representatives of many of the other
nations whose troops fought on Our soil in the common cause. Their names recall an honour roll
of bravery and selfless sacrifice. We are proud that our friendship with them continues strong.
We are proud too that in testimony to the unity and present readiness of this entire continent,
military representatives of the member states of the Organization of African Unity are present at
these commemorative ceremonies. High among the principles enshrined in the Charter of that
Organization is the commitment of its member states to co-ordinate and harmonize their policies
with respect to co-operation for mutual defence and security. The growing might of this
continent's military forces must make any aggressor wary indeed.
Finally, representatives of the armed forces of both the United States and the Soviet Union have
joined this assemblage at Our invitation. These tow immensely powerful nations dispose today of
destructive power which defies the comprehension of ordinary men. Both are here represented as
friends of Our nation; both refused to extend recognition of the Fascists in Ethiopia; both have
contributed to the building of the modern Ethiopian state. The American and Soviet governments
have been entrusted by fate with awesome responsibilities for the maintenance of world peace.
We are hopeful that in consultation with Ethiopia and all other nations of the world they will both
continue to devote their utmost efforts to the search for effective means to halt the arms race and
bring about meaningful disarmament.
For twenty-five years now, Ethiopia has lived quietly and here people have enjoyed the blessings
of peace. Our country's economy has flourished, and foreigners, in collaboration with Ethiopians,
have been encouraged to invest in this stable African state.
But throughout all this time the flames of war have not for a moment ceased to flicker from point to
point across the world. It is important that this assembly, gathered in recognition of a great
triumph of arms, should recall that the victory which was won in Ethiopia was a victory for peace.
The military might of which the nations here represented today dispose can be justified only to
preserve peace and freedom. There is enough hunger and misery in the world without further war
and suffering. The vast sums swallowed by modern arsenals capable of infinite destruction could
be employed in providing food for hungry mouths, in eradicating poverty, illiteracy and disease, in
building for a united world the better way of life which man's genius has made possible.
Let us vow to be strong today only that we may in our strength advance the time when it will be
possible to beat our swords into plowshares and when nation shall not make war upon nation. Let
us pledge together that this time will not be long. Let us work for trust among men, for
disarmament, for peace.
|Haile Selassie the First - May 5, 1966|