|Haile Selassie I on African Unity and Liberation
|The events of the past hundred and fifty years require no extended recitation
from Us. The period of colonialism into which we were plunged culminated with
our continent fettered and bound; with our once proud and free peoples reduced
to humiliation and slavery; with Africa's terrain cross-hatched and
checker-boarded by artificial and arbitrary boundaries.
Many of us, during those bitter years, were overwhelmed in battle, and those who
escaped conquest did so at the cost of desperate resistance and bloodshed.
Others were sold into bondage as the price extracted by the colonialist for the
protection which they extended and the possessions of which they disposed.
Africa was a physical resource to be exploited and Africans were chattels to be
purchased bodily or, at best, peoples to be reduced to vassalage and lackeyhood.
Africa was the market for the produce of other nations and the source of the raw
materials with which their factories were fed.
Today, Africa has emerged from this dark passage. Our Armageddon is past.
Africa has been reborn as a free continent and Africans have been reborn as free
men. The blood that was shed and the sufferings that were endured are today
Africa's advocates for freedom and unity. Those men who refused to accept the
judgment passed upon them by the colonizers, who held unswervingly through
the darkest hours to a vision of an African emancipated from political, economic,
and spiritual domination will be remembered and revered wherever African
meet. Many of them never set foot on this continent. Others were born, and died
here. What we may utter today can add little to the heroic struggle of those who,
by their example, have shown us how precious are freedom and human dignity
and of how little value is life without them. Their deeds are written in history.
Africa's victory, although proclaimed, is not yet total, and areas of resistance still
remain. Today, We name as our first great task the final liberating of those
Africans still dominated by foreign exploitation and control. With the goal in
sight, and unqualified triumph within our grasp, let us not now falter or lag or
relax. We must make one final supreme effort; now when the struggle grows
weary, when so much has been won that the thrilling sense of achievement has
brought us near satiation. Our liberty is meaningless unless all Africans are free.
Our brothers in the Rhodesias, in Mozambique, in Angola, in South Africa, cry out
in anguish for our support and assistance. We must urge on their behalf their
peaceful accession to independence. We must align and identify ourselves with
all aspects of their struggle.
It would be a betrayal were we to pay only lip service to the cause of their
liberation and fail to back our words with action. To them we say, your pleas
shall not go unheeded. The resources of Africa and of all freedom loving nations
are marshaled in your service. Be of good heart, for your deliverance is at hand.
As we renew our vows that all Africa shall be free, let us also resolve that old
wounds shall be healed and past scars forgotten. It was thus that Ethiopia
treated the invader nearly twenty-five years ago, and Ethiopians found peace
with honor in this course. Memories of past injustice should not divert us from
the more pressing business at hand. We must live in peace with our former
colonizers, shunning recrimination and bitterness and forswearing the luxury of
vengeance and retaliation, lest the acid of hatred erode our souls and poison our
hearts. Let us act as befit the dignity which we claim for ourselves as Africans,
proud of our own special qualities, distinctions and abilities. Our efforts as free
men must be to establish new relationships, devoid of any resentment and
hostility, resorting to our belief and faith in ourselves as individuals, dealing on a
basis of equality with other equally free peoples.
Today, we look at the future calmly, confidently and courageously. We look to
the vision of an Africa not mearly 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. African 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 a people...
(Words of Haile Selassie I, Lion of the Tribe of Judah, King of Zion,
Light of the World)