A friend in need is a friend indeed

February 11, 2019 Africa , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

Reuters photo



Alem Hailu G/Kristos



If truth is buried 100 meters deep, to the delight of many, it does not take long to resurface when the right moment presents itself.


When hatred clouds one’s biased mind, when unfounded jealousy inundates one’s heart, when a belief that runs counter to a rival becomes sedentary in one’s soul, one can be truth blind to the extent of belittling the glaring achievement of one’s object of anger.


Even, tarnishing the image of a dignitary may afford one mental ejaculation on the roller-coaster of emotion. Inured to the fallacious stance one has plunged into neck-high, one will persist in denying a fact, the veracity of which is backed by reliable sources.


That is exactly what the deceased Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, referred by some as the Ethiopian Machiavelli, did to Emperor Haile Selassie I, dubbed the Father of Africa.


Meles was a secessionist, while the Emperor a unionist. He was a narrow nationalist, while the Emperor a nationalist. He was myopic while Haile Selassie was farsighted when it came to promoting democracy, peace and unity.


It is to the aforementioned backdrop Meles’ adamancy pertaining to the erection of Haile Selassie’ statue on the African Union’s premise is ascribed. Recognizing Selassie’s contemporaries’ contribution towards independence, freedom and unity of Africa and Africans, Meles was putting his feet down to pay homage to the visionary leader of OAU.


As such, on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the African Union (AU) that evolved out of OAU, it was only Nkrumah’s statue that was erected center front on the premise of OAU/AU.


Meles tried to deny the role the Emperor played to usher in Africa’s independence, freedom and unity. He turned a blind eye to the peace brokering task the emperor performed in bridging the wide chasm created between the two groups on the extreme end of the philosophical scale. Prior to the establishment of OAU/AU the rift eventuated into factions— Monrovia and Casablanca.


There were arguments on ways the concept of African Unity should be translated into action. The Emperor played a pivotal role in bringing the two factions on the same wavelength thereby facilitating the birth of OAU/AU. It was the Emperor who hosted the first African Heads of States meeting.


Given the rift, the possibility of actualizing OAU/AU was remote in the extreme. It was in the first African Heads of States meeting, Addis Ababa hosted in May 1963, the two factions ironed out their differences on May 23 the same year.


For the sake of Africa and the people they lead, the charismatic eloquent and conversant Emperor Haile Selassie persuaded African leaders to reach a consensus to append their signatures on the charters. He made them see reason that acting otherwise would be failing in one’s duty. Following the bridging of the rift, some authors like Gwendolyn Carter wrote what otherwise could have proved a hard nut to crack, as the two blocks the Emperor handled as his cup of tea.


It was drawn by the Emperor’s virtue and heroic history of Ethiopia that most of the leaders opted to come to Ethiopia for the historic meeting.


As the saying goes “A friend in need is a friend indeed”, the role the Emperor played towards the restoration of peace in Congo dispatching 3,000 Ethiopian soldiers attests he was a true son of Africa. Lending a helping hand at a decisive moment he played an incalculable role in the effort mounted to liberate Africa thereby ushering in freedom, independence, stability and enduring peace in the continent.


It was Emperor Haile Selassie who facilitated a military training for Nelson Mandela. He also facilitated education opportunities to Africans in Haile Selassie I University.


During the repatriation or back to Africa movement Haile Selassie I offered a spiritual homeland to those having African descent who were scattered in foreign lands. They were nostalgic about their motherland Africa.


The role the Emperor played in watering Pan Africanism and spurring the evolution of Africa’s development agenda is laudatory.


The statue of the Emperor erected center front on the premises of the AU will be a source of pride and satisfaction to Africans and votaries of truth. The gallant history of Ethiopians and the valor demonstrated by Ethiopian patriots and soldiers played quite a role in the fight for the freedom Africa mounted.


The forthcoming patriots’ village that showcases the history of patriots here in Addis is mandatory. It could also help augment the tourism industry.





Alem Hailu G/Kristos

A published poet, novelist, editor, translator of masterpieces, literary critic, playwright and journalist from Ethiopia. M.A holder in literature, Addis Ababa University.

Looking for a traditional publisher of a collection of poems. My novel: ‘Hope from the debris of hopelessness’.

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