new: Revolutionary Ethiopia: From Empire to People's Republic + Ethiopia : A Post-Cold War African State + Sweeter Than Honey: Ethiopian Women and Revolution : Testimones Oftigrayan Women + Among the Pastoral Afar in Ethiopia: Tradition, Continuity and Socio-Economic Change + What Is Your Name: Book of Eritrean and Ethiopian Names + Pillars in Ethiopian History (Pillars in Ethiopian History) + Revolution & Religion in Ethiopia: The Growth & Persecution of the Mekane Yesus Church 1974-85 (Eastern African Studies) + Impact of Economic Reforms on Rural Households in Ethiopia: A Study from 1989-1995 (Poverty Dynamics in Africa Series) + Remapping Ethiopia: Socialism & After (Eastern African Studies (London, England).) + Ethiopia: A Country Study + Ethiopia: From Bullets to the Ballot Box : The Bumpy Road to Democracy and the Political Economy of Transition + The Emperor's Clothes: A Personal Viewpoint on Politics and Administration in the Imperial Ethiopian Government 1941-1974 (African Series, No 3) + Ethiopia Foreign Policy and Government Guide + Ethiopia Through Russian Eyes

* main * academics * history * books * culture * politics * family * rasta * business *
* Master Thesis: Ethiopians in Diaspora Poll * Ethiopians in USA * Please vote!
If you are willing to partcipate in a phone interview (20 min. max.) "Ethiopians and Rastafarians," please email Esther Sellassie Antohin with the phone number and time to call. Thanks.

* Rediscover your past @ *

* Free Scholarship Money For Your Advanced Degree *

I consider it natural when people ask us, why didn't we stay in Russia (we spent there two years) or Ethiopia (six months), but they do not understand my answer. My answer -- I am not sure that we were in Russia or Ethiopia.

Sure, it looks like "Russia" or "Ethiopia" -- although if you look deeper, you can discover something else. Those "new" Russians or "Ethiopians" very often are simply the second hand "Americans"!

What do I mean? They want what Americans have. They have American values. Once (more than once) I got angree and said -- if this is what you want, why don't you to the West and get it?

I know the answer. It's tough to get it.

We came to Addis after our experience with the New Russians and I knew a little bit about this "new"... The businessmen who are in business together with the "state mafia" -- do you know what I mean? Do you know how anybody in Ethiopia can start "private" enterprise (especially, of a good size)? No?

You have to have friends in the government and those friends want what?... You still do not know?

The money, yes, the dollars.

GeoAlaska: Acting, Directing, Theory, Shows, Books
GeoAlaska: Theatre & Film

View GuestBook Sign




Sellassie BOOKstore



view * Sellassie Family Web * sign

view * ArtCookBook * sign

view * HIM * sign
HIM Haile Sellassie I

list: books

The Lost Empire: The Story of the Jesuits in Ethiopia 1555-1634 * African Zion: The Sacred Art of Ethiopia * Ethiopia in Pictures (Visual Geography Series) * The Dream Behind Bars: The Story of the Prisoners of Zion from Ethiopia * In the Land of Solomon and Sheba * Surrender or Starve: The Wars Behind the Famine * Flora of Ethiopia * Agrarian reform in Ethiopia * Modern Ethiopia: From the accession of Menilek II to the present : proceedings of the Fifth International Conference of Ethiopian Studies, Nice, 19-22 December 1977 * Ethiopia: Its People, Its Society, Its Culture * Ethiopia the Christian Art of an African Nation * Decision-making in Ethiopia: A study of the political process

main INDEX * HIM * CULTURE Index NEW Family Directory Index Academics Directory Index DIASPORA Index NEW POLITICS Old Politics Directory
Old HS WWW: Haile Sellassie Family Web
H.I.M. Web-Biography: from Sellassie WWW pages
R&R: Rasta & Reggae, Rastafarianism, Texts, Links, News
HISTORY: History pages from Sellassie Family Web
FAMILY: Origins, Members, Generations, Tree, photos
Ethiop Village: Books, Music, Art, Gifts
DIRECTORIES: Listing from all Sellassie sites

Freedom, Liberty & Ethiopian Idea

Reply to EthioForum, Jan. 2, 2000
I am not good with the references and I do not have Ullendorth's book at hand, where I believe he goes in length, explaining why "Japanizers" (an intellectual movement) believed that that modernization of Ethiopia should follow Imperial Japan's model. (It has nothing to do with "Japanization" of Ethiopia and very little even with the diplomatic relations with Japan). Even in Harold Marcus's book "Ethiopia" which was quoted before, there is reference to the First Constitution as a "Japanese-style constitution" (p. 134).

"Evolutionary" government of Ethiopia was looking for an example of other nation which went through dramatic and rapid economic development without experiencing revolutions of Europe. Imperial Japan was the most visible and obvious choice. There were many changes that took place during the reign of Menelik, but Ras Tafari/Haile Sellassie was looking for the radical modernization similar to economic boom Japan went beginning with the military defeat China and Russia (1905), well into 1940, when Japan challenged USA (WW II). This was done without dismantling the institution of monarchy, which exists in Japan to this day (as a constitutional monarchy, another example that monarchy is not an obstacle for industrial society nor for democracy).

When I brought this reference, I wanted to point at the history = cultural, economic, intellectual composition of every nation. To a great degree Japan was and still is a mono-ethnic society, Ethiopia is not. Since the 1860s Japan faced Western pressure and therefore tried to preserve its heritage, including the institution of the Empire. Unlike Ethiopian isolation (Japan is an island-nation, similar to England), Japan was in a transition from agricultural society to industrial society -- trade and manufacturing -- remaining isolated power in Asia. Haile Sellassie realized that no nation can copy other nation's experience and although he was looking at the powers of Europe as a potential enemy-friends (here is his diplomacy for several decades), he thought that Japan is a closer in time to the Ethiopian situation.

The Dergue never had "Russifization" of Ethiopia, but "Sovietization" (Soviet political structure replaced Russian society in 1917, and the New Russians still can't find their way back to being Russians as all can see it). "Japan" was a political model, I don't know how many Japanese even were in Ethiopia (unlike Soviets and Cubans) and Japan didn't subsidize anything in Ethiopia, of course.

Politics of History
My point wasn't Japan, but the issue of a constitutional monarchy (as you can see under the titling "Crown Council" of this discussion). My objections were to the vulgarization of Ethiopian history, when so many other nations get over the politicization of the past. Nobody in Sweden discusses what king Karl XII did to them in 18 century and nobody believes that the present problems of Sweden are because Karl did this or didn't do that. There are good reasons why the "Japan" or "Soviet" model didn't work in Ethiopia and the best way to understand it is to look at the concrete conditions of Ethiopia, not personalities.

Ethiopian problems are not in her leaders per ce -- in 1974 or 1991, but that Ethiopia doesn't have its own vision and plan for the future, including the year 2000 and beyond. The most depressing is that the parties are fighting for power and do not have their OWN practical propositions on their agenda. And since Moa Anbessa (monarchist party) has enter the political arena, I use them as a sample of what is wrong with political minds of Ethiopia.

Haile Sellassie was more than Emperor, he was more than the head of the state, he was a leader. His legacy is not the monarchy or the crown, any leadership begins with the vision for the nation. Just one quote from Moa Anbessa's statesman in reference to the Imperial Ethiopia:

"This is not to say that all those who occupied the throne were all faultless or forward looking. History will tell us that there were those Emperors who were not in touch with the people's needs or were not willing to advance with the times and as such were detrimental to the advancement of the nation" (Negaret, March 31, 1999).

Who are those Emperors? History "will" judge the leaders who are seeking power and those leaders should be able to judge Ethiopian history now. This Marxist phraziology in the monarchist party documents makes me wonder, do they even understand the nature of constitutional monarchy and its difference from absolute monarchy? Do they understand why the constitution was introduced in 1930, when nobody was even asking fo it? Do they understand that a constitutional monarch doesn't govern the nation? The Japanese Emperor is not "behind" or "ahead" -- he serves a different national purpose. The similar problematics were discussed to death regarding the role of the Church, which stays always to the daily politics and better have a different agenda, if it doesn't want to become a part of the government machine.

Freedom v. Liberty
I do not ask anybody to agree with me, only to agree with themselves and follow the logic of their own statements. They should explain what their "freedom" means and how different it is from "freedoms" of other parties. "Unity, Freedom, Equality, Prosperity" -- which party do you think has this slogan? It could be any of them. Who is against it? Do you have to be a monarchist to support it?

"Freedom" is one of the most abused words (after "love" and "God"). Plenty of unspeakable crimes are committed in the name of freedom. Revolutionary theology teaches that we are free to kill anybody who is "not with us" and can keep going on killing. The problem of Ethiopia is not "Freedom" but Liberty.

When people ask me about this mess in Russia, my answer is that they have their freedom without liberties. It is a statue of Liberty, not Freedom, which stands on the island in New York harbor to greet new Americans. Liberty is personal freedom. In order for us to a free society we have to have the members of this society who liberated themselves to be independent from any party and have their own judgment. Ethiopians are not free people yet. Liberty is more difficult than Freedom -- I can see in the free country, USA, where the majority are not aware of liberty and do not vote at all! It is a long road to travel, when Ethiopians will have independent minds. Yes, a mind of their own, independent from the state, race, ethnicity, gender -- and only than, when a man is liberated, that freedom can be of some use.

I understand the people on this forum advocate human rights. I believe that this is a precondition for any talk about liberty. I do not understand the "self-determination" talks, especially after the Eritrean catastrophe. I do not have another word for it. How free (and individually independent) were those who "voted" for "independence"? Did they realize that they vote not for freedom, but isolation and therefore confrontation to come with the country they sought "independence" from -- Ethiopia?

So, what is this "Freedom" of Moa Anbessa? Do they know that there is abstract "freedom" -- it's always Ethiopian or Japanese "freedom"! What are they, Ethiopian freedoms and liberties? If this is not the case, we would be able to get these ready-made freedoms in every department store.

Look at the Japanese, they still struggle to find their Japanese "Unity, Freedom, Equality, Prosperity"... Maybe looking at them, we can learn something about how to find "Ethiopian" liberties. Nobody will do it for Ethiopia, not Japanese nor Americans.

Ethiopian Idea
If people disagree that every nation has its own Idea, at least we can agree that nations do have their identities. According to Doestoevsly, who saw Russia losing to socialism, after this Russian Idea is lost, the nation dies. Ethiopia lived through 3 millennium because she had this strong identity and Ethiopia Idea.

Ethiopian "Unity" is rather specific; it's not French or American. One even may say it's a mystery! How for so long can so many groups with different belief systems live together? The geography is the most common answer; Ethiopian platau makes it an "island" in Africa.

This isolation shaped Ethiopian identity. Unlike Japan, which was isolated for centuries from Europe by the great distance, Ethiopia wasn't. Not in antiquity, not later -- not really. Not only the migration and even the major religious eras that went through Ethiopia, but also the intellectual influence that was there. The famous statement that "Ethiopia slept through thousand years" is only in part correct. The same could said about Europe which "slept" through a several mellenniums while civilization of China, India and even of Egypt just across the sea was florishing. It's only around 5 century B.C. with the Greeks Europe began its rapid development.

So, what were (and maybe are) the features of the Ethiopian Idea?


No, Ethiopia is not ready for constitutional monarchy and everyone, who wants to see it happen, first should work on democratic conditions -- the constitutionaly of the country.

* *
@2000-2004 sellassie ww
Quotes & Thoughts:
HIM photo-archives: