Has anyone ever reasoned with an individual from Eritrea or from Sudan or Somalia about His Majesty? While I'm sure there are differing views, from what I have seen and heard from these brothers in the West, is really disturbing. Not so long ago a student brother from Eritrea was telling I how I was wrong to follow HIM for he is responsible for the murder of so many Eritrean people and such, and saw him as a figure against the freedom of their land
- as I tried to explain to the brother, I'm sure his views are based off of propaganda. from what I know haile selassie wanted to FREE Eritreans from Italian or British rule. the land mass has always historically been one. I think while the Italians were occupying eritrea, they would have used their propaganda machine and such to paint HIM in a false way. they were being given the image of Selassie I through the eyes of Mussolini.....
Has anyone ever come across simila lr encounters and opinions from brothers or sisters from that area of a once unified land? and any more information would be appreciated. this is something which really needs to be cleared up for history sake and that of our extended Eritrean family.
Why were these opinions formed?
this is an old post from a Rasta in Eritrea, again telling us of the skewed public image of HIM
Time Zone: EST (New York, Toronto)
Messenger: Young Lion Sent: 4/8/2010 7:41:58 PM
I'm eritrean, but i claim Ethiopia because thats where my father is from and we are from the tribe ob Abeshan. But what i want from a knowledgable Rastafarian is what did Haile Selassie try to do with Eritrea. Eritreans suffer alot of oppression from Italians and they blame Menelik for not pushing the Italians out of Eritrea in the battle of adawa, they blame Mengustu for destroying thier country and same with Selassie. If Haile Selassie felt eritreans were one with Ethiopia why did he have the British to rule them for 9 years, i Just want to know what really was going on in Eritrea during Haile Selassie time?
For anybody who isn't too familiar with the history:
as adapted from the history of Eritrea via Wikipedia:
Main article: Italian Eritrea
The boundaries of modern Eritrea and the entire region were established during the European colonial period between Italian, British and French colonialists as well as the lone landlocked African Empire of Abyssinia which found itself surrounded and its boundaries defined by said colonial powers.
During the medieval period and prior to the Ottoman occupation of Debarewa in 1557, Eritrea’s historical name was Bahre-Negash (Kingdom of the Sea). Later with the fall of the Kingdom, the area was called Medri Bahri ("Land of the Sea") until the Italians came to the area in the late 19th century.
The Kingdom of Italy created Eritrea at the end of the nineteenth century, using the classical name for the Red ("erythra") Sea. The colony of Italian Eritrea was established in 1890 (and lasted officially until 1947).
Italian occupation of Massawa and formation of the colony
Later, as the Egyptians retreated out of Sudan during the Mahdist rebellion, the British brokered an agreement whereby the Egyptians could retreat through Ethiopia, and in exchange they would allow the Emperor to occupy those lowland districts that he had disputed with the Turks and Egyptians.
Catholic Cathedral of Asmara, built by the Italians in 1922
Emperor Yohannes IV believed this included Massawa, but instead, the port was handed by the Egyptians and the British to the Italians, who united it with the already colonised port of Asseb to form a coastal Italian possession. The Italians took advantage of disorder in northern Ethiopia following the death of Emperor Yohannes IV in 1889 to occupy the highlands and established their new colony, henceforth known as Eritrea, and received recognition from Menelik II, Ethiopia's new Emperor.
The Italian possession of maritime areas previously claimed by Abyssinia/Ethiopia was formalized in 1889 with the signing of the Treaty of Wuchale with Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia (r. 1889–1913) after the defeat of Italy by Ethiopia at the battle of Adua where Italy launched an effort to expand its possessions from Eritrea into the more fertile Abyssinian hinterland. Menelik would later renounce the Wuchale Treaty as he had been tricked by the translators to agree to making the whole of Ethiopia into an Italian protectorate. However, he was forced by circumstance to live by the tenets of Italian sovereignty over Eritrea.
The Italians brought to Eritrea a huge development of Catholicism and by the 1940 nearly one third of the Eritrean population was catholic, mainly in Asmara where many churches were built.
Italian administration of Eritrea brought improvements in the medical and agricultural sectors of Eritrean society. Furthermore, the Italians employed many Eritreans in public service (in particular in the police and public works departments) and oversaw the provision of urban amenities in Asmara and Massawa. In a region marked by cultural, linguistic, and religious diversity, a succession of Italian governors maintained a notable degree of unity and public order. The Italians also built many major infrastructural projects in Eritrea, including the Asmara-Massawa Cableway and the Eritrean Railway.
After the establishment of new transportation and communication methods in the country, the Italians also started to set up new factories, which in turn made due contribution in enhancing trade activities. The newly opened factories produced buttons, cooking oil, and pasta, construction materials, packing meat, tobacco, hide and other household commodities. In the year 1939, there were around 2,198 factories and most of the employees were Eritrean citizens, some even moved from the villages to work in the factories.The establishment of industries also made an increase in the number of both Italians and Eritreans residing in the cities. The number of Italians residing in the country increased from 4,600 to 75,000 in five years; and with the involvement of Eritreans in the industries, trade and fruit plantation was expanded across the nation, while some of the plantations were owned by Eritreans.
Benito Mussolini's rise to power in Italy in 1922 brought profound changes to the colonial government in Eritrea. Mussolini established the Italian Empire in May 1936. The fascists imposed harsh rule that stressed the political and racial superiority of Italians. Eritreans were demoted to menial positions in the public sector in 1938.
Map of the Italian Empire (1936–1941), that included Eritrea, Somalia and Ethiopia
Eritrea was chosen by the Italian government to be the industrial center of the Italian East Africa.
The Italian government continued to implement agricultural reforms but primarily on farms owned by Italian colonists. The Mussolini government regarded the colony as a strategic base for future aggrandizement and ruled accordingly, using Eritrea as a base to launch its 1935–1936 campaign to colonize Ethiopia.
The best Italian colonial troops were the Eritrean Ascari, as stated by Italian Marshall Rodolfo Graziani and officer Amedeo Guillet .
Asmara was populated by a large Italian community and the city acquired an Italian architectural look. One of the first building was the Asmara President's Office: this former "Italian government's palace" was built in 1897 by Ferdinando Martini, the first Italian governor of Eritrea. The Italian government wanted to create in Asmara an impressive building, from where the Italian Governors could show the dedication of the Kingdom of Italy to the "colonia primogenita" (first daughter-colony) as was called Eritrea.
Today Asmara is worldwide known for its early twentieth-century Italian buildings, including the Art Deco Cinema Impero, "Cubist" Africa Pension, eclectic Orthodox Cathedral and former Opera House, the futurist Fiat Tagliero Building, neo-Romanesque Roman Catholic Cathedral, and the neoclassical Governor's Palace. The city is littered with Italian colonial villas and mansions. Most of central Asmara was built between 1935 and 1941, so effectively the Italians managed to build almost an entire city, in just six years.
The city of Asmara had a population of 98,000, of which 53,000 were Italians according to the Italian census of 1939. This fact made Asmara the main "Italian town" of the Italian empire in Africa.In all Eritrea the Italian Eritreans were 75,000 in that year.
Many industrial investments were done by the Italians in the area of Asmara and Massawa, but the beginning of World War II stopped the blossoming industrialization of Eritrea. When the British army conquered Eritrea from the Italians in spring 1941, most of the infrastructures and the industrial areas were extremely damaged.
The biggest extension of Eritrea was reached during the Italian empire (1936–1941), when northern parts of conquered Ethiopia were assigned to Eritrea by the Italians as a reward for the Eritrean "Ascaris'" help in the conquest of Ethiopia
The following Italian guerrilla war was supported by many Eritrean colonial troops until the Italian armistice in September 1943. Eritrea was placed under British military administration after the Italian surrender in World War II.
The Italian Eritreans strongly rejected the Ethiopian annexation of Eritrea after the war: the Party of Shara Italy was established in Asmara in July 1947 and the majority of the members were former Italian soldiers with many Eritrean Ascari (the organization was even backed up by the government of Italy). The main objective of this party was Eritrea freedom but they had a pre-condition that stated that before independence the country should be governed by Italy for at least 15 years (like happened with Italian Somalia).
British administration and federalizationEdit
British forces defeated the Italian army in Eritrea in 1941 at the Battle of Keren and placed the colony under British military administration until Allied forces could determine its fate. The first thing the British did was to remove the Eritrean industries (of Asmara and Massawa) to Kenya, as war compensation. They even dismantled parts of the Eritrean Railway system.
In the absence of agreement amongst the Allies concerning the status of Eritrea, British administration continued for the remainder of World War II and until 1950. During the immediate postwar years, the British proposed that Eritrea be divided along religious lines and parceled off to Sudan and Ethiopia. The Soviet Union, anticipating a communist victory in the Italian polls, initially supported returning Eritrea to Italy under trusteeship or as a colony. Arab states, seeing Eritrea and its large Muslim population as an extension of the Arab world, sought the establishment of an independent state.
Ethiopian ambition in the Horn was apparent in the expansionist ambition of its monarch when Haile Selassie claimed Italian Somaliland and Eritrea. He made this claim in a letter to Franklin D. Roosevelt, at the Paris Peace Conference and at the First Session of the United Nations. In the United Nations the debate over the fate of the former Italian colonies continued. The British and Americans preferred to cede Eritrea to the Ethiopians as a reward for their support during World War II. "The United States and the United Kingdom have (similarly) agreed to support the cession to Ethiopia of all of Eritrea except the Western province. The United States has given assurances to Ethiopia in this regard." The Independence Bloc of Eritrean parties consistently requested from the UN General Assembly that a referendum be held immediately to settle the Eritrean question of sovereignty.
A United Nations (UN) commission was dispatched to the former colony in February 1950 in the absence of Allied agreement and in the face of Eritrean demands for self-determination. It was also at this juncture that the US Ambassador to the UN, John Foster Dulles, said, "From the point of view of justice, the opinions of the Eritrean people must receive consideration. Nevertheless the strategic interest of the United States in the Red Sea basin and the considerations of security and world peace make it necessary that the country has to be linked with our ally Ethiopia." The Ambassador's word choice, along with the estimation of the British Ambassador in Addis Ababa, makes quite clear the fact that the Eritrea aspiration was for Independence.
The commission proposed the establishment of some form of association with Ethiopia, and the UN General Assembly adopted that proposal along with a provision terminating British administration of Eritrea no later than September 15, 1952. The British, faced with a deadline for leaving, held elections on March 16, 1952, for a representative Assembly of 68 members, evenly divided between Christians and Muslims. This body in turn accepted a draft constitution put forward by the UN commissioner on July 10. On September 11, 1952, Emperor Haile Selassie ratified the constitution. The Representative Assembly subsequently became the Eritrean Assembly. In 1952 the United Nations resolution to federate Eritrea with Ethiopia went into effect.
The resolution ignored the wishes of Eritreans for independence, but guaranteed the population some democratic rights and a measure of autonomy. Some scholars have contended that the issue was a religious issue, between the Muslim lowland population desiring independence while the highland Christian population sought a union with Ethiopia. Other scholars, including the former Attorney-General of Ethiopia, Bereket Habte Selassie, contend that, "religious tensions here and there...were exploited by the British, [but] most Eritreans (Christians and Moslems) were united in their goal of freedom and independence." Almost immediately after the federation went into effect, however, these rights began to be abridged or violated. These pleas for independence and referendum augured poorly for the US, Britain and Ethiopia, as a confidential American estimate of Independence Party support amounted to 75% of Eritrea.
The details of Eritrea's association with Ethiopia were established by the UN General Assembly resolution of September 15, 1952. It called for Eritrea and Ethiopia to be linked through a loose federal structure under the sovereignty of the Emperor. Eritrea was to have its own administrative and judicial structure, its own flag, and control over its domestic affairs, including police, local administration, and taxation. The federal government, which for all intents and purposes was the existing imperial government, was to control foreign affairs (including commerce), defense, finance, and transportation. As a result of a long history of a strong landowning peasantry and the virtual absence of serfdom in most parts of Eritrea, the bulk of Eritreans had developed a distinct sense of cultural identity and superiority vis-à-vis Ethiopians. This combined with the introduction of modern democracy into Eritrea by the British administration gave Eritreans a desire for political freedoms alien to Ethiopian political tradition. From the start of the federation, however, Haile Selassie attempted to undercut Eritrea’s independent status, a policy that alienated many Eritreans. The Emperor pressured Eritrea’s elected chief executive to resign, made Amharic the official language in place of Arabic and Tigrinya, terminated the use of the Eritrean flag, imposed censorship, and moved many businesses out of Eritrea. Finally, in 1962 Haile Selassie pressured the Eritrean Assembly to abolish the Federation and join the Imperial Ethiopian fold, much to the dismay of those in Eritrea who favored a more liberal political order.
War for independenceEdit
Main article: Eritrean War of Independence
Map of Eritrea attached to Ethiopia.
Militant opposition to the incorporation of Eritrea into Ethiopia had begun in 1958 with the founding of the Eritrean Liberation Movement (ELM), an organization made up mainly of students, intellectuals, and urban wage laborers. The ELM, under the leadership of Hamid Idris Awate, a former Eritrean Ascari, engaged in clandestine political activities intended to cultivate resistance to the centralizing policies of the imperial Ethiopian state. By 1962, however, the ELM had been discovered and destroyed by imperial authorities.
Emperor Haile Selassie unilaterally dissolved the Eritrean parliament and annexed the country in 1962. The war continued after Haile Sellassie was ousted in a coup in 1974. The Derg, the new Ethiopian government, was a Marxist military junta led by strongman Mengistu Haile Mariam.
During the 1960s, the Eritrean independence struggle was led by the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF). In 1960 Eritrean exiles in Cairo founded the Eritrean Liberation Front. In contrast to the ELM, from the outset the ELF was bent on waging armed struggle on behalf of Eritrean independence. The ELF was composed mainly of Eritrean Muslims from the rural lowlands on the western edge of the territory. In 1961 the ELF's political character was vague, but radical Arab states such as Syria and Iraq sympathized with Eritrea as a predominantly Muslim region struggling to escape Ethiopian oppression and imperial domination. These two countries therefore supplied military and financial assistance to the ELF.
The ELF initiated military operations in 1961 and intensified its activities in response to the dissolution of the federation in 1962. By 1967 the ELF had gained considerable support among peasants, particularly in Eritrea's north and west, and around the port city of Massawa. Haile Selassie attempted to calm the growing unrest by visiting Eritrea and assuring its inhabitants that they would be treated as equals under the new arrangements. Although he doled out offices, money, and titles mainly to Christian highlanders in the hope of co-opting would-be Eritrean opponents in early 1967, the imperial secret police of Ethiopia also set up a wide network of informants in Eritrea and conducted disappearances, intimidations and assassinations among the same populace driving several prominent political figures into exile. Imperial police fired live ammunition killing scores of youngsters during several student demonstrations in Asmara in this time. The imperial army also actively perpetrated massacres until the ousting of the Emperor by the Derg in 1974.
By 1971 ELF activity had become enough of a threat that the emperor had declared martial law in Eritrea. He deployed roughly half of the Ethiopian army to contain the struggle. Internal disputes over strategy and tactics eventually led to the ELF's fragmentation and the founding in 1972 of the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF). The leadership of this multi-ethnic movement came to be dominated by leftist, Christian dissidents who spoke Tigrinya, Eritrea's predominant language. Sporadic armed conflict ensued between the two groups from 1972 to 1974, even as they fought Ethiopian forces. By the late 1970s, the EPLF had become the dominant armed Eritrean group fighting against the Ethiopian Government, and Isaias Afewerki had emerged as its leader. Much of the material used to combat Ethiopia was captured from the army.
By 1977 the EPLF was poised to drive the Ethiopians out of Eritrea. However, that same year a massive airlift of Soviet arms to Ethiopia enabled the Ethiopian Army to regain the initiative and forced the EPLF to retreat to the bush. Between 1978 and 1986 the Derg launched eight unsuccessful major offensives against the independence movement. In 1988 the EPLF captured Afabet, headquarters of the Ethiopian Army in northeastern Eritrea, putting approximately a third of the Ethiopian Army out of action, prompting the Ethiopian Army to withdraw from its garrisons in Eritrea's western lowlands. EPLF fighters then moved into position around Keren, Eritrea's second-largest city. Meanwhile, other dissident movements were making headway throughout Ethiopia. At the end of the 1980s the Soviet Union informed Mengistu that it would not be renewing its defense and cooperation agreement. With the withdrawal of Soviet support and supplies, the Ethiopian Army's morale plummeted, and the EPLF, along with other Ethiopian rebel forces, began to advance on Ethiopian positions. In 1980 the Permanent Peoples' Tribunal determined that the right of the Eritrean people to self-determination does not represent a form of secession.