State Dinner For Emperor Haile Sellassie
Ambassador Hotel,Accra, December 1, 1960
My regret is that, it is not possible for Your Imperial Majesty to stay as lo with us as we would have wished, but I dare to express the hope that this visit our country will surely not be the last.
In 1958, I held the great honour of being welcomed by Your Imperial Majesty in Addis Ababa shortly after the first Conference of Independent African States. I was impressed then with the spectacular beauty of Ethiopian and the remarkable progress being made in the fields of economic and social development under your distinguished leadership. I was also honoured with the opportunity to discuss with Your Imperial Majesty, problems concerning relations between Ghana and Ethiopian and the African continent as a whole. I am sure that Your Imperial Majesty will agree that these discussions have borne fruit in the increasing, vitality of the relations between our two states and the warmth of feeling that exists between our peoples. There has been for some time an exchange of diplomatic representation at the Embassy level in our two countries. There are Ghanaian students studying in higher institutions in Ethiopia under a scholarship scheme which Your Imperial Majesty was gracious enough to sponsor personally. Recently also, the Ethiopian Airlines have inaugurated a service between Ghana and Ethiopia under a Civil Aviation Agreement reached between our two Governments. This service and the service which the Ghana Airways will establish very shortly will serve to make the peoples our two states better acquainted with one another and help to forge even more closely the links between us. It is our hope too that it will be the beginning of an ever increasing economic traffic between Ethiopia and Ghana to our mutual advantage.
Your Imperial Majesty, I cannot express in words adequate to the occasion, the emotional feelings aroused in the breast of every Ghanaian which your visit has invoked. Ethiopia, because of her existence as an ancient and Free State in Africa and the oldest continuously independent country in our continent, has always stood as a symbol of our political aspirations as a people. Ethiopia in our minds has stood for African freedom, African independence, African dignity and African self respect. Even when we were not free, the struggle of Ethiopia to maintain her independence and integrity was regarded by us as our struggle. We always felt that so long as Ethiopia remained free, there was hope that we too would be free.
I remember so vividly how inflamed I became, when as an ardent African nationalist in Liverpool in 1935, I was greeted one morning by the glaring front page headlines of the British press: "Mussolini Invades Ethiopia." Your Imperial Majesty, we have not forgotten the excruciating experience which you and your people had to suffer when the Fascist dictator Mussolini waged his treacherous war against Ethiopia. We remember how you trustingly placed your faith in the good intention of the League of Nations and how that trust was betrayed, because the leading nations within the League used the organisation as an instrument of vacillation to cover their acceptance of Italy’s imperialism.
Believing that the League of Nations was sincere in its aim to guarantee the independence and territorial integrity of all the nations of the world, it was natural that Your Imperial Majesty should turn to it as arbiter in your dilemma. However, the appeals which you made on the 14th December, 1934, on the 3rd January, 1935, and on the 17th March, 1935, all went unheeded.
The great powers which then dominated the League looked idly on while Mussolini sent troops and arms to East Africa through the Suez Canal. While Your Imperial Majesty continued to place your trust in the League, you were forced to witness the intrigues which your enemy was conducting with those who purported to be the guardians of the sovereign integrity of Ethiopia.
Your Imperial Majesty sought to uphold the prestige of international organisation for peace. As you have so proudly declared, you stood "guard in the last citadel of collective security." Today, we, the independent States of Africa, I have also placed our trust in an international organisation whose covenant guarantees the integrity of small nations before the onslaught of the more powerful: The United Nations Organisation.
I am constrained to declare at this point, however, that the colonial countries are conspiring against Congolese independence and territorial integrity. They are using both the United Nation and its flag to carry out their plan. The situation as it exists in the Congo today is so serious that it calls for concerted action on the part of the African countries in complete solidarity to support a unified policy.
History has taught us and present events in Africa are endorsing this teaching — that we, the people of Africa must look to ourselves, to our unity and to the consolidation of our common interests. If we fail to do so, we can never hope to defeat the forces of colonialism and imperialism that are aligned against us to impoverish and subjugate us.
Your Imperial Majesty’s interest in the African cause is of long standing and well known. The stand taken by Ethiopia in the struggle to free Africa from her imperialist and colonial shackles has been one of the most creditable in the history of our continent.
I recall the immediate response Your Imperial Majesty gave to my call in 1958 for a Conference of Independent African States. The importance which you attached to this Conference is evidenced by the fact that you deputed no less a person than your son, His Imperial Highness Prince Sahle-Sellassie Haile Selassie, to lead the Ethiopian Delegation. His Imperial Highness endeared himself to the whole of Africa and of Ghana in particular by his performance at this historic Conference. During the closing session of the Conference, he echoed in a statement, what was in the hearts of all of us; "Africa has spoken, it is for the rest of the world to respond." The historical developments of Africa since that Conference indicates that the rest of the world has indeed responded favourably to the African demand for Freedom, Unity and Independence.
Your Imperial Majesty will recall that at the time of the first Conference, there were only eight independent truly African states. It is remarkable to observe that at the time of the second Conference, which Your Imperial Majesty did Africa the signal honour of sponsoring in your capital, held in June this year, no less than twelve states were independent. Now there are twenty-five independent states in Africa and I know that it is Your Imperial Majesty’s confident expectation, as it is mine that it will not be long before all Africa is free.
The task ahead is however likely to be more difficult than it has been so far. The colonialists and imperialists in Africa are doing their damnedest to strengthen their foot-hold in our continent and are using all kinds of intrigue and subterfuge to achieve their aim. Now more than ever before therefore, the independent African states should speak in unison and should act with a concerted effort to rid this continent of the remaining vestiges of colonialism and imperialism. I am confident that we shall not fail in our duty to our brothers who are still struggling to be free. The numerical strength of African states in the United Nations has made us a force to be reckoned with in International affairs.
African states have taken their stand and spoken unequivocally on matters of particular concern to the integrity and independence the security and the economic well-being of Africa. The Congo situation is a matter of deep concern to all of us and each day unfolds further grave developments fraught with danger for all Africa. The Algerian war, the intention of France to use African soil as a testing ground for her atomic bombs, the South African policy of apartheid and other major world issues to which Africa cannot close her eyes, are matters in which the voice of Africa is becoming increasingly effective.
But political independence is meaningless, unless it is underpinned by economic independence. Most of Africa is still in a developing stage. It is in this context that we in Ghana have stood for African union because we believe that unless we can act in unity in the political context, we are in danger of succumbing to new forms of colonialism and imperialism. This is a matter which is very dear to my heart and I am sure that Your Imperial Majesty and I will have the opportunity to discuss what can be done by our two countries together to achieve the common objective of political and economic freedom.
I am sure that Your Imperial Majesty will appreciate in our discussions where Ghana stands in her foreign policy. We have always stood for a policy of positive neutralism and non-alignment. We stand neither for the East nor for the West. The only direction in which we move is forward. Forward to a society of people in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all. We stand for Africa and for Africans. We feel that in our circumstances, this is the only realistic policy to adopt in the interests of African independence, progress and security.
Your Imperial Majesty, it will be my pleasure while you are here to show you some of the progress we have made in the economic, social and technological development of our country. We are so young that I cannot have much to show you, but I hope that Your Imperial Majesty will be impressed with the little I may be able to show you.
I wish to assure Your Imperial Majesty that we do not regard you as a stranger here. You are in your home in fact, you are in your own house. We look upon you as our elder brother and statesman. We wish you a happy stay among us and hope that when you leave, you will be able to take back with you happy memories of your visit to Ghana.
In commemoration of Your Imperial Majesty’s visit to Ghana, and in furtherance of the cultural links between our two countries, I have pleasure in informing Your Imperial Majesty of my decision to award four scholarships to students from Ethiopia to study in institutions in Ghana. Two of these scholarships will be tenable at the University College and two at the Kumasi College of Technology, both of which institutions Your Imperial Majesty will be visiting during the course of your stay in Ghana.
And now, Your Imperial Majesty, I come to a very pleasant duty, which is to present to you on behalf of ‘the Government and people of this country, a mark of our appreciation of your visit to Ghana. I have the honour to bestow on His Imperial Majesty, membership of the Most Exalted Order of the Star of Africa, which is the highest of our Ghanaian awards. I have great pleasure also in awarding to certain members of your suite the following Ghanaian Honours:
To be Commanders of the Order of the Volta
Her Highness Princess Aida Desta
His Excellency Tsehaii Teezaz Aklilou Abte Wold,
Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Pen.
His Excellency Ras Mesfin Selashi, Deputy Govemor-General of Shoa.
To be Officers of the Order of the Volta
His Excellency Tsehafi Teezaz Teferra Worg
Minister of the Imperial Court.
His Excellency Dedjazmatch Asfaha Woldemicael, Chief Administrator of Erithrea.
His Excellency Mr. Mesfin Begashet, Ethiopian Ambassador to Ghana.
Your Imperial Majesty, it is a matter of much regret t0 me that Her Imperial Majesty the Empress has been unable to accompany you on this visit. It is a great disappointment to all of us, particularly to the ladies of our community. I would entreat Your Imperial Majesty to convey to the Empress our warm good wishes and our hope that for many years to come both of you will enjoy increased health and happiness.
I can never forget the warmth of the welcome, the generous hospitality and the very many kindnesses bestowed upon me by Your Imperial Majesty and Her Imperial Majesty, the Empress when I had the good fortune to visit Ethiopia. The days that I spent in your very lovely country will always be remembered by me with deep appreciation and affection.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the toast of His Imperial Majesty Haile Sellassie, The First, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Elect of God, Emperor of Ethiopia.