THIS DAY IN HISTORY: 2nd May 1936By Amma Fosuah Poku
5/2/2012 1:29:17 PM -
Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974, was forced into exile, travelling by train from the capital, Addis Ababa, to Djibouti and then on to the United Kingdom (UK), where he settled in the south western city of Bath.
Haile Selassie fled due to the advancing Italian army, which had invaded Ethiopia in October 1935 in what is know as the Second Italo-Abyssinian War (the first led by Menelik II was won in 1896). From May 1936 Ethiopia was subject to Italian military occupation and annexed with Eritrea and Italian Somaliland to create the colony of Italian East Africa.
The invasion of Ethiopia galvanised outrage from fellow Africans around the world. For instance C.L.R. James, George Padmore, Amy Ashwood Garvey, Sam Manning, Ras Makonnen, I. T. A. Wallace-Johnson, Jomo Kenyatta other political activists based in London, UK, started the International African Friends of Ethiopia to mobilise support. Africans from elsewhere in the continent and diaspora volunteered to fight alongside Ethiopian troops, but were denied permission by colonial powers (including the United States).
Haile Selassie spent five years living in exile, returning to Ethiopia on 18th January 1941 via Sudan. Within four months Ethiopian resistance fighters, aided by British forces, were able to completely liberate the country from Italy, enabling Haile Selassie to entered Addis Ababa on 5th May to much jubilation and euphoria. In a statement to the people of Ethiopia he proclaimed:
"Today is the day on which we defeated our enemy. Therefore, when we say let us rejoice with our hearts...take care not to spoil the good name of Ethiopia by acts which are worthy of the enemy. We shall see that our enemies are disarmed and sent out the same way they came."
The following video is colonial newsreel about the Second Italo-Abyssinian War:
"Always bear in mind that people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone's head. They are fighting to win material benefits to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children." Amilcar Cabral