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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - September 6, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta g _ THl IfTHSRIDGE HERALD 6, Interview with an emperor Problems on the road to the 20th centurj ii n in Haul thp cnno al- must remember that although ]people fully cnpable of run SVn.re'ai-e re- be became regent twentieth-cenlury State. COLIN London Obsi'ivcr ADDIS ABABA Criticisms of Emperor Hailo Selassie which he finds hard to under- stand are no longer conttncxl to Ethiopia's younger genera- lion of radicals who have be- come more vocal iiv the last decade; one finds these views echoed now even among an in- fluential class of aristocrats t h e "blue-blood Ethiopians." This attitude reflects a new mood of change in the country --a heightened bensc of expec- tancy sharped by an almost na- tional sense of frustration and of anxiety about Ethiopia's fu- ture. Few doubt that the old Ethi- opia will finally disappear with the last of (he country's great Emperors: what remains in doubt is how this change will occur, and for how much long- er the Emperor's long rule wil continue The most probable answer is that it will continue until he dies or until he lose his mental faculties. But he could well go on for another 10 or more. Tlie question most widely discussed is vhcthcr Ethiopia can afford to vait so long without euctanger- ng Hie country's future. Nobody any longer believes hat a military coup is pos- ible; the failure of the last one in showed how se- curely the Emperor sits on his hrone; besides, the action aken since then has made fur- her coups difficult, if not im- rassible. to contemplate. AUMKD CAMP Not only is military power divided between a number of 'orces with no effective central command, but the entire coun- try is an armed camp. There arc probably over one million guns in Ihe hands of Ethiopi- ans, and an estimated to in the capital alone of them modern auto- matic weapons. There is no harsh oppression; only constant vigilance. Public executions n feature of an older Ethiopia have not been used since the 1MO coup, al- though there are occasional re- ports of this happening in the remoter areas. Most trouble those days comes from the stu- dents; at present about of them are distributed in work camps around the country: but, on the whole, the Emperor ends to favor a policy of for- giveness after administering a iriet lesson of "correction." Although the younger and more radical Ethiopians will ticar none of it, it is undeniably irue that' Haile Selassie is the maker of modern Ethiopia. He .as been a cautious but, in his own way, a radical reformer. He look over the old and still fragmented Empire and brought it from its isolated and medieval state fully into twen- tieth-century Africa. Could he have done more, perhaps moved faster, and made Elhi- opia inlo one of the economi- cally more, rather than less advanced countries of the con tinent? In evaluating his role one must remember that although became regent in 1910, vhcn he was still only 25, his [fective control over Ethiopia really began only in 1914 when Uursolini's i n v a d ing Italians were finally driven out. Ethiopia's rise to being in any sense a modern State has therefore occurred only in the last SO years. Whatever its im- jerfeclions, Ethiopia has come a long way forward from its re-' cent history of slavery, isola- tion, and the unchallenged rieht of the rases and their armies to plunder their provinces. Tt now has the foundations if not yet the fully working institu- tions of a modern, central- ized State. It has a written Con- stitution, a Cabinet and a Par- liament which, though still un- representative, is beginning to assert itself. It has a. Civil Ser- vice, a system of modern edu- cation and of courts. It has the beginnings of a modern com- mercial and economic system, and, above all, it has a fairly large number of well-qualified people fully capable of running a twentieth-century State. NOW NATION Apart from finally putting an end to the powerful, warring provincial warlords, the Em- wror has successfully planted he concept of su Ethiopian na- ion. Flowing through his own veins is the blood of many of Ethiopia's tribes including ,hal of the Gurage, who were despised as interiors. By personally arranging inter- marriage among his own fam- ily and among those of other leading families, he has done his best lo fuse Ihe tribes of Ethiopia. His policies have pro- gressively led to diminishing the once powerful supremacy of the Shoan Highlands. However, there still remain serious gaps in this effort to build a unified nation not- ably in live case of the Eritreans (where the rebellion has caused deep and, some say, irreparable and in winning the confident sup- port of the large Muslim com- At 80? Selassie still every inch an emperor HAILE SELASSIE munities. There are serious problems; but they are not in- surmountable given wise leadership. There are other serious prob- lems needing vigorous leader- ship, such as the still un- tackled problem of effective land reform to relieve the peasants of their present harsh conditions; the need to harness effectively the frustrated mod- em-minded newer generation of Ethiopians; and to decen- tralize power in the provinces and the villages. ADDIS ABABA Through- out a conversation lasting an hour Haile Selassie never once changes his position. He sits, stiffly upright a taunt, tiny figure only two inches over five feet perched on the very edge of his soft armchair in tlie Grand Palace of Menellk, lis left foot pushed out about our inches in front of his right Go ahead. Go on that house beautiful spree now, After all, we've _ certainly made sure you can afford it. That's Simpsons-Sears for you. Mow S3 SX.98 pr. up. Dramatic lemT 100% knitted polyester, wash, drip dry. magenta, black, green, melon. Iglh. Now .IS 4 Pr. wtilh. 60" 60" 60" pr. up 114" 116" 63" 81" 95" 63" 84" 95" Reg. 6.98 S 8.98 9.98 S11.98 SI 4.98 Sa 4.19 5.79 7.49 8.39 12.39 13.99 NOW pr. up pr. up Cotton tiers Avocado, melon, gotd. toppers Reg. Pair valance Rtg. 13.19......2.79 A 90 NOW f.fcOpr. up pr. up Sheer polyester ninon tiers tappers Rog. pr. up pair "P Valance (Not illustrated! Reg. 2.69 NOW 1 1 m pr. Reg. pr. up look shorty drapes Semi sneer hojwack shorty drapes Seg. pr. up 6.69 pair up 7.99 Twin. NOW m-Re0. Reversible comforter Gold, rose blue. Reg. Rag 417.98----- 13.99 70 x NOW 3.88 Flannefette sheet Cot Ion. r e n, rose stripe on while. 1-80x100" Reg. 4.88 NOW and duck pillowi Feather proof cotton tick- Ing, corded edges for extra Dept. and linen Simpsons-Sears Dependable merchandise at sensible prices. Quality Costs No More at Simpsons-Sears STORE HOURS: Open Daily 9 a.m. TO' p.m. Thursday and Friday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Centre Village. Telephone 328-9231 oot as if poised to rise on he instant. His only movement s a slow, sensuous touching o! sensitive fitters pressed light- y together. His skin is dark-brown; his hair, short neat beard and drooping moustache are 'rizzly grey When Lie looks at you directly his lively brown eyes seem to penetrate right into your deepest thoughts. No one can feel safe harboring se- crets from him. The Dejazmatch Balcha the last of the warlords to op- pose young Haile Selassip in his final bid to consolidate his power in 1926 said ruefully of the Emperor as he entered a monastery to do lifelong pen- ance: "He creeps like a mouse and he has the jaws of a lion." It perfectly sums up this small, compact, watchful, appealing figure with the gut qualities of the true warrior. In his pres ence even the toughest of rebels become courtiers. The answers he gives to questions submitted in au- vance of an interview are hardly ever free of ambiguity; even a spontaneous question draws a mystifying reply. "After 20 years of visiting the 1 began my inter- view in courtier style, "I still feel baffled by Ethiopia, but my friends here seek to reas- sure me by saying there is only one man who is not: Your spicuous feature of Ethiopian life. Tliose seeking favors perhaps the wish for a dip- lomatic post, forgiveness for some misdemeanor, or a re- quest for personal help plead for a chance to put their case before the only source of pat- ronage in the country. Haile Selassie's Imperial Court is slill reminiscent of the Court of Louis XIV. Then, at midday, the scene shifts back several thousand years to the Court of Sol- omon. Every weekday, from 12 to one, the Emperor goes out nto the grounds of the ram- jling palace when he is re- quired to stand (or an hour to dispense personal justice at the Chelot. (Tuesdays are reserved for women The court is open lo every subject in the land. Daily, hundreds of "most htimble" peonle rnnnv of whom travel hundreds of miles in the grounds liently to await their turn to outline. their grievances to their sovereign. It maytake them weeks or even months be- fore they are finally called: but they come back day after day until their turn finally the Chelot. is symbolic value j Majesty. "He gives a wry little smile and replies very softly in English: "Ethiopia is a mys- tery in the hands of God." BECOMES CRITIC His answer, though playful, is a clue to his character for he is deeply fatalistic and ly religious. One of the men who knows him who has become in recent years one of his severest crit- ics said when I repeated this bit of our conversation to him: "The Emperor is a genuinely devout Christian. Never in our history has there been a sov- ereign who has so truly hum- bled himself before God. I be- j lieve his strength and his suc- cess comes from the way he really goes down on his kneusly observes. Promptly at a.m. t h rime minister and other no ables arrive a! the Jubilee Pa ace for the first of the tw daily levees. The larger on akes place in Menelik's 01 Palace at Everybody any real consequence in th capital is expected to put requenl attendances at th daily ritual to show loyalty the Emperor and to win h lotice and possibly his favor le h a s an extraordinary "acuity lor" remembering who fails to attend. After half an hour of hloding court, the Em- peror moves into council. CRUCIAL HOUn.S The next two hours are the most'crucial; it is the time ol day when the aging Em- peror's mind is still al its freshest and most lucid. Ex- cept when there are important foreign visitors to Deceive (or claimant journalists) the pal- ace minister smooth and bald and unsmiling valcls relays of ministers, senior offi- cials, army officers and a bevy of palncc courtiers ir.to the Emperor's presence and strictly supervises their time. The prime minister, Aklilou Ilapte Wold a Sorbonno graduate and a shrewd court- ier and his ministers seek anxiously lo get as much of this time as they can, to put cabinet decisions before the Emperor; without his approval nobody has any real authority to act on major decisions. The courtiers take up much of this time to pass on political intelli- gence and the ordinary gossip they have garnered from all parts of the country and from the outside world which en- ables the Emperor to keep tabs on the intrigues which have always been such con- SYMBOLIC Nowadays, largely of since it is physically impoa- ble for cases to be heard and mpleted in> this simple fash- n; most are, in fact, referred the modern courts which ex- t all over the country if ill only in rudimentary fash- n in the countryside. But is personal relationship be- veen the Emperor and his injects still symbolizes tlie ght of every Ethiopian to DO card at court. At one o'clock the Emperor eturns to his Jubilee Palace r another frugal meal and to est until 4 p.m. The next hour another Important one for hose who have the good for- unc to engage the ear of the ested Emperor; it is 'he hour lost sought by the prime min- ter to transact any impor- ant business that has stood ver from the morning. At five o'clock driven by is chauffeur, a major-general the Emperor sets forth for is afternoon tour of the capi- al. He visiLi factories, hospi- als, orphanages and new pro- ects, or just wanders around nspecting sites such as the lew international airport. The online never changes. By he is back in the Jubilee Pal- ace to spend half an hour feed- r.g his large menagerie ot ani- mals. He relaxes best with ani- mals and is never separated :or a minute from his chihuahuas Chichivi two and [nkulul, the son of Lulu, his fa- mous companion for almost 14 years. After a quick bath he spends n hour with his favorite daughter, Princess T i n a n a Worq described by some as Ethiopia's "other prime minis- ter." With her he discusses all that has happened during the day and she can be relied upon to express her own strong views on the advice offered by Ihe prime minister and her fa- ther's other advisers. She is to- day the Emperor's closest con- fidante and undoubtedly a pow- er in Ihe land. Not unnaturally she has many powerful ene- mies among those who regard her influence with jealousy. She tirelessly visits hermit! and seers in the remotest monasteries in the land gather- ing their prophecies and thoughts for the Emperor. FAMILY DINNER At p.m. the Emperor sfe town to dinner with as many of his family as happen to be In the capital. They are a rich and varied company, including his sons-in-law, three of whom hold powerful positions as pro- vincial governor generals, a grandson Prince Iskander Desta Ihe Commander of the navy; the young Duke of Har- rar, a still undisciplined young tearaway, who has only recent- ly returned after completing his education in Europe, and his equally wayward younger brother fresh from Sandhurst ind a course with the Cana- dian Air Force. Finaliv he re- tires to bed at 10 p.m. For a man of 80 some say he is rclually 83 this is a strenuous routine; but phys- ically he is still in marvellous condition. H i s personal phys- ician, a Yugoslav doctor, spends more time on the other members of the Royal family than on the Emperor. The Emperor's habits have changed little with advancing age. What has become more marked in recent years is his growing devotion to animals. He has always liked spending his weekends motoring in tlie countryside around Addis Ababa, ;