“Ethiopia Shall Rise” by Kwame Nkrumah

Nkrumah's sculpture at the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum in Accra
Nkrumah’s sculpture at the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum in Accra

President Kwame Nkrumah, the great, and first president of Ghana once wrote a poem on Ethiopia. Kwame Nkrumah was the mind behind the creation of the Organisation of African Unity (Organisation de l’Union Africaine) which has become the African Union (Union Africaine). He believed in the unity of Africa, not just economic, but in the cooperation within the different states, and their independence. So here is his poem entitled ‘Ethiopia shall rise‘. Remember that Ethiopia is the only African country which was never colonized by Europeans, and as such is the siege of the African Union. Here is his entire speech followed by his poem. In reality, in his eyes, Ethiopia symbolizes the whole of Africa, and his wish is for Africa to rise again! Enjoy!

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Addis Ababa, May 25, 1963
YOUR; IMPERIAL MAJESTY, MR. CHAIRMAN, YOUR EXCELLENCIES BROTHERS AND FRIENDS,

Ethiopia_flag
Flag of Ethiopia

We have come to the end of a historic and momentous Conference. The decisions we have taken here have made African Unity a reality and we can see clearly a Union Government of Africa in the horizon.

This is the goal which we set ourselves when we struggled in our separate States for Independence. It is also the compelling force which brought us together in Addis Ababa.

As I have said over and over again, the independence of our separate State is meaningless, unless the whole of Africa becomes free and united.

chains
broken chains

The resolutions we have made here are a symbol of our determination to become united and to remain united in an African Community with common aspirations and common objectives. Freedom Fighters in all parts of our Continent can now be assured that they are not alone in their struggle. The whole weight and power of a united Africa is behind them.

After centuries of colonial exploitation and domination, Africa has been re- born. We have discovered our common identity, a force with which we can re-assert our African personality.

Menelik_II_ethiopia
Emperor Menelik II, of Ethiopia

We shall from now on think, plan and work together for the progress and development of our great Continent. In this way, we shall eliminate completely the handicaps, set-backs and humiliation we have suffered under colonialism and imperialism.

We should be happy that at long last, by the adoption of this Charter, we have seen the end of the various groupings and regional blocs. It only remains for me, Your Majesty, on behalf of my colleagues to convey to the Government and people of Ethiopia especially to His Imperial Majesty, my sincere expression of gratitude for a happy and memorable stay in Addis Ababa.

The ancient Greeks identified Ethiopia with the Black Race. I would therefore like to leave with you a little poem on this:

 

Ethiopia shall rise

Ethiopia, Africa’s bright gem
Set high among the verdant hills
That gave birth to the unfailing
Waters of the Nile
Ethiopia shall rise
Ethiopia, land of the wise;
Ethiopia, bold cradle of Africa’s ancient rule
And fertile school
Of our African culture;
Ethiopia, the wise
Shall rise
And remould with us the full figure
Of Africa’s hopes
And destiny.

Kwame Nkrumah

Why the Name: Addis Ababa?

Map of Ethiopia
Map of Ethiopia

I have often wondered about the meaning of the name Addis Ababa or Addis Abeba, the capital of Ethiopia.  The name always sounded so poetic, and full of beauty somehow.

You can imagine my surprise when I found out that the name of the largest city of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa or Addis Abeba, actually meant “New Flower.”  No wonder the sound of it was always so pretty.

The region where Addis Ababa is founded is called Finfinne, or Natural Springs, by the local Oromo population; it is an area rich with fauna and flora.  In the southwest, can be found Mount Wachacha, and in the north Mount Entoto.  Before the foundation of Addis Ababa, Emperor Menelik II and the empress Taytu Betul were installed in the area of Mount Entoto as it was used a military base for operations in the south of the realm; however that area had a rude climate, was cold, and very windy.  So the imperial couple used to visit the thermal sources of Filwoha, hot mineral springs, located at a lower altitude.

Empress Taytu Betul
Empress Taytu Betul

In 1886, while Empress Taytu Betul was admiring the landscape, she saw a flower of rare beauty.  Enchanted by the nice climate, she asked her spouse, Emperor Menelik II, to build her a house in the area.  Menelik II agreed and promised Taytu to build her a residence there.  The choice of the precise location of Addis Ababa followed the prophecy of Menelik II’s grandfather, Sahle Selassie, Negus of Shewa from 1813 to 1847.  During a game of chess, Sahle Selassie declared: “This country is covered with scrub and vegetation, but the day will come when my grandson will build a house here, and will found a city.”  Menelik II founded the city at the exact location where his grandfather was practicing fencing.  The name was Empress Taytu’s choice: she had been stunned by that beautiful flower she had never seen before, hence she named the city Addis Ababa, or “New Flower” in Amharic.

Emperor Menelik II
Emperor Menelik II

Menelik expanded his wife’s house to become the Imperial Palace which remains the seat of government in Addis Ababa today.  Addis Ababa became Ethiopia’s capital when Menelik II became Emperor of Ethiopia.  The town grew by leaps and bounds.  One of Emperor Menelik II’s contributions still visible today is the planting of numerous eucalyptus trees along the city’s streets.  The city lies at an altitude of 2300 meters, and is a grassland biome.

Following all the major engagements of their invasion, Italian troops from the colony of Eritrea entered Addis Ababa on 5 May 1936.  Along with Dire Dawa, the city had been spared the aerial bombardment (including the use of chemical weapons such as mustard gas) practiced elsewhere and its railway to Djibouti remained intact.  The city served as the Duke of Aosta‘s capital for the unified colony of Italian East Africa until 1941, when it was abandoned in favor of Amba Alagi and other redoubts during the Second World War‘s East African Campaign.  The city was liberated by Major Orde Wingate‘s Sudanese and Ethiopian Gideon Force in time to permit Emperor Haile Selassie‘s return on 5 May 1941, five years to the day after he had left.

Emperor Haile Selassie
Emperor Haile Selassie

Following reconstruction, Haile Selassie helped form the Organisation of African Unity in 1963 and invited the new organization to keep its headquarters in the city.  The OAU was dissolved in 2002 and replaced by the African Union (AU), also headquartered in Addis Ababa.  The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa also has its headquarters in Addis Ababa.  It is home to Addis Ababa University.  The Federation of African Societies of Chemistry (FASC) and Horn of Africa Press Institute (HAPI) are also headquartered in Addis Ababa.  Ethiopia has often been called the original cradle of humanity due to various humanoid fossil discoveries like the Australopithecine Lucy.  Recent DNA evidence have suggested origins in south central Ethiopian regions like present-day Addis Ababa: after analyzing the DNA of almost 1,000 people around the world, geneticists and other scientists claimed people spread from what is now Addis Ababa 100,000 years ago.  Enjoy video about the new flower, and all its cultural wealth.