“There is neither shame nor disgrace in a day’s work well and truly done, whatever the task and whatever the rank or status of the worker. The farmer and the labourer who have toiled diligently throughout the day have earned their bread and honest sleep. But the man, whatever his rank, who has spent his time in idleness, whose hand has been turned to little of profit or value during his working hours has earned only the scorn and disdain of his fellow men whom he has cheated.”
“Annually, on this day We, and the entire Ethiopian people with Us, pause in the round of Our daily activities to take stock of the state of the nation, to review the events of the past year, and to re-dedicate Ourselves to the accomplishment of the tasks which lie before Us.
“Each year, as We attend the opening of a new session of parliament, We bow in thanks to Almighty God for the gifts which He has bestowed on Our beloved country and pray for his continued support and strength throughout the coming year.
“Today, as We stand in this Chamber to deliver Our speech from the Throne, We must once again remark upon the sweeping changes which have overtaken Ethiopia. The nation today stands poised upon the edge of the second decade of her post-war constitutional development. The ten years just passed here have witnessed great and momentous achievements in every phase of Ethiopia’s existence. Wherever one turns, if he has but eyes to see and the willingness to look clearly and honestly, the Ethiopian nation has been utterly transformed in the brief period which has elapsed since 1955. But how much greater have been the changes of the far longer time since 1931 when We promulgated for Our people Ethiopia’s first written Constitution. And searching further back into the past, how far has the nation traveled only during the years of Our lifetime.
“We were born into a period when the colonial powers carved Africa into so-called spheres of influence. We were but an infant when gallant Ethiopians, acting in accordance with their heroic traditions in the defense of their homeland, sent the invader reeling back in dismay, disorder and defeat at the Battle of Adowa. We witnessed the construction of the vital rail link which for so long afforded Ethiopia her sole outlet to the sea.
“We watched during the first World War as the colonial powers, now pitted one against the other, destroyed life and property on a scale hitherto unknown to man, We looked on at the birth of the League of Nations, and We led Ethiopia into membership in that body, hopeful that the crimes of the period of Africa’s colonization and World War 1 would be set aright and adequate safeguards erected against their future occurrence.”
The Uneven Struggle
“We fought through the ignoble period of appeasement when Ethiopia struggled in the unequal combat with the fascists; when tyranny achieved temporary supremacy over right and justice; when poison gas and modern weaponry carried the battle against raw courage and bravery. We struggled for five long years against the invader, Our voice alone crying of the horrors and outrages committed against Our people, seeking to rally the free world to Our cause, a constant and living reminder before their eyes that principle had yielded to expediency, that Ethiopia had been sacrificed to the totalitarian bully.
“We campaigned, comrades in arms, with the heroic men who had resisted from within during five long years, united on the battlefield with the gallant Allied forces who were joined in the conflict against the brutality and despotism of those who would control the world and rob mankind of human dignity and individual freedom. We rejoiced with Our people and with right minded people the world over as the enemy laid down arms and Ethiopia was reborn as a free and independent nation. Who can deny the pride and hope which a liberated Ethiopia afforded to the still-colonized peoples of Africa?
“Those decades witnessed momentous events. So have the busy years since 1941 marked unceasing activity and constant change in the way of life of Our people. Roads have been built. Aviation has linked the farthest corners of the Empire. Telephonic and telegraphic communications have brought Ethiopia into intimate contact with her friends and neighbours abroad. The structure of government has been modernised. Ethiopia’s armed forces have been equipped with modern arms and brought to a high level of proficiency in the techniques of modern warfare.
“Trade and commerce have flourished. Ethiopia’s ancient province of Eritrea has been re-united with the motherland, Ethiopia’s ancient ports on the Red Sea have been returned to the service of the nation and brother has been reunited with brother. An effective system of provincial administration has been established. Schools have brought the benefits of modern learning to ever-increasing numbers of Ethiopia’s youth. Public health facilities have spared Our people from the ravages of hitherto unchecked disease. Modern cities, of which Addis Abeba is but one, have grown in prosperity during these years.”
Change Nature’s Law
“The developments have followed one another pell-mell, at an ever increasing pace, for change is the law of nature and the law of life. The physical changes have been impressive. But even more impressive – and equally, if not more important – have been the changes wrought in the mentality and psychology of the Ethiopian people. The physical face of Ethiopia shall continue to change in the years ahead. Ethiopia’s cities and town shall continue to grow. Agriculture shall be modernized. Communications shall weld the nation ever closer. So, too, shall the future witness the introduction of ever more drastic and revolutionary changes into the mental attitudes and outlook of the people. New questions shall be posed to our ancient, traditional and customary habits of thoughts. Long-held conception and beliefs shall come under ever closer critical scrutiny and examination. Our response to these challenges will decide the future.
“The emergence of Ethiopia from her centuries of self-imposed and self-inforced isolation was itself a sharp break with the concept that physical separation was essential to the nation’s precious independence. Only isolation, it was believed, could guarantee security from the repeated invasion mounted against Ethiopia by those who would despoil her land and rob her people. The nation’s solitude had thus to be jealously preserved and maintained.
“Today how far we have come; each year, Ethiopia plays host to increasing thousands of foreign visitors who travel to Our land to view the richness of Our culture, the beauty of Our countryside, the charm of Our people in their way of life. No longer uncertain of Our ability to protect Our vital interests, no longer questioning whether Our strength is indeed sufficient to protect Us against the exploiter, Ethiopia today welcomes all who seek entry at her frontiers, and we seek the technology and expertise which others can bring to Our development.”
New Phase, New Demands
“We require knowledge and assistance from abroad. Ethiopia’s energies were for long centuries concentrated on her physical protection. The never ending struggle to safeguard their freedom deprived the nation’s youth of the opportunity to study peace instead of war. Today, we require skills and techniques beyond Our present capacity to provide, and We look to the assistance of foreign experts and technicians to bridge the gap.
“So, too, do We look for foreign capital investment, and as a natural and normal concomitant, the managers and professional personnel skilled in the ways of modern industry and business life. With training and education and experience, Ethiopians will in the near future supply all of the needs of the nation. But today, those who are prepared to aid us in Our endeavors, who are here at Our request and desire, are welcome colleagues and collaborators. Our visits to highly developed nations abroad have persuaded Us that in the same fashion those countries have adapted and used this experience and learning of others for their own benefit.
“All Ethiopians, of whatever generation, are endowed with the same inherent abilities and talents, although the accomplishments may vary from man to man and from generation to generation in accordance with the opportunities presented to them. Those today who complain that Ethiopia has not progressed enough fail to appreciate the magnitude of the problems which have confronted the nation in the past and the difficulties with which we still grapple today.”
Capacity to Achieve
“Today, we also accept as an undenied and undeniable part of modern Ethiopian life the principle that a man’s ultimate worth is determined by his ability and his achievements. Let us, from the greatest to the least, take pride in the performance of the tasks and duties assigned to us, whether or not we believe them worthy of our talents, whether we labour silent and alone, or in the crowd and illuminated by the glaring light of public opinion. The reward for the job well done is not in the recognition of others, nor in public praise. Neither is it to be measured solely by the monetary return earned by the workman. It comes, rather, in the inner satisfaction that accompanies the knowledge that the work accomplished represents the best of which we are capable.
“There is neither shame nor disgrace in a day’s work well and truly done, whatever the task and whatever the rank or status of the worker. The farmer and the laborer who have toiled diligently throughout the day have earned their bread and honest sleep. But the man, whatever his task, who has spent his time in idleness, whose hand has been turned to little of profit or value during his waking hours, has earned only the scorn and disdain of his fellowmen whom he has thus cheated. No one is entitled to the enjoyment and the benefits of Ethiopia’s development who is not prepared to partake of the sweat and toil which have brought the nation to its present stage of advancement. To build a modern state requires the concentrated strength and effort of each one of us. If we do not build the roads, bridges and schools, if we do not plough the fields and till the soil, if we do not carry on the trade and commerce of the nation, to whom shall we look for the accomplishment of these tasks? Has education been given that the educated may disdain physical toil and perspiration? Have the healthy been protected from disease that they may scorn the hard labour upon which alone Our nation can hope to advance? Have not those many nations which today are called “advanced” become so through the toil and labour of their peoples?
“Each man must repay what he has received from his country. The educated man possesses a precious asset, of infinite value both to himself and the nation. Not too long ago, students could not be found to fill the day classes of our schools. Today, not only the day classes but night classes are crowded to excess, and in addition to this, a nationwide literacy campaign has been instituted. We live, today, in a radically changed society, and We know that the Ethiopian people understand and appreciate this change.”
Each Must Contribute
“Let there be no mistake: in modern Ethiopia, each man must contribute. There is no protection from the demand that a man’s worth be assessed by his achievements. Education and learning offer no escape from the obligation of toil. Social position and high birth provide no guarantee of soft hands and a life of ease and comfort. High origins are no passport to high position. To those who contribute willingly, to the best of their abilities, who, in sweat and toil, work for the good of the nation with little thought of self, to them will much be given, even to the governing of the land.
“Nor should anyone today mistakenly believe that only in the cities can he serve his country. The greater need today is among the people, with those who work the soil, who provide the nourishment and sustenance upon which Ethiopia feeds. The University National Service Program has pointed the way. Today’s younger generation must maintain their ties with the people who are the bulk and backbone of the nation. The problem of the many must become the problem of the few, for only in this way can the progress we earn be lasting and real and of benefit to all.
“This very institution of Parliament is itself a striking example of the reshaping and moulding of custom and tradition which has at every step marked Ethiopia’s development over the years. To serve in these Chambers, a man must possess high ability and demonstrated talents. Indeed, you Deputies must, in addition, have persuaded your constituents that you dispose of these qualities in abundance, for you owe your claim to sit in this deliberative assembly to their votes, cast in free and open elections.
“In the months ahead, much will be asked of you. You will be called upon to consider diverse and complex legislation, proposals prepared by experts after long and painstaking efforts, enactments vital to the life and growth of the nation. Study them carefully and dispassionately; seek further information when it is necessary; act not from personal interest or emotional involvement but objectively, as representatives of a united nation and people, with the public welfare your constant concern.”
“A proposal will be placed before you during the coming season providing for the establishment of co-operative societies in Ethiopia. Experience elsewhere has demonstrated that co-operative programs can be of incalculable value in stimulating self-help activities in rural farming areas. Co-operative societies, which combine existing activities into more comprehensive and significant units, bring to the producers in these areas technical, production and marketing facilities which would otherwise be beyond their means or capacities to achieve. This programme is well worthy of your support.
“Other projects which will come under your scrutiny in the year ahead deal with such diverse matters as the regulation of commercial road transport and the administration of the nation’s ports and harbours. Each of them is deserving of your careful review; each of them will contribute to the further enrichment of the life of the nation.”
“During the past year, We have been privileged to receive as Our guests a number of distinguished visitors. Our good friend, President Kenneth Kaunda of the newly independent Republic of Zambia came to Ethiopia directly following the entry of his nation into the United Nations Organization. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, who came to Our nation shortly thereafter, were welcomed and enthusiastically acclaimed by Our people wherever they passed during their extensive tour of the country. Their visit was a source of much pleasure and satisfaction both to Us and to the Ethiopian people. And most recently, the President of the Republic of India, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, honoured Ethiopia with his presence, further testimony to the friendly ties which bind these two nations. We Ourself, during the twelve months just elapsed, were received with warm friendship in our sister African states of Malawi and Zambia.
“With the leaders of these two nations, as well as with the distinguished visitors received by Us in Addis Abeba, We held useful and penetrating talks embracing a wide range of topics of mutual concern. We are satisfied that from these discussions will come further contributions to the preservation of world peace and the advancement, in freedom and prosperity, of all mankind.
“We look forward to greeting in Our capital in the months ahead the Prime Minister of Bulgaria, the King of Norway, and President of Poland, all of whom are coming here to reassert the bonds of friendship which join Ethiopia with these friendly nations.
Spirit of Africa
“We have just returned from the Accra meeting of the Heads of African States and Governments, where fresh evidence was adduced that the spirit of Africa grows steadily more powerful and all-pervasive, and that Africans shall continue to march together, in unity and oneness, into the promise of the future. At Accra, resolutions were adopted which are of signal importance to every African country. We would refer, in particular, to the resolution which pledges each nation on this continent to oppose subversive activities, to refrain from the conduct of any hostile propaganda campaign directed against another African state, and to resort to negotiations for the settlement of disputes between member states. These undertakings, if they are implemented in good faith, should go far to remove many of the causes of friction which have from time to time impaired intra-African relations in the past, and further strengthen the African Unity Charter.
“A second resolution, which, because of the events of recent days, assumes vastly increased importance, relates to the situation which exists in Southern Rhodesia. We lament the unreason and the illogic which precipitated Southern Rhodesia’s unilateral declaration of independence. We stated but a few days ago, and We reiterate today, that Ethiopia stands prepared to take all measures required to implement the resolutions adopted in Accra, together with our African brothers, including, if necessary, the use of force. Last night, We cabled a telegram through the Secretary General of the OAU to all African Heads of States and Governments, proposing a Summit conference to discuss the deteriorating condition in Rhodesia.”
“We have been saddened that armed hostilities have continued to mar the world’s tranquility in past months. With respect to the situation in South Vietnam, We urge again that the parties to the conflict agree to negotiations in the spirit of the Geneva Agreement of 1954 so that peace may be restored to that unhappy land and its unfortunate people. As regards the dispute between India and Pakistan, we must express Our gratification at the cease-fire which has been effected, in response to appeals from Ourself and other leaders, between these two neighboring nations. We are hopeful that through negotiation, a permanent solution can be found to the vexing problems which beset them.
“We would not conclude today without some words of advice to the members of Parliament assembled before Us. Each new Parliament has brought into this arena of political activity new men and women. Each new Parliament has benefited from the experience of the Deputies and Senators who have gone before them. In this way, Parliament’s responsibility and effectiveness has grown, and its future contribution to the life of the nation has increased proportionately. Each man and woman who has served here has departed with a heightened awareness of the problems of the nation; of the distance which Ethiopia has traveled towards the era of development and prosperity which the labours of her people and her great potential wealth alike foretell; and, as well, of the tasks ahead, of the hard and arduous path still to travel, of the challenges which are each day posed to Ethiopia’s ancient and traditional way of life.
“If we have spoken to you today of matters which may seem of no direct or immediate concern to Ethiopia, if We have dwelt on what has occurred in other parts of the world, it is that you may realise that Ethiopia today does not and cannot exist alone. Do not fall into the narrowness which looks only to the borders of your nation; Ethiopia is today in and of the world, and we must move ahead in concert with all mankind.
“You here today will, We are confident, serve the nation to the best of your abilities in bringing to the Ethiopian people the fullest possible measure of prosperity and individual freedom and personal dignity. You must not fail, for to do so would be to fail in the trust which We and the Ethiopian people have reposed in you. You have and important role to fulfill in the task of national development which has been Our life’s work and which is now the hope and the task of every forward-looking Ethiopian.
“May Almighty God bless you in your labour.”
November 17, 1965