History of the EWF – Ethiopian World Federation, Inc.

History of the EWF – Ethiopian World Federation, Inc.

Greetings and Rastafari Blessings on the the 69 Earthday of the Ethiopian World Federation, Inc., (August 25th 2006) 381 Days Before the Ethiopian Millennium.

In 1927 Dr. Workineh Martin was sent by Ethiopian Regent and Plenipotentiary Ras Tafari to recruit Black Americans for Lake Tana Dam Project.  During the mission, Dr. Martin tells Ethiopian student at Howard University, Malaku Bayen, that “the greatest service you could render your country would be to influence thousands of Black people in the USA and the West Indies and let them come and help us develop Ethiopian.”

On October 7, 1928, Ras Tafari is crowned Negus, King of Ethiopia. Negus Tafari then sends 100 Ethiopian students abroad.

Four years later, in 1932 The Peace Movement of Ethiopia is established in Chicago by Mrs. Gordon. The Chicago Defender newspaper describes their purpose as “Repatriating all unemployed, hopeless Negroes off the relief rolls, to be returned to Africa where they can develop themselves in a country under black leadership where their opportunities will not be limited and where the thousands of others who desire to be free from slavery…” Petitions containing the names of 400,000 members of the race were sent to President Roosevelt from the various branches established strategically all over the country. The Peace Movemant of Ethiopia was successful in getting the Virginia legislatures to pass a resolution endorsing the repatriation of people of African descent.

At the outbreak of the Italian Fascist invasion of Ethiopia in October of 1935, Plain Talk newspaper reported that

A group of Jamaicans had decided to launch a series of meetings throughout the Island, for the purpose of getting together a battalion of stalwart men to defend the Ethiopian frontier from the Italian invaders” and that the contingent would be assited by a black organization in Chicago. On October 13, Amy Jacques Garvey, delivered the main address at a mass meeting in support of Ethiopia at the Kingston Liberty Hall, concluding that the war would result in the “rising up of the people of Africa in one great effort to emancipate themselves.” At the rally, “a petition signed by no fewer than 1400 persons was drafted asking the British Government to allow Jamaicans to enlist in the Ethiopian army so as ‘to fight to preserve the glories of our their ancient and beloved Empire.’”

A group of demonstrations also took place among Rastafari groups in Kingston, though these were not reported in the press, which preferred to report only those acts which gave cause for vilification of the movement. Randolph Williams, an actor and broadcaster in Jamaica, reported

There were sections that wanted to send a petition to His Majesty the King of England praying that they be allowed to recruit men in Jamaica to be sent to Abyssinia to do service in the Ethiopian ranks, others wished to collect money to send to Ras Tafari to be used for the purchase of arms, some decided upon just praying three times per day for the triumph of Abyssinia.”

On May 5, 1936, HIM Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia and members of the Royal Family departed from Ethiopia en route for Geneva Switzerland to address the League of Nations on June 30. HIM eventual makes his home in Bath, England, the former capital of the Roman Empire and home to European Kings. Thus, Haile Selassie left his Royal palace in Addis Ababa for the Royal Palace in Bath.

During the summer of 1936, Emperor Haile Selassie met with Reverend Lloyd Imes, Pastor of the St. James Presbyterian Church, Philip M. Savoy of the Victory Insurance Company and co-owner of the New York Amsterdam News, and Mr. Cyril M. Philip, Secretary of the United Aid for Ethiopia, who sailed to England to speak with His Imperial Majesty concerning financial matters. In response, HIM Haile Selassie empowered Dr. Malaku Bayen to establish the Ethiopian World Federation, Incorporated. James Piper and his wife Helen organize the EWF in England.

On October 6, 1936  Dr. Malaku Bayen gave an address entitled “What Modern Warfare Looks Like When Experimented Upon Helpless People” to an audience of 1,000 at the United Seventh Day Adventist Church in Harlem. Said Dr. Bayen,

His Majesty did not remain 375 miles behind the lines like the Italian generals, but fought in the front line trenches with his men. Ethiopia still struggles and needs you to help her ‘come into her own;. The time has come for the Negro race to refuse to respect any minister that does not do anything but; pilot them to Heaven.; The Negro minister must educate his people in every regard on how to achieve their rights.”

Dr. P.M. H. Savory of the United Aid for Ethiopia urged all friends of Ethiopia to send their contributions to Dr. Bayen.

On December 6, 1936 Dr. Bayen spoke to the Father Divine congregation at 20W 115th St in New York, stating:

The Peace of the World is about to crumble because men are ignoring Righteousness and Justice. They are about to crucify Ethiopia because she is weak. God is refusing Peace to the World because they have ignored His Rights. We admire your motto, PEACE for which we are hungry, and we join you in your peace mission. I hope you will join us in supporting the suffering Ethiopians.”


On January 27, 1937 Dr. Malaku Bayen established The Voice of Ethiopia and begins weekly publication as “A Paper for the vast Universal Black Commonwealth and Friends of Ethiopia.”

On February 3, 1937 Dr. Bayen began a national speaking tour and launched the “Haile Selassie Fund”. In the Voice of Ethiopia, Dr. Bayen writes:

In 1930 many of Ethiopia’s friends will remember Kentiba Gabru, the old Mayor of Gondar. He and the writer came on a special mission: to obtain a recognized international financier for the purpose of reorganizing the monetary system in Ethiopia. It was the Emperor’s expressed instructions that such a man should be a Black. We consulted with the leading Black citizens of the United States to locate such a qualified international financier to take the position. We were advised by these leading citizens that there was not such a Black man in the West. In the best interest of Ethiopia, therefore, we succeeded in obtaining a man with that qualification in the person of Mr. Everett A. Colson, who at that time was employed by the Government of Haiti. Unfortunately, none of our friends suggested the name of Marcus Garvey for that position. Mr. Colson by his loyalty and devotion has built a monument for himself in the history of Ethiopia.

On the other hand, a monument, no less imposing in the history of Ethiopia has been built by a man of our own race, Colonel John C. Robinson [of Chicago], brave aviator, who risked his life repeatedly in the service of Ethiopia. Our Government has duly acknowledged his services, and Colonel Robinson’s own words, substantiates his satisfaction; quote: ‘I want to assure you that my loyalty to Ethiopia will last until the end, regardless of any condition that might arise; no Ethiopian could be any more loyal that I am and always will be, and I think I have proven that. Nothing would please me better than to have to do some more fighting for the cause of Ethiopia.’

Again, the Ethiopian Government succeeded in obtaining from among our own race, the services of Dr. John West who, after studying the health situation in Ethiopia, came back to America to qualify himself for full service in there. Dr. West obtained his degree in Public Health from Harvard University. Dr. West can testify for Ethiopia that he is free to return to Ethiopia any moment the chance presents itself to use his intellect unhampered by any prejudice in the Black Empire. . . .

Of a truth, the people of Ethiopia have watched keenly into the prospects for the universal participation of the Blacks in the defense of justice and their natural rights. It is in the interest of the common good that the Black people of the earth should again be re-assured of the deep admiration and liberal sentiment which Ethiopia cherishes for them. Aroused by a grave anxiety for their racial destiny, Black men the world over are showing an increasing attachment for the defense of equal justice for all mankind.

On February 10, The Voice of Ethiopia published the following article by Dr. Malaku Bayen entitled “Ethiopian Envoy Makes Statement of Public Interest”:

I should like once and for all to state plainly the purpose of my mission to America, and it is my hope that henceforth it will not be necessary to spend further energy and time in answering the various petty attacks upon me and my work by individuals whose personal interests are affected by my presence, and that I may be permitted to direct all my efforts toward obtaining the aid that is needed by our people.

From the outbreak of the aggression upon Ethiopia, public sympathy and enthusiasm were widespread. Taking advantage of this, a large number of racketeers sprang up, giving a false impression that they were seeking aid for Ethiopia. Money was raised throughout the world. Money in large amounts was sunk with little or none reaching the real destination that the people intended for it. These racketeers continued until recently to raise money, helping themselves, without helping Ethiopia.

A body of public spirited citizens of the United States formed a committee and sent a delegation, headed by Dr. William Lloyd Imes, Pastor of St. James Presbyterian Church, Dr. Philip M Savory, Chairman of the Victory Mutual Insurance Company and co-owner of the Amsterdam News, and Mr. Cyril Phillip, all of New York City. These men convinced His Majesty the Emperor that large sums of money were being raised by unauthorized persons in America and that this money, collected in the name of Ethiopia was being misused, and therefore he should send his own emissary to receive any funds which were intended for Ethiopia. Consequently, to safeguard the public interest, and to obtain this aid which the public was contributing, I was sent with full authority to stop every person in America from receiving funds for Ethiopia, and to inform the American public to direct all funds intended for the Ethiopian people to my headquarters.

Unfortunately, my coming caused indignation among all racketeers; whispering campaigns started against me, my mission and against my government for sending someone. These racketeers, both in this country and in Europe, now come to the fore and rail against the Ethiopian Government for putting an end to their lucrative activities. Readers must take notice and analyze the situation for themselves, and they will remember that these persons who are now so indignant against my being in harvest in the name of Ethiopia. . . . I should like to say especially that I do not appreciate the long letters which certain of these persons have sent to me, trying to convince me that I have no business in America or else that I should become an American citizen and betray my country. One of these persons, an American citizen, is guilty of having received authority to solicit funds in America from Dr. Martin, Ethiopian Minister in London, and not having turned in any of the funds collected.

Ethiopia is not the first country to have misfortune such as hers now as a result of war. This is not the first time in history that a country has sought aid from other countries to help her sufferings.

The fund I am attempting to raise has not been announced for carrying on the war, although the war is still going on in Ethiopia A war fund can not be raised in America because of the existing neutrality law. It is definitely not a fund collected for the personal or private use of the Emperor. Any money that is obtained is to help to take care of our refugees who are scattered throughout Europe, Asia and Africa outside of Ethiopia, and to help our unfortunate men and women who are still struggling to defend our country at home; also to help maintain our governmental agencies throughout the world so that our flag may be kept flying wherever it is till recognized.”

On March 5, 1937 Dr. Bayen lectured to the Chicago Society for the Aid of Ethiopia and stated that “The fighting in Ethiopia goes on” and that the Italians will soon be defeated “when their funds run low.” He also said, “No truthful dispatches have been received here since American correspondents were forced to leave Ethiopia, but the fighting still goes on.

By August 25, Dr. Bayen merged all pro-Ethiopian organizations into a new Ethiopian World Federation Incorporated with Local #1 International Headquarters in New York. The EWF adopts former UNIA Musical Director Rabbi Ford’s “Ethiopia Awaken” as its anthem, presenting its Charter on September 3 through the Law Firm of Delaney, Lewis and Williams at 36 West 135th Street. That same year, EWF Local #17 is established in Jamaica with L.F.C. Mantle as President and Paul Earlington as Vice-President. Joseph Nathaniel Hibbert, Archibald Dunkely and other early Rastafarians are foundational members.

As it turns out, a genuine friend is tested in times of crisis, and the heavy challenge We encountered has enabled Us to distinguish between a friend and foe. We cannot afford passing without mentioning the substantial support and political agitation which millions of Americans, particularly Black Americans, have made.” – H.I.M. Haile Selassie I,  “My Life and Ethiopia’s Progress 1892-1937

“The defense of Ethiopia embraces the interest of the entire world. It is the moral duty of all lovers of humanity to participate. The emphasis rests with public opinion. When this is asserted, Ethiopia will shine forth as a living symbol of universal justice. To those who ask how soon should this be expected, it will be said – as soon as you lend your voice. Even now.”  – G. Balfour Bovell, VOE Vol 1. No. 1, January 27, 1937

“The time is quite at hand when Black men must appear with honor among the other nations of the earth. The signs of the times unfold themselves, and the present trend of world affairs is steadfastly becoming apparent. Today, in the rank and file of the vast Universal Black Commonwealth, a prevailing vision of national unity through Ethiopia rises clearer and stronger into view. There are various and vivid reasons in the Black mind for this strong and widespread unity of feeling among them. The most conspicuous of all is the recent Fascist plunder in their fatherland. Black men of vision in all corners of the earth have always looked upon Ethiopia with considerable pride and hopeful satisfaction … Indeed, in spite of subtle and confusing propaganda, Black men who think have virtually identified themselves with Ethiopia and always regarded her as their own. Now the freedom of Ethiopia is menaced; but the cast commonwealth of the Blacks want their racial liberties secured; for the freedom of Ethiopia means the freedom of the Blacks as well.” – G. Balfour Bovell, VOE Vol. 1. No. 3 February 10, 1937

His Majesty, Emperor Haile Selassie I, of Ethiopia, said in his plea before the League of Nations, ‘God an History will record your judgment.’ To you, fellow Black men and women, I say, what you do or fail to do in the case of Justice to your race through Ethiopia, God and History will record.” – Warren Harrigan, VOE Vol. 1 No. 8 March 17, 1937

“We congratulate the Voice of Ethiopia on its Second Anniversary. We sincerely hope that it will continue to keep the just case of Ethiopia before the American public.” – H.I.M. Haile Selassie I Telegram received at 40 Broad Street, New York, from Bath 34 26, England, and read at the Ethiopian World Federation Auditorium on Saturday, January 28, 1939

“Ethiopia represents a burden, a difficulty for the Black people. We have expressed the belief again and again that the Black world will rise to the situation. There are in the Black race, as in any other race, a great many slackers, people who will not meet a burden squarely, who are very proficient in their ability to run away from difficulties. On the other hand, the majority of Black people will hold their ground, will shoulder their burdens. The Black people are not held in high esteem by the other races of the world. We are regarded as the least progressive, the least enlightened, the least manly of all races. The White race especially does not expect us to shoulder our burdens. They know what a secondary part we have been content to play, because we had not the initiative and the real awareness to play one of the leading roles. The future of the Black race can be forecast according to the way it meets the burden of Ethiopia.” – Warren Harrigan, VOE Vol. 4 No. 4 February 17, 1940

“The ‘Fifth Column’ is not new . . . . We have always known of traitors, spies, the enemy within, propaganda, arson, blackmail, intimidation, robbery, cowardice and disloyalty. All these grouped together form a formidable ‘fifth column.’ . . . . We have always had patriotic, benevolent, political, business, and all other types of organization which are intended to improve the general conditions under which our people live, but the Fifth Column has always made itself active in these organizations and has never failed to destroy the things which others set out to build. Our fifth columns have been principally columns of ignorance, deceit, selfishness, blind-allegiance, and other things, but they have surely wrecked one organization after another and have always left all, including the wreckers, impotent and apparently hopeless.


. . . . Now, the Federation must re-dedicate itself to The Cause for which it was founded and in the meantime serve notice to all fifth columns, those who through ignorance or lack of proper foresight, think that they can destroy the foundation of the Federation. No, the Federation is here to stay, and it will stay because it is built on a Cause that is JUST, and not the misguided whims of any individual or group. Let us hold fast and be true to our trust. Let us put all fifth columns to rout, and march on victoriously to a bigger better, greater and dominantEthiopian World Federation.”  — Mathew A Gardner,VOE Volume IV Number 19 June 1, 1940

“THE ETHIOPIAN WORLD FEDERATION, INC. It is not just another organization. It is not merely an organization of clubs where people meet to socialize and have fun. It is not a place in which to seek individual advantage and personal advertisement.It is not for the worship of any individual, whether that individual be king or commoner. Anyone who would seek these things in the Ethiopian World Federation, has not caught the spirit of the times and the new outlook of true and sincere Black men and women everywhere. We need to make doubly sure that we do not allow ourselves to be led by selfishness and ignorance into utter darkness.


We may sum up the aims and objects of the Ethiopian World Federation into one sentence: IT IS AN ORGANIZATION CREATED TO PROMOTE AND SECURE FOR BLACK PEOPLES EVERYWHERE THE DIVINE RIGHTS OF POLITICAL, ECONOMIC, RELIGIOUS AND SOCIAL FREEDOM TO WHICH THEY ARE ENTITLED, but which have been consistently denied them in nearly all parts of the world. Any action or activity which tends to impede progress along these lines, is contrary to, and subversive of the best interests of the Federation.” – VOE Volume 5 Number 25 July 19, 1941

“Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Haile Selassie I,

Elect of God, Emperor of Ethiopia

Members of the Ethiopian World Federation,

Salutations! This letter expresses the token of my warmest appreciation for the aid and sympathy evinced by you and your fellows in the hour of Ethiopia’s crisis. During those eventful years and since, I have never ceased to think of these benevolences nor of the spirit which impelled you to act in so charitable a manner to my beloved country and her righteous cause. These are the years of strenuous efforts to bridge the gulf between the years of war, occupation and the interruption of, the normal life of Ethiopia. It is my sincerest wish, however, that through our mutual efforts, the future will prove beneficial to the relations between you and the people of this land.”


The Editor,

The Imperial Ethiopian Government Ministry of Foreign Affairs have the honour to acknowledge receipt of your letter, dated June 3, 1959.

In response to your enquiry and specifically as to whether or not lands have been made available by the Imperial Ethiopian Government for the “Ethiopian World Federation Inc.”, we can confirm the substance of your letter thus:-

As a token of his appreciation for the services the “Ethiopian World Federation” rendered to the Ethiopian cause during the Fascist Invasion of our country, His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie 1st, has been pleased to grant for the use of the “Ethiopian World Federation” lands not very far from the capital city of Addis Ababa.

The Imperial Ethiopian Government Ministry of Foreign Affairs avail themselves of this opportunity to renew the assurances of their highest consideration to you, Mr. Editor, and through the instrumentality of your paper to all Jamaican Friends of Ethiopia.

Imperial Ethiopian Government
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Addis Ababa,
Sept. 9, 1959