A Memorial Celebration Held For Howard University Professor Whose Parents In 1935 Chose To Die With Ethiopians When It Was Invaded and Later Occupied By Italy.
Washington DC ( Little Ethiopia )-The renowned Ethiopian Born American with Caribbean ancestry, Professor Abiy Ford passed away at the age of 83 in the District of Columbia where he lived most of his adult life. The professor gained prominence and popularity for his Pan-African activities in the United States was the son of heroic parents who decided to die with Ethiopians when the country was invaded and later occupied by fascist Italy from 1935 to 1941( the Italo-Abyssinian War. ) Abyssinia is the ancient name of Ethiopia. Ford moved to Ethiopia recently and was last the Dean of Journalism at the Addis Ababa University ( former Haile Selassie I University )
His parents Rabbi Arnold Ford and Mignon Ford first came to Ethiopia in 1930 for the Coronation of Emperor Haile Selassie I and they remained in Ethiopia. In the emperor’s effort to bring African Americans to Ethiopia he sent in 1927 one of his senior advisors to the United States, Doctor Workineh Martin to recruit professionals to help in the country’s development. Martin was the Ethiopian Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of St. James in London when the emperor was forced to exile in England after his Army was overwhelmed by chemical war fare by Italy.
The Memorial celebration for Professor Emeritus Abraham ( Abiyi ) Ford was held at Howard University School of Law Dumbarton Chapel on May 14,2018. There were several people from the Pan-African communities including HRH Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie who made an eulogy. We have herewith the eulogy by another Pan-African Activist Andrew Laurence.
An Eulogy by Andrew Laurence
Abiy Ford Memorial
First of all, let us acknowledge that Gashe Abiy Ford was the sweetest, nicest humblest man you would ever meet. As the son of the great Rev. Arnold Josiah Ford and Mignon Lorraine Innis Ford who established the permanent African American embassy in Ethiopia through which all visitors would check in as they arrived to get their marching orders, you would think he could rest on those laurels alone. As a professor of film and communications at Howard University and Addis Ababa University he has used these eminent Pan-African institutions to continue the work of his parents as a bridge between the Ethiopian and African community. His brother, Yusef would ground himself in anthropology and direct the Ethiopian Community Center in Washington, DC connecting the newly arrived Ethiopians to resources in the city. His daughter, Mini would ground herself in the medical field providing services desperately needed in the Ethiopian and African American community. Do you see where I am going?
Gashe Ford has had a great influence on me since I met him many years ago. Having an Ethiopian father and being raised in an African American community, I too have tried to be a bridge between the Ethiopian and African American community through my research and writings on this little known history but incredibly long interaction between us. How many of you know the late great civil rights leader Dick Gregory brought planeloads of nutritional formula food to Ethiopia during the 84 famine saving thousands of lives, or that the great jazz musician Duke Ellington performed for the Emperor with Ethiopian jazz master Dr. Mulatu Astake or model and activist YeharerwerkGeshaw who kept the Congressman Mickey Leland’s foundation alive in Dallas, and finally the greatest of all representations of US Ethiopian relations Col. John Robinson, Father of the Tuskegee Airmen and Ethiopian Airlines. I can go on and on.
What I am trying to say is the Gashe Abiy taught us in various ways why it is important for us to see how common history and humanity through his works and through his personal demeanor.I hope that we can all join together in keeping the Ford family memory alive in your support of the Mignon Lorraine Innis Ford School in Addis Ababa through his daughter Mini Ford