The Progressive Ethiopian PM Brought Hope And Unity To The Diaspora In The Sister City Of Addis Ababa On July 28, 2018
Washington DC ( Little Ethiopia )-The new reformist and the youngest African leader, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Dr. Abiy Ahmed spent three days in the United States capital city, Washington DC and the Sister-City of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
He addressed 16,500 Ethiopians in the Diaspora at the Walter E Washington Convention center located in the historic Shaw neighborhood Saturday, July 28,2018. The area that is centered around U Street in North West that has been the hub for African-American social, cultural, and economic progress in the nation's capital. The center is built on the home of the jazz legend Duke Ellington who in 1973 gave a command performance before Emperor Haile Selassie I in Addis Ababa. The monarch presented him a Medal of Honor. The meeting of the two iconic figures from America and Africa was in an historic year where Pan-Africans around the world were celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the founding of the Organization of African Unity.
Though it is believed that the first Ethiopian descents to come to the United States were seamen and merchants who landed on the shores of New York City in 1808 that were conduits for the establishment of the Abyssinian Baptist Church of Harlem, the most recognized event was the historic Emperor’s first state visit to America in May 1954 where he received an heroic welcome and honor by a US president and great American institutions.
In May 1954, the President of the United States, Dwight D Eisenhower welcomed the iconic Ethiopian Monarch on an historic first State Visit to his country 13 years after Selassie’s triumphant return to his throne after a 5 year exile in England on Miazia 27 ( May 5, 1941 ) that marked a milestone that relieved off the pressure from the black people of the world who feared that the long protracted war might have ended with Italy’s colonizing Ethiopia because of her Fire Power and the military support it received from her ally, Nazi Germany. With the grace of God, the patriotic and resilient people of Ethiopia won the 5-year battle against Italy. Like Selassie, the new Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed received an heroic welcome by the Diaspora community that was witnessed by Ethiopia’s friend Mayor Muriel Bowser who proclaimed July 28, 2018 as “ Ethiopia Day In DC “
President Eisenhower entered combat in the 2nd World War like his guest, Selassie who also entered combat at the “ Battle of Maichew “ in 1935 where he fought side by side with his imperial army to defend his country that was invaded by two brutal Italian fascist generals Rodolfo Graziani from the North and Pietro Badoglio from the East in October 1935. The Imperial army was forced to retreat from the battle after they were overwhelmed by the usage of chemical warfare by the invading over powered military forces of Benito Mussolini. That was Italy’s second futile attempt to colonize Ethiopia after 40 years of her 1st futile attempt on March 1, 1896 where she lost at the Battle of Adwa.
President Eisenhower proposed this toast at a state dinner at the White House on May 26, 1954
“ Your majesty, Ladies and Gentlemen, During the past century and a half, there have been entertained within these walls many individuals of distinction--some of our own country, some visiting us from abroad. I think it is safe to say that never has any company here gathered been honored by the presence in their guest of honor of an individual more noted for his fierce defense of freedom and for his courage in defending the independence of his people than the guest of honor this evening.
I read once that no individual can really be known to have greatness until he has been tested in adversity. By this test, our guest of honor has established new standards in the world. In 5 years of adversity, with his country overrun but never conquered, he never lost for one single second his dignity. He never lost his faith in himself, in his people, and in his God.
I deem it a very great privilege, ladies and gentlemen, to ask you to rise and with me to drink a Toast to His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor of Ethiopia. “
The Emperor was honored by the District of Columbia Commissioners who gave him the key to the city and where the historically black university of Howard bestowed upon him an Honorary Doctorate degree in Law.
This is not the first encounter of Ethiopians with Americans but there were other occasions in the past including the 1919 Ethiopian diplomatic delegation Mission sent to America whose presence was highlighted by the front page article of the Chicago Defender “ Abyssinian Mission Arrives in the U.S. “ on July 11, 1919. Abyssinia is the ancient name of Ethiopia. The delegation was sent to meet President Woodrow Wilson by the reigning monarch, Empress Zewditu Menelik. Her delegation was led by Dejazmach Nadew, the commander of the Ethiopian army and who is also her nephew. He was accompanied by Kentiba Gebru who was the Mayor of Addis Ababa and Gondar.
While Selassie made his decision to fetch international support including appealing to the League Of Nations to fight back in Europe he sent his medical doctor Melaku Beyan to Washington D.C. to garner help from the African American communities and friends of Ethiopia. Beyan who was believed to be the first Ethiopian to receive his Doctorate from an American University served as the Emperor’s physician at the Battle of Maichew. He based his command center near Shaw ( U Street ) corridor and Howard University where he got his doctorate degree. He raised some funds to the wounded and also organized the African American, Caribbean and African intellectuals to support his causes. Over 17,500 African Americans volunteered to fight side by side with the Ethiopian people but were denied permission by the Government. Beyan, unfortunately, died from exhaustion a year before Ethiopia took full control of Ethiopia on May 5, 1941.
The Emperor returned back to the US after 9 years to receive another great welcome from another president' John F Kennedy after adding to his resume as the “ father of Africa “ for helping 32 independent nations establish the Organization of African Unity in May 24, 1963.