A commentary on the Constitution
On the side of the officials and the people there were few who knew what the meaning of a constitution was, but since We considered it essential that they should all understand it, We directed, during the week in which the constitution was signed, that all officials and many of the people should assemble; Our Minister of Finance, Bajerond Takla Hawaryat, then addressed them and explained in the following discourse:
The idea which has been realized in Ethiopia this year and the plan which has been initiated is of a kind which has never before been carried out in any country in the world at any time whatsoever.
A level towards which Ethiopia did not progress in two or three centuries has been brought about by Your Majesty in one rapid march forward, thus causing her to reach a high and lofty rank.
The abundant benevolence which you have up to now shown to each one of us has been astonishing. But today’s instance, while not excluding anyone, extends to the entire Ethiopian people all at once and is truly amazing.
Because this is being accomplished in our time and He has granted us to see and to hear it, our good fortune will assuredly be well remembered. It can, therefore, not be doubted that it will serve to glorify our time, not only for Your Majesty’s sake but even for ours. It will bring honour to future generations that come after us.
Altogether Ethiopia has found a source of life that will secure her existence henceforth and, while her power develops, she is able to give out light uninterruptedly-shining forth like a sun for ever. Therefore all those enquiring into world affairs, both men of the present time and those to arise in the future, are full of unceasing admiration for the kindness-unexampled in the world-which Your Majesty has done to Ethiopia, quite suddenly with no one expecting it, by Your free will and benevolence, while only Your understanding and study, Your sincere mind and obvious intelligence were guiding You. History will judge you above the good and wise kings.
It is more than three thousand years that Ethiopia has been known in its nationhood. From that time till today Ethiopia has stretched out her hands towards God and has been waiting patiently for some great benefit; and it is only now that God has caused her, at Your Majesty’s hand, to be favoured by the divine blessing.
It is by His creating the whole world with inviolable and firm laws, determined for ever, that the Creator causes us to believe in His existence and supreme rulership.
It is through manifesting, by thorough study, the Creator’s law and through observing it that man’s greatness is particularly recognized. In this way he brings honour upon himself and also serves his fellows. To confer suitable benefits upon Ethiopia, nothing better could be done than to set up a constitution. Nobody will fail to appreciate that it was because Your Majesty was above all convinced that no greater benefit appropriate for Ethiopia could be found that by Your own will You established a basis for the foundation of Your government and determined a constitution for the governance of the people-and not on account of some fanciful or other reason.
While all this was planned not only for those of us who are alive now, We realize that it was done with a view to safeguarding the independence of the coming generation; hence our gratitude is sincere.
Since Your Majesty is convinced that laying a foundation for government and setting up a pillar of law is the main consideration required for safeguarding our generation, we natives of Ethiopia and all Your subjects are able to appreciate and to assess the value of this and to recognize the advantages which You have wrought for us; therefore, all Your toil will not be in vain. But for this favour which You have done for us who live at the present time, can we ever know how to make an adequate return? Or can a counter-favour, whatever it may be, ever be sufficient?
Before making the appropriate response to this question which I have posed, may I first request Your Majesty graciously to accept my sincere gratitude which I present before Your throne for having permitted me, Your humble servant, the interpretation of this great concept before this august assembly.
Your Highnesses the Princes, Your Excellencies the chiefs and officials! What I request of you now is to permit me to explain to you the interpretation of the thoughts underlying the decree promulgated on 9th Hamle (= 16th July), so that you may be aware of the profundity and subtlety of the idea, of who is to be the beneficiary of it, and what we are to do to render adequate return for His Majesty’s great favour.
Well then, I will myself provide answer and discussion to the matters I have mentioned above and if, after listening patiently, you find frivolity in what I say, you must chide me; but if you discover matters of substance, you should store them in your heart.
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