My Life and Ethiopia’s Progress Vol1 (Ch 35 pt2)

Later on We received reliable information that the Italians had crossed the frontiers in the north and in the south and had dropped bombs on several of our cities, killing people and burning houses. As We felt that it was right for us to defend our country’s independence as far as possible, although we did not even possess adequate modern equipment for defensive purposes, We directed the following proclamation of mobilization to be issued on 22nd Maskaram 1928 (= 3rd October 1935):


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‘The Lion of Judah has prevailed.
Haile Sellassie I, Elect of God,
King of Kings of Ethiopia.

People of my country Ethiopia! You know Ethiopia’s ancient tradition since the days of Menelik I and that she is well known and honoured for her independence.

Forty years ago today, Italy, boasting of her ability and strength, had wanted to acquire our people as slaves after destroying Ethiopia’s independence. When she came into our country to fight us, our God who does not like violence helped us, and when He gave us victory we did not seek to recover our land that had gone. As Italy violated the borders in the Hamasien and Somali regions and took away our patrimony, your eye can see and your ear can hear the yoke of serfdom which our brothers, who live in the areas she has usurped, have had to bear.


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While We are sad at the violence wrought against them and while We do not seek to recover Our lost lands, Italy is now thinking of imposing the yoke of bondage upon the people who live in the whole of Our country. Having brought war, surreptitiously, to the Ogaden region, she is killing Our people who do not seek conflict and she is violating the treaty which we had concluded. We for our part had entered a League of Nations that was established for the sake of world peace and, therefore, We informed the League with the intention that the offender be identified once the Walwal conflict had been looked into by the arbitrators according to the law.

Even before the matter could be examined and adjudicated by the arbitrators, Italy had brought the war close to the frontiers of the Tigre and Ogaden; We, therefore, had to notify the League of Nations once more, and it issued a verdict in our favour, deciding that the matter was to be looked into by the arbitrators. When the latter had investigated the matter, they found in our favour, determining that the Ethiopian Government had done no wrong and carried no responsibility for the attack which had taken place at Walwal. As all this was going on, Italy did not for the time being abandon the continuation of warlike activities in the direction of our borders. While Italy was reckoning to corrupt with blandishments every intention of Ours to have the matter peacefully settled by arbitral verdict, she coveted Our venerable country-meaning to deprive her of her liberty and to destroy it-which was well known for her antiquity and which has lived in freedom for more than 3000 years. I would be very distressed if we were to be thought of as being defeated; therefore, people of my country Ethiopia, help me, you who have strength with your strength, you who lack strength with your sympathy! The reason for which you are to help with strength and with sympathy is that you know it to be for the sake of your religion and your freedom, for your Emperor who, in mutual thought and assistance, is like a father and like a son, and for the sake of your flag which proudly manifests independence.


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A nation without freedom is tantamount to a people driven from its land being pushed like cattle by the hand of the enemy, one that lives in bitter affliction and in humiliation as a tenant watching its inheritance in its own country in the hands of other men, which has no control over its possessions and its livelihood, not even over the soil of its grave, and which exists by inheriting serfdom that passes on to the next generation. With other people at least, when a king or a bishop dies-being human-his descendant is substituted for him. But when a country’s independence is extinguished there is no replacement; while serfdom passes on from one generation to the next, it is an eternal prisoner living with a name that does not die; and however proud Italy may be of her equipment, she too is known to share in death.


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1) If you withhold from your country Ethiopia the death from cough or head-cold of which you would otherwise die, refusing to resist (in your district, in your patrimony, and in your home) our enemy who is coming from a distant country to attack us, and if you persist in not shedding your blood, you will be rebuked for it by your Creator and will be cursed by your offspring. Hence, without cooling your heart of accustomed valour, there emerges your decision to fight fiercely, mindful of your history that will last far into the future.

(2) Let your levy of troops, without men being separated from their leader and servants from their master, be mobilized on 12th Teqemt (= 23rd October) at Mika’el near Dessie. If on your march you touch any property inside houses or cattle and crops outside, not even grass, straw, and dung excluded, it is like killing your brother who is dying with you; you will then be punished by paying twice over for his property.

(3) You, countryman, living at the various access routes, set up a market for the army at the places where it is camping and on the day your district-governor will indicate to you, lest the soldiers campaigning for Ethiopia’s liberty should experience difficulty. You will not be charged excise duty, until the end of the campaign, for anything you are marketing at the military camps: I have granted you remission.

(4) You, country-squire, take your sons who have reached military age and set out with your district-governor, while the deputy district-governor gives you a stand-in who will be responsible for the protection of your land. But you who are unable to go on a military expedition, owing to old age, guard your district; let your sons set out with the district-governor!

(5) Sons of chiefs and soldiers, if you have reached military age and have not hitherto joined a military unit and have not entered the service of a master and remain without taking any work in the country, yet if you possess a rifle I will assign to you ammunition and your provisions; if you do not possess a rifle I shall let you have a rifle, ammunition and your provisions; and then join your district-governor for the military campaign.

(6) All you soldiers who have come back and stay in your respective districts, having left your army unit after enlisting in it earlier on, rejoin your officer and your regiment and go on the military campaign. You servants of noblemen and of soldiers who live in the country, if you stay there because you have quarrelled, make your peace and join your master in the war. But if you claim that you have been gravely wronged and therefore cannot be reconciled with your master, may you then come quickly to Addis Ababa, consigning to your master, before a War Ministry judge, the equipment and any property you had received in the regiment; and then get an officer and a rifle from the War Ministry, in order to get back to the military operations.

(7) You, who are peasants and traders, are to obey the orders which the deputy in charge of the district gives you and to assist him in any difficulties he may encounter, having enumerated before your district-governor’s village chief and noted down in a register any metal or rifles you possess.

(8) If you are a trader, a peasant, or a priest in your own particular district, I shall pay you the cost of transportation; so bring things to me at the place of mobilization, loading up even what is usually set aside for grain tithe.

(9) After you have been ordered to go to war, but are then idly missing from the campaign, and when you are seized by the local chief or by an accuser, you will have punishment inflicted upon your inherited land, your property, and your body; to the accuser I shall grant a third of your property.

(10) If previously you have murdered someone and fear the avenger, or if you are a brigand and have set a house on fire, or have robbed a man of his money and have fled and now live in the forest or the mountain precipices, I grant you a pardon; so enlist with your superior officer by 5th Teqemt (= 16th October). When you enlist with your officer and as you are inscribed in the district governor’s register, I shall entrust you to a mediator Ligaba, and with him or with your officer you are to go to war. But if you fail to surrender on the day fixed for you, you will be hanged in the district where you have been apprehended. You who are the family of the deceased, I shall pay you the blood-money; hence excuse your avenger for my sake.

(11) If, after the campaign proclamation has been issued, you are found committing acts of brigandage or supplying to the enemy provisions or anything at all, you will be deprived of your patrimony and property. You will be punished mercilessly and have the death penalty inflicted on you.’

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