Greetings in the name of His & Her Imperial Majesties Qedamawi Haile Sellassie I & Itege Menen Asfaw,
I welcome you all to a yet another posting here Ras Tafari Renaissance on what should be known hence as the “Patriot’s Victory Day.” In Ethiopia, Patriots’ Victory Day is an Ethiopian public holiday that marks the end of the Italian occupation which was the prelude to World War II (WWII). It commemorates those who died during the occupation and honors the veterans of the resistance movement. This holiday is celebrated on May 5th annually, as to commemorate the original dates. Ethiopia, was the only African country to retain its sovereignty & not become a colony. However, its independence was interrupted by the Second Italo-Ethiopian war and invasion of Italian Fascist regime that started in October, 1935. The war resulted in the military occupation of the country.
Italian troops entered Addis Ababa on the 5th of May 1936, then hoisted the Italian tricolor bandera (flag) in front of the Italian legation. Thus, the occupation of Ethiopia began. At the early stages of WWII, the British forces helped patriot Ethiopian fighters liberate the country. Some French, Soviet, a few numbered among the Swedish were accounted for in the assistance during that period of time; but, probably of the most overlooked contributions to the WWII African Victory were the advances made by the Afro American & Afro Caribbean communities.
Emperor Haile Sellassie made his entrance into Addis Ababa on May 5, 1941. He had deliberately chosen the date because the capital had fallen exactly five years earlier. Patriots’ Victory Day was declared to commemorate the end of the occupation.
On the occasion of Patriots’ Victory Day, solemn wreath-laying ceremonies are held at war memorials and monuments throughout the country. The main ceremony takes place in the capital of Addis Ababa, it is attended by government officials, military leaders and diplomats as well as representatives of patriot associations and city residents.
Benito Mussolini had been eyeing Ethiopia (also known from Italian coinage as “Abyssinia”) as an economic colony to be added to Italian Somaliland, in East Africa, since the 1920s. He hoped to resettle 10 million Italians in a unified East Africa.
Britain and France, both fearing that a general war would be harmful to their collective security, proposed secret negotiations with Italy, wherein Italy would be offered territory in Ethiopia’s northeast; in exchange, Mussolini would end his aggression. Ethiopia would only be told of this negotiation after the fact; should Selassie reject the terms, France and Britain were off the hook, having made a “good faith” effort at peace. They could then oppose further sanctions against Italy, even propose that the ones in place be removed, thereby sparing themselves a confrontation with Mussolini. But the plans for the secret negotiation were leaked to the press, and both Britain and France were humiliated publicly for selling out a weaker League (i.e. League of Nations later become United Nations) partner.
Today, also marks the Mexican celebration and commemoration of what is known as Cinco de Mayo. This day for those of Mexican heritage that is celebrated for the victory of the Mexican Army over French forces on May 5th, 1862.
In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has taken on a significance beyond that in Mexico having its variations in the sense of how it is memorialized. Cinco de Mayo, is also most times confused with the Independence Day of Mexico but, in actuality its symbolizes more of the maintenance of Independence in defense of one’s country. Mexico had already been liberated since September 18, 1810. Now, one may ask why are these two countries mentioned here…? But, there significance in relation is closer than ones might think. For starters, the African presence is a hidden one but once discovered its undeniably attached to African just as much as the African presence in North America.
Ones tend to forget the African presence in such places as Mexico seeing as how it has been suppressed from the view of many in the known world. San Lorenzo de Los Negros was officially recognized by Spanish authorities as a free black settlement. It would later be referred to as Yanga (or Nyanga), named after its founder.
His Majesty Haile Selassie I also made a diplomatic visit to Mexico in where there was not only gifts exchanged but, a since of culture, language, historic relevance as well as comradely among the Mexican and Ethiopic heritages. Ethiopia holding its significant place in antiquity being known by most high lettered scholars as the genesis of what would become the Nubian & Dynastic Ancient Egyptian empires showed its flashes of greatness from pre-historic times with ties deeply rooted in the Meso-American peninsula. Ethiopian diplomats along with Selassie were taken on tours around Mexico to the step-pyramids, the holding places of the Olmecan relics and much much more. This all showing and providing the instances that Mexico, as a entire country would be the only country in all the world that supported the defense of Ethiopia from Fascist Italy during the time of WWII.
At the League of Nations, Mexico was one of only five member-states to condemn the Italian invasion and occupation of Ethiopia. A few years after World War II, diplomatic relations between Ethiopia and Mexico were established in 1949. In 1954, Emperor Haile Selassie became the first ever African head of state to pay an official visit to Mexico.
Mexico was opposed to all the points within the proposition, and withdrew/removed itself from the reunion.
June 19, 1954 The Emperor Haile Selassie I made his visit to Mexico and was interviewed by Mexican leader Lazaro Cardenas. Ethiopia does not forget that Mexico denied recognition of the acts commited by the Italian forces, and that it raised the voice in defense of the reason, of truth, of justice and of right, we employ the word “Brothers” with the most upright exactitude when reffering to Mexico and to all Mexicans.”
The commemoration of Mexico’s assistance to Ethiopia during its occupation by Italy; Ethiopia named a center square in Addis Ababa “Mexico Square”. In 2010, the Mexican government donated a replica of an Olmec colossal head to Ethiopia where it was placed in Mexico Square. On the 22nd of June, 1954, a traffic circle in Mexico City was named “Plaza Etiopía”, under which in August 1980, a metro station in Mexico City was built and named Metro Etiopía.
In 2014, two-way trade between Ethiopia and Mexico amounted to $5.9 million USD. Mexico’s main exports to Ethiopia include: landing gears, knives and electronic equipment. Ethiopia’s main exports to Mexico include: sesame seeds and industrial equipment to make shoes. Between 1999 – 2011 Ethiopian direct investments in Mexico amounted to $2.5 million USD. Ethiopia is Mexico’s 141st biggest trading partner globally.
Now, another hidden historical fact of the significance of Mexico, America, Haiti & Ethiopia is one yet to be publicized in mass for people to give honor to. This is the story of William Henry Ellis “the Moor/Moore” [also translated to the Spanish Guillaume Enriques Ellesio].
(1st Afro-American Emissary to Ethiopia) ca.1903
William H. Ellis, whose name also was, Guillaume Enriques Ellesio (Guillermo Enrique Eliseo), nicknamed The Moor/Moore/Mor is reportedly and supposedly to be a Haitian-Cuban-Mexican-African American businessman. He is known for being one of the first to attempt to develop links between African-Americans and Ethiopia in the late nineteenth century.
Ellis was born in Texas in 1864. He worked as a cowboy in Texas and Mexico before entering the University in Tennessee. He entered the business world as a wool and leather dealer in San Antonio in 1886.
In 1889, Ellis announced America’s ambition to “colonize” Mexico with but in the wave of that episode of history took many black Americans, many seeking liberty in the after math of the American Civil War also the Emancipation Proclamation, founded a colony that was more like a commonwealth/communtiy near Mapimí or Tlahualilo, in the Durango, Mexican state (respectively) in 1894-95, aside from the attempted colonization of Mexico at that time; but, in time, that ambition fell short of completion. Ellis, then moved to New York in 1897 where he became Agent Exchange on Wall Street.
In 1903, W.H. Ellis arrives in Addis Ababa accompanied by Benito Sylvain who was from Haiti, with a double objective: provide refuge in Ethiopia for African-Americans, and there develop business and development plans. Ellis knows he can find opportunities in Ethiopia. As a wool and leather salesman, he speculated that Ethiopia sell almost a large amount of its production to the United States.
Menelik II, who knows his companion Benito Sylvain, receives Ellis. A prominent physician from the West Indies; Haiti to be specific, & Dr. Joseph Vitalien, also journeyed to Ethiopia and eventually became the Emperor’s trusted physician. Although Ellis parte before its commissioner, Skinner arrives in December 1903, he played a key role in the negotiations, returning in 1904 with a signed agreement. Menelik II granted land concessions Ellis for growing cotton. But the dream of Ellis was not realized. In 1906, the Emperor suffers a hemorrhage and becomes disabled; he died in 1913.
In one of his communications, Ellis relates a conversation with Emperor Menelik II on US President Abraham Lincoln and his struggle to keep the country united and, in the process also open the way for the legal manumission of slaves. “Tears came to his eyes,” says Ellis, as Emperor Menelik II heard of “the liberation of slaves…” in America, and he exclaimed, “What a great man!” More importantly, a theme that was to become the basis for relations of amity, trust and mutual respect between the United States and Ethiopia were the slogans, “America for Americans,” “Europe for Europeans,” and “Africa for Africans.” The Emperor loudly acclaimed the last refrain, Africa For Africans, telling Ellis to repeat that for him. Ellis says that he successfully conveyed the idea that whereas “other nations (Europeans) came to Africa to take the land, America was alone without land in Africa and wanted none. She only wanted liberty and trade.”
It is not known if Emperor Menelik II and Ellis talked about Liberia, which was a sort of stepchild of America; also with such inner workings had the cryptic appearances of a colonial attempt especially since the ACS or American Colonization Society was at the helm of the proposed repatriation of African slaves back to their land of ancestry. Even mores, seeing as many of the seemingly first elected officials were of mixed decent even with the initial first elected president of Liberia having a heavily mixed heritage with possible allegiances that may or may not have gone unspoken of. At any rate, the belief that the United States did not wish to conquer or colonize Africa remained a guiding policy premise of successive Ethiopian rulers for the next three quarters of a century. It was, as we shall see anon, reaffirmed and even sanctified by Emperor Haile Sellassie I, for over fifty years right down to the end of his era in 1974.
The Line of Liberty: Fugitive slaves and Peons on the Texas-Mexico borderlines by James David Nichols.