1963 University graduation speech

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1963 University graduation speech  (1963) 
by Haile Selassie, translated by Haile Selassie I Press
July 2, 1963

It gives Us great pleasure to congratulate all the students, who through their earnest efforts have overcome the various obstacles in their way and have achieved success in their studies. Man desires many things, but it is the individual's duty and responsibility to desire the proper things. Anyone who makes the wrong choices will be a burden, not only to himself but to future generations. As We have mentioned over and over again, the test of what you students have obtained through your education will be what you are able to accomplish in the future. Great responsibilities await you. You must show the real worth of your education by the way in which you shoulder these responsibilities. We are confident that you will bring a blessing to your country, your families, to all those who have planned and labored for you, and to yourselves.

This University came into being as a result of the dreams of many years. It is indeed gratifying to note that a larger number are graduating this year than in previous years. This fact gives Us confidence that the many positions which have been waiting to be filled by well qualified men and women will increasingly be filled. This encourages Us and strengthens Our confidence that We shall reach the goals that we have set for Our country. Since education is one of the basic needs of any country, we have to provide opportunities for education throughout Our Empire.

Our many plans for development call for skilled and well-trained personnel, men who should come from Our various institutions of higher learning, individuals who will be the pride of the country. It is they who will perform a real service for their country, for any plan which does not have the proper personnel to execute it will remain a mere plan on paper.

We need well-qualified people who are proud of being Ethiopians; people who are proud of being Africans; people who are prepared to execute the plans that have already been envisioned. These are the caliber of men who should be produced in Our university.

The person who, even while at school, realizes the needs of his country and has proper sense of values and urgency will see what is needed, and will be able to fill it. He need not be separated from his country and its culture before being prepared to handle a position of responsibility. It was because We realized that a national university would help in this training process that We gladly turned over the site and buildings which We inherited from Our father for the establishment of this university.

In order that this university might maintain standards equal to those of other universities, the members of the faculty should possess qualifications equal to those faculties elsewhere; and the students themselves should be equal to students of other universities. They should all be inspired by devotion to their country and loyalty to their leaders. Steadfastness and perseverance are invaluable in attaining these goals. We will know that this university has reached its maturity when We can see a sufficient number of qualified men and women being produced, and an increasing number of students coming forward eagerly to take advantage of the opportunities it affords.

It is through this university and other similar institutions of higher learning that We can best preserve the culture of Our country and interpret Our esteemed heritage to the world at large. We should understand, therefore, that this university must be a place not only to prepare men and women for their various vocations, but also to help them gain a better knowledge of their culture and a desire to disseminate it.

The growth of this university and the establishment and development of other comparable institutions will depend upon you. The increasing number of succeeding elementary and secondary schools are not sufficient to provide instruction for all the children of the Empire, and We are therefore planning to establish thousands more of such institutions, but the problem is to awaken the people to the need for such schools and to get capable instructors to teach the various subjects in the language of the people. We are grateful to God that today, through the training imparted by the various colleges and faculties of the university, the problem of teacher shortage is beginning to be solved.

The molding of the young minds of future generations will depend upon these teachers, for theirs is a great responsibility; and We would like to remind them that they should take to heart this obligation and act accordingly. Education is a means of sharpening the mind of man both spiritually and intellectually. It is a two-edged sword that can be used either for the progress of mankind or for its destruction. that is why it has been Our constant desire and endeavor to develop our education for the benefit of mankind.

A qualified man with vision, unmoved by daily selfish interests, will be led to right decisions by his conscience. In general, a man who knows from whence he comes and where he is going will co-operate with his fellow human beings. He will not be satisfied with merely doing his ordinary duties but will inspire others by his good example. You are being watched by the nation and you should realize that you will satisfy it if you do good; but if, on the contrary, you do evil, it will lose its hope and its confidence in you.

Though life is short, one should live and act in such a way that his achievements will bring him and his country a good name forever. If he does not use his training for worthy ends, he will be an enemy to himself and an obstacle to others. He will, indeed, be sick while supposedly healthy and dead while still alive.

Simply watching other people's achievements is a characteristic of the lazy man. But it is to be hoped that Our students, properly valuing great achievements, many of which are the result of education, will not be satisfied to be mere onlookers, admiring the work of other men, but doers actively participating in the development of their country. Records of the past reveal the great achievements of our forefathers. It is up to us to try to emulate them, for they will be standing in judgement of us.

We have many natural resources and fertile lands which await our skill so that they may be developed to bring prosperity to the country. The qualified technicians are already beginning to develop the country. Is this not a blessing brought to Us by education?

It is only when man becomes master of his fate able to determine his destiny that he can be free from fears and inferiority. Such and individual or a nation stands respected by all. For us Africans, the conference of the Heads of States held in May last, is an adequate proof that we are determined to be masters of Our fate; owners of Our wealth; and capable of removing the adjective dark from the name of Our continent.

Education, that of the nation and of the individual, is the bastion of this goal; and it's this realization that has in the past induced Us to offer scholarships for Our fellow Africans to study in Ethiopia.

It was while we were yet the Crown Prince, energized by the love for education which Our father instilled in Us, that we vigorously pursued the path of education for Our land. We have, ever since, perseveringly and increasingly followed that path and we are now more than ever before convinced that it is education that heals Africa.

It is this conviction that has so recently caused Us to establish with our own personal funds a trust to assist Africans on the road to higher learning. The aim of the trust is to enable Ethiopians and other Africans of excellence to proceed further in their fields of pursuit.

And you, who are graduating today, because you have received better opportunities than your fellow countrymen through a university education, have a new door opened to you to struggle for that degree of excellence in the service of your country and humanity.

We are deeply indebted to the lecturers and professors who have labored unceasingly to make this occasion possible and We exhort them to work ever more in the training of young and competent men for the service of their country. And for you who are graduating today, may the Almighty make your future clear and challenging.

This is a translation and has a separate copyright status from the original text. The license for the translation applies to this edition only.
Original:
This work is in the public domain because it was first created in Ethiopia.

Under Title XI of the 1960 Ethiopian Civil Code, copyright exists only during the lifetime of the author.

In addition, any potential Ethiopian copyrights are non-binding in the United States, according to Circ. 38a of the US Copyright Office.

Translation:
This work is in the public domain worldwide because it has been so released by the copyright holder.