Reply to Chief Sudanese Negotiators

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Reply to Chief Sudanese Negotiators  (1972) 
by Haile Selassie, translated by Haile Selassie I Press
February 29, 1972

Opening[edit]

We all know the difficulties which the Sudan faced. The government of the Republic of the Sudan is to be congratulated for its efforts in finding a peaceful solution to the South Sudan problem. We are extremely happy that both sides of the nation, the north and the south, were able to conduct the talks in a spirit of the noble mission of national interest and not just for short-run interests.

This is why the attention of Africa was focused on the delicate and happily successful negotiations which were conducted in our Capital city.

We and Our government are extremely happy that a peaceful solution has been found to the southern problem. The understanding which prevailed during the talks showed that both sides of the nation were able to concentrate on the larger interest of a united Sudan. They were not misled by short-term and by purely personal gain, but by the vision of a peaceful and prosperous future for all the people of the Sudan. This is what prevailed during your talks that have just successfully concluded here.

This is as it should be, for when brothers quarrel, as it happens from time to time, they come together and discuss the issues concerned in a very open manner and attempt to arrive at mutually agreed solutions. We are most delighted that the Sudan achieved this today.

We have expressed to Your Excellency that the unity and territorial integrity of Sudan is a matter of supreme national interest to Ethiopia. We say this because the stronger a nation is, it would be in a better position to consolidate its national interests, establish brotherly relations with its neighbours and contribute, in a significant way, to the maintenance of peace and security. We have often said that more closer co-operation between our two nations is a matter of national interest to our two peoples: thus Ethiopia has an interest in the national unity and political independence of the brotherly people of the Sudan.

Division — Colonial Legacy[edit]

In the past, one could say the divisions that existed in the ranks of Africans were due in some measures to the legacy of colonial administration. The manner in which they administered their former territories, the manner in which they attempted to indicate divisions among African peoples along tribal lines, sometimes along lines of special interest, were designed to perpetuate their colonial system. Africa has now awakened to this evil legacy of colonialism.

All of us realize that if nations are to be divided along tribal lines and then along village lines — for in each tribe there are again sub-divisions — then we have autonomous villages which cannot defend themselves and which cannot work as a nation. These weak units in turn weaken Africa, and the continent will be vulnerable to colonial-type exploitation.

The strengthening of a nation and, indeed, that of amalgamating the various sub-groups in African nations contribute to make that nation viable and strong. When a nation is strong, the interests of the ethnic groups within it are protected. This is a lesson that we must learn in Africa, for there are those forces of evil which wish greater dissension in the African ranks. But we know our interest lie in consolidating the national interest of each African country and in consolidating the interests of African countries on a continental basis.

We have often said that African Unity cannot be realized if there is division and dissension within its component parts — nations. The agreement that has been reached by the government of the Sudan and the South Sudan in Our capital city is of more than momentary importance. It augurs well for all the peoples in this part of the world and for all the peoples of Africa at large.

The tangible results achieved in the talks held here in the last two weeks show that man is basically rational when faced with grave issues which affect the unity, the prosperity of his homeland. This our friends have been able to achieve today. We look with admiration at the policies pursued by H.E. President El-Ni-meiri. We can say it is a rational policy of reconciliation and a policy for the pursuit of peace. We pay tribute to his efforts in this regard and We are happy that he is succeeding in his policies of creating greater understanding within his country as well as with the neighbouring nations.

We feel that the fragmentation of a nation along tribal and ethnic lines is contrary to the will of survival and to the force of logic, because even for the tribes to survive they must stand together. Hence fragmentation along tribal lines is contrary to the nation's survival, for there is no tribe strong enough by itself to defend its interests. Fragmentation is indeed contrary to the laws of nature itself.

In this connection, We would like to express Our gratitude and the gratitude of Our nation to the distinguished members of the World Council of Churches, who have contributed so much to bring the parties together and who were instrumental in reaching the happy results we witness today. We salute them on this auspicious occasion. They represent the best tradition of the Church — the pursuit of peace and the promotion of brotherly relations among their fellow men. All the sacrifices that they have made and the manner in Which they discharged their duties deserve them sincere congratulations.

We would also wish to thank Your Excellency for the very kind words that you have said. We will do everything within Our power to help execute the understanding that has been reached between the two sides in Our capital city. May God help you in consolidating the interests of your nation.

Goodwill Prevailed[edit]

Without goodwill on both sides, today's agreement would not have been possible. What has been achieved shows the magnanimity of the people of Southern Sudan and the government and people of the country. The agreement towards accommodating the interests of all concerned in such vital questions calls for greater understanding and goodwill. Understanding between two groups within a nation is not an easy task. We are delighted that you have been successful in reaching such an understanding.

Although We were not present in all of your deliberations, nevertheless, We were there with you in spirit. The occasion that brought you here today is a triumph to the government of the Sudan, the people of Southern Sudan and to Ethiopia. It has been said that no one can put asunder what God has joined together. And this has been manifested today by the understanding and good spirit which prevailed during the successful talks between brotherly peoples.

In reply to a speech by Canon Burgess Carr, who presented a copy of the Addis Ababa agreement on Southern Sudan to the Emperor on behalf of the World Council of Churches, His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I said:

As We have said earlier, We are very grateful for the part the World Council of Churches and the All-Africa Conference of Churches have played in bringing the two brothers together. As instruments of God, you have carried out His Will for peace and justice. You were able to bring two brothers together again. What joy is there more than this? What you have done is of a lasting value.

This, you managed to do in accordance with the dictates of our Creator, Who said to you, the leaders of His church: "Go and teach men to live in peace, in justice and in brotherhood". And you have carried out the Will of the Lord.

You would not have succeeded in your deliberations if the blessing and goodwill of God did not prevail in the meeting.

May God bless this agreement and its execution for the interest of all the people of the Sudan. And so once again, We extend our gratitude to the World Council of Churches, to the All-Africa Conference of Churches and to all church groups who were involved in this noble undertaking.

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.