Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/1/2020 (190 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Manitoba Historical Society is bringing royalty to Winnipeg.
The grandson of the late Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie I will be the guest of honour and keynote speaker at a formal dinner and speech March 28 at the Fort Garry Hotel.
Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie, one of a few pretenders to the throne, lives in Washington, D.C., and serves as head of Ethiopia’s Crown Council in exile.
His famous grandfather was an internationalist who helped found the United Nations. In 1936, at the League of Nations, he condemned Italy’s use of chemical weapons against Ethiopians during the Second Italo-Ethiopian War. He’s been credited with modernizing Ethiopia and raising the profile of Africa on the world stage.
In the Rastafarian movement that began in Jamaica in the 1930s, Selassie (1892-1975) is revered as a messiah and his words are remembered in the Bob Marley song War.
For Winnipeggers set to welcome his grandson, Selassie and his legacy are a source of pride.
"We’re excited to see him," said Markos Tegegn, chairman of the non-profit Ethio-Canadian Charitable Promotional Award.
"He has done a very good job by promoting Ethiopia," said Tegegn, who plans to attend the event. "The emperor was one of the founders of the African Union and promoted equality and rights for all."
Selassie visited Canada three times, and was interviewed in Winnipeg in 1967 on his way by train to Expo 67 in Montreal.
His grandson, who was featured with other exiled royals in a Vanity Fair article two years ago, is keeping his memory alive, said Manitoba Historical Society board member Bashir Khan.
The local organization invited the prince to Winnipeg in an effort to promote racial and cultural equality between the West and Africa, he said.
"I like to give Africa her rightful place of respect, dignity and equality in comparison to the western civilization and culture," said Khan.
Seeing Manitoba’s historical society honouring the contributions of an African leader is a welcome sight for Ali Saeed.
The Winnipeg man who immigrated from Ethiopia decades ago said the society does good work, but much of its focus has been "dominated by western history and bringing in only whites (to speak)," said Saeed.
"This is the first black person. It’s good," said the human rights advocate who was a victim of torture before coming to Canada.
"I think it’s a big deal for supporters of King Selassie... He’s the founder of the African Union and fought colonialism," said Saeed.
"On the other hand, it’s very tough for people subjugated by him," Saeed said, referring to trade union leaders who represented factory workers who were oppressed and poorly paid under the emperor’s system.
A famine in Ethiopia in 1973 led to Selassie’s removal from the throne. He was strangled to death in 1975, at age 83, following a military coup.
The military regime that replaced Selassie was worse beyond comparison, said Saeed.
"The military dictators took half-a-million people and had them killed."
Carol Sanders’ reporting on newcomers to Canada has made international headlines, earned national recognition but most importantly it’s shared the local stories of the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home.
Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.
Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.
To those who have made donations, thank you.
To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.
The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.
While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.
After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.
If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.
We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.
Updated on Thursday, January 2, 2020 at 9:56 PM CST: Adds photo