Ten Interesting Facts about Ethiopia and Nelson Mandela
Today celebrates Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday.
It is also the third annual International Nelson Mandela Day.
Here are ten interesting facts about Ethiopia and Nelson Mandela.
1 – Nelson Mandela wrote in his Autobiography,
“Ethiopia always has a special place in my imagination and the prospect of visiting Ethiopia attracted me more strongly than a trip to France, England, and America combined. I felt I would be visiting my own genesis, unearthing the roots of what made me an African. ”
2 – During his period in exile, Nelson Mandela spent time in Ethiopia in 1962 where he received military training and where he addressed the Organization of African Unity. It was shortly after leaving Ethiopia to South Africa when he was arrested, serving 27 years in prison.
3 – Would you like to stay in the same room slept in by Nelson Mandela? Travel no further than the Ras Hotel in downtown Addis Ababa.
4 – During his stay in Ethiopia, Nelson Mandela received an Ethiopian passport under the alias David Motsamayi.
5 – According to CNN and the British Telegraph, Mandela is said to have recieved a Bulgarian-made handgun by Ethiopian Colonel General Biru Tadesse in 1962. It was reportedly buried in South Africa and much effort is being made to find it. If found, it could be worth over $2 million dollars.
6 – According to an interview with Time Magazine editor Richard Stengel, Nelson Mandela met and spoke to Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie on one occassion where Mandela is quoted saying “I explained to him very briefly what was happening in South Africa…He was seated on his chair, listening like a log…not nodding, just immovable, you know, like a statue…”
7 – Following his release in Feburary 1990, Nelson Mandela returned to Ethiopia in July 1990, as part of his worldwide tour, timed for the opening of the OAU summit. The Washington TIMES reported that “the Organization of African Unity opened its annual summit here yesterday by giving anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela a hero’s reception.”
8 – Nelson Mandela is also quoted associating the significance of Ethiopia and Ethiopianism as the inspiration for the formation for his political party the African National Congress(ANC) in December 1992 at the Free Ethiopian Church of Southern Africa, where he is quoted saying “Fundamental tenets of the Ethiopian Movement were self-worth, self-reliance and freedom. These tenets drew the advocates of Ethiopianism, like a magnet, to the growing political movement. That political movement was to culminate in the formation of the ANC in 1912. It is in this sense that the ANC we trace the seeds of the formation of our organisation to the Ethiopian Movement of the 1890s.”
9 – It was noted that during the second annual International Nelson Mandela Day in 2011 that 2,300 tress were planted around Addis Ababa in Mandela’s honour, according to Ms. Clara Keisuetter, Charge de Affair of the South Africa Embassy.
10 – The legacy of Nelson Mandela will continue to remain in Ethiopia. Today in Addis Ababa, there is the Mandela Distance Education College; and at Addis Ababa University, the Nelson Mandela Center. In the city of Arba Minch, there is now a school named after Nelson Mandela in his honor.
Happy BIRTHDAY Nelson Mandela! Melkam Lidete!
(Photo: Mandela’s Ethiopian Passport)