CONSEQUENCES OF THE BRITISH OCCUPATION OF ETHIOPIA DURING WORLD WAR II
byTheodore M. Vestal, Oklahoma State University, Rediscovering the British Empire (Melbourne,FL: Krieger, 2001)
Barry Ward (eds)
The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) is a troubled state. One of the least developed nations of the world, the FDRE came into existence under a questionable mandate on 21 August 1995 and has been severely criticized for abusing human rights, thwarting democratic processes, and fostering “ethnic federalism” based on ethnic distrust and hatred.1 The dominant “Woyane” Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF), linchpin of the ruling Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition, epitomizes the antipathy between ethnic groups in its thinly disguised discrimination against Amharas. The eastern part of the country, where wars have been fought over territories claimed by “Greater Somalia,” is bedeviled by armed conflicts between FDRE and anti-government forces. Other opponents of the current regime, criticize the government’s acquiescence in “giving away” the former province of Eritrea, now an independent and sovereign nation. Although the origins of many of the FDRE’s difficulties can be traced not only to internal tensions but also to Cold War rivalries between the U.S. and the USSR in the Horn of Africa, at least three of the major problems plaguing the fledgling republic–those concerned with Eritrea, Somalia, and the aversion of the Woyane toward the Amharas–can be attributed, at least in part, to British military occupation and administration of Ethiopia and neighboring areas from 1941-1952. This essay will review significant events during that period when Great Britain was the hegemonic power in the Horn and attempt to relate them to the three present day problems in Ethiopia.
BRITISH INTEREST IN THE HORN OF AFRICA
The interests of the British Empire in the Horn of Africa were strategic and economic. Strategically, control of the Horn helped to safeguard British world power. As pointed out by Robinson and Gallagher, the Mediterranean and Indian interests, were the driving wheel in the machine of Empire, and the Horn of Africa was one of several lesser wheels connecting them. But the British territorial claims in the lands on the Red Sea were not made for the sake of African empire or commerce as such. They were part of a giant security system protecting communication links between the British Isles, the Mediterranean, and India.2 Great Britain’s position in the world depended upon the security of these communications until the end of World War II and the ensuing decline of her colonial empire. After 1945, new security interests came into play with the Horn of Africa helping to hold the Soviets at bay in Africa and serving as a safeguard for the passage of the Middle Eastern oil that was becoming indispensable to western Europe.3
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the British encouraged Egyptian and especially Italian territorial ambitions in the Horn to counter French, Russian, or Belgian designs on the region. The Italians colonized Eritrea and Italian Somaliland. The French occupied the strategic port of Djibouti and surrounding lands. And the British themselves claimed a portion of Somaliland as well as exercising their influence in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. At the time of World War I, Great Britain’s imperial ambition included a project for establishing a protectorate over Abyssinia, which was thought to offer scope for commercial concessions and white settlement. But the scheme encountered diplomatic and economic obstacles and was abandoned in 1919. Thereafter, the British were content to tolerate an uncolonized Ethiopia, so long as no enemies were in control of the Red Sea ports. Until the 1930s, the British government believed that her commercial interests would prevail in an undivided Ethiopia that would promote wider equality of commercial opportunity. Thus, Britain’s informal imperialism in an unpartitioned Ethiopia probably saved Abyssinian territorial integrity.4
THE BONDING OF BRITAIN AND ETHIOPIA: WORLD WAR II
The destinies of the British and the Ethiopian empires became physically entwined in 1936 when the Emperor Haile Selassie, following his defeat by Mussolini’s fascist army, took up residence in exile in Great Britain. Although many Britains were outraged by the “betrayal” of Ethiopia by the League of Nations in the mid-1930s, the British Government was reluctant to give the Emperor recognition. Indeed, according to Alan Moorehead, some British colonial officers had “a great deal of sympathy for the Italian settlers and administrators…who in the few years they had been in Abyssinia were making a titanic effort to produce another model colony.”5 These attitudes changed when Italy declared war on Great Britain on 10 June 1940, and the British allowed the Emperor to fly to the Sudan to take part in the “Liberation Campaign” to free the Italian colonies. At that time, the British Foreign Office scarcely envisioned any real restoration of Ethiopian independence. A Foreign Office memo of 9 December 1940 stated:
It is difficult to believe that the restoration of the former Ethiopian Empire as an independent state is a practicable aim. The Empire survived as long as it did only because the three Great Powers bordering on it–Great Britain, France and Italy–were unable to agree on its control. A solution might be to aim at the restoration of the ex-Emperor as the ruler of a native African state under European protection…It is not necessary to decide now what European power would exercise the protectorate.6
Such sentiments were echoed by some British colonialists in Africa who coveted the Ethiopian highlands “where the earth was fertile and hospitable.”7 But dreams of empire were put on hold while the Britains struggled to turn the tide of the war which was not going well for them in 1940. The battered Allies needed a success on the battlefield to boost their spirits, and they got one in East Africa in early 1941. The Allied offensive swept the Italians out of Ethiopia and the Horn within a matter of months–the first victory of the Allies in World War II. Strategy and tactics of the campaign were determined almost entirely by the British, who from the outset planned to assume the dominant military role for themselves and to assign the Emperor and the Ethiopians only a minor and ancillary one, largely relegated to operations in the geographically most difficult terrain.8
The Allied attack was so successful that Great Britain found itself obliged to commit itself to a definite policy for Ethiopia much sooner than was originally expected. On 4 February, Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, for the first time gave public recognition to the principle of Ethiopian independence: “His Majesty’s Government would welcome the reappearance of an independent Ethiopian State and recognize the claim of the Emperor Haile Selassie to the throne.”9 Eden affirmed that Britain would provide assistance and guidance in economic and political matters subject to international arrangement at the conclusion of the peace. The Foreign Secretary further avowed that Great Britain had no territorial ambitions in Abyssinia. In the meantime, he noted, the conduct of military operations by Imperial forces would require temporary measures of military control. Those would be carried out in consultation with the Emperor and would be brought to an end as soon as the situation permitted.
The successful liberation campaign came to an end a short time later. Ironically, the British, in accepting the surrender of Italian forces in Addis Ababa, were a party to the first act in the decolonization of the European empires that was to take place over the next thirty-five years.10
BRITISH MILITARY ADMINISTRATION, 1941-1942
Despite Eden’s encouraging rhetoric, infringements of Ethiopian sovereignty were soon unilaterally imposed by British military authorities, and were resented by Ethiopians who noted that no comparable policy was adopted in the case of European countries freed from the Axis.11 The contrast between word and deed demonstrated that Britain’s policy makers were of two minds about what to do with the liberated Italian colonies. One side, composed principally of colonial and military officers, was pessimistic about Ethiopian conditions and political capacities and believed that something approaching a temporary protectorate or at least a period of tutelage was required. The Foreign Office, on the other hand, was far less interested in reform of Ethiopia than in keeping Grea Britain’s reputation free from suspicion of imperialism. Eden and others in the Foreign Office had faith that Ethiopia could put its own house in order without any form of tutelage.12
Wartime exigencies were used by the British to justify their control of “liberated” Ethiopia. The virtual total curtailment of national sovereignty by the British military administration was accepted by the Ethiopian government because it had effectively no way to object. The country was placed unilaterally under an Occupied Enemy Territory Administration (OETA) run from Nairobi, a center of colonial and white-settler rule. The name, OETA, was offensive to Ethiopians who never conceded that their country was lawfully occupied by the Italians.13 OETA was headed by Sir Philip Mitchell, a South-African-born colonial official, formerly British governor of Uganda and no friend of African independence. The British occupation under Mitchell’s direction was later described by an American observer as tantamount to a protectorate over Ethiopia.14
In British colonial and military circles it was moreover widely assumed, and hoped, that this situation might be rendered permanent. Gordon Waterfield, who was in charge of propaganda in Addis Ababa at that time, recalled:
British officers in charge of the politica administration, a rapidly growing organization were talking openly of establishing control ove Ethiopia on the Sudan model with political officer throughout the country…All the old arguments were brought up about the benefits of British control They did not like to see the Italian improvements which had cost millions of pounds, go down the drai under an Ethiopian administration; besides that Ethiopia was regarded as a rich pendant to the Sudan including as it did Lake Tsana and the source of th Blue Nile.15
Such machinations were no doubt bruited about in some quarters in the early years of World War II. But already support for the “Official Mind of Imperialism” was in decline. While some officers may have dreamed of expanding the British Empire as well as defeating the Axis powers, as we shall see, countervailing factors antithetical to imperialism were developing during the war.
THE ANGLO-ETHIOPIAN AGREEMENTS
The ambivalence of British attitudes toward Ethiopia was shown in the Anglo-Ethiopian Agreement of 1942. This two year agreement recognized Ethiopian independence but obliged the Emperor to make concessions that preserved and legitimized a very substantial degree of British control. The Preamble stated that “the Government of UK recognize that Ethiopia is now a free and independent State and His Majesty the Emperor, Haile Selassie I, is its lawful Ruler.” The remaining articles drastically curtailed the practical application of this statement .The agreement provided for the exchange of ambassadors, with the British minister receiving precedence over any other foreign representative. Various articles formalized firm British controls over the wartime administration of Ethiopia. The Ogaden was to remain under British administration of Somalia, and the British retained the right to keep such military forces in Ethiopia as they thought necessary.16
Under the agreement, units of the British Military Mission to Ethiopia (BMME) and advisers operated throughout the country. Despite infringements of Ethiopian sovereignty, the 1942 agreement marked an important stage in the country’s de-colonization in that it embodied the first diplomatic recognition of the restoration of Ethiopian independence.
THE WOYANE REVOLT
The Emperor sought to consolidate his rule, often frustrated by the short reins allowed him by the British, who were still fighting a war in Africa. In 1943, the two empires cooperated in a meaningful and far-reaching way, however, when the British were involved in putting down the most serious revolt against Haile Selassie. The “Woyane” revolt arose essentially out of dissatisfaction with imperial rule over Tigre province after the war.17 The Emperor’s regime was faulted for maladministration, excessive taxation, official corruption, and consequent brigandage.18 Tigreans were traditional and historic rivals of the more numerous Amharas, the ethnic group of Emperor Haile Selassie. Tigrean nobility, who perceived their position as to be endangered by the central government’s growth, were joined in armed insurrection by the peasantry, who felt victimized by government officials and their militias. The leaders aspired to separate from Ethiopia and unite with Eritrea, then under British military administration (an arrangement actually recommended by a British Committee on Ethiopia in May 1943 that was rejected by Eden).19
For almost five months, the Woyane movement blocked roads and controlled most of Tigre. Units of the new regular Ethiopian army with British advisors were sent to reinforce the territorial troops in the area. In the ensuing Battle at Amba Alagi, government forces were attacked by rebel forces of up to 5,000 men. The situation was serious enough for the British advisors to ask for bomber support for the 8,000 government troops and 6,000 territorials. Ammunition was in such short supply that the government forces nearly had to retreat. The British Foreign Office believed that this would probably cause the fall of the Emperor and judged it necessary to agree to the request for bombers. In addition the British military argued that the north road passing through Amba Alagi was vital to their communications in the continuing war against the Axis.20
Three Blenheim bombers from Aden flew a number of missions. On the first runs, only pamphlets containing threats from the Emperor and the Ichege, the head of the Ethiopian Church, were dropped as the British originally refused to allow bombs to be used. Under pressure to relieve the British advisors and their troops, the RAF eventually carried out bombing raids, culminating in a raid on Makelle where seventy were killed and 200 wounded. Even so, most killed were in the market place and were not combatants. The air raids had the desired effect. Government troops were able to advance on Amba Alagi, and the opposition “melted away.” Mopping-up operations were carried out on a broad scale by the Ethiopian military, and their harsh methods created further resentment of imperial rule.21 The Government exiled or imprisoned the leaders of the revolt, and the Emperor took reprisals against peasants suspected of supporting the Woyane. The Emperor had taken the Woyane movement seriously, due to the danger that an uprising of this type probably would have received British support if it had succeeded.
The Woyane of Tigre have never forgotten the ruthless, wide scale punishment inflicted upon their people by the Amhara rulers. When the Woyane came to power in Ethiopia as the TPLF in 1991, their resentment was manifested in official and unofficial discrimination and harassment of the Amhara. Indeed, one aspect of the ethnic federalism of the FDRE is but a thinly disguised license to encourage hatred of the Amharas. The role of the British in crushing the Woyane revolt and in bombing civilians remains in the collective memory too.
ENTER THE U.S. WITH FLOURISHES
In late 1942, the U.S. opened a lend-lease center in Eritrea and increasingly played a more important role in Ethiopia. The opening of relations with the U.S. enabled the Ethiopian Government to begin to free itself from dependence on Great Britain. The Emperor received moral support from the U.S., a limited amount of technical assistance, and promises of more substantial aid. This ultimately led to the signing of a “Mutual Aid Agreement” between the U.S. and Ethiopia on 9 August 1943. The Agreement, “planned in Washington, agreed to by Washington, and condoned by London,” was a watershed in Ethiopian diplomatic, social, and economic history.22 The friction with Great Britain generated by the U.S. becoming the paramount economic power in the Horn and the Middle East underscored the thesis of W. Roger Louis “that the sense of historic antagonism between Britain and the United States continued to exist along with the spirit of cooperation engendered by the war.”23
Emboldened by the American presence, the Ethiopian Government demanded termination of its 1942 agreement with Britain. The Allies’ concern with defeating the Axis powers loomed larger, however, than American rhetorical anti-colonialism or British imperial ambitions. Concord between London and Washington set the stage for a new agreement in Ethiopia and deprived the Emperor of diplomatic leverage with which to play the two powers against each other. The ensuing Anglo-Ethiopian Agreement of 1944, signed on 19 December, was considered generally a triumph for Ethiopia.24 The agreement provided no special relationship between British advisers and the Ethiopian government and placed the head of the BMME under the authority of the Ethiopian minister of war. Article VII, however, provided for the continued British occupation of the Ogaden and Reserved Area (the collective term for certain strategic areas including the French Somaliland border, the Addis Ababa- Djibouti railraod, and the Hadu) to contribute to effective prosecution of the war. But World War II soon ended and a Labour Government with different ideas about empire came to power in Britain. At war’s end, except for Ethiopia’s only outlet to the sea, the small enclave of French Somaliland along the Franco- Ethiopian Railroad, the country was surrounded by territories ruled by Britain. Only seven years later, in 1952, Britain ceased to rule any part of the Horn.
In 1946, while the British still were in military control of the former Africa Orientale Italiana, a “Greater Somalia” was considered as a possible nation based on ethnic and linguistic frontiers and the principle of self-determination. Clement Attlee, the new Labour Prime Minister, strongly believed that Britain could not afford further territorial responsibilities, especially in areas such as Somaliland which from the beginning had been “a dead loss.”25 The Colonial Office wanted to alleviate the problems of that deficit area, but at the same time, they felt a sense of responsibility for Somalia. They envisioned the creation of a viable territory, a Greater Somalia, composed of British and Italian Somaliland and the Ogaden area of Ethiopia inhabited by Somali people–under a British trusteeship (the Somali areas of Northern Kenya were seldom included in such British plans).26 Acquisition of the Ogaden had long preoccupied the East African Department because without it the Somalis in British territory were cut off from grazing lands thought to be vital to their existence.27
To the Americans and Soviets, the idea of a Greater Somalia appeared as military expansion of the British Empire. There was no way that the British could convince the world at large, especially the Russians, of the purity of British motives in Somalia.28 The possibility of oil in Italian Somaliland kept alive British interest in gaining a trusteeship of Greater Somalia,29 but international circumstances would not permit the establishment of a British regime. Failing their own trusteeship of Italian Somaliland, the Colonial Office considered administration by the United Nations, a plan quickly rejected because of the danger of Soviet participation. Ultimately, the whole scheme became embroiled in Great Britain’s broader foreign policy objectives and specifically British efforts to secure strategic rights in Cyrenaica (in present day Libya). Reluctantly, the Colonial Office supported Italian trusteeship of its former colony–to solidify U.S., French, and Italian backing of British ambitions in Cyrenaica (a ploy muted by Libyan independence in 1948).
The Italian trusteeship was a relatively peaceful ten year period leading to independence for Italian Somaliland in 1960, when it was united with British Somaliland to form the new nation of Somalia. In 1948, Prime Minister Attlee had announced evacuation of British Military Administration from Ethiopian territories in the Ogaden. The BMME, fearing communist infiltration but with few resources to continue operations, nonetheless closed down its office in early 1951. The formal return of the Ogaden to Ethiopia was confirmed by the Anglo-Ethiopian Agreement of 1954. The process of de-colonizing Ethiopia, which was considered complete only with the restoration of their internationally recognized pre- 1935 frontiers, had taken one and a half decades. The British legacy, a vision of a Greater Somalia, had been revealed to young Somali nationalists who aspired to bring into being a fatherland of Somali people throughout the Horn. The idea led to wars between Somalia and Ethiopia over the disputed Ogaden and to unrest in Kenya. The matter is still far from settled, and the ghost of Greater Somalia, temporarily stilled by the clan-inspired chaos in the remains of Somalia, may well return to haunt Ethiopia in the future.
THE ERITREAN PROBLEM
In 1943, British officials continued to view the empire as substantial and capable of future growth. One strategy was to divide Eritrea, giving the southern part of the former Italian colony to Ethiopia and creating a new Christian Tigre nation on either side of the Eritrean frontier under British protection.30 This scheme came to nought in the austere realities of the post-war world. The financially strapped British were unwilling to subsidize the territory, but under their tutelage, Eritreans became more politically aware and active. A legislature with elected members chosen from competing political parties was established, a local newspaper began publishing, and there was a modest increase in educational opportunity.31 The calculus of what to do with the former Italian colony was complicated by, among other things, British designs on Cyrenaica, the muddled situation in Somalia, fears of communist victory in the Italian elections of 1948, and international relations that were putting into place parameters of the Cold War. The British would have preferred to give the southern part of Eritrea to Ethiopia, and the Moslem north, to the Sudan; but Khartoum declined the offer. The British then considered creating a trusteeship in the territory. Officials of the Foreign Office and Colonial Office were divided on whether to place Eritrea under Italian trusteeship or to give over the area to Ethiopia.32
Meanwhile, the principal actors were staking their claims. Ethiopian foreign policy in late 1940s was mainly concerned with the question of the future of Eritrea, the integration of which was considered a matter of major economic as well as strategic importance. Eritrea’s Red Sea ports of Massawa and Aseb would be attractive links to the commerce of landlocked Ethiopia. Above all, to Ethiopia, Eritrea represented the historic route of Italian invasion.33 Among Eritreans, the Christians of the highlands wanted unity with Ethiopia; Moslems of the northwest wanted independence. The Unionist Party wanted all of the former colony to be united with Ethiopia. The political opposition wanted an independent Eritrea.34 For its part, the Government of Italy demanded destitution of Eritrea, the oldest Italian colony and home of 37,000 Italians (in contrast to Somalia where there were only 5,000 Italians). The Italian argument was countered by fear of putting Ethiopia between two pincers of Italians in both homaliland and Eritrea. Labour’s Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin did not want to re-establish “Italian rule with British bayonets,” and finally, the future of Eritrea was passed to the U.N.35
Britain wanted to keep “anticolonial” Ethiopia out of the U.N. Trusteeship Council and thus did not opt for Ethiopian trusteeship of Eritrea. Ethiopian participation in the Korean War, in which 1,000 Ethiopian troops served with the U.N., however, convinced U.S. officials that all Eritrea should be federated with Ethiopia.36 Such a federation would expedite American plans to develop a strategic listening station and other military installations in an Eritrea united with a war-tested, anti-communist ally. The disposal of the territory was finally decided by the U.N., and in September 1952, Eritrea officially became “an autonomous state federated with Ethiopia” under the Ethiopian crown. A short time later, Eritrea was absorbed into Ethiopia as just another province. Many Eritreans, who, under the British administration, had learned respect for parliamentary democracy, pluralist elections, the rule of law, and the protection of human rights, were disappointed in their fate in being forced into an authoritarian monarchy. By 1960, Eritrean liberation movements had developed and were to engulf Ethiopia in a thirty year civil war. One of the victors of the war, the Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front (EPLF), successfully negotiated for a referendum among Eritreans about the future of their state. In April 1993, Eritrean voters overwhelmingly declared for independence. A large number of Ethiopians, however, thought the unilateral separation from Ethiopia, though sanctioned by the Transitional Government of Ethiopia, was illegal. Rancor over in independent Eritrea is one of the most divisive issues in contemporary Ethiopia. Ultimately, the problem will have to be resolved to the satisfaction of the Ethiopian as well as the Eritrean people.
THE LEGACY OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE IN ETHIOPIA
The British military occupation of Ethiopia and neighboring territories during and immediately after World War II left its mark on the Horn of Africa. Although there were signs of deterioration, rationales for imperialism and empire were revitalized during the war and in the period of reconstruction which followed.37 Despite soothing words from Churchill and Eden, the Emperor Haile Selassie remained distrustful of British designs on his empire, and indeed, some official minds would have liked a protectorate over Abyssinia. A presence in the Horn would have been in keeping with strategic post-war plans of Great Britain in the late 1940s when Africa gradually superseded India as one of the ultimate justifications of the British Empire.38 In tandem with a Mediterranean base to protect British access to Middle East oil, Bevin envisioned a “belt stretching from West Africa to East Africa” which might offset the cost of retaining a Levantine defense commitment.39 Bureaucratic inertia also encouraged holding on to the remnants of empire since the Chiefs of Staff always objected “to evacuating anything where they have been for some time.”40 Die-hard colonialists, heartened by such prospects, championed the idea that Africa in the twentieth century would be as important to the empire as India had been in the nineteenth. British designs on Ethiopia and the Horn, however, were part of a wider debate within the Labour government from 1945 through 1951. One side, led by Foreign Secretary Bevin, sought to strengthen a British Empire seen as a beneficent force in world affairs. The ideas of these “Imperialists” clashed with those of “Little Englanders,” who were more sceptical about Britain’s economic and military capacity to remain a “great power.”41 Prime Minister Attlee, more willing than Bevin to acknowledge the diminution of British power, was the leading spokesman for “Little England” sentiments. Attlee urged his colleagues not to make costly military and administrative commitments “for sentimental reasons based on the past.”42
While Labour leaders wrangled about the future of empire, two developments in the wartime experience of Great Britain were working against any aspirations of the British staying on in the Horn–or almost anywhere else. First, British economic resources were depleted. By the end of the war, Britain had accumulated an overseas debt of œ3,355 million and huge deficits in the balance of payments. Subsidization of “deficit areas” was out of the question. Secondly, British power had experienced relative decline in relation to the U.S. and the Soviet Union.43 In Great Britain itself, under the impact of the war, the British people had “ceased to believe in empire.”44 Furthermore, the Atlantic Charter with its aim of liberating conquered lands from Nazism and Fascism was not compatible with territorial expansion of the British Empire. With all of these factors stacked against further imperial ambitions and with the required levers of power no longer available, the British abandoned the Horn and eventually all of their colonies in Africa.
Instead of settlers and district officers, the British left behind seeds of discord in the rocky passes of Tigre, in Mediterranean-like Asmara, and in the deserts of Somalia. The British military probably kept the “Little Emperor” on his throne in 1943, but the Tigrean Woyane, already contemptuous of upstart Amhara rule, were filled with a new sense of hatred when British officers and air strikes paved the way for draconian punishment of peasants and nobles by Haile Selassie’s forces. The Emperor did not ask about the justice of the Tigrean’s case; it was enough that the rebels had challenged his administration.45 Today, despite rhetoric to the contrary, ethnic hatred, especially against the Amhara, is one of the driving forces of the government of the Woyane- dominated FDRE. Other Britannic dragon seeds were sown in the inhospitable soil of Somalia and the Ogaden. The thwarted ambitions of Greater Somalia have spawned fear and loathing and war over lands of little worth other than for limited grazing. But on the positive side, the former British Somaliland constitutes the one extant polity in a country that exists only on maps. In contrast to others, the British apparently taught the inhabitants of their Somali colony how to make government work. The same can be said of Eritrea. Although the British were there for a relatively short time (from 1941-1952), they instilled in Eritreans an appreciation for, among other things, democratic processes, political parties, a free press, and education. This gave Eritreans a certain panache that developed into a chip on the shoulder when they were involuntarily joined to the less Anglicized Ethiopians.
Resentment against their forced unity with more populous Ethiopia runs deep in the Eritrean inheritors of the benefits of both British occupation and Italian colonialism. Now we await the outcome of an avowedly dictatorial transition to see if Eritreans really remember the lessons inculcated in them by the British fifty years ago.46 For most of the Ethiopians, Eritreans, and Somalis, who were not yet born when the British left their lands, the hatreds and distrusts of their neighbors in the Horn have existed so long as to seem generic. What many of them have forgotten is the catalytic impact of British rule and administration on their present day quandaries. The hallmark of the British Empire is firmly stamped on the wax and gold47 of Africa’s Horn.
1. See, e.g., Theodore M. Vestal, “Democratic Deficits in the Transitional Government,” Ethiopian Review, July 1994: “Deficits of Democracy in the Transitional Government of Ethiopia Since 1991,” in Harold G. Marcus, (ed.), New Trends in Ethiopian Studies, Vol. 2 (Lawrenceville, NJ: Red Sea Press, 1994), pp. 188-204; “An Analysis of the New Constitution of Ethiopia and the Process of Its Adoption,” Ethiopian Register, December 1994; January, February 1995); “The Precious Comb-Box (Yemabetteria Muday) of Ethiopia: An Analysis of the Rule of the Transitional Government of Ethiopia and Its Legacy for the Future,” Ethiopian Register, August, September 1995).
2. Ronald Robinson and John Gallagher, Africa and the Victorians (New York: St. Martin’s, 1961), p. 289.
3. Elizabeth Monroe, Britain’s Moment in the Middle East 1914-1956 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1963), p. 11.
4. Peter J. Yeargood, “Great Britain and the Repartition of Africa, 1914-19,” Jour. Imp. and Comm. Hist. 18 (1990): 316-341.
5. Alan Moorehead, Mediteranean Front (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1941), p. 37.
6. Public Record Office, Foreign Office, 371/24645/306.
7. Leonard Mosley, Haile Selassie The Conquering Lion (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1964), p. 260. Margaret Perham criticizes Mosley’s depiction of British colonial ambitions in Ethiopia as “somewhat sinister” and “somewhat inadequately documented.” She infers that such intrigue could not be taken as a common British aspiration of the era. Margaret Perham, The Government of Ethiopia (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1969), xxix.
8. Richard Pankhurst, “Decolonization of Ethiopia, 1940-55,” Decolonization of Africa: Southern Africa and the Horn of Africa (Paris: UNESCO, 1981), p. 119-132; “A History of Early Twentieth Century Ethiopia, 14,” The Liberation Campaign, 1941: Mussolini’s Entry into the European War, Addis Tribune, 17 April 1997.
9. Richard Pankhurst, “A History of Early Twentieth Century Ethiopia, 15,” 1941: The Italian Departure, and the Arrival of the British, Addis Tribune, 24 April 1997; Leonard Mosley, Haile Selassie The Conquering Lion (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1964), p. 273.
10. Michael Crowder, “The Course of the War on African Soil,” The Cambridge History of Africa, Michael Crowder (ed.), Vol. 8 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), p. 16.
11. Pankhurst, p. 123.
12. Margaret Perham, The Government of Ethiopia (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1969), p. 392.
13. David Shirreff, Bare Feet and Bandoliers: Wingate, Sanford, the Patriots and the Part They Played in the Liberation of Ethiopia (London: Radcliffe Press, 1995), p. 275.
14. John H. Spencer, Ethiopia, the Horn of Africa and U.S. Policy (Cambridge, Mass: Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, 1977), p. 9. Mitchell was recalled in June 1942 to the Colonial Service as Governor of Fiji and High Commissioner for the Western Pacific. One wonders if he was promoted to get him away from Ethiopia and conflicts with the Emperor. After the war, Mitchell described Ethiopia as a “glaring example of what premature political independence means in suffering, misery and degradation for the mass of the people when it is no more than the independence of a small group of competing political factions at the center to do what they like to the mass of the people, who have neither the understanding nor the local institutions within their control to enable them to protect themselves…” “Local Governments: dispatch from Sir P. Mitchell (Kenya) to Mr. Creech Jones (Secretary of State), commenting on the circular despatch,” CO 847/3516, no. 88 (30 May 1947).
15. Mosley, p. 275.
16. Rennell of Rodd, British Military Administration of Occupied Territories (London: HMSO, 1948), pp. 539-43; see also Richard Pankhurst, “A History of Early Twentieth Century Ethiopia, 16,” Post World War II Relations with the British, Addis Tribune, 30 April 1997.
17. John W. Turner, “Historical Setting,” in Thomas P. Ofcansky and LaVerle Berry (eds.), Ethiopia: A Country Study, (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1993), p.48.
18. Harold Marcus, A History of Ethiopia (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), p. 154.
19. Harold Marcus, The Politics of Empire: Ethiopia, Great Britain and the United States (Lawrenceville, NJ: Red Sea Press, 1995), p. 22.
20. Patrick Gilkes, The Dying Lion (London: Julian Friedmann, 1975), p. 189; see also, Gebru Tareke, “Peasant Resistance in Ethiopia: The Case of Weyane,” Journal of African History 25: 1 (1984), pp. 72-92.
21. Christopher Clapham, “The Horn of Africa,” in Michael Crowder (ed.), The Cambridge History of Africa, Vol. 8 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), p. 48.
22. Harold Marcus, The Politics of Empire: Ethiopia, Great Britain and the United States (Lawrenceville, NJ: Red Sea Press, 1995), p. 21; see also Richard Pankhurst, “A History of Twentieth Century Ethiopia, 17,” Ethio- American Post-War Relations, Addis Tribune, 8 May 1997.
23. Wm. Roger Louis, Imperialism at Bay (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), p. 7.
24. Harold Marcus, The Politics of Empire: Ethiopia, Great Britain and the United States (Lawrenceville, NJ: Red Sea Press, 1995), p. 39; see also Richard Pankhurst, “A History of Early Twentieth Century Ethiopia, 16,” Post World War II Relations with the British, Addis Tribune, 30 April 1997.
25. Memorandum by Attlee, 1 Sep 1945, C.P. (45) 144, CAB 129/1. In Mussolini’s Africa Orientale Italiana, for the first time the great majority of Somalis were brought under common rule.
26. Wm. Roger Louis, The British Empire in the Middle East 1945-1951 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), pp. 274-75.
27. Ibid., p. 282.
28. Ibid., p. 281; see also Richard Pankhurst, “A History of Early Twentieth Century Ethiopia, 16,” Post World War II Relations with the British, Addis Tribune, 30 April 1997.
29. “Somaliland Protectorate and the Horn of Africa,” Cabinet memo by Mr. Lennox-Boyd advocating the creation of a Greater Somalia, CP (56) 180, 25 July 1956, CAB 129/82.
30. Committee on Ethiopia, Report on Future Policy Towards Ethiopia, Cairo, 18 May 1943, cited in Marcus, Politics, p. 22; see also Richard Pankhurst, “A History of Early Twentieth Century Ethiopia, 15,” 1941: The Italian Departure, and the Arrival of the British, Addis Tribune, 24 April 1997.
31. Margaret Perham, The Government of Ethiopia (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1969), xxxi.
32. Wm. Roger Louis, The British Empire in the Middle East 1945-1951 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), p. 290.
33. Ibid., p. 289.
34. Ibid., p. 290; see also, Richard Pankhurst, “A History of Early Twentieth Century Ethiopia, 18,” Emperor Haile Sellassie’s Post-War Foreign Policy, Addis Tribune, 15 May 1997.
35. Defence Committee DO (48), 14th Meeting, Top Secret, 30 July 1948, CAB 131/5. Quoted in Louis, The British Empire in the Middle East 1945-1951, p. 294.
36. Marcus, The Politics of Empire, p. 77.
37. P.J. Cain and A.G. Hopkins, British Imperialism: Crisis and Deconstruction 1914-1990 (London: Longman, 1993), p. 290; see also the 1942 report of the Brocklehurst Mission by Sylvia Pankhurst, quoted in, “British Foreign Policy Towards Ethiopia,” Ethiopia Register 4 (June 1997): 16-17.
38. Wm. Roger Louis, The British Empire in the Middle East 1945-1951 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), p. 16.
39. Defence Committee DO (46) 10, 5 April 1946, CAB 131/1.
40. Minute by Oliver Harvey, 3 Nov 1947, FO 371/67084.
41. Wm. Roger Louis, The British Empire in the Middle East 1945-1951 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), pp. 4-6.
42. Ibid., p. 275.
43. Wm. Roger Louis, Imperialism at Bay (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), p. 25.
44. A.N. Porter and A.J. Stockwell, British Imperial Policy and Decolonization, 1938-64 (New York: St. Martin’s, 1987). p. 25.
45. Harold Marcus, A History of Ethiopia (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), p. 154.
46. See generally, Ruth Iyob, “The Eritrean Experiment: a Cautious Pragmatism?” Jour. Modern African Studies 35 (1997): 647-673.
47. “Wax and gold: is the formula used by Ethiopians to symbolize their favorite form of verse built on two semantic layers: the apparent, figurative meaning of the words is called “wax,” and the their more or less hidden actual significance is the “gold.” Donald N. Levine, Wax and Gold: Tradition and Innovation in Ethiopian Culture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975), 5.