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Words of RasTafarI, Haile Selassie I
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University Graduation, 1967
Saturday, July 1, 1967
 
The Lion of Judah has prevailed
Haile Selassie I, Elect of God
King of Kings of Ethiopia


Six years ago, when We established the Haile Selassie I University, We said, "Considering the role of universities in broader sense, We are persuaded that these institutions stand today as the most promising hope for constructive solutions to the problems that beset the modern world; problems which prevent the peaceful co-operation of nations, problems which threaten the world and humanity with death and disaster. From the universities must come men, ideas, knowledge, experience, technical skills, and the deep humane understanding vital to fruitful relations among nations. Without these, world order, for which We have so long striven, cannot be established."

In the six years of its existence, the University has greatly expanded the number of its academic institutions, doubled the number of its students and produced more than 2,500 graduates. Even so, We do not yet regard the University as adequate to meet the potential needs of Our country and Our people.

It is Our belief that the time is not far distant when it will become necessary to establish more universities in Our country to absorb the growing volume of students emerging from the secondary schools, and Our most cherished hopes will indeed wither if the number of these young learners does not increase to Our expectation. We say this, and at the same time find pleasure in discerning from amongst you that the passing of first youth is no barrier to worthy achievement; what must be guarded against is reluctance to learn.

The economic progress achieved year by year in Ethiopia is bound to intensify the need for trained personnel. And an increase in the number of qualified personnel must help to foster greater economic progress, once it is understood that the laying of the foundation of a sound economy is not the work merely of the university graduate. The herdsman and the farmer, the shopkeeper and the wholesaler, the craftsman and the builder all play their part. An economy built in this way will have strong foundations and, therefore, permanency. We believe that this type of economy is most suited to the needs of Our people.

Cognizant of this, We have established certain organizations, at present in operation, designed to improve the land tenure system, to alleviate the plight of the small farmer, to expand trade, to build roads and to lay down a network of communications through which an effective interrelation between the various economic sectors can be established, and new markets created.

If, as We have stated above, the basic economy is largely dependent on the common man, how then can the university graduate fulfil his proper function in a developing country like Ethiopia?

Firstly, fully aware that the vast majority of your fellow-countrymen have not had the privilege of higher education that you have had, you must accept the responsibility for identifying the fundamental problems of your country and directing the skills you have acquired towards their solution. Your primary object should not be to emulate the high scientific and technological endeavours of more advanced nations, but to apply your knowledge to the basic issues of agriculture, public health, the exploitation of mineral resources, and the construction of roads and dams.

Secondly, you, the graduates of today must realize that the position of distinction you enjoy because of your education must not isolate you from the problems of the rest of your fellow-countrymen, nor inveigle you into the search for luxury and personal gain. Rather should it encourage you to undertake with manly eagerness any sort of work in any sort of place, to take the lead in devising ways and means by which every Ethiopian can improve his standard of living and to work with those who have already gone before you out into the field of hard endeavour. There, you must translate into the vernacular of the plough, the spade and the hoe, the lessons you have learnt from your specialized training on costly modern equipment and machinery. If you cannot do this, all your education will have been futile; the labour will have gone to fashion a ship without a rudder.

During the past six years many changes have taken place in Ethiopia, in her neighbouring countries and in the rest of the world. Even so, the words We uttered six years ago are no less relevant now than they were then. For today when world peace and security are constantly under threat, We remain firm in Our conviction that it is from the universities that the knowledge, skill and understanding must come that will lead the world once again back to the ways of peace.

The strife and division evident among the peoples of neighbouring states during these six years remind Us further of what We said at that time, "Unity is strength. No nation can divide within itself and remain powerful."

You, who belong to the University, are heirs of a long established national tradition. Your country is one which for several thousand years has enjoyed religious, cultural and national unity, a strength to herself, an example to her neighbours. It is up to you to maintain and foster this tradition by diligence, industry and dedication, and by showing that you love your country deeply enough to set an example for others to follow - and as the saying goes "the longest journey is always begun with one step."

As each year We preside over the graduation ceremony, We feel a special fatherly pleasure in observing these fruits of a lifetime's effort devoted to the development of education among Our people. You, today, rejoice at having successfully completed sixteen or seventeen years of hard work; and this is, in itself, an achievement. But what you have here begun, remains to be finished, and he who gives up before the whole task is accomplished reserves for himself not joy and reward, but despair and blame richly deserved. So today marks the end only of the first chapter in the book of your attainments, and your joy, like your achievement, is incomplete.

You have still far to go. Along the tortuous paths that now lie ahead, you will be exposed to the rigorous teachings of life itself. There you will find no ready reference books, no study guides. There, there is no going back. The lessons of life, if once they are missed, are missed forever.

We take pleasure in congratulating you on your achievements today.

May the Lord go with you in all your future endeavours.


Words of Ras TafarI

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Haile Selassie I