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Words of RasTafarI, Haile Selassie I
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University Graduation, 1970
Monday, July 6, 1970
 
The Lion of Judah has prevailed
Haile Selassie I, Elect of God
King of Kings of Ethiopia


It gives Us great pleasure to be amongst you today to preside over your graduation as We do every year.

We congratulate you on this occasion for being able to reach this stage after long years of strenuous work. Today you are beginning a new chapter of your life and the day is not far off when you will be judged for your worth.

You have spent most of the past years aided and advised by your teachers in the library and in the laboratory . But do you know what is expected of you as of today? Is each one of you ready to discharge the responsibility laid upon you? Once you are out of school, to find answers to these and similar questions, pressure of time and the nature of work may not allow you to look into books and ask teachers. Therefore, you should realize as of now that you are alone on the road.

We say this because We trust that you have, while at the University, seen that truth, far-sightedness, honesty and loyality must replace personal luxury and comfort in the process of national development.

Even as a University is the cross-roads of living knowledge, from this University must come men and women, equipped with the perceptiveness to diagnose the problems of the country and capable of helping elevate the living standard of Our people to the level that modernity requires. Also from this University must come people able to preserve our cultural heritage by promoting that which deserves to be retained and improving upon others. This is what We expect from Our University. So does the future generation. As one of the measures of the University's progress is the number of its graduates, it is, indeed, gratifying to note that a larger number are graduating this year than ever before - this means, in part, an answer to the demand for manpower we need in the struggle for national development.

Nonetheless, mere number should not take precedence over excellence - thus We wish Our University graduates to be hard working, dedicated and truthful citizens and not half-baked gossips, lacking in initiative and ability to translate into action what they have learnt.

Ethiopia has a history that We are proud of. But unless the past is related to the present development and growth of Our country, it could adversely affect Our achievements. Our people have come to where they are now guided by the innate knowledge, wisdom and courage of their forefathers. We are also pleased to see the determined and united actions of Our people, who have realized that it is through education that Ethiopia can attain its rightful place in the world.

However, there still remains much to be done. The struggle can be given impetus and be guided in the right direction by university graduates whose search for truth, We believe, has instilled in them greater ideals.

Missing the basic objectives of education, thereby damaging the unity of the people, short-sightedness and following ways that would lead your country to destruction - these would mean a total waste of the time you have spent on education.

Knowing only that Ethiopia is one of the developing nations is not enough; nor would talking about her underdevelopment, and admiring other countries' advancement bring any solution to the problems of Ethiopia's progress. It is your responsibility to find ways and means of raising her to the level of those developed countries.

Marvelling at the suitable geographical setting of Ethiopia and untapped mineral wealth is not enough, either; nor does this help Ethiopia develop. We should realize the dignity of labour and work with all our might to save our country from being a mere market place for foreign goods. This can be achieved by producing technically skilled people able to exploit our mineral resources.

A hungry person cannot be appeased by merely being told about his hunger; similarly, what Ethiopia needs is not a person who can talk about her problems but someone who is determined to serve her with enthusiasm, re-inspired by her long and glorious history and spurred by the present gap. This can best be manifested not in words but in deeds. Your conviction to help the country must be demonstrated in your determination to work. To do that, you must, instead of working for personal ends, toil for the community and common results. This would, in turn, call for dedication to live, work and serve in the rural areas where it is less comfortable. This again would be seen in the fruits of your undertakings and not in what others say about them or see in them.

We have said many a time that simply admiring others' achievements is not only playing the role of a mere parasite but is also the practice of idlers. It was in the intention of not being a mere admirer of the achievements of others, and in the realization that it was education that has brought the developed world to its present stage, that We endeavoured to expand education in Our country.

When We speak of education, We are not referring to the education only confined to the four walls of a classroom but to that type which can have a direct impact on the betterment of the living conditions of Our people.

If we would only substitute with hard work in our respective fields the time taken by mere talk of others' advancements, we would have the opportunity to see concrete results of progress in our own country and talk with pride about it. That such opportunities can be provided by young Ethiopians like you, trained in modern science, prepared to apply modern administrative techniques, dedicated and ready to involve themselves in the struggle for our national development, must be ever borne in mind.

We, and Our people, on our part, gave you the privilege of education that many of your brothers and sisters could not have. It is your duty in turn to impart this privilege to the rest of your brothers and sisters. It is also your obligation to devise the best ways of sharing it. It is yours again to counter the problems.

You should, therefore, be guided by the courage, determination, loyalty and honesty passed down through generations, translate what you have acquired from school into action to help your country and your people.

You are expected to participate fully in the national struggle for development, to exploit the natural resources and till the green, fertile land of our country, lest Ethiopia be a 'have-not' when it actually has all the potentialities for development.

You already know that it is not only the knowledge you have acquired from books that you will need for your work. No doubt you will need a deep understanding especially of the nature and conditions of your country. As the problems of our national development vary from place to place and from time to time, the approaches towards improvements and solutions will have to vary accordingly. You can learn a great deal from such endeavours once you are out of school.

Here We would like to remind you of the wise saying of the great philosopher-teacher, Socrates, who said:

Whatever authority I may have rests solely on knowing how little I know.

We would like to remind you once again that it is through developing self-confidence and striving for independence from others that one can be free from blame or fear.

Since the existence of a university is to serve the community that it is in, it follows that the progress of such a university must be in line with the country's economic development; and it must produce graduates with the spirit to serve and able to accept responsibility and be dynamic leaders.

But, of course, since any university is basically entrusted with the task of the advancement of the frontiers of knowledge, its duties and obligations should not be limited to a certain nation - it exists for the development of science and its application to the welfare of mankind in general.

A university which fails in its duty to fulfil such responsibilities is a source of knowledge only in name.

The essence of a university worthy of the name lies not only in its structure but also in its competence, through research, to expand science and technology for the welfare of mankind. We expect no less of Our University. A university, as a social mirror, must be able to reflect weaknesses and strengths, vices and virtues, of a society through the written and spoken media. Constructive criticism assists improvement. On the other hand, if it is only to destroy what has been built, the damage it may bring about is only too evident.

It must be realized that it takes only a short time to destroy organizations and institutions which needed great effort and a tremendous amount of money to build. What is feared most today, in fact, is the capability of modern science to destroy the civilization that took mankind thousands of years to build. It is easy to see today that knowledge can be used both to build and to destroy.

Therefore, the main objectives of Our national University and other institutions of higher learning that We may establish in the future, should be to harness knowledge towards improvements and development.

The progress made in Our University and its future plan as We have closely observed it, and as you have just heard, encourages and strengthens Our hope for further expansion.

However, this can hardly be enough. It is only when this plan is translated into action that We can say it has been fulfilled.

We are particularly pleased to see Our University graduating medical doctors for the second time and to hear that the number of medical doctors to graduate will increase substantially in the coming years. To that end We have ordered that the construction of the Prince Makonnen Memorial Hospital be accelerated and for the Medical Faculty to enroll more students so as to be able to produce more doctors.

The expansion of higher education, like that of any other undertaking, should not suffer, in its endeavour to be self-reliant, from over-dependence on foreign assistance.

All the business organizations established in Our country, well-to-do Ethiopians and foreigners, and all those who have benefited from higher education can lend a hand in this endeavour by donating land, money and other assets. And it is proper. It is a fact that many well known universities have grown on such generous help. It was to be an example that We donated Our personal property, the Guenete Leul Palace, to be a site for the University.

In general, all the products of the University are expected to help Our country find ways for economic development - and participation in this endeavour is not only helping the nation, but it is also a sacred sacrifice.

Only when this University has thoroughly Ethio-pianised itself and has met the demand of the national economy for skilled manpower, can We say it has attained the goal that We desire for it.

The progress already made towards this end, though not sufficient yet, can be said to be in the right direction.

The realization of all these presupposes understanding within the University community itself, and co-operation of the University, the Government and the people as a whole. We are pleased today, just as you are, that your achievements are the results of such a concerted effort.

We thank all friendly nations, organizations and others for assisting so that Our efforts bear fruit - in particular your teachers and other University staff members who, in accordance with the responsibility charged upon them, have brought you to this stage, and the Board of Governors, who, in addition to their assigned tasks, tirelessly directed the general administrative duties of the institution.

Finally, to those graduating today, We should remind you once again that you are to be a source of pleasure to your parents, of pride to your teachers, of honour to your lovingly expectant country, good examples to those following your footsteps and responsible in all your undertakings in the future.

May the Almighty help you so that your future is true to your and Our expectations.


Words of Ras TafarI

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Haile Selassie I