COMMISSIONING NAVAL OFFICERS
….. And today, another major step is being taken along the path which We have marked out for Our beloved country in bridging the gap between the isolation in which Ethiopia lived for so many years and the modern world.
Today, as We participate in the first graduation exercises at the Imperial Naval College, We return in memory to that day just over six years ago when Eritrea was federated with Ethiopia and this seacoast on the Red Sea, so long separated from our Empire was reunited with its motherland. Our heart and that of the entire Ethiopian nation overflowed with joy on that day. It was, for us, the realization of a desire which we had long cherished.
But the attainment of any one goal is never more than a temporary achievement. A mountain top is reached, beyond, on the far slope, there are new lands to explore, and new peaks to scale. As each goal along life’s path is reached, new vistas open before us, and new challenges are made. It is indeed, an immutable law of life that man’s striving can never end, that to pause in life’s struggle is to slip back along the road to progress. Man is born in sorrow, and in the sweat of his brow must he earn his bread.
The reuniting of this seacoast with its ancient motherland constituted a clear challenge to use for the benefit of Our entire Empire the potential which this avenue to the Red Sea represents. We have laboured mightily to meet this challenge. We have undertaken the development of the Port to Assab, which will provide our Empire with another major port. In the steps which we have taken to improve communications throughout Our Empire full and careful consideration has been given to the need to increase the flow of trade through these ports and take advantage of the strategic position which they occupy on this great commercial life-line. We have taken various other measures to improve and enhance the use and development of this area, and We have other projects in mind which will result in the greater utilization of this region and these harbours.
The achievements that are being witnessed here and elsewhere are in themselves a testimony of the success of Ethiopia’s development. We would wish to note in this connection that in this as in other of Our efforts and sacrifices We have always enjoyed the wholehearted and loyal support of Our beloved Eritrean people.
And today, another major step is being taken along the path which We have marked out for Our beloved Country in bridging the gap between the isolation in which Ethiopia lived for so many years and the modern world.
Federation First Step
The federation of Eritrea with Ethiopia was but the first step. For the possession of a seacoast imposes grave responsibilities. Steps must be taken to assure the defence of Our coastline. Action is required to co-operate with Ethiopia’s neighbours in the suppression of illicit trade. We must prepare ourselves for the task of guiding and assisting those who toil on the sea. These and many other duties devolve upon us by virtue of Our Empire’s geographical position on the Red Sea.
When We had in the past ventured into great undertakings, it has not been with the certainty of seeing it accomplished in a matter of five or ten years, but rather with the high hope and confidence that our efforts will benefit the present and future generations of Our people.
But God in His wisdom has spared us to see great accomplishments, and to look forward to yet greater achievements in all fields of national life.
Today, as we see more and more of the educated taking their proper places in society with the goodwill and the determination to render loyal services to their country, We are reminded of the statement that We made some 15 years ago to the effect that the pride derived from the merits of worthy service is far greater than any feeling of pride that may spring from the heritage of wealth and property. As a result of Our national Programme of Education and the opportunities that it provides to all of Our people, yet other chapters are being added to the long and glorious history of Our country.
It is with satisfaction that We note that following the restoration to Ethiopia of her ancient ports, great strides have been made in the naval field, opening thus new and significant horizons and opportunities to the Navy as indeed to the men that have joined its distinguished service.
Our constant endeavour is to insure for now as for all times the effective defence of Our waters and seacoast, and We are happy to feel that while establishing this College We have laid the foundation for the great future of Our Imperial Navy.
Already, Our mind’s eye is perceiving and promising achievements and we feel certain that History will confirm Our confident belief that the Imperial Ethiopian Navy will occupy a vital place and will play an important role in the years that lie ahead.
A Goal Reached
This College is the institution whereby the means will be provided to discharge Our duties in the naval field, and the officer-cadets who will graduate from this school are the instruments who will be called upon to perform these tasks. You Cadets who have the good luck to become the first commissioned officers of the Imperial Ethiopian Navy are to be congratulated in the attainment of this moment. You too, however, are subject to the operation of the law of life to which We have referred. Today, a goal is reached, but it is for you only a way-station along a road which will make increasingly greater demands of you as each succeeding stage is reached. The future dares you to prove yourselves worthy of the training which you have received, to fulfil the duties which now fall to your lot and to aid Us in the discharge of those high duties to which We have devoted Our entire life. This is the challenge which awaits you today.
You must always remember that to lead, one must first learn to follow, you must obey the rules and regulations by which your conduct is to be governed. Be proud of the uniform which you wear, do nothing that would dishonour it. Strive always to bring credit upon yourself and your motherland. If you are faithful to these precepts, you will have properly and faithfully discharged your duty before Us and before your countrymen.
We are pleased today to present to the Imperial Naval College these colours, which it will henceforth proudly display. They represent a testimonial of the faith which We have reposed in this institution and in those charged with its administration and the confidence which, in full recognition of the high tasks which have been assigned the young men who will study here, We contemplate this College’s future growth and development.
We extend Our thanks to all those whose contributions have made this ceremony possible: to Ras Andargatchew, who has toiled unceasingly in preparing the physical structures which comprise this institution; to the Government of the United States of America, which has generously contributed the vessels and equipment utilized in the training programme; to the Ambassador of the United States of America, His Excellency Mr. Don C. Bliss, who has co-operated wholeheartedly in the implementation of this programme; to Commander Iskinder Desta who has with diligence carried out the orders for the development of the school, and finally, to those devoted Norwegian and American officers and men who have instructed and trained the cadets who study here.
Jan. 22, 1959.
Selected Speeches of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie – page 57 –