AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT CENTRE
Every structure must be built on a solid foundation, for those constructed otherwise would soon collapse. The proclamation by which We made land grants to the entire Ethiopian people is the foundation of this scheme. Recipients of land grants as well as those who had previously owned their own holdings do not by the mere owning of such land satisfy the requirements. They must make proper use of the land not only for their own benefit but as well to that of the people -- We shall not permit any land to be fallow.
It gives Us great pleasure today to lay the cornerstone of the first Community Development Centre at Awassa, a project in which We have long evinced the keenest interest and entertained the highest hopes.
This project possesses a potential of the highest order and contains within it the seeds for a growth extending far beyond what anyone could have envisaged. The trainees who will come to this centre will receive instruction in methods and techniques which, if well and properly applied, can have the greatest impact upon the future development of Our Empire. Community development is, fundamentally, the assisting of people whose economic, social and administrative life is still in a relatively undeveloped state, to organize and focus their energies upon the solution of common problems. For a man to remain isolated and separated from his neighbours and to have no access to the sources of knowledge and education is to remain prey to the ills and plague which afflict mankind in its primitive state. The joining together in a unified effort to overcome the perils of nature and the dangers which beset man on all sides is the very basis of society and the way in which humanity, since the dawn of history, has assured its survival. As self-help is so basic to the free development of the life of a people, so assistance and aid in the technique of self-help must inevitably contribute to a more highly developed society.
Education is the means by which Our people can make the most efficient use of the human, natural and material resources which are already at hand for the amelioration of their problems and the betterment of their way of life.
It is fitting that this centre should be located on this area, for nearby is the site of one of the first agricultural co-operatives which are being developed by Our Government. The interaction between this training centre and the co-operative farm will provide the centre with a laboratory at first hand where those who are receiving instruction here may observe in action the procedures and techniques in which they are being instructed. Similarly, the co-operative farm cannot but benefit from the close physical proximity of this centre which will stand ready at all times to render advice and assistance on the multifold problems which are posed for any group of people who embark together on a new way of life.
Through man’s quest for knowledge, which has resulted in securing the benefits of science and technology, We have found ways to overcome what only a few generations ago had looked insurmountable. That is to search, to know and to apply, the knowledge that has been acquired.
In many parts of the world some people who had never swerved from reaching their objectives through education have exploited the wealth of their land through mechanised farming and the building of industries and have not only developed a high standard of living, but have also come to the aid of the underdeveloped countries of the world.
All this has been possible through the constant desire for development and devotion to the search for knowledge as the key to economic, social and cultural betterment. The Almighty through His benevolence has blessed us with fertile lands which hold great wealth, but because it has not been developed according to modern methods, the raising of the standard of living of Our people could not be accelerated according to Our wish and desire.
As a result, the economic condition of the people lacked the desired co-ordination. A close observer of the problems and needs of Our people, We have ordered many studies to be conducted for the establishment of several schools and training centres founded from time to time.
Even though Our wish and desire for attaining the highest objectives is considerable, Our people, for whose benefit We strive relentlessly, must realize the purpose of the various institutions We establish. To assist with all their efforts and to be spiritually prepared for the tasks lying ahead We also declared to Our people on Our return from foreign visits: “It is no use to say that one has land; land and money under certain unforeseen circumstances could avail nothing”.
As We lay here the foundation stone of a Community Development Centre today We have great hopes in the students who will be therein and in other centres. They will become a stimulus to others not only to pay lip service to the needs of the country but to show it in practice.
During Our visit to Europe, the Far East and America within the past few years, We have found how the peoples of the world through a definite planning and co-operative system have overcome the problems posed by economic and social development and attained a high standard of living. We realized that Our country also encounters the same problems of development, and to reach Our avowed goal it behoves Us to remove any detrimental traditional obstacles on Our way and fulfil Our duties in conformity with the exigencies of modern times as well as within the framework of international requirements.
Our forefathers had fought to preserve the independence of Our country so that we may be able to exploit its rich resources, thereby enriching ourselves but not so that it may lay barren as to excite the envy of others and invite again the usurper. Therefore, in order to escape from such a catastrophe which become a lazy leader and lazy followers, it is Our duty to teach Our people to labour unceasingly for the development of our country and to struggle for the attainment of a decent standard of living. For, there is no need of education to the wise nor doctors for the healthy.
Our continued efforts in giving money to Our deserving subjects so that they may be able to develop their plots of land thereby enabling them to be self-sufficient have not so far produced the desired results.
In particular We have observed that Our Hammassen people who are by nature good fighters could not make good use of the land We had granted them because they lagged behind in agricultural techniques. We are not encouraged by the realization of Our wishes so far. For this reason We have Ourselves organized the initial project; have made preparations and provided technicians in order that assistance may be made available under the direct supervision of Our Minister of National Community Development so that when land is developed to give continued benefit, Our subjects will take over and be in a position to support themselves and their families.
Our loyal subjects – those present and those coming – We remember the services which you have rendered in the military field. If you work with diligence utilizing the aid from the projects which We have established for your assistance, We believe that it will help to enrich our country and encourage Our people who are lagging behind in modern techniques.
We have realized that today being the age of science and technology, to reach our high objective all our efforts must be directed in such a way that education, which is the fundamental basis for development, reaches all Ourpeople. Firm in the belief that through education Our people could improve their standard of living and improve their future lot, We have unceasingly devoted all Our efforts in building more and more schools. It is gratifying to see Our people brace themselves up for the task facing them by constant devotion to Our ideals and by taking advantages of the institutions established. We express Our deep gratitude to the United States Government which has granted financial aid for the Community Development Centre whose foundation stone we lay today.
July 23, 1960.
Selected Speeches of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie – page 487 –