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Book Reviews 157 leads him into an erroneous association of slavery with character, rather than with color or features (p. 25). All the above is not to denigrate a work which otherwise marks such a welcome and refreshing contribution toward understanding an important chapter of Ethiopian history. We are all indebted to Ato Gaitachew for having taken the trouble to recollect his life and times and to have written it with such elegance and fascinating detail. Bahru Zewde Addis Ababa University Reminiscences ofMy Life Emmanuel Abraham Oslo: Lunde forlag, 1995. Pp. 343. This book is a rarity: a lengthy, detailed, well-written memoir of an Ethiopian government official. Ato Emmanuel Abraham served as ambassador and cabinet minister and in other high positions under Haile Sellassie, was arrested by the Derg, held for nine months, and was one of a few to survive and eventually be released. He is also well known in many church circles as the first President of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY), the second largest Protestant church body in Ethiopia. The first 14 chapters are a first-person, chronological record of his life from childhood to his release from imprisonment in 1975, where the narrative ends. The narrative thread is built almost entirely around Ato Emmanuel's government service career. It is noteworthy that only a few details about his marriage and his family are fitted into this largely political framework. Ato Emmanuel began his political career when he went to work in the Ethiopian Embassy in Great Britain in 1935 with Worqneh Ishetu (also known as Dr. Charles Martin). He was there when the emperor was forced to flee to Britain and became personally known to Haile Selassie through repeated contacts during his exile. One of the constantly recurring themes in these chapters is the intrigue that surrounded the emperor as various powerful factions and persons struggled for power and promotion. Ato Emmanuel, a poor commoner, a non-Amhara, and an Evangelical, often felt himself the target of plots from 158 Book Reviews more powerful people around the throne. These struggles not only help us understand how he came to head such a comparatively obscure ministry as the Ministry of Mines, but on a broader level they illustrate (from an insider's viewpoint) how power was exercised in Haile Sellassie's court. Though the emperor was officially sovereign, we see clearly that he was forced to compromise to please many powerful people in order to maintain his power. One of the clearest examples of this is seen when Patriarch Tewofilos of the Orthodox Church accused Ato Emmanuel before Haile Sellassie. Trapped between his desire to maintain both religious freedom and also to maintain good relations with the Orthodox Church, "the atmosphere grew rather tense and the Emperor appeared to be ill at ease. Noticing this, one of the ministers remarked, 'Your majesty we have understood the problem; if the discussion could be stopped, we would go out and try to bring about an agreement' " (p. 258). During his days as ambassador to New Delhi, Rome, and London, Ato Emmanuel was involved in ongoing discussions through correspondence with the emperor. It is interesting to find lengthy quotes from this correspondence on such topics as a possible plan to settle displaced Indians from South Africa in Ethiopia, the British plans for "Greater Somalia", relationships with larger powers, and the post-war attitude of Italy toward Ethiopia. Of wider interest, Ato Emmanuel wrote to the emperor about his perception of causes and circumstances of the deposing of the monarchies in Egypt and Iraq. "I reported in such detail not only for its news value but because I had the feeling that ... it might serve as a grave warning to Ethiopia's political leadership and governance .... but judging from the two grave political crises that engulfed Ethiopia later on, it did not appear to me that he gave the matter serious thought" (p. 162). Chapter 15, entitled "In the Service of the Church", is a collection of 24 briefer sections on different phases of his work in EECMY, ranging in length from a half page to nine pages. These are not as strictly chronological in that some of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-6574
Print ISSN
0740-9133
Pages
pp. 157-159
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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