Fifty-nine years ago, representatives of 32 African states, free from colonial rule, gathered in Addis Abeba to establish the Organization of African Unity (OAU) upon the invitation of one of the Founding Fathers, H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie I. The iconic black and white photograph of the OAU founding fathers, seen here, was taken on the steps of Addis Ababa University Institute of Ethiopian Studies (AAU IES), inaugurated on the august occasion in May 1963. As Africa and her Diaspora celebrate Africa Day, May 25th, AAU IES will commemorate the day with the soft opening of the Pan African Wing (PAW). The list of invitees includes the Imperial Family, diplomatic core, academic and arts community and other distinguished guests. The AU’s Deputy Chairperson (DCP) H.E. Monique Nsanzabaganwa Ph.D, is amongst the prestigious Pan African guests; quite fitting as her forerunner penned the AU’s letter of support. “The African Union Commission presents its compliments…and hereby wishes to congratulate the University on the establishment of the first permanent exhibition devoted to the Pan African vision. It is all together fitting and appropriate that this very venue where H.I.M. hosted the Founding Fathers should host such a historic exhibition… . Through this singular venture AAU IES is poised to become an important venue for Pan African Academicians, Researchers, students from all over Africa the African Diaspora and beyond” wrote H.E. Ambassador Kwesi Quartey, former AU DCP.
Dr. Takele Merid, IES Director states, “It is with great pride and honor that I share the decision of AAU IES to establish a Permanent Pan African Wing (PAW). The first display of the IES Museum was launched deliberately on this day to commemorate the grand continental event… . Our decision (for PAW) is in line with AU’s Agenda 2063 where calls have been made for an African cultural renaissance … inculcating the spirit of Pan Africanism.” PAW, is located to the left of Ras Mekonnen Hall in the Guenet Leul Palace. Originally gifted by The Majesty as the Haile Selassie I University, the Museum houses a collection of rare artifacts, historic documents and photos which tell the story of Pan Africanism and the impact of Ethiopia from the Adwa campaign to the #NoMore Movement. Dr. Hassan Said, the former long-time curator of IES, propelled the vision of the Pan African space for many years. He received gifted books and pledges of support from noteworthy Pan Africans including Dr. Julius Garvey, son of Marcus Mosiah Garvey and Diaspora African Forum’s Ambassador Dr. Erieka Bennett during the 50th anniversary of the OAU/AU in 2013. The US Mission to the AU and the Embassies of France and Portugal provided grants and resource support, to help realize PAW with great enthusiasm. Private collectors have also loaned rare items. Featured in the area before PAW, is a collection of contemporary art work from the archives of Alliance Ethio-Francaise and private collections which will be displayed till June 18th.
HIM Emperor Haile Selassie I stated, “Education is a means of sharpening the mind of man both spiritually and intellectually. While the Hon. Kwame Nkrumah, says, “We have the blessing of the wealth of our vast resources, the power of our talents and the potentialities of our people. Let us grasp now the opportunities before us and meet the challenge to our survival”. It is in this spirit that co-curator of the Pan African Wing, Dr. Desta Meghoo says, “PAW aims to educate and enlighten through this chronicle of Ethiopia’s contributions, connectivity and current relevance to Pan Africanism.” Ambassador Tesfaye Yilma, Ethiopia’s Permanent Representative to the AU also notes its importance and will aid efforts towards a grand opening during the AU Summit in January 2023, the 60th year of the OAU.